Harvey Milk

Opera in Three Acts
Composed by Stewart Wallace
Libretto by Michael Korie

Houston Grand Opera, 1995
Conducted by Ward Holmquist
Directed by Christopher Alden
With Robert Orth, Raymond Very,
Juliana Gondek, Gidons Saks,
Bradley Williams, Randall Wong,
James Maddalena,  Jill Grove,
Matthew and Kathryn Cavenaugh

New York City Opera, 1995
Conducted by Christopher Keene

Dortmund Opera, Germany, 1996
Conducted by Daniel Klayner
Directed by John Dew

San Francisco Opera, 1997
Conducted by Donald Runnicles

Melbourne, Australia,  2015
In concert, director Cameron Lukie



“Harvey Milk is one of the best new operas in years.”

— John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

Harvey Milk  is an astounding achievement — lively, artful, tough-minded American music-drama, deeply satisfying to ear, eye and mind.”

–Mark Adamo, The Washington Post

“A triumph, mounted with an enthusiasm that is contagious. The opera has been warmly embraced by critics, opera lovers, and a very diverse and riveted audience.”

–Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

“Powerful theater, alternately hilarious and moving. While the American musical wheezes its way toward extinction, American opera leaps and shouts.”

–Katrine Ames, Newsweek

“Like Harvey Milk the man, it’s a big-hearted, feisty, in-your-face kind of event. Michael Korie’s marvelous libretto is truly among the sharpest and most accomplished I have encountered in contemporary opera. Wallace’s score — a jubilantly eclectic mix of the American musical vernacular, both high and decidedly low-brow — powers us (bags of percussion) through times which are a changin’.”

–Edward Seckerson, London Independent

“This is a potent creation, inspirational as the subject demands. Korie’s stunning libretto, by turns haunting and hilarious, brassy and mystically poetic, is a magnificent creation. Harvey Milk is an opera for our time. And as for future generations, the hell with ‘em. Let them write their own operas.”

–Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Harvey Milk is an unflinching in-your-face kind of opera, a work that examines not only Milk’s tragedy but the awakening of gay consciousness in America.”

–K. Robert Schwartz, The New York Times

“Nothing quite like it has ever been done before. For its aesthetics as well as its politics, the opera gets a standing ovation from me.”

–Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine

Harvey Milk is dynamic, polystylistic, sentimental, groovy, political and fun.”

–Andrew Clark, Financial Times of London

“Spellbinding…The opera remembers well and deeply, and now with a power that augers its own remembrance. It warrants playing in opera houses everywhere. One of the company’s highest achievements.”

–Timothy Pfaff, San Francisco Examiner

“The bravest contemporary opera of them all.”

–Lesley Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Much of the work’s power resides in Wallace’s music. Milk and White each have effective arias, and there’s a wonderful love duet for Milk and his lover Scott. During the final scene, the opening lines of the Kaddish, the Aramaic prayer of praise recited by Jews in mourning, are set so radiantly that one wishes Wallace would set the whole thing as a stand-alone choral work.”

–Mike Greenberg, San Antonio Express News

“The music encompasses anger, triumph, and an unforgettable choral Kaddish for the slain. Christopher Alden’s production is phantasmagorically near perfect.”

–Leighton Kerner, The Village Voice

“An evening both savvy and snazzy. The second act is totally brilliant.”

–Alan Rich, Variety

“A remarkably frank portrayal — by turns unsettling, contentious and hilarious — of what it meant to be gay in America between the late 1940’s and the late 70’s.”

–Scott Cantrell, Kansas City Star



New York Times: A Gay Camelot Goes Home to Find It’s True

SFGate: “Welcome Home”

SFGate: “Harvey Milk Reborn”

SFGate Editorial “Harvey Milk Article the Opera”