The Trials of Patricia Isasa

Opera for 6 soloists and a chorus — 7 musicians and tape
  • Music: Kristin Norderval
  • Libretto: Naomi Wallace
  • Stage direction: Pauline Vaillancourt
The Trials of Patricia Isasa (2013-16)


2016 — Prix Opus: “Concert of the Year — Modern and Contemporary Music” and “Concert of the Year — Montréal”

The opera is based on the life story of the Argentine architect and human rights activist Patricia Isasa. In 1976 Patricia Isasa — then a high school student, and just 16 years old — was abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Isasa was one of as many as 30,000 citizens who were “disappeared” in Argentina, often for activities such as belonging to a union, working with the poor or voicing opposition to economic and political policies. Very few survived.

Patricia Isasa was held for 2 years but never charged with any crime. After her release, Isasa felt compelled to find out who had been responsible for her abduction, torture and detention in a secret prison. 33 years after her abduction she managed to identify and bring her torturers to justice. In December 2009 six of Isasa’s torturers were sentenced to 19-23 years behind bars. Those convicted included a federal judge, a chief of police and the mayor of her hometown.

Based on personal conversations held with Patricia Isasa in 2010, the opera raises question about the amnesty given to highly placed people in government, the use of torture for political reasons, and the need to act with urgency.

Partners and collaborators

Creative Team

Performers at the Premiere


A Chants Libres Production, commissioned by TekstLab/ArtXchange (Oslo, Norway).

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