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, subsequently 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 from Boston University, she was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Piano at William & Mary until 2005.

In her newest collaboration with Bay Area composer Allen Shearer, Claudia recently completed the libretto for a major new opera, Howards End, America, updated to 1950's Boston:  West Edge Opera (Berkeley, San Francisco) previewed a large scene from the opera on its February, 2017 "Snapshot"series, where it received very positive reviews (San Francisco Classical Voice).

Claudia has created five previous chamber operas with Shearer. Their high profile 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 on March 19-22, 2015, produced by Composers, Inc. Her adaptation was called "one of uncanny mastery" (Gereben, SF Examiner).  Reviews of the opera, shown here appeared in Bay Area media outlets. In December, 2015, The San Francisco Chronicle chose Middlemarch in Spring one of ten top opera events of 2015 and Encyclopedia Brittanica noted it as a leading work of new music on the world stage.  It also was a 2016 American Prize finalist:

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 also was a guest speaker. She has been invited to give a presentation on the opera in August for the "Dickens Universe Conference," an international symposium held every summer at UC, Santa Cruz, being devoted to the novel Middlemarch in 2017.  Opera Theatre at the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville will produce Middlemarch in Spring in April, 2018, where Claudia will again be an invited speaker. 

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 was invited to contribute a chapter, "Page to Stage: A New Opera, Howards End, America" for inclusion in a forthcoming publication by the International E. M. Forster Society.

Claudia is 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 in 2012 and shared a 2014 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.