Opera Fusion: New Works was created in 2011 to foster the development of new American operas. It is funded by a generous $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which will allow for six residencies over three years. Each residency will provide the opportunity for a composer or composer/librettist team to develop a completed opera or a work in progress during a ten-day workshop, utilizing the combined resources of the CCM Opera program and Cincinnati Opera. The co-artistic directors of the program are Marcus Küchle, Director of Artistic Operations for Cincinnati Opera, and Robin Guarino, J. Ralph Corbett Chair of CCM Opera.
“We are so grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the funding to create this program,” said Patricia K. Beggs, General Director and CEO of Cincinnati Opera. “From our own experience with commissions, we have learned firsthand the invaluable insights and progress that can be achieved through the workshop process. We are excited to be able to foster that development through Opera Fusion: New Works.”
The goal of Opera Fusion: New Works is to provide an environment where the composer or composer/librettist team can focus on the development of their work. The residency environment is designed to be both inspiring and collaborative in order to encourage exploration, innovation and artistic growth. The chosen composer or composer/librettist team receives an honorarium, round-trip transportation and accommodations for the duration of the workshop.
The creation of the Opera Fusion: New Works program was announced in May 2011, with applications accepted through August 15. Applications were open to American composers and composer/librettist teams of proven merit, with no age restrictions. Eligibility was restricted to operatic works, either completed or in progress, which had not yet received a professional premiere.
Doubt, composed by Douglas J. Cuomo and featuring a libretto by John Patrick Shanley, was chosen from more than 50 applications. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Shanley, Doubt is a commission of Minnesota Opera and is scheduled for a premiere there in spring 2013. Opera Fusion: New Works will provide the first workshop for the piece.
“It was very important to us to choose a team with a strong track record, and we’ve definitely found that with Doubt,” said Robin Guarino, co-artistic director of Opera Fusion: New Works. “I directed the premiere of Doug’s opera Arjuna’s Dilemma, so I was already familiar with his talent. It goes without saying that the play is amazing source material, and it’s a huge asset to have the playwright himself translating the piece for the opera stage.”
“The chance to workshop a piece that is scheduled for a professional premiere is an excellent and rare opportunity, allowing the program to provide a valuable service in the life cycle of the work,” said Marcus Küchle, co-artistic director of the program. “We will be able to see the efforts of Opera Fusion: New Works come to fruition very quickly.”
“I am looking forward to collaborating with the staff at Cincinnati Opera and the students and faculty at CCM during the upcoming Opera Fusion: New Works workshop,” said composer Douglas J. Cuomo. “John Patrick Shanley and I are at a critical juncture in developing and creating Doubt, and are excited about the possibilities and grateful for the resources that are being extended to us during the workshop.”
The composer and librettist of Doubt will be in residence in Cincinnati from November 3 to 13, 2011 to develop the work in progress. Guarino, who cast the work with CCM Opera students, will direct the workshop, and Gary Wedow will conduct. Wedow has recently conducted works for Seattle Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera and Florida Grand Opera.
“This will be a tremendous opportunity for the talented students in CCM’s nationally-ranked opera program,” said Peter Landgren, Dean of CCM and Thomas James Kelly Professor of Music. “Creative collaborations of this kind are the lifeblood of our institutions and our art forms. Under the guidance of Opera Fusion: New Works’ co-artistic directors, our students will grow a great deal as they work directly with Cuomo and Shanley to help breathe life into their new opera creation.”
The residency will culminate in two free public performances of the work in progress. At 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, a performance will be held at CCM’s Patricia Corbett Theater (please note: this performance was previously scheduled for Robert J. Werner Recital Hall, but the venue has changed to PCT). Admission to this performance is free, but reservations are required. Tickets are available Monday, November 7 at noon. Please contact the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.
On Sunday, Nov. 13, an afternoon performance will be held in the state-of-the-art George and Ellen Rieveschl Digitorium at Northern Kentucky University’s Griffin Hall, followed by a reception with the composer and librettist. Admission to this performance is free, but reservations are required. Tickets are available Monday, Nov. 7 at 9:30 a.m. Please contact the Cincinnati Opera Box Office at 513-241-2742 to reserve. Limit two tickets per order.
Opera Fusion: New Works will continue to offer residencies through 2014. The program will begin accepting applications in spring 2012 for the residencies to be held in October and November 2012.
The opera Doubt is based on the play Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley, which won both the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play. In 2008, Shanley wrote and directed the motion picture adaptation of Doubt, starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Shanley. Set in 1964 at a Catholic elementary school in the Bronx, the action pits a nun against a popular priest over allegations of sexual abuse.
About Doubt’s Creative Team
Composer Douglas J. Cuomo has written works for concert and theatrical stages, television, and film, including the theme music for HBO’s Sex and the City. His highly acclaimed chamber opera Arjuna’s Dilemma was produced by Music-Theatre Group and premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in 2008, with Robin Guarino directing.
John Patrick Shanley is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and director. The author of more than 20 plays and 10 screenplays, he won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Moonstruck (1988). Doubt marks his first commission as an opera librettist.
Opera Fusion: New Works is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation