Leading the Way to Parity
Laura Kaminsky’s Some Light Emerges, Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up and Rachel J. Peters’ Rootabaga Country have some significant elements in common. All three works had their world premieres in the past year. And all of them were funded through OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers (OGFC) program. Founded five years ago with support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, OGFC has to date awarded nearly $900,000 toward repertoire by female composers, with the aim of promoting gender equity and diversifying the works produced by opera companies. The program has yielded significant returns on its investment in works by women: On the horizon for the coming season are the premieres of Jeanine Tesori’s Blue and Odaline de la Martinez’s Slavery Opera Trilogy.
This year, OGFC, through its Commissioning Grants arm, is providing a total of $98,000 for commissions from five companies. Three of the composers represented — Jennifer Higdon, Mary Kouyoumdjian and Michi Wiancko — are first- time OGFC grantees. Kamala Sankaram, composer of two of the funded commissions, received a Discovery Grant in 2015 for Looking at You, which has now garnered a Commissioning Grant for Opera on Tap. (While Commissioning Grants of up to $50,000 are awarded to the producing organizations in support of commissions, Discovery Grants of up to $15,000, adjudicated separately, are bestowed on the composers themselves.)