Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Lancaster Opera Company

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Type  Performing Arts
President  Dave Kohler
Founded  1951
Established  1951
Location  Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

The Lancaster Opera Company, initially founded as the Lancaster Opera Workshop in 1960 and which became the Lancaster Opera Company in 1988, is now known as OperaLancaster, a non-profit opera company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


Beginnings in 1951

In the late 1940s, Frederick and Dorothy Robinson, a husband and wife team of voice teachers, moved their studios from Philadelphia to Lancaster in order to accommodate their many area students. Realizing the need for a performing outlet for these students, other than church choirs, they conceived the idea of an opera workshop. This dream was brought to fruition in 1951 when a small group of students met to create an opera workshop whose goal was to perform scenes from grand opera and one-act operas in English, rehearsing in the Robinson's basement and presenting their work in a local high school.

In May 1952 the first "informal evening of opera" was presented and well received. Accompanied only by piano, the performance of one-act operas continued until 1957, when a decision was made to try a full three-act opera, La bohème. Around this time, a committee of representatives from local theatrical producing groups was formed to investigate the possibility of live theatre at the Fulton, then a failing movie theatre.

A company is formed

In 1960, with the cooperation of the Fulton Opera House owners, the Lancaster Theatre Arts Association and the Lancaster Opera Workshop collaborated on a production of Madame Butterfly for the Fulton Opera House. Accompanied for the first time by a full orchestra, this hit set the pattern for LOW's future, as well as contributing to a growing community interest in preserving the Fulton as a live theatre and an historical treasure.

As surrounding cities had no opera, LOW attracted singers from neighboring communities who became dues-paying members. Two LOC members, John Darrenkamp and Robert Brubaker, continued on to sing starring roles at the old Metropolitan Opera House.

In 1965 LOW purchased a vacant firehouse on West King Street as its home, which provided space for rehearsal, set building, and costume storage. The company was renamed The Lancaster Opera Company in 1988. LOC celebrated its 50th Anniversary in February 2002 when Representative Mike Sturla read a declaration from the House of Representatives commemorating the 50th Anniversary and Lancaster Mayor Smithgall declared 22 February 2002 as "Lancaster Opera Company Day". At a sold out, black tie event, the LOC Gala Committee declarations and best wishes from President and Mrs. George W. Bush were also on display.

2005 reorganization

In 2005 the Lancaster Opera Company reorganized and recommitted to its original premise of producing opera with the best available local talent. Now known as OperaLancaster, the company continues to present Lancaster and the surrounding communities with some of the finest vocal talent the area has to offer. Currently, OperaLancaster is the only opera organization in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh performing fully staged operas. In November 2012, OperaLancaster hired its first full-time Executive Director, William Dewan.


Lancaster Opera Company Wikipedia

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