We are pleased to announce that Sweet Land, an opera with music by Civitella Board Director Du Yun (CRF 2015) and Raven Chacon, was named Best Opera of 2020 by the Music Critics Association of North America.

Sweet Land, which premiered in February 2020, is a surreal travelogue through the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Separating the audience into two experiences of erasure and survival, Sweet Land explores the myths surrounding America’s origins by inventing a new, elemental myth of Hosts and Arrivals. As the natural landscape and the undeniable remnants of industrialization stand in silence, the land itself is a central character, stark relief to the fantastical world of an imaginary place called “Sweet Land.” Pre-order the digital album, forthcoming on September 24.

Statement from the MCANA Awards Committee:Sweet Land, a collaborative opera under the aegis of Yuval Sharon’s experimental company The Industry, unfolded in Los Angeles State Historic Park in February and March 2020. Composed jointly by Du Yun and Raven Chacon, with texts by Aja Couchois Duncan and Douglas Kearney, and co-directed by Sharon and Cannupa Hanska Luger, it is a haunting dramatization of the nightmarish histories of indigenous peoples and immigrants in America.

Sharon, who has gone on to become the new leader of Michigan Opera Theatre, pulled off an extraordinarily complex logistical undertaking, with audiences moving among several performance sites and passing trains becoming part of the drama. After the pandemic shut down the run in the middle of March, the performers gathered to make an evocative film, which widened the opera’s reach. In giving this award we honor not only the creative team but also the spirit of invention and passion that many other participants brought to the project, which offers a new model of opera as a collective enterprise.”