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In the Works
Opera America Magazine •
Editor's Note: A Listing of New Works and Works in Progress
While traditional operas remain an important staple at many opera companies,
artists and audiences alike benefit from exploring new works. The decades that spawned
some of the great masterworks, particularly in the mid- to late 1800s, saw the creation
of thousands of new operas. By celebrating and encouraging today’s composers and librettists,
we increase the chances of producing great works for the 21st century.
To raise awareness of works being created by individual and organizational members,
OPERA America maintains an online database of North American opera and music-theater.
The Baisley Powell Elebash Score and Recording Library, a non-circulating collection housed
in OPERA America’s New York office, is available to members who wish to peruse materials.
Works in progress, along with those that received a major workshop or premiere during
the past two years, are featured in the fall and spring issues of Opera America magazine.
More details about these works (including vocal/musical forces, contact information and more)
can be found online at www.operaamerica.org/artists/newworks/index.html.
OPERA America members can submit listings to
OPERA America’s New Works Directory by visiting
By Zack Settel and Yan Muckle
Set to premiere during the 2010-2011 season at Chants Libres,
Alexandra chronicles the life of Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969).
An anarchist, opera singer, journalist, freemason, feminist, free thinker, reporter,
lover of the Orient, philosopher and explorer, she was the first Western woman to enter
the forbidden Lhassa, Tibet in 1924. This one-hour chamber opera uses her life and
writings to touch upon the themes of courage, righteousness and wisdom.
By Alice Shields and Nancy Dean
Criseyde, by composer-dramatist Alice Shields and librettist Nancy Dean,
is a feminist view of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. Created in Middle English drawn from Chaucer’s tale,
the opera focuses on the imbalance of power between the genders. The music is written in a
lyric style that encompasses Gregorian chant and Indian ragas through the language of chromatic harmony.
Criseyde is written for seven voices and chamber orchestra, and is 90 minutes in length.
A Dream Fulfilled: The Saga of George Washington Carver
By Michael Patterson
Set for a premiere in January 2009 by Des Moines Metro Opera, A Dream Fulfilled
describes the life of George Washington Carver in Iowa. His time in the Hawkeye state helped
him develop his methods of teaching and research that propelled him to national prominence.
The opera, which runs 60 minutes, is scored for six singers and uses a contemporary, neo-romantic musical style.
L’eau qui danse, la pomme qui chante, l’oiseau qui dit la vérité
By Gilles Tremblay and Pierre Morency
Scored for 16 singers and 26 instrumentalists, L’eau qui danse, la pomme qui chante,
l’oiseau qui dit la vérité is currently being developed by Chants Libres. The full-length
opera will receive its premiere in November 2009. A “fairy opera,” the piece is based on
historical facts and original ideas from the creative team.
By R. Timothy Brady, A.R. Madabushi and Lou Rodriguez
Premiered on April 15, 2007 by Soulbird Music Project, Edalat Square follows
the circumstances surrounding the execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in Iran.
The two teenage boys were hanged in 2005 for the crime of lavaat (sodomy). Written
for R&B vocalist, tenor, baritone,
Persian classical vocalist, string quartet
and tape/laptop, the piece is one act
(approximately 40 minutes) in length.
By Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer
A two-act work chronicling Captain
Ahab’s obsessive search for the great
white whale, this opera comes from
the creative artists behind such other
successful works as Dead Man Walking
and An American Tragedy. Based on
Melville’s classic novel, Moby-Dick
will receive its premiere in 2010 at The
Dallas Opera, and is co-commissioned
by San Diego Opera and San Francisco
By Abigail Richardson and Marjorie Chan
In Sanctuary Song, an Asian elephant Song
poached at a young age from the
jungles of Indonesia recalls her life in
captivity as her keeper leads her on a
journey toward sanctuary in the hills
of Tennessee. The 45-minute piece,
produced by Tapestry New Opera
Works and Theatre Direct Canada
in partnership with Luminato, will
receive its premiere in June 2008. It is
written for soprano, baritone, chamber
ensemble, female dancer and male
The Scarlet Letter
By Lori Laitman and David Mason
Commissioned by the University of
Central Arkansas, this new opera is
based on the classic story by Nathaniel
Hawthorne in which a young woman
in Boston is charged with adultery.
The two-act work is written for three
principal roles, three secondary roles,
small chorus and chamber orchestra,
and incorporates a tonal, lyrical
compositional style. The Scarlet Letter
will premiere in the fall of 2008.
Séance on a Wet Afternoon
By Stephen Schwartz
Scheduled to premiere on Halloween
2009, this work from the composer
of Wicked is based on the eponymous
novel by Mark McShane and the
award-winning screen adaptation by
Bryan Forbes. With workshops held at
American Opera Projects, the full-scale
work will be produced by Opera Santa
Barbara. The work is a psychological
thriller about a medium, her doting
husband and the spirit of their deceased
By Omar Daniel and Alex Poch-Goldin
Set at the turn of the last century in
Barcelona, this opera is an original
tale of intrigue, desire and destruction.
The piece is written for soprano,
tenor, baritone, countertenor, violin,
cello, clarinet, trumpet, percussion,
piano and Hammond organ and runs
approximately 75 minutes. The Shadow
is composed in a contemporary, 21stcentury style and will premiere at
Tapestry New Opera Works in early
The Ugly Duckling
By Andrew Duncan and Steve Malone
Written specifically for elementary
students, The Ugly Duckling is based on
the popular tale of the same name. The
piece was premiered in February 2008
by members of Nashville Opera’s Mary
Ragland Young Artist Program and
has a running time of 40 minutes. This
whimsical children’s operetta provides
a light-hearted introduction to voice
and drama, and can be accompanied
by study guides and Web-based
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