BWW Insight: The Dramatists Guild Wants to Make Sure You 'Credit the Librettist' in Contemporary Opera
Short Film Debuts at Opera America's New Works Forum
It may surprise you to learn that Stephen King didn't write "The Shining" and Sister Helen Prejean didn't write 'Dead Man Walking.' Even more, you may be startled to learn that Herman Melville didn't write 'Moby Dick' and Louisa May Alcott didn't have a hand in "Little Women." Well, of course they did--except when it came to turning the works into operas. Then, respectively, Mark Campbell and Terrence McNally took over, as did Gene Scheer and Mark Adamo.
Didn't know any of these librettists were so important to the success of their contemporary operas? That's why the Dramatists Guild Opera Committee's Librettist Initiative was formed and got ready to take action.
They're holding an event at Opera America's New Works Forum on Thursday, January 16 at 10am at the National Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York. Besides a talk and Q&A, it will also premiere the short film "Credit the Librettist: Conversations with Today's Opera Makers."
The film addresses some of the issues faced by opera librettists working in the field today--especially how to attain proper crediting for their work.
It features interviews with many of the most successful opera composers and librettists in the field today.
Included are Mark Adamo, John Corigliano, Anthony Davis, Ricky Ian Gordon, David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner, David T. Little, Craig Lucas, Terrence McNally, Lynn Nottage, Paola Prestini, John Patrick Shanley, Gene Scheer, Stephen Schwartz, Jeanine Tesori and Royce Vavrek. Opera producers Lawrence Edelson and Eric Einhorn, and Opera America's Laura Lee Everett also participated.
"Credit the Librettist" was produced by the Dramatists Guild and conceived and directed by Michael Korie and Mark Campbell, two librettists who formed the Initiative a couple of years ago to help librettists achieve greater parity in the industry and generate a better collaborative environment for creating new opera.
"I was amazed with the response Michael and I received when we first formed this initiative," says co-chair Campbell, "and not just from librettists. We also heard from the more progressive minds in the field of opera who feel that a response to the issues we're addressing is long overdue."
With regard to proper crediting for librettists, Korie adds: "Audiences know the name of the playwright when they see a play. When the same playwright writes a libretto, they often omit his or her name--in the website, the brochure, the press release, even the program.
"Audiences like knowing about what they're seeing and who created it. The film we made reflects the feeling between composers and librettists that their collaborations are being misrepresented when they aren't credited equally."
The film will be part of program that includes a panel discussion with Sarah Williams, New Works Administrator for Opera Philadelphia, a short "librettist trivia" game and a Q+A with attendees of the OPERA America New Works Forum.