Composer and AOP Founding Board Member Richard Peaslee (1936-2016)

October 11, 2016
Composer Richard Peaslee

Composer Richard Peaslee

Composer and American Opera Projects founding board member Richard “Dick” Peaslee passed away on August 20 at his home in Seattle, WA at the age of 86, due to complications from MS. An award winning composer, Dick’s honors include The American Academy of Arts and Letters Marc Blitzstein Award, an Obie, a Villager Award, and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He earned degrees from Yale University and The Juilliard School, and his teachers included Nadia Boulanger and William Russo.

AOP premiered his opera Sir Gawain the Green Knight in October 2001 at TADA!, and has performed his songs on concert programs. Dick donated the piano AOP uses at its Fort Greene home base; because of his generosity thousands of people have enjoyed music at our South Oxford Space. On October 16th, there will be a celebration of his life in Seattle, and another in New York at a later date to be announced.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden writes, “Dick was a huge influence on me and others about the way AOP still operates, especially our workshopping process. Dick was an advocate for libretto development ahead of music being written and the work’s stage-worthiness being addressed by the creative team. I was lucky enough to visit Dick and Dixie in Seattle and was touched because of the enormous mutual respect and love, which lit up that couple’s life…two artists (Dixie is a painter) in an inspiring close relationship.”

Link to his obituary

Link to Ardea Arts production of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

AOP Photo Gallery: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2001 World Premiere:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight//

New Partnership to Give AOP Composers & Librettists Residency in Florida

June 8, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, FL and AOP have formed a partnership that will result in a six-week residency to be called Opera Genesis Fellowships. This newly created program allows for a composer and a librettist from AOP’s Composer & the Voice (C&V) training program to be invited to continue the development of a contemporary American opera at the Hermitage’s inspiring Gulf Coast campus. The first team will be selected in 2016.

“The Hermitage was created as a place for mid-career artists to come and work on new art,” explained Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director. “We have 10 acres of beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico and serve four to five invited artists of all disciplines at any one time. It’s a quiet, peaceful and inspiring setting. Many new operas have already been written and composed here. We know this new partnership with AOP’s C&V program will produce more exciting work that will eventually be enjoyed in opera venues throughout the country.”

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

Bass-baritone Matthew Worth works with composer Andreia Pinto- Correia during a 2013 C&V workshop in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky

American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists that provides experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage. This free training includes 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 Hermitage Artist Retreat ( nurtures creativity in mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, composers, translators, sculptors, and artists. Even before the partnership, the two organizations had many artists in common. Some of AOP’s artists who have been in residence at The Hermitage are Laura Kaminsky (As One), Mark Campbell (As One), Phil Kline (Out Cold), Lera Auerbach (The Blind), and Huang Ruo (Paradise Interrupted).

Our artists live and work in — and are inspired by — five "Old Florida" buildings that have been lovingly restored into living space and studio space. Fifteen miles of Gulf of Mexico beach .

The Hermitage Artist Retreat provides artists living and studio space in five “Old Florida” buildings along fifteen miles of Gulf of Mexico beach.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 44 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), and The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE 2015, Stefan Weisman).

The cast of the 2013 World Premiere of Paul's Case presented by Urban Arias. The opera began development during composer Gregory Spears' fellowship in AOP's Composers & the Voice program.

The cast of the 2013 World Premiere of Paul’s Case presented by Urban Arias. The opera began development during composer Gregory Spears’ fellowship in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

“AOP and C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood created the Composers & the Voice program with the vision of teaching to emerging composers & librettists the fundamentals of writing an opera,” stated AOP Producing Director Matt Gray. “We are thrilled that the partnership with The Hermitage Artists Retreat furthers that vision by providing a creative place for those artists to convert their knowledge into the operas themselves – operas that will become the core of a new, modern repertoire.”


Hermitage Contact: Lisa Rubinstein, or 941-373-3803

AOP Contact: Matt Gray, or 718 398-4024


April 24, 2014
C&V Fellows 2013-14



BROOKLYN, NY, April 24, 2014– On Sunday, May 18 and Monday, May 19, 2014 at 7:30pm AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS (AOP) will present COMPOSERS & THE VOICE: FIRST GLIMPSE 2014, the first public presentation of compositions developed during this season’s Composers & the Voice (C&V) program. Composer Daron Hagen hosts the concert of songs written by five emerging composers – Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz – and one composer/librettist team, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim, who were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works focusing on the operatic voice. The performances will be held at South Oxford Space in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the home of AOP. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students/seniors and are available at

Composer Daron Hagen (AmeliaA Woman in Morocco) will host the concert. In addition to seven months of workshop training sessions, the C&V fellows received one-on-one mentoring from Mr. Hagen, as well as esteemed composers Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, Stephen Schwartz and librettist Mark Campbell. Each of these distinguished artists review their fellow’s work, offer feedback, and participate in C&V discussions.

The AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers performing at First Glimpse are sopranos Deborah Lifton (Center for Contemporary Opera, Encompass New Opera Theatre, Joy In Singing Competition Winner) and Kristin Sampson (Best Female Performer Award- Mezzo Television Armel Opera Competition, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Santa Fe Opera), mezzo Rachel Calloway (Castleton Festival, Gotham Chamber Opera, PROTOTYPE), tenor Dominic Armstrong (New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago), baritone Jorell Williams (Caramoor International Music Festival, New York City Encores!, Opera Theatre of St. Louis), and bass-baritone Matthew Burns (Bard SummerScape, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera). Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks.

Created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood (and former Artistic Director of AOP), Composers & the Voice began in 2002 and is currently in its seventh season.American Opera Projects selects six composers for a year-long fellowship to work with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers for the nationally recognized workshop series, with additional training in acting, improv, and libretto study. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. Participants meet in closed sessions from September to April to present and discuss new works composed specifically for the individual voices of the Resident Ensemble.

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Composers & the Voice fellows are supported, in part, by funding from The Victor Herbert Foundation.

First Glimpse 2014 on May 18 and 19 will be the first public performances of compositions created during this year’s workshops. In September 2014, the Composers & the Voice fellows will return from a summer hiatus with Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes presented as part of AOP’s First Chance series. One of these scenes will be selected to receive a staged reading at Manhattan School of Music in Spring 2015 as part of their annual “New American Opera Previews, from Page to Stage”.



Composers & the Voice: First Glimpse 2014
World Premiere Songs from the 2013-14 Season of Composers & the Voice

COMPOSITIONS BY: Guy Barash, Avner Finberg, Jeremy Gill, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim
MUSIC DIRECTION: Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, Charity Wicks
PERFORMANCES BY: Deborah Lifton, Kristin Sampson, Rachel Calloway, Dominic Armstrong, Jorell Williams, Matthew Burns
HOSTED BY: Daron Hagen


Sunday, May 18 and Monday, May 19, 7:30 p.m. 
South Oxford Space
138 S. Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217

Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center
D, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue
Train: Long Island Railroad to Atlantic Terminal – Barclays Center
Bus: B25, B26, B45, B52, B63, all stop within three blocks of South Oxford Space

Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAM and Barclays Center

Tickets: $15 General Admission, $10 Students/Seniors
Tickets available at 

Complete information about Composers & the Voice and this year’s artists can be found at



Libby Larsen, Pat Diamond Join C&V Team For Upcoming Season

August 6, 2013

Composer Libby Larsen

AOP is excited to announce our seventh Artistic Chair of the C&V season will be composer Libby Larsen. Libby is one of America’s most performed living composers, and has composed over twelve operas. The world premiere of her opera, A Wrinkle in Time, will open at Fort Worth Opera in 2015. For several years she has been an Institute Faculty Member at the John Duffy Composers Institute. As an Artistic Chair, one of the C&V Fellows will get one-on-one training from Larsen over the course of the program.

Pat Diamond

Director Pat Diamond

Also joining the staff of the C&V program is Pat Diamond, who will serve as the acting instructor for this season. Diamond has been a director and participant in over twenty American and World premieres of both operas and plays. Diamond has worked with companies such as Wolf Trap and Aspen Music Festival, and currently teaches Acting at Manhattan School of Music and runs the Yale Summer Acting Conservatory.


Lee Hoiby, 1926-2011

March 30, 2011

“For me, composing music bears some likeness to archeology. It requires patient digging, searching for the treasure; the ability to distinguish between a treasure and the rock next to it and recognizing when you’re digging in the wrong place. The archeologist takes a soft brush and brushes away a half-teaspoon at a time. Musically, that would be a few notes, or a chord. Sometimes the brushing reveals an especially lovely thing, buried there for so long.”

Lee Hoiby, master of opera and song and longtime collaborator with American Opera Projects, died on March 28, 2011 at Montefiore Hospital in New York City, following a short illness.  Mr. Hoiby was 85.

Born on February 17, 1926 in Madison, Wisconsin, Hoiby was introduced to opera by legendary composer Gian Carlo Menotti, his teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music.  His musical catalog incorporated operas, oratorios, choral works, concerti, chamber works, song cycles, and more than 100 songs.  Hoiby’s first opera, The Scarf, was declared by Time Magazine and the Italian press as the Spoleto Festival’s first hit, and his setting of Tennesse Williams’s Summer and Smoke was championed as “the finest American opera to date.”  His last opera, a setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, awaits its world premiere.

In addition to being a longtime collaborator of AOP, Hoiby was also a longtime friend.  He served as a Composer Chair for two years on AOP’s Composers & the Voice series, and in 2006, AOP commissioned his setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush as part of the multimedia opera Darkling.  Another of Hoiby’s operatic works, This Is the Rill Speaking, had its first professional and orchestrated performances through AOP at SUNY Purchase and New York’s Symphony Space in April of 2008.  This Is the Rill Speaking was based on a play by Lanford Wilson, who died last week on Thursday, March 24th, just four days before Hoiby.

Rounding out AOP’s collaboration with Hoiby, AOP Artistic Partner Steven Osgood (Composers & the Voice) worked with the composer and conducted both A Month in the Country and Summer and Smoke with the Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater.  The latter was produced this past fall to celebrate the work’s 40th anniversary; both MSM productions were recorded by Albany Records, with the Summer and Smoke recording to be released later this year.  (To purchase A Month in the Country, click here.)

For more information regarding The Lee Hoiby Institute for American Music, please visit  A memorial service will held on a date to be announced later this spring.  Mr. Hoiby is survived by his partner Mark Shulgasser.

For the NYTimes obituary, please click here.
For the Schott Music tribute to Mr. Hoiby, please click here.

Composers & the Voice Returns to AOP!!!

March 4, 2011

Hear ye, hear ye, come one, come all!  Composers & the Voice returns to AOP this fall!

It’s true, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.

American Opera Projects is proud to announce the sixth season and reintroduction of our Composers & the Voice series, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  We will select 6 composers or composer/librettist teams for a year-long fellowship, working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team.  The primary focus of the series is to give composers and librettists extensive experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage.  Longtime Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood will lead the workshop series.

The 2011/12 series is being expanded to incorporate training for composers and librettists in acting, improv games, and libretto development.  Eight New Works Sessions will take place approximately every 4 weeks, and will focus on vocal writing.  An additional series of Skill Building Sessions will occur approximately every 2 weeks throughout the season.  There will be a total of 15 workshop sessions between September 2011 and April 2012.

AOP is encouraging applications from both composers working alone, and composer/librettist teams.  Composers and librettists applying jointly need not have prior collaborative projects.

Interested in applying?  Here’s what to do…

  • visit the C&V website, where you can pick up application materials
  • email us at with any additional questions
  • the application deadline is May 27, 2011

We hope to see you there!

Rainy Seattle Yields Yellow Earth

February 4, 2011

Aahh.  Wouldn’t we all like to be there in these arctic temperatures and endless blizzards.

In a recent, rainier setting, Huang Ruo’s (composer of upcoming AOP workshop The Song of the Sun) orchestral work The Yellow Earth (黃土地 — Huáng tǔdì in Chinese) was given its West Coast Premiere by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra on January 14th as part of their Celebrate Asia! Festival.  The title of the piece, which was performed to a sold-out crowd of 2,500 people, is a symbolic term that refers to the land of China since ancient times.  According to Dr. Ruo,

“The earth is the centre — its color yellow; its taste is sweet, and its aroma is that of perfume.  Mankind as the yellow race, the inhabitants of this world, stems from this equivalent.  Inspired by the meaning and symbolism of the 黃土地, the music in this work is sincere, earthy, yet also celebratory.”

The Yellow Earth was the winning entry in the first Celebrate Asia! Composition Competition, and is an excerpt from Ruo’s concerto The Color Yellow.  Featuring the Chinese sheng (played by Hu Jianbing in the Seattle Symphony concert) it treats the instrument like a traveler, who journeys on the land of the Yellow Earth.

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