CalArtians Create Opera Miniseries Desert In

Boston Lyric Opera is pushing the boundaries of opera with its recent release of the groundbreaking eight-part miniseries, Desert In. An opera, TV show, and music video all in one, the show was created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid (Music MFA 11), playwright Christopher Oscar Peña, and director James Darrah.

Set in the American West at a mysterious motor lodge, Desert In tells a supernatural story about “what you will sacrifice to connect with someone you’ve lost,” Reid said in an interview with NPR. “It’s about where you lose yourself in that and how far it takes to get yourself back.” 

Each episode features music by a different composer. Reid kicks off the series with original music for episode one, and collaborates with Herb Alpert Award in the Arts winner Vijay Iyer on the music for episode three, which was also directed by CalArts alum Zackary Drucker (Art MFA 07). 

Desert In was released June 3, 2021, and is available to stream exclusively on, an online platform created by Boston Lyric Opera. The series was shot in Palm Springs, Calif. and was produced in association with Long Beach Opera. 

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