Opera Maine is always seeking ways which will allow us to strengthen and build relationships within our community. We do this by developing not only individual relationships, but also relationships with other organizations, businesses, and foundations. Made possible with the support of The Crewe Foundation and an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation we launched an innovative program called An Opera is Born of Our Community in July 2017.

The project’s main aim is to prepare youth for future success by guiding them through the inspiration, development, and completion of a creative project. An Opera is Born of Our Community is sponsored and coordinated by Opera Maine with the collaboration of three key players: The Telling Room, composer Dan Sonenberg, and the University of Southern Maine. All share a core belief that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success.

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. The Telling Room led a 30-hour summer camp where students created a libretto, a story they wanted to share with the world. Dan Sonenberg, composer in residence at The University of Southern Maine, whose opera The Summer King premiered in Portland in 2014, now has the libretto and is writing a one-act chamber opera. The opera will be presented by the USM Voice Department in free performances at the university, and subsequently in public schools attended by the students who created the libretto in April 2018.

The writers are being provided a fully immersive educational opera experience that includes:

  • Attending, free of charge, Opera Maine’s productions of La traviata and An American Dream
  • Conversing with the composer and performers to expound on the plot and characters they create
  • Attending rehearsals by the performers to experience another aspect of the creative process
  • Attending the premiere of their work and subsequent performances that promote their achievement.

The USM singers who will perform the work will have the opportunity to experience how a new opera is developed which will greatly enhance their education as musicians.

This is the first time that Opera Maine has commissioned a new work!