America’s Opera of the Year?

America’s Opera of the Year?


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2021

Message received:

Music Critics Association of America announces its fifth Opera of the Year award to composer and librettist of “Sweet Land,” originally produced by a scrappy Los Angeles collective called The Industry. The opera, which was streamed from various outdoor locations, presents paired scenes representing opposing views of American history — the European settlers whose stories are celebrated and the indigenous people whose stories were erased. It was composed jointly by Du Yun (pictured) and Raven Chacon, with texts by Aja Couchois Duncan and Douglas Kearney, and co-directed by The Industry’s Yuval Sharon and Cannupa Hanska Luger. Full story is here.

Previous awards given by year, for performances in the previous year: 2020 award – “Blue” by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson; 2019 award – “p r i s m” by Ellen Reid and Roxie Perkins; 2018 award – “Wake World” by David Hertzberg (music and libretto) and 2017 – “Breaking the Waves” by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek.


  • Brian says:

    Move over, Porgy and Bess, Susannah, Ballad of Baby Doe, The Tender Land, etc… there’s a new, woke kid in town.

  • Alphonse says:

    N.B. – D. Hertzberg’s opera is entitled “The Wake World”, not merely “Wake World.” You’d be surprised how much of a difference a “the” can make. I trust you’ll correct the error.

  • caranome says:

    All of them will be tossed into the trash heap of (opera) history by next year.

    • Alphonse says:

      Have you actually listened to Hertzberg’s “The Wake World”? If not, I entreat you to do so. I assure you that you will be enthralled and captivated. It is nothing short of a masterpiece, a crown jewel of contemporary opera, and a fountain of unending bliss in otherwise bleak and arid desert. Hertzberg is a brilliant composer and a veritable luminary- you would do well to immerse yourself in his work. I promise that you won’t regret it.

  • Jason says:

    What a joke.