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The Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize

The Domenic J. Pellicciotti Composition Prize was founded by Dr. Gary C. Jaquay to honor his life partner Dominic J. Pellicciotti, an ardent fan of opera. The award seeks to encourage and acknowledge the creation of new opera works that explore themes related to social justice, diversity, equity and/or inclusion. 

Domenic J. Pellicciotti Biography

This fall, Crane is hosting the finals of the Domenic Pellicciotti Opera Composition Competition, a special event that will bring four teams of nationally recognized opera composers and librettists, as well as other noted opera professionals, to campus.  In this final round of the competition, Crane students will perform the world premieres of commissioned scenes from each of the finalist teams, from which one project will be awarded a commission to complete the full work.  The winning work will be premiered by the Crane Opera Ensemble in Fall 2024.


Evan Mack Image
Evan Mack
Joshua Mcguire Image
Joshua McGuire

“A Nearer Mother,” inspired by the life of Ruth Coker Burks, is the story of one woman’s quest to help early victims of the AIDS epidemic end their lives in peace. Ruth must negotiate hateful intolerance, an unpredictable virus, and her young child’s future to fulfill her calling. Evan Mack, composer; Joshua McGuire, librettist.



Caitlin Vincent Image
Caitlin Vincent
Timothy Takach Image
Timothy Takach

“Computing Venus” provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of astronomer Maria Mitchell, one of the earliest champions of women in STEM. The opera follows Mitchell’s efforts to cultivate the next generation of women astronomers, even as growing movements threatened to close the world of science to women forever.  Timothy Takach, composer; Caitlin Vincent, librettist.



Anthony Green Image
Anthony R. Green

“I Was Shot by a Cop” tells the stories of 18 people fatally shot by police officers in the USA. Each story is based on true events which should have sparked drastic policy change but did not. This new opera tells human stories, aiming to enact change through collective empathy. Anthony R. Green, composer and librettist.






Andrew Altenbach Image
Andrew Altenbach
Franck Pesci Image
Frank Pesci

“The Strangers”: In 19th-century New Orleans, a police chief is assassinated. With little evidence, Sicilian immigrants are tried, acquitted, but then lynched by an angry mob directed by the city’s elite. Innuendo, politics and xenophobia serve as a backdrop to a parable of immigrants coming face to face with native pride. Frank Pesci, composer; Andrew Altenbach, librettist.


Finals Workshop Schedule

Friday, September 23

4 p.m. - Panel Discussion with Composers, Librettists and Dramaturg – C143

Saturday, September 24

1 – 6 p.m.: Open Rehearsals with Composer/Librettist Teams, Crane Opera Ensemble Singers, Snell Music Theater

  • 1 p.m. - A Nearer Mother
  • 2 p.m. - The Strangers
  • 3 p.m. -  Break
  • 4 p.m. - I Was Shot by a Cop
  • 5 p.m. - Computing Venus

Sunday, September 25

Presentation of finalist scenes by faculty and students of The Crane School of Music, with introductions by the composer and librettist teams as well as moderated audience feedback:

  • 1 p.m. – Finals Presentation A – Snell Music Theater
    I Was Shot by a Cop and The Strangers 
  • 5 p.m. – Finals Presentation B – Snell Music Theater
    A Nearer Mother and Computing Venus
  • 7:30 p.m. – Post Showcase Reception
    A reception will be held in the Performing Arts Center lobby following the final showcase. During this time, the Selection Committee will deliberate. The winner of the $25,000 commissioning award will be announced at the reception.

2024 Opera Commissioning & Production Award

Date Description
August 2021 Finalists Announced
October 1, 2021 Excerpt Libretto Due
February 15, 2022 15 min. Excerpt Due
September 23-25, 2022 Work-shopped Readings & Winner Announced
Spring 2023 Draft of Libretto Due
Summer 2023 Draft of Piano/Vocal Score Due
Early Fall 2023 Workshop Selected Sections with Student Performers
Spring 2024 Full Orchestration & Final PV Score Due
Fall 2024 Performance at The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam

Tim Sullivan PhotoTimothy Sullivan, Professor of Music: Theory and Composition at The Crane School of Music (Co–Facilitator of The Pellicciotti Committee)

  • PhD: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • MM: University of Northern Colorado
  • BM: University of Northern Colorado


Brock Tjosvold ImageBrock Tjosvold, Assistant Professor: Vocal Coaching and Accompanying at The Crane School of Music
(Co–Facilitator of The Pellicciotti Committee)

  • Doctoral Candidate: Eastman School of Music
  • Performer's Certificate: Indiana University
  • MM: University of Michigan
  • BM: University of Wyoming

Tom Cipullo, Award-winning Classical Composer of Opera and a Founding member of “Friends & Enemies of New Music”

  • Recipient of the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Prize Tom Cipullo Photo
  • Recipient of Arts & Letters Award from the American Academy
  • Recipient of Sylvia Goldstein Award from Copland House
  • Recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship

Liesl Shoenberger Doty PhotoLiesl Schoenberger Doty, Assistant Professor: Violin at The Crane School of Music

  • Doctoral Candidate: New England Conservatory
  • MM: Indiana University
  • BM: Indiana University

Cori Ellison PhotoCori Ellison, Dramaturg: The Juilliard School

  • Director, Opera Lab, The Juilliard School
  • Founding faculty member: American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program
  • Faculty member at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers
  • Served as staff Dramaturg at Santa Fe Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival, and New York City Opera

Carleen Graham PhotoCarleen Graham: Associate Dean & Director of Vocal Division, Manhattan School of Music

  • Former Director, HGOco at Houston Grand Opera
  • Distingushed Teaching Professor Emerita, SUNY Potsdam
  • Former Director of The Crane Opera Ensemble for 24 years

Ivette Herryman Rodriquez PhotoIvette Herryman Rodriguez, Assistant Professor: Music Theory and Composition at The Crane School of Music

  • DMA: Michigan State University
  • MM: Michigan State University
  • MM: Baylor University
  • BM: Instituto Superior de Artes (Higher Institute of Arts), in Havana

Darren Keith Woods PhotoDarren Keith Woods, General Director and Artistic Director of Seagle Music Colony

  • General Director of Fort Worth Opera
  • General Director of The Shreveport Opera in Louisiana
  • Vocal Competition Adjudicator
  • Professional Operatic tenor