Brooklyn’s AOP To Select Composers, Librettists For Two Years Of Free Training In The Fundamentals Of Opera

March 7, 2017


Bass-baritone Matthew Burns works with composer Andreia Pinto- Correia during a 2013 C&V workshop. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

BROOKLYN, NY – American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular Composers & the Voice program for its 2017-19 seasons. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, eight composers and librettists will be selected for two-year fellowships to learn the fundamentals of writing for the voice and opera stage. Workshop sessions with professional opera singers, mentors, and instructors are held at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Applications and complete information will be available beginning March 15 at The deadline for applications is April 28 with fellowships announced by July 1.

The Composers & the Voice fellowships include a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. The workshop sessions between September 2017 and April 2018 include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass).

In addition, over 45 hours of “Skill-Building Sessions” of acting courses with director Mary Birnbaum (Die Zauberflöte at Juilliard), theatrical improvisation led by Terry Greiss (Co-Founder, Ensemble Actor, Executive Director of Irondale Ensemble Project), and libretto development with Libretto Writing Instructor Mark Campbell (librettist, As One, Silent Night), will provide in-depth knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes, and sing text.

Fellows will also receive individual guidance from “Artistic Chairs,” sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice. Artistic Chairs for the upcoming season include composers Ricky Ian Gordon (27, The Grapes of Wrath), David T. Little (Dog Days, JFK), Missy Mazzoli (Breaking the Waves, Songs From the Uproar), Tobias Picker (An American Tragedy, Emmeline), Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), and Gregory Spears (Fellow Travelers, Paul’s Case), and librettists Gene Scheer (Cold Mountain, Moby Dick) and Royce Vavrek (Dog Days, JFK).

At the end of the workshop sessions, AOP will present selections from the participants’ work in public performances – First Glimpse, a concert of songs in Spring 2018, and Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes in Fall 2018.

Following the Six Scenes performances, Composers & the Voice enters its second year of its two-year cycle and focuses on the development and further promotion of the Fellows’ C&V-created works. This includes career guidance from AOP’s staff and potential workshops and presentations in AOP’s “First Chance” opera development program.

Composers & the Voice will also continue partnerships with The Hermitage Artist Retreat , which will select a C&V Fellow (or Fellowship team) to receive a 6-week residency to continue opera development at the Hermitage’s Florida estate, and the Chautauqua Opera Company, which annually invites one C&V alumnus to join the company for their 8-week summer season as a Composer-in-Residence and receive world premieres of three works commissioned by AOP.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists. Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE 2015, Stefan Weisman), and three in 2017 – Three Way (Nashville Opera and AOP, Robert Paterson), The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera, Daniel Sonenberg), and Independence Eve (UrbanArias, Sidney Marquez Boquiren).

“The philosophy of Composers & the Voice since its beginning has been that by immersing composers and librettists in hands-on work with skilled singers and music directors, we empower them to create groundbreaking works that are true to each of their artistic languages,” says Osgood.  “Composers rarely have the opportunity to work with opera singers during their training, and C&V was designed to address this void. I could not be more proud of the commissions and premieres that have flowed to the alumni of C&V.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its support of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program through 2019 as part of a two hundred thousand ($200,000) multi-year grant award, which also covers artistic personnel and other program activities.

During his tenure as Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008), Steven Osgood created Composers & the Voice and conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper and Wende Persons’ Patience & Sarah at the Lincoln Center Festival and Janice Hamer and Mary Azrael’s Lost Childhood at the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv). He has conducted the premieres of over a dozen operas, including As One, The Scarlet Ibis, Thumbprint, Peony Pavilion, Oresteia, Song from the Uproar & Breaking the Waves, JFK, and Little Nemo in Slumberland and has served as Conductor Mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. He has been a member of the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Upcoming productions include the US Stage Premiere of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo in Respighi’s realization, Don Pasquale, and Hydrogen Jukebox, all part of Chautauqua Opera’s 2017 season, where he is General and Artistic Director.



March 15, 2017                        Applications available on AOP site

April 28, 2017                          Applications portal closes

June 30, 2017                           Announcement of 2017-19 C&V Fellows

October 2017 – May 2018          Closed workshop sessions

May 2018                                Composers & the Voice: First Glimpse – concert reading of songs

September 2018                        Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes – concert reading of opera scenes

Fall 2018-2019                         AOP mentoring and opera development


Ricky Ian Gordon, David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Tobias Picker, Gene Scheer, Stephen Schwartz, Gregory Spears, and Royce Vavrek.


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