Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New is featured in our new opera Octavian and Cleopatra

Something Old, Something New is featured in our new opera Octavian and Cleopatra   It was a labor of love for Sharon and David Ohrenstein. Incidentally, it only has two spoken words for dramatic effect: When Cleopatra and Octavian see each other for the 1st time, they speaks each other’s names. . The opera was written under great difficulty and many obstacles.

  • There was no funding and little time.
  • We were raising three small children.
  • We had no spare income for the opera.

So How Did we Do It?

Sharon starred as Cleopatra, She also wrote the story and libretto. David played the piano for the world premier. He also composed the music. They were the moving company for the props and costumes that they mostly assembled by themselves. The work took almost two years. They often worked on the opera nightly until 1 or 2AM. In this regard, had they not have been married, the opera would never have been written.

So what’s Something Old, Something New?

There have been operas written about Cleopatra. No one, to our knowledge, has written one about Octavian and Cleopatra. I really believe it took Sharon’s genius to find the story. That’s something old, something new. Below is a list of some of the existing Cleopatra operas:

"My Lily of the Nile" Ghost of Julius Caesar with Cleopatra David Powers; Sharon Lesley“My Lily of the Nile” Ghost of Julius Caesar with Cleopatra
David Powers; Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein

In our opera the captain of the guard falls in love with Cleopatra.
The Captain  is supposed to guard Cleopatra. He falls in love with her. 

So what has happened since? We say never give up. There is tremendous interest in our writing. People are looking for something different including:

  • An opera filled with beautiful arias in the same manner that Richard Rodgers wrote for Broadway musicals.
  • A meaningful story with a transformation. In this case:  Octavian goes from being a low and debauched character to the 1st emporer king of Rome. He was renamed Augustus.
  • Placing women on a pedestal. As the new king Augustus did for Cleopatra.

We have the full performance on video. We still need backers. That hasn’t changed. But the times have dramatically changed over the last 20 years. People are looking for meaning and beauty in opera. Our Octavian and Cleopatra offers exactly that. Be the 1st to have the new sound of the 21st century in your home town!

THe confrontation scene between Octavian and Cleopatra is unforgettable drame

Rose and Lilly Point to our Floral New Opera

Rose and Lily Point to our Floral New Opera: The Cup of Cleopatra

Water Lily, Flower, Red, Aquatic, Plant, Bloom, Lake
A water lily, In Our opera, The Cup of Cleopatra, (formerly Octavian and Cleopatra) the ghost of Caesar calls her “My Lily of the Nile”. It was produced at the Palladium Theater in 2003. later presented at the Player’s Theater in Sarasota as part of our musical, Three Queens.

A key element of ancient philosophy was based on the fusion of numbers 5 and 6 and the flowers these numbers represented.  The rose has 5 outlining petals. The lily has 6 petals. The rose is yin, and 5 is a yin number. The Lily is yang as six is a yang number.  How is it that these numbers are fused?  By the ubiquitous use of the megalithic yard by the goddess cultures. Here’s how:

  • 5 x 6/ 5 + 6  (or 30/11) = 2.7272…which translates to one megalithic yard
  • Another megalithic standard is the megalithic mile of 2.727272… English miles or 14, 400 feet. Thus, 14,400/5280 =2.72727…English miles

John Michell, in his City of Revelation, further discusses the fusion:

  • The six sided figure of the hexagon symbolized the macrocosm
  • The five sided figure of the pentagon represented the microcosm.
  • Thus 272 represents the successful fusion of heaven and earth. the model of this fusion is the “Heavenly Jerusalem”.


  • 4:47


  • Click on the 4.:47 number and then youtube to sample our production at the Palladium Theater. I must share with you a part of Sharon’s beautiful lyrics in this segment. Cleopatra realizes that her being alive would jeopardize the life of  her children. This was true especially due to Roman politics. Octavian already had promised to give her children a home in Rome. To Cleopatra, that was more important than her own life. Sharon writes and sings as Cleopatra the following.  You will  hear it sung on this youtube presentation, “It is time to end this life. All that can be done was done. This goodbye is expressed with all my love. We shall meet after today, when we’ve sent you on your way. In the next world, we shall be close as we have ever been.” For the ladies, reincarnation was real.

We are merely the creators. If benefactors had not helped our operatic and instrumental composers, our culture would the the poorer. Verdi, Berlioz, Tschaikovsky, Debussy, Haydyn, Mozart…… all received the help of generous patrons. Music adds beauty to life.- David.




How About Great Caesar’s Ghost for Halloween?



How about Great Caesar’s ghost for Halloween? When was the last time you heard the expression, Great Caesar’s ghost?  For me, it was on the old Superman TV show that played in the 1950’s. The newspaper editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White, would exclaim to Lois, Lane or Jimmy Olson or Clark Kent every time he was frustrated: Great Caesar’s ghost! In our opera, Octavian and  Cleopatra, we did one better than that. We actually have great Caesar’s ghost appearing on the stage. He sings to Cleopatra a beautiful aria that I and Sharon wrote called: My Lily of the Nile.


Of course, a second ghost shows up: The ghost of her other Roman  husband, Mark Antony. The ghosts of Caesar and Antony immediately argue about what would be the proper course of action to take over Cleopatra’s conqueror, Octavian. Caesar says Cleopatra should trust Octavian. Mark Antony takes a totally opposing point of view. Of course, Cleopatra makes a scene where she screams over the arguing ghosts. Her two ladies in waiting witness her demise and try to calm her down with a potion. They think that Cleopatra’s totally lost her mind over the grief she has for her husband, Mark Antony, who has just killed himself.

Our thrilling opera was performed in Sarasota and St Petersburg, Florida with a cast of seven.  We have a complete piano-vocal score and the performance was recorded on DVD. Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein wrote the book and lyrics and I wrote the music. We are in the process of arranging this for a chamber orchestra. My favorite musical moment in the show is a trio which features the Ghosts of Caesar and Antony singing with a living Octavian. They ghosts urge Octavian to  go back to Cleopatra and show her that he loves her.  Octavian rejects their plea, saying that his motto and words he lives by are; “make haste slowly”.  Reserve this show for your theater season so your patrons can be thrilled by the glory that was Rome and Egypt!


Octavian and Cleopatra Robby May; Sharon Lesley
The English opera”Octavian and Cleopatra” book and lyrics by Sharon Lesley Ohrenstein, music by David Ohrenstein 
Robby May as Octavian and  Sharon Lesley as Cleopatra – set against the backdrop of the Great Pyramid



          LOVE CONQUERS ALL IN OUR OPERA: OCTAVIAN AND CLEOPATRA where musical styles take turns.  The Roman point of view, through militaristic music, alternates with exotic and beautiful Egyptian melodies sung by Cleopatra and her ladies in waiting. Whereas the Roman style is more “foursquare”; the music of Cleopatra is languid, sexy and touches the heart.  As an unwilling Octavian becomes totally taken with Cleopatra, his angular Roman style changes to the Egyptian. At the end, he sings the beautiful aria, She was Egypt’s Queen as he recalls  her alluring charm and  female virtues.  In a subplot, a Roman captain is sent by Octavian to guard Cleopatra.  The captain also falls in love with her and plots his own escape with her. . The Captain’s hardened ways of war disappear in the presence Cleopatra as he sings the melodious aria of love which closes act one, In the Darkness.  The opera burned the midnight oil for two years and became a labor of love between the husband-wife team of lyricist-book writer Sharon and composer David.  Sharon has currently been orchestrating the work.  Look  on our website entitled   under the heading of “Stage”. Then click on the Octavian and Cleopatra drop down for more information.