The 5 best & worst states for finding an opera house

The 5 best & worst states for finding an opera house

Jenna Simeonov

The other day, this Canadian blogger was thinking about the United States. Specifically, I was wondering just how many opera houses there are in a country of over 300 million people. So, I gathered some quick stats on the number of opera houses (or organizations producing professional opera) in each state. Now, if Canada’s trend of small, start-up opera companies is any indication of what’s going on south of the border, I’m ready to assume that I’ve missed some of these American indie companies; I’m optimistic that my numbers are low.

The simple stats confirmed my expectations, that New York and California lead the way in quantity of opera companies, at 46 and 35 respectively. Massachusetts gets bronze with 15 houses, and Colorado sits currently at 12.

Then, I got curious about opera houses per capita.

The average number of opera houses in the USA, per million people, is 1.25. Here’s a quick look at the top and bottom of the list:


  1. Vermont - 6.39 houses per million
  2. District of Columbia - 6 per million
  3. Alaska - 4.1 per million
  4. Montana - 3 per million
  5. New York - 2.35 per million


  1. South Dakota & West Virginia - 0 per million (with an exception of the opera programs at South Dakota State University and West Virginia School of Music)
  2. Michigan & Arizona - both at 0.3 per million
  3. Kansas - 0.36 per million
  4. Georgia - 0.4 per million
  5. Alabama - 0.42 per million

Now, the fun questions begin. What are the important demographics to note? Wealth? Racial diversity? Government subsidies for the arts? The answer is probably more complicated than any conclusion I’ll draw.

Canadian readers, never fear; the Northern version of these numbers, coming soon.

Any surprises in these stats? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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