top of page
A faded postcard. A large, many-windowed building is in the background. Trees and walking pathways in the foreground. In the middle of the postcard, in wavy blue, orange, black writing reads, "The Road to Wellville, a new comic chamber opera, music: Matt Boehler, libretto: Tony Asaro, based on the novel by T. C. Boyle"

BATTLE CREEK, MI, 1907.  Well-heeled health-nuts of all stripes clamored to take “the cure” at John Harvey Kellogg's elite health spa, the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Under Kellogg's care, the corn flake inventor and health guru inspired his acolytes with ­­a dream of eternal wellness through a variety of…unusual health practices.


Set during America's Progressive era, Kellogg's vision of “biologic living” and self-determinism is at once alluring and contagious. The sleepy town of Battle Creek, Michigan transforms itself into a magnetic metropolis, attracting hordes of folks looking to get rich quick in an exploding market of breakfast cereals, health tonics, and snake oil.

Based on T. C. Boyle's novel, The Road to Wellville is a fast-paced, ensemble-based comic chamber opera currently in development, following a Dickensian cast of characters in pursuit of the magic pill of longevity—and the profit to be had from manufacturing it.

Black and white photo of a row of outdoors on the stone-columned rooftop of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. They are all in their underwear, arms outstretched, facing an instructor who is in the same pose
Black and white photo of a room full of pulley, levers, tilting table on which people are laying flat on the backs, and large corrugated wooden wheels


  • Initial development sponsored by a seed grant from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Deliverables: outline and 20-25 minutes of the score

  • Excerpt from Act 1 to be presented in San Francisco on March 2-3, 2024 with West Edge Opera's SNAPSHOT reading series, scored for 5 singers and small ensemble. Tickets and info available here

  • The opening of Act 1 to be publicly presented May 3, 2024, produced by the Voice and Opera department at San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

This adaptation is presented through arrangement with Georges Borchardt, Inc., for T. C. Boyle. All rights reserved.


  • Wellville is a fast-paced satire in 2 acts. It draws inspiration from the pacing and musical language of American musical comedy

  • Chamber orchestration & flexible casting

    • Ensemble cast, 12 singers:

      • 4 sopranos (1 high soprano)

      • 2 mezzos

      • 2 tenors

      • 3 baritones

      • 1 bass-baritone

    • No chorus required. Several roles are doubled, allowing the possibility of roles being spread among additional cast members

    • Anticipated scoring for chamber orchestra, ca. 15-18 players

  • Perusal score and mockups of work-in-progress available from the composer via the CONTACT page


SAMPLE (act 1, scene 4)

MATT BOEHLER, composer

Hailed by The New York Times  as "a bass with an attitude and the goods to back it up," and recognized by the San Francisco Classical Voice  for music that "harnesses considerable

expressive power," Matt Boehler is a singer and composer known in the world of opera for his captivating, dynamic performances and his long-earned reputation as an inventive collaborative artist.

As a composer, his recent commissions from singers Sasha Cooke and David Portillo were lauded by Opera News as "accomplished" and "fresh and vital." Cooke included his work on her 2022 GRAMMY®-nominated album, how do I find you. The world premiere of his chamber opera Fat Pig with Victory Hall Opera, libretto by Miriam Gordon-Stewart, was hailed by Opera magazine as "impressive and captivating."  Other recent commissions include works for Washington National Opera, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is a grant recipient from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Center for Cultural Innovation, and his song cycle Foursquare Cathedral garnered awards from the Music Publisher's Association and NATS, taking first prize in their Art Song Composition Competition.

A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, he is now based in San Francisco. He trained as an actor at Viterbo College, an opera singer at Juilliard, and as a composer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Tony received his undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University in 1998 in Theatre and Music, and later received his Masters Degree in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU, TSOA. In 2008, he was awarded the Anna Sosenko Award for

songwriting. He is a Resident Artist at American Lyric Theater.


Tony’s oratorio Such Beautiful Things (composer Jeff Parola) was commissioned by Choral Chameleon in 2010.  His opera All Wounds Bleed (composer Chris Cerrone) was commissioned by American Lyric Theater, was presented in Opera America’s New Works Forum in 2012, and received its world premiere at Tulsa Opera in 2013. It has since been produced at Brooklyn Music School, Chicago Fringe Opera, and last year in a virtual production at University of Michigan. Tony’s one-act opera The BoatMan (composer Alon Nechushtan) was commissioned and premiered by Con Vivo Music in New Jersey in September of 2022. Tony wrote the libretto for The Halloween Tree (composer Theo Popov) which has received numerous readings through American Lyric Theatre and for Zheng (composer Shinji Eshima) which will be performed at Opera San Jose in the fall of this year.

Tony co-founded and Artistic Directed FOGG Theatre in San Francisco for its entire 11 year run. For FOGG, Tony wrote music and lyrics for the musicals The Cable Car Nymphomaniac, Flocked Together: The Green Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and LifeCycle.  Prior to his work with FOGG, Tony’s musical Our Country enjoyed two successful productions in New York, and won Best Musical in the Planet Connections festival in NYC in 2009. 

bottom of page