June 30, 2023 (New York) — OPERA America is pleased to announce the 2023 Campbell Opera Librettist Prize recipient, Deborah Brevoort. Conceived and funded by acclaimed librettist and lyricist Mark Campbell, the Prize is the first award in the history of American opera created specifically to honor the work of opera librettists. The annual winner receives an award of $7,000 to support creative development and career advancement.

“Deborah Brevoort is an ideal choice for this year’s prize,” said Campbell. “She has a history of writing librettos that connect directly with audiences and a profound understanding of the craft that goes into this very specialized art form. She has also shown strong support for the writing community, and I couldn’t be more pleased that she will be succeeding me as co-chair of the Dramatists Guild Opera Committee.”

Deborah Brevoort, an alum of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program, has written the librettos for nine operas. They include The Knock, a co-commission of The Glimmerglass Festival and Cincinnati Opera, which Brevoort wrote with composer Aleksandra Vrebalov. The opera was made into a live-action film available on YouTube and was staged in Cincinnati in 2023. Brevoort’s other operas are Quamino’s Map, with Errollyn Wallen (Chicago Opera Theater); Murasaki’s Moon, with Michi Wiancko (On Site Opera, Metropolitan Museum of Art, ALT); Embedded, with Patrick Soluri (ALT, Fort Worth Opera, Fargo Moorhead Opera); Steal a Pencil for Me, with Gerald Cohen (Opera Colorado);Dinner 4 3 with Michael Ching (Decameron Opera Coalition); and new adaptations of Mozart’s The Impresario and Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (Anchorage Opera). Albert Nobbs, with Patrick Soluri, was a finalist for the 2018 Dominic Pellicciotti J. Prize. Three of her operas were chosen for Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers program.

Brevoort’s work includes the internationally produced play The Women of Lockerbie and numerous comedies and dramas produced at regional theaters across the U.S. Brevoort is a two-time winner of the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theater for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing, with Scott Davenport Richards, and King Island Christmas, based on the Alaskan children’s book, with David Friedman. She teaches in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University and the M.F.A. playwriting program at Columbia University. She also serves as a mentor to the NBO Musical Theatre Initiative in Nairobi, Kenya, and as the librettist mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative at the Kennedy Center.

“I’m simply over the moon at being selected for this honor,” reflected Brevoort. “Mark Campbell is a mensch. To lift up other opera librettists through this award is such a generous, gracious thing to do. Thank you, Mark. Thank you, OPERA America.”

Brevoort was selected from an applicant pool of over 30 librettists by a panel of industry leaders including Blythe Gaissert, mezzo-soprano; Michael Korie, librettist; Jesse Sanchez, composer-lyricist, playwright, and music director; Sokunthary Svay, librettist; Richard Wesley, playwright; and Robert Wood, founder and general director, UrbanArias.

“The Campbell Opera Librettist Prize allows us to shine a light on the art of libretto-writing, an under-appreciated element of our complex art form,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “Thanks to Mark Campbell and his generous support, we are delighted to correct this historic oversight.”

The Campbell Opera Librettist Prize was established by Mark Campbell to raise the profile of the opera librettist. Campbell is one of the art form’s most prolific creators, with 40 librettos, four oratorios, and seven song cycles to his credit, including Silent Night (Kevin Puts/2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music) and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Mason Bates/2019 Grammy Award). Other successful works include The Shining (Paul Moravec), Sanctuary Road (Paul Moravec), Stonewall (Iain Bell), Songs from an Unmade BedAs One (Laura Kaminsky, Kimberly Reed), Later the Same Evening (John Musto), and Elizabeth Cree (Kevin Puts).

The Campbell Opera Librettist Prize is one of several OPERA America grants and prizes that support individual artists.

  • IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access), supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation, advance the careers of composers and librettists of color.
  • Discovery Grants from the Opera Grants for Women Composers program, funded by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, empower women composers to create work.
  • The Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize, supported by the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, recognizes promising stage directors and designers for their creative visions.

To learn more about the Prize and all of OPERA America’s grants, go to operaamerica.org/Grants.