OPERA America Awards Stephanie Fleischmann the Second Annual Campbell Opera Librettist Prize
Conceived and funded by librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell
May 20, 2022 (New York) — OPERA America is pleased to announce the selection of Stephanie Fleischmann as the 2022 Campbell Opera Librettist Prize recipient. Conceived and funded by acclaimed librettist and lyricist Mark Campbell, the Prize is the first award in the history of American opera created specifically to honor the work of opera librettists, and comes with a $7,000 award to support the winner’s creative and career development.
“I applaud the panel’s selection of Stephanie Fleischmann,” said Campbell. “I became aware of Stephanie’s work while serving as the librettist mentor for the American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program. She more than meets the qualities I hoped for when I created this prize: She’s a splendid and versatile writer, an excellent collaborator, an ardent ally to the librettist community, and is actively pursuing a career dedicated to opera.”
Stephanie Fleischmann is a librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds. Her “lyrical monologues” (The New York Times), “finely tuned” opera libretti (Opera News), plays, and music-theater works have been performed internationally and across the U.S. Her opera libretti include In a Grove (music by Christopher Cerrone), Dido Reimagined (Melinda Wagner), Poppaea (Michael Hersch), After the Storm (David Hanlon), The Long Walk (Jeremy Howard Beck), The Property (Wlad Marhulets), and Arkhipov (Peter Knell). In 2023, her work Another City (Jeremy Howard Beck) will premiere at Houston Grand Opera and The Pigeon Keeper (David Hanlon) will premiere at the Santa Fe Opera’s Opera for All Voices program.
Fleischmann’s current opera collaborations include three projects with recipients of OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Women Composers: The Visitation, with Christina Campanella; Seven Sisters, with Justine F. Chen; and A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears, with Julia Adolphe. She is also working on L’Autre Moi with composer Matthew Recio. Additional opera collaborators include directors Mary Birnbaum, Elkhanah Pulitzer, and Matthew Ozawa; dramaturg Cori Ellison; and conductors Kelly Kuo and Daniela Candillari.
“What an honor it is to be recognized by OPERA America’s Campbell Opera Librettist Prize,” reflected Fleischmann. “And to have been afforded the privilege of finding my voice in communion with so many brilliant composer compatriots. Merging words with music is a mysterious vocation indeed. But there’s nothing I love more than building worlds, asking questions, telling stories, dreaming into impossibly heartbreaking, soaring, mind-bending moments in collusion with, and galvanized by, music. Anything is possible in opera. I am so grateful to Mark Campbell for his vision, generosity, and intrepid advocacy for the librettist’s contribution to this ever-evolving form.”
The winner was selected from an applicant pool of 36 librettists by a panel of industry leaders consisting of Alejandra Valarino Boyer, director, Ravinia Steans Music Institute; Alison Moritz, stage director and interim managing artistic director, Peabody Opera Theater; Sheila Silver, composer; Talise Trevigne, soprano; and Royce Vavrek, librettist. Fleischmann’s award was announced in Minneapolis at Opera Conference 2022 and will be shared through Opera America Magazine, OPERA America’s digital and social media channels, and at future New Works Forum convenings.
The Campbell Opera Librettist Prize was created to raise the profile of the opera librettist. While librettists have gained more prominence in recent years, there has been little specific recognition for their work, which prompted Mark Campbell to create and fund the award. One of opera’s most successful librettists, Campbell has penned 40 librettos, 4 oratorios, and 7 song cycles. Operas shaped by his masterful libretti have won numerous awards, including the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Silent Night (Kevin Puts) and a 2019 Grammy Award for The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Mason Bates). Other successful works include The Shining (Paul Moravec), Sanctuary Road (Paul Moravec), Stonewall (Iain Bell), Songs from an Unmade Bed, As One (Laura Kaminsky, Kimberly Reed), Later the Same Evening (John Musto), and Elizabeth Cree (Kevin Puts).
“OPERA America is dedicated to supporting creative artists, and the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize allows us to highlight the art of libretto-writing,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “Thanks to Mark Campbell and his generous support, we are able to elevate an essential element of this complex art form that has not been recognized adequately in our history.”
The Campbell Opera Librettist Prize is one of several OPERA America grants and prizes that supports individual artists. IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access), supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation, and IDEA Opera Residencies, supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation, advance the careers of composers and librettists of color. Discovery Grants from the Opera Grants for Women Composers program, funded by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, support gender parity for creators. The Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize, supported by the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, recognizes promising stage directors and designers for their ingenuity in bringing operatic works to life for contemporary audiences. Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors, supported by Marineau Family Foundation, incentivizes companies to hire women for those key artistic roles.
The application cycle for the 2023 Campbell Opera Librettist Prize will open in winter 2022–2023. To learn more about the Prize and all of OPERA America’s grants, go to operaamerica.org/Grants.