The American Opera Initiative, a worthy project launched last year by Washington National Opera, will be back this season with more premieres.
Three 20-minute operas on American subjects, including a work by the Baltimore team of composer Joshua Bornfield and librettist Caitlin Vincent, will get their first hearings on Nov. 13 at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.
Bornfield and Vincent recently collaborated on "Camelot Requiem," an effective opera commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. For American Opera Initiative, the team is creating "Uncle Alex," an opera dealing with the immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in 1907 and "an unexpected act of heroism" that ensues.
The other 20-minute pieces will be "Breaking," by Michael Gilbertson (composer) and Caroline McGraw (libretto), about a TV reporter; and "Duffy’s Cut," by Jennifer Bellor (composer) and Elizabeth Reeves (libretto), about the ghosts of Irish immigrants.
The American Opera Initiative also includes a new hour-long work each year ("Approaching Ali," with music by Baltimore School for the Arts alum DJ Sparr, bowed last June). This season will see the premiere of of "An American Solider," by composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang, in June 2014. The work is based on a true story of a Chinese-American soldier killed in Afghanistan.