OPERA America Awards $100,000 to Support Opera by Women at Seven Opera Companies
Supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
OPERA America announces its latest support of women composers with Commissioning Grants to seven opera companies across the country through its Opera Grants for Women Composers program. A total of $100,000 was awarded toward the creation of seven new works by women who bring their creative perspectives, experiences, and stories to stages nationwide with the medium of voice and instrumental ensemble. The grants are generously supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
Grants were awarded to:
- The American Opera Project (Brooklyn, NY) for Jade Star Hotel, composed by Stephanie Chou (libretto by Susan Kander)
- Beth Morrison Projects (Brooklyn, NY) for Old Man and the Sea, composed by Paola Prestini (libretto by Royce Vavrek)
- Finger Lakes Opera (Rochester, NY) for Two Corners, composed by B.E. Boykin (libretto by Jarrod Lee)
- Long Beach Opera (Long Beach, CA) for Death, both of us dead, composed by Shelley Washington (librettist to be announced)
- Opera Birmingham (Birmingham, AL) for Touch, composed by Carla Lucero (libretto by Marianna Mott Newirth)
- Opera San José (San José, CA) for a work to be announced, composed by Rene Orth (libretto by Rene Orth)
- Spoleto Festival USA (Charleston, SC) for Ruinous Gods, composed by Layale Chaker (libretto by Lisa Schlesinger)
See below for descriptions of the projects and composer biographies.
The seven opera company grantees were selected from an applicant pool of 15 eligible OPERA America Professional Company Members, which applied to receive up to 50 percent of the composer’s fee for a full production of a commissioned work, with awards of up to $50,000. The independent adjudication panel of industry experts included Nissy Aya, writer, educator, and cultural worker; Jennifer Aylmer, soprano and associate professor of voice, Carnegie Mellon University; Tiffany Chang, conductor; Sue Elliott, chief audience officer, Norman Rockwell Museum; and Dave Ragland, composer, vocalist, pianist, and conductor.
The Opera Grants for Women Composers program promotes the development of new works by women and raises the visibility of women writing for the operatic medium. The program consists of two parallel granting initiatives: Discovery Grants, awarded directly to women composers to advance the development of new work; and Commissioning Grants, awarded to opera companies for commissions by women composers. The program has distributed nearly $1.5 million to composers and companies since its creation in 2014.
OPERA America is committed to increasing gender parity across the field. In addition to Opera Grants for Women Composers, the organization offers Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors (generously supported by the Marineau Family Foundation), its Mentorship Program for Women Administrators, and its Women’s Opera Network.
OPERA America’s strategic philanthropy supports field-wide innovation with an emphasis on new work development, co-production, audience building, and increased civic practice. Since the inception of its granting programs, OPERA America has awarded $20 million to the opera field to support the work of opera creators, administrators, and companies.
More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.