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Press Released: 23 Dec 2013

OPERA America Announces Recipients of The Opera Fund: Repertoire Development Grants

Nine Opera Companies Receive a Total of $225,000 to Develop New North American Operas

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, is pleased to announce it has awarded grants to nine opera companies through its Opera Fund: Repertoire Development grant program. These grants provide vital financial support to opera companies developing new North American opera and music-theater works.

Repertoire Development grants allow creators and/or producers to assess and refine a work-in-progress. The grants may be used to offset creative fees and other costs associated with the development of a new opera/music-theater work, including lab productions, workshops, readings and revisions.

A total of $225,000 is being awarded to the following nine opera companies: American Lyric Theater (New York, NY), Beth Morrison Projects (New York, NY), Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera.

Over the past 20 years, OPERA America’s Opera Fund has provided grants totaling nearly $13 million to assist companies with the creation and development of works such as Akhnaten (Philip Glass), Cold Sassy Tree (Carlisle Floyd), Dead Man Walking (Jake Heggie), Elmer Gantry (Robert Aldridge), Frau Margot (Thomas Pasatieri), Little Women (Mark Adamo), Margaret Garner (Richard Danielpour), Nixon in China (John Adams), Shining Brow (Daron Hagen) and A Streetcar Named Desire (André Previn).

"Fostering the creation of new works by American composers is a cornerstone of OPERA America’s mission," stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO. "Through the generosity of Opera Fund donors, Repertoire Development grants assist in increasing the vitality and diversity of our art form," he continued.

Recipients of the Repertoire Development grants were selected by a panel of industry leaders, including mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle, librettist Michael Korie, composer John Musto, bass-baritone Eric Owens, composer Caroline Shaw and stage director Tazewell Thompson.

The Opera Fund was launched by The National Endowment for the Arts, and is funded by The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Lee Day Gillespie, Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation.

2013 Repertoire Development Grant Recipients

American Lyric Theater
JFK (provisional title)
Composer David T. Little
Librettist Royce Vavrek

In November 2014, American Lyric Theater and Fort Worth Opera (FWO) will collaborate on a developmental workshop and public reading of the complete piano-vocal score of JFK (working title), a new opera by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek. JFK is a full-length opera being developed for the 70th anniversary season of FWO in the spring of 2016. Reflecting a significant moment in American history, the opera will tell the story of the lives and relationships of those connected to the 35th President of the United States, with a focus on their moments in Fort Worth the morning before his fateful trip to Dallas.

Beth Morrison Projects
Aging Magician
Composer Paola Prestini
Librettist Rinde Eckert

Aging Magician is a composite of sonic and visual elements that paints the fading world of a man approaching the end of his life. The man’s vibrant last adventure is brought to life by a team of multi-disciplinary artists who combine music, theater, puppetry, instrument making and scenic design to create an enduring work for the stage. In partnership with VisionIntoArt, Beth Morrison Projects will use this grant to support year-long residency at Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan and later a technical residency at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Houston Grand Opera
Composer/Librettist Carlisle Floyd

Houston Grand Opera is commissioning a new work from Carlisle Floyd, titled Kynaston. Based on the stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher, the opera tells the story of Edward Kynaston, the last of the boy players who played women’s roles onstage during the period of the Restoration in England. The opera follows Kynaston’s life from the height of his fame to his downfall after King Charles II’s proclamation allowing women to appear onstage.

Lyric Opera of Chicago
Bel Canto
Composer Jimmy López
Librettist Nilo Cruz

Lyric Opera of Chicago will hold five days of workshops over a two-week period in the summer of 2014. These workshops will involve the entire Bel Canto creative team, including the composer Jimmy López and librettist Nilo Cruz, as well as creative consultant Renée Fleming, conductor Sir Andrew Davis and stage director Kevin Newbury. Adapted from the Ann Patchett novel of the same title, the work is inspired by the Lima Crisis of 1996-1997, when members of a revolutionary movement in Peru held hostages at the Japanese ambassador’s house for 126 days. Central to the story is the fictional famed American soprano, Roxanne Coss. Like the novel, the opera will explore the tensions and unexpected alliances that develop when a group of culturally disparate strangers — the terrorists and their hostages — are confined in close quarters for months.

Metropolitan Opera
Blizzard on Marblehead Neck
Composer Jeanine Tesori
Librettist Tony Kushner

The Metropolitan Opera plans to expand the one-act opera, Blizzard on Marblehead Neck by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner, into a full-length, two-act opera. Originally premiered at The Glimmerglass Festival in August 2011, the work portrays a fight between an ailing Eugene O’Neill and his wife, Carlotta, during a raging snowstorm. Tesori and Kushner will further develop this story to encompass more elements of the couple’s tempestuous relationship during the last years of O’Neill’s life, as he faced the realization that he could not complete his final masterpieces.

Opera Philadelphia
Charlie Parker
Composer Daniel Schnyder
Librettist Bridgette Wimberly

Charlie Parker is a co-commission and co-production between Opera Philadelphia and Gotham Chamber Opera, which will have its world premiere in June 2015 in Philadelphia. Written by composer Daniel Schnyder and librettist Bridgette Wimberly, the opera tells the story of legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, who will be portrayed by renowned American tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Shalimar the Clown
Composer Jack Perla
Librettist Rajiv Joseph

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has planned two week-long workshops in the Sally S. Levy Opera Center for Shalimar the Clown, written by Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph. Based on the Salman Rushdie novel, the work will premiere in June 2016 as part of the company’s spring festival season. Rushdie’s novel was a finalist for the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards, and has been described as "Rushdie's greatest novel since The Satanic Verses" by the Los Angeles Times. The opera will tell a complex story of seduction, revenge, cultural clashes and shifting global politics.

San Francisco Opera
Dream of the Red Chamber
Composer Bright Sheng
Librettist David Henry Hwang

San Francisco Opera has commissioned a new opera, titled Dream of the Red Chamber, from composer Bright Sheng and librettist David Henry Hwang to premiere in fall 2016. Based on the Chinese novel of the same title, the company has planned a piano-vocal workshop in September 2015. In two acts, the opera unfolds within the red walls of the Grand Panorama Garden or Red Chamber. "Red Chamber" usually refers to a room where the daughter of a prominent family is sheltered.

Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center
An American Soldier
Composer Huang Ruo
Librettist David Henry Hwang

As part of the American Opera Initiative, Washington National Opera will workshop An American Soldier by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang in March 2014. The work is based on the life of Danny Chen, a Chinese-American U.S. Army soldier who served in Afghanistan. A victim of racial slurs, verbal abuse and physical assaults from members of his own unit, Chen was found with gunshot wounds in a guard tower in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, and passed away soon after on October 3, 2011.

Excerpts of select works that have received support from OPERA America will be showcased at the New Works Sampler at OPERA America's Opera Conference 2014: Audiences Reimagined, in San Francisco from June 20-23. Additional information about the New Works Sampler will be available at operaamerica.org/Conference in spring 2014.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

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