Article Published: 01 Apr 2020

Further Developments: Repertoire Development Grants

In the past two decades, opera companies have premiered over 700 North American works — a flowering of new repertoire that has been nurtured, in part, by OPERA America’s Opera Fund, an endowment that funds the creation and production of new works. In the 19 years since OA established the Opera Fund, the endowment has supported 79 operas: works like Silent Night by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell, The Grapes of Wrath by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie, and Aging Magician by Paola Prestini and Rinde Eckert.

This winter, OA awarded $228,000 from the Opera Fund, in the form of Repertoire Development Grants, to support the creation of six new operas. While these grants were awarded without regard to gender, unlike OA’s grant programs specifically for female composers (see p. 50), half of the applicants for this year’s Repertoire Development Grants sought funding for operas by women, and half of the grants ultimately went to operas by women — a signal of growing gender parity among opera creators.

2020 REPERTOIRE DEVELOPMENT GRANTS


THE AMERICAN OPERA PROJECT
Legendary
Joseph N. Rubinstein, composer
Jason Kim, librettist

Set in the 1980s, the glory days of New York City’s drag culture, Legendary centers on the famed drag performer Dee Legendary, whose love affair with a police officer threatens to dismantle the House of Legendary and its family. Legendary is being developed in association with Seagle Music Colony.

BETH MORRISON PROJECTS
Adoration
Mary Kouyoumdjian, composer
Royce Vavrek, librettist

Based on Atom Egoyan’s 2008 film, Adoration traces how a high-school writing exercise provokes religious intolerance and viral hysteria, and uncovers long-hidden secrets.

THE DALLAS OPERA
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joby Talbot, composer
Gene Scheer, librettist

The opera is based on the 1997 memoir of French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome, mentally aware but physically paralyzed and able to communicate only by blinking.

HOUSTON GRAND OPERA
Intelligence
Jake Heggie, composer
Gene Scheer, librettist

Set during the Civil War in Richmond, Virginia, Intelligence follows the true story of an enslaved woman and an abolitionist whose collaborative espionage efforts shaped the outcome of the war.

LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO
Three one-act operas (titles to be announced)
Caroline Shaw, John Luther Adams and Daniel Bernard Roumain, composers
Anna Deavere Smith, John Haines and a third librettist to be announced

Lyric’s 2022–2023 mainstage season will feature three new one-acts opera curated by Creative Consultant Renée Fleming and offered as a single production. The works will explore contemporary themes relating to connection on a personal, societal and global scale.

SAN DIEGO OPERA
El último sueño de Frida y Diego (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego)
Gabriela Lena Frank, composer
Nilo Cruz, librettist

This co-commission of San Diego Opera, Fort Worth Opera and DePauw University School of Music imagines a reunion between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, set against the backdrop of a Día de los Muertos celebration in Mexico City in 1957.

This article was published in the Spring 2020 issue of Opera America Magazine.