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Seattle Opera.

Jane Lang
Creation Lab

Jane Lang Davis Creation Lab


Seattle Opera seeks to cultivate the next generation of opera composers and librettists in Washington State through our Creation Lab. Beginning in the 2020/21 season, Seattle Opera will present eight new works by eight Washington State composer and librettist teams. These short operas will tell the diverse stories of our region through new compositions by local artists.

Composers, songwriters, librettists, and lyricists of all genres are encouraged to apply to create new operas that tell compelling, resonant stories through vocal music. Selected participants will develop a 20-minute opera to be presented in a concert format for a public audience in Tagney Jones Hall at the Opera Center in 2021. Each opera will undergo a development process that includes a table reading, music workshop, and rehearsal prior to the public performance. The creative teams will receive support from professional composers and librettists as they develop their work. 

Participants for the 2021/22 Creation Lab will be announced in fall of 2021.

2020/21 participant bios


Chess Albaneze

Chess Albaneze is a 29-year-old genderfluid autistic trans man from Seattle, Washington. Starting in the visual arts, Chess has used his autistic superpowers to transpose unique visuals to music. He has been composing for six years, and in that time has had his work guest-featured in Mary Bichner’s Autumn Suite (2017), composed the original soundtrack for Transient (a 2018 documentary film by Mark Janavel depicting various interviews by trans folks during the first 100 days of Trump in office), and currently composes for the roleplaying adventure podcast Dandies in Danger (ongoing, available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube). Chess is most inspired by Schubert’s lieder, Verdi’s operas, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Gabriel-era Genesis, and modern progressive bands such as Son Lux. He believes that music’s most important aspect is its ability to tell a moving, emotional story, which is why he is especially drawn to opera and art song. This love of storytelling extends to his other works, such as original comics, prose, crafting an original tarot deck, and even drag kinging (the art of dressing as a man for performance). Through all his projects, one thing remains constant: the love of eliciting empathy from the audience.

Chess was trained on the violin, piano, and voice, but halted voice training from what he would eventually discover was gender dysphoria. Nevertheless, these lessons greatly informed his ability to compose for the voice. Chess’s genderfluidity informs his current song cycle Becoming Hyde, which features Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous characters Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sung by solo tenor with piano. Both characters weave in and out of the same voice, and, in choosing not to label which character is singing, Chess crafts the music itself to inform the singer through tonal color and clever use of character-assigned keys. “I wanted the characters to remain fluid, as through my own experience I find that I ebb in and out of different gender identities, yet always remain, at the core, myself.”

Chess’s music is Romantic in style, with an underlying melancholy and frailty, at times weaving between bitterly visceral and delicately haunting. He believes art has a moral responsibility to society, and thinks critically before creating art in any of his mediums. He believes art’s greatest power is to help people empathize with experiences outside of their own, and that empathy is our greatest tool against hatred and discrimination.


Kyleigh Archer

Kyleigh Archer is a director, designer, and theater teaching artist. Graduated from Cornish with B.F.A in Theatre, in both the acting and technical realms; they have spent the last 7 years working with school districts and non-profits to bring the joys of theater, puppetry, story telling, and improv to students. They are currently the Artistic Associate at Broadway Bound and a teaching artist at Seattle Children's Theatre.


Rheanna Atendido

Rheanna Atendido is a second-generation Filipino-American playwright, born and raised in the greater Seattle area. She is a multifaceted singer-songwriter, playwright-composer, and waffle enthusiast. Both her personality and her music have been described as wordy, quirky, and complicated. As a self-taught musician, Atendido has spent the past couple decades writing songs and developing her signature acoustic-pop vibes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater, Psychology, and a minor in music from the University of Washington. There, she received the Mary Gates Scholarship for the development of her debut pop-operetta Breakup Bench. Since then, she has composed for companies such as Book-It Repertory, ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, and The Horse in Motion. Other works include Cultural Essay and Tides of Fortune with Mara Palma in residency with The 5th Avenue Theatre. As a performer, she has been seen on stage at The 5th Avenue Theatre (Mamma Mia!, AMT Northwest Bookshelf), Seattle Repertory (The Odyssey), Village Theatre (ZM), and Taproot (Bright Star). Atendido is currently self producing another pop album of original songs, set to release early next year.

Brian Dang

Brian Dang

Brian Dang (they/them) is a playwright based in Duwamish Territory (Seattle). Brian is a proud resident playwright at Parley. For Brian, playwriting is an act of envisioning an eventual communing – of ideas and people in shared creation. Their writing has been workshopped with Pork Filled Productions, Karen’s Secret Army, Theatre Battery, and the Undergraduate Theater Society. In the next year, Brian will be a 2020-21 Hugo House Fellow and have their play h*llo k*tty syndrome supported by 4Culture and Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. Brian is also an arts administrator, serving as the Literary Manager of Washington Ensemble Theatre. They’re grateful for having somehow convinced the world they can read and write.

Aaron Jin

Aaron Jin

Aaron Jin is a gay, Asian-American writer and filmmaker raised in the theatre world. With the limited gay stories, few Asian stories, and nearly no gay Asian stories, Aaron seeks bring his stories to life. His recent treatment for a mother-son film Blondie was a finalist in NFFTY’s first ever Short Film Treatment Competition. His producing debut Stormy Skies focused on a video-game-infused lesbian love story, and he is developing his first feature length script Sorry I Kissed You after a workshop at the Playground Experiment and Sundance Collab’s Writing Your Comedy Feature class.

Recently, Aaron was an actor and music director with the landmark 5th Avenue Theatre. He acted in the feature film Potato Dreams and his solo show was a finalist for the Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre’s NUWORKS Festival. A passionate artist and activist trained through artEquity’s national facilitator training program, he served on grant panels, led activism-focused workshops, and markets for nonprofit arts organizations in Seattle.

Julia Sonya Koyfman

Julia Sonya Koyfman

Julia Sonya Koyfman is an award-winning lyricist/ librettist, screenwriter, filmmaker, comedian, and performer. Based in Seattle, Julia is actively creating New Works for the stage and Digital Theater, including the mini online musical, "Close (But Not Too Close)", for which she wrote the lyrics. In 2015, Julia founded, wrote, and performed in the "From Seattle With Love" Concert Series, a mix of music and storytelling, which showcased up-in-coming Washington musicians and performers. The series later spun off with "Why Won’t He Call Me Back: A Live Nervous Breakdown" and "Holiday Cabaret". She was a fan favorite sketch writer for the closed-circuit television/ online variety show, "Purchase Late Night", and was the co-host and head writer for the comedy talk show, "Jules and Josie In The Morning".  She holds a degree in Playwriting/ Screenwriting from SUNY Purchase and is currently a part of New Musicals Inc. in LA and The Institution for American Musical Theatre: Creators in NYC. For more info check out 

Mirabai Kukathas

Mirabai Kukathas

Mirabai Kukathas is a storyteller. A playwright, spirited conversationalist, and (maybe most importantly) a singer/songwriter, she loves nothing more than telling an absurd story with an honest emotional core. People often tell Mirabai she was born in the wrong millennium (what with her hippie hair and obsession with folk music) but she’d much rather be in this one, thank you very much, where she can vote and marry who she likes and watch WALL-E for the millionth time. But she does pull plenty of musical inspiration from ti