American Opera Projects Receives NEA Funding for Two Operas

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American Opera Projects (AOP) announces that composer Huang Ruo's The Weeping Camel and composer Gregory Spears's Paul's Case are awarded $10,000 each from the National Endowment of the Arts's ART WORKS initiative to support developmental workshop productions with AOP and producing partners. Both operas will be developed through AOP's First Chance series that presents concert readings of new operas in an intimate format that allows for direct conversation between audience and artist. Operas that receive fully-staged premieres after passing through First Chance include Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness (London's Royal Opera House), Jorge Martín's Before Night Falls (Fort Worth Opera), and Stephen Schwartz's Séance on a Wet Afternoon (New York City Opera, Opera Santa Barbara), among many others. 

Based on a true story that was the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Weeping Camel follows a family of nomadic shepherds in Mongolia and their struggle to save a newborn camel calf through a native musical ritual.  The opera for audiences of all ages will integrate both Western and Chinese opera traditions in a contemporary musical language as well as use Chinese masks and puppetry to tell its uplifting story about the spiritual power of music. The Weeping Camel composer Huang Ruo and librettist Candace Chong most recently collaborated on the opera Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, which received its world premiere at the Hong Kong Culture Centre Theatre with four performances in Oct. 2011 and at New York City's Le Poisson Rouge in January 2012. American Opera Projects will develop The Weeping Camel in collaboration with New York City's Symphony Space and the Guangzhou Opera House company in China.  

Paul's Case, by composer Gregory Spears with a libretto by Kathryn Walat based on the story by Willa Cather, is a two act chamber opera that chronicles the dissolution of a high school dandy living in sooty turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh. Initially developed during American Opera Projects' Composers & the Voice residency program, has presented workshops of Paul's Case at the Manhattan School of Music, OPERA America's Opera Conference 2010 in Los Angeles, and at Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia where it was noted for its "solid dramatic timing, compassionate characterizations, and huge potential" (Philadelphia Inquirer - David PatRick Stearns' Best in Classical Music 2009). The opera has been developed in part with grants from the BMI Foundation and the Virgil Thomson Foundation.