OPERA America Awards IDEA Opera Grants to Support Two New Works by Composers and Librettists of Color
Made Possible by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation
OPERA America has awarded the second cycle of IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) to composer/librettist Damon Davis for Ligeia Mare and composer Liliya Ugay and librettist Sokunthary Svay for Chhlong Tonle (Crossing the River). The grants are generously supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation, a family foundation committed to promoting equal rights and social justice through education, music, and the law. See below for artist biographies and descriptions of their works.
IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) support composers and librettists who identify as African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and/or Native American in the development of new operatic works and the advancement of their careers in the opera industry. The winning teams will receive a total prize of $25,000 plus high-quality video recordings of workshops and working performances for promotional use. The winners will be featured on OPERA America’s digital and social platforms and in Opera America Magazine. They and their work will also be introduced to field leaders at OPERA America’s New Works Forum and annual Opera Conference.
Grantees were selected from 46 applicant teams by an independent panel of industry experts consisting of Aubrey Allicock, Grammy-nominated bass-baritone; Lisa Bielawa, composer; David Cote, librettist, playwright, and lyricist; Dr. Ashley Jackson, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies, music department, Hunter College; Cerise Jacobs, Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation; Kathleen Kelly, associate professor, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; and Thaddeus Strassberger, director and designer.
“Diversifying the voices, the stories, and the faces in opera requires thoughtful activism. The IDEA Opera Grants provide targeted support to elevate BIPOC artists,” stated Cerise Jacobs, president of the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation. “My heart is full to overflowing from reviewing the work of the many BIPOC artists who applied, and I thank them all for being part of this flowering of a new kind of opera.”
“OPERA America is committed to amplifying the creative voices of composers and librettists of color who enrich the contemporary American opera repertoire and reflect the diversity of the nation,” declared Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “We are grateful to the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation for its commitment to promote social justice through the arts and for entrusting us to nurture BIPOC artists who are ready to make significant contributions to the field of opera.”
IDEA Opera Grants and the new IDEA Opera Residencies, supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation, are designed to increase the depth and breadth of new works from creators of color. The programs join other grant programs that encourage the expansion of the American opera repertoire. Since the inception of its granting programs, OPERA America has awarded over $20 million to the opera field to support the work of opera creators, companies, and administrators.
More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.
ABOUT LIGEIA MARE AND ITS CREATOR
Ligeia Mare, a sci-fi electronic fantasy opera, tells the story of Cosmo, an awkward adolescent with a special gift for astral projection while dreaming. After discovering this power, Cosmo’s jazz pianist father, Cassius, falls ill with brain cancer. Due to his ailment, Cassius begins to proclaim that he is actually from Saturn but had forgotten his origins after a crash landing decades earlier. Cosmo’s mother, Joyce, desperately fights to keep her family afloat while dealing with Cassius’ illness and Cosmo’s overactive imagination. Cosmo believes the key to saving his father’s life is somewhere in the stars — he just has to dream his way through them to find it. As Cosmo travels the galaxy night after night, the real world and the dream world begin to blur together.