On June 27, 1920, Cincinnati Opera Association began its life as the second oldest opera company in the United States with a sold-out performance of Martha. For over 50 years, the Opera performed at the Cincinnati Zoo Pavilion and, at its peak, offered 18 productions over 61 performances in a ten-week season. During the years at the Zoo, a number of now famous opera singers frequented the stage: Plácido Domingo, Norman Treigle, Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes, Montserrat Caballé, James Morris, and Roberta Peters, to name a few.
In 1972, Cincinnati Opera moved from the Zoo Pavilion to its present venue, Music Hall, a 3,417-seat theater listed as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The move to the newly renovated Music Hall signaled production and artistic changes and new sets became an immediate focus because of the larger stage. James de Blasis staged rarer operas such as Resurrection and Schwanda the Bagpiper and introduced musical theater into the season to diversify the repertoire and develop new audiences. De Blasis also achieved national recognition with a new interpretation of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore set in “Wild West” 19th century Texas. This production proved to be so popular it was filmed by PBS and televised in 1968.
When James de Blasis announced his retirement in 1995, Cincinnati Opera launched an international search for a new Artistic Director. Nicholas Muni, a renowned stage director, was appointed in June 1996. With his appointment, Cincinnati Opera embarked on an overall transformation of every aspect of the company. Numerous company premieres have been presented since 1998, including Janácek’s Jenufa, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, and many more. In 2005, the company celebrated the triumphant premiere of its first-ever main-stage commission, Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner, presented in honor of the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, located on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati.
Celebrating her 20th anniversary with the company in 2005, Patricia K. Beggs was promoted from Managing Director to General Director & CEO. And during the final weekend of its 2005 season, the company announced the appointment of Evans Mirageas as The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director.
Widely considered one of the most talented and respected artistic leaders in the classical music industry today, Mirageas brings to the Cincinnati Opera a broad range of experience in both opera and symphonic music, as well as a long history of successful partnerships with many of the world’s leading singers and conductors, including Seiji Ozawa, Renée Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, Cecilia Bartoli, Luciano Pavarotti, and Sir Georg Solti among numerous others. Following Mirageas’s first season with Cincinnati Opera, industry publication Opera News listed him among its “25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera” in its August 2006 issue.
In 2010, Cincinnati Opera celebrated its 90th anniversary with a blockbuster season, opened by a star-studded Gala Concert hosted by Ryan Seacrest along with opera legends Carol Neblett and Sherrill Milnes. The season continued with a larger-than-life production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in its first production at Cincinnati Opera in more than 25 years.
Beginning with its 2013 season, Cincinnati Opera entered an exciting new era with the launch of the “Opera Campus.” The company expanded beyond the walls of its long-time home at Music Hall and offered performances in nearby venues, including in the beautifully-renovated Washington Park and the state-of-the-art Corbett Theater at the new School for Creative and Performing Arts.
For additional information, call the Cincinnati Opera Box Office at (513) 241-2742, or e-mail us.