Composer in Residence Program

Opera Philadelphia, in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group in New York, is proud to offer the nation’s first comprehensive, operatic Composer in Residence program. Funded by two grants totaling more than $1.7 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Composer in Residence (CIR) program provides a highly individualized professional development path for today’s most promising opera composers, selected on a competitive basis.  

The  program fosters tomorrow’s masterpieces of American opera through individualized creative development. The composers in the program are eager to step beyond his or her musical comfort zones, and challenge preconceived notions of what opera and music can be. They work zealously with the resident companies to take this timeless art form and infuse it with the technological, creative, and collaborative sensibilities most relevant to our time.

Lembit Beecher was appointed the first Composer in Residence in September 2011, completing a three-year term in 2014. Missy Mazzoli joined the program in September 2012, followed by Andrew Norman in September 2013.  David T. Little became the fourth Composer in Residence in June 2014. The composers take part in personalized learning tracks providing opportunities to cultivate their skills in all aspects of opera production, from working one-on-one with librettists and dramaturges, to workshops and scene treatments with world-class performers. They have exceptional access to observe and work hands-on in every aspect of creative development, production, and performance.

While there is no pre-determined creative output required, composers are encouraged to make best use of resources by focusing their residency around one or more musical works. The resulting works may be considered for performance by the collaborators.

LISTEN: What does opera sound like today? Opera Philadelphia Composers in Residence Lembit Beecher and Missy Mazzoli joined WHYY's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane on Nov. 1, 2013 to discuss the future of opera. They were joined by Montreal-based composer Ana Sokolovic in advance of the American premiere of her a cappella, chamber opera Svadba-Wedding at Opera Philadelphia.