2019 NAUTILUS COMPOSER-LIBRETTIST STUDIO: May 18th to June 4th, 2019


The Nautilus Composer-Librettist Studio is designed to provide an opportunity for five writers and five composers to work with five professional performers, exploring the possibilities and basic elements of music-theater. The studio focuses on the process of collaboration through a series of brief exploratory assignments for the writers and composers. The exercises are then sight-read by the performers in brief working sessions. The participants rotate partners, and the process is repeated four more times. Within the two-week period, all composers work with all writers and all performers. Toward the end of the studio, an informal reading of all the compositions is held.

The studio is co-directed by Ben Krywosz (Artistic Director of Nautilus Music-Theater) and music director Roger Ames, who have collaborated on this Studio since 1986. All working sessions will be held at the Nautilus Studio in Lowertown Saint Paul. It is not intended as a developmental session for existing pieces, but concentrates more on the collaborative process, nurturing relationships and suggesting ways that writers, composers, and performers can work together. The collaborative atmosphere of the studio is relatively free from the performance pressures usually associated with the commercial musical theater or opera field. First created in 1984, Krywosz has conducted 64 studios around the country in such cities as New York (through New Dramatists), San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles, and Miami. All the studios have nurtured collaborative teams that have gone on to develop and produce new work.ed collaborative teams that have gone on to develop and produce new work.

Time Commitment:

The studio is an intensive two-week program with sessions scheduled primarily during afternoons, along with a few mornings and evenings. It will begin Saturday, May 18th and continue daily through Sunday, June 2nd, 2019. Selected pieces will be presented in Nautilus’ Rough Cuts series June 3rd and 4th. It has been strongly recommended by past participants that we require writers and composers not to work on any other projects during the studio, since most outside time is spent writing and composing.


Because we see this studio as a long-term investment program in the professional development of creative and performing artists, each composer, writer, and performer will receive a $750 honorarium for participating in this program. Participants (60% of whom will be emerging artists) are chosen by a panel including program directors and selected past participants. This activity is made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the Jerome Foundation, along with individual donors.


Composers and writers are selected through a highly competitive application process, and must be current residents of Minnesota. No previous experience creating opera or musical theater is necessary. Artists creating in all genres and styles are invited to apply.

Online applications are available at


In order to fill out this form and submit your application online, you must have a Gmail account (which is free and easy to set up). Alternatively, you can send us an email us at


and we can send you a PDF, which you can then fill out by hand and return to us via snail mail, or by dropping it off at our Studio in Lowertown St Paul. Questions may also be sent to this email address; no phone calls please. Applications materials (forms, resumes, scripts, scores, and recordings) must be submitted by March 24th, 2019.

Past Participants Comments:

“Do it! / I offer an unhesitating, enthusiastic, urgent recommendation / This Studio cultivates strong, mindful, ambitious, brave artists; it trains us in risk-taking and fidelity to our own voices, and turns us loose on the world wilder, stronger, more passionate, more open, more daring and more alive / It will change your life, not just as a writer or composer, but as a human being dealing with others in this vast, unruly world / Nautilus takes participants into their orb, shakes them to their cores, and sends them back into the world empowered to contribute their work / The potential for artistic and personal growth is formidable / The design and implementation of this studio is world-class; the quality of the instruction and facilitation (and the quality of the work created) is extraordinary / It’s one of the few experiences in my life where the considerable hype still didn’t accurately describe the brilliance of the program / The scope of Nautilus’ contribution to the Twin Cities is often missed or unnoticed, yet  virtually every significant artist working in the area has passed thru some experience here to positive effect; Nautilus’s presence and role are crucial to our thriving MN arts scene / prepare to be amazed by all you can learn and do; it’s a transformative, singular experience.”

Nautilus Music-Theater:

Since 1986, Nautilus Music-Theater has been dedicated to the creation, development and production of new American opera and other forms of innovative music-theater. Our goals include the formation of partnerships between creators, performers and audiences, and the creation of professional training programs for artists. We use music-theater as a tool to create enriching experiences for artists and audiences, and to support the individual and collective growth of the human spirit.

Application deadline:

 March 24th, 2019