LucyJohn Glover, composer & Kelley Rourke, librettist


Composer John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke's opera Lucy takes as its subject the fascinating and thought provoking story of a chimpanzee raised by a human family in Oklahoma in the 1960’s as part of research into both human and primate behavior and psychology. This recording features poignant performances by baritone Andrew Wilkowske and the Red Shift Ensemble with Glover conducting.    


# Audio Title/Composer(s) Time
Total Time 74:06
01"The remains of the chimp known as Lucy were found in the Gambia last week..."/ Wondering
"The remains of the chimp known as Lucy were found in the Gambia last week..."/ Wondering
02"The University of Oklahomas cross-fostering project places its fourth chimpanzee..."
"The University of Oklahomas cross-fostering project places its fourth chimpanzee..."
03Babys first year
Babys first year
04"For the first 12 months of life..."
"For the first 12 months of life..."
06"To the extent possible, the family makes no distinction..."
"To the extent possible, the family makes no distinction..."
07Pure chaos
Pure chaos
08"Yesterday, Lucy moved into a new wing..."
"Yesterday, Lucy moved into a new wing..."
09An organized world
An organized world
11"In addition to their suburban home, the Temerlins own a large cattle ranch..."
"In addition to their suburban home, the Temerlins own a large cattle ranch..."
12Completely at home
Completely at home
13An ideal drinking companion
An ideal drinking companion
14"Researchers have identified thirty-two distinctive sounds and sixty-six gestures..."
"Researchers have identified thirty-two distinctive sounds and sixty-six gestures..."
15Lucy's vocabulary
Lucy's vocabulary
16Using her signs
Using her signs
17No pets allowed
No pets allowed
18Tarzan fantasies
Tarzan fantasies
19"She fed the mother a Coca-Cola, which had been spiked with phencyclidine..."
"She fed the mother a Coca-Cola, which had been spiked with phencyclidine..."
20A real kick
A real kick
22"Chimpanzees are five to seven times stronger than humans..."
"Chimpanzees are five to seven times stronger than humans..."
24Lucys emotions
Lucys emotions
25Many people will not
Many people will not
26Who can we trust?
Who can we trust?
29Such great people
Such great people
30I hated Lucy at that moment
I hated Lucy at that moment
32Natural causes
Natural causes
33Completely at home
Completely at home
34Robert Ingersoll in conversation with Erik Pearson
Robert Ingersoll in conversation with Erik Pearson
35The Making of Lucy
The Making of Lucy

Composer John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke's opera Lucy takes as its subject the fascinating and thought provoking story of a chimpanzee raised by a human family in Oklahoma in the 1960’s as part of research into both human and primate behavior and psychology. Glover’s poignant and emotionally sensitive piece explores not just the ups and downs of Lucy’s childhood and relationship to her “parents” Maurice and Jane Temerlin, but also forces us to engage with questions of nature vs. nurture, what it means to be human, and the consequences of our interactions with other species.

He and librettist Kelley Rourke were initially inspired by hearing Lucy’s story on the popular public radio program, Radiolab. The songs relate actual episodes from Lucy's life, as reported in Maurice Temerlin's memoir and other sources. Glover’s effervescent style is perfect for the recounting of Lucy’s everyday activities as they are transformed into profound observations on behavior, as well as capturing Maurice’s dual role as father and documentarian of this unique experiment. The prevalence of familiar scenarios between children and parents as they are growing up is striking — in a particular powerful passage, Maurice relates his impulse to punish Lucy by striking her. Lucy, who had learned ASL (American Sign Language) by this time in her development, uses it to communicate with Maurice and eludes her punishment just as a human child might, with a cute appeal to her angry father. Lucy’s Vocabulary, age 9.5 deftly “sets” Lucy’s words, with Wilkowske signing as the violin plays fragile harmonics over a sparse and innocent toy piano and cello accompaniment. By choosing a small ensemble configuration, Glover keeps our focus on the incremental, domestic discoveries of child rearing and avoids distracting bombast.

Andrew Wilkowske delivers a heartfelt performance, capturing the nuance of Maurice’s relationship to his daughter, and REDSHIFT Ensemble provides colorful, expressive support. The release concludes with an interview, edited by WQXR/ Q2’s Hannis Brown, with Robert Ingersol, a primatologist who knew Lucy and was featured in the documentary, Project Nim, a landmark film about efforts to teach a chimp sign language. Lucy is a story that may leave us with more questions than answers, about the distinctions between humans and animals, our assumptions about child rearing, and our emotional attachments, but Glover and Rourke’s sensitive presentation is firm in its assertion that the questions that are raised have profound implications for our understanding of ourselves.

John Glover, composer/conductor
Kelley Rourke, librettist
Andrew Wilkowske, baritone
Christopher Zemliauskas, Music Director/Piano Red Shift Ensemble:
Andie Springer, violin
Jeff Anderle, clarinet
Rose Bellini, cello
Kate Campbell, toy piano                    
Recorded live at Milwaukee Opera Theatre, 2014
Jill Anna Ponasik, Producing Artistic Director
Ric Probst, Recording
Sheldon Steiger, Mixing

Kelley Rourke

Kelley Rourke’s collaborations with John Glover include the orchestral song cycle Natural Systems (New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall), the rock-recital Guns ‘n Rosenkavalier (various venues) and a new, evening-length piece for Jesse Blumberg and the Del Sol String Quartet. The Glimmerglass Festival commissioned Kelley to write the youth operas Odyssey (2015) and Robin Hood (2017), both with music by Ben Moore, and Wilde Tales (2016), with music by Laura Karpman. Kelley has also created fifteen contemporary English adaptations of standard and not-so- standard repertory, which have been heard at companies including English National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, The Atlanta Opera, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. These collaborations with dead composers have been hailed as “crackingly witty” (The Independent, London) and “remarkably well wedded to the music and versification in arias” (New York Times). Kelley is resident dramaturg for The Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera.

John Glover

Described as “an unabashedly expressive composer,” (The New Yorker) John Glover has created music for concert, opera, dance, and theater. He has received commissions from organizations including Houston Grand Opera, New York Youth Symphony, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Del Sol String Quartet, Liuh-wen Ting, Amber Sloan Dance, String Noise, Crossman Dans(c)e, and the Five Boroughs Music Festival. John has received awards, fellowships, and grants for his music from organizations including New Music USA, Meet The Composer, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Cambodia Living Arts, Cherry Valley Artworks, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Recent projects include Guns ‘n Rosenkavalier, a rock-recital with baritone Andrew Wilkowske and horn quartet Genghis Barbie; Rudiments at The Yard for Amber Sloan and vocalist Tomás Cruz; the multimedia work Snow, created with choreographer Jordan Morley for toy-pianist Phyllis Chen; American Gothic, for bass-baritone Davonne Tines and Canite Quartet; and score and sound design for the immersive work HERE by choreographer Kelly Bartnik. Future projects include a new work for Del Sol String Quartet with Jesse Blumberg.

Andrew Wilkowske

Andrew Wilkowske, widely known for his expertise in modern repertoire, created the role of Ponchel in the Pulitzer Prize- winning Silent Night (Kevin Puts/ Mark Campbell) at Minnesota Opera, with repeat performances at Opera Philadelphia, Cincinnati Opera, Lyric Opera Kansas City, and The Atlanta Opera. Other recent premieres include The Invention of Morel with Chicago Opera Theater, The Rivals with Skylight Music Theatre, The Grapes of Wrath with Minnesota Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, The Adventures of Pinocchio with Minnesota Opera, and The Fly with Los Angeles Opera. His performance in Verdi’s King for a Day at The Glimmerglass Festival was called “superb” by The New York Times and hailed for “impressive command to the text” by The Wall Street Journal. With John Glover, he created the critically acclaimed rock-recital Guns n’ Rosenkavalier. Other highlights include performances with Minnesota Orchestra, Buffalo Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, Milwaukee Opera Theater, Florentine Opera, and Komische Oper Berlin. Wilkowske is featured on several recordings, including The Grapes of Wrath and the PBS telecast of Silent Night.

Christopher Zemliauskas

Christopher Zemliauskas, a member of the faculty at Ithaca College, has also served on the faculties of NYU Steinhardt and CU Boulder. At CU he conducted productions of Our Town, Albert Herring, Little Women, and Orfeo ed Euridice. At Central City Opera, Zemliauskas has conducted performances of Our Town, Carmen, Amadigi di Gaula, A Little Night Music, West Side Story, Susannah, Curlew River, The Prodigal Son, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, and Cendrillon. As a co-artistic director of FusionChamber, a new music ensemble in Boulder, he has conducted performances of Pierrot Lunaire, Eight Songs for a Mad King, and Miss Donnithorne’s Maggott. An active chamber musician, Zemliauskas has played with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the Extasis Tango Quartet, and has been Symphony Conductor for the Boulder Youth Symphony.


Founded in 2007, REDSHIFT is committed to performing contemporary music with “dazzling technique and out-of-box creativity” (Lucid Culture NY). With home bases in multiple cities, the ensemble draws on vast experience performing all types of classical music – from the traditional to wildly experimental – and presents new works in traditional and nontraditional settings. REDSHIFT’s appearances regularly feature commissions and world premieres from composers working in a range of styles and at varied career stages. The members of REDSHIFT (Andie Springer, violin; Jeff Anderle, clarinets; Rose Bellini, cello; Kate Campbell, piano) individually perform, teach, commission, record, and curate projects. In addition to REDSHIFT, they are members of a diverse roster of ensembles including Sqwonk, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Hotel Elefant, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Transit, Splinter Reeds, and KATES. They are also founders, administrators, and board members of successful organizations and festivals such as the Switchboard Music Festival, and Omaha Under the Radar Festival..


Washington Post

As unlikely as it may seem, the true story of Lucy, a chimpanzee “adopted” at birth in 1964 by a human family and raised for 11 years in suburbia as a daughter, turns out to be the backbone of a compelling opera.

Composer John Glover and librettist Kelley Rourke have crafted “Lucy,” which premiered in Milwaukee in 2014, skillfully — Rourke by sidestepping the question of the moral obliviousness of the undertaking and offering a mix of objectivity, emotion and humor, and Glover by managing to flesh out the single role of Maurice Temerlin, Lucy’s “father,” with musical incarnations of the growing chimp and the physical and emotional pleasure and chaos she leaves in her trail.

“Lucy,” a presentation of the always-interesting UrbanArias, opened for a four-performance run at H Street’s Atlas Performing Arts Center on Saturday with baritone Andrew Wilkowske as Temerlin, and Wilkowske nailed it, mostly because he is as nuanced an actor as he is a singer. The score doesn’t call for vocal acrobatics or for a particularly big range and only occasionally for bursts of passion. What it needs, and what it got from Wilkowske, is subtle shades of wistfulness, impatience and wonder, all bolstered by the endurance it takes to be alone onstage for an hour.

As the opera opens, it is several decades after it became necessary for Temerlin to send Lucy away to a chimpanzee refuge in Gambia, and he opens a letter telling him that her body has been found. Through the rest of the opera, he reminisces — about her playfulness and destructiveness, her attachment to the family and to a pet kitten, their companionable drinking together and difficulties with visitors — reminiscences by turns rueful, funny and proud.

The opera is structured in episodes, each introduced by the taped voice of an objective reporter who narrates pieces of the experiment’s history. And the accompanying score, for violin, cello, bass clarinet, piano and toy piano (an instrument that appears in other Glover endeavors), is determinedly lighthearted even in moments of pandemonium. When Temerlin despairs of Lucy’s delight in defecating wherever she pleases and pleads that he is a man who loves order, the quintet breaks into a graceful waltz, and the playfulness that accompanies moments of maximum disorder is more a reflection of Lucy’s mind than of Temerlin’s. The toy piano lent a tinkly, fey, percussive voice to the ensemble, perfect for those moments when I couldn’t resist wondering what Temerlin could have been thinking when he took this on.

— Joan Reinthaler, Washington Post, 4.2.2017