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Lisa DeSpain

Lisa DeSpain


LISA DESPAIN is the winner of the 2020 Zepick Modern Opera Commission, a 2020 NEA Challenge America Award, and a 2018 OPERA America Discovery Grant.

Selected works:
THAT HELL-BOUND TRAIN, a deal-with-the-devil/blues opera, (Libretto by David Simpatico,) based on a short story by Robert Bloch - (PSYCHO.) After agreeing to the Faustian bargain, "one wish in exchange for your soul," Martin attempts to outsmart The Conductor by asking for the power to stop time and live forever at a perfect moment of happiness.

STAGGERWING, about the historic win by female pilots in the 1936 Bendix Trophy Air Race. Premieres July 30th, 2021 with Opera Kansas at the Kansas Aviation Musum. (Libretto by Rachel J. Peters)

MEN I'M NOT MARRIED TO, based on Dorothy Parker's essay is a 1920s flavored comic opera about what women really say when they're hiding out in the bathroom. Commissioned by Baldwin Wallace Conservatory/Cleveland Opera Theatre/On Site Opera. (Libretto by Rachel J. Peters)

LIKE I CARE!, (Tale of a Middle School Scrooge) developed via Zoom with the Ira Jones Middle School during the 2020-2021 pandemic year, premieres in Fall 2021. (Lyrics by Sara Wordsworth)

Lisa is the vocal arranger of Broadway hits for the education market, including HAMILTON, IN THE HEIGHTS, NEXT TO NORMAL, ONCE, GREEN DAY: AMERICAN IDIOT, and more. (Alfred Publications)

Lisa is a Professor at CUNY (LaGuardia Community College) and clinician presenting masterclasses with Utah Opera, University of North Texas, Young Women's Composer Camp, and University of Utah on composing for the opera/musical theatre stage.

Other awards include: Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship (with lyricist partner Kristen Anderson-Lopez,) Copland House Fellow, ASCAP Commission Honoring the Duke Ellington Centennial, Barlow Endowment Commission, and the ASCAP Film Composers Workshop.

She ran away and joined the circus...twice.

Professional Experience

  • Broadway
  • Off Broadway
  • Regional
  • Concerts/Cabaret
  • Education
  • Tours


  • NYC/Tri-State Area
  • Denver/West

Interested in touring?

  • No

Hireable as

  • Theatrical Composer (Music and Lyrics)
  • Theatrical Composer (Music only)
  • Music Director/Conductor (Pianist)
  • Vocal Director and/or Choral Prep
  • Vocal Arranger
  • Dance Arranger
  • Incidental Music Composer/Arranger

My Primary Instrument

  • Piano

My Instruments

  • Piano
  • Voice


  • Finale
  • Logic




  • She/Her