When your baby calls and says she landed the leading role in the Eastman School of Music’s opera, what would YOU do? (You answered, “Make an opera quilt!”, right?)

“Emily is the lead, Mam.”

An opera quilt, it is!

So an opera quilt it is for our eldest daughter who landed “Emily” in Our Town, by Ned Rorem at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. THIS WAS HUGE. Emily sang almost the entire second act herself! Emily (Paige) had to own it. Rehearsals began mid-fall for the mid-April performances–because it was that hard! I can’t describe how proud her dad and I were of her. She had worked very hard at Eastman and had some tough years of struggling which had just paid off. All I needed to do was make a quilt–that should be an easy “part to play”.

Step 1: Read the play.

I read it. It was incredibly short and vague. I read it again. Then I called Paige and asked, “What? What? What does this mean? And how in the world can they make a whole opera out of this?” She laughed and said, “Trust me, they do!” I had nothing (as far as inspiration goes for the quilt). I had to think deeper than normal to understand the message of this story.

Her bestie, Jacob.

Step 2: Develop a theme.

I’m a theme-thinking person. I can’t just make some random quilt. It has to have some connection, a special meaning. But what? Step two became step 3.

Step 3: Go to Missouri Star Quilt Company website to procrastinate.

Suddenly, like magic, it appears…new fabric by Benartex, called…you’ll never believe it, Our Town. YES!

Perfect fabric!

See the first quilt Paige made (as an adult), ALL herself HERE in “What is Quilting Heritage?”

Now my next step (4) was by divine intervention, luck, or my mind’s way of connecting the dots.

I chose a bow tie block so that I could use my AccuQuilt Go! die to cut my fabric. There’s a good reason for that–I had just shoulder surgery and the Go! cutter required the same circular arm motion that I had to do in therapy, so it was GOOD for me to make this particular quilt. The lucky part? I later found out that Paige’s boyfriend played a role in the opera in which he had to wear a huge bow tie. THAT WAS IT! This quilt was meant to be.

While Paige polished her vocals for her role (while also playing Maria in West Side Story, going to school, and working her church job) I made the quilt.

When I drove the sixteen hours to see her, we spent an hour at the poolside on a rare sunny day for Rochester and I finished the binding.

Binding poolside.

Her dad and sister flew in to Rochester and we watched our little girl sing her heart out in a vocally very difficult role.


By the end of the run, she was exhausted and ready for the next event in her life: graduation!More than one Eastman alumni told us singing the part of Emily in Our Town was quite a feat for a soprano her age. 

I saw Our Town three nights in a row. I had my heart torn apart three times as the meaning and hauntingly beautiful music of this opera was forever ingrained in my mind and soul.



It was something I’ll never forget…the beauty, the sorrow, the emotion, and the tears of a proud momma.

Paige’s quilt is much lighter and happier than the opera it represents. But then, that’s our Paigee!

See Emily’s Aria at by clicking here:

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