MCANA Announces 2021 Best New Opera Winner

By Francisco Salazar

The Music Critics Association of North America has awarded “Sweet Land” as Best New Opera.

The work, which was staged in Los Angeles in February 2020, was directed by Yuval Sharon and produced by The Industry. The opera was composed by Du Yun and Raven Chacon and featured a libretto by Aja Couchois Duncan and Douglas Kearney.

In a statement composer Yun said, “As a new immigrant, I am grateful for this land. ‘Sweet Land’ unveils layers of truths for me. As part of this collaborative team, this work has brought me new probabilities of hope. I’m thrilled this meaningful collaboration has received its recognition. Thank you MCANA.”

Meanwhile librettist Kearney noted, “Receiving the MCANA Award is a tremendous honor. Throughout the process of writing the libretto for Sweet Land, Aja and I saw ourselves as holders of story-not just the wild and often impressionistic narrative audiences finally got to see, but the collective ambitions, agreements, tensions, and joys of our collaboration with Du Yun, Raven Chacon, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Yuval Sharon, the designers, and performers of this grotesque pageant of colonial histories. Sweet Land is sometimes described as an opera that erases itself, and in a year during which a global pandemic cut our run short, we are especially grateful for the distinguished and rigorous MCANA jury whose generous approbation helps keep Sweet Land from disappearing.”

The Best New Opera Award is a major recognition given annually by an Awards Committee of distinguished music critics. The award, which was founded in 2017, has awarded such works as Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s “Breaking the Waves,” David Hertzberg’s “The Wake World,” Ellen Reid and Roxy Perkins’ “p r i s m,” and Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s “Blue” in 2020.