Cosmic Cowboy

September 16-18, 2022
Emerson Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage


Cerise Lim Jacobs
Creator and Librettist

Elena Ruehr

Art by Glynis Anderson

See the full program

Traverse the mysteries of time, space and love, through wormholes and black holes, in this sci-fi opera that blends live staging and virtual reality. Inspired by both the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock and the historic landing of the space probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Cosmic Cowboy meditates on both the power of human imagination and the consequences of our colonizing impulse.

The opera is an eclectic romp through the universe that ranges from the formation of the cosmos by the mating of the Sumerian gods Tiamat and Apsu to a touching pas de deux between Cooper, a robotic space probe, and Tiamat’s daughter, Tia.

logos White Snake Projects' 2021-2022 programming is supported in part by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
This project is made possible by a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation and Boston Cultural Council, Reopen Creative Boston Fund, administered by the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture.



A sci-fi opera exploring the mysteries of space, time, and love.

Inspired by the historic landing of the space probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Cosmic Cowboy explores the origins of the universe beginning at the Big Bang when the universe is formed by the mating of the Sumerian gods, Tiamat and Apsu. It traverses the mystery of time and space, through wormholes, black holes and alternate universes, until it comes full circle into the ultimate mystery - the human heart. Tia, Tiamat’s daughter, befriends the robotic probe and together, they confront the Astronaut from the spaceship Mayflower sent to retrieve the robot and to capture Tia, the first extra-terrestial known to us. Synopsis


Carami Hilaire Tiamat/Tia
Tyler Putnam Marduk/Commander Mard
Daniel Moody Qingu/Cooper
Charles Calotta Vizier Mummu/Mr. Mu
John Paul Huckle Apsu/General Aps

Creative Team

Elena Ruehr Composer
Cerise Lim Jacobs Creator and Librettist
Sam Helfrich Director
Tianhui Ng Music Director/Conductor
Dedalus Wainwright Set Designer
Rebecca Kanach Costume Designer
Jon Robertson Sound Designer
Derek Van Heel Lighting Designer
Greg Emetaz Projections
Curvin Huber Director of Innovation
Pirate Epstein Director of CGI
Keo Heng CGI/VR
Donald Carling VR Technical Artist
Stage Manager
Lyndsey Hawkes Assistant Stage Manager
Oliver Caplan Orchestra Manager
Eran Egozy Concert Cue Developer
Mary Jane Begin Concept Art and Fabrication
Douglas Ruuska Fabrication
Han Huling Production Manager
Glynis Anderson Poster Art
Ben Lieberson Technical Director
Lindsay Conrad English Surtitles
Catriona Baker Chair of Animation
Becky Marsh Master Electrician
Gianni Dimarco Choreographer
Ryan Ayres Copyist
Antonio Oliart Audio Archivist
Russell Nickerson Roboticist
Timothy Steele Rehearsal Pianist/Chorus Master

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The Inspiration

I was totally fascinated by the landing of the robotic probe, Philae, on a speeding comet – 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

I've followed Philae's botched landing with bated breath, rooting for the the washing machine sized probe as it bounced several times when its thrusters failed to deploy, sending it reeling about due to 67/P's lower gravity. I've sighed with disappointment as its battery shut down because it landed in the shadow of an overhang and did not have the requisite sunlight to recharge itself. I've jumped with joy when 67/P sped nearer the sun and Philae was rejuvenated. I've watched with admiration as that plucky little robot sent back streams of data. I've read with curiosity the articles that there may be alien microbes on 67/P which Philae could unearth, and now, water, on Mars! Then there is that TED Talk,“How We'll Live on Mars,” by Stephen Petranek. I didn't know if I want to be an early pioneer colonizing Mars, or protest against this imperialist colonization of a distant planet by infecting it with microbes from Earth and changing its environment using global warming even as we are fighting this phenomenon here on Earth. In short, how could I not write about Philae, 67/P, and “our” future Mars colony? Thus Cosmic Cowboy came about. I envisioned a god(s) that created the universe and our Milky Way galaxy. In particular, the goddess Tia, daughter of Tiamat, the Mother of Creation of the ancient Sumerians, patrolling our little part of the universe on a comet, riding its bucking, fiery body like the cowboys of old.


November Updates

We had our music workshop of next year’s mainstage opera, Cosmic Cowboy, by Elena Ruehr with our principal artists and our partners, the Boston Children’s Chorus and New England Conservatory. Below are some pictures of White Snake Projects’ team hard at work to bring another new work to life. Read More

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We hope that you're all safe and well as we do our part with social distancing. At this point, it's impossible to tell when this great trial will be over. WSP has postponed our second SING OUT STRONG concert tour – Sing Out Strong: DeColonized Voices – from May to September, even as we're planning a virtual world premiere of the concert for May 13. Read More