Mark Adamo (born 1962) is an Italian American composer and librettist born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While he has composed the symphonic cantata “Late Victorians, “Four Angels: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra,” and six substantial choral works, the composer’s principal work has been for the opera house: the composer and librettist of the highly-regarded Little Women, he has served as composer-in-residence for New York City Opera from 2001 to 2006,, and the company gave the East Coast premiere of his new opera, Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess, in March-April 2006. Lysistrata, hailed as “a sumptuous love story, poised between comedy and heartbreak” by Alex Ross of The New Yorker, was David Gockley’s last commission for the Houston Grand Opera, which gave the world premiere in 4 March 2005. Since its 1998 premiere by Houston Grand Opera, “Little Women” has been heard in over sixty-five international engagements, including a telecast over the PBS series “Great Performances” in August 2001. The opera was given its Asian premiere in May 2005, when New York City Opera’s production of the piece was chosen as the U.S. exhibit for the World Expo in Tokyo and Nagoya; State Opera of South Australia gave the Australian premiere at the Adelaide Festival in May 2007, the International Vocal Arts Institute gave the Israeli premiere in Tel Aviv in July 2008, and Calgary Opera has announced the Canadian premiere for January 2010.
Adamo began his education at New York University, where he received the Paulette Goddard Remarque Scholarship for outstanding undergraduate achievement in playwriting. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Degree cum laude in composition in 1990 from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he was awarded the Theodore Presser prize for outstanding undergraduate achievement in composition. At New York City Opera, he curated the contemporary opera workshop series VOX: Showcasing American Composers. Adamo served as master artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in May 2003. He has directed productions of his Little Women in Cleveland and Milwaukee, both of which were cited as among the best classical-music events of the year by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, respectively; and he has annotated programs for Stagebill, the Freer Gallery of Art, and most recently for BMG Classics. His criticism and interviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Stagebill, Opera News, the Star-Ledger, and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; and the journal on his self-titled website was named among the Best Music Blogs by Arts Journal in January 2008.
Adamo, who is openly gay, has lived with his partner, composer John Corigliano in New York City.; the two were legally married in California by the conductor Marin Alsop in August 2008. In January 2009, San Francisco Opera announced it had commissioned Adamo to compose both score and libretto for an opera entitled “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” which, in the composers’ words, “will draw on the Canonical Gospels, the Gnostic Gospels, and fifty years of scholarship to reimagine the New Testament through the eyes of its lone substantial female character.” San Francisco Opera plans a premiere in June 2013.
- Little Women (1998)
- Avow, a 10-minute chamber opera (1999)
- Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess (2005)