Frontiers Libretto Workshop page strip.j

October 7 & 8, 2020

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM CT

Thursday, October 8, 2020

7:30 PM - 9:30 PM CT

Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop is an exciting exploration of operatic storytelling, and the eighth installment of the company’s innovative new works showcase. Led by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist and lyricist Mark Campbell, this two-night online event will be held in front of a live Zoom audience. While the first seven installments of Frontiers highlighted thrilling new unproduced works-in-progress, the company’s latest workshop strips away the musical elements and focusses entirely upon the text of new operas in-the-making. In addition to Mr. Campbell’s presence, FWO’s workshop will feature a distinguished panel of librettists, composers, directors, and artists, including Héctor Armienta, Nicole BrooksOctavio CardenasBlythe GaissertAlison Moritz, Rachel J. Peters, Kelley Rourke, and Talise Trevigne

Night One

Anita Gonzalez

Alejandra Villarreal Martinez

Julian Crouch


Night Two

Kaitlin Sullivan

Joshua Banbury

Caitlin Vincent


The Actors

Itzel Ayala

Jovane Caamaño

Claudia Chapa

Stormi Demerson

Luther Lewis

Adam Richardson

FRONTIERS: Libretto Workshop Panelists

Mark Campbell

The work of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell is at the forefront of the contemporary opera scene in this country. Mark has written 38 opera librettos, lyrics for 7 musicals and text for 5 song cycles and 2 oratorios. His best known works are Silent Night, Sanctuary Road, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, As One, Elizabeth Cree, Stonewall, Later the Same Evening, The Manchurian Candidate, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, and Songs from an Unmade Bed. Mark also mentors future generations of opera composers and librettists through such organizations as the American Opera Project, American Lyric Theater and the American Opera Initiative and recently created the first prize in the history of opera designated specifically for opera librettists, called the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize.


Héctor Armienta

Héctor Armienta, a nationally recognized composer/librettist, focuses on creating work that explores the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural experience. His awards and commissions include those from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Southwest, Opera Pacific, the Pacific Symphony, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and others. His work for orchestra, theater, and opera has received support from seven NEA grants in artistic excellence. Upcoming projects include Mi Camino and the world premiere of Zorro. Drawing on his training as a classical composer, his mission is to reinvent classical musical forms by incorporating music from both sides of the border.


Nicole Brooks

In the performing arts world, Nicole Brooks is beyond a triple-threat. Her extensive accomplishments include: filmmaker, director, performer, singer, playwright, composer, curator, teacher and ‘art-ivist’. Brooks has devoted over 20 years producing innovative content (for the stage and screen), with a focus on narratives that illuminate the peoples of the African Diaspora. In 2012, Brooks officially added playwright to her list of talents. Her debut theatrical work Obeah Opera - which she created, wrote, composed and performs in - has been staged in various incarnations from festivals to staged workshop productions in Toronto between 2009 and 2014. Honored with a Dora nomination for Outstanding New Opera/Musical in 2012 and with continued development thereafter, an updated version of Obeah Opera premiered in August 2015, as a prestigious commission from the cultural arm of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games.  Its final incarnation mounted in June 2019 as part of the critically acclaimed roaster of the Luminato Festival in Toronto and was honored with two additional DORA nominations in 2020 for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Feature Performance. 


Octavio Cardenas

Stage director Octavio Cardenas captivates audiences with his visionary, visceral, and physical style of directing. Born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, Opera News has praised him for “an immersive theater experience” while the Dallas Morning News hailed him for bringing “every character and situation to life.” Recent projects include Dead Man Walking for Opera Delaware and La boheme for Des Moines Metro Opera and Madame Butterfly for Opera Santa Barbara. As the former Director of Opera for Baylor University, Mr. Cardenas directed productions of L’elisir d’amoreThe Turn of the ScrewDialogues of the Carmelites, and Rita. He has served as the Head of the Directing Staff at Des Moines Metro Opera and has also been part of the directing staff at Chautauqua Opera.


Blythe Gaissert

Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert has established herself as one of the preeminent interpreters of some of the brightest stars of new classical music. A true singing actress, she has received critical acclaim for her interpretations of both new and traditional repertoire in opera, concert, and chamber repertoire. “Gaissert gave a dramatically powerful, vocally stunning portrait of a woman growing increasingly desperate and delusional from lack of contact with the outer world. Gaissert’s development of Loats’s personality was utterly believable, and she gave a virtuoso performance of this very challenging music” (Arlo McKinnon, Opera News for The Echo Drift). Known for her warm tone, powerful stage presence, and impeccable musicianship and technical prowess….”Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert was impossible to ignore as the headstrong Mother Marie. She has a pure, powerful and appealing voice and a forceful stage presence to match.” (Denver Post).


Alison Moritz

Alison Moritz’s productions have been lauded as “raw, funny, surreal, and disarmingly human” by Opera News. Upcoming 2020-2021 projects include new productions for Glimmerglass, Chicago Opera Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, and world premieres for Experiments in Opera and Contemporaneous. In fall of 2020, Alison makes her first foray into the world of VR directing Miranda - a dystopian satire imagining an alternative American legal system (Sankaram/Reese; co-produced by LUMA Projection Festival and Tri-Cities Opera). Her 2019-2020 season included mainstage debuts at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Omaha, the Ravinia Festival, and Rice University. Other recent directing highlights include the world premieres of Taking Up Serpents (Sankaram/Dye; Washington National Opera), Candide (Tanglewood), Chunky in Heat (Experiments in Opera), and Penelope (Snider/McLaughlin; new performing edition for Lyric Opera of Kansas City). Committed to contemporary American repertoire, Alison has workshopped pieces for Opera Philadelphia, directed the world premiere of Proving Up (Mazzoli/Vavrek; Washington National Opera), and created a visceral new production of The Manchurian Candidate (Puts/Campbell; Austin Opera) in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election. 


Rachel J. Peters

Composer/librettist Rachel J. Peters writes all manner of works for the stage. Operas: Companionship (Fort Worth Opera), Rootabaga Country (Sarasota Opera), The Wild Beast of the Bungalow (Oberlin Conservatory), No Ladies in the Lady’s Book (Utah Opera). Steve (Boston Opera Collaborative), Musicals: Only Children (NYU), Tiny Feats of Cowardice (NYC Fringe), Tomato Red (UC Irvine), Octopus Heart (NYU). Concert works: Ethel Smyth Plays Golf in Limbo (Semperoper Dresden), If You Can Prove That I Should Set You Free (Albany Symphony), Jack's Vocabulary (Hartt School), Fronds: The Wisdom of Fanny Fern (Walt Whitman Project). Contributor to The AIDS Quilt Songbook. Scores for plays: Stretch (a fantasia) (New Georges), Tania in the Getaway Van (Flea Theater), Transatlantic (Arkansas Rep). Upcoming premieres: Opera Kansas, Opera Steamboat, Lyric Opera of the North.


Kelley Rourke

Kelley Rourke is a librettist, translator and dramaturg. Her work has been commissioned and performed by Washington National Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Young People’s Chorus of NYC, Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera, Carnegie Hall, Urban Arias, Met LiveArts, Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, On Site Opera, San Francisco Conservatory, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Atlanta Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Nautilus Music-Theater, among others. Kelley has been a guest lecturer at Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and she is librettist mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. She is resident dramaturg for Washington National Opera and The Glimmerglass Festival.


Talise Trevigne

Grammy-nominated American soprano Talise Trevigne made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut last fall as Kitty Heart in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and joined the Metropolitan Opera cast of Porgy & Bess. Besides creating key roles in the world premieres of Moby-Dick, JFK, Proving Up and It’s A Wonderful Life, she has headlined productions on both sides of the Atlantic, proving herself “a Butterfly worthy of mention alongside Maria Callas” (Voix des Arts).  Last season Miss Trevigne debuted the role of Ma in Missy Mazzoli/Royce Vavrek’s highly lauded Proving Up at Omaha Opera and at Lincoln Centre and made a further role debut at Madison Opera as Nedda Pagliacci. She travelled to Theater Basel for one of her signature roles, Cio-Cio-san in Madama Butterfly, a role that originally brought her great accolades at North Carolina Opera and at Kentucky Opera. She finished the season at Cincinnati Opera in the title role in Porgy & Bess reviving her great success in the role at Glimmerglass Festival the previous season.


Hailed as “one of the most significant music events of the year” by D Magazine, Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase has yielded numerous regional and world premieres since its inception. Commissioned by the American Lyric Theater, Patrick Soluri and Deborah Brevoort’s macabre, Edgar Allan Poe-inspired opera Embedded (Frontiers 2013) appeared during Fort Worth Opera’s 2016 Festival. Matthew Peterson and Jason Zencka’s critically acclaimed, true crime opera Voir Dire (Frontiers 2014) proved to be a highlight of the company’s 2017 Festival and recently received its official cast album recording. Composer and librettist Rachel J. Peters’ acclaimed dark comedy Companionship (Frontiers 2018) received its world premiere during FWO’s 2019 Festival.


Beyond North Texas, Robert Paterson and David Cote’s trio of comic, one-act operas, Three Way, premiered at Nashville Opera and BAM Fisher in 2017, and Opera Colorado presented the world premiere of Gerald Cohen and Deborah Brevoort’s true-life WWII romance, Steal a Pencil for Me (Frontiers 2016) during their 2018 season. Griffin Candey and Thom Miller’s delectable dark comedy, Sweets by Kate (Frontiers 2017), received its NYC premiere at the legendary Stonewall Inn in July of 2017 with OperaRox Productions. In 2019, Clint Borzoni and John de los Santos’ erotic opera, When Adonis Calls (Frontiers 2015), received its world premiere by Asheville Lyric Opera.


Anita Gonzalez

Anita Gonzalez ( directs, devises and writes theatrical works. Her innovative stagings of historical and cross-cultural experiences have appeared on PBS national television and at Lincoln Center Out-of Doors, The Working Theatre, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, New York Live Arts, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and other national and international venues. Her musical writings include Zora on My Mind (under development), Ybor City (Cuban unionists, readings, rhumba, and smoke converge in 1918 Tampa, Florida), Ayanna Kelly (a Black Caribbean woman time travels through British pubs until she finds self-discovery) and Home of My Ancestors (2017) with composer Nkeiru Okoye for HGOCo. Gonzalez also founded the Anishinaaabe Theatre Exchange in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to engage Ojibwe communities in dialogue through theatrical performance. 

Anita is a Professor of Theatre and Associate Dean in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan where she promotes internationalism in the arts, engaged learning, and interdisciplinary research. She is the Artistic Director of Art, a member of the Dramatists Guild, the National Theatre Conference, the League of Professional Women in Theatre, and a founding member of the Urban Bush Women. The NEA, NYFA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Mid Atlantic Arts Association, the Bellagio Center, and the FIDEOCOMISO for United States/ Mexico Arts exchange have all funded her work. She also teaches regularly at the National Theatre Institute/O’Neill Center. 

Gonzalez holds a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies and her interdisciplinary initiatives have included projection mapped performances of The Hunting of the Snark, The Living Lakes (about Black and Latino migrations in the Great Lakes), a performance installation and lecture series titled “Conjuring the Caribbean.” In 2018 she created a massive open online course Storytelling for Social Change” with over 20,000 learners to date. Anita has completed three international Fulbright awards. Her books Afro-Mexico: Dancing Between Myth and Reality(2010) and Jarocho’s Soul (2005) reveal the influence of African people and their cultural productions on Mexico. She co-edited the volume Black Performance Theory(Duke University Press 2013) with Tommy DeFrantz and is a co-series editor for the Dance in Dialogue book series at Bloomsbury Press. 


Alejandra Villarreal Martinez

Alejandra Villarreal Martinez is a soprano and aspiring librettist originally from Los Angeles. She made her professional singing debut with Long Beach Opera’s 2017 production of Frida, which sparked in her a passion for contemporary opera. Since then, she has gone on to perform in several modern and contemporary works, including Ainadamar (Golijov/Hwang), Three Tales (Reich/Korot), and The Love Potion (Martin/Bédier/trans. MacDonald), and will soon help create roles in The Jungle (Griffith/Ricciardi) and What the Horse Eats! (Phan/Hoang). Her work as a singer has helped develop her skills as a librettist and her texts have since been set by composers such as Lauren Bernofsky and Nicholas Landrum. Recently, she helped develop The Lunchbox Project, a children's opera commissioned by Reimagining Opera for Kids. Ms. Martinez holds a special desire to honor Latin American identities and experiences in classical music and she works closely with the Latin American Music Center at Indiana University. She is pursuing her Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Jacobs School of Music and holds degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Miami, and Stanford University.


Julian Crouch

Julian Crouch is best known as a designer and director. His best known projects in the US include Shockheaded Peter and Satyagraha (for the Met Opera). Other operas for the Met include Doctor Atomic, The Enchanted Island and The Merry Widow. Broadway includes Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Head Over Heels, The Addams Family and Big Fish. Most recently he designed A Little Shop Of Horrors Off Broadway. With the experience of many devised shows for his UK company Improbable Theatre, two years ago he turned his hand to Libretto writing, and was accepted as a fellow on The American Lyric Theater’s Composer/Librettist program. He currently has three full length operas in development, of which The Sailmaker’s wife is the latest. His post Covid experience has drawn him to film and he has just finished
animating Du Yun’s A Cockroach’s Tarantella.


Kaitlin Sullivan

Kaitlin Sullivan is a writer from Yonkers, NY who specializes in slapstick comedy, feminist body horror, and children’s verismo. She recently completed a master’s in libretto writing from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and has a background in animation. When she’s not deep in multilingual research for a WWII biography, she is a passionate disciple of Rose Schneiderman.


Joshua Banbury

Joshua Banbury is an emerging, multidimensional vocal artist and writer. Originally from Austin, Texas, he uses his facility as a classically trained singer for the stasis of his art. Joshua graduated with honors from The New School, having studied opera performance, vocal jazz, playwriting and social science.


Today, he creates original operas, plays and audio/visual presentations. In addition to his writing, Joshua is a rising jazz vocalist and folklorist, set to release his first album of American folk music this fall, sponsored by the National YoungArts Foundation.


He has recently sung at venues such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Glimmerglass Opera, The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Mintons Playhouse. Joshua is slated to make his Kennedy Center debut with his trio spring of 2021. For more information please visit


Caitlin Vincent

Caitlin Vincent is an American librettist and lyricist whose writing has been praised as ‘nuanced and honest’ (DC Theatre Scene), ‘intriguing’ (The Baltimore Sun), and ‘a luminous standout’ (The Huffington Post). Her opera Better Gods, with composer Luna Pearl Woolf, premiered in January 2016 at the Kennedy Center as part of Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative.  With sold-out performances, the work was acclaimed as ‘fascinating and heart-wrenching’ (DC Metro Theatre Arts), told ‘with brutal honesty through Caitlin Vincent’s stirring libretto’ (Broadway World). In August 2017, Vincent and composer Douglas Buchanan won the Sackler Music Composition Prize to fund a new one-hour opera about Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female aviator, and Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas.  Bessie and Ma premiered at the University of Connecticut in March 2019. Other recent works include the opera Tienda (2019) with composer Reinaldo Moya for the Schubert Club of Minnesota, the chamber piece Ella Que Llora (2019) with composer D. J. Sparr, and the monodrama Godiva (2019) with composer Juliana Hall for mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately and the Oxford Lieder Festival.  In December 2020, bass-baritone Zachary James will premiere Vincent’s latest collaboration with Juliana Hall, a monodrama based on Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick, as part of the visual album Call Out.  A classically-trained soprano, Vincent graduated cum laude from Harvard University and holds an MM degree from the Peabody Conservatory and a PhD from Deakin University in Australia.  She is currently on faculty at the University of Melbourne where she researches the future of work in the arts. Her first book, Digital Scenography in Opera in the 21st Century, is forthcoming from Routledge in 2021/22.


FRONTIERS: FWO Libretto Workshop 




In creating this program, Fort Worth Opera wanted to provide librettists with a platform for dramaturgical development and assure the industry and opera lovers everywhere that the storytellers within this incredible art form would not be neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company continues its commitment to supporting the creation of new works, and Frontiers: FWO Libretto Workshop will provide librettists with an exclusive opportunity to hone their craft. Not only will they experience passages of their libretto performed by professional actors, but they will receive real-time feedback from some of the top creative minds in opera. Librettists will also be able to obtain a recording of the Zoom workshop to assist them further in their compositional process. 

This collaborative series is presented free of charge to all participating librettists and auditors. Donations of any amount are encouraged and accepted in support of Fort Worth Opera’s educational programming. Click HERE to learn more. 



Librettists from the Americas (citizens or residents of North, Central, and South America, as well as associated territories) are eligible and invited to submit a libretto. All application materials must be submitted electronically through the Frontiers web portal. Six libretti will be selected and showcased. Works not selected will not be automatically reconsidered for future showcases. 


Submissions will be accepted through Monday, September 14, 2020, at midnight. On Tuesday, September 29, six librettists will be chosen, and the winning selections will be publicly announced. Only completed libretti will be considered. Due to the online forum of this workshop, libretti must be in English, and submissions must include a synopsis. There is no fee for submissions. Fort Worth Opera retains the right to select fewer than six works for the showcase. 


Our mission at Fort Worth Opera is to educate, entertain, and expand the horizons of current and future audiences and artists through variety and artistic integrity.



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505 Pecan St, Suite 100

Fort Worth, TX 76102



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