Program

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 Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, and the Theodore H. Barth Foundation, Inc.


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.

For more information, contact us at Artistic@operaamerica.org or 646.699.5240.

New Works Forum 2023

The 2023 New Works Forum takes place in person Wednesday, January 11 through Friday, January 13, 2023, in New York City

Registration for the 2023 Forum closed on December 21, 2022.  

If you have questions about registration, please email Programs@operaamerica.org.


Schedule

Tuesday, January 10:

Registration Opens & New Works Forum Welcome Reception
6:30 p.m. | OPERA America’s National Opera Center

Creators in Concert: Canadian and U.S. Crossover with Musique 3 Femmes
8:00 p.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center, Marc A. Scorca Hall 
Presented in partnership with the Canadian company Musique 3 Femmes, this evening of music supports a long-standing desire for more U.S.-Canadian partnerships in the new works sphere. The program will feature a conversation with the creators and music from the Plaything, an opera being developed by the Canadian-Ukrainian team of Anna Pidgorna and Maria Reva. Both are from the occupied Eastern part of Ukraine and have deep roots within their cultural community.   

Creators in Concert Reception
9:00 p.m. | OPERA America’s National Opera Center

Wednesday, January 11:

Registration Opens
10:00 a.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center

Opening Session: Pandemic Lessons Lost
11:00 a.m. |
 OPERA America’s National Opera Center, Marc A. Scorca Hall 
The opening session of the 2023 New Works Forum will reflect on lessons learned early in the pandemic, some of which have been lost as reopening moves forward. Collaborative and respectful relationships between artists and administrators resulted in groundbreaking artmaking, incorporating digital work and unique ways to connect with a wider community. Experts will lead attendees in exploring ways this spirit of partnership and collaboration can work as the pace of production accelerates. 

Pitch Sessions, Part 1
2:00 p.m. |
OPERA America's National Opera Center 

Happy Hour 
5:00 p.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center

New Works Featured Presentations #1 & #2 — Sarah in the Theatre & Caravana de Mujeres  
6:00 p.m. | 
OPERA America's National Opera Center

Sarah in the Theatre: Over one sleepless day and night: haunting the theater she created, made legendary, and now, by morning, may lose; the director, conductor, and impresario Sarah Caldwell — brilliant, obsessed, intractable — inspires her artists, fends off creditors, relives her triumphs, and battles with ghosts as we wait to learn if she will be given one final chance to continue the work she lives for or whether demons of self-sabotage have, at last, outrun her luck. 

Caravana de Mujeres: Inspired by a real Spanish matchmaking service that introduces Latina immigrants to rural Spanish farmers, Caravana de Mujeres follows Luz, a Colombian immigrant in her 60s, as she searches for love and companionship. On a bus to the countryside, Luz is horrified to learn that her niece, Natalia, has not only booked a trip to the wrong town, but to a place she’s avoided for six years: her ex-fiancé’s hometown. Natalia is shocked to learn that Luz was engaged to farmer Juan Antonio until his mother disapproved of his engagement to an immigrant. Unable to defy his mother, Juan Antonio ended their engagement — but is at that night’s event, hoping to see Luz. As Luz faces the farmer that got away, Natalia is forced to confront her prejudices about her aunt’s aspirations for romantic connection. Caravana de Mujeres is an earnest comedy that examines our very human desire for love and companionship while exploring the social dynamic between Latinx immigrants and native Spaniards. 

New Works Featured Presentations Reception 
7:00 p.m. | OPERA America’s National Opera Center

Thursday, January 12:

Registration Opens 
10:00 a.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center

Morning Session: Does Art Have to Take a Political/Social Identity? 
11:00 a.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center  
This session asks the question: Is art necessarily political? Does art need to have a social identity? This group discussion will focus on how to handle polarizing content and the difference between art and entertainment. Participants will examine what works make it to the stage and why, and who in the organization makes the final decision about what audiences want to see. 

Afternoon Session: Economics of Art
2:00 p.m. |
 OPERA America’s National Opera Center 
The afternoon will be a brainstorming session and action-oriented workshop examining questions posed in the morning’s session through a budgetary, marketing, and fundraising lens. Established structures for workshops and revisions, contracting models, and labor rules can be counterproductive to supporting the production of new works. How do we work together to change the systems of support to produce new work?   

Opera On Tap - Immersive Opera Happy Hour
4:30 p.m. |
555 West 59th Street, #20B

Pitch Sessions, Part 2 
5:00 p.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center   

New Works Featured Presentation #3: Both Eyes Open
8:00 p.m. |
 The Flea Theater (20 Thomas St., New York, NY) 
Set in Stockton, CA, the opera centers on a Japanese American landowner, Jinzo Matsumoto, who gets incarcerated in a camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, in 1942 with his pregnant wife. Before leaving their farm, they bury a “Daruma Doll” on their land — a papier-mâché idol given to people when they embark on a challenging endeavor. Only one eye is painted on the doll to symbolize the person’s commitment to the challenge. If success comes, the doll receives its second eye and is burned ceremonially to release its spirit. Jinzo loses his wife in childbirth, refuses to sign the loyalty oath to the government, and is sent to the Tule Lake concentration camp for “troublemakers.” When he is finally released to return home, Jinzo's inner life begins unraveling, and the story takes a hallucinatory, nonlinear turn; the Daruma Doll comes to life as a sardonic, one-eyed guardian angel and joins the ghost of his wife to help Jinzo find his path again. 

Friday, January 13:

Morning Session: Digital Operas and Technology
11:00 a.m. |
 OPERA America’s National Opera Center 
This facilitated group discussion will take a deep dive into how technology continues to shape the creation of new opera.  It will examine how digital work can reach new audiences and engage new artists. Participants will discuss how companies can balance digital creativity with robust in-person seasons.    

Afternoon Session: Rights, Contracts, and Labor Agreements
2:00 p.m. |
 OPERA America’s National Opera Center 
In this session, breakout groups will develop focused goals and action items surrounding the producibility of digital new works. Groups will brainstorm ways for companies and artists to structure agreements in a mutually beneficial way. How can companies respect the artists’ rights to their digitized content? Participants will learn how to manage publishers’ rights, artist contracts, and labor agreements as the basis for successful digital projects. Experts will assist with problem-solving.

Network Dinner
5:00 p.m. |
OPERA America’s National Opera Center, Rehearsal Hall

TRADE/Mary Motorhead
7:30 p.m. |
Playhouse Theater at Abrons Arts Center

PROTOTYPE Post-Performance Reception
9:15 p.m. |
Essex Bar Room


Lodging

OPERA America members can take advantage of special discounts at New York City hotels by using one of the links below: 


Travel Subsidies

OPERA America Professional Company Members (PCMs) in good standing based in the U.S. more than 100 miles from New York City may request an Exploration Grant travel subsidy of $250 for each of two staff members. Recipients must be present for the majority of the forum sessions and attend at least one of the performances taking place over the course of the meeting. Stipends will be awarded in the order in which requests are received until funds are expended. Payment will be made after the conclusion of the forum and upon receipt of documentation of expenses and a one-page summary of salient points of learning. 

Receipts and reports must be received by February 17, 2023.