Skip navigation

Patience & Sarah, A pioneering love story
Music by Paula M. Kimper, Libretto by Wende Persons
Based on the novel by Isabel Miller

For more info go to:

Coming in October 2018, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble presents:

  • October 5 through 21, 2018

  • Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30PM, Sundays at 3PM

  • Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago




Poster from the June, 2016 Revival of Patience & Sarah, A pioneering love story, an opera about the love of two 19th-century pioneering women who dared to live together.

June 23 and 24, we presented two staged concert performances with the new seven-piece orchestration and seven singers, at The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street in New York City.

To view scenes from the revival, please visit and subscribe to our YouTube page:

The first step on the journey to the revival was a performance of ACT 2 at the LGBT Center in Greenwich Village, on June 26, 2015, in conjunction with Pride Weekend.  As if by miracle, it was the very day the Supreme Court ruled positively about Marriage Equality.

Here are two scenes from June 26, 2015:

ACT 2 scene 3

Nadia Petrella and Elsa Quéron

The Act 2 Duet:  Click here for YouTube Video

Elsa Quéron and Michael Kelly

Elsa Quéron and Michael Kelly








Water Parted From the Sea: Click here for You Tube Video

Original design by Marie Anne Chiment

Patience & Sarah

Elaine Valby and Lori Phillips, 1998, photo by Ken Howard


Set in Connecticut in the winter of 1816, Patience & Sarah tells the powerful story of two young women who meet, fall in love, and resolve to devote their lives to each other. The artist Patience White, sister to a middle-class Connecticut landowner, and tough-minded, adventurous Sarah Dowling, the daughter of a poor farmer, share a mutual dream of leaving behind their repressive families to go pioneering together. Patience wants to go with Sarah but their families prevent it, so Sarah goes out on the road alone, dressed as a boy and calling herself Sam. She meets Parson Daniel Peel, a book peddler, who invites Sam to travel with him.  When the Parson falls in love with Sam, Sarah reveals herself and decides to return home. She is reunited with Patience and visits her every day for reading lessons. One day when the women are finally alone Patience’s sister-in-law discovers them in an embrace. Patience’s brother demands that they leave and as the women are about to set sail for Genesee to buy land and make a home together, he gives them his blessing and sees them off.  Patience and Sarah, alone together on the boat dock, begin their new life together.

The opera is closely based on Isabel Miller’s 1969 novel, which in turn was inspired by the true story of two 19th-century women, the painter Mary Ann Willson and her companion Miss Brundage. Today Mary Ann Willson is recognized as an outstanding primitive artist; her paintings may be seen in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

Characters (in order of vocal appearance):

  • Patience Whitesoprano
  • Rachel Dowlingsoprano
  • Sarah Dowlingmezzo-soprano
  • Ma Dowlingmezzo-soprano
  • Martha Whitecontralto
  • Edward Whitetenor
  • Parson Daniel Peelbaritone
  • Pa Dowlingbass

Performance History:

P&S REVIVAL at The Players Theatre, NYC (2016)

ACT 2 at the LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER, New York, NY (2015)

Excerpts at Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn, NY (2011)

Three Scenes at St. Mark’s Church, NYC (2010

First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA (2007)

Brighton and York, England (2001-3)

Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, Chicago, IL (2000)

Stonington Opera House, ME (2000)

Denver Opera Co. (2000)

World Premiere, Lincoln Center Festival 98, NYC (1998)

Commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects, Patience & Sarah premiered on July 8, 1998 in the John Jay College Theater as part of  Lincoln Center Festival 98. The cast for the premiere included Lori Phillips (Patience White), Elaine Valby (Sarah Dowling), Amy Ellen Anderson (Martha White) , John G. Bellemer (Edward White), Laure Meloy (Rachel Dowling), Janet Ellis (Ma Dowling), LeRoy Lehr (Pa Dowling), and Barton Green (Parson Daniel Peel), with Steven R. Osgood conducting.

Preview, Academy of Music, Northampton, MA (1998)

Development, American Opera Projects, NYC (1994-1998)


Libretto: P&S LIBRETTO

Piano/Vocal Score


Chamber Orchestration (14)

CD: of World Premiere (for promotional use only)

Archival DVD: of World Premiere dress rehearsal
with the entire opera

P&S featured on: “in the life” TV broadcast

“…that’s just good opera.” –The New York Times

“It is a rich, moving production that …leaves us with the greatest gift: hope.” –Chicago Free Press

“A warm welcome to Patience & Sarah. …a rare and moving opera about women in love.” –New York Magazine

“…a charming folk opera that companies around the country would be wise to add to their repertoire.” –New York Blade News

“Romance colored by Danger and Ecstasy” –New York Times

“Women’s Music: Who Can Tell?” — The New York Times

The Captivation of Eunice Williams –   The Bridge of San Luis Rey –   TRUTH

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>