The Scene


Center for Contemporary Opera

Center for Contemporary Opera

About CCO

The Center for Contemporary Opera was founded in November, 1982 by Richard Marshall and Robert Ward, and is the oldest company in the world devoted solely to contemporary opera.

The mission of the Center for Contemporary Opera is to:

  • Produce and develop new opera and music-theater works.
  • Revive rarely seen American operas written after the Second World War.
  • Promote an interest in new operatic and music-theater culture among the public.
  • Produce contemporary opera outside of our borders.

Statement of Need

Contemporary opera is a seldom performed genre. When it does receive attention, this usually takes the form of new operas produced from familiar composers. Moreover, even heralded new works with substantial initial interest often dissipate into masses and rarely secures a place in a company’s repertory. This was the case of A Death in the Family, premiered by the Minnesota Opera Company in 1983. Despite the National Institute for Music Theater naming it the best new opera of the year, and an Opera News’ review demanding “William Mayer’s three-act A Death in the Family, should immediately become a candidate for regular airings around the country…,” there were very few subsequent productions by other opera companies until CCO staged a production in 2012.

CCO represents artists from all along the spectrum, from America’s most well-known composers, to emerging artists, to composers from historically underrepresented groups.

  • “No company, large or small has a better track record of service to American opera” - The New York Times

  • “invaluable” - The New Yorker

  • “an easy enterprise to applaud” - The Financial Times

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