Online Opera Premiere

(Pictured above: Rowen Sabala stars in ‘Vireo’; photo by Bernie Wire)

Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser, believed to be the first original opera to premiere online, has begun streaming at and – in advance of its TV premiere on June 13.

Conceived and composed by Lisa Bielawa and starring 16-year-old soprano Rowen Sabala as Vireo, a visionary 14-year-old genius who crosses multiple historic eras and locations, the opera consists of 12 parts, each about 15 minutes long.

Part one below, titled “The Blow,” features the Kronos Quartet and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus. The synopsis: “Vireo finds herself fluid in time, from medieval to mid-20th century, after hearing a mysterious voice in the woods, and she falls into a ‘fit.’ Her worried mother takes her to a doctor, but the answers are complex.”

Vireo has a libretto by Erik Ehn and was directed by Charles Otte. The opera was produced over a two-year period in locations ranging from New York’s Hudson River Valley to California’s redwood forests and Alcatraz island. In addition to the Kronos Quartet and San Francisco Girls Chorus, it features more than 350 other singers and musicians.

For more information about Vireo, or to stream all 12 parts – as well as an array of supplemental videos – visit or

Vireo’s TV premiere will be Tuesday, June 13, at 8 pm PT over KCET, channel 28.1 in Los Angeles. The opera will run simultaneously on LinkTV, and available nationwide on Roku, Apple TV, DirectTV and Dish Network.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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