John de los Santos wrote the libretto for <em>When Adonis Calls</em>

Frontiers 2015 Selected

The Fort Worth Opera has chosen works for the 2015 Frontiers workshop, which includes one title by a local librettist.

published Monday, December 1, 2014

Photo: Susan Wilson
Scott Wheeler, composer and librettist of Song for Frederick

Fort Worth — The works in the Fort Worth Opera's third annual Frontiers workshop have been selected, and they feature eight pieces in development by national composers and librettists, including local director, choreographer and now librettist, John de los Santos, who directed Fort Worth Opera's 2014 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers. The Texas Christian University grad has written the libettro to an opera called When Adonis Calls, to music by Clint Borzoni.

The works chosen for 2015 feature themes including drug trafficking, murder, love and friendship, and shame and self-isolation.

Frontiers began in 2013 as part of the Fort Worth Opera Festival, and is a chance for composers and liberettists to showcase up to 20 minutes of a new opera in the works.

Below is the complete lineup and more about the artists, with info on performances, from the Fort Worth Opera news release:

Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) announced today the names of the eight composer and librettist teams whose unpublished works have been selected for the company’s third annual, critically-acclaimed new works series, Frontiers. Held during the final week of the 2015 FWOpera Festival, these selected pieces will be presented in two separate showcases of four works each on Thursday, May 7 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., and Friday, May 8 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., in the intimate Kahn auditorium of the Kimbell Art Museum. Featuring 20-minute excerpts of each selected piece, these brand-new operas will be sung by artists from the 2015 FWOpera Festival with piano accompaniment. Tickets for the showcases are $10 each, and can be ordered by calling FWOpera’s Customer Service team at 877-396-7372.

Now entering its third season, Frontiers continues on its mission of seeking out works for future production in FWOpera's alternative venue series Opera Unbound. The program includes a distinguished panel of collaborative partners who will play a critical role in the long-term development of the Frontiers works beyond the Festival showcase, (panel members listed below), and all selected composer and librettist teams will take part in one-on-one, closed feedback sessions with the panelists during the workshop to help them strengthen and develop their pieces.

In announcing this year’s Frontiers participants, Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods, chair of the Frontiers panel, stated, “In only two years, Frontiers has exceeded our greatest expectations of seeking out the finest up-and-coming composers and helping to foster their works. Selections from the first two Frontiers seasons have gone on to additional workshops where they continue to be fine tuned while others have received their professional debuts at prestigious companies in the U.S. This is an exciting time for opera, and we’re looking forward to bringing eight new, gripping works to our audiences, while also helping their creators find subsequent homes for these extraordinary pieces.”

FWOpera Director of Artistic Administration and Frontiers Curator Nathan DePoint, commented on the newly expanded program, saying, “The quality of submissions for this year’sFrontiers showcase was truly impressive, and our panelists have selected eight exceptionally worthy works. There is a high level of excitement from both the panelists and creative teams as we move these pieces down the continuum of creative development.”

Synopses of each opera (in alphabetical order by composers’ last names), and brief biographies of the composers and librettists follow below.



And Jill Came Tumbling After, written by composer Charles Halka and librettist John Grimmett, was inspired by the idea of hikkomori – a phenomenon which describes adolescents and adults (particularly Japanese men) who isolate themselves in their rooms for years at a time, usually as a result of feelings of failure or shame.

Based on Vikram Seth’s best-selling novel-in-verse, The Golden Gate is composed by Conrad Cummings. Five twenty-somethings experience love, life and loss in the magical and innocent San Francisco of the early 1980’s. Couples come apart and form, families are created, and friendships are severed.

Composer Frank Ferko and librettist Sally Gall present their opera, The Hill – a consolatory work for an era when youth is cut off in its prime - dealing with the issues of love, grief, and death.

La Reina, by composer Jorge Sosa and librettist Laura Sosa, delves into the life of a drug trafficker from Mexico, Regina Malverde. Seen mostly through flashback sequences, the life and choices of Regina are revealed as she contemplates “death with dignity.”

In A Song for Susan Smith, composed by Zach Redler and librettist Mark Campbell retell the true story of Susan Smith; a woman who went on television in 1994 to plea for the return of her two sons whom she claimed had been abducted by an African-American man. Nine days later, she revealed a dark secret.

Composer and librettist Scott Wheeler wrote Sorrows of Frederick – the story centers around a king and how his admiration of Voltaire can quickly turn to contempt.

Exploring the realm of love and a commitment to religion – specifically a devotion to Buddhism, composer P.Q. Phan presents The Tale of Lady Thị Kinh.

When Adonis Calls, written by composer Clint Borzoni and librettist John de los Santos, chronicles the tumultuous correspondence between an established writer and an eager young admirer.

Frontiers composers will be in residence at the Festival from May 7 – 8, 2015. Post-performance discussions and open rehearsals will be part of the showcase.

John de los Santos wrote the libretto for When Adonis Calls



Charles Halka, composer of AND JILL CAME TUMBLING AFTER
Charles Halka writes music for concert, dance, and opera. His works have been performed in North America, Europe, and Hong Kong by such groups as the Mexican National Symphony, counter)induction (New York), Volti (San Francisco), ÓNIX (Mexico), PRO ARTE eNsemble (Russia), Aquarius (Belgium), Duplum Dúo (Mexico), and Jauna Muzika (Lithuania), and at such venues as the ISCM World Music Days, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, Saint Petersburg International New Music Festival, and the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress. As a Fulbright grantee, he spent a year in Lithuania writing an opera, Julius, which premiered in 2010. Charles is Composer+Intern at Musiqa, Houston’s critically acclaimed new-music organization, and has been Artist in Residence at the Foundation for Modern Music (Houston). In addition, he completed residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the M.K. Sarbievijaus Cultural Center in Kražiai, Lithuania, where he wrote And Jill Came Tumbling After, with a libretto by John Grimmett, for the Baltic Chamber Opera Theater.Imaginary Spaces, his dance and percussion project with Frame Dance Productions was awarded support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. Charles earned degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and Rice University and teaches composition and theory at Stephen F. Austin State University.

John Grimmett, librettist of AND JILL CAME TUMBLING AFTER
John Grimmett is a composer and author of plays, musicals, opera and poetry. His work has been produced and performed by the Washington National Opera, the Baltic Chamber Opera Theater (Lithuania), and the Tisch School of the Arts, among others. A graduate of the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston and the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University, he was the recipient of the Max Dreyfus Scholarship (2012) in recognition of his talent as a musical theatre composer and participated in the inaugural ASCAP Foundation Marvin Hamlisch Broadway Conductors Program. Currently, he is the Managing Director of CMASH, a new music repertory group dedicated to establishing long-term collaborative relationships between composers and performers. He is a member and advocate of the Dramatists Guild and ASCAP.

Conrad Cummings, librettist/composer of THE GOLDEN GATE
A versatile composer on the faculty of the Juilliard School Evening Division, Conrad Cummings writes operas, instrumental music, and music for amplified instruments and voices. His work is heard in venues from Carnegie Hall and BAM to alternative clubs (le) Poisson Rouge and The Knitting Factory. Opera productions range from the three-act, large-forces exploration of the Vietnam War Tonkin, commissioned and premiered by Opera Delaware, to a three-week Off-Broadway run of the electoral campaign opera Photo-Op by Ridge Theater at New York’s legendary La Mama ETC. Positions 1956, a self-help opera with Tony-nominated librettist Michael Korie, was commissioned and premiered by Washington DC’s UrbanArias in 2012. Thoroughfare, a theatrical song cycle with Pulitzer-winning librettist Mark Campbell, written for Met Opera tenor Keith Jameson, was premiered at the National Opera Center in 2014 and will appear on Jameson’s debut CD. At the Window, commissioned by the Paul Dresher Electro-Acoustic Ensemble and “avant-diva” Amy X Neuburg receives its premiere at Cal Performances in December. Honors include selection of The Golden Gate as one of Opera News Magazine’s “Best New Operas of the 21st Century,” fellowships to the MacDowell and Djerassi Foundations, and grants from the NEA, Opera America, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Frank Ferko, composer of THE HILL
Frank Ferko is an established composer of choral and vocal solo music. His Stabat Mater for soprano solo and mixed chorus, which was, in part, a collaborative effort with Sally Gall, was described by the Chicago Tribune as “…a remarkable achievement… music of uncommon eloquence…” His vocal solo works have been performed by artists such as Sylvia McNair and Robert Orth, and in 2008 the world premiere of his Merton Songs was given by Nathan and Julie Gunn at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Ferko’s theatre credits have included working as pianist for community theatre productions in the Chicago area and later creating and performing fully improvised incidental music for the play, Red Death, at Chicago’s Bailiwick Directors’ Festival (recipient of “Best of the Festival” award). His excursions into the opera world include three “Ten-Minute Operas” and the one-act opera, titled The Hill, which was his first of three collaborations with Sally Gall. Numerous awards include seven from the Illinois Arts Council and multiple awards from ASCAP. He received music performance and theory degrees from Valparaiso University and Syracuse University, respectively, and a D.M. in composition from Northwestern University. 

Sally M. Gall, Ph.D, librettist of THE HILL
Sally M. Gall, Ph.D, is a poet, critic, and scholar who has written texts for a wide range of music drama. Besides collaborating with Frank Ferko on The Hill, Dr. Gall has provided him with shorter texts. She has also collaborated with and had chamber opera and other productions with composers Libby Larsen, Simon Sargon, Paul Stuart, Philip Hagemann (NOA award for Paris and Oenone), Charles Mason, and Sondra Clark. Dr. Gall also worked with composer Michael Cook and lyricist Eben Keyes on the musical The Lysistrata Affair (1995 Equity Showcase in NYC). Dr. Gall is an expert on versification and poetic dynamics with degrees in English from Harvard (B.A.) and New York University (M.A., Ph.D.). She taught for several years in the graduate poetics concentration at NYU and has published widely. She is the recipient of a number of creative and scholarly awards, including NYU’s Key Pin and Scroll Award, the Explicator Literary Foundation Award, and the National Opera Association Chamber Opera Award (for Paris and Oenone with Hagemann). She has served as an advisory director of San Diego Opera, as a board member of the National Opera Association, and as vice president of Opera for Youth.

Jorge Sosa, composer of LA REINA
Jorge Sosa is a Mexican-born composer currently residing in New York. Jorge received a Doctor in Musical Arts degree from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. In 2014 Jorge’s works Enchantment and Stray Birds were premiered at the Difrazzione festival in Florence. Jorge’s operatic setting of Man Ray’s film L’Etoile de Mer was premiered in Kansas City by the Black House Collective, receiving critical acclaim. Jorge’s first full-length opera, La Reina was recently commissioned by the American Lyric Theater and was performed in a concert version during ALT’s “Insight Festival” in 2013. In 2013, Jorge was the Composer in Residence with the NYU New Music Ensemble collaborating in improvisatory works with live electronics. Jorge’s Psalm of David was premiered in 2013 by acclaimed clarinetist David Krakauer and pianist Kathy Tagg at The Stone in New York City. In 2012, Jorge was commissioned to write his Song of the Last Crossing, which was included in the Opera America Songbook. His Trés Sonetos de Quevedo for soprano and guitar quartet were recently released by the Cuarteto de Guitarras de la Ciudad de México in their CD “A 5”. Jorge’s Refraction I was included in the CD “Quirk” by clarinetist Mauricio Salguero. Jorge’s CD’s “Plastic Time” and “Enceladus” are available on all the major music download sites and through the website Jorge is currently Assistant Professor of music at Molloy College in Long Island.

Laura Sosa, librettist of LA REINA
Laura Sosa is a Mexican screenwriter and television writer.  She is co-writer of En el país de no pasa nada, Mexican film that was awarded in 2000 as best movie, by the OCIC jury in Guadalajara’s Film Festival. She has participated in many television shows as co- writer: Todo por amor (TV Azteca-Argos, 2000);  Momento de decision (Series. TV Azteca-Argos 1999); Ladrón de corazones (Telemundo-Argos, 2003);  Corazón partido (Telemundo-Argos, 2005); Zapata, amor en rebeldía (Telemundo-Argos, 2006); Mientras haya vida (Azteca-Argos, 2007); Vivir sin ti (TV Azteca-Argos, 2008);  Secretos del alma (TV Azteca, 2009); Las Aparicio (Cadena Tres-Argos, 2010); El sexo débil (Cadena Tres-Argos 2011). She was head writer of Gitanas (soap opera awarded by the international FyMT as best adaptation), and story producer of the first season of Capadocia (HBO-Argos), which was nominated for best drama series in 2009 at the International Emmy Awards. She is the author of several chapters of Capadocia on the first and second seasons. Laura has been commissioned as librettist for the opera La Reina by the American Lyric Theater. La Reina was performed in a piano workshop as part of ALT’S “Insight Festival” in 2013.

Zach Redler, composer of A SONG FOR SUSAN SMITH
Zach Redler is an award-winning composer, pianist, and copyist. Zach's music has been performed at Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, National Opera Center, Joe's Pub and concert halls around the world and has been critically acclaimed by the New York Times, Variety and the Boston Globe. Ben Brantley of the New York Times said, Zach’s music “follows the patterns of minds grasping, often in vain, for clarity, conviction and lost time…it transcends the expected and achieves a haunting originality." Zach spent 2011-13 in residence as a Van Lier fellow at American Opera Projects as part of their Composers and the Voice Program. For his work in music theatre with Sara Cooper, the American Theatre Wing awarded them with the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant. Upcoming/recent productions: Movin' Up In The World (University of Missouri; Opera Memphis); Susan Smith (Ft. Worth Opera (Frontiers); Virginia Arts Festival); The Memory Show (Duke Theatre 2013); Windows (Opera Memphis 2013; AOP 2013); Male Identity (NYU 2013; AOP 2012); Loving Leo (Weston Playhouse 2013). He is a member of ASCAP, Local 802 and a graduate of the Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Mark Campbell, librettist of A SONG FOR SUSAN SMITH
Mark Campbell is one of the most in-demand librettists in contemporary opera, profiled in Opera News as an artist " become a major force in opera in the coming decade.” Marks most known work is the libretto for Silent Night, which garnered a 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music for composer Kevin Puts. Other successful operas include Later the Same Evening, Volpone, Bastianello/ Lucrezia, Rappahannock County, A Letter to East 11th Street, The Inspector, Approaching Ali and As One. As a lyricist, Mark penned the lyrics forSongs from an Unmade Bed, which premiered at New York Theatre Workshop and has since been produced around the world. Other musicals: The Other Room, The Audience, Chang & Eng, and Splendora. Upcoming projects include: The Manchurian Candidate (Kevin Puts, Minnesota Opera), Burke+Hare (Julian Grant, Music-Theatre Group), The Shining(Paul Moravec, Minnesota Opera), The Trial of Elizabeth Cree (Kevin Puts, Opera Philadelphia), Memory Boy (Reinaldo Moya, Minnesota Opera), Dinner at Eight (William Bolcom, Minnesota Opera), The Whole Truth (Rob Paterson, UrbanArias). Steve Jobs, (Mason Bates, Santa Fe Opera).

Scott Wheeler, librettist/composer of SORROWS OF FREDERICK
Scott Wheeler’s opera Naga, on a libretto of Cerise Jacobs, is co-commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and Boston Lyric Opera and will premiere in September 2016 in Boston. Scott’s previous operas have been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera and the Guggenheim Foundation. His music has been performed by Renee Fleming, Susanna Phillips, Anne Manson, Kent Nagano, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and many others. Current and recent commissions include 200 Dreams from Captivity for baritone and orchestra, and works for Boston Cecilia, Rockport Music and the Barlow Foundation. In recent seasons, Scott’s works have been performed in Boston, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Austria, Italy, Panama, Winnipeg, Hong Kong and Beijing. Scott’s orchestral music can be heard on the BMOP Sound CD Crazy Weather, with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose. His songs for voice and piano and his opera The Construction of Boston are available on Naxos; his chamber music for strings and piano is available on Newport Classic. Recent awards include the MacDowell Colony, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa and the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. Scott teaches musical theatre at Emerson College in Boston, where he has conducted works by Sondheim, Bernstein, Coleman and many others.

P. Q. Phan, composer/librettist of THE LADY OF THI KINH
P.Q. PHAN was born in 1962 in Vietnam.  He became interested in music while studying architecture in 1978 and taught himself to play the piano, compose, and orchestrate.  In 1982, he immigrated to The United States and began his formal musical training. A Rome Prize recipient, Phan has composed a wide range of genres including symphonies, chamber music, song cycles, and opera. His music has been performed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. His works have been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, the American Composers Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, and the Cincinnati Orchestra, among others. He is a frequent guest composer and lecturer in Asia. He recently finished a Requiem, which employs Vietnamese Theravada Buddhist text. He is an Associate Professor of Music in Composition at Jacobs School of Music. He had taught at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and Cleveland State University.

Clint Borzoni, composer of WHEN ADONIS CALLS
Clint Borzoni’s music reflects his passion for lyricism and functional harmony. He is an alumnus of programs from the American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theater, and New York Youth Symphony. He has written over 70 pieces, with a recent focus on the human voice. His musical, My Life as a Bald Soprano (2008), had an Off-Broadway run at MITF. Borzoni's operas include Margot Alone in the Light (2009) with librettist Emily Conbere, which was premiered by operamission and subsequently produced by Opera on Tap; Cycle (2011) with librettist Tony Asaro, which was performed by ALT; Antinous and Hadrian (2012) with librettist Edward Ficklin, which was performed by AOP, operamission, and QUO; and When Adonis Calls (2014) with librettist John De Los Santos, based on the poetry of Gavin Dillard. Clint is an award-winning composer who has been commissioned by AOP, the Expositions: SLC concert series, the LGBAC Symphonic Band, operamission, the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, and numerous opera singers. His music has been performed all across America, and the songs he wrote for Randal Turner’s CD, Living American Composers, were performed during the 9/11 tribute at the U.S. embassy in Sweden. In addition to being a composer, Clint was an associate producer for Patricia Racette’s CD, Diva on Detour, and is also a pianist. Clint received his MA in Music Composition from City College where he studied with David Del Tredici.

John de los Santos, librettist of WHEN ADONIS CALLS
Director and choreographer John de los Santos has staged a range of productions that include opera, musicals, plays, ballet, concerts, and workshop readings. John’s credits includeCarousel for Ashlawn Opera, Cendrillon for Kentucky Opera, María de Buenos Aires for Lexington Philharmonic, and Green Sneakers for San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. He also starred in and choreographed Thank You For Being A Friend at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City where he now resides. His choreography has also been seen at the Washington National, Florida Grand, Dallas, Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Des Moines, and Austin Lyric Opera companies. John has served on the directing faculty of the Seagle Music Colony since 2005.  Other productions include Orpheus & Euridice for Voices of Change, Spring Awakening and Dogfight for WaterTower Theatre, and The Golden Apple for Lyric Stage. For Dallas' Uptown Players, he choreographed the American premiere of Closer to Heaven, the regional premiere of Altar Boyz (for which he was awarded the DFW Critics Forum Award for Best Choreography), and directed the regional premiere of Hello Again and the American premiere of Soho Cinders. John is originally from San Antonio, where he performed as a principal member of the Alamo City Dance Company. After relocating to Fort Worth, he received his BFA in Theatre Performance/Direction from Texas Christian University. Http://

The Frontiers Panel comprises FWOpera’s Darren K. Woods, Nathan DePoint, Joe Illick (FWOpera Music Director), as well as Daniel Biaggi (Palm Beach Opera), Lawrence Edelson (American Lyric Theater), William Florescu (Florentine Opera), John Hoomes (Nashville Opera), Ben Krywosz (Nautilus Music Theater), Timothy Myers (North Carolina Opera), Beth Morrison (Beth Morrison Projects), Steven Osgood (conductor), Kim Whitener (HERE) and Robert Wood (UrbanArias). Thanks For Reading

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Frontiers 2015 Selected
The Fort Worth Opera has chosen works for the 2015 Frontiers workshop, which includes one title by a local librettist.
by Mark Lowry

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