Opera America Announces Recipients of Commissioning Grants for Female Composers

By David Salazar

OPERA America has announced the nine companies that will be awarded $100,000 in grants for commissioning operas by female composers.

The recipients include Beth Morrison Projects for Du Yun’s “In Our Daughter’s Eyes,” which is written by Michael Joseph McQuilken; Boston Lyric Opera for Ellen Reid and librettist Christopher Oscar Peña’s “The Desert Inn;” Guerilla Opera for “HER: alive / un / dead: a media opera” by Emily Koh; HERE for Heather Christian’s “A Practical Breviary: Terce;” Houston Grand Opera for Nell Shaw Cohen and librettist Megan Cohen’s “Turn and Burn, a Rodeo Opera;” Opera on Tap for Kamala Sankaram and librettist Kristin Marting’s “Joan of the City;” Opera Orlando for Stella C. Y. Sung and librettist Mark Campbell’s “The Secret River;” Opera Philadelphia for Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek’s “The Listeners;” and The American Opera Project for Rima Fan and librettist Karen Fisher’s “Precipice.”

“Commissioning Grants advance our goal of increasing gender parity in the field by incentivizing opera companies to program new works by female composers. Thanks to this program, we have seen a dramatic increase of works by female composers on stages across North America,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America in a press release. “We are grateful to the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation for enabling us to continue this important work, which has brought noteworthy composers to the forefront and enlivened our operatic repertoire with new pieces.”

“In Our Daughter’s Eyes” is a one-man opera featuring baritone Nathan Gunn. It will appear in the 2021 PROTOTYPE Festival followed by a west coast premiere with LA Opera.

“The Desert Inn” is a digital miniseries that will challenge perceptions of how opera is experienced.

“HER: alive / un / dead: a media opera” is a concert-length media opera focusing on three generations of Asian women in a single family, while “A Practical Breviary: Terce” will weave together several texts to describe a feminine perspective of Christ.

“Turn and Burn” will center on barrel racing champion Shayla Taylor and executive Jamie Hernandez as they face adversity. “Joan of the City” is a site-specific opera for five voices, string quintet, soundscape, and AR app.

“The Secret River” is based on the book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and focuses on the story of an African American girl who helps her family survive during the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, “The Listeners” centers on the mystery of a “hum” only a few “listeners” can hear.

Finally, “Precipice” tells the story of a woman’s struggle to find her authentic voice in America’s Mountain West.