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Everything For Dawn

A serial opera about a young woman confronting her father’s legacy as an outsider-artist, with new music commissioned from 10 composers.


In celebration of our 10th Anniversary in spring 2021, Experiments in Opera will premiere Everything for Dawn, an epic new live opera featuring ten 15-minute episodes each written by a different librettist/composer combo.  A marathon performance of daring ambition, Everything for Dawn is the epitome of what Experiments in Opera stands for—fun, intimate storytelling, with a strong feeling of an artistic community at work.

Everything for Dawn is an original coming-of-age opera spanning the 1990s. Dawn, a community college student and riot-grrrl, is dealing with the impact of her father’s suicide. Her personal tragedy becomes public when his secret paintings become celebrated as outsider art. The opera examines the questionable idea of “outsider art,” the stigmatization of mental health issues and the cyclic nature of trauma through a mix of humor, pathos and real-world characters. The story is in three parts, each with its own setting: a suburban Detroit home, a mental health facility, and a New York Art Gallery.

Everything for Dawn emerged out of a desire to create a new process for opera development.  Since December 2018, EIO leaders Kamala Sankaram, Jason Cady and Aaron Siegel have facilitated monthly meetings with a group of five diverse playwrights and librettists. The EIO Writers’ Room created the full story arc for the new opera, with each librettist writing to two episodes of the 10-episode work.  The librettists are Jason Cady, Adrienne Danrich, Lauren D’Errico, Krista Knight, Jerry Lieblich, Jerome Parker, Kamala Sankaram and Aaron Siegel.  The EIO Writers’ Room is funded in part by an Innovation Grant from Opera America and the Gordon Getty Foundation.

We selected the commissioned composers from a national search based on the flexibility of their work for chamber ensembles and voice.  In this process, we sought to create an inclusive cohort that prioritized a range of diverse perspectives. The process of linking the story to the music emphasizes the creative freedom of the individual artist while maintaining a consistency to the larger goals of the project. The ten composers who will each be writing a 15-minute episode of the full opera are: Clarice Assad, Jason Cady, Matthew Welch, Paul Kerekes, Phil Kline, Pauline Kim, Melissa Dunphy, Alex Temple, Aaron Siegel, and Kamala Sankaram.  All of the funds from New Music USA will go towards payment to composers as part of their commissioning fees.

Everything for Dawn will feature a cast of 8 singers, and an orchestra of 5 instrumentalists anchored by the New York City-based trio Bearthoven.  Experiments in Opera will hold a workshop at the Flea Theater for each of the three parts of the opera.  The fully-staged premiere of Everything for Dawn will have a run of seven shows at The Flea from May 14-22, 2021 for a total audience of 700.

This project highlights Experiments in Opera’s dedication to creative approaches for commissioning new operas from an inclusive range of composers and to nurturing a collaborative community more interested in the power of shared success.

Project Media

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Features: Melissa Dunphy

A choral work by Melissa Dunphy commissioned by Resonance Ensemble based on texts adapted from testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, by Anita F. Hill and Christine Blasey Ford. This performances is by Women Singing Women at Cerimon House, Portland, OR on November 2019.

This piece demonstrates Melissa’s adept and sensitive writing for voice as well as her ability to tell compelling stories through music and text.

Memory Etude
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Features: Paul Kerekes

Memory Etude by Paul Kerekes, excerpted from Invisible Anatomy’s show TRANSFIGURE, performed live at Roulette Intermedium on February 2, 2017.

This recording demonstrates Paul’s ability to composer for voice and chamber ensemble and his interest in virtuoso rhythmic writing.

Lemurians in America
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Features: Clarice Assad

Last movement of LEMURIA, The Lost Continent, written by composer Clarice Assad, commissioned by the Left Coast Ensemble.

A 20-minute work scored for two cellists, percussion and amateur cello choir, Lemurians in America demonstrates Clarice’s unique blending of cultural traditions and rhythms.

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

Project Created By

Brooklyn, New York
Our Vision Experiments in Opera is focused on re-writing the story of opera.  We are excited that new operas can be adventurous and fun, focused on strong and intimate storytelling, while also challenging notions of what experimental music can be.  EiO invites composers, directors, designers and performers to create new work that embraces unconventional mediums,…

In Collaboration With

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
New York, New York
Chicago, Illinois
New York City, New York
Chicago , Illinois
New York, New York


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