Why is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me? David Johnston, opera

Why is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?

Developed for American Lyric Theatre,
Composer-Librettist Development Program
Librettist, David Johnston
Composer, Jeffrey Dennis Smith
Running time: 45 minutes
Cast: 1 tenor

A new one-act opera about a mysterious – and unlikely – murder suspect. A tour de force love story and mad scene all in one, a man shares his bizarre confession concerning the fate of a hot, young, art world star. Smith’s score blends elements of jazz with an edgy contemporary sound, creating an energy that propels the story forward.

Access Electronic Press Kit here.


Watch the full opera here:

Eartha Kitt Full Video

Daughters of the Bloody Duke, David Johnston, Kennedy Center

Photo: Scott Suchman


Commission for Washington National Opera, American Opera Initiative
Librettist, David Johnston
Composer,  Jake Runestad
Running time: 20 minutes
Cast: 1 tenor, 2 sopranos, 1 mezzo

A dark comedic one-act opera, in which Margot, the young daughter of the Bloody Duke of Ravenswood, must choose between love and the demands of her revenge-crazed family.

In a dark Gothic castle, the newlyweds Kent De Quincey and Margot Craven, have just spent their wedding night together. After Kent falls asleep, Margot prepares to murder him, having been ordered to by her father, Gilbert Craven, “the Bloody Duke of Ravenswood.” All forty of the Craven daughters have been ordered to kill their husbands – the forty sons of De Quincey, who cheated Ravenswood out of his lands. Margot is interrupted by her sister, Claudia, who is covered with blood, drunk and gleeful after murdering her husband.  After Claudia leaves, Margot attempts again to carry out the deed, only this time she is ordered to stop by the ghost of her grandmother, Eleanor, the Countess of Ravenswood. Margot must finally choose between her family’s thirst for revenge and her own growing love for her new husband.

And I was thoroughly amused, as I was meant to be, by “Daughters of the Bloody Duke.” The composer Jake Runestad and the librettist David Johnston responded . . . with a loving sendup that amounted to a 21st-century take on an early-19th-century Gothic ballad . . . “Daughters of the Bloody Duke” deserves to have a long and happy life in conservatories and apprentice programs. I would love to see what its creators come up with next.

— Anne Midgette, The Washington Post

Read The Washington Post review here.

Daughters of the Bloody Duke featured in Opera News here.

Daughters of the Bloody Duke in Concert

Produced by American Lyric Theater in New York City:

Watch the Concert

Pirate Granny, opera, david johnston

The Wedding Gift of Pirate Granny

Librettist, David Johnston
Composer, Alla Borzova
Running time: 29 minutes
Cast: 1 tenor, 1 soprano, 1 mezzo

On a Caribbean island in the 17th Century, Elizabeth Prince is about to marry Jack Jefferson Hope, and live happily ever after as a respectable, church-going wife and schoolteacher. But her buccaneering grandmother’s riotous, cigar-chomping ghost refuses to let her settle for such a boring domestic life.

Watch the Video