Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

A Marvelous Order 
An opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs
Music by Judd Greenstein
Libretto by Tracy K. Smith
Animation and Direction by Joshua Frankel

7:30 pm Thursday, October 20, 2022

A Marvelous Order concerns the battle between Robert Moses, the master builder, and Jane Jacobs, the self-taught oracle of unparalleled urban insight, over the fate of New York City. When Moses plans to demolish Jacobs’ home and neighborhood, she leads a revolt igniting a conflict that continues to shape built environments — from small towns to global cities — around the world. The opera humanizes the struggle between power and protest as only music, poetry, and art can do.

From the start, A Marvelous Order was conceived through an unusually deep interdisciplinary collaboration among the three lead artists. The addition of an animator to the traditional composer-librettist combination allows the opera’s visuals to integrate with its music and poetry at a foundational level.

The work forgoes common constraints of opera. It uses amplification and embeds pre-recorded vocalists in the animation. It also inverts the female-heroine-victim trope — too common in opera — with the formidable Jane Jacobs character.

In conjunction with the debut of A Marvelous Order, the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State will host the exhibit Every Night We Chase Our Shadows, featuring a collection of Frankel’s “blueprint” cyanotypes created in parallel with the visual development of the opera. The display will be on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, through Friday, October 21, in the Print Study Room.

Frankel will give a free public artist talk at 11 a.m. Friday, October 21, in the museum. Visit Palmer Museum for more information. 


ticketmaster.com is a resale marketplace. Ticket prices may be above or below face value.

Adult $52
University Park Student $5
18 and Younger $40

Elinor C. Lewis
Pieter W. and Lida Ouwehand 

support provided by
John L. Brown Jr. and Marlynn Steele Sidehamer Endowment
Eisenhower Auditorium Endowment
Sidney and Helen S. Friedman Endowment
Glenn and Nancy Gamble Endowment

This presentation is part of The Reflection Project, funded by the Mellon Foundation.

This project is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Artist Websites: 

Secondary Events on Each Event

Pre-performance Discussion

6:30 pm Thursday, October 20, 2022

Eisenhower Auditorium


An informal moderated discussion, featuring A Marvelous Order composer and co-creator Judd Greenstein, will be offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Ethan Robey, associate teaching professor of art history at Penn State, will moderate the talk. Seating for the pre-concert talk is available on a first-arrival basis.