Which comes first - the words or the music? Discover the answer to that age old question and more at our upcoming panel on collaboration among opera writers!

Thursday, February 16

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

Are you a playwright or musical theatre writer who wants to learn how to write an opera?

Join us for a webinar examining how collaboration works between an opera librettist and an opera composer! Discover how to navigate the collaboration process, who decides the idea for the story, and how collaborating on an opera differs from collaborating on a new musical.  You'll also learn how to find a collaborator, why you should sign a collaboration agreement, what your standard billing credit should be, and more.

Host: Joan Ross Sorkin (Librettist)

Moderator: David Simpatico (Librettist)

Panelists: Deborah Brevoort (Librettist), David Johnston (Librettist), John de los Santos (Librettist/Director)

Panelist Bios

Deborah Brevoort is best known for her play The Women of Lockerbie, which is produced internationally, and for numerous comedies and dramas produced at regional theatres across the US. Her latest play, My Lord, What a Night, has been optioned for West End and Broadway productions. Since participating in ALT’s Composer Librettist Development Program, Deborah has written nine opera librettos: The Knock, with Aleksandra Vrebalov, commissioned by Glimmerglass, was made into a live action film available on YouTube and will have its stage premiere at Cincinnati Opera in 2023; Quamino’s Map with Errollyn Wallen, for Chicago Opera Theatre; Murasaki’s Moon, with Michi Wiancko, for On-Site Opera, Metropolitan Museum of Art and ALT; Embedded, with Patrick Soluri, for ALT, Ft. Worth and Fargo Moorhead Operas; and Steal a Pencil for Me, with Gerald Cohen (Opera Colorado); Dinner 4 3 with Michael Ching (Decameron Opera Coalition); and  new adaptations of Mozart’s The Impresario and Straus’s Die Fledermaus, for Anchorage Opera. Albert Nobbs, with Patrick Soluri, was a finalist for the 2018 Dominic Pelliciotti Prize. Three of her operas were chosen for the Frontier’s Festival at Fort Worth Opera. She is a two-time winner of the Frederick Loewe award in musical theatre for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing, with Scott Davenport Richards, and King Island Christmas, based on the Alaskan children’s book, with David Friedman. She teaches in the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, the MFA playwriting program at Columbia University and serves as a mentor to the NBO Musical Theatre Initiative in Nairobi, Kenya.

David Johnston is an award-winning playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. New York productions with Blue Coyote Theater Group include Coney, Conversations on Russian Literature, an adaptation of The Oresteia (Time Out Best of 2007), and Busted Jesus Comix (GLAAD nominee 2005, London, Los Angeles, DC Cap Fringe, Prague). Mr. Johnston works frequently with director Kevin Newbury, including Candy and Dorothy (GLAAD winner, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, Unexpected Stage, In the Now Productions), The Eumenides, and award-winning short film Monsura is Waiting. He wrote the libretto for the chamber opera, Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?: A Love Story (composed by Jeffrey Dennis Smith, American Lyric Theatre, Urban Arias) and Daughters of the Bloody Duke, commissioned by Washington National Opera for the American Opera Initiative at the Kennedy Center, composed by Jake Runestad. Recent projects include a children’s opera for Houston Grand Opera, Monkey and Francine in the City of Tigers with composer Kamala Sankaram, the new play Pelicans (Ashland New Play Festival 2019) and Mercy Street, an opera adaptation of the Anne Sexton play, with composer Drew Hemenger.

Librettist and director/choreographer John de los Santos' first collaboration with composer Clint Borzoni, When Adonis Calls, was selected for inclusion in Opera America’s New Works Forum and Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase. It had its world premiere under John’s direction at Asheville Lyric Opera. His second collaboration with Borzoni, The Copper Queen, was the winner of Arizona Opera’s commission initiative, Arizona SPARK. The Copper Queen premiered as an award-winning feature film in 2021. His latest libretto with Borzoni, The Christmas Spider, will premiere with The American Opera Project. In 2015, he was commissioned by Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative to create an original work with composer Christopher Weiss. The resulting piece, Service Provider, premiered at The Kennedy Center, and has since had over a dozen productions. Over the summer of 2020, John and composer Marc Migó were commissioned by UrbanArias to write an operatic film as part of Decameron Opera Project. The film, The Roost, was directed by John and was recently included in the archives of the Library of Congress. John is a co-librettist for Ghosts, composed by Nicolas Reveles, and will direct the premiere at San Diego Opera in 2023. John has also collaborated with composers Robert Paterson, Tony Solitro, and Lingbo Ma. John has served as a librettist and director for The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music. John is currently a librettist with the Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative.

This event is part of the Guild's ongoing “Credit the Librettist” campaign. After all, if there is no librettist, then there is no opera.

Operatunity! Librettists in Conversation: How to Craft an Opera is 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.

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

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