A pioneering movement in new opera when it was launched in 2008, Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative (NWI) continues to invigorate the operatic art form with an infusion of contemporary works, while fulfilling the company’s commitment to artistic growth, leadership, and innovation. Last season’s world premiere of Dinner at Eight marks the latest opera created through the NWI, a seven-year, $7 million program designed to invigorate the opera repertoire with an infusion of new and contemporary works. Through this Initiative, Dinner at Eight and the other contemporary works we champion will be given life well beyond these performances in the Twin Cities.
NWI supported the American premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio; revivals of Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming, The Dream of Valentino and Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights; the commission of Doubt, composed by Douglas J. Cuomo with libretto by John Patrick Shanley; and The Manchurian Candidate, and Silent Night both composed by Kevin Puts with libretto by Mark Campbell. Most recently, in May of 2016, Minnesota Opera presented the world premiere of The Shining, composed by Paul Moravec with a libretto by Mark Campbell and based on the novel by Stephen King. This season, Dinner at Eight, composed by William Bolcom with a libretto by Mark Campbell and based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, will have its world premiere on Saturday, March 11, 2017.
The future of the NWI is conceived as a 10-year program that encompasses major mainstage commissions like Black Sox (by composer Joel Puckett and librettist Eric Simonson). To that end, a hallmark of this new program will be the creation of local and national partnerships to develop innovative ways of creating, workshopping, and presenting opera. Programmatic plans will be released on an ongoing basis.
Minnesota Opera (originally known as Center Opera) came into being in 1963 with a world premiere of Dominick Argento’s opera Masque of Angels, produced on the brand new stage of the Guthrie Theater. For decades, Minnesota Opera’s commitment to new and contemporary opera made it a rarity in the world of American opera. A landmark National Endowment for the Arts study in 1985 revealed that Minnesota Opera was the only company that year to produce a new work.
Fortunately, the landscape has changed. Now, new American opera has never been more popular. Minnesota Opera is grateful to its audience for nearly a half-century of support of new and contemporary opera. The New Works Initiative has been guided and supported by the committee listed on this page. They have helped the company deepen its role as a leader in the production of new work.
Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative Committee
Margaret Wurtele, Chair
Lucy Rosenberry Jones
Jenny Lind Nilsson
H. Bernt von Ohlen