In 2014 Pittsburgh Festival Opera launched its Music that Matters series, with the goal of commissioning new operas that address important societal issues, and how those issues affect the people of western Pennsylvania.
The process generally follows a two-year cycle: developmental workshops are conducted in the first year, in an effort to introduce the subject matter to local audiences and solicit feedback to guide the artistic team. With the feedback from the workshop process, the work is further refined, developed, and premiered in the second year.
A New Kind of Fallout
The first work created in this series was 2015's A New Kind of Fallout (with music by Gilda Lyons to a libretto by Tammy Ryan), which was inspired by the scientific work of Rachel Carson and the publication of Silent Spring in 1962. The story focused on a Pittsburgh family caught up in the fight against the spraying of the pesticide DDT, and raised issues of social responsibility of corporations, of citizens, and our stewardship of the environment.
A Gathering of Sons
A Gathering of Sons, with music by Dwayne Fulton to a libretto by Tameka Cage Conley, premiered in June 2017 at Mt Ararat Baptist Church. A Gathering of Sons takes us on a journey through the lives of a young Black man, a White police officer, parents of a newborn child, and a collection of spirits who watch over the world. The work premiered with performances in a number of Pittsburgh venues, followed by performances in the Falk Auditorium at Winchester Thurston School.
An extensive series of developmental workshops occurred throughout the winter and spring of 2017, in which audience members were offered a sneak peak at selected scenes from the work, afterwards engaging in conversation with the creative team. These workshops provided valuable feedback in refining the final work.
Fight for the Right
The next project in the series is currently called Fight for the Right, a global composition competition for female composer and librettist teams to compete for the opportunity to have their original music dramas based on themes of women's education produced as a mainstage production during Pittsburgh Festival Opera's 2019 summer festival.
From 50 entries received, three composer/librettist teams were selected to develop a scene for a workshop performance in July 2018. A panel of advisors (along with audiences at the workshop performance of Fight for the Right) will select the team to receive a commission for a full score.
Composers/librettists, please see more details and entry requirements.