Sally Ride Opera Workshop
Dana Kaufman
Experience the thrilling life of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, in operatic form at this workshop presentation of a new work.


Sunday, November 12th, 2023


2220 Arts + Archives
2220 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90057


Free, but registration is required


Dana Kaufman: Sally Ride (excerpts)
Aiden K. Feltkamp, librettist
Tam O’Shaughnessy, advisor
Ashley Walters, conductor
Kimberly Guerrero, director

Alejandra Martinez, soprano (Sally Ride)
Dara Gallagher, mezzo-soprano (Tam O’Shaughnessy)
Ben Lin, bass (Mission Control)
Chorus: Tiffany Ho, Miriam Adhanom, Sam Avila, Lorenzo Zapata
Instrumental Ensemble: Cameron Wilkins, Brian Walsh, Mia Barcia-Colombo, Kate Outterbridge


Sally Ride follows the real-life story of the first American woman and the first LGBTQ+ person to go to space. Narrated by her life partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, the opera illuminates Sally’s intense drive to succeed and her innate need for privacy, two elements that constantly clash as she rises through the ranks of NASA. We watch as Sally is accepted into NASA, travels into space, stands up against the misogynistic press, chooses to start a life with Tam, and eventually leaves NASA to pursue the life she truly wants as a physics professor and champion of science education for girls. Again and again, Sally must decide to either follow the path society expects for her or create her own way. Sally Ride explores the thrills, the disappointments, the humor, and the secrets of Sally’s life, drawing the audience along for a night of triumph and personal exploration.

This workshop concert will showcase scenes from Sally Ride. Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, Sally’s life partner and co-founder of the San Diego-based organization Sally Ride Science (SRS), is a consultant on the opera, ensuring its narrative is true to life. Audience members will have the chance to offer feedback anonymously via a questionnaire, a feedback session, or during the reception that follows the event.


Dana Kaufman, Composer

The work of Los Angeles-based composer Dana Kaufman centers disruptive opera and vocal music, accessible and inclusive stages, and the intersection of pop culture and classical music. Hailed as “whirlwind” (Gramophone), “ingeniously derived” (Sequenza21), and “dramatic... and powerfully funny” (Observer), Kaufman’s music has been heard in North America, Europe, and Asia. Her works have been featured at venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, New York Opera Fest, Contemporary Mu- sic Center of Milan, the National Gugak Center (South Korea), The Tank, Jordan Hall, Boston New Music Festival, National Opera Week, Hartford Opera Theater, Ravinia Festival, and Opera on Tap Chicago; they have been commissioned by GRAMMY-winning pianist Nadia Shpachenko, the Louisville Ballet, Carlow Arts Festival (Ireland), the Lowell Chamber Orchestra, Paradox Opera, and many others. Kaufman is Assistant Professor in Music Composition at University of California, Riverside.

Aiden Feltkamp, Librettist

Aiden K. Feltkamp (they/he) began their artistic life at the age of 5 playing a quarter-size cello and now they’re “upending preconceptions about voice and gender” (New York Times) as a trans nonbinary writer and equity specialist. Aiden’s written work spans the serious and the ridiculous, the real and the surreal. Some of their favorite projects include: an opera with Dana Kaufman about Emily Dickinson’s queerness, an interactive fiction experience about alien communication coded in Javascript (“Hello, Aria”), new English translations of Jewish lesbian erotic poet Marie-Madeleine’s work (The Priestess of Morphine with Rosśa Crean), and a four-part series decoupling gender and voice types. Most recently, their work has been commissioned by Cantus, Amherst College, and Strange Trace Opera, and has been published in PBS’s American Masters series, OPERA America Magazine, Sparks & Wiry Cries Magazine, Crêpe & Penn, and NewMusicBox.

Tam O’Shaughnessy, Advisor

Tam Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy is an American children’s science writer and former professional tennis player who co-founded the science education company Sally Ride Science together with her life partner, astronaut Sally Ride – the first American woman in space. The company was relaunched as a nonprofit entity, Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, on October 1, 2015. O’Shaughnessy serves as executive director.

This concert is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and an Etta Creative Infusion.

The development of Sally Ride received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Women Composers: Discovery Grants program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.