Press Released: 17 Dec 2020

Call For Applications For the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize

The first award in the history of American opera that recognizes the opera librettist

Conceived and funded by librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera and the nation's leading champion for American opera, is pleased to announce the official launch of its newest grant program: the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize (COLP). Conceived and funded by acclaimed librettist and lyricist Mark Campbell, the Prize is the first award in the history of American opera that specifically recognizes the work of the opera librettist. Applications are now open.

The Prize will be awarded annually to an American librettist who demonstrates an exceptional talent for writing opera librettos and exhibits the potential for making a substantial contribution to the opera literature. Applicants must demonstrate a strong commitment to the art form and have written at least two complete opera librettos that have been set to music or are in the process of being set to music. The winner will be chosen by a panel of independent experts.

The winner of the Prize will receive a $7,000 award in support of their artistry and development as an opera librettist to be used at their own discretion. In addition, they will gain access to OPERA America’s professional development programs for artists and receive introductions to leading opera producers through Opera America Magazine and OPERA America’s digital and social media channels, and at future Opera Conferences and New Works Forum convenings.

To apply or review the full set of guidelines, visit Grants & Awards. An intent to apply must be submitted by January 21, 2021, with full applications due by March 2, 2021. Applications will be adjudicated in April 2021, and the recipient will be notified in May 2021.

“I created the COLP as an extension of my mentorship and advocacy efforts on behalf of my fellow opera librettists. While our stature has risen considerably in the last decade or so, specific recognition for our work has remained non-existent,” stated Campbell. “Years ago, Steve Sondheim awarded me the first Kleban Foundation Award — the only award for lyricists at the time — and that experience helped me gain a lot of confidence in my work. I hope the COLP will do the same for my librettist colleagues and help raise the profile of our work in the industry. Many thanks to OPERA America for agreeing to administer and promote this award.”

Campbell, who is one of opera's most successful librettists, has penned the stories for 38 librettos, 2 oratorios, and 8 song cycles. His works have received countless awards, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Silent Night and a 2019 Grammy Award for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Other successful works include The Shining, Sanctuary Road, Stonewall, Songs from an Unmade Bed, As One, Later the Same Evening, The Manchurian Candidate, and Elizabeth Cree.

“Mark Campbell’s passionate advocacy has elevated the art of libretto writing throughout the opera field. He is inspiring the next generation of writers to dedicate their pens to opera and music theater,” attests Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “We are honored that Mark has chosen OPERA America as the steward of the new Campbell Opera Librettist Prize.”

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