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Annual Festival to Create, Develop, and Perform New Opera

{NOW} Fest '20 is presented in-residence at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and in collaboration with
with Oberlin Conservatory, The Music Box Super Club, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
and The National Opera Association.
FREE Admission to most performances (Donations Encouraged)

CLE Premiere

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The Ghosts of Gatsby

Jan. 10, 7:30p  &  Jan. 12, 3:00p

The Music Box Supper Club

$ Ticketed Performance

Evan Mack and Joshua McGuire's
powerful new opera is 1st place winner of the 2019 National Opera Association (NOA) Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition.  Presented in a co-production with Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and in conjunction with the National Opera Association Conference.

Opera in Development

Cleveland Opera Theater, Opera in Cleveland, Cleveland Opera, {NOW} Festival

Bernarda Alba

January 17, 7:30pm 
Gamble Auditorium, BW Conservatory
Free Performance
Year 4 of the 5-year developmentalprocess.  
Use your voice to help develop new opera.
Concert Workshop Performance with Orchestra of the new Opera by Griffin Candey with libretto by OBIE-Award-winner Caridad Svich based on Garcia Lorca's last play of the same name. 

New Opera Launch

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The Green Book

January 18, 11:00am

Fynes Hall, BW Conservatory 

Free Event


Book author and playwright Calvin A. Ramsey joins us for discussion in this opera launch session surrounding Ramsey's work based on the The Negro Motorist Green Book as we begin a multi-year development of a Green Book-inspired opera.


Coal Creek

January 18, 2:00pm

Fynes Hall - BW Conservatory

Free Event


Year 2 of a multi-year developmental process of Dawn Sonntag's new opera.  Discuss and learn about the opera and provide valuable feedback to shape its development.

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Libretto Reading

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The Woman in The Wall
January 18, 4:00p
Fynes Hall - BW Conservatory
Free Event
The first libretto reading of this haunting new opera in development by librettist Sabina Balsamo and composer, Griffen Candey based on the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine.

  Join The Discussion

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New Opera Forum

January 18, 7:00pm

Fynes Hall, BW Conservatory 

Free Event

Join the discussion
about creating, developing, and producing new opera with leaders in the field. 

NOA Conference

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National Opera Association Conference '20 "Opera Rocks"

January 8 - 11, 2020
Hilton Downtown Cleveland
Featuring renowned American composer Libby Larsen.  David Bamberger will be honored with NOA's highest award, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Howard Watkins will receive the "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award.

World Premiere

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The Wild Beast

of The Bungalow

Jan. 29 - Feb. 2, '20 7:30pm

Warner Concert Hall, Oberlin College

Free Performance


Oberlin Conservatory presents  the World premiere of this opera by Award-winning team of Rachel J. Peters and Royce Vavrek.  New Production directed by Christopher Mirto and conducted by Joseph Hodge.

CLE Opera Theater hosts the

talkback and reception Jan. 29

About {NewOperaWorks} Festival

Annual event series to Create, Develop, and Perform New Opera

The Future of Opera is {NOW}

Cleveland Opera Theater launched {NOW} Fest in 2017 with the vision to develop an international destination event for new opera.  The festival grew from 87 attendees in 2017 to 551 in 2018 to more than 1000 in 2019.  Your support continues the growth of this important festival.


A unique blend of process and performance, {NOW Fest} presents new opera at the beginning, middle, and end of creative development, ranging from readings and workshops to complete productions.  Repertoire includes work commissioned and developed by Cleveland Opera Theater and in partnership with other opera companies and institutions, and also presents repertoire produced by other organizations in conjunction with the festival.  {NOW Fest} provides unique opportunities for audience members to engage with the creative teams in talk-back sessions following performances.


{NOW Fest} leverages collaborations with internationally recognized partners and artists and students in Greater Cleveland to create needed opportunities for new opera to be seen and heard, and gives voice to composers, librettists, and other artists seeking to develop and perform their work. 


{NOW} Fest '20 is presented in-residence at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and in collaboration with
with Oberlin Conservatory, The Music Box Super Club, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and The National Opera Association.

Let your voice be heard

Engage with the creative team and performing artists in talk back sessions that follow {NOW} Fest performances.  Share what moves you, discuss ideas, and let your voice be heard in the creation and development of new opera.


Help produce new opera

We need your support to sustain this vital work. 

No contribution is too small to help foster new opera. 


Please donate to today:

Cash or Check: Talk to a Cleveland Opera Theater Staff member on-site at a performance or via credit card here

New Opera Repertoire Commissions

The House of Bernarda Alba, is our first commissioned work and our current opera in development within the {NOW} Festival. This opera is based on Garcia Lorca's final play and features an all female cast, and bi-lingual (English / Spanish) libretto written by OBIE-Award-Winning librettist, Caridad Svich, with music by rising star composer, Griffin Candey.  {NOW} Fest '20 presents a workshop of the opera with singers and orchestra, {NOW} Fest '19 presented a piano / voice workshop of scenes, 2018 Libretto Workshop, 2017 Play Reading - all in preparation for the 2021 World Premiere.

Mid-West, Regional, and Cleveland Premiere Productions

  • Du Yun and librettist Royce Vavrek's Angel's Bone (co-production with Oberlin Conservatory)

  • Dawn Sonntag's Verlorene Heimat (in Collaboration with the Cleveland Composers' Guild)

  • Larry Delinger's Amelia Lost (co-production with Marble City Opera)

  • Nkeiru Okoye's, Harriet Tubman: When I crossed that line to freedom (co-production with Oberlin Conservatory)

  • Frédéric Chaslin and librettist P.H. Fisher's Clarimonde (co-production with On Site Opera and Cleveland Public Theatre)



Workshops and Previews:

  • New Opera Scenes in Collaboration with the Cleveland Composer's Guild - World Premiere.

  • The Story of An Hour by Scott Little and Tim Tibbitts - Workshop Reading

  • We've Got Our Eye on You by Nkeiru Okoye and David Cote'sFull Libretto reading and preview of Act I.

Critical Acclaim for New Opera

"Cleveland Opera Theater unveils the future of opera with cutting-edge NOW Festival" (preview)
-Plain Dealer read more
CLE Opera Theater earned critical acclaim for productions of new operas before launching the {NOW} Festival:
The Midwest premiere of Nkeiru Okoye's new opera Harriet Tubman: When I crossed that line to freedom (2016) offered "an emotionally charged and musically sublime experience" in a touring co-production with Oberlin Opera Theater that reached diverse audiences throughout Northeast Ohio at five venues. 
A Streetcar Named Desire (2015 )was a "powerful and relevant experience, with first-rate stage direction,
good singers and a sure baton directing the surging score."
Cleveland Opera Theater "seduced listeners" with the new Vampire opera, Clarimonde, in 2014

{NOW} Festival Annual Programming:


New Opera Commissions

New operas commissioned by Cleveland Opera Theater, or co-commissioned in partnership with other opera companies and developers of new opera.  This is a multi-year process during which he commissioned opera is developed through a progressive series of readings and workshops to eventually receive the World Premiere performance on the {NOW} Festival Main Stage or in collaboration with the main stage of producing partners.

Collaborative Development

New operas presented in readings or developmental workshops.  This may be a one-off for a composer / librettist team seeking developmental support or in collaboration with other opera companies, opera incubators and freelance composers offering single or multi-year project development and workshopping support.

Premiere Performances

Exciting new operas selected by our artistic team to present as Cleveland, Regional, or World premiere performances on the {NOW} Festival Main stage or as a co-production that is presented in collaboration with the {NOW} Festival.  These may be operas that we've workshopped on previous festivals, or operas that we are presenting for the first time.

Talkback Sessions

Talkback sessions follow each {NOW} Festival performance.  Members of the audience engage in dialogue with the creative teams and performing artists in lively post-performance discussions that provide insight and generate constructive feedback to help shape the development of the new works.

New Opera Forum

An inspiring and informative interactive panel discussion held annually featuring composers, librettists, conductors, directors, performers, musicologists and producers featured on the {NOW} Festival.   The audience participates in Q&A with our distinguished panel.

Performance Venues

Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music

{NOW} Fest '20 will be in residence at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory - Minutes from Cleveland Hopkins Airport


 Performances in two venues in The Kulas Musical Arts Building:

Gamble Auditorium

Fynes Hall

There is ample on street parking and also additional parking in a lot at the corner of Seminary and Church Street


Kulas Musical Arts Building

96 Front St, Berea, OH 44017

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