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American Lyric Theater Calls for Applicants for 2017-18 Composer Librettist Development Program

Lawrence Edelson, Founder and Producing Artistic Director of American Lyric Theater (ALT), announced that applications for the next cycle of the company's nationally acclaimed Composer Librettist Development Program will be accepted from February 15 to March 31, 2017. There is no fee to apply for the program.

ALT will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the CLDP - the only full-time professional initiative in the country to mentor emerging opera composers and librettists - during the 2017-18 season. In tandem with this milestone, Edelson announced two enhancements to the program: the introduction of stipends for artists accepted into the program; and the creation of the first comprehensive apprenticeship for an opera dramaturg in the United States.

Launched in 2007, ALT's Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP) is the most intensive mentorship initiative for emerging opera composers and librettists in the country, with a highly credentialed faculty and proven track record for developing the skills of gifted artists, incubating successful operas, and fostering lasting collaborations.

Prominent alumni of the CLDP include composers Christopher Cerrone, Kamala Sankaram, and Jeremy Howard Beck; and librettists Royce Vavrek, Stephanie Fleischmann and Deborah Brevoort. Audiences around the country are enjoying operas developed through the CLDP and by CLDP alumni at a wide variety of venues, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Saratoga, Utah Opera, Tulsa Opera, Fargo Moorhead Opera, The PROTOTYPE Festival, and many more.

At the center of the CLDP is ALT's core-curriculum, which consists of classroom training and hands-on workshops with some of the country's leading working artists. For the 2017-18 season, principal faculty mentors will include composer/librettist Mark Adamo; librettist Mark Campbell; stage director Lawrence Edelson; dramaturg Cori Ellison; and composer Jake Heggie, who joins ALT for the first time this season. In addition, several internationally recognized composers and librettists are invited each season to be guest artists within the classes and workshops of the core-curriculum.

Artists who are accepted into the CLDP will participate in the core-curriculum from September 2017 through early May 2018. All artists accepted into the program this season will be required to live in the metro-New York City area, or be willing and able to commute to New York City for all CLDP activities. Following first-year participation in the program, select artists are invited back to continue as Resident Artists at ALT for at least two more years, during which they are commissioned to write new operas while continuing to receive intensive personalized mentorship as their works are developed. While participation in the CLDP during the first year of the new cycle requires residency in the New York City area or the ability to commute to New York for classes and workshops, participation in subsequent years does not require full-time residency.

The CLDP is tuition free for artists accepted into the program. In addition, to help make it possible for artists to devote themselves to their activities in the CLDP, ALT is introducing a stipend for all participating artists for the first time this year. "Unpaid residencies presume a certain level of privilege to allow artists the luxury of developing their craft," Edelson explained. "The intensity of the CLDP is part of what makes it so successful, but we know that it can be very difficult for artists to fully dedicate themselves to the program while also making ends meet. Our solution for artist accessibility cannot be diluting the CLDP's intensity. The answer must lie in supporting gifted artists so that their participation does not become a financial burden for them."

To address this issue, during the 2017-18 season, ALT will provide a modest living stipend for first-year Resident Artists. Each artist participating in the program will receive a stipend of $1,250 per month for 8 months between September 2017 and April 2018 (a total of $10,000 per artist). The goal of providing this stipend is to supplement artists' income, while taking into account the intensity and work load of the program. Composers and librettists who are invited to return to the CLDP after the first year in the program to write a full-length opera are paid commission fees, in lieu of the stipend, payable in increments tied to specific deliverables throughout the developmental process.

Applications to the CLDP are welcome from any emerging composer or librettist who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Artists may apply individually, or as members of a writing team; however, all artists who enter the program are required to collaborate with multiple writing partners. ALT defines an emerging opera composer or librettist as an artist who has acquired significant skills as a composer and/or playwright/librettist through academic study, practice and professional experience; who demonstrates a unique and important musical and/or theatrical perspective that could benefit from intensive mentorship as part of the CLDP; and who has not yet had a main stage work commissioned and/or performed by a professional opera company. Artists' work in other genres often has been performed professionally, as ALT's definition of emerging applies specifically to an artist's development and career stage as a writer of opera. ALT embraces the work of gifted operatic writers from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds. There are no age minimums or maximums for participation. Three composers and three librettists will be accepted into the program this year.

This season, ALT is also establishing an Apprenticeship for an emerging Opera Dramaturg, integrated into the proven CLDP curriculum. While there are training programs for dramaturgy in theater, there are currently no dedicated opera dramaturgy programs in the United States. This new Apprenticeship will be open to a NYC-based artist who will participate fully in the core-curriculum of the CLDP, be involved in workshops of new operas already in ALT's development pipeline, and will receive private mentorship from internationally renowned dramaturg Cori Ellison and other members of the CLDP Faculty.

Candidates for the Dramaturg Apprenticeship are being sought from individuals who have a demonstrated interest in the development of contemporary opera. "We anticipate that the background of applicants for this Apprenticeship will be varied," said Edelson. "We are seeking a highly motivated, creative thinker who is interested in deepening his/her knowledge of opera from both a historical and practical perspective, while participating in a hands-on manner in the development and creation of new works. Candidates may include those with a stage directing background, graduates of theatrical dramaturgy programs, or others with diverse practical experience in the opera field. The successful candidate will demonstrate a broad-based interest and knowledge of opera; sharp critical faculties; exceptional analytical skills and the ability to articulate their opinions in a clear and compelling manner; compassion and understanding of the sensitive nature of the creative process; and the ability to identify both with his/her fellow artists and the audience."

For more information about the Composer Librettist Development Program, including application requirements, visit

Great Operas Don't Just Happen. American Lyric Theater (ALT) was founded in 2005 by Lawrence Edelson to build a new body of operatic repertoire by nurturing composers and librettists, providing an incubator for their collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. Many opera companies commission and perform new works; but ALT is the only company in the United States that offers extensive, full-time mentorship for emerging operatic writers. While the traditional company model focuses on producing a season, ALT's focus is on serving the needs of composers and librettists, developing new works, and collaborating with larger producing companies to help usher those works into the repertoire. In 2012, ALT was the first company dedicated to artist mentorship rather than operatic production to be recognized by OPERA America as a Professional Company Member - a testament to ALT's service to the field. For more information about American Lyric Theater, visit

Pictured: ALT Resident Artists Theo Popov and Tony Asaro in a workshop session with ALT Mentors Mark Adamo and Mark Campbell.

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