Composer Librettist Studio




Studio Dates:
January 22, 2020-February 7, 2020


About the Studio

The New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, presented in collaboration with Nautilus Music-Theater, is designed to provide an opportunity for five writers and five composers to work with professional performers, exploring the possibilities and basic elements of music-theater. The studio focuses on the process of collaboration through a series of brief exploratory assignments for the writers and composers. The exercises are then sight-read by the performers in brief working sessions. The participants rotate partners, and the process is repeated four more times. Within the two-week period, all composers work with all writers and all performers. Toward the end of the studio, an informal reading of all the compositions is held. The studio is co-directed by Ben Krywosz (Artistic Director of Nautilus Music-Theater) and music director Roger Ames. All working sessions will be held at New Dramatists. It is not intended as a developmental session for existing pieces, but concentrates more on the collaborative process, nurturing relationships and suggesting ways that writers, composers, and performers can work together. The collaborative atmosphere of the studio is relatively free from the performance pressures usually associated with the commercial musical theater or opera field. New Dramatists has sponsored the studio annually since 1984. Over the years, Krywosz has conducted other studios around the country in such cities as Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles, and Miami. All the studios have nurtured collaborative teams that have gone on to develop and produce new work.

Time Commitment:

The studio is an intensive two-week program with sessions planned during afternoons and evenings. This year’s Studio will begin Wednesday, January 22 and continue daily through Friday, February 7, 2020. The Studio is a full-time commitment. It has been strongly recommended by past participants that we urge writers and composers not to work on any other projects during the studio, since most outside time is spent writing and composing.


Each composer will receive $1300 for participating in this program. All participants will be hired as temporary employees of New Dramatists. While out of towners are encouraged to apply, we do not offer travel or living assistance.

Nautilus Music-Theater:

Based in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Nautilus Music-Theater is dedicated to the creation, development and production of new American opera and other forms of music-theater. Our goals include the formation of partnerships between creators, performers and audiences, and the creation of professional training programs for artists. We use music-theater as a tool to create enriching experiences for artists and audiences, and to support the individual and collective growth of the human spirit.

Application Step-By-Step

Once you click “start my application”, you will be prompted to create an account. After you have logged in and begun the application, you may save it and return to it at any time up until the deadline. There will be text box fields for the questions listed below. You may enter text directly or copy and paste from a word processing program, but please be aware that formatting such as boldface, italics, or font type will drop out. Please be prepared to upload the materials listed in the acceptable file formats. Good luck!

Application Questionnaire

• Please provide your Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Cell Phone, and Secondary Phone.
• Tell us how you heard about this studio and from whom you heard it.
• Please list three references (name/position/phone) we might call.
• Briefly describe any experience you’ve had creating for and/or working with different music-theatre forms (examples will be listed).
• Briefly describe any collaborative experiences you have had.
• Name three major influences in your life and describe how they have shaped your aesthetic direction.
• Please write a statement describing why you are interested in participating in this studio. A single paragraph or two is sufficient.

Materials to Upload

• A resume (acceptable file format: pdf only)
• Two different piano/vocal scores that show an ability to notate (acceptable file format: pdf only)
• Up to three audio files, each representing one song or piece of music (acceptable file formats: mp3 and m4a)

Start My Application

Tips to Make Your Application More Competitive

• This program is intended primarily for composers who have professional experience. Applications from graduate students may be considered in rare circumstances, but it is unlikely that undergraduate students will be considered.
• Although no previous experience with opera or music-theater is required, we are especially interested in hearing any vocal music you might have composed, and would like to get some sense of your notation skills.
• We discourage midi files in favor of vocal selections where possible.
• We encourage you to submit recordings that correspond to the scores you have uploaded.
• Video submissions are not accepted, except in special circumstances.
• If any of the application materials are missing, it is likely that your application will be considered ineligible.
• If you have questions about the Studio or about the content of your submission, please contact John Steber, Director of the Playwrights Lab at If you are having technical difficulties with the online form, please email Connie Hall, Artistic Programs Producer, at

Already Have an Account?

If you recently submitted applications for the Kleban Prize, our Playwright Residency, or the Princess Grace Award, CLICK HERE instead to login and begin your Composer-Librettist Studio application.

Application Deadline


All submissions are accepted through the online form. Please do not email any application materials.