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Press Released: 16 Dec 2020

OPERA America Awards Total of $250,000 in Next Stage Grants

Encourages Subsequent Productions of North American Works

Generously Funded by Gene Kaufman, Terry Eder-Kaufman, and New Vision for NYC Opera, with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

OPERA America is pleased to announce the eight Professional Company Members receiving a total of $250,000 as part of the newly reestablished Next Stage Grants program. The grants support the presentation of second or subsequent productions of existing, underperformed North American works, with the opportunity to edit, adjust, and refine the works for new audiences. Next Stage Grants are generously funded by Gene Kaufman, Terry Eder-Kaufman, and New Vision for NYC Opera, with additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The recipients of this round of Next Stage Grants are:

  • Anchorage Opera (Anchorage, AK) for Missing
  • El Paso Opera (El Paso, TX) for Frida
  • IN Series (Washington, D.C.) for I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky
  • Knoxville Opera (Knoxville, TN) for Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom
  • Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit, MI) for X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X
  • Odyssey Opera (Boston, MA) for The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Opera Parallèle (San Francisco, CA) for Harvey Milk
  • Opera Saratoga (Saratoga Springs, NY) for Sky on Swings

See below for details about all the funded initiatives.

The grantees were selected from a pool of 35 applications, which were adjudicated by an independent panel of experts consisting of Cori Ellison, dramaturg, American Lyric Theater; Kelly Kuo, artistic director, Oregon Mozart Players; David T. Little, composer; Alison Moritz, stage director; and Luna Pearl Woolf, composer and dramaturg.

Next Stage Grants award up to 50 percent of performance costs: up to $25,000 to present an existing production, up to $50,000 to originate a new production, or up to $75,000 to originate a new production as part of a consortium. Supplemental support is available for score, libretto, or orchestration revisions.

“OPERA America is committed to building the American opera repertoire. In addition to supporting the creation and production of new works, this effort must include the review and revision of works that have great merit, but have been underperformed since their premieres,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Thanks to the generosity of Gene Kaufman and Terry Eder-Kaufman, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these works can be refreshed and reintroduced to new audiences.”

Next Stage Grants were first offered in the late 1990s. The revival of this program is part of a larger strategy dedicated to increasing the number and diversity of works in the American opera canon that includes Repertoire Development Grants, Opera Grants for Female Composers, IDEA Opera Grants, IDEA Opera Residencies, and the newly announced Campbell Opera Librettist Prize. Since the inception of its granting programs, OPERA America has awarded over $20 million to support the work of opera creators and companies.

Visit Grants & Awards to learn more about OPERA America’s complete grant offerings.

2020 Next Stage Grants Recipients

Anchorage Opera
Music by Brian Current
Libretto by Marie Clements
Premiered 2017

Missing is about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Collaborating with Alaskan Native groups, tribal governments, elected officials, law enforcement, and social service agencies on projects, the company will raise awareness of a tragic, escalating situation in the state that leads the U.S. in cases. As the field strives to better its EDI practices, Anchorage Opera views the inclusion of Indigenous people in programming as crucial.

El Paso Opera
Music by Robert Xavier Rodriguez
Libretto by Migdalia Cruz and Hilary Blecher
Premiered 1991

The life and art of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo are the stuff of legend and Rodríguez's music is a perfect match for the woman, her passion and her legacy. The hauntingly beautiful work, performed in Spanish and English, presents the icon's life. Through music, monologue, dance, and visual spectacle the audience will witness her paintings come to life as this celebration of one of the most-beloved artists of the 20th century unfolds on the Abraham Chavez Theatre stage in March 2022.

IN Series
I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky
Music by John Adams
Libretto by June Jordan
Premiered 1995

IN Series is proud to mount a rare full production of this "song-play" and "earthquake/romance." This profoundly powerful work blends shattering texts with a multicultural, diverse musical language, merging popular and classical culture to explore issues of race, police violence, sexual identity, and coming of age in inner-city America. Almost presciently, a polyphonic love story finds its time now.

Knoxville Opera
Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom
Music and libretto by Nkeiru Okoye
Premiered 2014

Knoxville Opera will present the first professional production of Okoye’s opera since its 2014 premiere. The opera focuses on Tubman’s journey from childhood to marriage to her inspiring life and unique accomplishments as the legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad. Its riveting dramatic music and themes of social justice, freedom, and equality will permeate the many education and community events associated with the production.

Michigan Opera Theatre
X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X
Music by Anthony Davis
Libretto by Thulani Davis
Premiered 1986

Michigan Opera Theatre will present a new production of this work that is daring both musically and dramatically. It will feature a jazz ensemble embedded in the orchestra and a large, mostly Black cast. MOT believes this revival of an eclectically constructed and timely work will inspire boldness within the field to present major works on the Black experience.

Odyssey Opera
The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe
Music by Dominick Argento
Libretto by Charles M. Nolte
Premiered 1976

Odyssey Opera will present the Boston premiere of The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe. A rarity that has been absent from North American opera houses in the 21st century, the opera portrays the literary genius embarking on a beautiful and tragic voyage of self-discovery — "a voyage of the heart."

Opera Parallèle
Harvey Milk
Music by Stewart Wallace
Libretto by Michael Korie
Premiered 1995

In May 2022, Opera Parallèle will present a reimagined chamber version of the 1995 large-scale opera Harvey Milk in three performances at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The original version has been shortened from three to two acts, several minor characters have been eliminated, and the score has been reorchestrated for a chamber ensemble of 27, making the production appropriate and attractive for smaller companies.

Opera Saratoga
Sky on Swings
Music by Lembit Beecher
Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch
Premiered 2018

Opera Saratoga will present a new production of Sky on Swings as part of the company’s 2022 summer festival. Sky on Swings is a riveting exploration of the experience of two women who are progressing through different stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The production will be directed by Lawrence Edelson and conducted by Emily Senturia, with scenic design by Julia Noulin-Mérat, costume design by Whitney Locher, and lighting design by Barry Steele.


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

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