For Immediate Release
Contact: Patricia Kiernan Johnson; PKJohnson@operaamerica.org
www.operaamerica.org


October 12, 2006

Five American Opera Companies Celebrate Major Anniversary Milestones

New York, NY--OPERA America, the national service organization for opera announces today that five American opera companies will celebrate significant anniversaries throughout the 2006-07 opera season. Founded in 1956, The Dallas Opera will mark its 50th anniversary of producing opera before live audiences during its 2006-07 season. Founded in 1981, Nashville Opera Association, Opera Columbus, and Opera North (Lebanon, New Hampshire) will each celebrate their 25th anniversary seasons. Opera Company of North Carolina will mark its 10th anniversary season during the 2006-07 season.

“Many people think American opera companies are as old and established as many European companies are. This just isn’t true,” stated Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America. “More than 70% of the opera companies in the U.S. have been formed since 1960; nearly 60% since 1970. Opera companies in most communities are still in the process of cultivating new audiences who are attending opera for the first time. This augurs well for the continued growth and creativity of the field in future years.”

A fifty-year tradition of artistic excellence and community service has made The Dallas Opera a major contributor to the national and international reputation of Dallas and a major factor in the economic impact of the arts in North Texas. Founded by the late Lawrence Kelly and famed conductor Nicola Rescigno, The Dallas Opera initiated its history with a performance by the legendary Greek soprano Maria Callas. The Dallas Opera has presented many international stars in their American debuts, including Dame Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Jon Vickers, and Plácido Domingo, and designer/director Franco Zeffirelli. A champion of new work, The Dallas Opera has also presented the American premieres of five operas and two world premiere operas. .

With the merger of Nashville Opera with Tennessee Opera Theatre in 1981, the Nashville Opera Association became the region’s only opera organization, performing four mainstage productions in a typical season. Under the leadership of Executive Director Carol Penterman and General Artistic Director John Hoomes since 1995, Nashville Opera Association has quadrupled it operating budget and increased audience attendance 350% and is the largest opera company in Tennessee.

Opera Columbus, formed in the spring of 1981, has developed into a highly-regarded regional company in central Ohio. Following a merger with Columbus Light Opera in 2001, Opera Columbus was able to increase its offering to the public to include not just its traditional fall/winter season, but a music theatre repertoire of productions during a summer season. Recognized in 1997 by “Money Magazine” as one of the best summer opera festivals in the world, Opera North has received widespread acclaim in developing from a community-based music theater company to a true regional company that produces standard repertoire as well as many 20th century works. Opera North’s principal singers include major performers for both the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera; the company performs two fully-staged works each August.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary during the 2006-07 season, Opera Company of North Carolina continues to expand both its artistic goals and business practices in the Research Triangle area of the state. Marketing and fundraising sources are growing as the company works toward fulfilling a fully realized strategic plan.

“Opera companies in many communities are relatively new and new companies are being established in cities that don’t yet have live opera performances on a regular basis. Opportunities for emerging artists and new audiences to experience the excitement of opera will continue to increase in the years ahead,” Scorca noted.

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ABOUT OPERA AMERICA

OPERA America leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera.

  • Artistic services help opera companies and creative and performing artists to improve the quality of productions and increase the creation and presentation of North American works.
  • Information, technical, and administrative services to opera companies reflect the need for strengthened leadership among staff, trustees and volunteers.
  • Education, audience development and community services are designed to enhance all forms of opera appreciation.

Founded in 1970, OPERA America’s worldwide membership network includes nearly 200 Company Members, 300 Associate and Business Members, 2,000 Individual Members and more than 16,000 subscribers to the association’s electronic news service. In 2005, OPERA America relocated from Washington, D.C. to New York as the first step in creating the first-ever National Opera Center. With a wide range of artistic and administrative services in a purpose-built facility, the Opera Center is dedicated to increasing the level of excellence, creativity and effectiveness across the field.

OPERA America’s long tradition of supporting and nurturing the creation and development of new works led to the formation of The Opera Fund, a growing endowment which allows OPERA America to make a direct impact on the ongoing creation and presentation of new opera and music-theater works. Since its inception, OPERA America has made grants of nearly $11 million to assist companies with the expenses associated with the creation and development of new works.