Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. The organization has received national attention from critics and audiences alike for its artistic excellence, pioneering spirit, and steadfast willingness to take risks. From its first world premiere, Frau Margot in 2007, to 2016’s globally-anticipated new work JFK — a co-commision with American Lyric Theater and Opéra de Montréal by the acclaimed creative duo of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek — FWOpera continues to augment its worldwide reputation as a trailblazing, civically minded arts institution.
Known throughout the operatic world as a champion of new and rarely-performed works, FWOpera has taken a leadership role in engaging audiences beyond the operatic stage, while producing cutting-edge, contemporary operas. Beginning in 2017, FWOpera launched the second phase of its landmark, 10-year Opera of the Americas initiative with Noches de Ópera (Nights of Opera), a groundbreaking campaign that introduces powerful operas, each reflecting the diverse cultures of new American audiences.
The 2018 FWOpera Festival will include the first production of Richard Wagner’s magnificent fantasy opera Das Rheingold; Gaetano Donizetti’s hysterical bel canto gem, Don Pasquale; and an immersive, surrealistic production of Astor Piazzolla’s genre-defying tango opera, María de Buenos Aires. The Festival will also usher in the sixth year of Fort Worth Opera’s critically-acclaimed new works showcase, Frontiers.
Established in 2002, the Fort Worth Opera Studio is a year-round training program for emerging young artists who are cast from annual national auditions. Beginning in the fall of 2015, a generous multi-year grant was established by the Hattie Mae Lesley Foundation, in honor of foundation President Joseph A. Lesley’s grandmothers. Thanks to this generous gift, the Opera Studio was renamed the Hattie Mae Lesley Apprentice Program. In addition to receiving professional training while in Fort Worth, the singers also perform in the Children’s Opera Theatre, the company’s educational program that tours fully costumed, portable operas to elementary schools. COT performances span the whole state of Texas and reach as many as 50,000 children a year, many of whom have no other access to arts education. Since 2007, attendance of Festival performances by out-of-town audiences has grown almost 5%. The local economy has also benefited, with 7,752 patrons from 31 states and 5 countries attending, and over 1,800 hotel rooms booked for the 2016 Festival alone.