How to Craft an Opera

Join the Dramatists Guild for a new series of conversations about the art, craft, and business of creating opera!

It can feel lonely to make opera; sometimes, it's hard to find resources, career training opportunities, craft development tools, or chances to connect with kindred spirits. Nevertheless, there is new opera being made all over the country, by people who are fascinated by such an emotional, powerful method of storytelling. If you are one of those opera writers, you are not alone. You are part of a community of librettists and composers, and your Guild is here for you.



Operatunity! Librettists in Conversation
Part I: How to Craft an Opera


Tuesday,  November 15

Atlantic Time: 8pm
Eastern Time: 7pm
Central Time: 6pm
Mountain Time: 5pm
Pacific Time: 4pm
Alaska Time: 3pm
Hawaii Time: 1pm

Learn how to create a new opera!

Gather with your opera community for an online conversation about the craft of writing an opera libretto. This webinar will address how to select the topic and style for a libretto, how to find and work with a composer, how to create an outline, whether to rhyme (or not!), how to approach rewrites, what to know about dramaturgs, and more. Come ready to ask your own craft-related questions and to connect with fellow opera-makers!

This event also marks the start of DG’s “Credit the Librettist” campaign. After all, if there is no librettist, then there is no opera.

This virtual event will be archived on the DG website, so that it can continue to be an ongoing resource for opera makers.

Series Host: Ellen Lewis
Event Moderator: Joshua Mcguire
Panelists: David Henry Hwang, Deborah Mouton, Stephanie Fleischmann

David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (revival upcoming, 2023), Flower Drum Song, and Disney’s Tarzan. M. Butterfly was revived on Broadway in 2017, directed by Julie Taymor. His newest musical, Soft Power, written with composer Jeanine Tesori, opened in 2019 at New York’s Public Theatre, where it received four Outer Critics Honors, a 2021 Grammy Nomination, and was a Finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Called America’s most-produced living opera librettist by Opera News, he has written thirteen libretti, including five works with composer Philip Glass, most recently Circus Days and Nights for Malmö Opera. He is a 2006 Grammy Award winner for Ainadamar, with music by Osvaldo Golijov, and has written three works with Huang Ruo, two with Bright Sheng, as well as operas with Unsuk Chin and Howard Shore. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a Grammy Award winner and two-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner, and a three-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2018, and his star was unveiled in 2022 on the Lucille Lortel Playwrights Sidewalk in New York City.

Deborah Mouton is an internationally-known, multi-hyphenate literary artist, director, performer, critic, and the first Black Poet Laureate of Houston, TX. She is the author of the 2019 poetry collection Newsworthy with Bloomsday Literary (and its German counterpart Berichtenswert with Elif Verlag), which was a finalist for the The Writer's League of Texas Book Award. Her poems have garnered her a pushcart nomination and been translated across multiple genres and languages. She has been a contributing writer for Glamour, Texas Monthly, Muzzle, and ESPN's The Undefeated. Currently, she is a Resident Artist with the American Lyric Theater, Rice University, and the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

Stephanie Fleischmann is the recipient of Opera America’s 2022 Campbell Librettist Prize. A librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds, she has been called a “neo Emily Dickinson” (Backstage) and “a writer who can conjure something between a dreamy road movie and a theatrical coming-of-age tale, and who can piece these elements together in the style of a jagged ballad for guitar” (Chicago Sun Times). Her “lyrical monologues” (The New York Times), “finely tuned” opera libretti (Opera News), plays, and music-theatre works have been performed internationally and across the U.S. Fleischmann is a recipient of a Café Royal Cultural Foundation Performance Grant, a NYFA Fellowship in Playwriting, a Virginia B. Toulmin grant, a Venturous Capital Fund grant, a NYSCA Individual Artist Commission, a 2014–15 Howard Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting, an Arts Council England grant, two NYSCA Individual Artist Commissions, a NEA Opera/Music-Theater commission, the Tennessee Williams Fellowship, the Frederick Loewe Award, and the Whitfield Cook Award, as well as residencies at Macdowell, Hedgebrook, HARP, and BricLab, among others. She received her BA from Wesleyan University, and her MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College, where she studied with Mac Wellman. She has taught at Sewanee, Bard, and Skidmore Colleges.

Please be advised that panelists are subject to change.


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