OPERA America and Opera.ca recently announced the recipients of the 2005-06 Audience Development Awards from The Opera Fund and the Canadian Opera Creation Program. These cash grants are given in support of the creation and presentation of new opera and musical-theater. This year’s financial support totals $241,000 and was awarded to 14 opera companies in the US and Canada from a total of 26 applicants. Some of the award-winning recipients incorporated jazz, South Indian, and Native American influences into their proposals. Creative teams for these various projects span established operatic composers, film composers, jazz and rock musicians as well as leading poets and playwrights.
Award-winning recipients include the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for a workshop of Kirke Mechem’s John Brown that will be a collaborative effort with the universities for Kansas and Missouri as well as singers from area African-American Churches. Other winners include the Opera Theater of Pittsburg’s production of Matthew Rosenblum’s Red Dust, which will incorporate video and interactive features, and Toronto’s Tapestry New Opera Works where five chosen composer/librettist teams will each develop a 15-minute opera. A complete list of winners appears below.
Applications are first viewed by panelists from both Canada and the United States, and are judged on the quality of the project concept, artistic merit, and the strength of any institutional partnerships, as well as the resources of the company and their ability to fully evaluate the project. Two national panels evaluate the finalists. The first panel comes from Opera.ca and, this year, included composers Marie Pelletier and Randolph Peters, stage director Tom Diamond, and singer Wendy Nielsen. The second panel, representing the U.S., included stage director Christopher Alden, artistic consultant Susan Ashbaker, librettist Mark Campbell, and the American Music Center’s executive director Joanne Cossa.
The Opera Fund launched in 2001 with support from The National Endowment of the Arts, as well as funding from foundations such as The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, and Lee Day Gillespie, among others. Last year’s recipients included the San Francisco Opera’s premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, Michigan Opera Theatre’s production of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner, Houston Grand Opera’s premiere of Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair, and the first fully-staged production of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, premiered at The Santa Fe Opera.
Guidelines for The Opera Fund‘s 2006-07 Audience Development Awards will be available in July 2006.