The American Opera Projects Announces Fellows & Resident Ensemble Of Singers For 10th Annual Composers & The Voices

By Francisco Salazar

The American Opera Project has announced its selection of eight composers and librettists to receive fellowships for its 10th cycle of the Composers & the Voice training program.

This year, the the composers who have received fellowships include Alaina Ferris, Matt Frey, Michael Lanci, Mary Prescott, Jessica Rudman, Tony Solitro, and the librettists are Amanda Hollander and Jonathan Turner. The fellows will receive a two-year, tuition-free fellowship that provides experience writing for the voice and opera stage.

The fellows will also work collaboratively with six singers (named as the 10th Composers & the Voice Resident Ensemble) including lyric coloratura soprano Justine Aronson, lyric soprano Jasmine Muhammad, mezzo-soprano Augusta Caso, tenor Timothy Stoddard, baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and bass-baritone Brandon Coleman.

“There are few opportunities for young writers to try and fail in opera. Producing an opera is rare and expensive, and many composers will only get one shot at it,” Matt Gray, General Director of AOP noted in a press release. “Composers & the Voice provides a home for one year of experimentation through closed workshops.”

Meanwhile, Artistic Director Mila Henry said, “This fellowship is a deep dive into the ‘how’— how do I write for the voice, how do I write for the stage, how do I collaborate, and how do I navigate this grand form.”

According to a press release, the program “was created to fill a gap in the training of contemporary composers and librettists. Writers often graduate from prestigious music schools never having composed for the voice, and will sometimes receive their first opera commission based solely on their orchestral writing. Traditionally, vocal departments do not partner with composition students in order to protect their students’ still-developing voices.”

The fellows will work with Mary Birnbaum, Mark Campbell, and Terry Greiss, and will also receive consultation from composers Ricky Ian Gordon, David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Tobias Picker, Huang Ruo and Du Yun, and librettists Kimberly Reed and Royce Vavrek.

Workshops are scheduled from October 2019-April 2020, with “First Glimpse,” a public concert on May 29-30, 2020.

On  Sept. 25-26, 2020, the AOP Resident Ensemble will perform Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes created by the composer and librettist fellows.