Opera Composition Course – The Soprano – Fall 2023

Professor: João MacDowell

Soprano: Manuela Korossy

The International Brazilian Opera Institute offers a contemporary opera composition course.

The class will focus on:

  • Characteristics of the solo soprano voice in contemporary opera setting.
  • Demoing instrumental parts and preparing a digital guide for record production.
  • Tempo Map or Conductor Track
  • Polyharmonic and multicultural writing.
  • From small to large: thematic writing and structuring large-scale compositions.
  • Opera and collaboration.
  • The opera composer as a cultural force.
  • Strategies to think, demo, workshop, and premiere productions.

Students should develop skills in melodic writing, text editing for voice, harmonic development, rhythmic frame, large and expansive form, notation standards, software strategies for organization of large scores, techniques for remote recording and electronic demo, virtual orchestra, tempo map, and self-criticism.

Works developed following course guidelines will receive studio recordings featuring soprano Manuela Korossy.

Fee:  U$900.00

The classes will take place online from September 13th to December 13, 2023.

13 Online Sessions: Wednesdays 6-8 PM EST

Application Deadline: September 1st.

Questions: contact@brazilianopera.com

International Applications are welcome

Application Form: https://forms.gle/ndjT5kX7YdetSRQ38


  • Facility with music writing
  • Basic knowledge of notation and music production software
  • Some experience as a composer and/or arranger

João MacDowell – IBOC Artistic Director and Resident Composer

Noted by the Swedish press as “a new thinker in the genre” (Johanna Paulsson, Dagens Nyheter), the Brazilian composer has a career that spans from punk to opera. João MacDowell had his first Symphony premiered by the National Orchestra of Brasilia and is the author of five operas, including Tamanduá (Boston Metropolitan Opera Award), Plastic Flowers, and The Seventh Seal with libretto by the late Ingmar Bergman. The composer was awarded two times with Ingmar Bergman Estate Foundation residencies at the director’s home and performed as the closing act for the opening ceremony for the Bergman Centennial in the Fårö church in 2018. The Seventh Seal opera premiered in the same year, in Stockholm’s Modern Art Museum (Moderna) and in Sao Paulo, with the orchestra and chorus of the Tatuí Conservatory. Other works by the composer include chamber music, soundtrack, and song.

Manuela Korossy – Lyric Soprano

With an extensive musical journey that started in childhood, Manuela has extensive experience as a singer. In Brazil, she studied at the School of Music of Brasília (EMB) and the University of Brasília (UnB). She stood out as a soloist in the Brazilian capital, performing with essential institutions such as Casa Thomas Jefferson (CTJ), CCBB Brasília, and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Theater Claudio Santoro (OSTNCS).

She is currently studying at internationally renowned institutions such as the Liszt Ferenc Conservatory in Hungary and the Juilliard School, where she will complete her BA in singing.

Roberta Prada – Vocal Director IBOC 

Roberta Prada – USA

Roberta Prada, contralto, has sung in Europe, the UK, South and North America in leading roles in opera, concerts, and recitals. Roberta Prada graduated from Wellesley College, trained in Neurolinguistic Programming and in the work of Dr. Tomatis, Audio-Psycho-Phonology (APP). Prada lives in New York and is president of Vocalimages, Inc., a 501 C (3) entity. She is the author, with Francis Keeping and Pierre Sollier, of the English adaptation of The Ear and The Voice by Alfred A. Tomatis, Scarecrow Press, 2004, and translator, with Francis Keeping, of the expanded English version of J. Faure’s The Voice and Singing. In 2008, she co-authored the first volume of Opera and its Characters, published by Vox Mentor. In 2009, launched the iMozart™. In 2010, an Audio/Visual training CD-ROM was launched in conjunction with Jozef Vervoort, director of the Atlantis Center in Belgium. She now teaches an amalgam with bel canto technique geared towards speakers, actors, and singers.  Her Tomatis practice is organized for gifted adults and includes accelerated foreign language study and excellence training. Roberta Prada is a member of NATS – The National Association of Teachers of Singing, AGMA – The American Guild of Musical Artists, and a board member of Icarus – The International Center for American Music.

Course Plan

Actual discussion and deadlines may be adjusted depending on group needs and interests.

September 13
session 1: Discussion of the proposed workshop composition. Texture, Instrumentation, and Text.
Panorama of Contemporary Composition.
Multiculturalism. Expanding vocabulary.
A universe of possibilities, embracing classical, popular, and contemporary techniques.
September 20
session 2: The Soprano Voice: Guest Speakers: Roberta Prada & Manuela Korossy
Text choices: syllabic vocalese, original lyrics, adaptation of public domain, collaboration.
Composer as Poet. Composer and Librettist: the challenges of collaboration
Texture and timbre
Notation issues
September 27
session 3: Preparing a track: Tempo Map
Materials: Poly-Harmony
The cycle of alternating thirds, overlapping triads, chords generating scales. Mega Modes.
Scales of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 notes. Pitch session, octave equivalence, or non-equivalence,
Tuning systems. Primordial consonances and practical levels of complexity and structuring.
October 4
session 4: Preparing a track: Instrumentation
Examine options: Digital orchestration, electronic textures, or live musicians in the studio recording.
Communication and Intelligibility: Accompaniment and Vocal Support
Anticipation and Surprise. Simplicity and Complexity, Repetition and Variation. The familiar and the unusual.
Monoculture and Polyculture.
Structuring long-lasting works: Planning and execution.
Creative freedom and coherent and integrated musical discourse.
October 11
session 5: Reading and discussion of the compositions. Score First Draft Delivery.
Form: From simple to complex.
Circular Modal, Binary, Ternary, Free (fantasy), Quaternary, Song forms, Stanza and Chorus, Rondo, Sonata.
Extending time: “From the string of pearls to the great arched structures”, the Matrioska-Sonata.
Structuring long-term works: Planning and execution, creative freedom, and related musical discourse.
Strategies from Mozart to Ligeti: From 2 to 12 voices.
October 18
session 6: Evaluation of instrumental tracks to be delivered to Soprano
Studio Strategies
organization of musicians, microphone alignment
Excellence in creating the score and optimizing the time available with the musicians.
October 25
session 7: Final Review of Sheet Music for Soprano
Reading and discussion of the compositions of the participants.
Evaluation of elements of notation and practicality of execution.
Evaluation of instrumental tracks
November 1
session 8: Feedback of Soprano: last revisions and feedback on the process toward the recording
Chords are from Venus. Modes are from Mars
Pentachords, Polychords. Overlays, layers, and registers: tension and resolution.
Modal structures based on I Ching’s trigrams and hexagrams
November 8
session 9: Live recording in the studio
Composers will be connected and give minimal live feedback.
November 15
session 10: Live recording in the studio
Composers will be connected and give minimal live feedback.
November 22 Thanksgiving Break
November 29
session 11: Mixing of instrumental and vocal tracks
Video editing
Discussion of results and evaluation
December 6
session 12: Mixing of instrumental and vocal tracks
Video editing
The final discussion of results and evaluation
December 13 Online Release and Recital