While Mark Adamo has composed a substantial folio of chamber, choral and orchestral music, the Philadelphia-born composer-librettist’s principal work has been for the opera house. Commissioned for a 1998 première by Houston Grand Opera, Little Women, after the novel by Louisa May Alcott, was the first opera for which Adamo composed both music and libretto; it has been nationally telecast on the PBS series Great Performances, released on CD by Ondine Records, and heard in over 70 national and international engagements from New York to Mexico City, Minneapolis, Adelaide, Tel Aviv, Calgary and Tokyo, including two for which Adamo served as stage director. His second opera, Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess, after Aristophanes, was commissioned and introduced to comparable critical acclaim by Houston Grand Opera for its fiftieth-anniversary season in March 2005 and made its East Coast début in March 2006 at New York City Opera, where Adamo was composer-in-residence from 2001–2005. 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, of which the company plans a première in June 2013.
Adamo’s first concerto, Four Angels: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, was introduced by the National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin in June 2007; the slow movement of the concerto, Regina Coeli, appears on Eclipse Chamber Orchestra’s recording of Adamo’s orchestral work for Naxos (), which includes the first recordings of his Late Victorians, his symphonic cantata for singing voice, speaking voice, and chamber orchestra: Alcott Music, from Little Women, for strings, harp, celesta, and percussion; and the Overture to Lysistrata.
Choral work includes Cantate Domino, commissioned by the Choral Arts Society of Washington and introduced at the Kennedy Center in 2000: Garland, for Francisco Nuñez and the Young People’s Chorus of New York, introduced in 2006; and No. 10: Supreme Virtue, recorded by Seattle’s Esoterics and released in spring 2008.
Mark Adamo began his education at New York University, where he subsequently taught composition; as a freshman in the Dramatic Writing Program, 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 from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he was awarded the Theodore Presser prize for outstanding undergraduate achievement in composition. His music is published by G. Schirmer.