The Kennedy Center

American Opera Initiative

Application Information

Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative (AOI) provides emerging composers and librettists who have not yet received a major operatic commission with the opportunity to compose operatic works under the guidance of expert mentors. The mentors for the 2018-2019 season are Jake Heggie, Gene Scheer, and Steven Osgood. Emerging artists, recent graduates and current students are encouraged to apply. Three composer-librettist teams will each receive commissions for a 20-minute operatic work to be performed by singers from the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and members of the Washington National Opera Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.

Applications for the 2018-19 AOI 20 Program are now closed.

2018-2019 Program Deadlines

Subject to change

December 17, 2017
Composer applications due
January 2, 2018
Librettist applications due
February 2, 2018
Teams selected and notified
February 19, 2018
Libretto initial outlines due
March 30, 2018
First draft of libretto due
April 20, 2018
Revised/workshop libretto due
June 22, 2018
First draft of piano vocal score due
August 10, 2018
Revised/workshop piano vocal score due
September 5-8, 2018
Piano workshop in Washington, DC
November 9, 2018
Final score and parts delivered to WNO
January 2-12, 2018
Final rehearsal/world premiere performances

Application Instructions

To apply, follow these steps:

Step 1: Send an email to to request an application and Dropbox link.

Step 2: Once you receive the application form and Dropbox link, send another email with the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Résumé/CV
  • Upload 2-5 compositions or excerpts with audio and full scores to Dropbox

For more information about the program, email

All materials for composers must be submitted by December 17, 2017

All materials for librettists must be submitted by January 2, 2018

All applicants will receive an e-mail confirmation of receipt of their application.