New York City Opera was famously dubbed “The People's Opera” by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at its founding in 1943. More than 70 years later, City Opera continues its historic mission to inspire audiences with innovative and theatrically compelling opera, nurture the work of promising American artists, and build new audiences through affordable ticket prices and extensive outreach and education programs.
New York City Opera-- the first year back
Enjoy this retrospective of City Opera's triumphant, first year back on stage. Many more great moments are coming up this spring. We're just getting started!
MAKING IT HAPPEN | NYCO RENAISSANCE
Opera legends and NYCO Renaissance, the team with plans to re-launch New York City Opera, speaks about the importance of bringing “the people’s opera” back to New York.
Legendary director Harold Prince discusses the importance of the New York City Opera.
ROSE THEATER AT JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER
Renowned bass-baritone Mark Delavan speaks about the importance of New York City Opera and the acoustics of the Rose Theater at jazz at Lincoln Center.
NURTURING EMERGING TALENT
Soprano Diana Soviero reflects on New York City Opera’s legacy of nurturing emerging opera stars.
Julius Rudel: The People's Maestro
NYCO celebrates the life and many contributions to New York City Opera of the late Maestro Julius Rudel with this video tribute.
History & Present
Since its founding in 1943 by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as “The People’s Opera” New York City Opera (NYCO) has been a critical part of the city’s cultural life. During its history, New York City Opera launched the careers of dozens of major artists and presented engaging productions of both mainstream and unusual operas alongside commissions and regional premieres. The result was a uniquely American opera company of international stature.
For more than seven decades, New York City Opera has maintained a distinct identity, adhering to its unique mission: affordable ticket prices, a devotion to American works, English-language performances, the promotion of up-and-coming American singers, and seasons of accessible, vibrant and compelling productions intended to introduce new audiences to the art form. Stars who launched their careers at New York City Opera include Plácido Domingo, Catherine Malfitano, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Beverly Sills, Tatiana Troyanos, Carol Vaness, and Shirley Verrett, among dozens of other great artists. New York City Opera has a long history of inclusion and diversity. It was the first major opera company to feature African-American singers in leading roles (Todd Duncan as Tonio in Pagliacci, 1945; Camilla Williams in the title role in Madama Butterfly, 1946); the first to produce a new work by an African-American composer (William Grant Still, Troubled Island, 1949); and the first to have an African-American conductor lead its orchestra (Everett Lee, 1955).
A revitalized City Opera re-opened in January 2016 with Tosca, the opera that originally launched the company in 1944. Outstanding productions during the four years since then include: the world premieres of Iain Bell and Mark Campbell’s Stonewall, which NYCO commissioned and developed, and Ted Rosenthal’s jazz opera Dear Erich, (its first co-production with National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene); legendary director Harold Prince’s new production of Bernstein’s Candide; Puccini’s beloved La fanciulla del West; the New York premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, based on the Stephen King novel; Tobin Stokes’ Fallajuh, the first opera written about the Iraq War; the double-bills of Rameau’s Pigmalion & the American premiere of Donizetti’s first opera Il Pigmalione; and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci & Aleko, a rarely-heard Rachmaninoff work; and two other rarely heard works - Respighi’s La Campana Sommersa and Montemezzi’s L’Amore dei Tre Re. City Opera presented the New York premiere of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, inspired by the work of Gabriel García Márquez, as the first in its Ópera en Español series. Subsequent Ópera en Español productions include the New York premiere of the world’s first mariachi opera, José “Pepe” Martinez’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Literes’s Los Elementos, and Piazziola’s María de Buenos Aires. In addition to the world premiere of Stonewall, the productions in City Opera’s Pride Initiative, which produces a LGBT-themed work each June during Pride Month, include the New York premiere of Péter Eötvös’s Angels in America, the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain, and the Laura Kaminsky-Mark Campbell-Kimberly Reed opera As One. New York City Opera has presented such talents as Anna Caterina Antonacci and Aprile Millo in concert, as well as concerts which premiered David Hertzberg’s Sunday Morning, celebrated the 90th birthday of composer Dominck Argento, and celebrated its own 75th Anniversary Concert in Bryant Park, one in a series of the many concerts and staged productions that it presents each year as part of the Park’s summer performance series.
New York City Opera continues its legacy at a new, state-of-the-art home at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater with revitalized outreach and education programs, and programming designed to welcome and inspire a new generation of City Opera audiences, as well as through revitalized outreach and education programs for New York City’s students, bringing the art form to an entirely new audience.