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Press Released: 19 Dec 2008

OPERA America Announces Opera Fund Director-Designer Showcase Finalists

Finalists to Present Proposals at Opera Conference 2009

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, announces that four finalist teams have been chosen for its first Director-Designer Showcase.

As part of a continuing effort to foster emerging opera artists, the bi-annual Director-Designer Showcase seeks to benefit promising stage directors and designers interested in breaking into the world of opera. It is intended to bring new talent to the forefront and connect promising artists with those who are in a position to hire them. To be administered as part of OPERA America's Opera Fund, the inaugural Director-Designer Showcase is supported by a special grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Working from a diverse list of American operas, applicants were asked to complete a production concept, including an explanation of the staging; ideas and initial research for scenery, props and costumes; required personnel; and suggestions for adaptations and/or editing, if any. A total of 41 director-driven teams submitted proposals for consideration; four of these were selected as finalists.

Each finalist team will be given $1,000 to be used toward the production of renderings and models. Up to two representatives from each finalist team will be flown to OPERA America's Opera Conference 2009 in Houston to present their proposals to general and artistic directors at a special session.

"The Director-Designer Showcase supports talented emerging artists by providing them with unparalleled access at the Opera Conference to the field's decision-makers," stated Marc A. Scorca, president & CEO of OPERA America. "The production proposals displayed the remarkable range of talent and creativity of these young directors and designers. By highlighting these artists at the Showcase, OPERA America is proud to assist in furthering their careers."

The four finalist teams were selected by a panel that included Peter Dean Beck, designer; John Duykers, singer/teacher; Christopher Mattaliano, stage director/general director of Portland Opera; Diane Paulus, stage director and Darren K. Woods, general director of Fort Worth Opera.

"I was astounded at the level of preparation and creativity of the applicants," declared Mr. Woods. "Most all of them had done mounds of research and then translated them into incredible images and drawings. I think the winning teams' projects could go directly from the page to the stage — they were that good."

2009 Director-Designer Showcase Finalists

Andrew Eggert, director
Anka Lupes, set and costume designer
Aaron Black, lighting designer

Mourning Becomes Electra

Lawrence Edelson, director
Martin T. Lopez, set and costume designer
Josh Epstein, lighting designer
Lauri Stallings, choreographer

Florencia en el Amazonas

Mike Donahue, director
Anya Klepikov, set and costume designer
Ji-Youn Chang, lighting designer
Sara Erde, choreographer
Daniel Vatsky, projection designer


Elise Sandell, director
Liz Freese, set and costume designer
Gordon W. Olson, lighting designer
Keturah Stickann, choreographer

Einstein on the Beach

As a core tenet of OPERA America's mission to support North American works, The Opera Fund and its precursor funding programs have awarded more than $10.5 million in grants to companies throughout the U.S. and Canada since 1983. The Opera Fund supports three areas: Repertoire Development — production of new operas; Audience Development — building appreciation of American works; and Artist Development — support of artists who create and interpret the repertoire. The Director-Designer Showcase is a component of The Opera Fund's Artist Development program.

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

The Opera Fund was launched in 2001 and the Director-Designer Showcase is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

In addition to selecting finalists, the panel recognized four additional noteworthy proposals:

  • Four Saints in Three Acts — Michael Rau, director; Sara Walsh, set designer; Jessica Pabst, costume designer; Derek Wright, lighting designer
  • Einstein on the Beach — Gregory Keller, director; Dipu Gupta, set and lighting designer; Melissa Schlactmeyer, costume designer;
    Brady Paul, choreographer
  • Ainadamar — Joseph Cermatori, director; Michael Locher, set designer; Paul Carey, costume designer; Burke Brown, lighting designer; Stephanie Ybarra, producer
  • X — The Life and Times of Malcolm X — Eric Einhorn, director; Kathryn Kawecki, set designer; Candida K. Nichols, costume designer


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.