COMPOSER – Richard Peaslee

LIBRETTO – Kenneth Cavander

DRAMATURGY & DIRECTION – Grethe Barrett Holby

LENGTH – One Act – 60 minutes

AGE – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is intended for audiences 10 years old and above


  • Sir Gawain: Tenor
  • The Green Knight: Bass/Baritone
  • Merlin: Bass/Baritone (Peasant, Invisible Knight, Fisherman, Green Knight, Sir Bernlak), 
  • Morgan LeFay: Mezzo-Soprano (Lady at Court, Lady at the River, Wife of Sir Bernlak) 

INSTRUMENTATION – Trio (piano, bass, percussion) with optional English Horn. Pre-recorded soundtrack (requires sound-operator, or Stage Manager) 


PRODUCTION HISTORY – World Premiere October 2001; American Opera Projects & TADA! NYC, Orlando Shakespeare Festival - PlayFest 2006

DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS  Family Opera Initiative and American Opera Projects, Major Support from the Jaffe Family Foundation, TADA!, NY State Council for the Arts Round Table Fellowship 

“Brought to life by four actor-singers, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a lively introduction to both the Arthurian court and to opera.”
-Laurel Graeber, The New York Times
“The kids in the audience got the moral, the grownups thought the music was cool, and we all giggled at the manure cart and at the way somebody’s bloody head goes flying. (This is, after all, the Dark Ages). Laughs, blood, beautiful music — Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has it all.”
- Elizabeth Maupin, Orlando Sentinel Theater Blog


The Knights of the Fellowship of the Round Table are celebrating New Year’s Eve when they are interrupted by a mysterious Green Knight who challenges them to a “game.” Sir Gawain accepts the challenge, and fails. A year later he sets out upon a fateful journey to repay his obligation to the Green Knight. Along the way he encounters Merlin and Morgan LeFay, who test his code of honor. In the climax of this stirring tale, we learn how Sir Gawain faces his mortality—and acquires a new understanding of what it means to be human. 


Broadway: Frankenstein; Peter Brook and the Royal Shakespeare Company: Marat/Sade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Sir Peter Hall and London’s Royal National Theatre: Animal Farm; The Garden of Earthly Delights (Obie Award); Martha Clarke: Vienna Lusthaus and Miracolo d’Amore. Composed for New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Pilobolus, and choreographers David Parsons, Elisa Monte, Grethe Holby and Twyla Tharp. Scores for the Joseph Campbell television series, concert works, several musicals and most recently, Moby-Dick, a music theatre work, London premiere 2014. 

On and Off Broadway, and regional theaters: Yale Rep, Arena Stage, Guthrie, Alley, Long Wharf, Hartford Stage, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Founding director of the Williamstown Theatre Second Company. Plays: Olympian Games (based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses), Boccaccio, Jelly’s Last Jam, and new versions of Euripides’ Women of Troy, Moliere’s Don Juan, and Euripides’ Bacchae. Television dramas: File on Jill Hatch for PBS, and movies of the week for CBS and NBC. The Question of God, a two-part series, aired on PBS in 2004, and a biography of C.S. Lewis aired in December 2005 on the Hallmark Channel. 

GRETHE BARRETT HOLBY (Commissioner & Direction)
Directed/choreographed at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, La Scala, and opera companies across the US. She is an original cast member of Einstein on the Beach, and has done collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, Lou Reed, Robert Wilson, and Yusef Komunyakaa; founder of Ardea Arts, Family Opera Initiative and American Opera Projects. A Rockefeller Fellowship recipient, she holds a B.S. and M.S. from MIT.