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Classical 101

A Contest for Tiny Operas

Operas tend to be plus-sized - multi-act jobbies that leverage enormous vocal prowess and over-the-top drama to tell stories, usually about scalliwags, betrayal, redemption and/or death, and usually over the course of many, many hours. It thus comes as no little (pun intended) surprise that the English National Opera is soliciting entries for its Mini Operas contest, what it is billing as a "worldwide search for creative talent" in the areas of writing, composing and film making. Three authors have written stories on which contest entrants are to base a script for a five-to-seven-minutes opera. Ten winning scripts will be selected, and composers will be asked to compose a soundtrack suitable for them. Ten winning soundtracks will be advanced to film makers, who will be asked to put images to the soundtracks and the scripts. Three entrants will win an opportunity to be mentored privately by one of the world's leading artists in the realm of opera. Since one of ENO's goals for the Mini Operas contest is "to question and perhaps even redefine what 'opera' can be," there's no telling who will come up with what. But I suspect one thing is certain: only pint-sized divas, not the proverbial fat lady, will be bringing these operas to a close.