For Immediate Release
Contact: Patricia Kiernan Johnson; PKJohnson@operaamerica.org
www.operaamerica.org


January 23, 2006

OPERA AMERICA AND OPERA.CA ANNOUNCE 2006: OPERA DEVELOPMENT AWARDS

TOTAL OF $241,000 AWARDED TO 14 OPERA COMPANIES TO SUPPORT DEVELOPMENT OF NEW WORKS


New York, NY--January 23, 2006-- OPERA America and Opera.ca have announced the recipients of the 2005-06 Development Awards from The Opera Fund and the Canadian Opera Creation Program respectively. Development awards provide financial assistance for companies' efforts to assess and refine a work in progress or to revive a work after its recent premiere.

The Opera Fund is a growing endowed fund which allows OPERA America to make a direct impact on the ongoing creation and presentation of new opera and music-theater works. “The creation and presentation of opera are two vital elements of OPERA America 's mission,” stated Marc Scorca, President and CEO. “Our ability to provide these grants in support of works in progress allows us to assume a truly significant investment role in the nurturing of new opera and music-theater.”

Previous recipients of The Opera Fund grants include several highly-acclaimed works including John Adams' Doctor Atomic premiered in 2005 at San Francisco Opera; Richard Danielpour's Margaret Garner , which received its first fully-staged performance at Michigan Opera Theatre also in 2005; Jake Heggie's The End of the Affair , which premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2004; and Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar , which received its staged world premiere at The Santa Fe Opera in 2005.

“The creation of new works is essential if the art form is to grow and thrive,” said Jake Heggie, composer of The End of the Affair . “OPERA America 's support is an invaluable resource for opera companies especially as a vote of confidence which encourages others to contribute to the creation of new works.”

The Opera Fund, launched with support from The National Endowment for the Arts in 2001, has been funded thus far by the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James S. and John L. Knight Foundation, The George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Lee Day Gillespie, and Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach.

Development Grant applications were initially reviewed by panelists from both Canada and the United States . The panel evaluated projects based on the quality of the project concept, artistic merit, the strength of any institutional partnerships, and the resources of the company, including the ability to fully evaluate the project.

The final selection process was determined by two national panels. Panelists from Opera.ca included stage director Tom Diamond, singer Wendy Nielsen, composer Marie Pelletier, and composer Randolph Peters. Panelists representing the U.S. included stage director Christopher Alden, artistic consultant Susan Ashbaker, librettist Mark Campbell, and the American Music Center's Joanne Cossa.

The twenty-six applications represented large and small opera companies, experienced commissioners and those commissioning for the first time, as well as new works laboratories. Several works are multicultural in their inspiration and outreach. Jazz, South Indian, and Native American are among the musical genres being incorporated into the new works. The works are being written in English, Spanish, and Cherokee.

The composers and librettists of the application projects included established opera and/or new works artists, film composers, poets, playwrights, and jazz and rock musicians. These artists include recipients of many grants and awards, including Canadian Opera Creation Program's Artists Development Grants, the Academy Award, the Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award, Officer of the Order of Canada, Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, the Pulitzer Prize, the Tony Award, the U.S. Poet Laureate position, and the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellency in the Performing Arts.

Projects awarded a Development Award from either The Opera Fund or the Canadian Opera Creation Program include the following:
  • Fort Worth Opera: Frau Margot --$18,000 in support of a one week workshop residency for composer Thomas Pasatieri, librettist Frank Corsaro, the production team, and principal cast members.
  • Lyric Opera of Kansas City : John Brown --$8,800 in support of a week-long workshop for composer Kirke Mechem and the production team to review and assess extensive revisions to the original work.
  • The Minnesota Opera ( Minneapolis ): The Grapes of Wrath --$35,000; a co-commission with Utah Symphony and Opera, the grant will support costs associated with a final workshop to determine additional refinements prior to the onset of regularly scheduled rehearsals.
  • Music-Theatre Group ( New York City ): Loving Family --$20,000 in support of the development of Act II and a workshop of the completed work prior to its premiere in March/April 2007.
  • Opera Colorado (Denver): La Curandera --$20,000 in support of a workshop for composer Robert Rodriguez, librettist Mary Medrick, production team and singers prior to the work's premiere in mid-2006.
  • Opera Omaha : Blizzard Voices --$15,000 in support of a workshop for composer Paul Moravec, librettist Ted Kooser, and the production team. Blizzard Voices will be a staged song cycle in observance of the board's plan to create and produce works in a variety of styles and venues.
  • Opera Theater of Pittsburgh: Red Dust --$10,000 in support of three weeks of workshops which will address the unique needs of this multimedia work and culminate in public performances to be evaluated by a committee of local opera, music, and theater professionals.
  • Seattle Opera: Amelia --$20,000 in support of development workshops and a portion of the creative artists' fees for Seattle Opera's first sole opera commission.
  • Calgary Opera: Hannaraptor --$9,000 in support of a three-day workshop of the libretto in spring 2006, a one-week music/libretto review workshop in fall 2006, and a one-week workshop to review the completed work in spring 2007.
  • Musical Traditions, Inc. ( San Francisco ): The Tyrant --$17,200 to support creative meetings to plan the textual and musical revisions required to create a full opera concept; The Tyrant is currently formulated as a one-act concert piece.
  • Chants Libres ( Montreal ): Opéra Féerie --$20,000 to support the second phase of the composition and musical preparation of the work, based on a fable by Madame D'Aulnoy.
  • The Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company ( Toronto ): Vanity and the Goddess Sarasvati --$14,000 to support a workshop for composer/librettist Michael Oesterle to continue the development of this opera set around the South Indian vocalist Suba Sankaran.
  • Tapestry New Opera Works ( Toronto ): Antigone --$20,000 in support of the first reading and revisions of the libretto, the first draft of the score, and a workshop reading. This process will lead to the determination of whether or not the work should then enter the pre-production phase.
  • Tapestry New Opera Works ( Toronto ): Opera to Go --$14,000 to support the workshop of the first draft of the score and provide funds for subsequent revisions. Opera to Go will be comprised of five 15-minute operas, each with its own composer and librettist.
The Opera Fund's 2006-2007 Guidelines for Audience Development Grants will be available in July 2006, and will be made available to OPERA America Professional Company Members and their partners; for information, contact Diana Hossack, Managing Director, at DHossack@operaamerica.org. For further information about the Canadian Opera Creation Program , contact Micheline McKay, Executive Director, Opera.ca, at M_McKay@opera.ca.

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ABOUT OPERA AMERICA

OPERA America leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera.

  • Artistic services help opera companies and creative and performing artists to improve the quality of productions and increase the creation and presentation of North American works.
  • Information, technical, and administrative services to opera companies reflect the need for strengthened leadership among staff, trustees and volunteers.
  • Education, audience development and community services are designed to enhance all forms of opera appreciation.

Founded in 1970, OPERA America’s worldwide membership network includes nearly 200 Company Members, 300 Associate and Business Members, 2,000 Individual Members and more than 16,000 subscribers to the association’s electronic news service. In 2005, OPERA America relocated from Washington, D.C. to New York as the first step in creating the first-ever National Opera Center. With a wide range of artistic and administrative services in a purpose-built facility, the Opera Center is dedicated to increasing the level of excellence, creativity and effectiveness across the field.

OPERA America’s long tradition of supporting and nurturing the creation and development of new works led to the formation of The Opera Fund, a growing endowment which allows OPERA America to make a direct impact on the ongoing creation and presentation of new opera and music-theater works. Since its inception, OPERA America has made grants of nearly $11 million to assist companies with the expenses associated with the creation and development of new works.