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Spotlight Sunday Feature - Dawn Sonntag

Welcome back for another Spotlight Sundays featuring composers and librettists from our 9th annual New in November festival! We cannot believe that NIN9 is less than a month away! We hope you've purchased your tickets and plan to join us for another year of new opera and fresh perspectives in Hartford on November 18. If you haven't heard, October 26 - November 4 is National Opera Week. Hartford Opera Theater is proud to join Opera America and countless other opera companies across the US to celebrate our favorite art form! In honor this special week, be an advocate for opera in Hartford by telling your family, friends, and colleagues about our New in November Festival! With your help, we can continue to bring quality and affordable opera in English to our community. To learn more about national opera week, visit the link below:


Dawn Sonntag’s works include opera, art song, choral music, and instrumental and vocal chamber music as well as music for orchestra, dance, and documentary film. She has written the librettos for all of her operas. Verlorene Heimat (Lost Homeland), which is based on the true story of East Prussians Nazi resistors and the Jewish girl they sheltered during World War II, was premiered at Hiram College the featured work in the Cleveland Opera Theater’s 2018 New Opera Works festival. Scenes were performed in the 2016 New in November festival and in 2017 by ContempOpera Cleveland.

Her ten-minute opera Evangeline for solo soprano, based on Longfellow’s epic poem about the brutal British deportation of the Nova Scotian Acadians, was premiered in 2017 Halifax, Nova Scotia and performed at the 2018 Women Composers Festival in Hartford. Several scenes from Coal Creek, which is based on aural and written history of the Coal Creek mining community in remote east-central Alaska, where Sonntag has visited three times as a participant in the Composing in the Wilderness program, will be featured in the Cleveland Opera Theater’s February, 2019 New Opera Works Festival.

Sonntag was MTNA – Ohio’s 2010 Distinguished Composer of the Year and has been a guest performer/composer at the Youngstown State University New Music festival and a resident at the Visby International Centre for Composers. Dr. Sonntag is vice-chair of the Cleveland Composers Guild and is a member of the Cascadia Composers NACUSA chapter in the Pacific Northwest, where she has close family. Dr. Sonntag is Associate Professor of Music at Hiram College and taught at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington during the 2017-2018 school year.

More about her music can be found on her website at

Dawn has an exciting year coming up! Here is where you can hear her music next:

  • February 10: Discussion of the process of creating Coal Creek and staged performance of several scenes at the Cleveland Opera Theater’s New Opera Works (NOW) festival.

  • April: Recital of my chamber works and art songs at Hiram College

  • Several performances of her Sonata for Euphonium by Dr. Travis Scott

Here is what Dawn had to say about Opera for the 22nd Century:

The word “opera” means literally “work,” and work it is indeed. From the moment an idea is sparked in the composer’s mind until the final curtain call, the process of composing, producing, and performing an opera requires deep personal commitment, not only in terms of time, but also in terms of a willingness to be vulnerable, to delve deeply into one’s own heart and soul and reveal the hopes, fears, and joys that we all share as human beings. By opening ourselves in this way, we who are involved in creating an opera are bound together with the audience members in sharing our need to loved, to be safe, to be understood, to grieve, to laugh, to be outraged, to reminisce, to have hope, to be forgiven. In a time when inhumanity seems to be spreading like cancer, opera reminds us what it is to be human. And so now, just as in times past, it is crucial that opera be made available to every corner of society. There is much work to be done.

To learn more about Dawn Sonntag, visit her website:


Thank you so much for tuning in to our Opera for the 22nd Century blog! Tickets for NIN9 are going fast! Purchase yours today to reserve a seat for the HOTtest Opera event of the season.

We hope you and your family have a safe and spooky Halloween!

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