New Works Forum

OPERA America’s New Works Forum is the pre-eminent national convening dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of new American opera.

Since 2011, the forum has brought together individuals from all areas of the field, including producers, composers, librettists, conductors, designers, and publishers, to ask questions and share knowledge about creating and producing new operatic works.

Robust presentations on commissioning, coproducing, storytelling, and technology are paired with live performances of new works and works-in-development. These convivial gatherings have fostered new connections between artists and producers that have resulted in countless fully realized productions on American stages.

The New Works Forum is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Program Details

The New Works Forum convenes in several multiday meetings throughout the year, including signature programming in January in New York City and at our annual conference each spring. Producers, creative artists, publishers, and other stakeholders working to develop, support, and promote new work are invited to attend.

Past sessions have examined a broad range of topics including creative commissioning, cutting-edge technological solutions, effective storytelling, improving collaborative relationships with creators, and other issues that contribute to an environment where new work can thrive. Programming is guided by a New Works Forum Planning Committee and a racial equity consultant.

Forum meetings are scheduled to allow participants to attend significant premieres and productions of new work, such as those in the PROTOTYPE Festival each January in New York City. We also support showcases of new work by member companies with dedicated grants from OPERA America.

New Works Forum 2021

A Three-Part Series of Convenings | Online via Zoom

Winter Meeting: January 26‒27, 2021
Spring Meeting: March 29‒31, 2021
Summer Meeting: June 8‒9, 2021

The 2021 forum will advance the field’s commitment to racial justice in and through new work development. It will be guided by four priorities:

  • Equity: Dismantle oppressive systems in the production of new works.
  • Inclusion: Challenge the field to adopt a more inclusive understanding of new work.
  • Diversity: Actively diversify content and participants to center the work and perspectives of BIPOC creators.
  • Power Sharing: Intentionally shift power structures to counter systemic bias and inequity in opera.

Part 3: Summer Meeting

The Summer Meeting sessions were developed by an all-BIPOC subcommittee of artists and administrators.

Forum Sessions

  • Let Us Be 
    Tuesday, June 8, 11:00 a.m. ‒ 1:00 p.m. EDT

    Authentic equity requires building genuine trust to create spaces that put marginalized voices at the center throughout the new work development, rehearsal, and performance process. This two-part discussion will address techniques to construct a new work production environment that allows compositional aesthetics and cultural identities from outside traditional opera to thrive.

    Melanie Bacaling, stage director, manager, and producer
    Adrienne Danrich, soprano; executive producer, Music as the Message
    Tania León, composer
    Timothy Long, music director, Eastman Opera Theatre
    Charles Chip Mc Neal, director of diversity, equity, and community, San Francisco Opera
    Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano and dramaturg; co-founder, Amplified Opera
    Kamala Sankaram, composer
    Aria Umezawa, stage director; co-founder, Amplified Opera

  • Power to the People
    Tuesday, June 8, 3:00 p.m. ‒ 5:00 p.m. EDT

    The opera field is taking steps toward empowering more BIPOC creators and producers of new work, and similar efforts have been made in the corporate world and higher education. Representatives from in and outside the opera field will explore equitable alternative business models to the ones that have dominated the opera industry for decades.

    Joelle Allen, chief inclusion strategist, Interaction Traction Inc.
    Lee Bynum, vice president of impact, Minnesota Opera
    David Lomelí, chief artistic officer, The Santa Fe Opera
    David S. Stewart (“dstew”), production manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
    Sarah Williams, director of new works and creative producer, Opera Philadelphia
    Joshua Winograde, senior director of artistic programs, LA Opera

  • New Opera, Who Dis?
    Wednesday, June 9, 11:00 a.m. ‒ 1:00 p.m. EDT

    The production process for a new opera begins with a creator’s concept and ends with a staged work. Though creators of new work might be familiar with the writing process, how do they get an idea of conceptualization to the first performance? Administrators and producers discuss the intermediate steps.

    Jecca Barry, executive director, Beth Morrison Projects
    Nicole Ambos Freber, managing director of advancement, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
    K. F. Jacques, composer
    Steven Osgood, general and artistic director, Chautauqua Opera
    Pinqy Ring, MC, artivist, and U.S. hip hop cultural ambassador; contributing songwriter/actor, The Rosina Project
    Siobahn Sung, co-founder, ffflypaper
    Brandon Kennedy Verrett, composer
    Meiyin Wang, producing director, Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center
  • New Work Featured Presentations
    Wednesday, June 9, 3:00 p.m. ‒ 5:15 p.m. EDT

    Explore new work through high-quality video performance showcases and live interviews with creators and producers of works that have recent or upcoming premieres. Works to be featured in this June convening were selected through a panel review process that prioritized BIPOC creators and/or stories.

    Peggy Monastra, creative consultant, OPERA America

Additional session details will be announced. Participants may choose to attend as many sessions as their schedules allow.

The summer meeting of the New Works Forum is open to OPERA America members and non-members with registration.

  • OPERA America Member (Org. Staff and Individuals) — $25
  • OPERA America Artist Member — $10
  • Non-Member — $40
  • Artist Non-Member — $15
  • Student — $5

If you are currently facing financial hardship that will impact your ability to pay the registration fee and attend the forum, contact us at or 646.699.5240.

To register, OPERA America members can log in to reveal a “Register” button with member rates. Non-members and students can register here.

For more information, contact us at or 646.699.5240.