Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: The InSeries Presents the Online Opera ‘Everything for Dawn’

The In Series hosts a free 10-part experimental operatic series of "daring ambition" that examines how personal tragedy can become public.

INSeries: Everything for Dawn: Maggie Finnegan, Eliza Bonet, Britt Hewitt, Sishel Clavere, Meroe Adeeb -- Photo: Aaron Siegel
Everything for Dawn: Maggie Finnegan, Eliza Bonet, Britt Hewitt, Sishel Clavere, Meroe Adeeb — Photo: Aaron Siegel

The new digital opera series Everything for Dawn is, to quote the New York arts organization that produced it, “a web streaming series of daring ambition [that] is the epitome of what Experiments in Opera stands for — fun, intimate storytelling, with a strong feeling of an artistic community at work.”

Credited as the EiO Writers’ Room, a team made up of 10 composers and five librettists — led by composer/librettist Jason Cady along with composers Aaron Siegel and Kamala Sankaram — took a Netflix-style approach to developing the series, breaking into different composer/lyricist pairings to create individual episodes.

Altogether, they produced 10 episodes, all directed for the web by Alison Moritz, and telling, through a three-act arc, a story from the late 1990s about the relationship between a teenage girl and her father, and the boost that painting provided him in terms of his mental health while still living and also in terms of his legacy after his death by suicide.

Britt Hewitt plays Dawn opposite Aaron Engebreth as her father Mac and Sishel Claverie as her mother Gloria, as part of a cast of eight, backed by a six-piece music ensemble.

The result is “the world’s first digital serial opera,” notes the IN Series, the D.C.-based arts organization that is presenting Everything For Dawn by releasing two new episodes per week, all available to stream for free.

The coming-of-age story examines how Dawn’s personal tragedy becomes public over time as her father becomes posthumously renowned as a painter of “outsider art.”

The opera begins with the three episodes of Part One, all taking place in a suburban Detroit home in 1997, as a college-aged Dawn and her mother Gloria discover a box of captivating paintings created by their recently deceased father/husband Mac. After deliberating, they eventually agree to let a local curator exhibit them in her gallery.

We then go back in time to 1995 for Part Two and episodes 4 through 7, where we see Mac in a mental health facility taking up painting in an art therapy class to help deal with his depression and PTSD from the Vietnam War.

By the time we get to Part Three and the concluding episodes 8 through 10, it’s 2001, a few years after his death and a time when Mac is being hailed by the art world as a star of outsider art.

The work culminates in an ensemble scene in a New York art gallery with most of the cast assembled to contemplate the complicated man’s legacy.

Over the next several weeks, the IN Series will post episodes 7 through 10 of Everything for Dawn to INvision, the unique digital streaming platform full of noteworthy recorded productions that the organization created and launched at the beginning of the pandemic and has continued to add to since.

The first eight episodes are now available to stream for free from the platform. Visit

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!