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Call for Proposals & Guidelines

The deadline for submission to this round has passed. Please watch for the next commissioning cycle following the Nov 2018 premiere of Tom Cipullo's Mayo.

The Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize seeks proposals from composer/librettist teams for a $25,000 Opera Commissioning Award for a November 2018 premiere.

Approximately four finalists will be selected from the proposals received who will be awarded $2000 (per team) to write a 15-20 minute piano/vocal excerpt of their proposed work. The excerpts be work-shopped in a final round in September 2016. The winning team will be awarded the commission to complete the proposed work of 60-80 minutes in length for a November 2018 premiere at The Crane School of Music, State University of New York, Potsdam.

Preliminary Proposals should include:

  • Project description including its artistic impact and how it reflects the theme of the Pellicciotti Prize.
  • Proposed Synopsis & Scene breakdown.
  • Character breakdown with vocal types.
  • Proposed orchestration (modest forces suggested with creative instrumentation encouraged).
  • Composers: Three samples of previous work (total maximum timing of 30 minutes).The works should demonstrate both vocal and orchestral writing appropriate to the proposed forces. MIDI renderings are acceptable, but it is preferable to have at least one of a live performance. Scores (PDF format) and audio/video recordings (URL to media file) must be included for each sample.
  • Librettists: Three excerpts of work samples (at least one piece must be a text that has been set to music). Submission of texts must be in PDF format. Audio recording(s) of works set to music (URL to media file) for at least one of the samples are requested, if available. Excerpts of texts not set to music should reflect the author's ability to write for a dramatic setting.
  • Bio for each Composer & Librettist (500 words max each) should include a statement of relevant collaborate activity.
  • A PDF scan of either: a) a letter from the copyright holder of any source material indicating permission has been secured for the creation of this work and its premiere performances in November 2018, or an option or purchase contract demonstrating that said rights have been secured (financial details may be redacted for the purpose of confidentiality), or b) a signed statement from the composer and/or librettist indicating their belief that no source materials under copyright or for which other rights would be required for stage adaptation will be used in this work.
  • Electronic applications only. Please ensure that linked media files will be available to play through Feb. 1, 2016, without need for a password. Submissions of physical media will not be accepted.


  • The narrative or overall theme of the proposed opera should explore a subject related to tolerance, inclusion or diversity within an inclusive community.
  • Proposals reflecting collaborations between a composer and librettist are strongly encouraged.
  • Proposed operas should be appropriate for students (vocal and instrumental) in an undergraduate music program to perform.
  • SATB or some sort of mixed-voice ensemble (should not be over 16 voices) is desirable.
  • Total length of winning project is expected to be 60-80 minutes in length.
  • Engraving and part preparation will be the responsibility of the award recipients.
  • For projects not in the public domain, permission for stage adaptation as an opera must be obtained, in advance, by the composer or librettist from the relevant copyright holder(s) for the work's creation, its premiere performances through November 2018, and non-commercial recordings thereof for educational and promotional purposes. Any applicable fees related to licensing, optioning, or otherwise related to the acquisition of underlying rights are the responsibility of the applicant. For any projects based on living people, or for which life rights would be required, applicants must demonstrate that the appropriate rights have been secured. Applicants will be required to submit proof of permission in the application.
  • Winners will agree to work collaboratively during the process with the school?s creative team (music director and stage director) as well as the dramaturg contracted for this round.
  • Persons may only submit or be part of one application.
  • Persons directly associated with SUNY Potsdam or The Crane School of Music, or previous winners of the Pellicciotti Prize are not eligible to participate.
  • Only proposals for new works (i.e. projects which have not yet proceeded beyond initial planning stages) will be considered.

Questions should be directed to Kirk Severtson (music director) or Carleen Graham (stage director) at


  • December 1, 2015 Preliminary Proposals Due
  • February 2016 Finalists Announced
  • June 1, 2016 15 - 20 min PV Sample Due
  • September 2016 Work-shopped Readings & Winner Announced
  • December 2016 Final Draft of Libretto Due
  • September 2017 Final PV Score Due
  • Jan/Feb 2018 Workshop Selected Sections with student performers
  • June 2018 Full Orchestration & Final PV Score Due
  • November 2018 Performance at The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam