OPERA America Awards $100,000 to Support Opera by Women at Five Opera Companies
Supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
OPERA America is pleased to announce grants to five opera companies to support the commissioning of new works by women composers as part of OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Women Composers program. The program, supported generously by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, promotes the development of new works by women and raises the visibility of women writing for the operatic medium.
Grants totaling $100,000 were awarded to:
- Beth Morrison Projects (Brooklyn, NY) for Sensorium Ex, composed by Paola Prestini (libretto by Brenda Shaughnessy)
- Houston Grand Opera (Houston, TX) for The Big Swim, composed by Meilina Tsui (libretto by Melisa Tien)
- LA Opera (Los Angeles, CA) for The Tower of Babel, composed and written by Carla Lucero
- Pittsburgh Opera (Pittsburgh, PA) for Time to Act (working title), composed by Laura Kaminsky (libretto by Crystal Manich)
- White Snake Projects (Brookline, MA) for Splitting Sand, composed by Jing Jing Luo (libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs); and Is This America? The Story of Fannie Lou Hamer, composed by Mary Watkins (libretto by Cerise Lim Jacobs)
See below for descriptions of the projects and composer biographies.
The five opera company recipients were selected from a pool of eligible OPERA America Professional Company Members, who applied to receive up to 50 percent of the composer’s fee for a full production of a commissioned work, with awards of up to $50,000. The independent adjudication panel of industry experts included Susan Ashbaker, director of Westminster Opera Theatre, Westminster Choir College; Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist and recipient of OPERA America’s 2022 Campbell Opera Librettist Prize; and Geovonday Jones, professor and head of performance, Southern Illinois University.
The Opera Grants for Women Composers program enriches the art form by supporting the work of women who bring their creative perspectives, experiences, and stories to stages across the country. It consists of two parallel granting initiatives: Discovery Grants, awarded directly to women composers to advance the development of new work; and Commissioning Grants, awarded to opera companies for commissions by women composers. The program has distributed nearly $1.8 million to composers and companies since its creation in 2014 and has helped propel the careers of countless women creators in the opera field. Of the six composers supported by 2023 Commissioning Grants, five were formerly supported by Discovery Grants.
“We are grateful to the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation for its continued dedication to advancing women in opera,” commented Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “We look forward to seeing these newly commissioned productions by women composers come to stages across the nation.”
OPERA America is committed to increasing gender parity across the field. In addition to Opera Grants for Women Composers, the organization offers Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors (generously supported by the Marineau Family Foundation), its Mentorship Program for Women Administrators, and its Women’s Opera Network.
OPERA America’s strategic philanthropy supports field-wide innovation with an emphasis on new work development, co-production, audience building, and increased civic practice. Since the inception of its granting programs in the mid-1980s, OPERA America has awarded over $20 million to the opera field to support the work of opera creators, administrators, and companies.
More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.