Friday, March 26, 2021

Notes from Composer Jonathan Dove

© Marshall Light Studio

I had written the opera I wanted to see, but I had no idea how an audience would react.

Unlike many operas, mine wasn’t based on a hit play or a best-selling novel or blockbuster movie (although six years later, the same true story would inspire Spielberg’s The Terminal)—and while I hoped people would relate to the experiences of a group of travelers stranded in an airport, I didn’t know if they would laugh at any of the jokes, or enjoy the music.

Refugee (Randall Scotting). Philip Newton photo

April De Angelis and I had set out to write a comedy—something I felt was in short supply in twentieth-century opera—but then came across the haunting tale of Mehran Nasseri, the Iranian refugee who had already been living for nearly a decade in Charles de Gaulle airport and would remain there until 2006. We didn’t try to tell his story, but his predicament had a mythic resonance which we found irresistible—and a magnetism which seemed to draw other stories to it.

Left: Minskman (Aubrey Allicock) and Minskwoman (Karin Mushegain); Right: Bill (Joshua Kohl). Philip Newton photo

Flight is now 23 years old, and has travelled the world. Each new production has shone a different light on it. It is wonderful to have been given the opportunity to write the piece we wanted to see, and discover that others wanted to see it too—and that everyone finds something different in it.

Flight streams April 23–25 for $35. (Subscriber Early Access Days begin April 3). Tickets & info at

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