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OUR Mothly NewsLetter - April 2023

What’s Ahead for Alliance for New Music-Theatre in 2023?

As we continue to develop major productions of new works in 2023, we work to amplify our commitment to foster professional development and collaborative opportunities of artists across cultures and to engage audiences in the creative process across all our programs to promote a deeper understanding of the transformative power of music-theatre in its many forms.

We are also embarking on a series of monthly community workshops and a Composer-Librettist Studio that can advance our projects and bring the greater community into the excitement of process and the art of collaboration.


The Afghan Women’s Project Continues with an Afghan Vocal Technique Workshop

with Humayun Khan and Open “Rehearsal”

As part of our Afghan Women’s Project, we will conduct a workshop in Afghan Vocal Techniques

on Tuesday, April 25 2023 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the George Mason University TheatreSpace.

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New Music-Theatre is hosting Afghan singer, musician and educator Humayun Khan to lead a free workshop in Afghan vocal techniques. In addition to teaching about the modes and complex scales of Afghanistan’s rich musical heritage, he will lead participants in some classical folk songs and even some of the new compositions from the original music-theatre work, Women of Troy: Voices from Afghanistan.

We invite Afghan women living in the DMV, who want to reconnect with their cultural roots to join us as we support keeping the music alive in this free workshop.  To participate in this workshop, please register HERE.                                                           Or use this CR Code:

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For many, practicing and preserving these art forms seem out of reach, certainly for women in Afghanistan who are forbidden to attend to school and many even to go out of their homes. New Music-Theatre wishes to support Afghan women and here, in the diaspora, to give a platform for their voices and stories to be celebrated and shared. This workshop is specifically designed as a cross-cultural experience for Afghan women and local female artists who wish to support and learn more about the traditional music of Afghanistan.

The workshop will be followed by an informal sharing for George Mason students and faculty, friends, family, and invited guests.

As part of the multi-year process of developing its cross-cultural project about the history and artistic achievements of Afghan women, Alliance is offering a series of workshops in the coming months bringing Afghan and local artists together, featuring poetry, music, calligraphy, painting costume design and dance from Afghanistan. We invite Afghan women living in the DMV, who want to reconnect with their cultural roots to join us as we support keeping the music alive in these free workshops. Celebrate with us the resiliency and creative artistry of Afghan women as our company members stretch our individual professional capacities and understandings.

For more details to participate, go to our Afghan Project webpage HERE.  Or contact us at


The Daffodil Opera on the Spanish Steps


Thanks to all who joined us on the Spanish Steps on March 16 for our presentation of the pocket opera “Floral Arrangements” as a benefit for The Spanish Steps Foundation. The weather was perfect, the daffodils were in full bloom and the work lasted all of five minutes. As befits a springtime opera, the story incorporates flowers and poetry to tell the story of a fine romance.

A large audience gathered at the foot of the steps and many passerby’s stopped to enjoy this short work in an unexpected setting. Opera outdoors in a public space? How strange, odd, creative……

Singers Sheri Jackson and John Boulanger performed the two roles, accompanied by music director Andrew Earle Simpson on the piano.

The work was composed by Alva Henderson and commissioned by Robert Darling, who is a founding member of Alliance for New Music-Theatre and currently serves as Vice President of the Board.

An internationally celebrated Designer, Director, and Dramaturg, Robert has worked for many performing arts institutions in North America including the San Francisco Opera and Ballet, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Miami City Ballet, and many others. Collaborations with composers and librettists produced over twenty new music-theater pieces.

Currently Opera America is displaying an exhibit of Robert’s work in their NYC venue with sketches and set designs from many of his works over the past decades. The video of this performance will also be shown there.

Robert is also an avid enthusiast of daffodils as cultivator, designer of gardens and board member of the American Daffodil Society. We thank him for his long service to the creative arts and horticulture. We also thank him for being Design Consultant of the daffodil garden that is spilling down the Spanish Steps.



What is Opera? And what Does it Mean to Make Music-Theatre Today?

It’s getting harder to distinguish what makes an opera, well,… an opera. It was long understood that operas were almost entirely through-composed (unbroken by spoken text,) and the voices were adamantly unamplified and “legit,” (meaning a certain focused placement of vowels and ringing “fa.”) Most operas in the repertory came from the classical European tradition, and thus, many of them were written and therefore sung in a foreign language.

 But let’s face it, barriers have begun coming down between opera and other forms of music-theatre for some time. Stephen Sondheim, composer and arguably the most lauded of librettists-lyricists of the last half-century was quoted as saying in answer to the conundrum of where to file his works, “When my shows are done in an opera house, they’re operas, and when they’re done in a Broadway-style venue, they’re musicals.”

 In recent years, new voices, determined to tell stories of unrepresented communities with new musical languages have even begun winning over even die-hard classical opera audiences.

 Take the most recent opera, Blue, which finally opened at the Kennedy Center for its long- overdue local debut after being shut down due to Covid in March 2020 at the last dress rehearsal. Creators Tazwell Thompson and Jeanine Tesori had taken on the explosive subject of a Black cop living in Harlem, torn between his need to protect and care for his family and his being seen as a sellout to the Black community by his teenage son.

 And what a difference these last few years made! Before its scheduled opening, Washington National Opera was concerned if it would sell tickets to the WNO’s faithful followers. Last month, its run was all but sold out. Tesori’s score, peppered with blues, jazz and gospel, felt so of today. In the discussion that followed, the issue was nonetheless raised, was it opera enough?

Another work that broke many barriers and is devilishly hard to define is Lin Manuel Miranda ‘s phenom Hamilton. Hip hop, yes, words delivered at lightning fast speed, rhythmic rap too, but so much more. To me, it is the first great opera of the 21st century. Oh, but the singing is amplified, so that makes it, what?

Does it matter? What’s in a name?  Take our name -- Alliance for New Music-Theatre –  it still baffles people. “Oh, do you make opera?” Sometimes. “Oh, then is your company devoted to doing original musicals?” Sometimes. What we do is celebrate this hybrid art form of words and music across the spectrum of stylistic genres. The hyphen in music-theatre is very intentional.

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"Caesar and the Mannequin”

For our Short Gems created during Covid in 2020, we improvised to create new works videoed in The Phillips Gallery, such as "Caesar and the Mannequin” -Based on Man Rays’ Shakespearean Equations: Julius Caesar.

For Kafka’s Metamorphosis, we devised an acapella bug-eating aria, and the lead character was played in part by a cello.

In May, we will offer up a reading of six Ukrainian plays or “playlets” interwoven and in some cases underscored by piano. Will it be music-theatre?

This month we host a workshop on Afghan vocal techniques in further developing our Women of Troy; Voices from Afghanistan.

Our New Music-Theatre is not just about making new works, but we invite you, our friends and fellow intrepid explorers to join us in going out to view and discuss different productions mounted in the DMV. We call the subscription program Live & About. We root out new voices and strange permutations, many works that push the envelope. We build our understanding through conversations over time as we enjoy building relationships. We ask the questions, “What is opera? And is this music-theatre?”


Workshop for On the Road to Arivaca

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From May 1-5 in DC, we will conduct a weeklong intensive workshop of our Act II of On the Road to Arivaca, an original opera by composer Rosino Serrano, based in Mexico City, and librettist Susan Galbraith. The opera will put the audience “on the road” in difficult situations that surround the many issues of immigration, national boundaries, and cross-cultural-and-linguistic engagement. How does one act when one has to decide in a split second on the fate of a fellow human being?

The workshop will feature Javier Arrey as The Samaritan, Israel Lozano as The Sojourner, Darcy Monsalve as Maria, and Melisa Bonetti as Consuelo, as well as Alliance’s youth chorus, coro de la comunidad. 


 More details are on our On the Road to Arivaca webpage HERE.


New Music-Theatre Proudly Announces The Composer-Librettist Studio June 3-18

This June our company joins in a special collaboration with Ben Krywosz and Nautilus Theatre Company to lead an intensive 18-day workshop for professional artists from the DMV to support, challenge, and enhance their ongoing development.  The Composer-Librettist Studio is an opportunity to be part of a transformative music-theatre experience, where artists learn and practice key principles of collaboration and elements of music-theatre making in this most collaborative of performance art forms. (Much of this is rarely taught even in music conservatories or university theatre programs.)

The Studio focuses on the process of collaboration through a series of brief exploratory assignments for the writers and composers. The exercises are then sight-read by the performers in brief working sessions. 


Five Composers, five Writers, and five Singer-Actors will be selected to participate, and all will receive stipends. All artists must commit to being present for all sessions, as partners and assignments shift every few days to maximize the learning-to-learn model to work in different combinations and approaching different genres. Close attention will be paid to ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion in the make-up of the group.

The University of the District of Columbia Music Program will host the Studio. On June 18, the artists will share their processes and a total of twenty-five pieces in an informal showcase for friends, family, UDC students and professors, and those seriously interested in music-theatre.

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For more details, go to our Composer-Librettist Studio webpage.

The Composer-Libretto Studio has been offered as a unique and highly effective training model since 1984 in major cultural meccas across the country including NYC, Chicago, the Twin Cities, and L.A. The roster of composers and librettists who have participated includes some of the most exceptional artists working today across the spectrum of music-theatre.


What are our company Artists up to now?

On April 16, Company member Cara Schaefer and Humayun Khan will appear as soloists with Cantate Concert Choir, Montgomery College Chorus, and an orchestra in The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins. Premiered in 2000, the piece was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum for the Millennium celebrations, and it was dedicated to victims of the Kosovo crisis. This powerful work examines the fascination with war in the last century and offers hope for a more peaceful tomorrow, drawing from global musical and religious traditions, with poetry from  Rudyard KiplingAlfred Lord Tennyson and Sankichi Toge, and more.

Read more here:

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