OPERA America Awards Grants to 10 Opera Companies and 4 Teams of Artists

OPERA America Awards Grants to 10 Opera Companies and 4 Teams of ArtistsOPERA America, the national service organization for opera, has announced that it has awarded grants to 10 opera companies and four teams of artists through two funding programs: The Opera Fund: Repertoire Development and the Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase. These grants support the production of new North American opera and help develop the careers of promising directors and designers, respectively.

"Fostering the creation of new works by American composers is a cornerstone of OPERA America's mission," stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO. "Through the generosity of Opera Fund donors, Repertoire Development grants assist in increasing the vitality and diversity of our art form," he continued.


Over the past 20 years, OPERA America's Opera Fund has provided grants totaling more than $11 million to assist companies with the creation and development of works such as Akhnaten (Philip Glass), Cold Sassy Tree (Carlisle Floyd), Dead Man Walking (Jake Heggie), Elmer Gantry (Robert Aldridge), Frau Margot (Thomas Pasatieri), Little Women (Mark Adamo), Margaret Garner (Richard Danielpour), Nixon in China (John Adams), Shining Brow (Daron Hagen) and A Streetcar Named Desire (André Previn).

Repertoire Development grants of The Opera Fund assist OPERA America Professional Company Members (PCMs) and their partners in meeting the special costs incurred by developing and producing new North American opera and music-theater. Repertoire Development grants allow the creators and/or producers to assess and refine a work in progress. The grants may be used to offset creative fees, recording expenditures for evaluation and archival purposes or other costs associated with the development of a new opera/music-theater work, including lab productions, workshops, readings and revisions.

A total of $225,000 was awarded in Repertoire Development Grants to the following organizations:

American Lyric Theater
The Long Walk by Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann ($15,000)
The opera is based on Brian Castner's critically acclaimed memoir, The Long Walk, which describes a soldier's return from Iraq where he served as an officer in an explosive ordnance disposal unit; and his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder as he tries to integrate himself back into his family life upon his return from the war. Funds will be used to help underwrite the direct expense of a developmental workshop, planned for May-June 2013, as well as a portion of the work's commission fees.

American Lyric Theater
La Reina by Jorge Sosa and Laura Sosa Pedroza ($15,000)
Between May 20 and June 2, 2013, American Lyric Theater (New York, NY) will hold a developmental workshop of the complete piano/electronics/vocal score of La Reina, by composer Jorge Sosa and librettist Laura Sosa Pedroza. La Reina is an electro-acoustic opera with text in Spanish and English. The docufiction narrative was inspired by the life of Sinaloan drug trafficker Sandra Avila Beltran, who was arrested in 2007. Funds will be used to help underwrite developmental workshop expenses, and a portion of the work's commission fees.

The Dallas Opera
Great Scott by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally ($27,000)
Money will support the commissioning fees and a workshop of Great Scott, scheduled to premiere in the company's 2015-2016 season. Great Scott is a comic opera whose story will focus on the backstage complications that develop when Arden Scott, a great opera singer, returns to her hometown to sing her signature role. The action takes place onstage and behind-the-scenes as she deals with a co-star she detests and the demands of friends and family as she sings her famous role in the forgotten bel canto opera, Rosa Dolorosa, Figlia di Pompei. Further chaos ensues in the opera's two mad scenes, volcanic eruption and children's chorus, as well as in Arden's own life.

Florentine Opera
Sister Carrie by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein ($20,000)
In consortium with University of Minnesota Opera Theatre, Florentine Opera (Milwaukee, WI) will workshop Sister Carrie, adapted from the novel of the same name by Theodore Dreiser. The opera follows the flight of the title character from the tedium of her rural Midwestern upbringing to the possibilities of the big city, fraught as urban life is with "the grimness of shift and toil." The grant will fund a series of workshops, participant reviews and audience feedback performances in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014.

The Glimmerglass Festival
the little match girl passion by David Lang ($13,000)
The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY) is presenting David Lang's the little match girl passion during the 2013 season. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2008, match girl was originally scored for four soloists and an adult chamber choir. Glimmerglass is commissioning Lang to write a new 24-voice children's chorus to replace the adult choir. As part of this revision, Lang will also compose a prologue for the children. Lang's opera is derived from the Hans Christian Andersen tale and inspired by Bach's St. Matthew Passion. The revision will also continue and evolve the company's recent commitment to involve children in at least one main stage production annually.

Minnesota Opera
The Manchurian Candidate by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell ($27,000)
The grant will help to cover the costs for workshops, travel for the artistic team, defray commissioning fees for the composer and librettist, and for the copying of vocal/piano scores and orchestral parts. The opera is an adaptation of the novel and 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate.

Music-Theatre Group (Brooklyn, NY)
The Doctor and the Devils by JulIan Grant and Mark Campbell ($25,000)
Funds will be used to support a libretto reading and first music workshop, to be completed by the end of calendar 2013. The opera is being adapted from a screenplay by Dylan Thomas with the same title. The work is a beautifully structured story full of intrigues and moral dilemmas that are operatic in scope and style. Based on the legendary case of Knox and Burke, the opera follows the driven Dr. Rock (Knox), distinguished surgeon at the Royal Academy in Edinburgh, who in pursuit of his anatomical discoveries requires a steady flow of cadavers.

Opera Colorado
The Scarlet Letter by Lori Laitman and David Mason ($13,000)
Opera Colorado has asked Lori Laitman to write a reduced one-act, one-hour version of the full-length opera for educational and touring performances. In preparation for the touring performances, Opera Colorado plans to present two semi-staged readings of the work at unexpected locations in the Denver Metro Area. The readings will focus on testing the effectiveness of the one-hour work and to allow composer Lori Laitman to make adjustments to the score prior to the tour.

Opera Memphis
Ghosts of Crosstown by Kamran Ince, et al. and Voices of the South ($27,000)
The grant will be used to commission and workshop a collection of short operas under the title Ghosts of Crosstown. These site-specific pieces will center on the Sears Crosstown building - an exquisite Art Deco building, which opened in Memphis in 1927. Sears Crosstown was a vibrant shopping center for more than 50 years, but it fell into disuse in 1993. Today, a group of dedicated residents are resurrecting this vacant space as a mixed-use "vertical urban village." Opera Memphis will commission original compositions to perform in conjunction with this effort.