Application Deadline

July 15, 2020

Application Fee


New Opera Workshop

After two successful New Opera Workshop collaborations with Washington National Opera (2018) and Chicago Opera Theater (2019), MassOpera begins a new partnership with OperaHub through a re-envisioned New Opera Workshop (NOW), with the goal of developing new chamber operas that reflect and examine our current world, or our hope for the future.  We are pleased to announce a Request for Submissions for the New Opera Workshop in Boston, MA, starting June 1st!


We will support the writing and development of new chamber operas with the intention of broadening the new American canon.  Through NOW we aim to further these goals by:

  1. Exploring innovative ways of storytelling
  2. Requiring a majority of roles be for women, including a broad variety of roles for diverse women

We will foster a process-driven opera development experience, supported by a collaborative team of performers, artistic and production personnel.


MassOpera and OperaHub are teaming up to provide resources and a structured process for creators of new operas, that reflect the above stated goals.  We believe that the capacity of art to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our world is immeasurably important.  Through the stories we tell, whether it be an opera, a painting, or podcast, we experience life differently; perhaps more deeply.  For that reason we are focusing our efforts in developing strong libretti through the first stage of NOW. We see the development of strong libretti, and the resources to hear drafts of musical material through all phases of creation, as weak spots in the current opera development landscape in the U.S.  Therefore, we want to identify projects that show potential for a strong narrative, and creators who value an intentional process. Each process will be created for, and respond to, the unique needs for each particular project.  We hope to not only make new opera, but to create a new process through which opera is made.  Through NOW you will be in dialogue with directors, dramaturgs, singers, instrumentalists, and producers. We will provide creative teams with performer resources and structured feedback sessions, at critical inflection points in the writing process. We will commit to one stage of development for the chosen project(s), after which we will discuss the possibility of continuing onto the following stage(s).

Through NOW, MassOpera and OperaHub hope to mount at least one fully-staged production.  For all accepted projects we will work with our professional networks to help foster additional development opportunities and productions.


An exact development schedule will be determined by NOW Leadership, with consideration for the availability of selected creative teams, support staff and collaborating artists.  The time frames reflected below give an approximate timeline for the process.

Intention to Submit
Applications open June 1, 2020
Invitation to Submit Deadline – July 15th, 2020
Finalist Selection Notification – August 2020
Workshop Project(s) Announced – January 2021

Stage 1
Libretto workshopping (4-6 months)
Scene/draft material workshop and feedback (aiming for in-person workshop late spring/summer 2021)
Evaluation of working relationships and development potential

Stage 2
Selection of work for full musical development
Piano/vocal workshop – possibly semi-staged
Instrumental/orchestral workshop
Additional workshop for specific needs of project if necessary
Semi-staged performance*  could be excerpts, piano/vocal full sing-through, concert performance, etc…

Stage 3
Full premiere production – either by MassOpera/OperaHub or by a partnering organization
Subsequent productions
Recording and publication


Because the workshopping process is centered around creating opera, we are using the terms librettist and composer.  However, we are open to working with people who do not yet identify as either, for example: people with experience in playwriting, spoken word, songwriting, or are part of a team of a poet working with a previously instrumental-only composer are encouraged to apply.  Please contact us with any questions.

Librettists may apply either alone or as a team with a composer.  If a librettist submits a solo application that is approved, we will work with them to suggest possible composing partners through the development process.

Composers should plan to apply as a team with a librettist, unless they have experience working as a composer-librettist and are proposing working in that vein for this project.

Both composers and librettists should enjoy working on dramatic material with certain given constraints.  We are especially interested in applications from people with voices and perspectives underrepresented in the field, who are prepared to tell unconventional stories about women and minorities, or stories that can be told by a variety of performers regardless of singer identity or physical appearance.  We are most interested in works at an early stage of development and creators should be excited about working with a team of creative professionals to develop a full musical-dramatic work.

We are only accepting U.S.-based applicants at this time and preference may be given to local artists.  Applicants must demonstrate enough fluency in spoken and written English to be able to collaborate with other English speakers, without the need of a translator.

Feel free to email if you have questions about applying.


These are the basic requirements we will look for in your proposals for submission.  If your proposal doesn’t meet this criteria it will not be considered.


  • Between a minimum of two and maximum of eight cast members
  • The music requires a majority of female voice parts and roles for women
  • No more than one baritone


  • Stories that AT LEAST pass the Bechdel test which is:
    • There must be at least 2 women
    • The women must talk to each other
    • About something other than a man
      • Stories that reflect, examine, challenge, imagine, contemporary human experiences


  • Between 1-12 instrumentalists (3-6 preferred)
  • One piano allowed 


  • This project should be able to be produced by small opera companies as well as major institutions.


  • Text should be at least 50% English
  • You will need to be able to provide English translations for the libretto


The deadline to submit first-round RFP materials is July 15, 2020 (11:59 p.m. EST). We will accept online submission ONLY.

JUNE I, 2020 the Intent to Submit Form will be accessible by scrolling down OR by

These materials will be required when you fill out the Intent to Submit form:

  1. Completed contact information
  2. Information about the project you are proposing: thematic material, story arc, character list
  3. Brief 250-word essays on your artistic style, process, and goals.


Semi-Finalists will be selected based on an administrative review of the proposed projects.  Semi-finalists will be notified by August 15, 2020 and will have until Sept 30 to provide the following materials. Combined submitted materials must not exceed 2GB.

Writing Samples

  1. Librettists: Three(3) representative dramatic writing excerpts, at least one of which must be for solo voice or actor. You are strongly urged to compress the submitted PDFs. Total of 10 pages.
  2. Composers: Three(3) representative compositional manuscripts, at least one of which must be for solo voice (accompanied or unaccompanied). You are strongly urged to compress the submitted PDFs.

Audio/Visual Samples

Each project submission should include up to 3 links to complementary audio or video recordings representing work of both the librettist and composer.  If recordings are not available for their work as a team, recordings of work by the individuals are acceptable.  Staged, dramatic works are encouraged. At least one recording must include a minimum of three minutes of vocal music.  An audio recording taken on a phone is fine.  Total duration 5-20 minutes.

Curriculum vitae or résumé (PDF)

PHASE III: Panel Evaluation

Based on the strength of all submitted materials, finalists will be selected by New Opera Workshop Artistic Staff and evaluated by a panel.  We do not anticipate any additional materials being necessary for this phase, but will contact any applicants individually if necessary.  Any selected proposal(s) will be contacted in the late fall with an aim to announce the project in January 2021.  


June 1, 2020: On-line RFP application available
July 15, 2020, 11:59pm: Application Deadline
August 2020: Semi-finalists notified
September 30, 2020:  Semi-finalist Full Submission materials due
January 2021: Chosen projects announced
Spring or Summer 2021: Workshop of material


Reasonable travel expenses (coach airfare, train, or bus purchased at least one month in advance, or mileage) within the United States, and a small stipend will be covered.  Accommodations and local transportation in Boston will be provided.

Producers will record rehearsal run-throughs and performance, and creators will have access to these recordings with the permission of the performers.

There is no fee to apply for or attend this program.


All questions or feedback should be e-mailed to:

NOW Co-Directors:

Christie Gibson
General Director, Opera Hub

Cassandra Lovering
Director of New Works, MassOpera

Application at the bottom of this page