Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Seattle Opera presents Creation Lab

Sean Airhart photo

Seattle Opera cultivates musical storytelling in Washington State; Creation Lab brings diverse new stories to opera 

Seattle Opera is announcing a new initiative to help cultivate and develop the next generation of opera composers and librettists in Washington State. Creation Lab seeks 16 emerging composers and writers of all genres to give way to the creation of short operatic pieces, which will be performed during the 2020/21 Season.

General Director Christina Scheppelmann says new operas are crucial to amplifying Seattle Opera’s impact locally and nationally.

“Creation Lab will help to bring diverse stories and perspectives to our art form, and to the operatic repertoire at large,” Scheppelmann said. “We’re looking for young musical artists in our region who want to gain experience in creating compelling, resonant narratives told through music and singing. A specific opera background is not required.”

Seattle Opera is committed to racial equity, and Black, Indigenous and other People of Color are encouraged to apply to the new program. Selected participants will develop an opera that’s a maximum of 20 minutes, to be presented in a concert format at the Opera Center in 2021. Each piece will undergo a development process that includes a table reading, music workshop, and rehearsal prior to the public performance. The creative teams will receive support from professional composers and librettists as they develop their work. Review panelists for applications include Seattle Opera Artistic staff, Jennifer Zeyl (Artistic Director, Intiman Theater), Kathy Hsieh (actor/writer/director), Stephen Newby (Professor of Music at Seattle Pacific University/composer/conductor), and Orlando G. Morales (musician/educator/songwriter). 

Creation Lab mentors this year include Aishé Keita, a “must-see artist” (Seattle Magazine) who’s performed all over the U.S., and has been recognized for her work in Danai Gurira’s Familiar, presented at Seattle Repertory Theater and The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Additional mentors include Jerre Dye (librettist) and Zach Redler (composer)—team behind The Falling and the Rising (’19), described as “true and powerful” (The Seattle Times), and Kamala Sankaram (composer). Praised as “strikingly original” (The New York Times), Sankaram has received commissions from Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Opera Memphis. Finally, Tazewell Thompson (librettist and stage director) joins this year’s team of mentors. Thompson previously spoke on Seattle Opera’s 2018 racial justice panel Breaking Glass, and wrote the libretto for Blue—a story of love, loss, and resilience of a Black American family.

To apply and learn more about Creation Lab, go to seattleopera.org/creationlab.

Tazewell Thompson, left, joins this year’s Creative Lab mentors. A librettist and stage director in opera, Thompson previously spoke on Seattle Opera’s 2018 racial justice panel Breaking Glass (pictured here with Seattle Opera Scholar in Residence, Naomi André). Ariana Buck photo

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