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Birds and Balls: Vinkensport and Balls

Directed by: Brian Staufenbiel


Music by: David T. Little

Libretto by: Royce Vavrek


Music by: Laura Karpman

Libretto by: Gail Collins

Original Production

2024 - Opera Paralelle



Leah Hammond- Props Artisan

Lawrence Dillon - Videographer

David Murakami - Projection Designer

Y. Sharon Peng - Hair & Makeup Designer

Mextly Couzin - Lighting Designer


Nicole Paiement - Conductor

Tiffany Austin- Marilyn (Balls)

Jamie Chamberlin - Holy St. Francis's Trainer (Vinkensport) | Vocal Quartet (Balls)

Daniel Cilli - Atticus Finch’s Trainer (Vinkensport) | Larry King (Balls)

Nathan Granner - Han Sach’s Trainer (Vinkensport) | Bobby Riggs (Balls)

Mark Hernandez - Howard Cosell (Balls)

Chelsea Hollow - Farinelli’s Trainer (Vinkensport)

Nina Jones - Butler (Vinkensport) | Vocal Quartet (Bal

Gabriela Linares - Butler (Vinkensport) | Rosie Casals (Balls)

Nikola Printz - Billie Jean King (Balls)

Chad Somers - Referee (Vinkensport) | Vocal Quartet (Balls)

Chung-Wai Soong - Prince Gabriel III of Belgium’s Trainer (Vinkensport) | Vocal Quartet (Balls)

Shawnette Sulker - Sir Elton John’s Trainer (Vinkensport) | Susan B. Anthony (Balls)

Director's Note

Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera is a bittersweet comedy in one act inspired by the obscure Flemish folk sport, Finch-Sitting, where trained finches race to sing the most “susk-e-wiets” (the song of the birds) over the course of an hour. We see a motley assortment of contestants battle it out to see who has the most melodious bird. As they compete, the joys, sorrows, delusions and all-too-stark realities of the finches’ trainers are revealed. We never learn the competitors' real names, they are defined by their birds. Some play fair, some don’t. Some just don’t even want to be there at all. But almost all are lost in the world, finding comfort in the companionship of their birds.

Balls is a multimedia opera dramatizing the famed 1973 tennis game between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The match, dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes,” changed not only the perception and treatment of women in sports, but significantly advanced the women’s rights movement. The opera features a live tennis match as a central narrative device, along with actual commentary from the 1973 broadcast. Balls incorporates electronic sampling entwined in the score, and creative time-hopping - key figures such as Larry King and Howard Cosell are joined by American Suffragette Susan B. Anthony.




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