Press Released: 11 Sep 2012

OPERA America to Open the National Opera Center

Opens for business on September 4, 2012

Official ribbon cutting on September 28, 2012

Custom-designed, state-of-the-art facility provides a national hub for the world of opera

OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization for opera in the U.S. and Canada, will open the field's custom-designed National Opera Center, employing urban repurposed architecture in the heart of New York City. The National Opera Center opens for business on September 4, with the official ribbon cutting taking place on September 28. The National Opera Center of OPERA America provides an array of essential facilities and services to the opera industry that have been sorely needed and never before available under a single roof. Encompassing 25,000 square feet on two floors of a former fur factory on Seventh Avenue at 29th Street, this $14 million project of OPERA America ($6 million for construction, $6 million for operating endowment and $2 million in relocation costs from Washington, D.C. to NYC) will serve as the heart of an industry that is widely disbursed, yet inherently collaborative. OPERA America's National Opera Center is the first-ever such facility built specifically for opera rehearsals, auditions and meetings. The creation of this facility was an innovative, dynamic and comprehensive response to the lack of appropriate spaces for these activities in New York City. It is truly a convening hub, a place to audition, a place to rehearse, a place to perform, a place to unite. Andrew Berman Architect designed the center, with acoustics by Robert R. Mahoney & Associates.

The opening of the National Opera Center marks the realization of OPERA America's multi-year plan, which began when the organization moved from Washington, D.C. to New York City in 2005. "OPERA America relocated to New York City in order to have more frequent contact with members who travel here to hold auditions, meet with managers and publishers, and conduct other essential industry business," stated OPERA America President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. "Our expectations that our members would use our transitional office for design presentations and co-production meetings — even for rehearsals — were far exceeded. Members are tremendously excited that they will finally be able to work in supportive facility that is custom-built to respond to their specific needs." Situated within blocks of more than a dozen subway lines, three suburban railroads, Amtrak and airport train connections, the National Opera Center is easily reached from locations in New York or across the country.

Facilities and services of OPERA America's National Opera Center include: an acoustically excellent Audition Recital Hall that can also be used for readings of new works and press conferences; the Colin Graham Green Room for pre- and post-event activities; a large, versatile Rehearsal Hall that can accommodate staging rehearsals and master classes; 10 vocal studios with new pianos tuned weekly, ideal for voice lessons, coachings and rehearsals; the Charles MacKay Learning Center, equipped for professional seminars, student and teacher learning and ensemble rehearsals; a Recording Studio and Media Center generating live streams of events and CDs and DVDs of auditions, workshops and performances; Conference and Meeting Rooms suitable for co-production sessions, design presentations and business meetings; the Richard Gaddes Artists Lounge and the Freedman Artists Canteen; and a Business Center to connect with the home office, print documents and prepare materials for meetings. The Elebash Score and Recording Library, the Ardis Krainik Research and Reference Library and the Julius Rudel Archive provide invaluable resources supporting academic research and role preparation. OPERA America's administrative offices will also be housed at the National Opera Center in the Lee Day Gillespie Administrative Suite, featuring state-of-the-art technology that enables the staff to strengthen service to the entire industry. Although designed with the opera community in mind, the National Opera Center facilities will ably serve the needs of theater, choral and instrumental groups, and can host activities ranging from yoga classes to movie screenings.

In order to make the project both financially feasible and fiscally responsible, OPERA America is renting, not purchasing, the space that has been transformed into the National Opera Center. OPERA America has signed a 20-year lease with an option to renew it for five additional years. Given the escalating expense of New York real estate, the deal structure ensures that OPERA America's costs will be contained and predictable.

"The opening of the National Opera Center is such a remarkable moment in the history of OPERA America," stated the organization's incoming Board Chairman Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D. "OPERA America has been integral to the health of opera in this country for decades, by supporting and helping to guide our industry from the wings. I can't wait to be there as OPERA America takes the next step by providing desperately needed physical space for artists and companies, and by increasing offerings for the public and industry alike."

For more than 40 years, OPERA America has served the industry's administrative, research, and professional development needs. The opening of the National Opera Center will simultaneously deepen and expand these offerings while strengthening the organization's commitment to fostering the development of new American works. In just the first three months of the National Opera Center's operation, OPERA America will present its Salon Series, performances of selections from new North American operas attended by producers, publishers, artists, composers, librettists and opera lovers; Making Connections, professional development and networking events for emerging artists; Feedback Auditions to assist artists in improving their audition skills; events to celebrate National Opera Week; the In Conversation series, featuring live interviews of some of opera's leading performers, designers and artists; Forums for opera company administrators, including marketing, education, technical/production and finance; and the New Works Forum, providing an opportunity for artists, producers and administrators to explore issues surrounding the creation and presentation of new works. These activities are separate from those planned by renters of the National Opera Center.

Inaugural renting organizations of the National Opera Center include:

  • Boston Lyric Opera
  • Chautauqua Opera
  • Fort Worth Opera
  • Gotham Chamber Opera
  • Houston Grand Opera Studio
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Minnesota Opera
  • Music Academy of the West
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
  • The Santa Fe Opera
  • William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation
  • Wolf Trap Opera

OPERA America's National Opera Center opens for business on Tuesday, September 4, 2012. The official ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning, September 28 will be streamed live at operaamerica.org at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

The National Opera Center was made possible in part by the deeply appreciated support of generous individual donors from across the country, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

National Opera Center Named Spaces

  • John Conklin Artistic Services Office
  • Elebash Score and Recording Library
  • Betty and Jean-Marie Eveillard Vocal Studio
  • Freedman Artists Canteen
  • Richard Gaddes Artists Lounge
  • Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach Service Desk
  • Lee Day Gillespie Administrative Suite
  • Colin Graham Green Room
  • Jane A. Gross Vocal Studio
  • Pamela J. Hoiles Reception Lobby
  • Plato and Dorothy Karayanis Foyer
  • Ardis Krainik Research and Reference Library
  • Barbara and Ronald Leirvik Board Room
  • Charles MacKay Learning Center
  • Sherrill Milnes Honors Gallery
  • James and Deborah Reda Foyer
  • Julius Rudel Archive
  • Beverly Sills Vocal Studio
  • Marc and Cathy Solomon Vocal Studio
  • Jill and William Steinberg Vocal Studio

Additional spaces are in the process of being confirmed.

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For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

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