Washington National Opera Announces American Opera Initiative

By Francisco Salazar

Washington National Opera has announced its eighth season of its acclaimed American Opera Initiative.

This year, the initiative will present three world premieres on Jan. 10, 2020, in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater.

This season the three one-act operas featured will be by composer-librettist teams Michael Lanci and Kim Davies, Carlos Simon and Sandra Seaton, and Liliya Ugay and Sokunthary Svay. Amanda Consol will direct the three semi-staged concert performances, with Anne Manson conducting a chamber orchestra of WNO Orchestra members.

In a press release Robert Ainsley, AOI program directed noted, “America is renowned for its appetite and support of contemporary opera. The American Opera Initiative has now supported the work of some 50 young American composers and librettists in that area. This program helps them develop their craft, gain invaluable experience, and receive guidance from some of the leading American creative artists. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the WNO relentlessly pursues its mission to be a beacon for the field in American repertoire. We are immensely proud of the initiative’s contribution to the canon of contemporary American Opera, and to the experience and guidance it has provided to a young generation of composers and librettists.”

The operas to be presented are “Woman of Letters” by Liliya Ugay and Sokunthary Svay with a cast that includes Marlen Nahhas, Alexandra Nowakowski, and Samuel J. Weiser. Also set to be presented is “Admissions” by Michael Lanci and Kim Davies with Marlen Nahhas, Matthew Pearce, Amanda Bottoms, and William Meinert.

The final opera will be “Night Trip” by Carlos Simon and Sandra Seaton with a cast that includes Rehanna Thelwell, Joshua Conyers, Joshua Blue, Matthew Pearce, and Samson McCrady.