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The Future of Opera is {NOW}

Annual festival to CREATE, DEVELOP, and PERFORM NEW opera 

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, more than 1000 in 2019, to nearly 1,500 in 2020.

A unique blend of process and performance, {NOW} Fest presents new opera at the beginning, middle, and end of creative development. Annual festival offerings include readings, workshops, and complete productions. Repertoire includes work commissioned and developed solely by Cleveland Opera Theater, and repertoire produced in partnership with other opera companies and institutions. We also present repertoire produced by other organizations in conjunction with {NOW} Fest.


February 2022

{NOW Fest} fosters collaborations between local and internationally-recognized organizations and artists with students in Greater Cleveland to create needed opportunities for new opera to be seen and heard. The festival gives voice to composers, librettists, and other artists seeking to develop and perform their work. The festival also provides unique opportunities for audience members to engage with the creative teams in talk-back sessions following performances.

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 a bilingual (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 2022 World Premiere. Learn more about the opera here.

World Premiere Productions

  • Rachel Peters and Royce Vavrek's The Wild Beasts of The Bungalow (co-production with Oberlin Conservatory)

  • Dawn Sonntag's Verlorene Heimat (in Collaboration with the Cleveland Composers' Guild and Baldwin Wallace Conservatory) performed at the Maltz Performing Arts Center in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day

U.S. Premiere Productions

  • Jake Heggie's Newer Every Day (in collaboration with the Baldwin Wallace Symphony Orchestra) - U.S. Orchestral Premiere

Regional Premiere Productions

  • Du Yun and librettist Royce Vavrek's 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel's Bone

  • (co-production with Oberlin Conservatory)

  • Even Mack and Joshua McGuire's Award-Winning, The Ghosts of Gatsby                                                                                                (co-production with The National Opera Association, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory,                                                                        and The Music Box Supper Club)

  • 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) presented on Halloween

  • Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek's Proving Up (co-production with Oberlin Conservatory)


Workshops and Previews:

  • New Opera Scenes in Collaboration with the Cleveland Composer's Guild

  • 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's Full Libretto reading and preview of Act I.


"Cleveland Opera Theater unveils the future of opera with cutting-edge NOW Festival" 

- The Plain Dealer (read more)

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." ​ - The Plain Dealer (read more)

Asymmetrical shape

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." - The Plain Dealer (read more)

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