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Seattle Opera.

Jane Lang
Davis
Creation Lab

Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab

APPLY now for the 2021/22 Creation Lab! 

Are you a young composer or librettist living in Washington? Learn how you can get involved and be a part of our next class of creators. Applications due May 3, 2021!

LEARN MORE AND APPLY

 

EXPERIMENT. COLLABORATE. CREATE.

Seattle Opera seeks to cultivate the next generation of opera composers and librettists in Washington State through our Creation Lab. Beginning in the 2020/21 season, Seattle Opera will present eight new works by eight Washington State composer and librettist teams. These short operas will tell the diverse stories of our region through new compositions by local artists.

Composers, songwriters, librettists, and lyricists of all genres are encouraged to apply to create new operas that tell compelling, resonant stories through vocal music. Selected participants will develop a 20-minute opera to be presented in a concert format for a public audience in Tagney Jones Hall at the Opera Center in 2021. Each opera will undergo a development process that includes a table reading, music workshop, and rehearsal prior to the public performance. The creative teams will receive support from professional composers and librettists as they develop their work. 

2020/21 participant bios

CHESS ALBANEzE

Chess Albaneze

Chess Albaneze is a 29-year-old genderfluid autistic trans man from Seattle, Washington. Starting in the visual arts, Chess has used his autistic superpowers to transpose unique visuals to music. He has been composing for six years, and in that time has had his work guest-featured in Mary Bichner’s Autumn Suite (2017), composed the original soundtrack for Transient (a 2018 documentary film by Mark Janavel depicting various interviews by trans folks during the first 100 days of Trump in office), and currently composes for the roleplaying adventure podcast Dandies in Danger (ongoing, available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube). Chess is most inspired by Schubert’s lieder, Verdi’s operas, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Gabriel-era Genesis, and modern progressive bands such as Son Lux. He believes that music’s most important aspect is its ability to tell a moving, emotional story, which is why he is especially drawn to opera and art song. This love of storytelling extends to his other works, such as original comics, prose, crafting an original tarot deck, and even drag kinging (the art of dressing as a man for performance). Through all his projects, one thing remains constant: the love of eliciting empathy from the audience.

Chess was trained on the violin, piano, and voice, but halted voice training from what he would eventually discover was gender dysphoria. Nevertheless, these lessons greatly informed his ability to compose for the voice. Chess’s genderfluidity informs his current song cycle Becoming Hyde, which features Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous characters Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sung by solo tenor with piano. Both characters weave in and out of the same voice, and, in choosing not to label which character is singing, Chess crafts the music itself to inform the singer through tonal color and clever use of character-assigned keys. “I wanted the characters to remain fluid, as through my own experience I find that I ebb in and out of different gender identities, yet always remain, at the core, myself.”

Chess’s music is Romantic in style, with an underlying melancholy and frailty, at times weaving between bitterly visceral and delicately haunting. He believes art has a moral responsibility to society, and thinks critically before creating art in any of his mediums. He believes art’s greatest power is to help people empathize with experiences outside of their own, and that empathy is our greatest tool against hatred and discrimination.

KYLEIGH ARCHER

Kyleigh Archer

Kyleigh Archer is a director, designer, and theater teaching artist. Graduated from Cornish with B.F.A in Theatre, in both the acting and technical realms; they have spent the last 7 years working with school districts and non-profits to bring the joys of theater, puppetry, story telling, and improv to students. They are currently the Artistic Associate at Broadway Bound and a teaching artist at Seattle Children's Theatre.

RHEANNA ATENDIDO

Rheanna Atendido

Rheanna Atendido is a second-generation Filipino-American playwright, born and raised in the greater Seattle area. She is a multifaceted singer-songwriter, playwright-composer, and waffle enthusiast. Both her personality and her music have been described as wordy, quirky, and complicated. As a self-taught musician, Atendido has spent the past couple decades writing songs and developing her signature acoustic-pop vibes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater, Psychology, and a minor in music from the University of Washington. There, she received the Mary Gates Scholarship for the development of her debut pop-operetta Breakup Bench. Since then, she has composed for companies such as Book-It Repertory, ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, and The Horse in Motion. Other works include Cultural Essay and Tides of Fortune with Mara Palma in residency with The 5th Avenue Theatre. As a performer, she has been seen on stage at The 5th Avenue Theatre (Mamma Mia!, AMT Northwest Bookshelf), Seattle Repertory (The Odyssey), Village Theatre (ZM), and Taproot (Bright Star). Atendido is currently self producing another pop album of original songs, set to release early next year.

Brian Dang

Brian Dang

Brian Dang (they/them) is a playwright based in Duwamish Territory (Seattle). Brian is a proud resident playwright at Parley. For Brian, playwriting is an act of envisioning an eventual communing – of ideas and people in shared creation. Their writing has been workshopped with Pork Filled Productions, Karen’s Secret Army, Theatre Battery, and the Undergraduate Theater Society. In the next year, Brian will be a 2020-21 Hugo House Fellow and have their play h*llo k*tty syndrome supported by 4Culture and Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. Brian is also an arts administrator, serving as the Literary Manager of Washington Ensemble Theatre. They’re grateful for having somehow convinced the world they can read and write.

Aaron Jin

Aaron Jin

Aaron Jin is a gay, Asian-American writer and filmmaker raised in the theatre world. With the limited gay stories, few Asian stories, and nearly no gay Asian stories, Aaron seeks bring his stories to life. His recent treatment for a mother-son film Blondie was a finalist in NFFTY’s first ever Short Film Treatment Competition. His producing debut Stormy Skies focused on a video-game-infused lesbian love story, and he is developing his first feature length script Sorry I Kissed You after a workshop at the Playground Experiment and Sundance Collab’s Writing Your Comedy Feature class.

Recently, Aaron was an actor and music director with the landmark 5th Avenue Theatre. He acted in the feature film Potato Dreams and his solo show was a finalist for the Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre’s NUWORKS Festival. A passionate artist and activist trained through artEquity’s national facilitator training program, he served on grant panels, led activism-focused workshops, and markets for nonprofit arts organizations in Seattle.

Julia Sonya Koyfman

Julia Sonya Koyfman

Julia Sonya Koyfman is an award-winning lyricist/ librettist, screenwriter, filmmaker, comedian, and performer. Based in Seattle, Julia is actively creating New Works for the stage and Digital Theater, including the mini online musical, "Close (But Not Too Close)", for which she wrote the lyrics. In 2015, Julia founded, wrote, and performed in the "From Seattle With Love" Concert Series, a mix of music and storytelling, which showcased up-in-coming Washington musicians and performers. The series later spun off with "Why Won’t He Call Me Back: A Live Nervous Breakdown" and "Holiday Cabaret". She was a fan favorite sketch writer for the closed-circuit television/ online variety show, "Purchase Late Night", and was the co-host and head writer for the comedy talk show, "Jules and Josie In The Morning".  She holds a degree in Playwriting/ Screenwriting from SUNY Purchase and is currently a part of New Musicals Inc. in LA and The Institution for American Musical Theatre: Creators in NYC. For more info check out www.juliaisnotfunny.com 

Mirabai Kukathas

Mirabai Kukathas

Mirabai Kukathas is a storyteller. A playwright, spirited conversationalist, and (maybe most importantly) a singer/songwriter, she loves nothing more than telling an absurd story with an honest emotional core. People often tell Mirabai she was born in the wrong millennium (what with her hippie hair and obsession with folk music) but she’d much rather be in this one, thank you very much, where she can vote and marry who she likes and watch WALL-E for the millionth time. But she does pull plenty of musical inspiration from times past, finding ways to blend 60s folk with contemporary pop and everything in between. Her plays are absurd and funny and often a little sad, as is all art created by Mirabai. She was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, although she also grew up in her mother’s native Malaysia. A recent graduate of the central district’s Nova High School, a Totem Star artist/employee, a 2 time winner of the Young Playwrights Project, and a finalist for MoPOP’s SoundOff!, her love for and dedication to Seattle and it’s artistic scene are unparalleled. Mirabai’s art is an act of healing; a confusing celebration of her culture, identity, and life. With lots of love, effort, and community, she works to create her own unique sound to tell her own unique story.

RICO LASTRAPES

Rico Lastrapes

Rico Lastrapes is a performing artist in the Seattle area. He is an Equity actor, a composer, a multi-instrumentalist, a choreographer, and a teaching artist. Rico started composing while attending Douglas Anderson School of the Arts for Music. He studied composition at Louisiana State University, and later received his BFA in Acting from the University of Central Florida. He has arranged music for numerous professional and community productions, including Sweeney Todd and Godspell. Original compositions include a string quartet, a brass quintet, and solos for the voice and various instruments.

LARISA JUNO MELKUMOVA

Larisa Juno Melkumova

A songwriter and lyricist with roots in symphonic music and brass instruments, Larisa Juno Melkumova has been a musician since grade six, attending LaVilla Middle School of the Arts and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts respectively. Though collegiately she pursued digital media as a career, Larisa continued to create original works over the last decade spanning from hip-hop to musical theatre.

Erika Meyer

Erika Meyer

Erika Meyer, a Seattle native, began her endeavors in music as a child. Starting piano lessons from the age of seven, Erika began training in classical voice in high school. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and her Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory from the University of Washington in June, 2019. While there, while she studied voice and composition. Erika took lessons privately with Yiğit Kolat, as well as with doctoral candidates. During the past summers she was a participant of the European American Musical Alliance – Nadia Boulanger Composer’s Institute in Paris, France in 2018, as well as the Wintergreen Music Academy Composer’s Retreat in Nellysford, Virginia, in 2019. She was most recently selected as a composer in the 2021 Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab with the Seattle Opera. Erika is happily under the tutelage of composer, Daron Hagen, and voice pedagogue, Dr. Darrell J. Jordan. As a lover of opera, classical and contemporary music, and the arts, Erika will continue on to a Masters Program in Composition, in the fall of 2021 at the Royal Northern College of Music, in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Christopher Reed

Christopher Reed

Christopher Reed is a Seattle, WA-area award-winning composer for film and concert. With roots in a wide variety of musical styles, Christopher has the ability to tailor the mood and feel of his music to any project. His music has been performed by ensembles around the Pacific Northwest, and recorded by some of Seattle’s most elite musicians, including players with the Seattle Symphony. His music has also been featured in films from up and down the West Coast.

Paul Stovall

Paul Stovall

Paul Stovall was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and now resides in the Seattle area. He recently graduated from Western Washington University where he studied piano with Jeffrey Gilliam and composition with Dr. Lesley Sommer. He is now a graduate student at the Seattle Film Institute where he is studying Film Composition. An advocate for new music, Paul has had the privilege of performing contemporary works including Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians” as part of Western’s “NowHearThis!” modern music ensemble. He has also played keyboards for numerous musicals such as "Kiss Me, Kate", Mamma Mia, and worked as a music intern for “She Loves Me” at Village Theatre and was the music director for “Tuck Everlasting” at Village Theatre KIDSTAGE this summer. He currently serves as an accompanist at Garden Street United Methodist Church in Bellingham, WA where he provides music for their virtual services.

Drew Swatosh

Drew Swatosh

Coming from a background in arts integrated education, Drew Swatosh (they/them) strives to create connections within their music, whether through the inclusion of programmatic/extra musical elements; collaborating with other composers, musicians, and artists; and/or combining different musical styles and compositional techniques. They use composing as a means of processing the world around them, which includes social justice, intersectional feminism, climate change, and grief. Drew has been commissioned by Stephanie Bivins (Glacier View Junior High Concert Choir/Aspire Middle School for the Performing Arts); Vancouver School of Arts and Academics Jazz, Orchestra, and Vocal music departments; guitarist Ciyadh Wells; and composer/soprano Carolyn Quick.

As a composer, Drew has participated in many different master classes with composers including Martin Bresnick, Dave Metzger, Chen Yi, Gabriel Prokofiev, and Lisa Neher. Beyond master classes, Drew has participated in the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and the Fear No Music Young Composers Project. For their SATB setting of the Poem In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, Drew won 1st place in the Washington State Music Teachers Association Young Composers Project for the 11th grade division. In addition to composing, Drew is a vocalist, pianist, ukulele player, engraver, and poet. They love women's Soccer and are a tech and fashion enthusiast.

Drew has studied with Elizabeth Ackerman, Dave Averre, Bill Whitley, Carlos Velez, and Kevin Walczyk and holds two degrees in music composition from Western Oregon University, a BMus in Contemporary Music and, a MMus in Contemporary Music. They currently reside in Vancouver, Washington.

Steven Tran

Steven Tran

Steven Tran is a multi-hyphenated theater artist and musician based in Seattle, Washington. A self-taught composer, orchestrator, and music producer, Steven’s music combines a sense of play and wonder with emotion and drama. His sonic influences are vast, often drawing from a hybrid of classical and commercial colors. Steven’s broad sense of narrative and storytelling magnify the voices of his collaborators, whether they be lyricists, theatrical directors, actors, or artists of a different discipline.

Steven’s interests are wide-ranging, and his hats are ever-changing. After graduating with a degree in Computer Science from Princeton University and taking a yearlong detour as an engineering program manager, Steven planted himself as a theater artist in Seattle in 2017. Since, he has worked as a pianist/music director at Village Theatre, the 5th Avenue Theatre, and Seattle Rep, has acted onstage with Taproot Theatre and Seattle Shakespeare Company, and his original scores and arrangements have been heard at Book-It Repertory, Wooden O, and ReAct Theatre. Steven also works as a freelance teaching artist for elementary through high school aged students, and as a stage director, having completed the 2018 Intiman Emerging Artist Program. Outside of the Puget Sound, Steven has music directed and performed at Green Room 42 (New York City) and for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Steven’s high-energy, electronic/rock-tinged orchestrations and additional score contributions for the world premiere of local playwright Justin Huertas’ The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion earned Steven a Gregory Award co-nomination in 2019 for Best New Play. His intensely personal theatrical memoir, The Sonata Years, for which he is the playwright, solo performer, and sound designer, was workshopped as part of The Other Season at Seattle Rep. Future projects include engagements with the Festival of New Musicals at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and the Kennedy Center.

James T. Washburn

James T. Washburn

I am a Seattle-based trans and disabled storyteller-activist. My first performed play, Tomorrow Comes , was written in response to the 2016 Presidential election and features the uniquely powerful dynamics of queer chosen families. Since then, I've discovered a talent for writing fresh but familiar stories, including Phoenix Rising , a Greek myth in verse about a forgotten child of Zeus who gives up his life for the right to exist as himself. Following this theme of adding to classic canons, my current work in progress, Briar Rose , is a queer fairytale musical that has been repeatedly described as something that "I swear I heard when I was a kid..."

Elise Winkler

Elise Winkler

Elise Winkler was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Born to a family of musicians, Elise grew up constantly surrounded by the sounds of flute and classical saxophone. Throughout her life, Elise has had a variety of musical experiences, including piano lessons, choral ensembles, and musical theatre. Because of her wide background, she has strong artistic influences from a number of sources.

Inspired by the passionate nature of Romantic-era classical music, Elise loves to explore human emotion and expression in her work. Self-identity and expression is very important to Elise, especially as a woman and as a member of the LGBT community. Many of Elise’s compositions delve into her own emotions and her sense of self, allowing her art to be a channel of strength in vulnerability. Several of her most cherished composers (such as Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel) have lead Elise’s works to be largely driven by melody. Elise’s experience as a pianist and vocalist have also caused melody and harmony to be essential elements in her music.

Elise recently finished her senior year at Emerald Ridge High School and is currently studying music composition at the Juilliard School with Dr. Melinda Wagner. Her works have been performed by members of the Seattle Symphony and the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra, with an additional work to be performed by Symphony Tacoma in the near future.

E. Lily Yu

E. Lily Yu

E. Lily Yu is the author of On Fragile Waves, forthcoming from Erewhon Books in February 2021. She received the Artist Trust / LaSalle Storyteller Award in 2017 and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 2012. Her stories appear in venues from McSweeney's to Hazlitt to Tor.com and in twelve best-of-the-year anthologies, and have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards.

2020/21 Mentors

2020/21 REVIEW PANEL

Seattle Opera Artistic staff
Jennifer Zeyl (Artistic Director, Intiman Theater)
Kathy Hsieh (Actor/Writer/Director)
Dr. Stephen Newby (Professor of Music at Seattle Pacific University, composer, conductor)
Orlando G. Morales (musician, educator, songwriter)