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Megan Young, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America
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Opera America Magazine9/1/2007

Editor's Note: While existing works remain an important staple at many opera companies, artists and audiences alike benefit from exploring contemporary repertoire. The decades that spawned some of the great masterworks, particularly in the mid- to late 1850s, saw the creation of thousands of new operas. By celebrating and encouraging today’s composers and librettists, we increase the chances of producing great works for the 21st century.

To raise awareness of operas and music-theater works being produced by organizational members or written by individual members, OPERA America maintains an online database of North American opera and music-theater works. The Baisley Powell Elebash Score and Recording Library, a non-circulating collection housed in OPERA America’s New York office, is available by appointment for members wishing to peruse materials.

Works in progress or completed less than two years ago, along with those that received a premiere or major workshop during that period, are featured in the fall and spring issues of Opera America magazine. More details about these works (including vocal/musical forces, contact information, and more) can be found online at

OPERA America members can submit listings to OPERA America’s New Works Directory by visiting
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By Daron Hagen and Gardner McFall

Commissioned by Seattle Opera, Amelia is a two-act opera based on a story by the production’s director, Stephen Wadsworth. The piece uses the theme of flight as a motif to explore the human condition and takes place during the 30-year period from 1966 to 1996. Amelia addresses such issues as man’s fascination with flight, the Daedalus/Icarus myth and the American experience in Vietnam. Workshops will begin in December 2007, and a projected premiere is set for May 2010.

Le Chat Botté
By Diana Cantrelle

Based on the 1697 fairy tale of the same name by Charles Perrault, Le Chat Botté, or Puss in Boots, is scored for a quartet of singers and piano or jazz combo. Each singer performs numerous roles throughout the course of the piece. Written in a style of “New Orleans jazz meets old world charm,” this 45-minute, one-act opera is geared for young and family audiences.

Chicken Little, the Sky is Falling
By Gladys Smuckler Moskowitz

Based on the well-known fable of the same name, Chicken Little is a one-act chamber opera over the course of which an entire barnyard of animals buys into the rumor that the sky is falling. This jazz-influenced piece, which has a running time of just under an hour, will be premiered by the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra on October 27, 2007.

By Stefan Weisman and Anna Rabinowitz

Inspired by Lee Hoiby’s song, “The Darkling Thrush,” this experimental opera-theatre work speaks for those who did not survive the Holocaust. The piece includes a cast of five singers and six non-singing actors and overlays poetry, live music, projected films and images, collages of spoken text and prerecorded soundscapes. The modern, minimalistic music and poetic libretto are accompanied by string quartet and piano. Darkling received its premiere by American Opera Projects (New York City) on February 26, 2006.

The Dream Healer
By Lloyd Burritt, Christopher Allan and Don Mowatt

Based on the book Pilgrim by Timothy Findley, The Dream Healer focuses on Dr. Carl Jung’s preoccupation with the disintegration of the human psyche. Set in Zurich in the early 20th century, all of the characters in the piece are on stage at all times, helping to create a nonstop look into life in Jung’s clinic- asylum. The two-hour opera is scored for five principal singers, chorus and large chamber orchestra, and will be premiered by the University of British Columbia Opera Ensemble in March 2008.

Dream Sequence
By Alan Stringer

This romantic, tonal piece is based on an actual dream of the composer, in which the “Self ” and the “Mother” share their memories of the Self in its earliest home. Completed in February of 2007, Dream Sequence is written for soprano, mezzo-soprano, bass-baritone, and piano or string ensemble. The piece is written in one act with a running time of approximately 15 minutes.

En Mis Palabras
By Roger Ames and Jeffrey Gilden

Commissioned by Central City Opera, En Mis Palabras is a one-act, bilingual opera in English and Spanish created for families and young audiences. The opera follows the story of Ana Maria, a 15-year-old Latina, as she searches to find her own voice, as well as a balance between honoring her Mexican heritage and growing up as an American teenager. Scored for four singers with keyboard and classical guitar accompaniment, the piece is approximately 50 minutes in length.

The Fashionable Lady
By John Craton and James Ralph

Originally written in 1730, The Fashionable Lady is the first American ballad opera to be performed in London. The piece utilizes popular song tunes of the era and text by James Ralph, who was a friend of Benjamin Franklin. John Craton has reconstructed and freely realized the original three-act work and created a new overture for the piece. Similar in its comedic style to John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, The Fashionable Lady has nine major roles, four speaking roles, six mute roles and a chamber orchestra.

The Girl on the Via Flaminia
By Waddy Thompson and Elsa Rael
Based on the novel of the same name by Alfred Hays, The Girl on the Via Flaminia is a one-act opera workshopped by Encompass New Opera Theatre (New York City) in 2007. The story centers on the relationship between an American soldier and an Italian woman who has been reduced to prostitution during the last years of World War II in Rome. The piece is largely atonal with lyrical, conjunct melodies and is suitable for performance in both large and small venues.

The Golden Gate
By Conrad Cummings

The Golden Gate, a chamber opera in two acts, will be premiered by American Opera Projects in the 2008- 09 season. Based on the novel in verse of the same name by Vikram Seth, this rhythmically charged piece follows the life experiences of five 20-somethings in early 1980s San Francisco. The opera is written for five singers, one child actor and a chamber orchestra of 17 players, and is composed in a tonal, tuneful style.

Heart of Darkness
By Tarik O’Regan and Tom Phillips

Based on Joseph Conrad’s classic novella, Heart of Darkness is a parable about greed-inspired colonialism in the Belgian Congo. The 75-minute, one-act chamber opera employs eight singers and a 13-piece orchestra. The opera, in which abuse of power is a main dramatic theme, will be premiered by American Opera Projects in the spring of 2009.

The Man in the Black Suit
By Eve Beglarian and Grethe Barrett Holby

The Man in the Black Suit, an 80- minute, one-act opera, is based on the award-winning story of the same name by popular writer Stephen King. Set in rural Maine in the early 20th century, the piece addresses the issues of faith, evil and the world beyond us through a man in his nineties recounting a pivotal experience from his childhood. The opera, commissioned by Ardea Arts, is scored for five principals, chorus and an innovative chamber ensemble which includes electronic mixing and Foley art in addition to acoustic instruments.

Mortal, Immortal
By Robert Ceely and Elisabeth Gatineau

Set for a premiere in 2010, this chamber opera is written for soprano, boy soprano, mezzo-soprano, two baritones and a chamber ensemble. Based on an original idea, the piece follows the story of Winze, an apothecary who has created an elixir of eternal life. Mortal, Immortal is a one-act opera written in a modern style, with a running time of approximately 40 minutes.

The Other Wise Man
By M. Ryan Taylor

Premiered on December 15, 2006 by New Opera Works (American Fork, Utah), The Other Wise Man follows the story of Artaban, who is on a quest to present his gifts to the King of Light. The piece is written in a modal/tonal style for two sopranos, mezzo-soprano, tenor, two baritones and chamber ensemble. The opera is a 75-minute chamber work based on a short story of the same name by Henry Van Dyke.

Pandora’s Locker
By Dean Burry

An angry teen struggles with her inner demons in this ori
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