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Professional Company Member

The American Opera Project

MISSION AOP's mission is to develop and present new and innovative works of lyric theater, provide a creative home to emerging and established artists, and engage contemporary communities in a transformative operatic experience. VISION The American Opera Project is a vision, an unending experiment in storytelling with the central premise that each life is an operatic story waiting to be told - and each telling of that story is an operatic experience waiting to happen. We are a home for artists to learn, experiment, and create. We are a family of innovators in vocal storytelling. We will be beautiful. We will be dangerous. We will laugh at ourselves. We will always remember that feeling precedes thought, entertainment precedes enlightenment, and wonder precedes belief. And we will join our audience with respect, passion, and a desire to share a moment in time that will last for years to come. HISTORY In 2019, American Opera Projects became The American Opera Project. But we are still AOP. As AOP, we continue a proud legacy of being at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for over thirty years through the commissioning, developing, and producing of opera and lyric theater projects, training programs for student and emerging composers and librettists, and community engagement. AOP is recognized for its cross-genre experimentation in works such as the dance chamber opera Hagoromo starring Wendy Whelan (BAM, 2015) and the interdisciplinary work Darkling (East 13th Street Theatre, 2006), which combines poetry, music and projection; stories of African-American history including The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera, 2017) and Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale, 2014); and numerous groundbreaking works on LGBTQ themes like Paul’s Case (UrbanArias, 2015), based on the short story by Willa Cather, Patience & Sarah (Lincoln Center Festival, 1998), the first opera about a lesbian relationship, and the chamber opera As One (BAM, 2014), the first opera about a transgender person. As One, which was developed and premiered by AOP, has since become the most-produced opera written in the 21st century, with over two dozen separate productions. Additional AOP world premieres include Today It Rains (co-production with Opera Parallèle, 2019), Savage Winter (co-production with Pittsburgh Opera, 2018), The Echo Drift (co-production with PROTOTYPE, 2018) and The Blind (co-production with Lincoln Center Festival, 2013). Operas that were developed by AOP and premiered with partner organizations include The Summer King (Michigan Opera Theatre, 2018 and Pittsburgh Opera, 2017), Lucy (UrbanArias, 2017 and Milwaukee Opera Theatre, 2014), Independence Eve (UrbanArias, 2017), The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE, 2015), Paul's Case (PROTOTYPE and Pittsburgh Opera, 2014; UrbanArias, 2013), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (New York City Opera, 2011), Before Night Falls (Fort Worth Opera, 2010) and Heart of Darkness (Opera Parallèle, 2015 and London's Royal Opera House, 2011). AOP further expands the operatic field through its training programs The NYU Opera Lab, in partnership with NYU and for students and alumni in The NYU Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, and Composers & the Voice, AOP’s in-house, two-year fellowship program for emerging composers and librettists. Founded in 1988 by Grethe Barret Holby in a loft apartment in SoHo, AOP began as a salon for friends to share new music (Jonathan Larson even appeared once to test out music from a certain show he was writing based on La bohème). As Artistic Director from 1988-2001, Holby grew AOP into a non-profit arts company, producing workshops and small-scale chamber operas across New York City. Charles Jarden became General Director in 1998 and brought American Opera Projects into its second phase. Jarden moved AOP’s headquarters to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, expanded its community performances, instituted training programs for emerging composers, and formed partnerships across the nation to premiere the operas it continued to develop. In 2019, Jarden stepped away as G.D. but remained on the board, Matt Gray was promoted to General Director and longtime AOP music director Mila Henry was appointed its new Artistic Director. Together, their aim was to forge new terrain as The American Opera Project, signifying a shift from being a collection of projects towards fostering a new vision for American Opera. Matt Gray left AOP in November 2022 and Jarden returned as Interim G.D. AOP is a member of OPERA America, Fort Greene Association, the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance, the New York Opera Alliance, and Alliance of Resident Theatres/ New York (A.R.T./NY). American Opera Projects is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

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Name Title
Ziyan Yang Administrative Assistant
Matthew Gray General Director
Rosamund Dyer Administrative Assistant
Mila Henry Artistic Director
Takesha M. Kizart-Thomas Head of Development & Greater Impact
Caitlin Mead Grantwriter
W. Wilson Jones Resident Production Stage Manager
Charles Jarden Interim General Director
Joel Kalow General Manager
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