(Tuesday, January 24, Orlando, FL) – Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera Orlando announced a new partnership today, redefining how opera will be presented in Central Florida next season and beyond.
Since the 2009-2010 Season, the Orlando Philharmonic has produced traditional favorite operas like Puccini’s La bohème and Madama Butterfly at the Bob Carr Theater as well as innovative productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Bernstein’s Candide at The Plaza Live, while maintaining its core concert series including Classics, Pops, Focus, and Sounds of Summer.
“Several years ago when the viability of opera production in our community was in jeopardy, the staff and board of the Orlando Philharmonic rallied support to preserve staged opera. We are proud of the past eight seasons of opera that the OPO has presented and as we look to the future, we know that this is the right moment to hand off the artistic and administrative leadership to the capable hands of Opera Orlando,” said RK Kelley, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra board president. “It has always been our goal to preserve the art form in the Central Florida community, while at the same time, continuing to keep the performance of opera music in the Philharmonic’s repertoire until a new professional opera company was ready for that leadership role.”
Opera Orlando is devoted year-round to the art form, which is the organization’s core mission. In January of 2016, Florida Opera Theatre, which had been presenting opera since 2009, officially changed its name to Opera Orlando, reflecting the mission to be the regional standard bearer for the art form. Gabriel Preisser was named executive and artistic director and Vince Connor was named general director. They share the vision of reshaping the community’s idea of what opera is by making it more intimate, accessible, relevant and an immersive theater experience.
“We are thrilled about this partnership and are committed to employing the Orlando Philharmonic as Opera Orlando’s resident orchestra,” said John Wettach, Opera Orlando board president. “Our paramount goal is to raise the profile of the art form and generate a new level of excitement for our organization’s offerings and the Orlando Philharmonic shares this enthusiasm and commitment.”
Opera Orlando launched its inaugural season in 2016-2017 and provides operas, outreach and education throughout the year. Currently, performances are held in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Christopher Barton, who was named executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic last June and Preisser have been meeting for months with the full support of the boards of both organizations to discuss how to move opera forward.
United Arts of Central Florida, which raises and distributes funds to local arts, sciences, history and other cultural providers is supportive of the new partnership and thinks that the decision makes sense for the community.
“We have been encouraging them to collaborate and we think it’s a terrific business decision to turn over the administrative leadership to Opera Orlando with the creative engagement of the Orlando Philharmonic – it’s the best of both worlds,” said Flora Maria Garcia, president and CEO of United Arts of Central Florida. “We love the way these two organizations have been working together to evolve opera because they each are focusing on what they do best.”
Both the Orlando Philharmonic and Opera Orlando are planning to perform in Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center when it opens. The 1,700-seat Steinmetz Hall will join the existing 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater and the 300-seat Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater, and will provide a home to the art center’s resident companies, including the Orlando Ballet.
“In 2020, Steinmetz Hall will provide an exceptional, acoustic performance space for the partnership between Opera Orlando and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. This past year, Opera Orlando presented great works in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater to sold-out audiences and next season will be even more successful with this fantastic collaboration,” said Kathy Ramsberger, CEO and president of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
The Orlando Philharmonic has one opera performance remaining on its current season, Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love at The Plaza Live on Feb. 2, 3 and 5. Opera Orlando’s final performance for this season is Mozart’s Masterpiece Don Giovanni, which takes place on March 24, 25 and 26 at the Dr. Phillips Center.
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About the Orlando Philharmonic
Now in its 24th season, The Orlando Philharmonic is Central Florida’s professional orchestra, comprised of accomplished musicians recruited from around the world. Presenting over 125 events each year, the orchestra provides captivating musical experiences and education programs to people of all ages, and is committed to building a rich, sustainable future for symphonic music in Central Florida. Learn more at orlandophil.org.
About Opera Orlando
In only its second year, Opera Orlando has established itself as the standard bearer of the art form in Central Florida. As its 2016-17 season ends with the March 24-26 performances of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” the company looks forward to continuing its track record of sold out houses, fresh theatrical realizations and critical acclaim. The 2017-18 season includes Puccini’s “La bohème,” holiday performances of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and Rossini’s “Cinderella.” All productions include musicians from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and are held at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It was in the Center’s Walt Disney Theater this past September that Opera Orlando assembled some of the nation’s and state’s finest operatic talent for a community-building benefit in response to the Pulse Night Club Tragedy: “One Voice Orlando: A Celebration in Song.” This stellar and powerful event inspired one of the art form’s leading national advocates, Marc Scorca of OPERA America, to declare that “in its brief existence, Opera Orlando has demonstrated its ability to bring high-quality performances to Orlando and to lift the spirit of the city through the power of opera.” www.operaorlando.org