So Donia Speaks (in progress)

for soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, tenor, bass, flute/alto flute, horn, trumpet, harp, percussion, viola & bass

Music by Julia Adolphe, Libretto by Nahal Navidar

Donia’s Story

In an increasingly xenophobic atmosphere where fear influences political decisions, it is imperative that authentic voices from the Middle East be represented on the American stage. SO DONIA SPEAKS combats stereotypical assumptions about the Muslim and the Middle Eastern identity.


Incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, Donia, an Iranian-American Travel Writer, finds herself falsely accused of espionage. As the daughter of a world-renowned journalist, Donia felt compelled to travel to Iran after her father’s death to uncover his tumultuous past. Amid threats of beatings, rape, and life in prison, Donia feels ever more disconnected from her father and struggles to speak the truth.

Placed in solitary confinement, Donia encounters fellow prisoners through the walls of her cell. Roya, a photographer whose controversial art challenges the Islamic Regime, provokes Donia to utilize her writing to shed light upon the atrocities of Evin Prison. Mona, a devout Muslim and Islamic political prisoner, challenges Donia’s Westernized view of Islam. It is through Donia’s relationship with her fellow inmates that she learns the true Iranian spirit that has been so elusive to her throughout her life in America. Together, these women defy their oppressive surroundings and create their own community: a world where imagination and the human spirit triumph in the face of intolerance. SO DONIA SPEAKS reveals how even in an age of oppression, the Persian creative spirit, dating back thousands of years to the very roots of humanity, cannot be suppressed.


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