Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Announces First Cohort of Creators for its New Works Collective

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has announced three creative teams for the inaugural year of the New Works Collective.

The new initiative pioneers a ground-breaking commissioning model that inverts the traditional power dynamics of the classical art world by allowing a panel of community leaders, rather than the organization itself, to choose where to award financial compensation for the creation of new operas.

The company noted that five artists and one stage director have been identified to create, workshop, and premiere three new chamber operas in March 2023.

The three teams are made up of composer Del’Shawn Taylor and librettist Samiya Bashir, co-composers and librettists Simon Tam and Joe X. Jiang, and composer/librettist Tre’von Griffith. All three teams will begin working closely with OTSL and stage director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj in the coming months to develop and workshop their operas, which will then be performed for a public audience on March 16–18, 2023.

In a statement Andrew Jorgensen, General Director, said, “We’re excited to better serve the voices of our artists and our community through this new initiative. I am grateful to each of these artists for seeking out this opportunity and to the ten members of our New Works Collective who spent hundreds of hours poring over more than ninety applications to select this inaugural cohort.”

One of the 2023 New Works Collective premieres will feature music by composer Del’Shawn Taylor and a libretto by poet Samiya Bashir and will mark their first artistic collaboration.

The other original work in the 2023 New Works Collective will be co-created by Simon Tam and Joe X. Jiang and the third work will be by Tre’von Griffith who is an advocate for the Black LGBTQIA+ community and an active member of the region’s vibrant art scene.