Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, which commissioned the work, expects to include it in the company's 2011-12 season
Golijov, who was impressed during rehearsals of Minghella's successful production of Madama Butterfly at the Met last year, is a fan of the director's work in cinema and plans on traveling to London to begin work with him in September.
The composer did not divulge the new opera's subject because it is undecided. "It's so fresh. What happens if we change our minds?" said Golijov. "What we thought about is pretty huge ... it might be one of those pieces that kind of writes itself."
Minghella, who will both write the libretto and direct the production, felt the desire to produce a world premiere while directing Butterfly. He told the AP that he thinks working with new music is "the only way forward." He allowed that commissioning new operas is a risky endeavor that has "an inbuilt failure quotient to it, but they should be glorious failures. And the audience should ... allow people to come here and fail on this stage, and then opera will be able to regenerate itself."
The Golijov/Minghella commission is part of Gelb's effort to promote contemporary operas; among works to be staged before then are Philip Glass's Satyagraha, John Adams's Doctor Atomic and John Corigliano's The Ghost of Versailles.
The centerpiece of that effort is the Met/LCT Opera/Theater Commissions, a long-term collaboration between the opera house and Lincoln Center Theater on a series of projects that, depending on how they develop, could end up as large-scale operas, chamber operas or serious musicals seen on either company's stage. Among the other participants in this project are Tony-winning playwright John Guare and Jazz at Lincoln Center director Wynton Marsalis; composer Jake Heggie, who has already written the operas Dead Man Walking and The End of the Affair; Michael John LaChiusa, who has written music and text of both musicals and operas; music theater composer Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza, Floyd Collins); the composer/librettist team of Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner (Caroline, or Change); and folk-pop singer/male diva/opera queen Rufus Wainwright, whose new piece has the working title Prima Donna.