About James Rolfe:

"...one of our most gifted composers of new concert music..."
Wholenote Magazine

Opera From Scratch Testimonial:

“A life-changing experience!”

“This was a fantastically rich week.”

“I will always remember how I reconnected to my singing soul at Opera From Scratch.”

"...a creative and stimulating haven."


Rita Ueda's "1000 Paper Cranes for Japan"
OFS 2012 Celeste Godin performing


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Opera From Scratch
1881 Brunswick St., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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What is Opera From Scratch?

Opera From Scratch is a one week long workshop which allows six composers and six singers to develop six 10 minute operas for solo voice and piano. Composers are asked to base their mini-opera concerning a Nova Scotia theme of cultural or historic significance in Nova Scotia. Each composer will be expected to complete their work six weeks prior to the workshop, and each singer will be required to learn one work before attending. Composers will be paired with singers as of April 1st, 2015.

During Opera from Scratch, the five mini-operas will be intensively workshopped in consultation with a senior composer/mentor and singing teacher in private daily sessions, as well as a private round table for the composition students.  A resident pianist will be available for private rehearsals and masterclasses.  Lectures, acting classes, and round tables will be given by a new music singing specialist, dramaturge, and a theatre director. Both composers and singers will be expected to attend each other's lessons in order to gain insight into each other's creative process. Masterclasses will be available to all participants.

New this year: public speaking classes for the composers as well as guest opera director, Leon Major, who is the Artistic Director of The Maryland Opera Studio for the University of Maryland, College Park and has worked as an independent director for the New York City Opera, Washington Opera, San Diego Opera, Vancouver Opera, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, Austin Lyric Opera, The Canadian Opera Company, among others.

Senior Canadian composer James Rolfe will serve as our mentor for the week. Mr. Rolfe is a perfect choice for this workshop, having recently won the Louis Applebaum Composers Award for his outstanding work in the field of opera, and he is well known for his first opera – Beatrice Chancy, with libretto by George Elliott Clarke. Mr. Rolfe will have individual sessions with each composer during the week as well as offering master classes for the singers.

Opera from Scratch is an organic/collaborative process where the composers and singers are exposed to each others’ methods, resulting in a better understanding of the depth of thought, creativity, and effort that goes into creating even a short work, from both the composer's and singer's perspective.  Singers often have reservations about performing new works, but an intimate exchange such as this will help composers approach singers in ways that relax them and help them overcome their fears.

Above all, singers need to understand exactly what the composer intends, and composers need to understand how to write for different voice types and communicate their intent to singers. We hope that this intensive week of Opera from Scratch workshops will assist both in this regard – and perhaps sow the seeds for a whole new generation of exciting Canadian and International operas.


An exclusive 1 week opera composition workshop for composers and singers.

August 17th - 24th, 2014 / 10am - 8pm
Dalhousie Music Department, Halifax, NS

2014 Applications Click Here
Mentors 2014 Click Here
Participants 2014 Click Here

Calendar of Public Events
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Testimonials and Video
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OFS Gala Concert 2012 Review Click Here