Ardea Arts is an incubator of new-wave, 21st century opera, committed to making and performing innovative works which challenge as well as entertain, speak to our diverse global community, & champion the human spirit. We work with artists who will engage audiences of all ages and from many walks of life, partnering with organizations able to reach out to these communities both within and far outside the walls of the opera house.

The Three Astronauts addresses all of these commitments central to our mission, bringing together artists and audiences from around the globe into a dialogue to further cooperation and collaboration across our boundaries, our differences, and our expectations.

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Meet Our Team


Umberto Eco


One of the most prolific and important writers of our time, Eco has traveled the world lecturing on the untranslatability of languages. His novels include The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, Baudolino, and current worldwide bestseller The Prague Cemetery. Nonfiction works include Travels in Hyperreality, History of Beauty, Belief or Nonbelief?, and Theory of Semiotics. He teaches at the University of Bologna.

Eugenio Carmi

Artist – Visual Concept

Known as one of the most quietly significant forces in twentieth-century Italian art, Carmi was born in Genoa in 1920. He created Italsider’s corporate image in the 1960’s, has participated in the Venice Bienniale, and created experimental visual programs for RAI-TV. In 2015, ‘Palazzo Ducale Fondazione per la Cultura’ presents a retrospective of his work Speed Limit 40 in Genoa, Italy. A bellwether of Italian taste, he may be most beloved for his collages in a series of picture books created in collaboration with friend and author Umberto Eco, one of which is the inspiration for this opera, The Three Astronauts.

Concept & Direction

Grethe Barrett Holby

Founding Executive Artistic Director, Ardea Arts

Propelling opera into the 21st century (NPR), Holby has directed, choreographed, performed, & collaborated on world premieres at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, La Scala (Milan), The Kitchen, and for opera companies from Anchorage to Boston, Los Angeles to Washington D.C. She performed in major opera houses across Europe, and the Metropolitan Opera House, and has collaborated with legendary artists as diverse as Leonard Bernstein, Lou Reed, and Yusef Komunyakaa. A Rockefeller Followship recipient, she holds B.S. and Master degrees from MIT, and was invited to the MSL launch at KSC in 2011.

Team China

Ye Xiaogang

Composer – China

Regarded as one of the most influential composers in China, Ye’s piano concerto Starry Sky premiered at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 by Lang Lang and was watched by three billion people worldwide. Ye is a standing member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, vice chairman of China’s Musicians’ Association, vice president and professor of composition of the Central Conservatory of Music, and artistic director of Beijing Modern Music Festival. His Twilight of the Himalayas premiered earlier this year at Avery Fisher Hall with the Detroit Symphony.

Liu Sola

Writer for the Chinese Taikonaut

Award-winning Chinese author of fiction, short stories, and essays including You Have No Choice (1985), Small Tales of the Great Ji Family (2000), and Chaos and All That, Sola Liu is also an iconoclastic composer and vocalist. Librettist of operas Fantasy of the Red Queen (2006) and The Afterlife of Li Jiantong (2009), she has collaborated with Three Astronauts composer Ye Xiaogang many times. She has scored many Chinese and international film sound tracks, as well as TV and drama productions and composed music for orchestra, ensemble, opera, modern theater, modern dance, and art exhibitions.

Team Russia

Alexander Tchaykovskiy

Composer – Russia

Heralded as the ‘Beloved People’s Artist of Russia and the Russian Federation’ and ‘Artist of Merit’ Winner is composer, he is the director of the Saint Petersburg Conservatoire, the Moscow Academic Philharmonic, and the Youth Academy of Russia festival. His music is widely performed at international festivals and concert halls. In addition to his symphonies, oratorios, ballets and choral works, he has composed over eight operas including the extraordinary One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, based on Solzhenitsin’s novel. His oeuvre also spans popular songs and music for television and movies.

Dmitry Glukhovsky

Writer for the Russian Cosmonaut

Dmitry is known for his publications involving science fiction, magic-realism, and the exploration of social and political structures. His first novel, Metro 2033 (2002), became an online interactive experiment and video game, and best seller around the world. In 2009, Metro 2034 became the year’s top Russian bestseller, and also a collaborative art project with electronic and visual artists. 2010 saw the satirical Stories about Motherland, and 2014 rolled out Future:Roman. Glukhovsky is also a journalist for EuroNews TV, Deutsche Welle, RT, Harper’s Bazaar, and l’Officiel.

Team U.S.A.

Yusef Komunyakaa

Writer for the American Astronaut

Pulitzer Prize winning poet, author of 17 books of poetry, and winner of the William Faulkner Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, and the 20ll Wallace Stevens Award, among others, Komunyakaa’s plays, performance art and libretti have been performed internationally and include Slipnot, Saturnalia, Gilgamesh: a Verse Play (with Chad Garcia), and the jazz opera Testimony, A Tribute to Charlie Parker. A Vietnam veteran, he has held professorships at Princeton University, and currently in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University.


Composer – United States of America

To be announced...

Team Mars

Daniel L. Everett

Writer, Linguist, Anthropologist – Mars

One of the only people in the world who has contacted previously un-contacted groups with no language in common, he is an anthropologist, field linguist, and Dean of Arts & Sciences at Bentley University. Everett has over 40 years of experience working with more than 25 undocumented languages of North and South America. His 2008 book, Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes was published in six languages, and his 2012, book Language: The Cultural Tool has redefined linguistic assumptions.

Production Team

John Kennedy

Project Music Director

Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities for Spoleto Festival USA, Kennedy is noted for illuminating, expressive performances of contemporary music and opera, Kennedy presented premiere productions of Matsukaze (Toshio Hosokawa), Kepler (Philip Glass), and Faustus, the Last Night (Pascal Dusapin), in 2014, Michael Nyman’s Facing Goya at Spoleto as well as at the Singapore International Festival of Arts. With organizations ranging from the Lincoln Center Festival to New York City Ballet, Kennedy has led noted performances of orchestral, opera, ballet, and new music.

Children’s Chorus Lyrics

Umberto Eco

Chorus Lyrics

See bio above.

Nikki Giovanni

Chorus Lyrics

A world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, Giovanni is committed to the fight for civil rights and equality. Currently distinguished professor of English Professor at Virginia Tech, she is the author of over 30 books for both adults and children, including Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea and Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. A recipient of twenty-five honorary degrees, her awards include the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry.