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Ohio’s Cincinnati Opera Receives a $1.3 Million Grant for Commission of New Operas

 

The Cincinnati Opera will be producing three new operas by composers and librettists of color — the first of which will premiere during the company’s 2025 Summer Festival. 

The productions will be based around racially and ethnically diverse characters and narratives, with a focus on Black stories. The first of the three will be a grand opera for full cast and orchestra.

The second and third of the new works will premiere during Cincinnati Opera's 2026 and 2027 concert seasons, respectively — with more information to come.

The company is currently searching for creators of the operas. “We've had several exploratory conversations and are also initiating a nationwide call for writers and composers of color to submit ideas for consideration,” expressed Evans Mirageas, Cincinnati Opera’s Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director.

Inquiries may be submitted to [email protected].

Received by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Mellon Foundation), the $1.3 million gift will not only fund the new opera commissions but also contribute $500,000 for the continuing of “Opera Fusion: New Works” — a program developed by Cincinnati Opera and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music to support the progress of new operas.

Based in New York City, the Mellon Foundation is a private foundation and one of the largest supporters of the arts and humanities sector in the U.S.

“We are deeply grateful to the [Mellon Foundation] for this investment in the future of our art form,” said Mirageas in the press release. “Our industry is experiencing an urgent need to expand the narratives presented on our stages,” he continued. “Through conversations with our artistic partners and community members, we've learned that there is a particular need for new operas that center on positive Black stories. We're thrilled to be able to provide the creative space for these inspiring voices to be heard.”

“Back in 2019, while I was singing with Cincinnati Opera in Porgy and Bess, my fellow cast members and I were invited into a conversation with the company's leadership about our hopes for opera's future,” said Morris Robinson, Cincinnati Opera’s artistic advisor.

“We asked, ‘What would it take to develop more grand operas about Black people, written by Black people, that are positive and uplifting?’ It felt like a huge artistic opportunity. I'm excited about this new initiative because of what it means for people of color who'll get to see their joys and possibilities represented on the opera stage.”

This initiative is a continuation of the company’s aim in creating programs reflecting the diversity of society. Their 2022 Summer Festival will involve two world-premiere operas from Black composers on Black characters — Castor and Patience by Gregory Spears and librettist Tracy K. Smith, and Fierce by William Menefield and librettist Sheila Williams.


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