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Press Released: 12 Oct 2006

Five American Opera Companies Celebrate Major Anniversary Milestones

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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For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.