Cerise Lim Jacobs (Creator and Librettist) creates new American opera from her chequered past in multicultural Singapore and her sojourns around the world. Her original libretti are inspired by the myths that live in our imaginations and the excitement of current events and people she encounters. With her husband Charles, she conceived of and wrote the libretti for Ouroboros Trilogy, comprising Naga (by Scott Wheeler), Gilgamesh (by Paola Prestini) and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning Madame White Snake (by Zhou Long). Ouroboros Trilogy premiered in Boston in September 2016 and was hailed as “enchanted” (Boston Globe) and “binge-worthy” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). “The music should be heard, the production should be seen and there is wisdom in the text.” (BMINT). REV. 23, a satirical take on life after the prophesied Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation ends at Chapter 22, but not anymore!) with composer Julian Wachner premiered in 2017; and PermaDeath, one of the world’s first video game operas, with composer Dan Visconti, is scheduled for 2018.
Cerise was born in colonial Singapore under British rule into a traditional Chinese family. She grew up absorbing the disparate influences of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures and the world religions of Christianity (indeed, she was educated by American Methodist missionaries), Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. During the turbulence following Singapore’s independence from Great Britain and its secession from Malaysia, when fear of the “yellow peril” was rampant in Southeast Asia, her family managed to emigrate to Australia, despite its “White Australia” Policy. She dropped out of school at the age of nineteen to follow her heart, and began a sojourn that took her from Melbourne to Oxford, England; East Lansing, Michigan; Vancouver; and Pittsburgh, until she finally settled in Boston, Massachusetts.
Cerise graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, summa cum laude and from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude. She spent 20 years practicing law, including serving as a trial partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, one of the largest law firms in New England, where she specialized in criminal defense and patent litigation. She also served for five years as a federal prosecutor at the US Attorney’s Office in Boston as part of her commitment to public service. She was sworn in as a citizen simultaneously with being sworn in as an Assistant United State Attorney, one of the proudest moments of her life.
Cerise is a lifelong student of living creatively as a means of achieving success across many disciplines. Since retiring from law, she has returned to her creative voice in opera, music, art, and food. She is the President of the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation and has endowed the Charles M. Jacobs Fund for Equal Rights and Social Engagement at the University of Chicago Law School and College. She is a founder of White Snake Projects, (formerly, the Friends of Madame White Snake), a company which commissions, develops and produces original opera of the highest production values, combined with social activism; a co-founder, with her son Pirate Epstein, of the mobile gaming company SqueePlay; and, is a founding member of Evidox, an e-discovery company.
Cerise has been named a 2017 Mover & Shaper by Musical America, an award given to music professionals for driving the performing arts towards a future shaped by their vision, and one of Boston’s 100 Most Influential People of Color in 2018.