Town Hall

An Opera in One Act

Winner of Maryland Opera Studio's

Second Annual Opera Composition Contest





Town Hall



In a small town, somewhere in America, a community gathers to ask their senator questions about the politics of the day. But the conversation turns into a heated debate with mortal stakes when a retired librarian takes the event hostage. What are the human costs of political decisions? Is there such a thing as the common good? Is what’s best for our country the same as what’s best for its people?

Composed by Theo Popov, Libretto by E. M. Lewis





About the Opera  



American Lyric Theater Alumni Concert — Excerpt from the Opera (March, 2019)  

Performed by Heather Johnson, Zachary Altman, Rachel Mikol, Glenn Seven Allen, Edith Grossman, and Adrian Rosas. Pianist and music director: Gloria Kim.


Maryland Opera Studio — Piano Premiere (February, 2018)  



Willamette University — Orchestral Premiere (March, 2019)  


Town Hall

Excerpts from the Orchestral Recording:

  • All I Want
  • What It Costs
  • Welcome to the Town Hall
  • Sarah's Aria


    About the Piece  

    It doesn’t feel as if we are hanging together in America today. The ugly political battles of the last few years have polarized us. But maybe we were polarized already. Tinder waiting for a match.

    When the question of whether or not to repeal the Affordable Care Act was under discussion, we watched several of the Town Halls that were being held by lawmakers back in their home districts, all across America, live-streamed on the internet. Town Halls are such a wonderfully personal means of communication in our digital age. People gather together with their neighbors to talk about what matters to them at Town Halls. We were deeply moved by the raw emotion we witnessed, particularly as people discussed health care. We knew right away that that was something we wanted to write about.


    • 45 minutes


    • The present.


    • A big room in a small town, somewhere in America, where a town hall is about to take place.


    • Ten Singers: 4 principal (Soprano, Mezzo, Tenor, Baritone), 6 ensemble (2 Sopranos, Mezzo, Tenor, Baritone, Bass)


    • Harp, Percussion, Five Strings


  • Download the One-Sheet PDF


    Companion Pieces  

    It feels like we're at a tipping point right now, in this country, in so many ways!We, Ellen and Theo, want to continue to explore American themes together and are looking to write some companion pieces of various lengths but similar forces, each from the perspective of a different character from our little town.

    "How do you work 
    Every day of your life
    As hard as you can
    And fail?"

    American farmers are killing themselves in record numbers: their suicide rate is more than double that of veterans. Ellen grew up on a small, fourth-generation farm in rural Oregon -- so her connection to this world is real and specific. Both of us have been reading articles about the challenges mid-western farmers are facing right now, like this one and this one.

    This aria, performed by baritone Zach Appel and pianist Brendon Shapiro, portrais Ed Larsen, who is also a character in Town Hall. The man owns a farm in Nebraska -- forty-seven acres that has been passed on to him from his father and grandfather and great grandfather. He wants to leave it to his children. But right now, it looks like he might lose it entirely.