Aria Institute: Chamber Opera Edition (December 2021-January 2022)

In December 2021, Really Spicy Opera will offer the tenth installment of its Aria Institute for Composers and Librettists online, with a $300 reservation and recording fee charge. Designed to build on participants’ experience and familiarity with prior content, this installment will focus specifically on writing operatically for 2-3 voices.

About the Aria Institute

Each offering of the Aria Institute channels a selected group of composers and librettists through a practical training program focused on writing a specific subset of opera composition (e.g., arias, duets, and scenes). The Chamber Opera Edition will specifically have participants write:

  • 2 scenes with arias
  • a duet or trio
  • a 4-voice ensemble number

The Aria Institute provides opportunities for librettists (or aspiring librettists) and composers to work with professional performers in a workshop environment to explore writing opera.

Each Saturday, the accepted librettist-and-composer teams will receive instruction and other guidance in writing and refining opera music. Each draft composition will be reviewed by and receive private feedback from our panel of directors, after which there will be an interval for revisions. On the following Saturday, the revised pieces will be sightread by our performers, feedback and further guidance follows, and the process repeats. At the end of the main workshop, participants will vote on which pieces will be showcased in a livestreamed online recital.

A decorative image of musical notes flying out of an up-do of hair.


The December 2021-January 2022 Aria Institute will be led by:

  • Tess Altiveros (faculty at Seattle University)
  • Basil Considine (Artistic Director of Really Spicy Opera)
  • Anne Wieben (Creative Director of Opera on the Lake)

Artists in Residence:

  • TBD


There is no specific age requirement for the Aria Institute. However, participants must:

  1. Be current residents of the United States.
  2. Have prior experience writing and notating vocal music (composers) or poetry and/or drama (librettists).
  3. Commit to the full Aria Institute schedule (see below).
  4. Be willing to try something new.
  5. Be open to giving and receiving constructive feedback throughout the 3-week journey.
  6. In December 2021
    • Both: Attended the Aria Institute: Soprano Edition or Mezzo Edition, or received a specific invitation from one of the co-directors.
    • Both: Attended the Aria Institute: Duet/Trio Edition.
    • Librettists: Attended the Libretto Workshop.

In keeping with the mission of Really Spicy Opera, women are strongly encouraged to apply. Four slots are specifically reserved for female/female-identified participants.

Schedule and Access

All times in Central Time.

All participants must have access to a high-speed Internet connection and a desktop or laptop computer (not a smart phone or tablet) with a webcam that can run Zoom. A headset with a microphone is strongly recommended.

Composers must have also convenient access to music notation software that can produce a piano-vocal score in PDF format.

The draft schedule for the December 2021-January 2022 offering of the Aria Institute is:

  • Saturday, 12/4
    • All: 3 PM-6:30 PM 
  • Sunday, 12/5-Monday, 12/6
    • Writing Days
  • Tuesday, 12/7
    • Writing & Feedback Day
    • Feedback Sessions Scheduled via Sign-Ups*

Wednesday, 12/8-Thursday, 12/9: Off/Revisions

Friday, 12/10: Scores due at 8 AM

  • Saturday, 12/11
    • All: 3 PM-6:30 PM 
  • Sunday, 12/12-Monday, 12/13
    • Writing Days
  • Tuesday, 12/14
    • Writing & Feedback Day
    • Feedback Sessions Scheduled via Sign-Ups*

Wednesday, 12/15-Thursday, 12/16: Off/Revisions

Friday, 12/17: Scores due at 8 AM

  • Saturday, 12/18
    • All: 3 PM-6:30 PM 
  • Sunday, 12/19-Monday, 12/20
    • Writing Days
  • Tuesday, 12/21
    • Writing & Feedback Day
    • Feedback Sessions Scheduled via Sign-Ups*

Wednesday, 12/22-Thursday, 1/6: Off/Revisions/Holiday

Friday, 1/7: Scores due at 8 AM

  • Saturday, 1/8
    • All: 3 PM-6:30 PM 
  • Sunday, 1/9-Monday, 1/10
    • Writing Days
  • Tuesday, 1/11
    • Writing & Feedback Day
    • Feedback Sessions Scheduled via Sign-Ups*

Wednesday, 1/12-Thursday, 1/13: Off/Revisions

Friday, 1/14: Scores due at 8 AM

  • Saturday, 1/15
    • All: 12 PM-3:30 PM

Showcase: TBD

* – Each team will be scheduled for a specific time window within this time..

Application Instructions

Note: The application requires a free Google email account to fill out. 

Apply now! Rolling admissions in-progress.

Pay Your Deposit

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there an age limit to participate in the Aria Institute?


Are there are any costs or fees associated with attending the Aria Institute?

Yes. For the Chamber Opera Edition, there is a $300 reservation and recording fee. This fee will:

  • reserve your slot, and
  • specifically pay performers for the licensing necessary for you to get reference copies of all works that you produce as part of this Aria Institute installment.

Why are you charging this larger fee?

Making great art requires great artists which requires paying great artists. We work very hard to keep costs down, including applying for public and private funding and fundraising. However, the Chamber Opera edition is considerably more expensive to mount than our other offerings.

One of the most commonly requested element is to get copies of all recordings. This is a separate service than live musical readings, and needs to be paid accordingly because we value our artists’ work.

While the $300 fee represents a small fraction of the actual Aria Institute costs, we are working to obtain additional funding to subsidize it further.

Can I apply as a composer-librettist?

No. To participate in the Aria Institute, you must pick one of these roles to practice for the duration. What you do afterwards is up to you, but our particular process includes collaborating with another writer to see what interesting and exciting fusion is created.

I’m not available for all of the dates and times – can I skip some?

No. Signing up for the Aria Institute is an all-inclusive deal: we fully commit to you, and you fully commit to us for the designated days and times. If the December-January offering doesn’t work with your schedule, the best thing to do is to apply for a later round of the Aria Institute.


Cultivating drama that burns and music that sates.