The Aria Institute for Composers and Librettists provides in-depth and accessible training for writing contemporary, English-language opera. Individuals can attend a variety of institute programs to develop their writing craft and obtain valuable practical experience in revising, promoting, and showcasing their work.
If you’re considering an Aria Institute program, these facts may help you decide whether this is right for you:
- All Aria Institute programs are currently being offered online.
- You are not required to have prior experience writing opera as a playwright or composer – although an interest and some prior experience listening to or seeing opera is helpful.
- Our schedules are specifically designed to facilitate access by working parents. As a result, we offer both afternoon and evening options for many of our programs at different parts of the year.
- We deliberately keep costs low to help promote a diversity of voices and experiences.
There is no application fee, although we charge a small reservation fee to reserve your spot once accepted. For participants in non-Libretto Workshop offerings, this fee includes access to recordings of the showcase pieces (Soprano and Mezzo Editions) or all pieces written (Duet/Trio and Chamber Opera Editions).Thanks to generous support from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Network of Ensemble Theaters, there are currently no fees.
Since launching in June 2020, two Aria Institute alums have been named Resident Artists at American Lyric Theatre and one has been accepted to the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.
The Aria Institute is made possible through the support of donors and patrons like you, and through financial support from the Network of Ensemble Theaters.
The Aria Institute is led by three co-directors:
- Tess Altiveros, a Seattle-based soprano and faculty member at Seattle University.
- Basil Considine, the artistic director of Really Spicy Opera.
- Anne Wieben, a Vienna-based soprano and creative director of Opera on the Lake.
Each of our co-directors has a professional background anchored in opera performance, from which we have built additional experience and expertise. The core team is 67% of color, 67% female, and 100% invested in helping all participants create operas that are idiomatic to sing and will resonate with both performers and audiences.
Additional leadership is provided by writers-in-residence, artists-in-residence, and (for the Duet/Trio Edition) guest artistic directors.
Standard Track: A 3.5-week-long, weekend-based intensive writing program for composers and librettists. Each week, writers will be paired up in new teams to create an original aria for soprano voice, following provided prompts and parameters. These arias will be performed in musical readings by the artists-in-residence, with select pieces being chosen for a public showcase. Each of the final writing teams will receive and execute an artist’s commission.
Instruction & feedback include presentations, listening and score examples, and personal feedback on writing for the soprano voice.
Low-Residency Track: The same as the above, but spread over a 7.5-week period, with the main group sessions every other week and twice as much time built-in for the creation and revision processes.
Apply now for the June-July 2022 low-residency installment of the Aria Institute: Soprano Edition.
A 3.5-week, weekend-based intensive writing program for composers and librettists. Each week, writers will be paired up in new teams to create an original aria for mezzo voice, following provided prompts and parameters. These arias will be performed in musical readings by the artists-in-residence, with select pieces being chosen for a public showcase. Each of the final writing teams will receive and execute an artist’s commission.
Instruction & feedback include presentations, listening and score examples, and personal feedback on writing for collegiate and mature professional mezzo voices.
Look for new dates coming September 2022.
A three-week-long, weekend-based intensive writing program for Soprano Edition or Mezzo Edition alums, focusing on writing operatic duets and trios for women’s voices. Each week, new works are reviewed and given musical readings, culminating in a public showcase.
Look for new dates coming September 2022.
A month-long program designed to familiarize both composers and librettists with core principles of writing and pitching operas. The curriculum includes:
- practical guidance on writing scenes and synopses,
- hands-on exercise writing and delivering pitches for funding and production opportunities, and
- feedback from performers, writers, producers, and directors.
Look for new dates coming May 2022.
Chamber Opera Edition
A special, 6-week-long program for developing chamber operas. Participation is open to writing teams whose members have:
- each individually attended the Soprano or Mezzo Edition,
- each individually attended the Duet/Trio Edition, and
- the librettist has attended the Libretto Workshop. (Composers are strongly recommended, but not required, to do so as well.)
Prospective participants apply as teams to each create four interlocking pieces for a new chamber opera. Prior experience working together is very strongly recommended.
Apply now for September-October 2022!