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San Francisco Opera announces Opera for All Voices: Stories of Our Time, a new commissioning initiative committed to telling wide-ranging stories that resonate with all audiences, regardless of age or prior experience with opera. The Opera for All Voices works will be co-commissioned and co-produced by a consortium of companies led by San Francisco Opera and Santa Fe Opera, and including Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Minnesota Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Sarasota Opera and Seattle Opera.

The consortium is working together to commission new American operatic works that are flexible in scope and scale, with the potential to be performed in smaller venues and off the main stage while striving for rich storytelling and artistic integrity. The first new work, composed by Augusta Read Thomas with a libretto by Jason Kim, will receive its premiere in 2019 at Santa Fe Opera. The second commission, by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettist Kimberly Reed, is slated to premiere at San Francisco Opera in 2020. Complete information including cast, creative team and performance schedule will be announced at a later date. Additional commissions will be chosen through an open invitational and in partnership with a panel of esteemed jurists.

Opera for All Voices was born out of the need for new works that can reach broad-ranging audiences through resonant subject material and manageable budgets. The project also addresses the need to bring new audiences to opera by commissioning works that speak to all voices, are designed with modern attention spans in mind and break down pre-conceived notions about opera.

Ruth Nott, San Francisco Opera's Director of Education, leads the consortium on behalf of the Company. "San Francisco Opera and Santa Fe Opera spent years looking for operas to present for families and adults who are new to opera-works of artistic integrity and depth of story suitable for all ages and demographics, and which could be produced with limited budgets utilizing intimate performance locations," said Nott. "We discovered there were other opera companies searching for works with the same nimble criteria, and so we joined together to form the Opera for All Voices consortium. As reflected in our theme, 'Stories of Our Time,' we hope to inspire new operas that will be relevant and meaningful to audiences today."

The lead creative teams behind the first two commissions were chosen through a rigorous selection process with input from the participating companies. Both composer/librettist teams embody the spirit of the initiative in their previous works, telling stories with purpose through music.

Grammy Award-winning Augusta Read Thomas is a prolific composer of orchestral, chamber, choral and vocal works. Recent and upcoming commissions include those from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, London's Wigmore Hall, Chicago Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Danish Chamber Players and Lorelei Ensemble. In addition to composing, Thomas has taught at the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival. Designated University Professor at the University of Chicago, she was the longest-serving Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2006. Joining Thomas for the new work premiering at Santa Fe Opera in 2019 is Jason Kim, an in-demand librettist, playwright and screenwriter. His recent work includes the operas Machine for OPERA America and Legendary at Fort Worth Opera, and the shows Girls on HBO, Love on Netflix and The Middlesteins on Showtime. Kim's world premieres in 2017 include The Model American at Williamstown Theatre Festival and the musical KPOP at Ars Nova.

Laura Kaminsky will compose the second commission, premiering at San Francisco Opera in 2020. A composer of opera, orchestra, chamber, vocal and choral music, her scores often address social and political issues such as sustainability, war and human rights. She recently made waves with her chamber opera As One, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music in 2014 and has since been performed across the country. Additional premieres and commissions include Some Light Emerges with Houston Grand Opera, Today It Rains at Opera Parallèle and a Piano Quintet for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt String Quartet. Kaminsky is professor at large at Purchase College Conservatory of Music/SUNY and composer-in-residence at American Opera Projects. Librettist Kimberly Reed is a frequent collaborator with Kaminsky, including her work on As One and Some Light Emerges (both co-written with Mark Campbell). Her text for the song cycle Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin, was commissioned by OPERA America and premiered at the Library of Congress in 2017.

Opera for All Voices also announces an open invitational for additional new commissions beyond these two lead works. Applications will be reviewed by a jury moderated by San Francisco Opera Dramaturg Kip Cranna. Jurists include Octavio Cardenas, Martha Collins, Peter Kazaras, Dr. Dale Kruse, Carolyn Kuan, Dr. Everett McCorvey, Deborah Nansteel, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Gene Scheer, Bright Sheng, James Robinson and Louise Toppin. Selected projects will receive a workshop, a premiere at one of the partner companies and the opportunity for subsequent performances. Additionally, each chosen composer/librettist team will have the opportunity to be mentored by one of the lead composer/librettist teams. Established, emerging and non-classical composers and librettists are encouraged to submit proposals. Applications from composer/librettist teams are due by September 15, 2017 at

Opera for All Voices is made possible by generous funding from the Melville Hankins Family Foundation, The Andrew Mellon Foundation and an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

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