Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

OPERA America Awards Audience Development Grants to 16 Opera Companies

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, has announced that it has awarded nearly $200,000 in Audience Development grants, as part of The Opera Fund, to 16 U.S. opera companies.

OPERA America’s Audience Development grants help opera companies to implement community engagement activities that develop new audiences for American opera and music-theater, engage diverse audiences, deepen current audiences’ understanding and appreciation of new and existing American works, and increase the participation of audiences in a company’s activities.

Recipients of the Audience Development grants are: Boston Lyric Opera, The Dallas Opera, Eugene Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Houston Grand Opera,Nashville Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis,Piedmont Opera (Winston Salem, NC), Pittsburgh Opera, Portland Opera,Tulsa Opera and Virginia Opera.

With the help of Audience Development funding, grantees will implement activities such as public lectures/demonstrations, seminars or master classes by the creators and performers of the work; events in partnership with other local cultural institutions, such as museums; residencies for creative and performing artists to work in and with the community; and creation of online and other technology-based audience development tools.

“Promoting the enjoyment of opera, especially North American opera, among new and existing audiences is an essential cornerstone of OPERA America’s mission,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO. “Through the generosity of Opera Fund donors, the Audience Development grants give OPERA America the valuable opportunity to assist opera companies nationwide with nurturing current and future opera audiences, ensuring that our art form will continue to flourish for years to come.”

Grants were awarded through a competitive application process by an independent panel of experts, including Andrea Allen, director of education at Seattle Repertory Theatre; Cori Ellison, artistic director at Opera Company of the Highlands and dramaturg; Jeanette Honig Grafman, director of operations and educational outreach at Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia; Susanne Mentzer, mezzo-soprano; and StewArt Wallace, composer. The panel evaluated the 29 grant applications based on the merit of the project, quality of the project concept, artistic merit, the strength of appropriate partnerships and the resources of the company, including the ability to fully evaluate the project.

Since its inception, The Opera Fund has enabled OPERA America to award grants of nearly $11 million to assist companies with the expenses associated with the creation, production and enjoyment of new works. In alternate years, Opera Fund grants are also awarded in the category of Repertoire Development, providing financial support to member companies and their creative partners in association with the commissioning and development of new North American opera and music-theater. Over the past 20 years, these grants have assisted opera companies with the development of works such as Akhnaten (Philip Glass),Cold Sassy Tree (Carlisle Floyd), Dead Man Walking (Jake Heggie), Elmer Gantry(Robert Aldridge), Frau Margot (Thomas Pasatieri), Little Women (Mark Adamo),Margaret Garner (Richard Danielpour), Nixon in China (John Adams), Shining Brow (Daron Hagen) and A Streetcar Named Desire (André Previn). The Opera Fund was launched by The National Endowment for the Arts, and is funded by The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Lee Day Gillespie, Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James S. and John K. Knight Foundation and the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation.

Audience Development Grants: Project Details

Boston Lyric Opera: The Inspector by John Musto and Mark Campbell ($5,000)
In support of two lecture performance programs, which include live performances of Musto’s work: Signature Series: An Afternoon with John Musto, a to be presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Opera Night, presented at the Boston Public Library.

The Dallas Opera: The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento ($15,000)
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the world premiere, The Dallas Opera will present a new production of Argento’s The Aspern Papers in April 2013. Many activities have been planned to explore themes and elements of the opera, including a free film screening, Italian food and wine tasting, an event about the cultivation of cutting flowers in collaboration with the Dallas Arboretum, a book club for The Aspern Papers novella, as well as panel discussions.

Eugene Opera: Nixon in China by John Adams and Alice Goodman ($20,000)
Eugene Opera is partnering with several local organizations, including the Confucius Institute and Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, to present educational events exploring the historical content of the opera’s plot, as well as the performance history of the work. Additionally, they will place Quick Response (QR) codes on billboards, which unlock a 10% discount on tickets; and send an original DVD to non-operagoers in zip codes of the highest number of regular opera attendees.

Fort Worth Opera: Three Decembers by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer ($9,000)
Partnering with the Modern Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Opera will present an “Overture” event with Jake Heggie, who will describe the creation of the work, as well as its journey from premiere to various second productions. Furthermore, they will host live-streamed conversations with the composer and artists during the rehearsals leading up to the performances.

Houston Grand Opera: The Bricklayer (Working Title) by Gregory Spears and Farnoosh Moshiri ($4,500)
Part of the four-year “East + West” initiative at Houston Grand Opera, this new chamber opera will incorporate western and Iranian musical styles. In conjunction with the production, the company has planned a series of storytelling workshops, presentations about Persian artistic and historical culture to precede each performance, as well as a recording with KUHF-Houston Public Radio for broadcast via radio and online streaming.

Nashville Opera: The Difficulty in Crossing a Field by David Lang and Marc Wellman ($7,500)
Nashville is presenting this work as part of their new “Nashville Opera @ Series”, which features four operas presented in a four different venues. To engage their audiences they are presenting a film screening, as well as developing various web-based resources including an online study guide, as well as a YouTube and podcast series to discuss the themes and subject matter of the work.

North Carolina Opera: Les Enfants Terribles by Phillip Glass and Susan Kander ($5,000)
With the goal of creating a young professionals group, North Carolina Opera is planning a series of events in partnership with the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh and the Raleigh Downtown Alliance. At these events, which highlight music and themes from Glass’s work, they will distribute handbills with Quick Response (QR) codes that access a social media space and special ticket offers.

Opera Colorado: Florencia en el Amazonas by Daniel Catán and Marcela Fuentes-Berain ($10,000)
Opera Colorado will present an Amazon Festival in coordination with their production of Florencia en el Amazonas. The festival will include events that highlight dance, food, film, literature, fine art and artifacts of Hispanic/Latino/Spanish speaking cultures.

Opera Company of Philadelphia: Dark Sisters by Nico Muhly and Stephen Karam ($9,000)
Opera Company of Philadelphia will present a series of events for the public to engage with the creators of Dark Sisters, including an interactive video conference with Nico Muhly, in which he will discuss the creation of Dark Sisters and his individual career; a writing seminar with Stephen Karam on his approach to creating the libretto; and a moderated discussion with both Muhly and Karam accompanied by performances of selected excerpts.

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh: Night Caps — to be commissioned ($10,000)
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh will commission a series of five chamber operas, each 15-20 minutes in length, which each take place in the same hotel room on subsequent nights. In conjunction with these new works, the company will present public performances, interviews with the creative teams, as well as a dedicated website for the work.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: The Two Sides of Love (Working Title) by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer ($25,000)
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has created a Blanchard Opera Steering committee to make meaningful connections on the company’s behalf with organizations and individuals in the African-American community in St. Louis. Specific activities include artist residencies with the African-American soprano Kendall Gladen and composer Terence Blanchard serving as community ambassadors for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Additionally, they plan to create a documentary of Gladen’s life, career and work as a community ambassador in St. Louis.

Piedmont Opera: The Crucible by Dr. Robert Ward and Bernard Stambler ($10,000)
To honor Dr. Robert Ward and celebrate the established partnership between Piedmont Opera and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the company is presenting The Crucible. In coordination with the work, the company has planned an event that compares performances from the play with corresponding scenes from the opera, a roundtable discussion with Ward and a study guide for students at local high schools who will perform the full-length play in the coming year.

Pittsburgh Opera: Moby-Dick by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer ($10,000)
The company is planning a new initiative titled Opera Forward in which they will present events that will delve into the content of Moby-Dick, as well as the layers of this specific production. The program will explore many aspects including the literary work that inspired the opera and the physical challenges of the set.

Portland Opera: Galileo Galilei by Phillip Glass and Mary Zimmerman ($15,000)
Portland Opera will present an outreach tour of Galileo Galiei in Eugene, OR; lectures with artists in collaboration with the Portland Art Museum and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; a planetarium program on Galileo’s life and work with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; as well as film screening with the Northwest Film Center.

Tulsa Opera: Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally ($14,000)
In collaboration with the Living Arts of Tulsa, Tulsa Opera will present “Crime and Punishment,” an exhibition in support of Dead Man Walking. Additionally, they will partner with the University of Tulsa College of Law to co-sponsor a public event featuring Sister Helen Prejean. Finally, they plan a series of lectures with composer Jake Heggie.

Virginia Opera: Orphée by Phillip Glass ($15,000)
Presenting a work by Phillip Glass for the first time in the company’s history, Virginia Opera will present “An Evening with Glass” with the Chrysler Museum of the Arts, in which they will feature the works of Glass and highlight the upcoming production of Orphée. Furthermore, they are planning “An Evening of Iconic Storytelling” with the Naro Theatre in Norfolk, as well as film screenings with the Byrd theatre and discussions with area Universities.

Additional information about OPERA America’s many grant opportunities is available at

For more information about OPERA America and its services,

Related Articles View More Opera Stories

More Hot Stories For You