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Claudia Stevens

Visiting Scholar


Claudia Stevens continues in her appointment as Visiting Scholar in Music. She has received many honors and artist residencies, first as a composers' pianist, later as a multidisciplinary performer and playwright, and recently as a librettist. These include numerous grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts to create and present her original works on tour.  With degrees in music from Vassar College (summa cum laude), UC, Berkeley, and the DMA in piano from Boston University, she was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Piano at William & Mary until 2005.

Claudia's recent full-length opera, Prospero's Island, which she conceived and created in collaboration with composer Allen Shearer, and of which she was both librettist and executive producer, premiered on March 25, 2023 at San Francisco's Herbst Theatre. It was the San Francisco Chronicle critic's pick of the week (Joshua Kosman) and received positive reviews in local and national media. 

The newest Shearer/Stevens one-act chamber opera, Einstein at Princeton, will premiere in Berkeley on December 5, 2023. A production of Berkeley Chamber Performances, it will feature members of Strata and Solano chamber players.

Claudia's opera Howards End, America, based on the Edwardian novel and updated to 1950's Boston, was previewed in 2017 by West Edge Opera on its "Snapshot" series and given its world premiere in 2019 at Z Space in San Francisco, a production of Earplay Ensemble. The E. M. Forster Society, based in Warsaw, invited her to contribute a chapter about her adaptation of the novel as an opera, which appears in Polish Journal of English Studies: The opera's San Francisco production was previewed in the Los Angeles Times, with critical notices in national and international press:  

in coordination with the premieres of both the Howards End and Prospero operas, Claudia gave lecture-demonstrations for the San Francisco-based Wagner Society in 2019 and 2023. She continues to speak widely about her process of opera adaptation and production.

Earlier chamber operas by Shearer and Stevens include their prize-winning one-act The Dawn Makers (2009) and their Middlemarch in Spring, adapted by Claudia from George Eliot's novel Middlemarch, which premiered at Z Space in San Francisco March, 2015, produced by Composers, Inc. Her adaptation was called "one of uncanny mastery" (Gereben, SF Examiner). In December, 2015, The San Francisco Chronicle named Middlemarch in Spring one of ten top opera events of 2015 and Encyclopedia Britannica noted it as a leading work of new music on the world stage. 

Subsequently, Charlottesville Opera presented the East Coast premiere of Middlemarch in Spring at the Paramount Theater in March, 2017 in coordination with Virginia Festival of the Book, for which Claudia was an invited speaker. She also gave a paper on the opera at the 2017 "Dickens Universe Conference," an international symposium at UC, Santa Cruz. Opera Theatre at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville subsequently staged four performances of Middlemarch under the director James Marvel. Claudia's article, "A New Opera: Middlemarch in Spring," appeared in George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies (Penn State Univ. Press, 2015), and the Michael Halliwell/Delia da Sousa Correa review of the opera, as music and as literature, appeared in the fall, 2016 issue of The George Eliot Review (UK) 

Claudia continues as a contributing director of Sonic Harvest, a new music series in Berkeley, California. She received a Creative Connections grant from New Music USA for works of hers presented by Sonic Harvest and shared a New Music USA grant with composer Allen Shearer toward production of Middlemarch in Spring. This interview with Claudia about her career is one of several by musical journalist Erica Miner appearing in both Broadway World and the "LA Opus." Two of Claudia's monologue plays and her libretto for the comic chamber opera, "A Very Large Mole" appear in the avant-garde literary journal  Exquisite Corpse. Swem Library Special Collections houses an archive of her papers and works. See also: