An IDEA for Achieving Balance
While the ranks of composers and librettists have in recent years grown more diverse, there remains a pressing need for broader representation of BIPOC composers and librettists so that they can bring their viewpoints to the opera stage. To help redress the imbalance, OPERA America founded two major initiatives to amplify the voices of BIPOC creators: IDEA Opera Grants, established in 2019 to fund the development of new operas, and the recently launched IDEA Opera Residencies, which support new-to-opera composers and librettists as they enter the opera field. (IDEA denotes “inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.”)
The inaugural IDEA Opera Resident Artists, who were selected this fall by an independent panel, are composers Laura Jobin-Acosta and Tamar-kali Brown and librettist J. Mae Barizo. In accordance with the program’s design, all are early-career artists from the New York City area who have distinguished themselves in other genres and wish to pursue opera for the first time. Each artist will be given a full-year residency in 2021 at OA’s National Opera Center, as part of a $22,500 package that includes direct grants for the exploration of opera as an artistic medium, career and promotional support, and recording services and facility rentals. They will also receive mentorship from leaders in the field and will be introduced to industry stakeholder via digital platforms and OA convenings.
“By recognizing new American composers and librettists of color and supporting their development, we help enrich the art form with new creative voices,” says Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Ultimately, opera’s stages must reflect the diversity of this nation.”
IDEA Opera Residences are supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation.