Press Published: 11 Nov 2021

OPERA America Awards the 2022 IDEA Opera Residencies Encouraging the Development of New-to-Opera Creators of Color

Generously supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation

OPERA America is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 IDEA Opera Residencies (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) program, an initiative that provides New York City-based composers and librettists of color an opportunity to explore opera as an expressive medium. The program is supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation.

The second-year IDEA Opera Resident Artists are:

  • Bonita Oliver, composer/librettist
  • Yosvany Terry, composer
  • Qian Yi, composer/librettist

(See below for additional information about the artists.)

Launched in 2021, the IDEA Opera Residencies are part of a series of programs designed by OPERA America to embrace the talent of BIPOC creators who have not been included adequately in the development of the contemporary American opera repertoire. “The IDEA Opera Residencies celebrate OPERA America’s conviction that different perspectives, cultural histories, life experiences, and personal stories will enrich the contemporary American opera repertoire,” explained Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “This year’s residents illustrate the future of contemporary opera and its potential to reflect the world around us.”

Each IDEA Opera Resident Artist will receive a one-year residency at OPERA America’s National Opera Center and awards totaling $22,500, including grants for the exploration of opera as an artistic medium, career and promotional support, and facility and recording services. In addition, they will receive mentorship from industry leaders, introductions to the field through Opera America Magazine and OPERA America’s digital and social platforms, and participation at national convenings including the Opera Conference and New Works Forum.

The IDEA Opera Residencies program is designed to allow Resident Artists the greatest flexibility to advance their careers through opera. As a 2022 Resident Artist, Qian Yi expressed her excitement for the space “to explore and experiment with my own alchemy, to create my own future song from an ancestral promise.”

The 2022 grantees were selected from an applicant pool of 14 by an independent adjudication panel of industry experts consisting of Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano; Kamna Gupta, conductor; Kristin Marting, director; Paul Pinto, composer, writer, and multidisciplinary performer; and Huang Ruo, composer and conductor.

The 2022 Resident Artists join the 2021 grantees whose residencies have been extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 IDEA Opera Residencies are Laura Jobin-Acosta, composer; J. Mae Barizo, librettist; and Tamar-kali Brown, composer.

OPERA America’s grant programs are designed to increase the depth and breadth of the contemporary 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.

Applications for the next round of IDEA Opera Residencies will open in the first quarter of 2022. More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

(Publicity Photos)

Bonita Oliver, composer/librettist

Bonita Oliver is a multidisciplinary artist and improviser whose work focuses on transformation and transitions. She creates deeply emotional concept art using voice, music, environmental soundscapes, and movement — driven by a motivation to heal personal and ancestral trauma in order to make way for discovery and connection. Oliver engages audiences through interactivity rather than passive observation, providing opportunities for co-creation and communion. Her performances are often responsive to real-time stimuli and therefore frequently change direction in the moment. Oliver was raised singing in a multicultural church choir, and her vocal style, musical sensibility, and approach to engagement are heavily influenced by this background. She is a founding member of Moving Star, a vocal ensemble that is an artistic community partner of Carnegie Hall, and is also an actress and award-winning filmmaker.

During her IDEA Opera Residency, Oliver will explore ways of integrating opera and augmented reality. In this area, she is curious to find the boundary between audience engagement and distraction. Her aim is to create a way for audience members to share their own distinctive visions during moments of the performance by using the technology at their fingertips. 

Yosvany Terry, composer

Yosvany Terry is a saxophonist, composer, and educator who received his earliest training from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, a violinist and Cuba’s leading player of the chekeré. After mastering this Afro-Cuban percussion instrument, Terry went on to receive his classical music training from the National School of Arts and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Havana. As a musician-composer, he incorporates American Jazz traditions with his own Afro-Cuban roots to produce performances and compositions that flow from the rhythmic and hard-driving avant-garde to sweet-sounding lyricism. He is a practitioner of the Arará tradition and draws on Yoruba practices and melodic traditions for his compositions. Terry brings his inimitable style to stages all over the world, and he has been recognized with a Grammy nomination, a Doris Duke Award, and commissions from Chamber Music America, the Jerome and Rockefeller Foundations, and the MAP Fund. He is on the faculty of Harvard University.

Terry’s IDEA Opera Residency will allow time for him to compose Aponte, an opera about the 19th-century Afro-Cuban hero Jose Antonio Aponte, who ignited the 1812 rebellion in Cuba to overthrow slavery. The residency will result in a workshop with piano, which will incorporate Aponte’s paintings from a recently discovered book.

Qian Yi, composer/librettist

Qian Yi is a leading figure of Chinese opera (Kunqu) who established her career as a soprano with the Shanghai Opera Company. She rose to international prominence in 1998 when she performed the lead role of Du Liniang in Lincoln Center Festival’s 19-hour production of The Peony Pavilion, which toured throughout the world. She created the role of Precious Auntie in San Francisco Opera’s 2008 world premiere of The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan. More recently, she appeared as the Woman in Huang Ruo’s Paradise Interrupted, a new installation opera at Spoleto Festival USA for which she also wrote the libretto. Yi has written two plays, A Robe for the Moon and Fox Spirit, and developed the collaborative ensemble piece Moonlight Meditation. She composed a series of arias, The Legend of Rainbow Fairy, and performed in its premiere in Taiwan in 2009.

As an IDEA Opera Resident Artist, Yi is composing her first opera, The Encompassing (working title), which tells the stories of three women in China and the United States, spanning time from 5,000 years ago to the 19th century. Yi will use the residency to combine her Eastern forms and theater techniques with the Western styles she has learned since arriving in New York City.

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