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New Production of Gregory Spears's Fellow Travelers at Minnesota Opera

Jun. 06, 2018

New Production of Gregory Spears's <em>Fellow Travelers</em> at Minnesota Opera

From June 16-26, the Minnesota Opera presents a new production of Fellow Travelers, an opera by Gregory Spears with a libretto by Greg Pierce based on the 2007 novel "Fellow Travelers" by Thomas Mallon. Peter Rothstein directs and Daniela Candillari conducts a stellar cast of young artists including Andres Acosta as Timothy Laughlin, Hadleigh Adams as Hawkins Fuller, and Adriana Zabala as Mary Johnson.

Fellow Travelers was developed and co-commissioned by G. Sterling Zinsmeyer and Cincinnati Opera where it received its world premiere in June 2016. Since then, the opera has garnered widespread critical and popular acclaim playing to sold-out houses at New York's 2018 Prototype Festival and at the Chicago Lyric Opera.

Fellow Travelers
 follows the story of Hawk and Tim who become clandestine lovers at the height of the McCarthy Era in 1950's Washington D.C. Recent college graduate Timothy Laughlin is eager to join the crusade against communism, and a chance encounter with handsome State Department official Hawkins Fuller leads to Tim’s first job—and his first love affair with a man. Drawn into a maelstrom of deceit, Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions and his forbidden love for Fuller. The piece uses the love affair of Laughlin and Fuller to shed light on the "lavender scare”, an often-overlooked period of McCarthyism that resulted in the mass firings of suspected homosexuals from the United States government. “It’s about a part of our history which was almost invisible,” Spears says of Fellow Travelers, “and I think one of the things opera can do is make invisible things visible.”

(Highlights from the 2016 production of Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera)

Critics have universally praised Fellow Travelers for the boldness of its story and the beauty of Spears’s music. Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim (New York Times) praises Fellow Travelers as “...the most romantic new opera I have seen in years. It’s also one of the most successfully political,” and John von Rhein (Chicago Tribune) declares, “... a poignant and moving meditation....Fellow Travelers is one of the most accomplished new American operas I have encountered in recent years.” And Alex Ross (The New Yorker) notes "...the intimate power of Spears's musical voice, which is unlike that of any composer now working, is a kind of shivery, fraught simplicity. Spears has an eerie ability to suggest interior landscapes that go unseen, interior lives that go unspoken. In giving us glimpses of hidden selves, his music becomes universal in reach."

To learn more about Gregory Spears, please visit

Gregory Spears

Fellow Travelers

Opera in two acts

Libretto by Greg Pierce
based on the novel “Fellow Travelers” by Thomas Mallon
3 sopranos, tenor, 3 baritones, bass-baritone