Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


FROM ERASED TO SELF-EMPOWERED is led by ALT's Associate Artistic Director Kelly Kuo.


From April 6-10, American Lyric Theater (ALT) presents FROM ERASED TO SELF-EMPOWERED: CELEBRATING BIPOC OPERA COMPOSERS AND LIBRETTISTS, a three-part online seminar and roundtable, culminating in a free virtual concert performance April 10th at 7:30 pm et. The program is open to composers, librettists, educators and the general public. Advance registration is required.

"BIPOC composers and librettists have written for the Lyric Stage for centuries, but so many of their contributions have been consciously erased from the opera house - historically white, Euro-centric, racist institutions where select, self-anointed groups of people have gone out of their way to control the repertoire, who writes opera, who is represented on stage, and how," said ALT's Founder, Lawrence Edelson, explaining the impetus behind the program. "The tide is beginning to turn, but we still have a long way to go before opera reflects the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary American society."

Led by ALT's newly appointed Associate Artistic Director Kelly Kuo, the first part of the seminar will explore the history of remarkable BIPOC composers and librettists who wrote for the opera stage, but whose works have been erased from the repertoire. Composers Daniel Bernard Roumain, Justine F. Chen, Anthony Davis, Huang Ruo, and Errollyn Wallen, and librettists Richard Wesley, David Henry Hwang, Kanika Ambrose, and Andrea Davis Pinkney, then join Kuo for two roundtables where they will discuss their own pathways into opera; why they are drawn to opera to tell their stories through music; navigating racism in the opera field; and the complementary value of allyship and self-empowerment in advancing BIPOC artists' contributions to the operatic repertoire.

The seminar will conclude with a free virtual concert on Saturday, April 10 from 7:30 - 9pm ET, curated by Kuo. Scenes will be performed from operas by composers and librettists of color from as far back as the 17th century who have been historically erased from the operatic repertoire - including Juan Hidalgo de Polanco, Joseph Bologne, Edmond Dédé, Lucien Lambert, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - alongside works by contemporary BIPOC opera composers such as Huang Ruo, Justine Chen, Anthony Davis, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Kamala Sankaram and librettists like David Henry Hwang, Thulani Davis and Kanika Ambrose who are redefining American opera in the 21st century. The concert will be broadcast on ALT's YouTube Channel and FaceBook Page.

FROM ERASED TO SELF-EMPOWERED is part of ALT's free, virtual Opera Writers Symposium providing practical tools for both first-time and experienced artists with an interest in developing new works for the operatic stage. As part of ALT's ongoing commitment to mentoring the next generation of operatic writers, the eight-week series of mini-seminars and online workshops (February 27 - April 24, 2021) offers artists a glimpse into American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP) - a two-year, tuition-free professional training program for writers interested in creating new operas that includes extensive mentorship and direct financial support.

The Opera Writers Symposium grew out of American Lyric Theater's Opera Writers Diversity and Representation Initiative (OWDARI). As a part of the company's undertaking to foster the creation of a new body of operatic repertoire that reflects the racial diversity of contemporary American society, ALT is particularly invested in fostering talented artists whose perspective has been historically underrepresented in opera. To codify and continue that commitment, American Lyric Theater this year launched the OWDARI as a strategic framework to address racial justice in its contributions to the opera field and increase participation by artists of diverse racial and artistic backgrounds in the CLDP.

Led by ALT's Associate Artistic Director, Kelly Kuo with composers Daniel Bernard Roumain, Justine F. Chen, Anthony Davis, Huang Ruo, and Errollyn Wallen; and librettists Richard Wesley, David Henry Hwang, Kanika Ambrose, and Andrea Davis Pinkney

Repertoire includes scenes from:
Los Juegos Olímpicos (1673) by Juan Hidalgo de Polanco and Agustín de Salazar y Torres
Ernestine (1777) by Joseph Bologne and Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
L'isola disabitata (1831) by Manuel García, Sr. and Pietro Metastasio
Marina (1871) by Emilio Arrieta, Francisco Camprodón and Miguel Ramos Carrión
Morgiane, ou, Le sultan d'Ispahan (1888) by Edmond Dédé (librettist unknown)
Brocéliande (1892) by Lucien Lambert and André Alexandre
Thelma (1907-1909) by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
La hija de Rappaccini (1989) by Daniel Catán and Juan Tovar
Amistad (1997) by Anthony Davis and Thulani Davis
Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers (2017) by Kamala Sankaram and David Johnston
We shall not be moved (2017) by Daniel Bernard Roumain and Marc Bemuthi Joseph
"To those fleeing persecution, terror, and war" (2018) by Rene Orth and Kanika Ambrose
An American Soldier (2018) by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang
The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing (premiering in 2023) by Justine F. Chen and David Simpatico

Featured performers include sopranos Laquita Mitchell and Yulan Piao; mezzo sopranos Kelly Guerra and Briana Hunter; tenors Chauncey Packer, Alexander Scheuermann and WooYoung Yoon; baritones Erik Grendahl and Malcolm J. Merriweather; and bass baritone Joseph Beutel. To view the concert, please visit or

To learn more or to register visit:

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You