Seattle Opera announced today that the company will receive a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Amelia, a newly commissioned American opera. The grant is a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to provide crucial support for the production of new contemporary opera, enabling Amelia to be produced by two other American opera companies following the opera’s world premiere in Seattle in May 2010.
The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences will be the production sponsor for Amelia with a generous gift of $300,000. Featuring music by American composer Daron Aric Hagen, an intensely personal libretto by American poet and writer Gardner McFall, and a story by Stephen Wadsworth, Amelia is Seattle Opera’s first commissioned work during General Director Speight Jenkins’ tenure.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant will be used over a four-year period to support the production and presentation of contemporary opera at Seattle Opera and at two additional American opera companies. The grant will provide funding that will underwrite rental and royalty expenses for up to two other companies to present Amelia. It will also cover the cost of set and costume modifications undertaken by Seattle Opera to make the opera compatible with multiple companies. A percentage of the grant will fund any necessary score or libretto revisions and will fund audience development materials that can be shared in the various cities. By subsidizing some of the costs of presenting a new work, the grant will help reduce the financial risk during challenging economic times and help establish Amelia as an important addition to American opera. Seattle Opera intends to design and implement an overall community strategy and audience development plan that would follow Amelia from one city to the next.
It is the hope that this groundbreaking collaboration with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will create a new model for opera companies that will encourage the development and performance of contemporary opera.