Chamber opera in 1 act - 90'

Libretto by Mark Campbell

Commissioned by Music Theatre Group, Brooklyn,

with assistance from Boston Lyric Opera

The Nefarious, Immoral, but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr Burke & Mr Hare was nominated for a 2018 INTERNATIONAL OPERA AWARD

A new chamber opera about the events in the notorious ten-month career of William BURKE and William HARE - two enterprising men who supplied cadavers to a renowned anatomy school in Edinburgh in 1828, headed by the eminent Dr. KNOX. Eschewing the messy, though time-honored tradition of grave digging for the more efficient and profitable method of murder, Burke and Hare managed to kill sixteen people before they were caught. In a narration told by five of the murder victims, the opera questions how far society will go in the name of science. 


Premiere: 8 November 2017: Boston Lyric Opera

Director: David Schweizer 

Set designer: Caleb Wertenbaker

Costume designer: Nancy Leary

Lighting: Robert Wierzel

Movement: Melinda Sullivan

Conductor: David Angus


William Burden, Jesse Blumberg, Craig Colclough, Marie McLaughlin, David McFerrin, Michelle Trainor, Heather Gallagher, David Cushing, Michael Slattery, Emma Sorenson, Antonia Tamer

Dr Robert Knox - tenor

Dr Ferguson - assistant to Dr Knox - lyric baritone

William Burke - bass baritone

William Hare - bass

Helen McDougal - Burke's lover - soprano

Margaret Hare - Hare's wife - mezzo-soprano


ensemble of five victims


Donald - an old soldier - bass

Abigail Simpson - an old woman - soprano

Daft Jamie - lyric tenor

Mary Paterson - a young prostitute - mezzo-soprano

Madge Docherty - a widow - lyric soprano

Flute (+ piccolo), clarinet in Bb (+ bass cl), bassoon (+ contra), horn in F, trumpet in Bb, trombone, percussion (1 player), harp, piano (+ honky-tonk piano), viola, 'cello, bass

EXCERPTS - live from New York Town Hall Opera America New Works Showcase 2017

For more background information on the real Burke and Hare, visit