Post Pardon: The Opera, Work in Progress

Post Pardon: The Opera draws on African-diasporic spirituality and folklore to tell the story of Willow, a queer activist confronted with the ghost of her estranged mother who committed murder-suicide. Librettist Arisa White calls this work an “intergenerational apology.” In summer 2023, White gathered with director Ellen Sebastian Chang, composer Jessica Jones, designer Diane Smith, and myself as choreographer for a workshop with a jazz orchestra, singers, and dancers at Greene Block + Studios, in partnership with Colby College. This work will be under development until it premieres at the Gordon Performing Arts Center at Colby College, ME,  in 2025.  

Venue: Work-in-progress showing at Greenblock + Studios, Colby College, Waterville, ME 

Upcoming: Premiere in 2025 at the Gordon Center for the Arts, Colby College, Waterville, ME 

Video: Work in Progress

Work-in-Progress Preview: “Arisa White’s Powerful New Opera” | Colby News

Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers

In 2018, Jenkins choreographed  MASS: A Theatre Piece for  Singers, Player and Dancers for the 100-year anniversary celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. MASS, a piece about the collective crisis of faith, was performed by a cast of 250 at Walt Disney Concert Hall with the LA Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and directed by Elkhanna Pulitzer. The work was restaged at David Geffen Hall for Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York City and conducted by festival director Louis Langrée. This production was named one of the top ten classical music performances of 2018 by  Vulture (New York Magazine)


Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA Philharmonic — conducted by Gustavo Dudamel

David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC — conducted by Louis Langrée

“[C]horeographer Laurel Jenkins’ ecstatic, be-in-style movement and her dancer’s participatory gesticulations — is a mash-up of a mega-church sermon and a production of Hair.” Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema, February 2, 2018

“This production, directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer…winningly emphasized theatricality and dramatic intention, while keeping musical values gratifyingly front and center…. The piece is a grand, glorious, groundbreaking and enduring work of art with a unified and unifying vision that packs and enormous musical, emotional, and spiritual punch for anyone lucky enough to experience it.” Joshua Rosenblum, ZealNYC, July 20, 2018 

Review for MASS (NYC): 

“Bernstein’s Contentious ‘Mass’: The Week in Classical Music” | The New York Times
-“‘Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers’ Review: Timeless Bernstein” – Wall Street Journal

The 10 Best Classical-Music Performances of 2018” New York Magazine | Vulture (New York Magazine)

Reviews for MASS (LA):

-“L.A. Phil’s ‘Mass’: A glorious Leonard Bernstein mess” | LA Times

-“Cue the marching band: Bernstein’s ‘Mass’” | LA Times

-“Los Angeles Music Review: BERNSTEIN’S MASS (Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel)” | Stage and Cinema

-“Mass for Everybody” | Fjord Review

Preview Interview:

-“Choreographer Laurel Jenkins Finds the Heart of Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Mass’” | Middlebury News and Announcements

Nmon Ford, the Celebrant, and dancers in Lincoln Center’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS at the 2018 Mostly Mozart Festival. © Richard Termine
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra Music Director Louis Langrée and the orchestra and cast of Lincoln Center’s production of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS. © Richard Termine.

Oedipus Rex/Symphony of Psalms

Opera director Peter Sellars invited Jenkins to perform the role of Ismene in his opera Oedipus Rex / Symphony of Psalms (Stravinsky), conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Sellars and Salonen originally mounted this work in 2009 as a way to mark the end of Salonen’s tenure as the LA Phil’s music director. In 2017, this work was restaged. Jenkins was cast as Ismene and performed the final dance in the opera. The dance functioned as a rite of passage and release. Oedipus Rex / Symphony of Psalms opened at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, France and toured to London at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and to the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm’s Royal Opera House. This work was recently restaged at the San Francisco Symphony (2022). Lisa Hirsch of the San Francisco Critical Voice said, “Laurel Jenkins, as Antigone’s sister Ismene, was a graceful supernumerary during the opera and a gorgeously graceful, very human dancer during the Symphony of Psalms.” This production of Oedipus Rex/Symphony of Psalms made Joshua Kosman’s list for the San Francisco Chronicle’s best musical events of 2022. 

Trailer: Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex

Solo: Symphony of Psalms, Directed by Peter Sellars, Laurel Jenkins as Ismene

Venues: Festival d’Aix en Provence, Grand Théâtre de Provence, France; Royal Festival Hall, London; Baltic Sea Festival, Royal Opera House Stockholm; Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco Symphony


(San Francisco, 2022) 

-“Review: S.F. Symphony pulls off a triumphantly powerful Stravinsky double bill” | Datebook

-“Oedipus Rex at the San Francisco Symphony” | Opera Today

-“Salonen and Sellars effectively link Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Symphony of Psalms” | Seen and Heard International

-“SF Symphony and Guests Give Oedipus rex Power and Purpose” | San Francisco Classical Voice

-“Where Stravinsky Sizzles: Oedipus rex and Symphony of Psalms” |

(Stockholm, Sweden, 2017) 

Rex tremendae majestatis: impressive Stravinsky at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm” |

(London, UK, 2016) 

“Oedipus Rex/Symphony of Psalms, Royal Festival Hall review: ‘Trust Peter Sellars to devise a radical take on it’” | Independent

Philharmonia/Salonen review – exemplary Stravinsky double bill” | The Guardian

Laurel Jenkins as Ismene in Peter Sellars’ Oedipus Rex / Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky, performed at Festival d’Aix en Provence July 2017.

Laurel Jenkins as Ismene in Peter Sellars’ Oedipus Rex / Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky, performed at Festival d’Aix en Provence July 2017.