Login failed. Please try again.

Article Published: 01 Apr 2017

Women of the Year

The composers of eight new operas have been awarded a total of $100,000 through OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program. These Discovery Grants, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, will help to fund the composers’ development processes. Since its inception in 2013, the Opera Grants for Female Composers program has awarded a total of $600,000 to both composers and opera companies in support of works by women. The program was conceived to increase gender equity among artists composing for the operatic medium, as well as to raise awareness of talented female composers.

The next round of awards, to be issued this summer, will be Commissioning Grants, which provide opera companies with up to $50,000 in support of commissioning fees to female composers. Visit Grants & Awards to learn more.

Faye Chiao
Composer, Island of the Moon
Libretto by Anton Dudley

In this chamber opera, the queen of a sinking island hopes to save her people by moving them to a neighboring realm. But first she must marry her son Akoni off to the princess of the nearby island. Akoni refuses to carry off the scheme, worrying that the move will mark the end of their island’s culture. The queen responds by setting forth an impossible task: He may marry the woman who shatters the moon.

Ellen Fishman
Composer, Marie Begins
Libretto by Julia Curcio

As a modern woman, Marie lives in a world of endless possibilities. But on her 30th birthday, she realizes how little she has actually achieved. The audience guides Marie’s trajectory in this interactive work, making choices for her at the end of each two- to six-minute scene to help her pull her life together.

Grace Oberhofer
Libretto by Helen Banner

This trilogy of choral plays, written for over a dozen woman singers, tells the stories of three Byzantine empresses in the eighth and ninth centuries: Irene, Euphrosyne and Theodora. All three sacrifice personal relationships in order to gain power and end iconoclasm within the Eastern Church.

Tawnie Olson
Composer, Sanctuary and Storm (working title)
Libretto by Roberta Barker

Inspired by actual historical correspondence, Sanctuary and Storm imagines an impassioned and wide-ranging dialogue between two titanic women of the 12th century: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Hildegard of Bingen. The women wrestle with their own mortality as they fiercely debate questions of power, beauty and the divine.

Frances Pollock
Composer, Stinney: An American Execution
Libretto by Frances Pollock and Tia Price

Steeped in Southern music, Stinney follows the true story of George Stinney Jr., the youngest person to be legally executed in 20th-century America. In 1944, the fourteen-year-old black boy was wrongfully accused of raping and murdering two white girls, and was subsequently arrested, tried and executed via electric chair.

Kate Soper
Composer, The Romance of the Rose

The Romance of the Rose is a loose adaptation of the eponymous medieval French poem, a tale of courtly love that covers a dizzying philosophical landscape. Running the stylistic gamut from medieval poetic forms to electronic “noisescapes,” the opera uses allegorical figures to dramatize humankind’s response to emotion, desire and music itself.

Dalit Warshaw
Composer, Delusion of Grandeur
Libretto by Carol Hebald

The Fat Lady from the Coney Island Zoo unexpectedly wakes up in heaven. Poets storm the Tower of Babel rallying to abolish misunderstanding through a universal language and a quarrel escalates to the brink of war. God, asleep since the Holocaust, is roused from his nap and reveals the Fat Lady’s true identity. The action culminates in a symbolic marriage uniting all racial and religious denominations.

Cynthia Lee Wong
Composer, No Guarantees
Libretto by Richard Aellen

In this romantic comedy set in the future, a secret attempt to use an android as an understudy for a real-life lover has unexpected consequences.