After Life


Chamber Opera in One Act


Libretto by David Mason

Music by Tom Cipullo


Duration: ca.50 minutes

Commissioned by Music of Remembrance (Mina Miller, Artistic Director)

Premiered at Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington on May 11, 2015




   Gertrude Stein                                                 mezzo-soprano

Pablo Picasso                                                  baritone

Young Woman, a victim of the Holocaust       soprano




flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano





          After Life imagines a post-mortem reunion of Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. Stein believes her beloved Alice Toklas has conjured her back to life, while Picasso wonders which of his many lovers has called him up from the abyss. When both realize, to their disappointment, that their great loves are not present, the two towering figures discuss their lives, their complex relationship, and, in particular, their activities during the Second World War. Their outsize egos clash, resentment between them boils over, and, as they confront each other, a third voice rises from the darkness. A young girl, a victim of the Holocaust, appears, and it is her questioning that has brought Stein and Picasso back from the dead.  Why did she die while they lived on?  Can the two artists, whose work endures, ever know death as she does? Who will remember her, when she barely remembers herself?



After Life is available from Naxos Records in its American Opera Classics series. 



After Life is the winner of the 2017-2018 Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Composition Prize

from the National Opera Association.  





"devastatingly effective... Cipullo shows himself to be a natural master of writing for the voice." 

                                                                 Thomas May, Bachtrack     May 12, 2015



"Cipullo's music, unfailingly inventive, is mostly in an appealingly varied extended tonal language,

but during appropriate passages he provides the angular, driving dissonances one might expect from

an opera about these two avatars of modernism.  Cipullo cycles nimbly through the full spectrum

of emotions Stein and Picasso provoke in each other, unfailingly setting Mason's illuminating

and provocative libretto so it can be declaimed with great clarity." 

                                                                       Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, July 2016



"Cipullo's ever-compelling musical score... conveys the contradictory complexity of the two

artists and the aching innocence of the Parisian girl with such potent authenticity... Cipullo

shapes his melodic phrases with an uncannily perceptive ear for each character's profile

and personality, and the harmonic language beneath is an exquisite kaleidoscope of colors. 

The chamber orchestra accompaniment is a bold yet never overbearing presence, and it

serves up every emotional flavor this story requires, from biting pain and bitter tragedy

to transcendent beauty and stirring hope."

                                                      Gregory Berg, Journal of Singing

                               November 1, 2016



"...a compelling hour of musical theater."

                                                   Alice Bloch, Seattle Gay News

                       May 15, 2015



"...from verbally combative and scathingly accusatory to contemplative and reflective, with

music that soars and roars, sears and weeps - the music is by Tom Cipullo, the libretto

by David Mason - this imaginatively conceived hypothetical meeting is operatic in

both the most elevated and most elemental sense of the word."

                                                                    Leslie Weisman, DC Metro Theater Arts

                      April 5, 2016




Recent Productions


Opera Colorado (2019)

Chelsea Opera (2019)

Boston University Fringe Festival (2018)

University of North Texas (2018)

Loyola University, New Orleans and the National Opera Assn. (2018)

UrbanArias (2016)



After Life is published by E.C. Schirmer.  


Please click on the image below for more information.