The primary mission of Opera Idaho is to fund and produce opera of the highest possible professional standard, in Boise and throughout the State of Idaho, and to foster wider acceptance, appreciation and enjoyment of opera and related art forms in young people and adults of all social and economic backgrounds, through diverse educational and community engagement programs.
Opera Idaho has been producing opera in the Treasure Valley for nearly 50 years. In recent years, growing support has given Opera Idaho the ability to become one of the broadest-reaching arts organizations in Idaho. We have increased our presence throughout the State of Idaho by taking productions and programs to Pocatello, Ketchum and McCall. In the past two years, we have been able to reach over 40,000 people through our performances, education outreach programs, children’s choruses and involvement in community activities. During the 2019-2020 season, over 22,700 elementary and middle school students were able to experience opera through our education engagement program thanks to the financial support of our individual and corporate donors.
Season after season, audiences enjoy the thrill of seeing period costuming and beautiful sets and hearing glorious voices. Over the past 15 years, the number of audience members has increased by over 40% and we are keeping up with the demand by hosting events to open up opera to a wide range of new people. While ticket sales have increased, the dollars we generate from ticket sales only cover around 30% of the costs associated with opera. Your support is needed to continue the productions and programs and to help us grow to reach more individuals in the State and offer more opportunities to experience the all-encompassing art form that is opera.
We encourage you to consider support for the opera in the following ways:
- Become a season sponsor and enjoy the recognition in our program, verbal stage recognition and all print materials.
- Buy an ad in our program
- Become a LifeBlood Member of Opera Idaho and enjoy the extra events provided.
- Consider including Opera Idaho in your will. Ask us for more details.
- Support the children’s outreach program that provides the opportunity for children to see, hear and participate in Opera.
- Support the two children’s choruses: Angelus Chorus and Excelsior Chorus for children and young adults from the school ages of second grade through twelfth grade.
Becoming a donor is a great way to support the opera. We appreciate your continued generosity.
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Although Opera Idaho has been in existence, under one name or another, since 1973, the story of opera in Boise begins before that. As long ago as the early 1960’s, the Boise Philharmonic annually presented modestly produced operas featuring singers drawn from around the region. Other groups also produced small-scale operas from time to time. Sometimes the works presented were classics; sometimes they were more adventuresome.
In the late 1960’s the Philharmonic discontinued its annual productions. In response, Mrs. Hazel Weston and a large group of local opera enthusiasts formed the Boise Opera Workshop. The workshop’s initial goal is described in a contemporary story from the Idaho Statesman as being to “acquaint both musicians and audience with a great many operas, without the expense involved in staging a grand opera.” Early activities of the organization included workshop productions, monthly public lecture programs and group study of selected operatic works.
In 1973, reflecting the success of its initial efforts and the increasing emphasis on producing grand opera, the Boise Opera Workshop changed its name to Boise Civic Opera. By-laws were written and the organization was formally incorporated. By the 1977-78 season, Boise Civic Opera had begun to import professional singers to perform the principal roles in some of its productions. In 1983, the name was changed again, this time to Boise Opera, in order to recognize the increasing professionalism of the company’s productions. In the mid 1980’s Boise Opera added to its classic opera performances by presenting international opera stars in concert. Marilyn Horne and Sherill Milnes were among those artists. Presented by Boise Opera, Ms. Horne gave the concert that opened the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. With the 1984-85 season, Boise Opera moved its main stage productions into the Morrison Center.
Boise Opera continued to produce classic grand opera at the Morrison Center and also added the occasional musical comedy. During the 1993-94 season, Boise Opera added operettas to it repertoire. Also during this decade, the company began to build educational and outreach programs, which, by 2000, would offer experience of and training in lyric theater to children and adults. This included the Opera Idaho Children’s Chorus, which was formally founded in 1993 and is now in its 20th season.
In 1997 the company changed its name again to Opera Idaho. The reasons for the change were two-fold: first, to recognize the company as the only professional company of its kind in the state; and second, to recognize the ambition to reach out to other areas of Idaho, beyond the Treasure Valley.
In the 2004-05 season, Opera Idaho showed its success and growth with the world premiere of Nosferatu. In recent years, Opera Idaho has moved to its new home at the historic Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise, a move which not only brought the opportunity for more intimate opera experiences for the audience but financially also for more performances of more productions. The 2010-11 season saw the beginning of the Made in the USA series, five American operas performed in five consecutive seasons. In 2016 Critical Mass Vocal Artists became part of Opera Idaho. In 2017 Opera Idaho established its first Young Artists program, renamed in 2020 to the Emerging Artists Program.
The 2018-2019 season marked the beginning Opera Idaho’s Rising Stars: an opera training and college preparatory program for young singers in high school who will be pursuing a career in vocal performance.