CU New Opera Works
and the Composer Fellows’ Initiative
"When I was working as the education and outreach Director and head of the young artist program at Opera Colorado, Opera Colorado and Central City Opera were the hosts for the OPERA America conference. There, we presented the “New Works Sampler,” where established composers and librettists were highlighted. I was asked to stage the scenes from Elmer Gantry and John Brown, among others.
At that time, the young artists in the program were so thrilled for the opportunity to work on new operas, and with such acclaimed creators of those works, I couldn’t help but be inspired by their passion. I personally received such an artistic charge being part of the experience that I started to consider devising a new program simply for workshopping brand new opera.
Very soon after, I was hired by University of Colorado Boulder as the Director of Opera at the College of Music. It was then that my friend and wonderful composer/librettist Herschel Garfein and I decided to embark on an exciting journey.
That first summer, CU NOW was born as a way for composers and librettists to get their work on its feet in a developmental stage. I invited Herschel Garfein and Robert Aldridge to workshop their new piece Sister Carrie, which eventually premiered at Florentine Opera. In subsequent years. We’ve hosted composers such as Libby Larsen, Lori Laitman, Zach Redler, Jake Heggie and Mark Adamo and librettists such as Colm Tobin, Mark Campbell, Dave Mason and Gene Scheer.
Thanks to the growth and success of the program in the last ten years, Patrick Mason, Dan Kellogg and I started the Composer Fellows’ Initiative. In this area of the program, student composers create short operas directed by University of Colorado Boulder theater director, Bud Coleman. These short works are then premiered by professional musicians, assisted by a production team, and recorded for future use.
It’s been a pleasure to see our voice and composition students get excited about new American opera and develop skills that will prepare them for the emerging new-work market."