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Bridge of San Luis Rey

An American Opera by Paula M. Kimper,

based on the Novel by Thornton Wilder

SETTING: Lima and Cuzco, Peru, 1714.

AND: Convent of Saint Rose of Lima, many years later.


“The Bridge of San Luis Rey” delves into the lives of five people who are suddenly killed when a bridge collapses into a deep gorge in the Peruvian Andes of 1714. A young monk called Brother Juniper sees the fall of the bridge as his laboratory to prove that God specifically chose those five people to die on that exact day. The actress Camila La Perichole and the Abbess Madre María del Pilar, both of whom have lost loved ones in the fall of the bridge, help Brother Juniper to write an enormous book full of conflicting facts about the victims.  When he and his book are burned at the stake for heresy by the Inquisition, the Abbess treasures the copy he gave her.  Deep in despair and mourning her losses, Camila humbly seeks out the Abbess and is accepted into a life of service at the Convent.


(in order of vocal appearance:)

  • Brother Juniper - high tenor
  • Uncle Piotenor
  • Camila La Perichole - dramatic soprano
  • Jaime,
  • Abbess Madre María del Pilar of the Convent of Santa María Rosa de las Rosas - mezzo-soprano
  • Doña María, the Marquesa  de Montemayor - contralto
  • Doña Clara, the Condesa d’Abuirre, her daughtercoloratura
  • Pepitasoubrette
  • Estebanbass-baritone
  • Manuelbaritone
  • Captain Alvaradobass

Chorus: local people, Andean natives, servants, nuns, monks

Performance History:

Premiere, Eric Carle Museum, Amherst, MA (2007)

Orchestra Suite, Danbury Community Orchestra, CT (2007)

Excerpts from BRIDGE, US NAVY CNO CapGemini Strategic Studies Group, NYC (2005)

Opera America: New Works Showcase, Excerpts from BRIDGE, Pittsburgh, PA (2004)

Excerpts from BRIDGE, 1794 Meetinghouse, MA (2003)

Development, American Opera Projects (2000-2005)


Libretto, Piano/Vocal Score

CD of Excerpts from the opera

Orchestra Suite

Suite for Piano Solo


Patience & Sarah –   The Captivation of Eunice Williams –  TRUTH

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