A high-rise building of blue tinted windows. A woman is silhouetted in a window lit by yellow light, May 11-16 2020, Lady M!

Lady M

Heartbeat Opera
May 11–June 6, 2020 \ Various Times

“Hacking the corporate contours of Zoom into a postmodern proscenium”
—The Washington Post

“Leading the charge in online opera… [An] extraordinary cast and creative team whose ingenuity and spirit should be applauded”

“High brow and brilliant”
—New York Magazine

HEARTBEAT OPERA—the daring young indie opera company whose unconventional orchestrations and stagings of classic operas have been called "a radical endeavor" by Alex Ross in The New Yorker—concludes its sixth season with its first adaptation of Verdi: LADY M, a reimagined and re-orchestrated work-in-progress, envisioning the story of Macbeth through the eyes of Lady Macbeth.

Stripping away the clichés that have accumulated around Lady Macbeth and her story, Heartbeat's version explores ambition, gender, and violence through a contemporary American lens. Heartbeat Co-Artistic Director Ethan Heard, known for his socially conscious adaptations of classics like a Fidelio that recruited real prison choirs as the chorus, directs. His LADY M holds a mirror to NY in 2020: hedge fund managers and escorts, in glass towers and back alleys; the ferocious ambition and the nonstop drive.

In light of COVID-19, Heartbeat Opera takes its LADY M rehearsals and performances online. Rather than cancel its production, the company launches a 10-day remote residency (April 20–May 1) with their artists rehearsing at home, followed by a series of intimate Virtual Soirées through Zoom video conferencing from May 11–20. The full production arrives in Spring 2021.

Each 60-minute Soirée will include:

  • A welcome toast
  • Introductory remarks
  • Brief live performance by two cast members
  • Q&A

Each Soirée will also feature two videos, newly unveiled for this project:

  • A short documentary showing a behind-the-scenes look at Heartbeat's Remote Residency
  • A music video of Lady M’s “Sleepwalking Scene” sung by Felicia Moore, played by the six-piece band, and featuring the five other cast members of LADY M

EXTENSION: Fourteen Virtual Soirées, each 60 minutes:

  • Wednesday, May 27 at 2PM
  • Wednesday, May 27 at 8PM
  • Thursday, May 28 at 7PM and 9PM
  • Friday, May 29 at 2PM and 8PM
  • Saturday, May 30 at 8PM
  • Wednesday, June 3 at 2PM and 8PM
  • Thursday, June 4 at 7PM and 9PM
  • Friday, June 5 at 2PM and 8PM
  • Saturday, June 6 at 8PM

Eighteen Virtual Soirées, each 45 minutes:

  • Monday, May 11 at 7:30PM and 9PM
  • Tuesday, May 12 at 7:30PM and 9PM
  • Wednesday, May 13 at 2PM and 8PM
  • Thursday, May 14 at 7:30PM and 9PM
  • Friday, May 15 at 7:30PM and 9PM
  • Saturday, May 16 at 2PM and 8PM
  • Monday, May 18 at 7:30PM and 9PM
  • Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30PM and 9PM
  • Wednesday, May 20 at 7:30PM and 9PM

LADY M features six singers, including a trio of soloists as the shapeshifting Weird Sisters, six instrumentalists, and electronic sound design. The band is the superb Cantata Profana. Daniel Schlosberg once again creates a brand new re-orchestration that weaves in sound design and electronics. Jacob Ashworth music directs.

Main Image: Heartbeat Opera's Lady M. Courtesy the artists.


LADY M Teaser: Apparizione. June, 2020.

LADY M Teaser: Inferno. June, 2020.

LADY M Teaser: Maledetta. June 2020.

Program Notes

A Welcome from the Directors

Dearest Audience, 

Heartbeat Opera was founded on the principle of meeting restrictions with creativity and imagination. In our six seasons, we’ve innovated across all aspects of opera to show that the art form can pack a potent punch even when it is produced on a leaner budget. We are proud that The New York Times celebrated this core belief, calling our productions “icy vodka shots of opera instead of ladles of cream sauce.”

Today, we are facing our biggest restriction yet—the inability to share opera in a physical space. The world is out of joint. We are devastated by the human toll of this crisis. We deeply feel the threat it poses to the livelihood of artists and of the performing arts world. And so we ask ourselves: what good can we do in a time so full of fear and uncertainty?

We believe it is our duty to seize this moment and find new modes of creating together. This is why we decided not to cancel Lady M, but to move it into virtual space. The passion to express ourselves prevails. We take pride in providing work for artists during this time of financial hardship. We relish the opportunity to connect with you, our audience. And we see this experimentation as vital research for an unpredictable future – useful both for Heartbeat’s own grasp of what future collaborations can look like, but equally for the opera industry at large. 

In conceiving these Virtual Soirées, we wanted one easy ticket price: $30 per household. But as you can imagine, ticket revenue will only cover a small portion of what it costs to create Lady M. Moreover, we usually do a substantial amount of our season fundraising during the run of our spring production. This year, we will be reaching far fewer audience members than normal. And so we ask for your generous support. Please donate to The Tomorrow Fund and help ensure that Heartbeat can continue to make powerful opera tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow... 

Macbeth memorably says: “Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.” The current crisis, as all-consuming as it appears now, will be temporary, and we will be able to perform for you in a physical space once again. We cannot wait for that day to come! In the meantime, be our guest here, in cyberspace. Have a glass of wine, and discover what 21 fearless artists have created for you, each from their own home, driven by a deep desire to collaborate across “social distance”. We hope the curiosity, passion, and urgency in this work reaches you.

With gratitude and love, 

Louisa and Ethan

Dates + Tickets

Work in Progress
Work-in-Progress: Lady M Online
A fantasia on Verdi's Macbeth via ZOOM
Monday 11
May 2020
------------ thru ------------
Saturday 6
June 2020
$30 per household / $10 Students

$30 per household/device through OvationTix

$10 for students

If you are experiencing financial hardship during this crisis, we are happy to provide you a complimentary ticket. Please email with your request.

Presented By

EMPAC Spring 2020


Press Mention

The New Yorker
The Washington Post


Production Credits

Directed and adapted by Ethan Heard
Music directed by Jacob Ashworth
Arranged by Daniel Schlosberg
Electronic sound design and performance by Senem Pirler


EMPAC Spring 2020 presentations, residencies, and commissions are made possible by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts; and Vlaamse Gemeenschap, department of Culture, Youth, and Media.