Virginia Opera Association, Inc., in its 37th year of operation, is known and respected nationwide for the identification and presentation of the finest young artists, for the musical and dramatic integrity of its productions, and for the ingenuity and variety of its education and outreach programs. The Company has a working budget of $6 million with 32 mainstage performances in three markets reaching nearly 50,000 attendees. In March of 1994, by unanimous vote of the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia Opera was named The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia in recognition of the organization’s contribution to the Commonwealth and to the world of opera.
Organized in 1974 by founding president Edythe C. Harrison, Virginia Opera was launched with two productions in the Norfolk Center Theater and has since expanded to four productions including 16 performances at the Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House in Norfolk, 8 performances at the Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage in Richmond, and 8 performances at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax. Virginia Opera is the only opera company to perform regularly in three separate mainstage venues and reaches more than 150,000 students and community members each year through its innovative Education and Community Outreach Program.
Virginia Opera’s statewide history began in Richmond in 1977 with the encouragement of Governor Mills Godwin and Mrs. T. Fleetwood (Anna) Garner. Under their leadership, The Richmond Friends of Opera was formed to present Virginia Opera productions annually in the capital city. By 1983, the Richmond and Central Virginia Board of Virginia Opera formed and a Richmond office was opened. In November 1992, the Company presented its first mainstage performance at the Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax. This development was hailed as "one of the major local operatic events of the year” by The Washington Post, and deemed a special day in music history for the Washington D.C. area by Opera News.
Maestro Peter Mark was the founding artistic director of Virginia Opera and served in that capacity for 36 seasons. Since his Virginia Opera debut in 1975 – conducting the pilot production of La Traviata with rising star Diana Soviero as Violetta – Maestro Mark presided over the Opera’s growth. In 2008, Il Trovatore celebrated Mark’s 100th production as Maestro as well as his 700th performance conducted for Virginia Opera.
Virginia Opera has presented some of the nation’s most promising young singers on its stages including Jeannine Altmeyer, John Aler, Rockwell Blake, Renée Fleming, Barbara Dever, Frank Porretta, Grant Youngblood, Fabiana Bravo, Lawrence Brownlee, Nmon Ford, Jeniece Goldbourne and Mary Elizabeth Williams. Attracting acclaimed directors from the theatre and opera world, audiences have enjoyed the work of Gian Carlo Menotti, Gordon Davidson, Arvin Brown, Dorothy Danner and Lillian Groag, among others, in new productions designed by the nation’s top opera and theater designers. Virginia Opera has continued its tradition of commissioning/co-commissioning new works as illustrated by the world premieres of A Christmas Carol, Harriet - The Woman Called Moses, Simón Bolivar, Pocahontas, and the most recently, Rappahannock County.
Virginia Opera Association, Inc., in its 37th year of operation, is known and respected nationwide for the identification and presentation of the finest young artists, for the musical and dramatic integrity of its productions, and for the…