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."

-Leigh Holman

CU NOW Productions

2019:  Hobson's Choice   Tom Cipullo
2018:  If I Were You  Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer
2017:  The Gospel of Mary Magdalene  Mark Adamo
2016:  It's a Wonderful Life  Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer
2015:  A Song for Susan Smith  Zachary Redler and Mark Campbell
2014:  The Master  Alberto Caruso and Colm Toibin
2013:  Ludlow  Lori Laitman and Dave Mason
2012:  A Wrinkle in Time  Libby Larsen
2011:  Pride and Prejudice  Kirke Mechem
            Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead the Opera  Herschel Garfein
2010:  Autumn Orchard  Daniel Kellogg
            Sister Carrie  Robert Aldrige and Herschel Garfein

Composer Fellows' Initiative Productions

2019: The Big House  Brian Lambert
           The Silent Veil  Margaret R. Friesen
           TBD  Dianna Link
           A Dungeons & Dragons Experience  Robert Alexander
2018:  The High Line  Elena Specht
            Adam and Eve Walk Into a Bar  John Boggs
            Le Phare  Max Wolpert
            Love Finds a Way  Margaret Friesen
2017:  Dust to Dirt  Elena Specht
            Triage   John Clay Allen
            The Reach   Kevin Michael Olson
            Dame Not Lady   Selena Wellington
2016:  Steel Altar  Selena Wellington
            A Good Man   Kevin Olson
            The Pansophony Codex   Adrian Patrick Cook
            Element 88   Trevor Villwock
2015:  Murder Scene   Katie D. Mueller
            Behrouz, An Untold Story   Egemen Kesikli
            Opera Scene   Ryan Dakota Farris
            Dreams of Stonewall   Daniel Cox
2014:  A Doll's House  Rachel Sherwood
            The Insult Duel  Ryan T. Connell
            Seven Against Thebes   Trevor Willcock
            Vicious Little Games   Daniel Cox

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