Florentine Opera Company
Press Release

NEA-Art Works awards $35,000 to The Florentine Opera to support the world premiere and professional recording of Sister Carrie by composer Robert Aldridge and librettist Herschel Garfein for the fall of 2016

In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction.

By - Dec 10th, 2015 05:24 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.— December 8, 2015— In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so. On December 8, 2015 the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award of $35,000 to The Florentine Opera to support the world premiere and professional recording of the new American opera Sister Carrie by the Grammy® Award-winning composer Robert Aldridge and librettist Herschel Garfein.  

The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The arts are part of our everyday lives – no matter who you are or where you live – they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from The Florentine Opera Company® offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

Florentine Opera Company, Inc. will receive $35,000 to support the world premiere and professional recording of Sister Carrie by composer Robert Aldridge and librettist Herschel Garfein (the composer and librettist team that created the two-time Grammy®-Winner, Florentine production and recording of Elmer Gantry). Based on the novel by Theodore Dreiser, the opera follows the rise of Carrie Meeber, a young woman from rural Wisconsin (Waukesha) on the eve of the 20th century, who migrates to the big city and ultimately becomes a Broadway star. The artistic and creative team may include conductor William Boggs (The two-time Grammy® Award-winning recording and Midwest premiere of Elmer Gantry 2010, Die Fledermaus 2016), mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala (The Marriage of Figaro 2012, Julius Caesar 2013, Sister Carrie workshops and public concert staging 2014), baritone Keith Phares (Elmer Gantry 2010, Three Decembers 2016), scenic designer Kris Stone and stage director William Florescu. Performances at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee will take place in the fall of 2016 and additional audiences will be reached through a commercial recording to be released on the Naxos label.

Florentine Opera General Director William Florescu stated “The Florentine Opera Company is honored to be a part of the creation of a new American Opera, Sister Carrie.  We are grateful for the support of the National Endownent for the Arts – Artworks, which will help make possible, not only the production of the world premiere, but also the recording and commercial release of the opera.  The NEA’s support and encouragement in the creation of new opera is vital to the future of the art form in the United States, and the Florentine is proud to be a part of this initiative”.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov

– See more at: https://www.arts.gov/news/grantsawarded


The three-time Grammy® Award-winning Florentine Opera Company’s productions and recordings reflect the highest musical and theatrical standards, while supporting community and educational programs. As a leader in Wisconsin’s art community and the nation’s sixth-oldest opera company, the Florentine Opera seeks to establish a significant presence in the cultural, educational and civic life of the state of Wisconsin and beyond. Audiences enjoy beautiful main stage productions that include first-rate vocal artistry brought to life by established and emerging international, national and local opera stars. With a foundation of fiscal responsibility, the company continues to grow its artistic and educational programs. Through its community engagement and in-school educational programming, the Florentine provides vital arts education experiences for children, nurtures new audiences, and expands cultural horizons for the next generation. The Florentine Opera is a cornerstone member organization of the United Performing Arts Fund and receives funds from Milwaukee County the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support from corporations, foundations and individuals. The Florentine Opera Company is an organizational member of OPERA America.


Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016. Go to arts.gov/50th to enjoy art stories from around the nation, peruse Facts & Figures, and check out the anniversary timeline.

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