The Curious Lady of Lyme Regis
a short opera film about paleontologist Mary Anning
This work-in-progress began during Laura's residency at Opera America. She met librettist Kaitlin Sullivan through Facebook.
Workshop footage and materials available upon request.
On a winter day in Lyme Regis, England, paleontologist Mary Anning digs for fossils in the rocks along the coastline. In the cliff beside her is the skeleton of a dinosaur she cannot recognize, and her only luck is in finding small common fossils for souvenir shops. She is approached by her colleague and rival, William Conybeare, who has arrived from London to see how her work is progressing. Anning is eager to share her findings and concerns, but is stunned when he suggests he will be taking credit for her work. Conybeare suggests marriage as a way of supporting her, but Anning is insulted he would take advantage of her work. She rejects him and returns to her digging. Alone on the beach, Anning wonders if she’ll be forgotten, if someone in the future will preserve her memory the way she hopes to do for the ancient beasts in stone. As she wonders her place in the universe, a landslide crumbles the cliffside, revealing a complete fossil of a plesiosaur, the first to see the sky in over 100 million years, and Mary Anning the first human to greet them.