Chelsea Opera was formed in April 2004 by Leonarda Priore and Lynne Hayden-Findlay, both singers, who felt that performance opportunities within the tri-state area were few and far between. They believed the market would sustain a small-sized opera company and envisioned creating one which offered singers the opportunity to perform in fully staged operas with orchestra in a professional, respectful and encouraging environment. In only six weeks, all of the production elements were pulled together, sometimes it seemed, almost miraculously.
A fully-staged production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica opened on June 3, 2004 and was successful in achieving its goal of bringing the essentials of fine opera to the stage: great singing in a moving performance led by a talented young maestro, Carmine Aufiero, who continues to serve the company as Music Director/Conductor.
At that point, Chelsea Opera actually existed in name only. Following Suor Angelica many inquiries were received asking what Chelsea Opera was planning to present next. Deciding to advance the company, a corporation was formed and shortly thereafter, not-for-profit status was granted.
Chelsea Opera now produces two main stage productions each season with the addition if its thematically based concert series,“Chelsea Opera presents…” which provides additional supportive and unencumbered performance opportunities for singers and instrumentalists. These concerts are designed to compliment main stage productions and represent supplemental occasions to present the genre to first-time audiences.
Chelsea Opera’s reputation has been recognized by the industry for the quality of its work and has received favorable reviews and commentary by The New York Times, Opera America, America Oggi (see press links) to name a few, and by those involved in and attending each production at every level.