About contemporary opera

Landmarks of our history

The Center for Contemporary Opera was formed in November 1982 by Richard Marshall who was the General and Artistic Director of Opera Carolina in Charlotte. He started CCO due to the lack of opportunities for contemporary opera in the United States. The composer Robert Ward agreed to serve as our first President of the Board. Acting on the advice of the National Opera Institute, Marshall moved to New York City to start his new company.

On March 1985, CCO presented its very first opera, The Face on the Barroom Floor by Henry Mollicone at the Fourth Universalist Society near Central Park. Other works quickly followed such as The Good Soldier Schweik by Robert Kurka and Ned Rorem’s Three Sisters who are not Sisters.

CCO’s initiatives included a publication, Opera Today, a program to recognize exceptional service to contemporary opera, and The International Opera Singers Competition held at Carnegie Hall. Ruth Golden, a leading soprano at New York City Opera was its first winner.

“November 1986 saw our first world premiere, Faustus by Roger Rudenstein.”

The Center for Contemporary Opera was formed in November 1982 by Richard Marshall who was the General and Artistic Director of Opera Carolina in Charlotte. He started CCO due to the lack of opportunities for contemporary opera in the United States. The composer Robert Ward agreed to serve as our first President of the Board. Acting on the advice of the National Opera Institute, Marshall moved to New York City to start his new company.

On March 1985, CCO presented its very first opera, The Face on the Barroom Floor by Henry Mollicone at the Fourth Universalist Society near Central Park. Other works quickly followed such as The Good Soldier Schweik by Robert Kurka and Ned Rorem’s Three Sisters who are not Sisters.

CCO’s initiatives included a publication, Opera Today, a program to recognize exceptional service to contemporary opera, and The International Opera Singers Competition held at Carnegie Hall. Ruth Golden, a leading soprano at New York City Opera was its first winner.

“November 1986 saw our first world premiere, Faustus by Roger Rudenstein.”

Our Founder

richard marshall

In all, Richard Marshall produced a remarkable forty-three fully staged operas: if there was ever an unsung hero of American opera, he is the one. Prior to that, he was director of Opera Carolina in Charlotte where he commissioned Robert Ward’s Abelard and Heloise. He was also the director of Boston Conservatory’s opera program and the New England Opera Company. Richard was the first to receive a doctorate in conducting from Indiana University; he retired in 2008.

Continuous Renewal

Jim Schaeffer

The Board then appointed Jim Schaeffer as Marshall’s successor. Schaeffer was the former director of the Long Leaf Opera Festival. Eugene Rotberg, former Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank was elected as CCO’s fourth President. The development of new operas became a priority and under Schaeffer’s watch, CCO has presented over forty-two such works. This project caught the attention of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation who awarded us a large grant. Jim retired in 2018.

Our Founder

richard marshall

In all, Richard Marshall produced a remarkable forty-three fully staged operas: if there was ever an unsung hero of American opera, he is the one. Prior to that, he was director of Opera Carolina in Charlotte where he commissioned Robert Ward’s Abelard and Heloise. He was also the director of Boston Conservatory’s opera program and the New England Opera Company. Richard was the first to receive a doctorate in conducting from Indiana University; he retired in 2008.

Continuous Renewal

Jim Schaeffer

The Board then appointed Jim Schaeffer as Marshall’s successor. Schaeffer was the former director of the Long Leaf Opera Festival. Eugene Rotberg, former Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank was elected as CCO’s fourth President. The development of new operas became a priority and under Schaeffer’s watch, CCO has presented over forty-two such works. This project caught the attention of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation who awarded us a large grant. Jim retired in 2018.