the martyrs

  • Premiered November 8, 2012 at the Dicapo Opera Theatre in New York City
  • Composer: Thomas Pasatieri
  • Librettist: Daphne Malfitano
  • Director: Daphne Malfitano
  • Starring: Zeffin Quinn Hollis and Catherine Malfitano
  • Pianist/Conductor: Pacien Mazzagatti
  • Producer: Dicapo Opera Theatre

Opera worlds are often uneasy and certainly Thomas Pasatieri’s new opera, comprised of two monodramas, is. The Martyrs has a wrenching yet beautiful score. A searing text was written by Daphne Malfitano.
”Perhaps because the great soprano Catherine Malfitano and ascendant baritone Zeffin Quinn Hollis are both consummate singing actors, it is hard to sift performance from words from music. They work together in one dramatic and seamless line.
”...The set for both stories is as spare as the stories are complex. A single chair sits on a raised platform in Percy.
”Like the earliest Bards, both Percy and Marianne...sing/tell compelling stories.”
”Daphne Malfitano delivered a perfect libretto for Percy. Pasatieri, unlike any other composer in the history of music, did not touch one of her words. He first met Daphne when she was two months old and immediately knew she would do fantastic, special things with her life.
”Here she is, proving he was right from her start. Her words are charged like a dramatic poet’s, her insights into people move far beyond disdainful judgement to a more humane vision of human complexity. Why ordinary people commit seemingly dreadful acts and then find deserved redemption is explored with sensitivity and high feeling. Malfitano takes no simple outs, and wrestles the characters demons to startling resolutions. The stories are deep, but their sober and provocative tone only enhances a startlingly entertaining evening.
— Susan Hall, Berkshire Fine Arts, 2012
Bypassing the oft-acrimonious debate over which is more important in opera, the words or the music, Thomas Pasatieri’s The Martyrs expertly melds both into a cohesive whole. Each of its two 40-minute monodramas has one singer performing on a raised platform with a lone chair at its center and a pianist in the orchestra pit, making for a brilliant symbiosis of music and words in which the themes of love, revenge and justice are starkly apparent.
”The libretto by Daphne Malfitano...which makes redemption the true protagonist in each act, is a force to be reckoned with, and in her directorial debut she was wonderfully frugal, allowing the uniting of words and music to have their full impact.
— Victor Wheeler,, 2012