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Nine Companies Awarded Commissioning Grants From Opera America's Opera Grants For Female Composers

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Nine Companies Awarded Commissioning Grants From Opera America's Opera Grants For Female Composers

OPERA America has awarded the sixth cycle of Commissioning Grants from its Opera Grants for Female Composers program to nine Professional Company Members. The grants, totaling $100,000, support the creation of new works by women who compose for the trained voice and instrumental ensemble, and bring the creative perspectives, experiences, and stories of women to stages nationwide. The grants are generously supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Grants were awarded to:

  • Beth Morrison Projects (Brooklyn, NY) for In Our Daughter's Eyes by Du Yun

  • Boston Lyric Opera (Boston, MA) for The Desert Inn (Working Title) by Ellen Reid

  • Guerilla Opera (Haverhill, MA) for HER:alive/un/dead: a media opera by Emily Koh

  • HERE (New York, NY) for A Practical Breviary: Terce by Heather Christian

  • Houston Grand Opera (Houston, TX) for Turn and Burn, a Rodeo Opera by Nell Shaw Cohen

  • Opera on Tap (Brooklyn, NY) for Joan of the City by Kamala Sankaram

  • Opera Orlando (Orlando, FL) for The Secret River by Stella C. Y. Sung

  • Opera Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA) for The Listeners by Missy Mazzoli

  • The American Opera Project (Brooklyn, NY) for Precipice by Rima Fand

Descriptions of these projects follow.

The nine grantees were selected from an applicant pool of 24 eligible OPERA America Professional Company Members, which applied to receive up to 50 percent of the composer's fee for a full production of a commissioned work, with awards of up to $50,000. The independent adjudication panel of industry experts included Andrea Clearfield, composer; Osvaldo Golijov, composer; Lillian Groag, playwright, stage director, and actress; Timothy Long, pianist and conductor; Nick Stuccio, president and producing director, FringeArts; Jorell Williams, baritone.

Over the past four decades, OPERA America has awarded over $20 million to its Professional Company Members to support the work of opera creators, companies, and administrators. However, until the launch of Opera Grants for Female Composers in 2013, fewer than five percent of the organization's grants for new works had been awarded to operas by female composers.

The Opera Grants for Female Composers program promotes the development of new works by women and raises the visibility of women writing for the operatic medium. The program consists of two granting components: Discovery Grants, awarded directly to female composers to advance their work, and Commissioning Grants, awarded to opera companies for commissions by female composers. Since its inception in 2014, the program has presented $1.3 million to opera companies and composers. The grants are made possible through the generous support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

"Commissioning Grants advance our goal of increasing gender parity in the field by incentivizing opera companies to program new works by female composers. Thanks to this program, we have seen a dramatic increase of works by female composers on stages across North America," stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. "We are grateful to the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation for enabling us to continue this important work, which has brought noteworthy composers to the forefront and enlivened our operatic repertoire with new pieces."

For more information about the Opera Grants for Female Composers program and other grant programs supported by OPERA America, visit

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