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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 the previous year 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. The opera company has grown steadily and carefully in the ensuing 29 years. The backbone of the Company has been, and continues to be, fully-staged productions of major operas each year. While sets and costumes are rented from across the country, the particular cast, direction, and combination of sets and costumes 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), The 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, in the 1999-2000 season, Greensboro Opera produced Tosca and Don Pasquale, both receiving 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. An exciting "Rising Stars from the Met" concert with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra was produced in the fall of 2004. The Marriage of Figaro was produced in 2005, followed by an adaptation of Gianni Schicchi: The Will, commissioned from the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2006. GO's 2006-2007 season brought three original productions to the stage: Madama Butterfly (2006), two sold out performances of Hansel and Gretel (2007) with an entirely regional cast, and four sold out performances of The Face on the Barroom Floor (2007) with composer Henry Mollicone on the podium. A thrilling Rigoletto (2007) was followed by the charming L'elisir d'amore in 2008. In spring 2009, two American one-acts, The Telephone & Trouble in Tahiti, presented internationally known and local singers. GO capped its 2009 season with Verdi's beloved La Traviata, and offers Mozart's family-friendly The Magic Flute in 2010. The education arm of the dual mission of Greensboro Opera has enjoyed equal attention and success. In collaboration with Guilford County Schools and the UNCG Opera Theatre, GO has presented an opera to all Guilford County public school fifth grade pupils since 1991. Approximately 6,000 youngsters attend one of six performances in the beautiful Carolina Theatre. GO sponsors educational programs for adults, such as operalogues before performances and programs for clubs, churches and synagogues, civic groups, and retirement communities.

In 2012, Greensboro Opera entered into a formal partnership/collaboration with the UNCG Opera Theatre, whereby the opera company financially contributes to the UNCG Opera Theatre, and in exchange receives marketing and other logistical and production support. The first few years of this venture resulted in our fall Galas entitled Got Opera? and Wine, Women, and Song, which featured UNCG alumni who are singing in prestigious theatres throughout the world. Sidney Outlaw, Joel Sorenson, and Jill Bowen Gardner were among our distinguished alumni who graced our stage in these performances.

In 2013, David Holley was hired as Artistic Director, and the plans to return to producing fully-staged operas were put in place. In January of 2015, Greensboro Opera produced La fille du régiment with a stellar cast featuring René Barbera and Ashley Emerson. Mr. Holley was President of the National Opera Association and was hosting the NOA's Annual Convention in Greensboro at the same time. Greensboro Opera's production was the featured performance of the 2015 NOA Convention and saw opera luminaries such as Samuel Ramey, Stephanie Blythe and Warren Jones attend the performance on opening night. This successful production was quickly followed up with La Cenerentola in August of 2015, featuring Sidney Outlaw as Dandini and Andrew Owens as Prince Ramiro. Cinderella was sung by Sandra Piques Eddy, who returned to sing the title role in a nearly sold-out Carmen in 2017. Greensboro Opera presented Rossini's masterful comedy, The Barber of Seville featuring Metropolitan Opera baritone David Pershall (our Escamillo in Carmen) for the 2017-18 season and will produce Madama Butterfly and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel in 2018-19, the latter as part of the opening of Well•Spring Life Plan Community's new $12 million auditorium. Mr. Holley was promoted to General and Artistic Director in March of 2018.

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