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Seattle Opera Names Inaugural Creation Lab Cohort

15 composers and librettists will create short works to be performed in 2021.

SEATTLE: Seattle Opera has announced the inaugural cohort of the Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab, an initiative aimed at supporting a new generation of Washington storytellers between the ages of 18 and 30. The 15-member cohort will create short works to be performed in Tagney Jones Hall at the Opera Center in 2021.

“Opera cannot continue without new stories and new voices to complement great works of the past,” said Seattle Opera general director Christina Scheppelmann in a statement. “I am so glad that the project has attracted high-caliber and accomplished artists, who bring diverse experiences to the program.”

The inaugural cohort of writers and composers includes James T. Washburn, Aaron Jin, Brian Dang, Mirabai Kukathas, E. Lily Yu, Chess Albaneze, Rheanna Atendido, Drew Swatosh, Christopher Reed, Steven Tran, Elise Winkler, Larisa Juno, Rico Lastrapes, Julia Koyfman, and Paul Stovall.

“As a trans and disabled artist, I’ve found it can be difficult to get the same mentorship, training, connections, and funding as my peers,” said librettist Washburn in a statement. “The fact that Seattle Opera is using its resources to bridge that gap will make a significant impact on my development as a playwright/librettist and enable me to do what I love: tell stories about people like me.”

Participants in the program began work in November, with final rehearsals and performances currently scheduled for April through June 2021. The cohort, divided into composer/librettist teams, will receive support during their development processes through table readings and music workshops. Each team will also work with Seattle Opera administrators and mentors from across the music and theatre world. This year’s mentors include Tazewell Thompson, Aishé Keita, Kamala Sankaram, Jerre Dye, and Zach Redler.

“Opera has always intimidated me,” librettist Koyfman said in a statement. “Musically it was complex, visually it was gargantuan, and culturally it felt out of reach. Though it overwhelmed me, I still listened. I attended performances at Seattle Opera. I sat fearfully out of place in my seat, waiting for the roller coaster ride to begin. Having the opportunity to be part of the Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab is incredibly meaningful to me. It’s an opportunity to turn years of fear into power and excitement.”

More information on the creation lab can be found the Seattle Opera website.

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