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Image for Finding Wright: A Dayton Opera Premiere
Finding Wright: A Dayton Opera Premiere
Dayton Opera

Music by Laura Kaminsky

Libretto by Andrea Fellows Fineberg
in English with English surtitles

Dayton Opera
Kathleen Clawson, Artistic Director

Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
Susanne Sheston, Conductor

Kathleen Clawson, Stage Director

This program is approximately 120 minutes with a 20-minute intermission.

Underwritten By

ELM Foundation

Harry A. Toulmin and Virginia B. Toulmin Fund

Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation

Opera Guild of Dayton

About the Opera

Finding Wright traces the parallel narratives of Katharine Wright, sister of Orville and Wilbur, and Charlotte (“Charlie”) Tyler, a 21st century aerospace engineer/academic grieving her thwarted career and the loss of her husband. Discovering Katharine’s story gives Charlie inspiration to overcome her struggles.

Their worlds intersect in moments of ‘fractured time.’ The two narrative threads follow the Wright family from a young Katie in 1887 through Katharine’s death in 1929 and a contemporary Charlie Tyler grappling with the untimely death of her husband and significant professional disappointment. Beginning with the death of her mother in 1889, Katharine progresses from adolescence to womanhood, graduating from Oberlin College, where she befriends Harry Haskell, and his future wife, Isabel. Katharine puts aside her own career as a teacher to care for her father and brothers, and she manages Orville and Wilbur’s business affairs after their work is stalled following the fateful crash of their test plane in 1908. Katharine reconnects with Harry, now a successful journalist, who writes the truth of the brothers’ invention of the flying machine to help protect their work. Isabel dies, and in time Harry and Katharine fall in love and marry, much to Orville’s chagrin. Orville shuns them, not seeing Katharine again until she is at her deathbed.

In the present, Charlie is struggling with grief at the loss of her husband following a devastating bicycle accident and anger at the stalling of her research and academic career. Upon discovering the Wright family plot at Woodland Cemetery, she becomes immersed in Katharine’s story, gaining insight into her own struggles. In moments of ‘fractured time,’ Katharine’s spirit comes to Charlie, giving her the inspiration to move her life forward.

A Note from Kathleen

In 2014, I took my dear friend, the librettist Andrea Fellows Fineberg on a tour of Dayton’s Historic sites. At the grave site of Orville and Wilbur Wright at Woodland Cemetery, we noticed, buried in between the brothers, Katharine Wright Haskell. Puzzled, we asked “Who was Katharine Wright? They had a sister?”

We turned to our good friend Google and found Katharine, a remarkable, resilient, independent woman who was a caregiver and fierce champion for her brothers. We were struck by both the “operatic” and timeless qualities of her story. Fast forward over seven years and I am filled with gratitude for the astonishing team that has brought this opera to the stage. I am grateful as well to everyone at the DPAA who have worked tirelessly to get us here. We offer this World Premiere in honor of Thomas Bankston and the many generous sponsors who believed in his vision, and in grateful memory of Katharine for all she has taught us on this journey. 

- Kathleen Clawson, Artistic Director, Dayton Opera

Finding Wright Supporters

Dr. Ron Anderson and Mr. Robb Sloan-Anderson

Perry and Mary Bankston

Thomas and Frances Bankston

Jan Culver and Eugene Kurtz

Lee Monnin

ELM Foundation

Harry A. Toulmin and Virginia B. Toulmin Fund

Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation

Opera Guild of Dayon

National Endowment of the Arts