Composer Librettist Development Program

ALT Resident Artists Theo Popov and Tony Asaro in a workshop session with ALT Mentors Mark Adamo and Mark Campbell.

ALT Resident Artists Theo Popov and Tony Asaro in a workshop session with ALT Mentors Mark Adamo and Mark Campbell.

Until ALT started the Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP), there was not a single full-time training program for opera composers and librettists at any opera company in the United States. Almost every opera company in the country has a Young Artist Program to mentor emerging singers, and over the past 25 years, these programs have proved immensely successful at improving both the artistic level and the career success of American singers around the globe. Imagine what could happen if the same sort of opportunities were available for operatic writers. ALT is doing more than imagining this – we are making it happen. The CLDP has been designed to address the absence of appropriate mentorship for our writers.

Founded in 2007 and recognized for artistic excellence by both the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the CLDP is the only full-time professional mentorship initiative for operatic writers in the country. The CLDP is a tuition-free program that includes a core curriculum of classroom training and hands-on workshops with some of the country’s leading working artists. Under the direction of Producing Artistic Director Lawrence Edelson, the principal faculty for the CLDP has included composer/librettist Mark Adamo, composer Robert Beaser, composer Daniel Catán (in memoriam), librettist Mark Campbell, composer Anthony Davis, dramaturg Cori Ellison, librettist Michael Korie, stage director Rhoda Levine, and composer Paul Moravec. Recent and upcoming guest teachers and lecturers include composers Kaija Saariaho, Ricky Ian Gordon, Nico Muhly, Stewart Wallace, Christopher Theofanidis, John Musto, Jake Heggie, and David T. Little;, and librettists Stephen Karam, Donna DiNovelli, Gene Scheer, and Royce Vavrek (one of the most prominent alumni of the CLDP).

In addition to ongoing classes and workshops, composers and librettists in the program have the opportunity to take part in residency observerships at The Metropolitan Opera. Through this partnership, ALT is able to provide artists the opportunity to explore the process of mounting fully staged operatic productions. ALT also provides opportunities for Resident Artists to meet opera company leaders from around the country so that they can showcase their work, and expand their professional network. Additional networking and membership resources are provided through ALT’s partnership with OPERA America.

The 2017-18 season marks the 10th Anniversary of the CLDP. In tandem with this milestone, two important enhancements are being made to the program: the introduction of stipends for artists accepted into the program; and the creation of the first comprehensive apprenticeship for an opera dramaturg in the United States. While there are training programs for dramaturgy in theater, there are currently no dedicated opera dramaturgy programs in the United States. This new Apprenticeship will be open to a NYC-based artist who will participate fully in the core-curriculum of the CLDP, be involved in workshops of new operas already in ALT’s development pipeline, and will receive private mentorship from internationally renowned dramaturg Cori Ellison and other members of the CLDP Faculty.

To date, the program has provided intensive, personalized mentorship to 38 gifted emerging artists. Operas developed under the auspices of the CLDP have received critical acclaim at a wide variety of companies, including Fort Worth Opera, Opera Saratoga, Utah Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Tulsa Opera, The San Francisco Conservatory and Bard College. Currently, there are 4 new full-length operas in development by ALT Resident Artists under the auspices of the CLDP. Beyond works developed at ALT, distinguished alumni of the CLDP are now creating works for companies around the country, including Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Chicago Lyric Opera,Los Angeles Opera, Beth Morrison Projects, and the Metropolitan Opera.


The application process for the new cycle of the Composer Librettist Development Program, beginning in September 2017, is now closed. 

Before applying to the CLDP, please review the FAQ about the CLDP, and consider the following eligibility requirements:

  • All Artists — composers, librettists and dramaturgs — must be considered “emerging” per ALT’s definition (see FAQ).
  • All artists must either live in, be willing to relocate, or commute to the New York City area for all CLDP classes.
  • All artists must be able to commit to full participation in the program from September 2017 through May 2018.
  • All Artists must be available for weekly classes (maximum 2 per week) scheduled on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
  • All Artists must also be available for week-long intensives in the first half of September, and at the end of April and beginning of May; and select weekend workshops.