History of Greensboro Opera
The curtain went up on the first production of Greensboro Opera on October 16, 1981, with Verdi's La Traviata, starring the then-unknown June Anderson. The foundation of this venture was laid in 1980 by a group of civic leaders and music lovers, who adopted the dual mission of presenting operatic productions at the highest possible professional standards and educating the community about opera. Greensboro Opera has grown steadily in the ensuing 29 years.
The backbone of Greensboro Opera has been, and continues to be, fully-staged productions of major operas each year. While sets and costumes are often rented from across the country, the particular cast and direction are unique to the production of Greensboro Opera. From 1981 to 1998, the company concentrated on one production in the fall. Those operas were attended by increasing numbers of people from throughout the Piedmont. The audience enjoyed productions of Lucia di Lammermoor (1982), Rigoletto (1983), Tosca (1984), Barber of Seville (1985), Madama Butterfly (1986), Carmen (1987), Don Giovanni (1988), and La Bohème (1989). The first nine productions had one performance on a Friday evening. Beginning in 1990, audience support enabled the offering of both evening and matinée performances of Faust (1990), Il Trovatore (1991), Tales of Hoffmann (1992), Aïda (1993), The Magic Flute (1994), La Traviata (1995), and Falstaff (1996).
With the productions of Madama Butterfly and Carmen in 1997 and 1998, in which all seats were sold, the decision was made to mount a season of two productions. Thus, during the 1999-2000 season, Greensboro Opera produced Tosca and Don Pasquale which received outstanding reviews. In 2000-2001, Greensboro Opera produced Un Ballo in Maschera and The Barber of Seville, and during 2001-2003, ambitious productions of Otello, Die Fledermaus, La Bohème and Lucia di Lammermoor were undertaken.
During the fall of 2004, an exciting performance with Greensboro Symphony was presented: a "Rising Stars from the Met" concert. Greensboro Opera produced The Marriage of Figaro in 2005 and commissioned the School of Music at University of North Carolina at Greensboro to bring a production of The Will, an adaptation of Gianni Schicchi, to family audiences in February 2006. The 2006-2007 season was our most exciting to date. GO mounted three original productions: a glorious, traditional production of Madama Butterfly in November 2006, two sold out performances of Hansel and Gretel in February 2007 with an entirely regional cast, and four sold out performances of The Face on the Barroom Floor in April 2007, in which American composer Henry Mollicone served as Musical Director and Conductor. In November 2007, GO presented a thrilling production of Rigoletto followed by the charming L'elisir d'amore in 2008 – a first for Greensboro Opera. In spring 2009, two American one-acts, The Telephone & Trouble in Tahiti, presented internationally-known and local singers followed by Verdi's beloved La Traviata in November. In fall 2009, GO was finally successful in bringing the Metropolitan HD Broadcasts to Greensboro. Mozart's enchanting opera, The Magic Flute, in a visually stunning setting, returned to the repertoire in 2010. Puccini's La Bohème, slated for November 2011, was cancelled due to extreme financial challenges during a difficult economic climate. In 2012, GO met these challenges by returning to a volunteer-run organization and by establishing a successful collaboration with the UNC-Greensboro Opera Theatre, David Holley, Director. This fruitful collaboration presented several performances of The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore, and "Got Opera?", a gala performance of excerpted operatic arias, duets, and ensembles, accompanied by the Greensboro Symphony, conducted by Dmitri Sitkovetsky. Several 'Flash Mob' performances (spontaneous breaking into song in a public arena) of excerpts from La Traviata and Carmen brought wonder and pleasure to Fresh Market shoppers and performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors kicked off the holiday season.
The education arm of the dual mission of Greensboro Opera has received equal attention and success. Since 1991, opera and operetta have been presented to fifth grade students in Guilford County. Approximately 6,000 young people attend one of seven performances in the beautiful Carolina Theatre. This program is in collaboration with Guilford County Schools, who also provide transportation. Through its Speakers Bureau, GO sponsors educational programs for adults throughout the Piedmont, such as programs for civic clubs and groups, churches and synagogues, community colleges, and retirement homes.