Tickets are an opera fans best friend! Just planting a gift idea for some opera fan out there. Someone at a party recently asked me where he could see live opera in DC. There are more choices available than you might think. Indeed, in the larger mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., we have many options for attending opera. Below, I list twenty-six companies arranged by state. The larger, more visible companies are Opera Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, and Washington National Opera, as well as the Virginia Opera that performs in three Virginia cities. However, there are also many small companies that present fully-staged operas, some serving a city or region and some that specialize in operas of a specific type. There are also concert opera companies that focus on the music and the singing. Some companies operate during the September to May opera season and a few perform in the summer months. A few are devoted to presenting festivals. And there are several with a primary mission for the education and/or training of students and new opera singers. A surprising omission is that there is no longer a major fully-staged opera company operating in Baltimore; we keep hoping.
Seeing Wolf Trap Opera last in my listing causes me to emphasize that the listing order is not an expression of my preferences. Readers of this blog will know that Wolf Trap Opera is among my favorites, and there is entertainment and artistic experiences to be had with all these companies. Some of my peak opera experiences have been at the small venues and at concert opera performances. And remember, opera tickets make great holiday gifts!!!
In Series: Opera & More, DC (inseries.org) - The InSeries focus is presenting innovative opera, intimate cabaret, and inspiring Latinx programming. Information: 202-204-7763.
New York Opera Society, DC (newyorkoperasociety.com) - NYOS presents opera events with the goal of creating new audiences for opera at venues in the U.S. and abroad, frequently in DC, often free programs held at the Smithsonian. Information: email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opera Lafayette, DC/NY (operalafayette.org) - OL offers a varied program at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater each season that may include fully-staged opera, concert opera, or concerts, and that may include dance; then that production moves to NYC for another performance. Music is selected from less well-known works, primarily from the 18th century, and is played on period instruments. Information: 202-546-9332.
Washington Concert Opera, DC (concertopera.org) - WCO presents two operas in concert with a full orchestra each year, one in the Fall and one in the Spring in Lisner Auditorium of George Washington University. This year they have added a February performance at The Barns at Wolf Trap in collaboration with Wolf Trap Opera. Information: 202-364-5826.
Washington National Opera, DC (kennedy-center.org/wno/index) - WNO offers fully-staged grand opera all season long at one of the venues in the Kennedy Center, usually the Opera House. They also offer the American Opera Initiative each January featuring a new one-hour opera and three new twenty-minute operas. Information: 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324.
Washington Opera Society, DC (washingtonoperasociety.org) - WOS is a a relative newcomer onto the opera landscape. They present full operas/operettas, scenes, or concerts in local embassies throughout the season. Information: 202-386-6008.
Urban Arias, DC (urbanarias.org/about/) - Urban Arias presents short, contemporary operas several times each year at either the Atlas Performing Arts Center or the Signature Theater. Information: email to email@example.com.
Opera Delaware, DE (operade.org) - Opera Delaware presents an opera festival with fully staged operas in the spring and other opera events during the year. They frequently collaborate with Baltimore Concert Opera with BCO first presenting a work in concert, and then the same cast presenting the work fully staged at Opera Delaware. Information: 302-658-8063.
Annapolis Opera, MD (annapolisopera.org) - AO presents fully staged operas during the season, frequently including a children’s opera, as well as concerts during the year, in the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Information: 410-267-8135.
Baltimore Concert Opera, MD (www.baltimoreconcertopera.com) – BCO presents operas in concert, both well-known and lesser-known works, during a season, with piano accompaniment, along with periodic events called Thirsty Thursdays, mixing arias with libations. Performances are the small, cozy confines of the elegant Engineers Club. Some of their productions move up the road for fully-staged versions in collaboration with Opera Delaware. Information: 443-445-0226
Belcantanti Opera, MD (belcantanti.com) – Belcantanti Opera presents fully-stage operas throughout the season, using primarily local singers in several venues in the Maryland suburbs of DC. Information: 240-230-7372
Maryland Lyric Opera, MD (mdlo.org) - MDLO, still a relatively young company, presents operas, fully staged and in concert, as well as recitals and concerts in venues in the Maryland suburbs of DC, though its main mission is to provide training for young opera talent. Information: 240-427-5568.
Maryland Opera Studio, MD (music.umd.edu/ensembles/opera) - Maryland Opera Studio in the School of Music at the University of Maryland presents operas, both new works and ones from the standard repertoire, and concerts, performed by students during the opera season. Information: 301-405-7794.
Peabody Conservatory, MD (peabody.jhu.edu/explore-peabody/community-engagement/opera-outreach/) – Through its “Opera Outreach” program, the Peabody Conservatory presents two staged opera offerings each season, utilizing upper-level students of the conservatory, currently the only fully-staged operas being performed in Baltimore. Information: email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Princeton Festival, NJ (princetonfestival.org) – As part of The Princeton Festival for Opera, Musical Theater, Jazz, and Chamber Music each June, a fully-staged opera is performed using professional opera singers. Information: 609-759-0379.
Academy of Vocal Arts, PA (avaopera.org) - AVA is all about post-graduate training in opera, and as part of that training their students are guaranteed to participate in operas produced by AVA during the season; they also sponsor recitals, concerts and a prestigious bel canto singing competition. They utilize several venues around Philadelphia, but operas are held in AVA’s Helen Corning Warden Theater. Information: 215-735-1685.
Curtis Opera Theatre, PA (curtis.edu/performances/18-19-curtis-theatre-opera/) - Also in Philadelphia, the Curtis Opera Theatre is part of the Curtis Institute of Music, an undergraduate institution. The Theatre puts on several fully-staged operas during the season using students as performers. I like their slogan, “Come see our finest become their best”. Information: 215-893-5252.
Opera Philadelphia, PA (www.operaphila.org) - OP offers fully-staged, grand opera all season long at the Academy of Music. The last two years, OP has opened their seasons in September with exciting festivals offering several different opera events in a three-week period at different venues around town; the lineup for next season’s festival will be announced in late January. Information: 215-732-8400.
Pittsburgh Festival Opera, PA (pittsburghfestivalopera.org) - Think opera in the summer and not the Pittsburgh Opera. PFO, a separate company, produces a summer festival of operas in Pittsburgh, as well as other opera events during the year. The festival occurs in June/July; all operas, both new and old, are sung in English, reaching out to as wide an audience as possible. Information: 412-621-1499.
Pittsburgh Opera, PA (www.pittsburghopera.org) - PO offers fully-staged, grand opera all season long at the historic Benedum Center, including the occasional premiere of a new work, as well as chamber works at smaller venues around town. Information: 412-281-0912.
Charlottesville Opera, VA (charlottesvilleopera.org) - Charlottesville Opera, formerly Ash Lawn Opera, typically presents two fully-staged operas in the summer. Information: 434-293-4500.
Opera Roanoke, VA (operaroanoke.org) - Opera Roanoke presents several fully-staged operas during the opera season. Information: 540-345-2550.
Victory Hall Opera, VA (victoryhallopera.org) - a troupe of 12 professional opera singers form the core of VHC with goal of “bringing thrilling opera theater to new audiences in Charlottesville, VA”. They perform in small, intimate venues around Charlottesville, VA. Information: 434-227-9978.
Virginia Opera, VA (vaopera.org) - VA Opera is a regional opera company. They offer fully-staged grand opera all season utilizing venues in three cities in Virginia. Each opera has its first run with three performances in Norfolk, followed by two in Fairfax, and finishing with two in Richmond on successive weeks. The different venues have different ticket offices and policies. I am proud to be able to say that I have seen a VA Opera performance in each of the cities. Norfolk information: 866-673-7282; Fairfax information: 703-993-8888; and Richmond information: 866-673-7282.
Wolf Trap Opera, VA (www.wolftrap.org/opera) – WTO, in Vienna, VA, primarily offers events in the summer, including two fully-staged operas at The Barns, a small venue, and one at the Filene Center, an open-air amphitheater. Young professionals around the U.S. compete each year to spend the summer at Wolf Trap honing their skills and performing in these operas/events. This year they have added a February performance at The Barns in collaboration with Washington Concert Opera. Information: 703-255-1900.
The information telephone lines for smaller companies may not be regularly staffed, or they may be for a parent organization; best to start with the websites. I likely have overlooked some companies in the mid-Atlantic that are off my radar. If you know of one that is active that I have not included, please let me know, and I will add them to the list.