96-Hour Opera Project

The 96-Hour Opera Project: Stories that Resonate, a composition showcase and competition in which teams of composers and librettists have four days to write, cast, direct and stage completely new and compelling 10-minute operas.

The winning team will split a $10,000 prize and be commissioned to write a chamber opera for a future season at The Atlanta Opera. All other participating artists are guaranteed a $1,000 honorarium.

Designed specifically for composers and librettists from historically underrepresented communities, the competition is only open to those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Arab-American, Latin-American or other communities of color, including those artists from outside the US.

About the Competition

All participating teams will travel to Atlanta after preparing their works in advance of the program. Travel, housing, singers, pianists and space will be provided to each composer/librettist team in order to showcase their new mini-operas, based on the stories of Atlanta and greater Georgia.  The winning team will split a $10,000 prize and be commissioned to write a chamber opera for a future season at the Atlanta Opera. All other participating artists are guaranteed a $1,000 honorarium.

Designed specifically for composers and librettists from historically underrepresented communities, the competition is only open to those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Arab-American, Latin-American or other communities of color, including those artists from outside the US.

The four-day competition runs from June 17 to June 20. The showcase will be hosted in partnership with Morehouse College, School of Music. The finals will be open to the public and will be held at the Ray Charles Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, June 20, 2022. The finals will include a special commemorative performance honoring the Juneteenth holiday.

Each creative team will be assigned a story drawn from Georgia’s past and present based on materials provided by this year’s “Stories that Resonate” partners, representative nonprofit organizations with storytelling at their core.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, We Love Buford Highway, the Fulton County Library System, the Japan American Society of Georgia and The Atlanta History Center will assist the opera in providing compelling local story prompts and creative briefs for the participating librettists and composers. The creative teams will be paired with story partner organizations and given their story briefs in advance of the competition with time to engage in collaborative discussion and exploration. The stories will fall into broad categories, paired with applicants based on interests identified in the application.

The Atlanta Opera provides singing talent, a pianist and a director to assist with staging, plus, a treasure trove of background information from the Stories that Resonate partner organizations to spark imagination.

In partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Atlanta Opera Film Studio will produce a mini-series using filmed portions of the competition and supplemental interviews that will be shown on GPB stations across the state and online.

photo by Jeff Roffman


Deadline to apply: Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Please contact at competition@atlantaopera.org with any questions regarding the application.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is The 96-Hour Opera Project?

A composition showcase and competition in which teams of composers and librettists have four days to direct and stage completely new and compelling 10-minute operas.

What is the location of the performance?

The showcase will be hosted in partnership with Morehouse College, School of Music. The finals will be open to the public and will be held at the Ray Charles Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, June 20, 2022. The finals will include a special commemorative performance honoring the Juneteenth holiday.

What are “Stories that Resonate”?

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, We Love Buford Highway, the Fulton County Library System, the Japan American Society of Georgia and The Atlanta History Center will assist the opera in providing compelling local story prompts and creative briefs for the participating librettists and composers. The creative teams will be paired with story partner organizations and given their story briefs in advance of the competition with time to engage in collaborative discussion and exploration. The stories will fall into broad categories, paired with applicants based on interests identified in the application.  

Who should apply?

This year’s competition is designed specifically for composers and librettists from historically underrepresented communities, the 96-Hour Project is only open to those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Arab-American, Latin-American or other communities of color, including those artists from outside the US.

There is no age range or limit for applying, but composers and librettists who are in the early stages of their careers are encouraged to participate. Artists may have acquired significant skills in academic or professional settings, but have not had works performed regularly.

When is the deadline to apply?

Applications are due by Tuesday, February 15, 2022

What if a librettist doesn’t have a composing partner or vice-versa?

We’ll provide an option to pair artists, based on their experience and interests.

What resources does the competition provide to participants?

All participating teams will travel to Atlanta after preparing their works in advance of the program. Travel (airfare or mileage reimbursement), housing, singers, pianists and space will be provided to each composer/librettist team in order to showcase their new mini-operas, based on the stories of Atlanta and greater Georgia. The winning team will split a $10,000 prize and be commissioned to write a chamber opera for a future season at the Atlanta Opera. All other participating artists are guaranteed a $1,000 honorarium.

What are the judging criteria for the applications?

Submissions will be evaluated based off of artistic excellence or the potential for artistic excellence, artistic ability, knowledge of both vocal and orchestral writing (composers), and character development (librettists).

Who are the judges for the competition?

Priti Gandhi, Artistic Director of Portland Opera; librettist and writer Andrea Davis Pinkney; and recently appointed General Director of the Houston Grand Opera, Khori Dastoor, will mentor, guide and judge the participants. Bass Morris Robinson, who is also an artistic advisor on the project, was previously announced as a member of the panel.

What is the four-day structure?

• Day one: Duos of composers and librettists arrive in Atlanta and finalize their pieces
• Day two: Rehearsal and staging
• Day three: Coaching, mentorship with judges, and final prep
• Day four: Performance and judging

What are your plans for community participation and digital distribution?

Artists will work with our Story Partner organizations to refine and explore their story prompts in the month leading up to the event.

We’ll invite the community to witness the performances on Monday, June 20th. Our Atlanta Opera Film Studio is working with Georgia Public Broadcasting to determine broader distribution in a mini-series format.


photo by Jeff Roffman

Artistic Advisor

Morris Robinson

Internationally renowned bass and Atlanta native Morris Robinson will serve as the artistic advisor for this year’s competition, working with creative teams throughout the competition as well as serving as one of the judges. 

“Projects like this one are necessary in order to move the needle for composers and librettists of color. I’m proud to be part of a company that is doing this work.”


Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director

Tomer Zvulun

“The diversity of Atlanta—racial, ethnic, cultural—is the reason for the vibrancy and richness of this city. We want diversity to be a vital part of every aspect of our company and reflect the city we call home. This new initiative will achieve two major goals: sharing inspirational stories that reflect the multicultural history of Atlanta and amplifying the voices of diverse artists.”



Priti Gandhi

Priti Gandhi joined Portland Opera as Artistic Director in the fall of 2021, as part of a new collaborative leadership team structure for the company. An artistic and strategic leader, her role leads the discussions for season planning, casting, developing the young artist program, and oversight of the company’s community engagement and educational programs.

Read More

Previous to her post in Portland, she was Vice President of Artistic at Minnesota Opera, where she advised on topics related to company programming, casting, and commissions related to the New Works Initiative. She also created new processes for company-wide conversations regarding diversity in traditional narratives and casting – most notably, exploring the growing discussion of the relevance of the operatic canon in the evolving lens of today – and has become a frequent contributor to panels, podcasts, and published articles regarding the ongoing dialogue of new perspectives in industry-wide EDI work.

She is also passionate about connecting to singers regarding career paths and resources, as well as creating more compassionate spaces for artists in the industry – speaking on panels with Opera America, National Endowment for the Arts, The Women’s Opera Network (OA), and various opera companies throughout the region.

In her international opera performance career, Ms. Gandhi has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Theatre du Chatelet, the Royal Opera House, Prague Estates Theatre, New York City Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Opera, among others. Ms. Gandhi graduated with a bachelor of arts in communications and a minor in theatre from the University of California, San Diego, and has served as a published weekly columnist with The San Diego Union-Tribune, about life backstage and on the road. An alumna of young artist programs at Cleveland Opera and San Diego Opera, Ms. Gandhi is also an amateur painter and flamenco dancer.

Andrea Davis Pinkney

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the acclaimed librettist for The Snowy Day, which enjoyed its world premiere at the Houston Grand Opera. Ms. Pinkney is The New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King award-winning author of numerous books for children and young adults. She is a four-time NAACP Image Award nominee, recipient of both the Regina Medal and the Arbuthnot Honor Award, for her singular body of work and distinguished contribution to the field of literature. Ms. Pinkney has been inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, and has served on the creative teams for several theatrical and audio productions, including those drawn from her acclaimed books. Ms. Pinkney and her work are the subject of the Emmy-nominated short film, Andrea Davis Pinkney: National Author Engagement.

Khori Dastoor

Khori Dastoor has been named the new General Director and Chief Executive Officer of Houston Grand Opera. She will begin her new role with HGO full-time as of January 2022. She will assume responsibility for HGO’s strategic vision, fiscal condition, artistic merit, labor relations, and reputation both nationally and internationally.

Khori is an entrepreneurial and data-driven leader with a proven record of organizational transformation and a clear vision for the future of opera. She is committed to the integration of technology-based advancements, the diversification of traditional revenue models, the establishment of unconventional collaborations, and the expansion of access to the art form to all communities.

Read More

She joined the HGO team from Opera San José (OSJ), where she served as General Director. Through her strategic vision, OSJ achieved record budget surpluses, enjoyed dramatic growth of held cash and investments, launched the nation’s first COVID relief fund for artists and musicians, established a new digital media studio dedicated solely to producing opera, distributed content to over 30 partner companies nationwide, and increased the company’s patron base to include a worldwide audience for the first time in the company’s 37-year history.

She serves on the Board of Directors for Opera America where she is the co-chair of the Learning and Leadership Council and is a founding member and mentor for the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color.  She also serves on the  Aspen Music Festival & School Alumni Committee, is a graduate of  American Express Women in Music Leadership Academy, and previously served as the San Francisco District Director of Metropolitan Opera National Council  Auditions. Previously, Khori served as Associate Director of The Packard Humanities Institute, a private family foundation dedicated to the conservation and advancement of art, music, and archaeology.

Khori holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in opera studies from UCLA. She and her husband are the proud parents of two young daughters.

Morris Robinson

Mr. Robinson regularly appears at the Metropolitan Opera where he debuted in a production of Fidelio and has since appeared as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte (both in the original production and in the children’s English version), Ferrando in Il Trovatore, the King in Aida, and in roles in NabuccoTannhäuser, and the new productions of Les Troyens and Salome. He has also appeared at the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Volksoper Wien, Opera Australia, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. His many roles include the title role in Porgy and Bess, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Ramfis in Aida, Zaccaria in Nabucco, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos, Timur in Turandot, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, and Fasolt in Das Rheingold.

Read More

Though Mr. Robinson’s 20/21 season engagements were cancelled due to the pandemic, he was able to take part in several special presentations, including Twilight: Gods, an innovative production of Gotterdämmerung created by Yuval Sharon and presentered by both the Michigan Opera Theater and the Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Rigolettto produced by the Tulsa Opera and presented in ONEOK Field baseball stadium. He was also a member of the Atlanta Opera’s 20/21 Company Players appearing in various concerts, recitals, and educations outreach events throughout the year.

Also a prolific concert singer, Mr. Robinson’s many concert engagements have included appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (where he was the 2015-2016 Artist in Residence), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Met Chamber Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, New England String Ensemble, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and at the BBC Proms and the Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Tanglewood, Cincinnati May, Verbier, and Aspen Music Festivals. He also appeared in Carnegie Hall as part of Jessye Norman’s HONOR! Festival. In recital he has been presented by Spivey Hall in Atlanta, the Savannah Music Festival, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Mr. Robinson’s solo album, Going Home, was released on the Decca label. He also appears as Joe in the DVD of the San Francisco Opera production of Show Boat, and in the DVDs of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Salome and the Aix-en-Provence Festival’s production of Mozart’s Zaide.

This season, Mr. Robinson returns to the Metropolitan Opera for The Magic Flute, the Dallas Opera for his role debut as Nourabad in The Pearl Fishers, and the Los Angeles Opera for Aida, Il Trovatore, and his role debut as Landgraf in Tannhäuser.

An Atlanta native, Mr. Robinson is a graduate of The Citadel and received his musical training from the Boston University Opera Institute and as a member of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera’ Lindemann Young Artist Program. He was also Artistic Advisor to the Cincinnati Opera from 2019-2021.