Suor Isabella
Composer: Robert Xavier Rodriguez
Composer Bio: Robert Xavier Rodríguez was born on 28 June 1946 in San Antonio, Texas, where he received his earliest training in piano and harmony. Subsequent musical education included study in composition with Hunter Johnson, Halsey Stevens, Jacob Druckman, and Nadia Boulanger. He gained international recognition in 1971 when awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale Prince Pierre de Monaco by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Palais Princier in Monte Carlo. Other honors include the Prix Lili Boulanger, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four National Endowment for the Arts grants, and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Rodríguez's music embraces all genres and often combines Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque techniques with ethnic and contemporary materials. He has had particular success with his seven operas. His most recent opera, Frida, based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, has enjoyed successful runs at the American Music Theatre Festival, The American Repertory Theatre in Boston, the Brooklyn Academy's Next Wave Festival, and the Houston Grand Opera. John Rockwell of The New York Times termed Frida, "the best opera/musical theater of 1991...a fascinating, magically engrossing evening...Mr. Rodríguez's music is genuinely original and genuinely accessible, a neat combination not that often achieved." Rodríguez's charming children's opera Monkey See, Monkey Do has had more than 1,000 performances since its premiere in 1986, making it one of the most often performed contemporary American operas in the repertory. The ensemble Voices of Change received a 1999 Grammy nomination in the Best Small Ensemble Performance category for the Rodríguez work Les Niaïs Amoureux.

Rodríguez's orchestral music also encompasses wide-ranging styles, from challenging works for large orchestra such as Oktoechos and Favola Boccaccesca to ballets such as Estampie and The Seven Deadly Sins to music for children such as the popular Colorful Symphony (with a text from Norton Juster's The Phantom Toll Booth) and the circus story, Trunks.

Conductors who have commissioned Rodríguez include Eduardo Mata, Neville Marriner, and Antal Dorati. Rodríguez's music is regularly performed by leading orchestras and opera companies such as the Dallas Opera, National Opera of Mexico, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra among many others. His music is published by G. Schirmer.
Librettist: Daniel Dibbern
Other Artistic Personnel: Robert Xavier Rodriguez (Music Director)
Original Cast: Susan Barrow (soprano) as Suor Isabella
Premiere Date: July 07, 1982
Producing Company: Univerisity of Texas Dallas
Description: Suor Isabella is a ribald companion piece to Puccini’s classic, Suor Angelica. The two works may be performed with the same cast, sets and costumes. The title character, Sister Isabella, is a beautiful young nun who sneaks a man into her cell. The other nuns gleefully report Isabella to the Mother Superior who, having a lover of her own (a priest), dresses hurriedly in the dark, covering her head not with her veil but with the priest’s trousers! When all is discovered, the Mother Superior forgives Isabella and the nuns praise the joy of human love as a reflection of divine love.
Character List (Major): Sister Isabella(s)
Abbess Usimbalda(mz)
Sister Ficcanaso(s)
Sister Sgridaretta(mz)
Character List (Minor): Three nuns
Bit Parts: Isabella's Lover(Disguised)
Reviews: Patsy Swank, The Dallas Downtown News; Derrick Henry, The Boston Globe; Phyllis Curtin, The Metropolitan Opera
Length: 01:10
Total Acts: 1
Chorus: SSA Chorus
Orchestration: 1 fl(picc), 1 cl(bcl) - 1 tpt, 1 btbn - perc - hp, pf - vln, vc
Musical Style: Comic opera
Contact: G. Schirmer, Inc.
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address:
Phone: 212-254-2100
Composer Web Site:
Publisher Web Site:
To have your company’s photos included in the header rotation, send photos that are at least 1200px wide and 550px tall to Please note that submission of photos does not guarantee inclusion.
All OPERA America facilities are handicapped accessible. The National Opera Center features ground-level entry with elevators to the venue. All spaces are wheelchair accessible, and modular seating can be arranged to accommodate wheelchair users for all programs and performances. Handicapped accessible restrooms are available on all floors.
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212.796.8620 • Fax: 212.796.8621

Privacy PolicyReturns Policy
2015 Form 990FY16 Audited Financial Statement
© Copyright 1995-2017 OPERA America Inc.

Technical issue with the website? Let us know.