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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 newest collaboration with Bay Area composer Allen Shearer is a major new opera, Howards End, America  based on the great Edwardian novel but updated to 1950's Boston.The opera's successful preview by West Edge Opera (Berkeley, San Francisco) on its 2017 "Snapshot" series led to the announcement of the world premiere of Howards End America  - three performances Feb. 22-24, 2019 at Z Space in San Francisco, a production of the new music presenter Earplay  and featuring an international cast.The E. M. Forster Society, based in Warsaw, with the Polish Journal of English Studies, has published her chapter on adaptation of the novel as an opera:  

Claudia Stevens' Jan. 19, 2019 lecture  for the Wagner Society of Northern California at the JCC of San Francisco, is about the influence of Wagner and other German romantics on the novels of E. M. Forster.  It will include discussion of her libretto for the new opera,  Howards End, America and is coordinated with  the opera's upcoming San Francisco premiere, Feb. 22-24, 2019.

Claudia has created five previous chamber operas with Allen Shearer. Their one-act The Dawn Makers (2009) was one of three finalists in the National Opera Association's 2015 Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition. The premiere of their widely acclaimed Middlemarch in Spring, adapted by Claudia from George Eliot's novel Middlemarch, took place at Z Space in San Francisco March 19-22, 2015, produced by Composers, Inc. Her adaptation was called "one of uncanny mastery" (Gereben, SF Examiner).  Numerous reviews of the opera are shown here In December, 2015, The San Francisco Chronicle chose 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. 

Charlottesville Opera presented the East Coast premiere of Middlemarch in Spring at the Paramount Theater on March 23 and 24, 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 "Dickens Universe Conference," an international symposium held every summer at UC, Santa Cruz, devoted to the novel Middlemarch in 2017. The latest production of Middlemarch in Spring, by Opera Theatre at the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville in April, 2018 (four performances), under the director James Marvel, received very favorable notices. 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 Dasousa 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 her works 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 and her works as librettist, by musical journalist Erica Miner, appeared in Broadway World and the "LA Opus" website (Los Angeles) in 2015. Several of her plays and her libretto for the comic chamber opera, "A Very Large Mole" appear in the avant-garde literary journal Exquisite Corpse.

Claudia's latest opera with composer Allen Shearer is the full-length chamber opera, Prospero's Island, an updated adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  The premiere will take place on March 25, 2023 at San Francisco's landmark Herbst Theater, a production of Ninth Planet New Music, with a cast drawn from Bay Area and national opera companies.