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Article Published: 19 Jan 2022

The Next Generation of BIPOC Creators

The IDEA Opera Residencies program, which focuses on new-to-opera creators from groups that have historically been excluded from contemporary American opera, welcomes three outstanding artists for 2022. Composer/librettist Bonita Oliver will explore ways of integrating opera and augmented reality. Composer Yosvany Terry plans to dedicate his time to writing Aponte, an opera about a 19th-century Afro-Cuban hero who ignited the 1812 rebellion in Cuba to overthrow slavery. Composer/librettist Qian Yi will combine Eastern and Western music forms and theater techniques to write The Encompassing, an opera about three women in China and the United States.

The residents were selected by an independent panel of distinguished artists. Each residency comes with 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.

“The IDEA Opera Residencies celebrate OPERA America’s conviction that different perspectives, cultural histories, life experiences, and personal stories will enrich the contemporary American opera repertoire,” says Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “This year’s residents are part of the future of opera and its potential to reflect the world around us.”

The artists look forward to beginning their residencies in January. “I’m excited to explore and experiment with my own alchemy, to create my own future song from an ancestral promise,” says Yi.

IDEA Opera Residences are generously supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation.

Bonita Oliver

Bonita Oliver is a multidisciplinary artist and improviser whose work focuses on transformation and transitions, engaging audiences through interactivity rather than passive observation and providing opportunities for co-creation and communion. Her performances are often responsive to real-time stimuli and therefore frequently change direction in the moment. Oliver was raised singing in a multicultural church choir, and her vocal style, musical sensibility, and approach to engagement are heavily influenced by this background. She is a founding member of Moving Star, a vocal ensemble that is an artistic community partner of Carnegie Hall, and is also an actor and award-winning filmmaker.

Yosvany Terry

Yosvany Terry is a saxophonist, composer, and educator who received his earliest training from his father, Eladio “Don Pancho” Terry, a violinist and Cuba’s leading player of the chekeré. As a musician-composer, he incorporates American Jazz traditions with his own Afro-Cuban roots to produce performances and compositions that flow from the rhythmic and hard-driving avantgarde to sweet-sounding lyricism. Terry brings his inimitable style to stages all over the world, and he has been recognized with a Grammy nomination, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and commissions from Chamber Music America, the Jerome Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the MAP Fund.

Qian Yi

Qian Yi is a leading figure in Chinese opera (Kunqu) who established her career as a soprano with the Shanghai Opera Company. She rose to international prominence in 1998 when she performed the lead role of Du Liniang in the Lincoln Center Festival’s 19-hour production of The Peony Pavilion. More recently, she appeared as the Woman in Huang Ruo’s Paradise Interrupted, a new installation opera at Spoleto Festival USA for which she also wrote the libretto. Yi has written two plays and developed the collaborative ensemble piece Moonlight Meditation. She composed a series of arias, The Legend of Rainbow Fairy, and performed in its premiere in Taiwan in 2009.