Press Room


Opera Company of Philadelphia, in Collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group, Announces First Collaborative U.S. Operatic Composer In Residence Program


Philadelphia, PA: The Opera Company of 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 program. Funded over five years by a $1.4 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Composer In Residence (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 program is to foster tomorrow’s American operatic masterpieces through personalized creative development and intensive, hands-on composition opportunities.

“The Composer In Residence program marks an exciting landmark investment in the future of American opera,” shared Opera Company of Philadelphia General Director David B. Devan. “There are currently very few places where a developing composer can go to hone his or her compositional voice and learn the crucial skills required to produce authentic new work that has a likelihood of becoming a part of the operatic repertoire. The hope that we share with our partners and with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is that by delving into what composers really need to develop their craft, we will be helping to create future generations of great American opera composers.”

The Opera Company of Philadelphia is partnering with two New York companies: Gotham Chamber Opera, which specializes in innovative productions of intimately-scaled, rarely-performed works, and Music-Theatre Group, well known for their development of new works. Together, this triumvirate is already working on the co-commission and co-production of Dark Sisters, a new opera with music by Nico Muhly and a libretto by Stephen Karam. The opera is currently in development, with a New York World Premiere in November 2011 and a Philadelphia Premiere in June 2012.

“This partnership between our three companies will immediately expand the chosen composer’s access to different scales and types of compositional activity,” shared Gotham Chamber Opera Executive Director David Bennett. “Together, we can better form a robust network of resources, both artistically and from an industry connection standpoint, to support the composer’s artistic growth.”

Music-Theatre Group Producing Director Diane Wondisford added, “To create a compelling opera requires a wide array of musical talents and dramaturgical skills, and a collaborative gene that includes work with a writer, director, and designers to complete the creative process. Our plan is to connect composers with peers, mentors, and producers, who – through hands on experience – can help them hone their skills and enter the field as viable composers of opera.”

Though the focus is on emerging composers who see opera as a significant component of their future artistic journey, mid-career composers who are seeking to redirect their creative work into opera are invited to apply. The chosen candidate will embark on a three year personalized track providing opportunities to cultivate his/her 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. The CIR will 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.

The CIR program will be administered by Kyle Bartlett, the newly appointed New Works Administrator at the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Round One applications are due by April 22nd, after which a selection of applicants will be chosen to submit additional work for Round Two. This award includes a yearly salary of $60,000 and benefits. The first composer’s term will begin September 2011. In 2012, an additional composer will be chosen to begin a three year track.

Eligibility Requirements

The chosen composer:

  • Must be a US citizen based in the United States
  • Must not be enrolled or designated ABD in a degree-granting program at time of residency
  • Must be in residence in Philadelphia and New York for a minimum of four to six weeks, twice per year (housing and travel expenses provided)
  • Will participate in monthly meetings with senior executive and artistic staff
  • Will participate in youth and audience development programs across a variety of media

DEADLINE FOR ROUND ONE is 5:00 pm Eastern time, April 22, 2011. Inquiries about the program should be directed to