The Center for Contemporary Opera offers a full range of programs from libretto readings to full productions.


Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde by Barry O'Neal,

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde by Barry O’Neal

We strive to present at least one full production each year. These can range from large scale operas like William Mayer’s  A Death in the Family to chamber works such as our world premiere of Orations by Line Tornhoj.


An important part of our mission is to bring contemporary opera beyond our borders. In recent years, we have toured Latvia, Vienna, Hungary (twice) and Avignon (twice). We are presently exploring collaborations with the Royal Opera House, Lyon Opera, and Festival Euro Mediterraneo in Siracusa, Italy.


The CCO Development Series

What programs do we offer?

Selected operas/libretti and the creative team behind them are eligible for the following developmental programs, currently in existence, conducted by the Center for Contemporary Opera. For more information on the process and how to submit works, please visit our submissions page.

Prima le Parole

Libretto readings: Our Prima le Parole series assists librettists in the development of their work. Libretti are read and directed by professional actors and directors.  The objective is not to see whether the libretto works as a play, but rather to analyze the libretto’s structure both from a dramaturgical and musical perspective, since if problems of exist at this level, it is very unlikely they can be fixed in the music; indeed, the addition of music may only make the underlying problems harder to identify.


The opera (or scenes) is presented in an intimate venue such as the cell theatre in Chelsea. The press may be invited, but in a public relations role only, and are asked not to review the process. Ateliers are minimally staged and are performed with piano accompaniment. The singers are “on book”. The music director typically conducts from the piano.

Concert Reading:

development-seriesThese allow the composer to hear the work performed with orchestra. As with the ateliers, the performers are  on-book and receive minimal stage direction. Typical venues include the Leonard Nimroy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space or The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater.

As stated earlier, all these programs evolved out of CCO’s history of staged readings into something that was modeled closely on The Actors Studio’s “playwright-directors’ workshop, where works (or segments of works) are presented in a “safe” context, followed by a panel of professionals: directors, composers, librettists, conductors, with a moderator who keeps the discussion on track and can solicit questions and comments from the audience. The creative team, after noting these comments, goes back to the drawing board and returns to repeat the process. While the audience may be asked to fill out questionnaires regarding the performance, they are typically not asked to participate in the discussion. Again, critics are sometimes invited, but are asked not to review the results.