top of page

Mary Pleasant – one of the most complex, mysterious, and imposing figures in the history of the nation – comes to life in Mary Pleasant at Land’s End, an opera by composer David Garner and librettist Mark Hernandez.

The opera traces much of Pleasant’s astonishing life, beginning with her days as a shepherd for the Underground Railroad. Arriving in San Francisco, she becomes a beloved leader in the young city. Eventually, this daughter of slaves stands as one of the richest and most influential individuals of the time. Her championing of people and causes, however, brings her into conflict with a more familiar face of wealth and power, and the ensuing struggle plays out in a notorious courtroom drama that mesmerizes the public. Sensationalist press coverage demonizes Pleasant, playing on attitudes towards her race and gender. An essential figure in the founding of San Francisco, and indeed the state of California, she is forgotten even as the city bursts into world prominence.

Mary Pleasant at Land’s End is comprised of two acts (about two hours of music total), and calls for four principal artists, six comprimario artists, and mixed chorus. Garner’s first full‐length opera, it is replete with the soaring vocalism for which he is so widely admired, and also uniquely employs rhythmic motifs from Haitian Vodou traditions. Hernandez’s libretto draws on colorful language and situations from San Francisco’s Barbary Coast days.






Watch the musical workshop of ACT 1 of Mary Pleasant at Land's End

Watch the musical workshop of ACT 2 of Mary Pleasant at Land's End

Mr. WA interviews David Garner and Mark Hernandez about creating Mary Pleasant at Land's End

APRIL 4, 2016

As part of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Faculty Recital Series, David Garner presents scenes from his first full-length opera, Mary Pleasant at Land's End

AUGUST 22, 2016

A Go Fund Me page was created to raise money for to present the workshop premiere of Mary Pleasant at Land's End at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in January 2017.

JANUARY 14, 2017

A full musical workshop of Mary Pleasant at Land's End is presented at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, with music direction by San Francisco Chorus Director, Ian Robertson

APRIL 9, 2017

Composer David Garner and Librettist Mark Hernandez appear for an interview about Mary Pleasant at Land's End on Mister WA. The opera's background and inception are discussed, along with seeing scenes from the workshop presentation of the opera

FALL 2017

David takes partial leave from his teaching duties to finish the full orchestration of Mary Pleasant at Land's End


What do Boomtown San Francisco, New Orleans, Slavery, Equal Rights, Opera, Voodoo, & Cosmopolitan California have in common?

bottom of page