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opera america's creative resurgence

Dark Sisters at the Perelman Theater

I attended the Opera America conference in Philadelphia almost a month ago, and it seems way longer than that. The dust is finally starting to settle on the craziest June of my life, so I hope to remember the most relevant parts of the conference for us composers. posted an article about Philadelphia and its new opera scene; in fact, this year's conference's theme, "Creative Resurgence," is apt.

"Over the past two seasons, however, the Opera Company of Philadelphia (OCP) made international waves when it presented two operas by the iconic German composer Hans Werner Henze and announced a plan to present ten new American operas in the next ten years. In 2011, they launched an innovative collaborative Composer In Residence Program, together with New York partners Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group, funded by a Mellon grant of $1.4 million over five years."

Isn't this exciting? In her closing speech, Jennifer Higdon mentioned that opera is thriving.1 She mentioned the last two Pulitzer-prize winners in music have been operas, and 359 new operas have been premiered since 2000.

In other words, there is a demand for new opera, and new opera sells. Minnesota Opera stressed in one of the marketing seminars that when comparing brand new opera vs. old and obscure works, new operas sell better than rare opera (since the subject material is contemporary, relevant, and interesting), and that brand new opera even sells even better than new.

My librettist and I were so inspired by this conference that we decided to start our own opera company. Called the North American New Opera Workshop (NANOworks), we will specialize in short and small chamber operas. Please stay tuned for performances (and quite possibly a call-for-scores) in the future.


1. Check out her speech by watching the "closing session" video. In fact, watch all the videos while they're still up!

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