The mission of Opera Columbus is to enrich central Ohio by producing high quality opera, nurturing emerging talent, and cultivating exposure to opera in ways that feed the souls of our residents, bolster the cultural economy, and make central Ohio a great place to live, work and play.
Opera Columbus emerged in the spring of 1981. After a long and distinguished association with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO), the time had come to have an independent, self-contained regional opera company. With the assistance, approval and blessing from the CSO, a transitional committee, headed by Dr. Andrew Broekema, was formed to appoint a board of trustees to build the future of such a company. The committee created a three-year transition program designed to bring about more community involvement, more opportunity for growth and a better product through distinct management of Opera Columbus. In December 1981, the new company produced its first opera, Puccini's Tosca. Verdi's Il trovatore and Mozart's Don Giovanni concluded Opera Columbus's inaugural season.
The transition program, considered a major success, ended in 1984. Among the committee's accomplishments were the installation of a professional management team, the growth of ticket sales, and the development of a vocal competition for young singers. With Beverly Sills serving as an early spokesperson, Opera Columbus produced some of the most important and beloved operatic repertoire. The tragic works of Wagner, Richard Strauss, Verdi, and Bizet have shared seasons with the comic operas of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, and Johann Strauss. Romantic works by Beethoven and Lehar, verismo tales by Puccini and Mascagni and modern works such as Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and the world premiere of Pasatieri's Three Sisters have made each season more enjoyable than the next. It can be safely argued that Opera Columbus has offered Central Ohio audiences a full course from opera's universal spectrum. Each Opera Columbus season has brought a gallery of international, national and local artists to Columbus stages. Well-known voices such as James McCracken, Giorgio Tozzi, Jerome Hines, Rosalind Elias, Barbara Daniels, Erie Mills, Elizabeth Holleque, and Carmen Balthrop have presented patrons with shows they will never forget.
1981: Opera Columbus is founded and presents its first productions and education programs.
1983: Annual vocal competition is founded by Irma M. Cooper.
1984: English translations (supertitles) are introduced to mainstage productions.
1986: World premiere of Pasatieri’s Three Sisters, which receives the Artistic Award of Excellence from GCAC.
1991: Opera Columbus briefly closes due to financial crisis but re-opens after a “Save the Opera” campaign.
1992: OC offices move to 177 E. Naghten Street.
1998: Educational program receives Opera America’s Campaign for Success award and also presents the world premiere of Les Epstein’s Barefoot.
1999-2000: World premiere of Burrs’ Vanqui, which wins Award of Excellence from GCAC.
2001: Opera Columbus merges with Columbus Light Opera and adds light opera and operetta to its repertoire.
2011: Opera Columbus enters into a five-year management agreement with CAPA, which results in more efficient operations and improved sustainability. Mainstage productions feature visiting companies performing at the Southern Theatre with local artists in the Opera Columbus Chorus and Columbus Symphony.
2012: Opera on the Edge performance/audience engagement series premieres.
2013: Locally-produced grand opera returns to Columbus with a sold-out production of Madama Butterfly.
2014: Under the vision of Artistic Director Peggy Kriha Dye, Opera Columbus fully returns as a producing company, with a focus on up-and-coming artists. The 2014-2015 season opens with Twisted: A Trio of Excellence, a groundbreaking collaboration between Opera Columbus, BalletMet, and the Columbus Symphony.