The first ever Genesis Prizes for Opera has identified three opera projects to commission immediately for full production by Almeida Opera in July 2003 and also at Aldeburgh. These were chosen by the advisory panel following presentations of work-in-progress of the nine shortlisted projects on 11 and 12 April 2002 at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, Sadler's Wells, London.
A fourth project has been singled out for special commendation; and the Genesis Foundation, which funds the entire process, is also committed to its further development and production at a later date.
The projects are, in alphabetical order by title:
The Eternity Man
Jonathan Mills, Composer (Australia)
Dorothy Porter, Librettist (Australia)
Sirius on Earth
Paul Frehner, Composer (Canada)
Angela Murphy, Librettist (Canada)
Jurgen Simpson, Composer (Eire)
Simon Doyle, Librettist (Eire)
Special commendation was given for its outstanding music and subject matter to:
Fumio Tamura, Composer (Japan)
Kei Kasahara, Librettist (Japan) - pseudonym of Kimiko Shimoda
John Studzinski, Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, in announcing the decision of the panellists said: "The Genesis Prizes for Opera is about nurturing, not about winning. All our creative teams have won already - they have benefited from mentoring and the exposure we have been able to give them in developing their projects this far. We continue to consider all the composers and librettists as part of a Genesis family and have a commitment to supporting their talent in every way we can. The workshops were very much designed as a forum in which learning could occur at several levels: not only about the individual works and how they can be further realized, but also about the variety of approaches that might give opera new forms and new life for the future."
Jonathan Reekie, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Productions and one of the panellists, said: "Genesis is an unprecedented opportunity to identify and develop new opera composing and writing talent from around the world and give it an international platform."
The Eternity Man revolves around the historic character of Arthur Stace, a reformed alcoholic and religious visionary who wandered the streets of Sydney by night through three decades writing the word "Eternity" everywhere in a distinctive copperplate hand. Sirius on Earth is a madcap comic opera set in an occidental metropolis in the not-too-distant future, the story developing against the backdrop of a manic and oppressive dictatorship. Thwaite is set in a post-apocalyptic world of both catastrophe and infinite potentiality. An absurdist, Rabelaisian comedy, it is also part ultra-violent horror movie and part raft debate. The musical styles of all the projects are as diverse as the subject matter and styles of the libretti.
Many professional opera administrators and publishers attended the workshops. These took the form of libretto readings, opera extracts given in full score with musicians and singers, followed by an open discussion. Already international producing partnerships are being discussed with the Genesis Foundation.
The Genesis Foundation is delighted to be supporting such a diversity of talented artists from all over the world. It believes in helping to create a network of young composers and librettists devoted to refreshing the operatic art form and to engaging with a new public alongside those already loyal to the genre.
By supporting the process of writing opera, from proposal stage through to full production, The Genesis Prizes for Opera aims to make a difference to the commissioning of new opera internationally.
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