The Mask in the Mirror

Publication Information




Paul Laurence Dunbar - tenor

Alice Ruth Moore - soprano

Narrator - tenor

Dean Howells - baritone

Victoria (Alice's friend)- mezzo soprano

Patsy (Alice's mother) - mezzo soprano

Miss Lyons (Alice's boss) - soprano

Sarah (Paul's British admirer) - soprano

Sales Rep - tenor

Paul's drinking buddy - tenor

Woman (Paul's admirer) - soprano

Female witness - mezzo soprano

Male witness - tenor

Minister - baritone

Mathilde(Paul's mother) - mezzo soprano

Patsy (Alice's mother)

Leila (Alice's sister) - super


Instrumentation: unknown

Duration: 2 hours 30 mins


The Mask in the Mirror: The Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore was published in 2009 with words and music by Richard Thompson. The Mask in the Mirror is a chamber opera that depicts the courtship and failed marriage between famed African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906) and novelist Alice Ruth Moore (1875–1935). Paul Laurence Dunbar is historically important because he was the first successful African-American poet and his work has inspired generations especially in the 1920s. The opera follows their relationship from Dunbar’s initial letter of introduction to Alice to their final estrangement and Paul’s imminent death at his home in Dayton, Ohio.

The work is scored for a twelve-piece chamber orchestra and is approximately two hours in length.The Mask in the Mirror was first performed by Trilogy: An Opera Company in August 2012. Trilogy, of Newark, New Jersey, is the only fully functioning Afro-centric opera company in the United States.

Biographical Information

(b. 1954) Richard Thompson has appeared in live broadcasts for BBC Jazz and Classical Radio and Italian National Television and Radio. He has given concerts at La Piccola Scala in Milan, Italy, among many others. His orchestral appearances include the Harlem Festival Orchestra, the Boston Orchestra and Chorale, the Glasgow Chamber Orchestra, and the Aberdeen Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, Thompson was awarded the first Individual Artist Award for classical music composition from the Brooklyn Arts Council. He also has composed for films. As of fall 2020, Thompson is an associate professor of music at San Diego State University, where he teaches jazz performance and history. Thompson earned his undergraduate degree in music from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His master's is from Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he studied jazz piano with Kenny Barron and classical piano with Theodore Lettvin. He also holds a jazz diploma from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

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