Aria Institute

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 general principles may help you decide whether this is right for you:

  • As of March 2021, all Aria Institute programs are 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.
  • 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.

Leadership

The Aria Institute is led by three co-directors:

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.

Current Offerings

Soprano Edition

A month-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.

Mezzo Edition

A month-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 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.

Duet/Trio Edition

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.

Libretto Workshop

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.

Chamber Opera Edition

A special, month-long program for developing chamber operas. Participation is open to writing teams whose members have each individually attended at least two prior Aria Institute offerings.

Prospective participants apply as teams (prior experience working together is very strongly recommended) to each create four interlocking pieces for a new chamber opera.

Cultivating drama that burns and music that sates.