The recipient of Opera America’s 2022 Campbell Librettist Prize, STEPHANIE FLEISCHMANN is a librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds. She has been called a “neo Emily Dickinson” (Backstage) and “a writer who can conjure something between a dreamy road movie and a theatrical coming-of-age tale, and who can piece these elements together in the style of a jagged ballad for guitar” (Chicago Sun Times).
The recipient of Opera America’s 2022 Campbell Librettist Prize, STEPHANIE FLEISCHMANN is a librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds. She has been called a “neo Emily Dickinson” (Backstage) and “a writer who can conjure something between a dreamy road movie and a theatrical coming-of-age tale, and who can piece these elements together in the style of a jagged ballad for guitar” (Chicago Sun Times). Her “lyrical monologues” (The New York Times), “finely tuned” opera libretti (Opera News), plays and music-theater works have been performed internationally and across the U.S.
Opera libretti include: In a Grove (music by Christopher Cerrone, commissioned by LA Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, 2022, directed by Mary Birnbaum; LA, 2023), Dido (music by Melinda Wagner, for Dawn Upshaw and the Brentano Quartet, 2022, commissioned by 92nd Street Y, Rockport, Chamber Music Northwest, Wake Forest, Hopkins Center for the Arts and more), Poppaea (music by Michael Hersch, for Wien Modern/Zeiträume Basel Biennial for New Music and Architecture, 2021), After the Storm (music by David Hanlon, commissioned by Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, Houston/Galveston, 2016, directed by Matthew Ozawa), The Long Walk (music by Jeremy Howard Beck, commissioned by American Lyric Theater, Opera Saratoga, 2015; Utah Opera and Pittsburgh Opera), The Property (commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2015). Upcoming: Another City (music by Jeremy Howard Beck, for Houston Grand Opera, 2023), The Pigeon Keeper (music by David Hanlon, for Santa Fe Opera’s Opera for All Voices, Santa Fe, 2023), Arkhipov (music by Peter Knell, developed c/o Seattle Opera; Jacaranda, 2022, directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, conducted by Daniela Candillari).
Current opera collaborations include 3 projects with Opera America Female Discovery grant composers—The Visitation, with Christina Campanella; Seven Sisters, with Justine F. Chen (workshop: Manhattan School of Music); Barrel of Laughs, Vale of Tears, with Julia Adolphe (National Sawdust/ Brooklyn Youth Chorus)—and L’Autre Moi, with Matthew Recio (West Edge’s Aperture; Chicago Opera Theater). Fleischmann is writing a Medea, to premiere in 2023, with music by Michael Hersch, performed by Sarah Maria Sun and Ensemble MusikFabrik in Cologne. Her texts and songs have been set by composers Anna Clyne (“The Years,” for Scottish National Chamber Orchestra and Choir), Christopher Cerrone (“Last Message Received,” for Northwestern and Yale), Gity Razaz (“She Sings,” for Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Bang on a Can Longplay), Olga Neuwirth (Aldeburgh, Basel, Berlin, Vienna), Sxip Shirey, Jorge Sosa, Elspeth Brooke, and others. Fleischmann’s rendition of “Carnival of the Animals” has been seen at the Ojai Festival and the Hollywood Bowl. Her “album adaptation” of Christopher Cerrone’s “Liminal Highway” for Soundworlds has ranked among the top 100 podcasts in the UK and South Africa.
Music-theater works include The Visitation, a sound walk, with Mallory Catlett and Christina Campanella (HERE/Jackie Robinson Park); Bakkhai, with Daniel Kluger and Dmitry Troyanovsky (Brandeis); Niagara, with Bobby Previte and Daniel Fish (Hudson Opera House); Red Fly/Blue Bottle (music by Christina Campanella, Here Arts Center, NYC; EMPAC, Troy, NY; Noorderzon, NL; with Mallory Catlett), The Secret Lives of Coats (music by Christina Campanella, Red Eye, Minneapolis, with Hayley Finn; Whitman College, WA; the Playwrights Center/Playlabs); The Sweetest Life, music by Saskia Lane (New Victory LabWorks; Vineyard Theatre; BRIC lab), Orpheus (HERE). Plays include Sound House, Eloise & Ray, Tally Ho, The Street of Useful Things, What the Moon Saw, The World Speed Carnival, among others. Fleischmann’s work for theater has been developed or presented at venues including Exit Festival (France), Roundhouse Studio (London), Synchronicity (Atlanta), Son of Semele (LA), Roadworks (Chicago), Empty Space, Act II, Asolo Rep and others; and in NYC at venues including New Georges, Soho Rep, Mabou Mines/Suite, Theater for One, the Knitting Factory, Prelude, the Public. Her plays have been published by Play, a Journal of Plays, Playscripts.com, and Smith & Krauss.
Additional writing and/or dramaturgy includes lyrics and dramaturgy for Chekhov at Lake Lucille (including the film, I Am a Seagull—lyrics/story producer); text/dramaturgy for The Russian Doctor, inspired by Chekhov’s Sakhalin Island, (Birmingham Rep, Bristol Old Vic, Winchester Theatre Royal, UK; Mass MoCA); songs for sound installations by Christina Campanella and Jim Dawson (NY Electronic Arts Festival); lyrics/dramaturgy/co-devising for The Greeks, Parts 2 & 3 and The Americans, with director Brian Mertes at Juilliard. She has received 2 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships for her fiction, and a memoir, as part of a micromuseum, was presented in Athens, Frankfurt, and Slovenia.
Fleischmann is a recipient of a Café Royal Cultural Foundation Performance Grant for The Visitation, a sound walk; a NYFA Fellowship in Playwriting for her libretto for The Pigeon Keeper; a Virginia B. Toulmin grant for her libretto for Barrel of Laughs; a Venturous Capital Fund grant, a NYSCA Individual Artist Commission, and a 2014–15 Howard Foundation Fellowship in Playwriting for her play, Sound House; an Arts Council England grant (for Tally Ho), two NYSCA Individual Artist Commissions for her libretti (The Long Walk and Red Fly), a NEA Opera/Music-Theater commission, the Tennessee Williams Fellowship, and the Frederick Loewe and Whitfield Cook Awards, as well as residencies at Macdowell, Hedgebrook, HARP, BricLab, among others. Her work has been supported by the MAP Fund, Opera America, New Music USA, the Greenwall Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Fund, the Tobin Foundation, Pew Charitable Trust, the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, the Copeland Fund, LMCC Swingspace, and NY State Music Fund. She is a former American Lyric Theater Resident artist, Playwrights Center Core Writer, New Georges Audrey Resident, and an alumna of New Dramatists.
She received her BA from Wesleyan University, and her MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College, where she studied with Mac Wellman. She has taught at Sewanee, Bard, and Skidmore Colleges.