The Garden of the Finzi-Continis tells the story of an aristocratic Italian-Jewish family, the Finzi-Continis, who believe they are immune to change on the eve of World War II

NYTF and New York City Opera (Michael Capasso, General Director) join forces to present the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon‘s (Intimate Apparel, Ellen West) new opera The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, based on Giorgio Bassani’s 1962 novel (considered a modern classic which is also the basis for Vittorio De Sica’s 1970 film adaptation starring Dominique Sanda and Helmet Berger – a 1972 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film).

What is The Garden of the Finzi-Continis?

With a libretto by Michael Korie (Flying Over Sunset, War Paint, Grey Gardens), The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis begins on the eve of World War II and tells the story of an aristocratic Italian-Jewish family, the Finzi-Continis, who believe they are immune to the changes happening around them. 

As they make a gracious haven for themselves in their garden, walling out the unpleasantness of the world outside, Italy forms its alliance with Germany and begins to enforce anti-Semitic racial laws. But the Finzi-Continis discover too late that no one is immune, no one is untouchable.

Based on Giorgio Bassani’s 1962 novel, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is a modern classic. Vittorio De Sica’s 1970 film adaptation starred Dominique Sanda and Helmet Berger – and took home a 1972 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Hear from the Creative Team of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

“We are proud to co-produce the world premiere of The Garden of The Finzi-Continis by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie,” said Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. “This important new work illuminates an important part of Italian Jewish history, and sadly, its themes of discrimination and antisemitism still resonate in our world today.”

The Garden of the FInzi-Continis continues New York City Opera’s mission to produce new and important works by American composers,” said Mr. Capasso.

Creative Team

Music by
Ricky Ian Gordon

Libretto by
Michael Korie,
based on the novel by
Giorgio Bassani

Directed and choreographed by
Richard Stafford

James Lowe

Set Designer:
John Farrell

Lighting Designer:
Susan Roth

Costume Designer:
Ildikó Debreczeni


Baritone BRIAN JAMES MYER (Alberto Finzi-Contini) created leading roles in two NYCO 2019 premieres: as young Erich in Ted Rosenthal’s jazz opera Dear Erich and as the schoolteacher Carlos in Iain Bell and Mark Campbell’s Stonewall.  He has created other roles in new works for Florida Grand Opera, American Lyric Theatre, Opera San Jose, and Opera Las Vegas.  

Mezzo-soprano MARY PHILLIPS (Mamma) is closely associated with the music of Wagner having won acclaim singing many mezzo roles in the Ring cycle with Seattle Opera, Canadian Opera, and at the MET, where she has also performed in works by Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Strauss, Anton Dvorak and Philip Glass. 

Baritone STEPHEN POWELL (Papà) is familiar to New York opera audience from his numerous appearances at both NYCO (in countless productions including The Magic Flute, Madama Butterfly, Der Rosenkavalier, La Traviata) and the MET (Carmen, Turandot, Boris Godunov), as well as nationally with San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Diego Opera and Glimmerglass Opera.  

Tenor VICTOR STARSKY (Giorgio) has appeared in the NYCO productions of La fanciulla del West and La Bohème and was a participant in the 2019 Merola Opera Program and a 2020 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. His other credits include performances with Opera Modesto, Opera Tampa, Long Island Opera, and made his Carnegie Hall debut as the tenor soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.


Ricky Ian Gordon (Composer)
Operas include The Grapes of Wrath (also with a libretto by Michael Korie, Minnesota Opera), Ellen West (Beth Morrison Projects, Opera Saratoga, libretto by Frank Bidart), The House Without A Christmas Tree (Houston Grand Opera), 27 (Opera Theatre of St Louis, libretto by Royce Vavrek); Morning Star (Cincinnati Opera, libretto by William Hoffman); A Coffin In Egypt (Houston Grand Opera, libretto by Leonard Foglia); Rappahannock County (Virginia Opera, libretto by Mark Campbell); Green Sneakers (Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival); The Tibetan Book of The Dead (Houston Grand Opera, libretto by Jean Claude Van Itallie); and Orpheus and Euridice (Lincoln Center, Obie Award). For theater, he has composed the music for the musicals Sycamore Trees (Signature Theatre, Helen Hayes Award), My Life With Albertine (Playwrights Horizons, playwright Richard Nelson; AT&T Award, Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Music Theater Foundation Award) and Dream True (Vineyard Theatre, playwright Tina Landau; Richard Rodgers Award). Upcoming productions include the musical Private Confessions (playwright Richard Nelson) and the opera Intimate Apparel, with a libretto by Lynn Nottage based on her play, scheduled to open at Lincoln Center Theater in Spring 2021.

Michael Korie (Librettist)
Librettos include: The Grapes of Wrath with music by Ricky Ian Gordon (Minnesota Opera, Saint Louis, Carnegie Hall); Harvey Milk; Hopper’s Wife; Where’s Dick,; Kabbalah (San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, BAM Next Wave; composer Stewart Wallace); and the upcoming SuperMax (Opera Saratoga; co-librettist Mark Campbell, composer Stewart Wallace). He wrote the lyrics to Scott Frankel’s music for the musicals Grey Gardens (Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Musical; Tony, Drama Desk, Grammy nominations; London Offie Award for Best Musical); War Paint (Drama Desk Award nomination), Far from Heaven, Happiness, and Doll (Ravinia Festival). He was also co-lyricist with Amy Powers for Doctor Zhivago (Broadway, London, Germany, Australia, Scandinavia, Hungary, Korea, composer Lucy Simon). He is the winner of a Marc Blitzstein Award, the Edward Kleban Prize, the Jonathan Larson Award, and the ASCAP Richard Rodgers Award. He serves on the Dramatists Guild Council where he is a mentor for their DGF Fellows Program, and teaches theater at Yale and Columbia. Upcoming projects include the lyrics for the new musical Flying Over Sunset, with a book by James Lapine and music by Tom Kitt, scheduled to open at Lincoln Center Theater in Spring 2021.

Richard Stafford (Director and Choreographer)
Directed and choreographed NYCO’s productions of Antonio Literes’s Los Elementos, the double bill of Rameau’s Pigmalion and Donizetti’s Pigmalione, and choreographed NYCO’s world premiere production of Stonewall. On Broadway, he was the choreographer for My Life, associate choreographer for Aspects of Love, and dance supervisor for Cats. Off-Broadway, he choreographed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at St. Clements and directed and choreographed Castle Walk for the New York Music Festival. Internationally he directed and choreographed The Full Monty and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Mexico City, Cats in Copenhagen, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro; and choreographed productions of Jesus Christ Superstar in Mexico City, Evita in Sydney; and Cats in Buenos Aires. He has also choreographed national tours of Cats, My Fair Lady and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. His awards include a Barrymore Award for outstanding choreography for La Cage aux Folles at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre.

James Lowe (Conductor)
James Lowe is a Grammy-nominated music director and conductor whose career spans opera and musical theater. He has appeared at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera and Houston Grand Opera, where he recently led La bohéme and Sweeney Todd. He made his European debut conducting Candide at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse and Opéra National de Bordeaux. This past summer he arranged, orchestrated and conducted Songbird, a new adaptation of Offenbach’s La Périchole in the style of 1920’s New Orleans jazz for the Glimmerglass Festival.

On Broadway, Mr. Lowe was the music director and conductor of the recent revival of Les Misérables, as well as the Tony Award-winning revival of Anything Goes. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on the Anything Goes cast album, which he conducted and co-produced. He toured North America as music director and conductor of the acclaimed Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, and conducted the First National Tour of The Light in the Piazza. He also served as the US music supervisor of the most recent North American Tour of The Phantom of the Opera.

Mr. Lowe has appeared in concert with Sir Elton John, conducting his own orchestrations and choral arrangements of Elton’s classic songs, as well as with singer-songwriter Randy Newman and the legendary Booker T. Jones. His arrangements have been performed by Joyce DiDonato (Lincoln Center and Wigmore Hall), Isabel Leonard, Ailyn Pérez and Nadine Sierra (Metropolitan Opera’s “Three Divas at Versailles” concert), as well as at the Glimmerglass Festival and Utah Opera.

January 19 – 30, 2022


National Yiddish Theatre will require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff, for all performances through February 2022. Masks will also be required for audiences inside the theatre, except while eating or drinking in designated locations. Under the policy, guests will need to be fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine in order to attend a show and must show proof of vaccination at their time of entry into the theatre with their valid ticket and photo ID. “Fully vaccinated” means the performance date must be at least 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or at least 14 days after a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

**Guests who do not comply with these policies will be denied entry or asked to leave the theatre.**

  • The Garden of the Finzi-Continis will be presented in person. 
  • Performances: January 19 – 30, 2022

This policy is meant to provide flexibility in the event a guest may be unable to attend a show due to illness, travel restrictions, or any other circumstances.

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  • Refund or exchange requests must be submitted no later than 14 days prior to the performance.
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National Yiddish Theatre is located at:

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New York, NY 10280

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