$241,000 Awarded for Development of New North American Operas

$241,000 Awarded for Development of New North American Operas

OPERA America and Opera.ca recently announced the recipients of the 2005-06 Audience Development Awards from The Opera Fund and the Canadian Opera Creation Program. These cash grants are given in support of the creation and presentation of new opera and musical-theater. This year’s financial support totals $241,000 and was awarded to 14 opera companies in the US and Canada from a total of 26 applicants. Some of the award-winning recipients incorporated jazz, South Indian, and Native American influences into their proposals. Creative teams for these various projects span established operatic composers, film composers, jazz and rock musicians as well as leading poets and playwrights.

Award-winning recipients include the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for a workshop of Kirke Mechem’s John Brown that will be a collaborative effort with the universities for Kansas and Missouri as well as singers from area African-American Churches. Other winners include the Opera Theater of Pittsburg’s production of Matthew Rosenblum’s Red Dust, which will incorporate video and interactive features, and Toronto’s Tapestry New Opera Works where five chosen composer/librettist teams will each develop a 15-minute opera. A complete list of winners appears below.

Applications are first viewed by panelists from both Canada and the United States, and are judged on the quality of the project concept, artistic merit, and the strength of any institutional partnerships, as well as the resources of the company and their ability to fully evaluate the project. Two national panels evaluate the finalists. The first panel comes from Opera.ca and, this year, included composers Marie Pelletier and Randolph Peters, stage director Tom Diamond, and singer Wendy Nielsen. The second panel, representing the U.S., included stage director Christopher Alden, artistic consultant Susan Ashbaker, librettist Mark Campbell, and the American Music Center’s executive director Joanne Cossa.

The Opera Fund launched in 2001 with support from The National Endowment of the Arts, as well as funding from foundations such as The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, and Lee Day Gillespie, among others. Last year’s recipients included the San Francisco Opera’s premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, Michigan Opera Theatre’s production of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner, Houston Grand Opera’s premiere of Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair, and the first fully-staged production of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, premiered at The Santa Fe Opera.

Guidelines for The Opera Fund‘s 2006-07 Audience Development Awards will be available in July 2006.

Recipients of OPERA America’s Opera Fund and Opera.ca’s Canadian Opera Creation Program 2005-06 Development Awards:


Fort Worth Opera: Frau Margot—$18,000 in support of a one week workshop residency for composer Thomas Pasatieri, librettist Frank Corsaro, the production team, and principal cast members.

Lyric Opera of Kansas City: John Brown—$8,800 in support of a week-long workshop for composer Kirke Mechem and the production team to review and assess extensive revisions to the original work.

The Minnesota Opera (Minneapolis): The Grapes of Wrath—$35,000; a co-commission of composer Ricky Ian Gordon with Utah Symphony and Opera, the grant will support costs associated with a final workshop to determine additional refinements prior to the onset of regularly scheduled rehearsals.

Music-Theatre Group (New York City): Loving Family—$20,000 in support of the development of Act II and a workshop of Derek Bermel‘s completed work prior to its premiere in March/April 2007.

Opera Colorado (Denver): La Curandera—$20,000 in support of a workshop for composer Robert X. Rodriguez, librettist Mary Medrick, production team and singers prior to the work’s premiere in May 2006.

Opera Omaha: Blizzard Voices—$15,000 in support of a workshop for composer Paul Moravec, librettist Ted Kooser, and the production team. Blizzard Voices will be a staged song cycle in observance of the board’s plan to create and produce works in a variety of styles and venues.

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh: Red Dust—$10,000 in support of three weeks of workshops of Matthew Rosenblum‘s work which will address the unique needs of this multimedia work and culminate in public performances to be evaluated by a committee of local opera, music, and theater professionals.

Seattle Opera: Amelia—$20,000 in support of development workshops of Daron Hagen‘s opera about Amelia Earhart and a portion of the creative artists’ fees for Seattle Opera’s first sole opera commission. The opera uses themes of aviation and war to explore the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Musical Traditions, Inc. (San Francisco): The Tyrant—$17,200 to support creative meetings to plan the textual and musical revisions for the creation of a full opera concept; The Tyrant, composed by Paul Dresher, is currently formulated as a one-act concert piece.


Calgary Opera: Hannaraptor—$9,000 in support of Allan Gilliland’s opera which will include a three-day workshop of the libretto by Jim Lewis in spring 2006, a one-week music/libretto review workshop in fall 2006, and a one-week workshop to review the completed work in spring 2007.

Chants Libres (Montreal): Opéra Féerie—$20,000 to support the second phase of the composition and musical preparation of the work, based on a fable by Madame D’Aulnoy and composed by Gilles Tremblay.

The Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company (Toronto): Vanity and the Goddess Sarasvati—$14,000 to support a workshop for composer/librettist Michael Oesterle to continue the development of this opera set around the South Indian vocalist Suba Sankaran.

Tapestry New Opera Works (Toronto): Antigone—$20,000 in support of the first reading and revisions of the libretto, the first draft of the score, and a workshop reading of Christos Hatzis’s new opera. This process will lead to the determination of whether or not the work should then enter the pre-production phase.

Tapestry New Opera Works (Toronto): Opera to Go—$14,000 to support the workshop of the first draft of the score and provide funds for subsequent revisions. Opera to Go will be comprised of five 15-minute operas, each with its own composer and librettist.

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