New Works Initiative receives a $750,000 gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota Opera has been awarded a three-year, $750,000 gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will support the upcoming commissions of The Manchurian Candidate, The Shining, and Dinner at Eight. The gift marks both the completion of the first $7 million New Works Initiative (NWI) fundraising campaign and the beginning of a bold, new phase of the Initiative, and brings total support of the NWI from the Mellon Foundation to $2 million.

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s gift sets the stage for the Initiative’s continuation and underscores the national importance of this landmark program for the development of new opera,” said Minnesota Opera President and General Director Kevin Ramach. “We are so grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its extraordinary support of our efforts to expand the art form. It is a great testament to the vitality of the operatic art form in the 21st century.”

A pioneering movement in new opera when it was launched in 2008, Minnesota Opera’s NWI was designed to invigorate the operatic art form with an infusion of contemporary works and formalized the company’s commitment to artistic growth, leadership and innovation. Its first iteration – a seven-season commitment to producing premieres and revivals of new works – funded the commissions of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night (Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell), 2013’s Doubt by Douglas J. Cuomo and librettist John Patrick Shanley, and the upcoming political thriller, The Manchurian Candidate (also by Puts and Campbell), which will have its premiere in March 2015.

The recent generous gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launches the second phase of the NWI with its major support of The Shining, by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell, based on the novel by Stephen King (scheduled for a world premiere in May 2016), and Dinner at Eight by William Bolcom and librettist Mark Campbell, based on the play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman (scheduled to premiere in 2017).

The future of the NWI is conceived as a 10-year program that will not only encompass major mainstage commissions like these and Cold Mountain (co-commissioned with The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia, by composer Jennifer Higdon and librettist Gene Scheer, based on the novel by Charles Frazier, which will have its world premiere next summer at The Santa Fe Opera), but endeavors to further invigorate the art form and expand its audience by creating new works conceived for non-traditional opera venues. To that end, a new hallmark of this new program will be the creation of local and national partnerships to develop new ways of creating, workshopping and presenting opera. Programmatic plans will be released on an ongoing basis.