Jessica Jade Han

Performer, Composer, Educator

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Opera Saratoga

  • The Spa Little Theater 21 Roosevelt Drive Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 (map)


or THE FINCH OPERA (2010/2018)
World Premiere (Chamber Version)

Music by David T. Little
Libretto by Royce Vavrek

Sung in English with English Supertitles

The second half of our double-bill will feature the World Premiere of a new chamber version of Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera. Originally commissioned by Dawn Upshaw for the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at the Bard Conservatory where it premiered in 2010, this opera was one of the earliest collaborations between David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, whose critically acclaimed works also include JFK and Dog Days. Vinkensport is a bittersweet comedy in one act that explores the nature of competition and the need to win through the frame of an obscure Flemish folk sport, Finch-Sitting. We see a motley assortment of contestants battle to see who has the most melodious bird. As they compete, the joys, sorrows, delusions and all-too-stark realities of their trainers are revealed.  Opera Saratoga has commissioned a new performing edition of Vinkensport, which will receive its world premiere as part of the 2018 Summer Festival.


As with other sports, vinkensport (Dutch for "Finch Sport") has had its cheating scandals, as well as accusations of artificial enhancement. One finch sang a record 1,278 susk-e-weits in one hour, and the owner was later accused of doping the bird with testosterone. After another contestant sang exactly the same number of calls in two rounds, the box was opened and a mini CD player was discovered within! These remarkable true-life incidents inspired Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera.

American Premiere

Music by Gareth Williams
Libretto by Anna Chatterton

Sung in English with English Supertitles

The first half of our double-bill will be the American Premiere of Rocking Horse Winner. This critically acclaimed chamber opera by Gareth Williams and Anna Chatterton received its world premiere last season at Tapestry Opera in Toronto.  A modern adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s short story, Rocking Horse Winner explores the relationship between Paul and his emotionally distant mother. Paul becomes dangerously obsessed with solving the “bad luck” of his family in order to win his mother’s love. His pursuit awakens a strange magic that connects him not only to luck, but also to powerful voices only he can hear – voices that tell him which horses will win at the track. Rocking Horse Winner is an intimate, psychological look at love, “luck”, and greed.


"The Rocking-Horse Winner" is a short story by D.H. Lawrence. It was first published in July 1926, in Harper’s Bazaar, and subsequently appeared in the first volume of Lawrence's collected short stories. It was made into a full-length film, directed by Anthony Pelissier and starring John Howard Davies, Valerie Hobson and John Mills; the film was released in the United Kingdom in 1949 and in 1950 in the United States.

Audience Advisory: This production contains mature themes, and VINKENSPORT contains suggestive, comedic adult content. This double-bill is not recommended for children.

For Tickets and information:

Earlier Event: July 1
Opera Saratoga
Later Event: July 7
Opera Saratoga