OPERA America is pleased to announce the selections for the 2014 New Works Sampler at our annual conference in San Francisco:

Abandoned from the opera cycle Ghosts of Crosstown
Kamran Ince, composer
Jerre Dye, librettist
Submitted by Opera Memphis

'Another Sunrise' from the opera Out of Darkness: A Triptych of Holocaust Stories
Jake Heggie, composer
Gene Scheer, librettist
Submitted by Festival Opera

Breaking the Waves
Missy Mazzoli, composer
Royce Vavrek, librettist
Submitted by Opera Philadelphia

Frau Schindler
Thomas Morse, composer
Ken Cazan, librettist
Submitted by G. Schirmer Inc.

The Long Walk
Jeremy Howard Beck, composer
Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist
Submitted by American Lyric Theater

Past the Checkpoints
David Hanlon, composer
Joann Farias, librettist
Submitted by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco 

Works for consideration are submitted by Professional Company, Educational Producing Associate, Associate and Business Members of OPERA America. Selections for the New Works Sampler were made by an independent panel of adjudicators.


Abandoned from the opera cycle Ghosts of Crosstown will be premiered at the Midtown Opera Festival in Memphis, TN, in April 2014. These site-specific pieces center on the Sears Crosstown building — an exquisite Art Deco building which opened in Memphis in 1927. Sears Crosstown was a vibrant shopping center for more than 50 years, but it fell into disuse in 1993. Today, a group of dedicated residents are resurrecting this vacant space as a mixed-use “vertical urban village.” Opera Memphis will commission original compositions to perform in conjunction with this effort. Abandoned will be workshopped in summer 2013 for performance the following fall. This project speaks directly to the past, present and future of Memphis. At the same time, it reflects the larger challenges that face all urban communities as they work to revitalize once-prosperous neighborhoods. What’s more, the story of Sears Crosstown parallels the trajectory of American opera itself, which is poised for creative resurgence. Ghosts of Crosstown promises to be a timely and artistically adventurous contribution to the contemporary canon.

Another Sunrise was commissioned and premiered in 2012 by Music of Remembrance (Mina Miller, artistic director). Festival Opera is presenting the Bay Area premiere of Another Sunrise in combination with Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis (Der Kaiser von Atlantis) to explore Holocaust themes expressed through opera. Performances are April 26 and 28, 2014. April 28 is Holocaust Remembrance Day. There will also be a special performance of an excerpt of Another Sunrise as the San Francisco East Bay regional observance of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on April 27 at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA.

Opera Philadelphia has commissioned Missy Mazzoli, who is now in her second year as composer in residence, and librettist Royce Vavrek to write the chamber opera Breaking the Waves, based on the acclaimed 1996 film by Lars von Trier. Set in the Scottish Highlands in the 1970s, Breaking the Waves tells the story of Bess McNeill and her devotion to her new husband, Jan. An exploratory libretto workshop is planned for April 2014, with subsequent workshops in January and May 2015. The world premiere is scheduled for June 2016 in the Aurora Series at the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia.

Frau Schindler, the operatic treatment of the story of the long-forgotten Emilie Schindler, wife of the legendary Oskar, has been commissioned by the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich, Germany. The world premiere of the three-act opera will be in fall 2016 for the reopening of the newly renovated Gärtnerplatz Opera House. The composer is well-known film composer Thomas Morse and the libretto is by opera director Ken Cazan, who will also direct the premiere. The piece is being represented by G.Schirmer Inc. Currently seeking an American premiere.

The Long Walk was commissioned by American Lyric Theater (ALT) under the auspices of the company’s Composer Librettist Development Program in 2012. The opera is being written for a cast of seven adult singers and three children, with a chamber ensemble of 15 players. There is no chorus. ALT held its first developmental workshop for the opera in June 2013, and will hold a workshop of the complete score in June 2014. The world premiere is currently being scheduled for 2015, the details of which will be announced in summer 2014.

Past the Checkpoints premiered February 15, 2013, at Talento Bilingüe de Houston in Houston, TX, presented by HGOco and subsequently toured Southwest Texas. Houston Grand Opera premiered the world’s first Mariachi opera, Cruzar la cara de la luna, in 2010. The staged performances featured Mariachi Aztlan, an award-winning group from UTPA. The extraordinary leader of Mariachi Aztlan’s trumpet section, David Moreno, had only recently acquired his residency. He had come to Texas from Mexico when he was five, although he didn’t know he was illegal until he was 14. Before getting his residency, Moreno struggled to pursue his talent and ambition amidst the limitations of poverty and an undocumented life. When his story came to the attention of then-HGO General Director and CEO Anthony Freud and HGOco Director Sandra Bernhard, they decided to commission an opera inspired by his journey. They commissioned composer David Hanlon, who had worked closely with Moreno as music director of Cruzar la cara de la luna. After a lengthy search of Latino writers, the team found playwright Joann Farias to write the libretto. 

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