Seven Composers Receive Total of $100,000 in Discovery Grants from OPERA America’s Opera Grants For Female Composers
Supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
OPERA America is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Discovery Grants from the Opera Grants for Female Composers program. These seven composers will receive a total of $100,000 to support development activities of theatrical works for the trained voice and instrumental ensemble. Opera Grants for Female Composers promote the development of new works by women and raise the visibility of women writing operas. The grants are made possible through the generosity of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
This year’s recipients are:
- Lisa Bielawa for Centuries in the Hours
- Justine F. Chen for Seven Sisters
- Melissa Dunphy for Alice Tierney
- Johanny Navarro for ¿Y los Pasteles? Ópera Jíbara en Dos Actos (Where Are the Pasteles? Jibaro Opera in Two Acts)
- Milica Paranosic for Penelope and the Geese
- Kirsten Volness for Letters That You Will Not Get: Women's Voices from the Great War
- Mary D. Watkins for Dark River: The Fannie Lou Hamer Story
See below for profiles of the composers and their works.
Grantees were selected from an applicant pool of 47 composers by a panel of industry leaders consisting of Mark Adamo, composer/librettist; Troy Cook, baritone; Kristine McIntyre, stage director; Evans Mirageas, the Harry T. Wilks artistic director of Cincinnati Opera; Brandon Neal, associate producer, Office of the President at The Julliard School; and Laurie Rogers, conductor.
Over the past four decades, OPERA America has awarded more than $20 million to support the work of opera creators, companies and administrators. However, until the launch of Opera Grants for Female Composers in 2013, fewer than five percent of the organization’s grants for repertoire development had been awarded to works by female composers. Opera Grants for Female Composers have helped to reverse that trend by investing over $1.2 million in operas by women to date, including support for Laura Kaminsky’s As One, now the most performed American opera in the country, and Ellen Reid’s p r i s m, which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.
“OPERA America is focused on increasing gender parity across all sectors of the industry, both artistic and administrative, through initiatives like the Opera Grants for Female Composers, which have been enthusiastically received by the field as a whole,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Thanks to the generosity of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, these grants bring new voices, perspectives and stories influenced by a broad spectrum of personal, musical and cultural influences.”
In addition to the grants, OPERA America invites and subsidizes all grant recipients to attend its annual Opera Conference and its New Works Forum, enabling them to develop relationships with potential collaborators and producers. The grant recipients also receive mentorship from creative consultant Peggy Monastra, senior advisor and former artistic director of G. Schirmer Inc./AMP, who provides guidance on the strategic planning and business aspects of new work development, including best practices for collaboration and workshops and how to engage and negotiate with potential producers.