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Article Published: 08 Nov 2020

OGFC Commissioning Grants 2020

American opera organizations continue to look forward to in-person productions of works by female composers, as evidenced by the 24 opera companies that submitted applications for OPERA America’s 2020 Opera Grants for Female Composers Commissioning Grants this spring. A total of $100,000 was awarded for commissions from nine companies. Five of the composers being commissioned — Emily Koh, Heather Christian, Nell Shaw Cohen, Stella C.Y. Sung, and Rima Fand — are first-time OGFC grantees; the other four are recipients of previous OGFC grants.

Founded seven years ago with support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, to date OGFC has awarded 91 grants, totaling $1.3 million, supporting repertoire by female composers, with the aim of promoting gender equity and diversifying the works produced by opera companies. Commissioning Grants of up to $50,000, covering up to 50 percent of the composer’s fee, are awarded to producing organizations in support of commissions. Meanwhile, Discovery Grants of up to $15,000, adjudicated separately, are bestowed on the composers themselves. Applications for the next round of Discovery Grants are currently open. Visit Grants & Awards for details.

The American Opera Project
Rima Fand, composer
Karen Fisher, librettist

This chamber opera uses found objects to tell of a young woman’s struggles in the epic landscape of the U.S.’ western mountains, and draws parallels between environmental and emotional damage.

Beth Morrison Projects
In Our Daughter’s Eyes
Du Yun, composer
Michael Joseph McQuiken, librettist

Written for baritone Nathan Gunn, this monodrama depicts one man’s traversal of the arc of fatherhood, from the promise of life to acceptance of a devastating diagnosis. 

Boston Lyric Opera
The Desert Inn (working title)
Ellen Reid, composer
Christopher Oscar Peña, librettist

Reid, Peña, and director James Darrah will create a digital miniseries opera, with the goal of strengthening community connections.

Guerilla Opera
Emily Koh, composer and librettist

Three generations of Asian women gather to reflect on life and death, gender bias, and anti-Asian discrimination.

A Practical Breviary: Terce
Heather Christian, composer and librettist

Based on medieval monastic texts, this Mass explores a version of Christ as a mother presence. The lyrical work is underscored by the percussive sound of medieval home crafts.

Houston Grand Opera
Turn and Burn
Nell Shaw Cohen, composer
Megan Cohen, librettist

Shayla Taylor and ambitious executive Jamie Hernandez aim for a big win at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When an accident threatens Shayla’s career-defining race, the women develop strength in adversity.

Opera on Tap
Joan of the City
Kamala Sankaram, composer and librettist
Kristin Marting, librettist

Based on texts by formerly homeless women, this site-specific, mixed-reality opera features five modern-day Joans of Arc who lead audiences through city streets and explore issues of homelessness, mental health, addiction, and abuse.

Opera Orlando
The Secret River
Stella C.Y. Sung, composer
Mark Campbell, librettist

Based on the 1955 children’s fantasy book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the opera tells the story of an African American girl who uses her fertile imagination to help her family survive the Great Depression.

Opera Philadelphia
The Listeners
Missy Mazzoli, composer
Royce Vavrek, librettist

When a mother notices a hum that only a select few “Listeners” can hear, a community group forms to solve its mystery, only to fall under the sway of a cult-like leader. A co-commision with Norwegian National Opera.