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Music by Jennifer Higdon
Libretto by Jerre Dye • APRIL 26, 29, MAY 2, 4, 2025

A family portrait

When Mona finds a mysterious suitcase filled with stolen masterpieces, she must grapple with a choice to save these priceless paintings or save her son—the thief. Burning the paintings would destroy the evidence of her son’s crime, but one of the paintings—Lucien Freud’s “Woman With Eyes Closed”—looks just like her own mother, a painter who died when Mona was still young. The uncanny resemblance unlocks long-buried memories that fuel the fires of three different possible endings.

This world premiere opera from award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon (Cold Mountain) is inspired by a real-life art heist, and confronts the question “what is the true value of a work of art?” This is an opera that needs to be seen at least twice; each night of the production has the possibility of a completely new ending!

Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia


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


  • Saturday, April 26, 2025  * 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, April 29, 2025  * 7:00 PM
  • Friday, May 2, 2025 * 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, May 4, 2025 * 4:00 PM
Michael Chioldi photo credit Peter Konerko

Mona: Meredith Arwady+

Audrey Welsh

Curator: Audrey Welsh*

Lauryn Davis

Momma: Lauryn Davis*

Matthew Soibelman

Inspector: Matthew Soibelman*

Conductor: Antony Walker (April 26, 29, May 2, 2025)
Conductor:  Glenn Lewis (May 4, 2025)
Stage Director: Kristine McIntyre
Scenic Designer: TBA
Costume Designer: TBA
Wig and Make-up Designer: TBA
Lighting Designer: TBA
Stage Manager: TBA
Director of Musical Studies: Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist: James Lesniak
Resident Artist Pianist / Supertitle Caller:  Maeve Berry*
Assistant Stage Director: Dana Kinney*

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


Seven priceless paintings have been stolen from the walls of a museum in the dead of the night. The police, the media, and the museum’s curator are desperate to find the culprit. In hopes of avoiding police detection, the thief (Thomas) has carelessly stuffed the stolen masterworks in a suitcase and abandoned them with his unsuspecting his Mother, Mona.

In her son’s absence, the reclusive Mona investigates the contents of the suitcase discovering both the severity of her son’s crime as well as the innate beauty of each masterpiece. One painting in particular (Lucian Freud’s WOMAN WITH EYES CLOSED) awakens something deep inside Mona, shaking her to the very core. The painting bears astriking resemblance to Mona’s Mother, an amateur artist who died when Mona was child. The circumstances surrounding her Mother’s death have reverberated throughout Mona’s life.

The police investigation continues to escalate, bringing an Inspector to Mona’s front door. Though Mona lies to the Inspector, successfully sending him on his way, she also knows that her flimsy deception is merely a temporary fix. The police already have evidence connecting Thomas to the crime. It’s a matter of time before he is apprehended. Mona must act quickly.

Night falls. Mona sleeps. As she dreams, the Freud painting comes to life. Inside a liminal state, Mona and her Mother briefly reunite. Inside this memory, the two women examine the past. They navigate the pain and compromise of a life half-lived, a life starved for color, expression, and connection. Together, they unearth the past trauma that continues to define Mona’s future.

With the dawn comes many burning questions: Can Mona save her son, save herself and save these priceless paintings whilesimultaneously preserving the memory of her Mother? WOMAN WITH EYES CLOSED is a new opera about creation, destruction and the art of letting go.


- courtesy of the creators


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: TBA
  • Understand Every Word: Understand Every Word: Woman with Eyes Closed is sung in English, with English supertitles are projected above the stage
  • Braille Programs available
  • Large-Print Programs available


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