Dell'Arte International and Arcata Playhouse Present:

Bird of the Inner Eye

Spirit Bird painting by Morris Graves

An original chamber opera
Gina Leishman (music) & Joan Schirle (libretto)
Based on the letters of painter Morris Graves

Stream recording, viewable till Sept. 17th

Streamed from the Arcata Playhouse
1251 9th St, Arcata, CA 95521



“I want to say with paint that the creation is infinitely, infinitely more than meets the eye, that a bird is vastly more than a miracle of life and form—that an eagle is not an eagle but a God-gesture and a power, and that he is not detached and in the sky but in our souls.”
Morris Graves, 1943

A Safety update on our performances:

Due to the current COVID restrictions in Humboldt County, The Arcata Playhouse regrettably had to make public performances of BOTIE unavailable. 

However, we will be streaming the opera!

If you already bought a ticket, you will be sent a free link to:

  • August 29, 2 PM performance, live-streamed
  • A free link to the recording good for a week, to watch from the safety of your home as often as you like until Sept. 17th. 
  • A playbill and libretto.

We will continue to sell tickets to the streaming until Sept. 17th, if you know others who would like to see the opera, tickets to the live-stream and recording are $20.

BIRD OF THE INNER EYE, A Chamber Opera... In partnership with the Arcata Playhouse, we are proud to present the first workshop production of this unique new work with libretto by Founding Artistic Director, Joan Schirle. This is a true 'theatre of place' event, as Graves spent the last 30 years of his life in Loleta, CA; included in the cast are many locals: singers /musicians David Belton Powell (tenor), Elisabeth Harrington, (soprano),  local musicians Nancy Correll (pianist) and Garrick Woods (cello), as well as former residents, singer Jodi Gilbert and clarinetist  Michael Moore. Soprano Dina Emerson joins us from Las Vegas, where she sings in Cirque's "O.' The opera will be staged concert-style, with 5 singers, 4 musicians, 1 puppeteer, and projections courtesy of the Morris Graves Foundation.  The exciting score of "Bird" calls for piano, piano harp, glass armonica, cello/bass, accordion, and clarinet, with the composer playing  glass and accordion. Estimated run time 90 minutes.

View the BOTIE Program by clicking the image below!

"My libretto focuses on Graves’ years as a conscientious objector and the women who supported him. Graves’ struggles-- against war, against the degradation of the natural world, against the corrupting influence of fame-- never caused him to lose hope or give up the work of art-making. These struggles seem to us connected to our own and many contemporary artists’ lives. If we believe art is not neutral, how and what can we artists create in this chaotic time?
Joan Schirle

Librettist/director Joan Schirle with Graves' triptych, "The Great Blue Heron Yogi and the Great Rainbow Trout Yogi in Phenomenal Space, Mental Space and the Space of Consciousness," at the Morris Graves Museum of Art.


Composer Gina Leishman

A glass armonica

A glass armonica—one of the unusual instruments in “Bird of the Inner Eye”


For further information, write

The development of Bird of the Inner Eye received funding support from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, as well as many generous donors.


For a preview, see Schirle read excerpts from the libretto:

Details about cast, musicians, and other interesting information about BOTIE is on our Facebook page:

Headline image: Spirit Bird Painting by Morris Graves, 1957