Yale Professor Wins Distinguished Achievement Award from Mellon Foundation

Ellen Rosand

Yale University professor of music history Ellen Rosand has won a prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which will enable her to create a Baroque opera company for Yale undergraduates.

“This award is a great honor for Ellen Rosand and for Yale,” said University President Richard C. Levin. “In view of Professor Rosand’s depth of learning and the resources that the Mellon Foundation has placed at her disposal through this very generous award, I look forward eagerly to watching her vision for the performance and study of Baroque opera take shape.”

In announcing the award, the Mellon Foundation underscored Rosand’s influence in the field of musicology, crediting her with opening “important new ways of understanding 17th-century music and opera. Her monumental studies of the Venetian opera have arguably reshaped the entire subject. Rosand’s scholarship combines deep investigation of the archival evidence with innovative examination of opera’s literary content and its dramatic and musical conventions and is a model of clarity and integrity.”

Rosand specializes in Italian music and poetry of the 16th through 18th centuries, the music and culture of Venice, Italian opera, Handel, Vivaldi and opera criticism. She has turned several generations of Yale students into opera fanatics with her undergraduate course, Introduction to Opera. With the Mellon Award, Rosand plans to create an undergraduate opera company to produce three major 17th-century operas over the three years of the grant. To that end, she plans to invite specialists in various aspects of Baroque opera production and performance, including conductors, directors and early music performers, to offer master classes and coaching sessions for singers and instrumentalists, undergraduate and graduate alike. In conjunction with the Whitney Humanities Center, Rosand will organize annual symposia on topics related to Baroque opera as it intersects with other fields in the humanities, including theater studies, textual studies and performance. In addition, a program of post-doctoral fellowships will bring to campus scholars in fields related to Baroque opera, who, along with pursuing their own research, will participate in seminars and offer lectures. Drawing on the collaboration of an international group of young scholars, finally, Rosand will sponsor a complete edition of the operas of Francesco Cavalli, the leading opera composer in 17th-century Venice, whose works are being increasingly performed by opera houses worldwide.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Awards are presented to scholars whose work and influence significantly enrich the broader community of humanistic studies. The awards provide up to $1.5 million to recipients and their institutions to deepen and extend humanistic research. While presented to recognize the achievements of individuals, the grants support activities that will enhance scholarship and teaching in a program developed by the recipient.

“I congratulate Professor Rosand on this award,” said Yale College Dean Peter Salovey. “Yale College student singers and musicians, a surprising number of whom are passionate about opera, will benefit enormously from the opportunities she plans to create on our campus.”

Rosand joined the Yale faculty in 1992 and chaired the Department of Music from 1993 to 1998. She has received fellowships from the ACLS, NEH, Rockefeller Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation, and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996. Editor of the Journal of the American Musicological Society (1981–83), president of the American Musicological Society (1992–94), and vice-president of the International Musicological Society (1997–2002), she currently serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Musicology, The Cambridge Opera Journal, Journal of the Royal Musical Association and Cambridge Studies in Opera. In addition to teaching in the Department of Music, Rosand has co-taught on both undergraduate and graduate levels with members of the Italian and Comparative Literature departments. Rosand has mentored emerging leaders in the field of musicology, with dissertation students who have written on subjects ranging from the Italian madrigal to 17th- and 18th-century opera.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has conferred Distinguished Achievement Awards since 2001. Recipients are chosen from such fields as classics, history, history of art, musicology, philosophy, religious studies and all areas of literary studies.

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Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345