New York City's Newest Opera Company, Marshall Opera, Launches

The company plans to entertain and inspire diverse audiences with compelling productions of new and neglected operas.

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On Saturday evening, May 6, 2023, at the Liederkranz, the establishment of Marshall Opera, New York City's newest opera company, was announced. Named for the contemporary opera visionary, Richard Marshall, the company plans to entertain and inspire diverse audiences with compelling productions of new and neglected operas, mostly American, by such composers as Amy Beach, Douglas Moore, Vivian Fine, William Mayer, William Schuman, Scott Joplin, Ulysses Kay and others. Foreign composers will also be included in the mix, such as Dame Ethyl Smyth, Olivier Messiaen, Louis Andriessen, Hans Werner Henze, Jo Kondo and Benjamin Britten.

Jim Schaeffer, Marshall Opera's General and Artistic Director states, "I am honored to serve as the founding General and Artistic Director of Marshall Opera and look forward to working with the exceptional staff and board of directors already assembled. I am proud to honor the legacy of Richard Marshall who has done so much to advance the cause of contemporary opera in the U.S. With Marshall Opera's focus on neglected works from the last and present century, we are excited to introduce these great operas to an entire generation of new audiences."

Mark Shapiro will serve as Marshall Opera's Principal Conductor.

Marshall Opera will support opera creators and performers with opportunities and guidance as they create new works. It will also foster conversations that contextualize and illuminate the evolving opera scene. Productions will be mounted in concert versions, to keep the focus on the music. The company will engage the best voices, and perform at the City's greatest venues, with a season enhanced by readings of works in progress, and lectures. Marshall Opera plans an oral history project between composers and young singers culminating in performances of the composer's works.

The evening's program, hosted by Naomi Lewin, music host of Classics for Kids and former music host on WQXR, featured mezzo-soprano Natalie Lewis collaborating with pianist Brian Wong performing works representative of the type of repertory that Marshall Opera will feature: "Baba's aria" from Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress; "Must Winter Come so Soon" from Barber's Vanessa; and "All that Gold" from Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitor. Most recently, Ms. Lewis was a winner in the Metropolitan Opera's 2023 Laffont National Competition. Mr. Wong is a staff pianist at The Juilliard School.


Richard Marshall

From 1976 - 1982, Richard Marshall served as the general director of the Charlotte Opera, now Opera Carolina. Before that, he was head of opera at The Boston Conservatory, as well as founder and director of New England Regional Opera, where he produced, staged and conducted the East Coast premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men. He also served as head of opera and choral music at the University of Buffalo. While at Charlotte Opera, Richard Marshall instigated, produced, and conducted the company's first commission: Robert Ward's Abelard and Heloise. In 1982, Marshall moved to New York, and founded the Center for Contemporary Opera. For 25 years, he devoted himself to CCO, which gave some of the finest composers a chance to have their work produced on a professional level for the first time. During his tenure with CCO, 37 productions of new or recent operas were presented. Richard Marshall produced 51 operas, including 17 premieres. In 2008, he retired after moving to southern Vermont, where he currently lives.

Jim Schaeffer, Artistic and General Director

For ten years Jim Schaeffer previously held the position of Artistic and General Director of the Center for Contemporary Opera. Prior to his work with CCO, he was artistic and general director at the Long Leaf Opera Festival in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. During his tenure with those two companies, he produced and/or developed more than a hundred operas, mostly by American composers. He took the Center for Contemporary Opera on tour eight times to Europe, where two of their productions were broadcast live. Jim has a reputation for quietly supporting underrepresented composers and artists, which will continue with Marshall Opera.

Mark Shapiro, Principal Conductor

Mark Shapiro is a six-time ASCAP winner for his work with three different ensembles. Mark has conducted operas for several companies and institutions of higher learning, including at Juilliard as well as American Opera Projects, and the Center for Contemporary Opera. He is music director of The Prince Edward Island Symphony, and the artistic director of two New York choruses: the Cecilia Chorus, which performs an annual series at Carnegie Hall; and Cantori New York which has appeared in all five major Lincoln Center halls.


George Boziwick, retired Chief of the Music Division of NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, and an accomplished author and composer Lisa Hilton, author and historian, BBC presenter of historical programs Emily McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Pharmaceuticals Eugene Rothberg, long-time president of CCO, and Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank William Turner, Professor of Law Emeritus at University of North Carolina.


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