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Music by Philip Venables, with a libretto by Ted Huffman • May 6, 9, 12 & 14, 2023
Bitz Opera Factory

Based on the shocking true story

On November 14, 2016, Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova, fifteen-year-olds in the rural Pskov region of Russia, died after a three-day standoff with Russian Special Forces. They live-streamed their last hours onto internet sites, leaving behind a trail of devastating video footage: drinking and smoking, cuddling and crying, and preparing to die. 

Denis and Katya could have been your children, best friends, or classmates. Two teenagers who lived every moment—including their last—online. What led to their violent deaths? Why did they choose to broadcast their final moments on social media? And what does it say about the voyeuristic society that watched, liked, and objectified them in real-time, transforming two kids into clickbait? 

This visceral opera uses verbatim text to examine the vast public response to the events surrounding the tragedy of these two Russian runaways, exploring how stories are shaped and shared in our age of trolls, conspiracy theories, fake news, and 24/7 digital connection. 
The New York Times called Denis & Katya "an intimate, haunting triumph", and Musical America called it “ … the most brilliantly original operatic work I’ve seen in a decade."

Production co-produced by Opera Philadelphia, Music Theatre Wales, and Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier.

Denis & Katya is sponsored in part by a gift from an Anonymous Donor.


Where: The Bitz Opera Factory (Pittsburgh Opera's headquarters), 2425 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh's Strip District


  • Sat., May 6, 2023  * 8:00 PM
  • Tues., May 9, 2023  * 7:00 PM
  • Fri., May 12, 2023  * 7:30 PM
  • Sun., May 14, 2023  * 2:00 PM

Head of Music / Musical Preparation: Glenn Lewis
Revival Stage Director: Haley Stamats
Set Designer: Andrew Lieberman
Original Lighting designed by Andrew Lieberman
Lighting Designer: Todd Nonn
Projections designed by Pierre Martin
Costume Designer: Millie Hiibel+
Sound Designer: Rob Kaplowitz+
Stage Manager: Hannah Nathan
Director of Musical Studies: Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist: James Lesniak

Original Production: Ted Huffman

+    Pittsburgh Opera debut
*     Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
**   Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni


Five performances at the Bitz Opera Factory, 2425 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Strip District

We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!

Here are some details and resources to help. Also visit our Opera FAQs or our Accessibility page.

  • Run time: ~65 mins, no intermission
  • Please be advised: This production includes mature language and intense subject matter.
  • Understand Every Word: Denis & Katya is sung in in English and Russian with English supertitles projected above the stage
  • Parking near Bitz Opera Factory- Street parking is generally available on Penn Avenue, and there is a surface lot at 24th and Penn, right beside Harp & Fiddle.
  • Study Guide
  • Pre-Opera Talks (Please note: There is no Pre-Opera Talk for this production)
  • Braille Programs 
  • Large-Print Programs 


  • Children must be ages 6 and up. Suggestions and tips for bringing children to the opera may be found at
  • All children must have a ticket. There is a 50% discount for kids and teens ages 6-18.

On November 14, 2016, two teenagers in the Russian village of Strugi Krasnye began broadcasting video of themselves through Periscope, a live-streaming website. The pair, named Denis and Katya, explained to their viewers that they had run away, had hidden in a cabin for three days, fought violently with Katya’s relatives when confronted, and were now barricaded in the cabin and under threat by local police and Special Forces.  

The Periscope audience grew throughout the day as they streamed more videos. Friends, relatives, classmates, and teachers from their hometown of Pskov joined the live-stream and wrote to them, as did strangers who happened upon it. 

By the next day, the story of Denis and Katya facing off against Special Forces had reached news outlets around the world. Thousands more watched their videos. Conspiracy theories bloomed. Fan sites appeared. Denis and Katya became a brief internet sensation.  

The opera’s six characters (Journalist, Friend, Teacher, Teenager, Neighbor, Medic) are all played by two singers. They re-tell Denis and Katya’s story from six very different viewpoints.