Artistic Initiatives

Composer In Residence

Opera Philadelphia, in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group in New York, is proud to announce the nation’s first comprehensive, collaborative operatic Composer In Residence (CIR) program. Funded over five years by a $1.4 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CIR program will provide a highly individualized professional development path for two of today’s most promising opera composers, selected on a competitive basis during 2011 and 2012. The goal of the CIR is to foster tomorrow’s American operatic masterpieces through personalized creative development and intensive, hands-on composition opportunities. Learn more.

American Repertoire Program

Opera Philadelphia is committed to being a leader in the creation and life of new American opera. In 2011, Opera Philadelphia launched the American Repertoire Program, a commitment to produce an American work in each season for the next ten years.   In tandem with the 2011 launch of the nation’s first collaborative Composer In Residence Program, the American Repertoire Program is aimed at fostering a new generation of opera composers and telling authentically American stories.

The first opera in the series is Dark Sisters, performed as part of the Aurora Series at the Perelman Theaterin June 2012. A new opera with music by Nico Muhly and a libretto by Stephen Karam, Dark Sisters is the story of a woman’s struggle to break away from a polygamist marriage, and was co-commissioned with New York's Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group.  The November 2011 New York premiere was hailed by the Associated Press, which called it, “An intriguing new opera… Muhly and Karam seem to have succeeded where many new operas fail.”  Dark Sisters is the anchor performance for the 2012 OPERA America Conference in Philadelphia.

In August 2011, the company announced two new co-commissions with The Santa Fe Opera. The first commission, Oscar, based on the life of Oscar Wilde, is composed by Theodore Morrison, Professor of Music Emeritus at the University of Michigan, with a libretto by the composer and John Cox. The opera will be performed in February 2015 at the Academy of Music as part of Opera Philadelphia's 40th Anniversary Season, following its 2013 world premiere at The Santa Fe Opera.  

A second commission is by the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner in music, Jennifer Higdon.  She will write an opera based on the bestselling novel Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, with a libretto by Gene Scheer, which will premiere in Santa Fe in 2015 before making its February 2016 East Coast Premiere at the Academy of Music.  Both are first operas for the composers.

Subsequent works may be performed at either the Academy of Music or as part of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater. Opera Philadelphia will continue to research composers and librettists that fit with its repertoire, commissioning, and casting goals.

For more information on the American Repertoire Program, contact us.

If you are interested in supporting the American Repertoire Program with a gift, please contact us here.

Chamber Opera Symposium

Opera Philadelphia is grateful to the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative for providing funding for the first annual Chamber Opera Symposium (COS) in June 2011. This three-day, by-invitation conference will bring together leading producers and commissioners of chamber opera from the U.S., Canada and Europe for an in-depth, facilitated discussion of the future of this unique, intimately-scaled genre. This year's Chamber Opera Symposium is scheduled to coincide with the company's Aurora Series at the Perelman production of Phaedra, which marks the U.S. Premiere of this work by renowned German composer Hans Werner Henze. The 2012 COS will convene around the premiere of Nico Muhly's Dark Sisters, a new co-commission with New York's Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group. Questions about the Chamber Opera Symposium? Contact us

Opera Philadelphia Production Center

Established in the 1993-94 season with the construction of The Magic Flute, the talented artists and craftsmen at Opera Philadelpjhia's Production Center have built over 36 original, full-scale productions, including scenery and costumes which have subsequently been rented by prominent opera companies and conservatories all over the United States and Canada. Interested in renting a set for your upcoming opera? Learn more or contact us.