The Fort Worth Opera has been one of the leading forces for new and rare work since General Director Darren K. Woods arrived a decade ago, having staged such works as the opera version of Angels in America and the world premieres of Before Night Falls and Frau Margot. The 2012 season includes Jake Heggie's Three Decembers and Mark Adamo's Lysistrata.
But in a new initiative for 2013, Woods is taking the concept of original work to a new level.
The organization is planning a new works showcase called "Frontiers" for its 2013 season, and is calling for submissions (due May 31, 2012). The works must be new, and unpublished or self-published, and only 15-25 minutes of it submitted. The event will give the selected works some stage time and a chance for the composers to meet with industry professionals. In the performing arts genre that's most hurting for outlets for original work, this is major news.
The full 2013 season will be announced this spring when the 2012 season begins in May. The 2013 festival season will happen a few weeks earlier than it usually does because that's a year for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, in June.
Here's the Fort Worth Opera's news release about the new program, which has more details about submissions:
Fort Worth Opera expands its reputation as a champion of new and rarely performed works and as a leader in producing contemporary operas with the establishment of Frontiers, an exciting annual program to be launched May 6-11, 2013, during the last week of the 2013 Opera Festival. The program will showcase unpublished works by composers from the Americas. Frontiers aims to give voice to original 21st-century compositions, shining a spotlight on unpublished contemporary operatic works.
In addition to giving composers valuable exposure for their work through live performance, Fort Worth Opera's Frontiers program also will provide composers with opportunities for introductions to industry professionals. Artistic directors of opera companies, artist managers, classical music publishers, funding organizations, and conductors will be invited, along with the Fort Worth public, to attend performances by artists featured in the 2013 Fort Worth Opera Festival during the final weekend of the Festival. A post-performance discussion with the composers about their respective works will follow.
Composers whose works are selected to be part of Frontiers will be in residence at the Festival. Each composer will attend the showcase and participate in the aforementioned post-performance discussion, and will also participate in the final rehearsals, which will be open to the public. Composers will also receive feedback on their work through private meetings with the Frontiers jury panel. In addition, the workshops will be recorded, so the composers can subsequently study the recording to assist in the completion of the compositional process.
In announcing the program, Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods, who will chair the Frontiers panel, stated, "Fort Worth Opera has become a leader in producing contemporary opera, both regional and world premieres; this is the logical next step in our company's mission to champion new works and their composers. Composing opera is a herculean task, and we hope to aid in composers' development and exposure by giving their undiscovered operas a platform to be heard by the public, critics, and the opera industry."
Woods continued, "I am very proud of the caliber of talent that we've assembled for the panel. It was extremely important to me that the panelists represent the full gamut of 'voices' so the composers could benefit from feedback given by a variety of new music constituents: opera administrators, stage directors, conductors, press, and audience. It's crucial for new operas to pass the litmus test not just for industry professionals but for their eventual public, which includes press and audience. My Fort Worth Opera colleagues Joe Illick (Music Director), Kurt Howard (Producing Director and Frontiers Curator), and Keith Wolfe (Managing Director) will be joined by composer Mark Adamo, stage director and opera incubator organization American Lyric Theater founder Lawrence Edelson, stage director Candace Evans, Fort Worth Opera board member John Forestner, music critic, journalist, and author William V. Madison, conductor Steven Osgood, and Leadership FWOpera member Edward Willey.
Frontiers Curator Kurt Howard remarked, "Three challenges typically hamper today's composers: getting a high-quality performance and recording of their pieces; obtaining thoughtful, informed feedback on their work while the piece is still revealing itself; and getting exposure to industry professionals who can commission pieces or arrange for performances of their works. Frontiers will address all three of these challenges."
Fort Worth Opera Music Director and panelist Joe Illick added, "After each of our productions of Dead Man Walking, Before Night Falls, Angels in America, and Hydrogen Jukebox, our audiences have voiced their fascination with contemporary opera and their desire to learn more about the process of developing and nurturing new works, so this is a stellar opportunity for the public to get a peek behind the curtain at how contemporary opera is born."
Composers from the Americas (citizens or residents of North, Central and South America, as well as associated territories) are invited to submit 15-25 minutes of one unpublished (or self-published) work, utilizing one to six singers (no chorus) in any language, by May 31, 2012. Only works that can be performed with solo piano accompaniment will be accepted for the showcase; no additional instruments will be provided. One composition per composer, blind submission. Six to eight works will be selected for the showcase. Fort Worth Opera will provide each composer with lodging and round-trip travel to Fort Worth. The works and composers chosen to participate in Frontiers 2013 will be announced in September 2012.
More information can be found at www.fwopera.org/frontiers/.