Submissions to the Center for Contemporary Opera

To be considered for inclusion in our Development Series, submissions are accepted from April 1 to July 1 of each year.

The following is required:

  1. The piano/vocal score
  2. A brief bio of the composer and librettist
  3. A statement that the librettist has obtained the rights to the source if applicable
  4. A statement concerning performance obligations by other opera companies  and of past performance history.

Please send the package to:

Center for Contemporary Opera
Development Series
240 East 31st St.
New York, NY 10016

Scores will not be returned unless accompanied by return postage or an arrangement is made to retrieve them in person. Otherwise, they remain on file with CCO for future consideration.

The process

Through our strategic planning process, we have made a concerted effort to emphasize and expand our long-standing developmental programs. Even though our Development Programs have taken place over many years, the generous award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will allow us to expand and increase the number of development programs to a great degree.

First, some background: almost ten years ago — as a response to the “what is opera – what is music theater?” questions that were being raised in the press and opera circles — CCO presented the first act of a new work at Lincoln Center’s Clark Theater with two separate casts: the first comprised of singers from the world of Broadway, the second from opera.  This experiment caught the attention of Estelle Parsons, then Artistic Director at The Actors Studio, who brought the work’s composer and librettist into the Studio’s Playwrights-Directors unit where the work underwent three years of development, culminating in a workshop production in 2005.  The process followed a format which has served The Actors Studio since its inception: a sequence of staged readings — anywhere from 6 months to a year apart — each followed by a critique and discussion by a professional panel comprised of composers, directors, librettists and producers, moderated by a senior studio member.CCO followed the process carefully and ultimately decided to adopt a similar format for its so-called “atelier series” (the term itself is taken from a statement made by Schoenberg: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if composers had “ateliers” like painters, where they could go to practice their art?)  The intent of the atelier series was to open up the development process to a greater number of composers and librettists– not just to those whose works were being considered for a full CCO production.

From this beginning ten years ago, CCO has continued and refined its atelier process. Indeed, the New Yorker called us “an invaluable company that serves as a clearinghouse for all sorts of operas”.

We should also note that this emphasis on developing opera does not diminish our desire to produce opera. We just enjoyed a wonderful success with our premiere of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by John Eaton and the world premiere of CCO’s first commissioned opera (a co-commission with San Antonio Opera and Long Leaf Opera), The Secret Agent, by Michael Dellaira and J.D. McClatchy.  In fact, the production of opera enables us to refine our developmental methodology.

Through press releases to professional musical organizations, and direct mailings to Opera America member companies, we call for submissions of works, completed or in-progress. Interested artists, composers, librettists, and companies would submit their scores/libretti to us for possible inclusion in one of our programs. Once received, the submissions are cataloged and prepared for the selection process. Submissions are accepted from April 1 to July 1 of each year.

The Selection Committee is chaired by the Center’s composer-in-residence and consists of the Artistic Director, two musically astute board members, and experts serving in a professional capacity in the opera and/or music-theater world. Those operas that have already received a commission or a production commitment receive priority in the selection process. Once the selections have been made, a press release is issued to insure the program receives maximum exposure. You will be notified in advance of acceptance or not, typically by September 1.