A Californian Takes Homes the Pulitzer for Her Innovative Opera About Sexual and Emotional Abuse

“I hope this piece allows anyone to be one step closer to living a life that isn’t their own.”

Los Angeles-based composer Ellen Reid was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her opera p r i s m. The 36-year-old composer is only the fourth woman to take the honor since 2013. The work, commissioned and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects, premiered November 29 at the Los Angeles Opera’s Off Grand series.

In a telephone interview with NPR, Reid describes the inspiration for the sensitive topics featured in the opera.

“The subject matter of p r i s m is about sexual assault and that’s something that happens to so many people that we started working on the piece about five years ago, before the #MeToo movement, before there was a kind of shift in thinking about what it meant to be a survivor. And it felt really important.

It was something that Roxie Perkins, the librettist, and I had both experienced personally and it felt like something that we wanted to delve into together. As you can imagine, going so deeply into something that is so difficult is really challenging. There’s something about the piece that makes people who haven’t experienced sexual assault understand just a little bit more what it might be like.”

You can read more of the interview and see excerpts of p r i s m here.

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