Heart of a Dog

Music & Libretto by Rudolf Rojahn

Directed by Sally Stunkel (2007) / Copeland Woodruff (2010)


World Premiere - September 21, 2007 by Guerilla Opera

“Enterprising and unmistakably alternative” THE BOSTON GLOBE



Listen to the alluring banter of a belligerent carnival barker as he navigates you through a twisted carnival sideshow where the main attraction is a unique performance by a bizarre troupe of actors. Utilizing an arsenal of bunraku puppets the troupe tells a dark tale of a scientist’s overly successful experiment of implanting human glands into the body of a stray dog. But the grandeur of the scientific achievement is overshadowed by the misery of living with the half-dog/half-woman whose varied appetites and manipulations prove disastrous for all.

“I’d long been a fan of Bulgakov’s fiction so when I began thinking about writing a short opera in 2007 Heart of a Dog seemed like it could be a perfect fit. Everything from the surreal nature of the drama to the small cast of characters to the self-contained environment seemed custom tailored, not just to my compositional aesthetic, but also to the limited resources with which the production would be put on.

The piece came out in a creative rage of less than two months and when I listen to it now, three years later, I can hear the raw and crunchy sonoric exuberance of a younger version of myself. I wanted to tear down the performance space with massive walls of sound while four tragic puppets acted out their black comedy.” - Rudolf Rojahn



Rudolf Rojahn (Co-Artistic Director emeritus) is a composer of contemporary art music. He was the composer-in-residence for Boston’s Ludovico Ensemble from 2005-2010, a collaboration that resulted in several pieces including Antikythera Mechanism for bass clarinet and ensemble. He has also been commissioned and performed by the Quincy Symphony Orchestra, Juventas New Music Ensemble, the Lorelei Ensemble, the Arbelos Trio, Gabriela Diaz, Kent O’Doherty, Rane Moore, and the Green Light Consortium among others. From 2004-2006 he ran the Proletariat Tanning Salon, an event series pairing young composers and visual artists such as Camille Wainer and Nicole Margaretten. He has written three opera for Guerilla Opera: Heart of a Dog (2007), We are Sons(2009), and Bovinus Rex (2012).