2024 is poised to be a year of resounding notes for OperaDelaware, the 11th oldest opera company in the United States, which dates to 1945. Having navigated the challenges of the pandemic, OperaDelaware is making waves in community engagement with expanded Pop-Up Opera performances across the state and increased accessibility through the “Opera for All” program. The journey is fueled by renewed funding from M&T Bank, targeting ticket access for nonprofits, and continued support from the Laffey-McHugh Foundation for Pop-Up Opera in K-12 schools. These initiatives mark a transformative era for OperaDelaware, elevating the impact of opera throughout the First State.
M&T Bank's commitment to the “Opera for All” program began with a $10,000 investment in the spring of 2023. The impact was palpable, with over 700 first-time attendees flocking to OperaDelaware's performances of Verdi’s La traviata at The Grand Opera House. Encouraged by its success, M&T Bank has now doubled down on the initial investment, aligning with OperaDelaware's upcoming rendition of Puccini’s Turandot in May. Nonprofit employees and volunteers will now be offered three access levels for ticket requests: $10 off tickets, 50% off tickets, or complimentary tickets for those attending the opera for the first time.
In the quest for inclusivity, those claiming complimentary tickets are invited to share their thoughts through a brief intake survey, gauging their prior experiences and expectations of opera. A post-show inquiry will follow the performance, fostering a dialogue between OperaDelaware and its newest attendees, alongside the dedicated supporters who have been the backbone of the company since its inception. As the curtains rise on 2024, OperaDelaware is ready to hit the high notes of community engagement and accessibility, ensuring that the beauty of opera resonates far and wide.
"In OperaDelaware’s work to solicit feedback and input from attendees about expectations and outcomes, the company hopes to continue to lead by listening and serving audiences to create a welcoming environment for all,” says Kerriann Otaño, OperaDelaware Vice President of Engagement. “Providing ticket access is only one piece of the puzzle. The key to community engagement is listening to and responding to feedback that leads to a growing sense of ownership, pride, and belonging.”
OperaDelaware is tuning up for another symphony of success, thanks to the continued support from The Laffey-McHugh Foundation for its renowned Pop-Up Opera performances in schools. Following the triumph of the program's inception during the 2022/23 season, this renewed investment sets the stage for an encore, amplifying the impact of opera on students across Delaware.
The statewide nomination process, saw an impressive 40 nominations from educators, board members, parents, and students, resulted in captivating performances at esteemed institutions like John G. Leach School, Mount Pleasant Elementary School, Townsend Elementary School, Springer Middle School, and Cape Henlopen High School. With the foundation's unwavering support, OperaDelaware is extending its reach to five additional schools this spring, bringing the magic of opera to new audiences.
In the spirit of inclusivity, OperaDelaware is inviting fresh nominations for school performances. Anyone passionate about introducing opera to their school community can submit nominations, provided they include contact information for a school representative. Pop-Up Opera, celebrated for its customizable performances suitable for all age groups, breaks down barriers by presenting opera in an inviting, casual environment.
The OperaDelaware Mobile Opera Stage, a traveling spectacle, crisscrosses the state, offering engaging hour-long performances featuring trivia, a prize wheel, and even a t-shirt cannon for added flair. These lively and informal showcases not only breathe life into opera's timeless classics but also provide audiences with unique opportunities to hear directly from the talented artists. As OperaDelaware continues to harmonize education and entertainment, Pop-Up Opera remains a dynamic force, ensuring that the transformative power of opera reverberates through schools and captivates students of all ages.
“With Pop-Up Opera,” says Otaño, “OperaDelaware has been able to unlock a missing piece to our engagement strategy. Though we are anchored in Wilmington, thanks to our beautiful Riverfront Studios and performances at The Grand, Pop-Up Opera allows us to sing to the whole state and truly live up to our name.”
Looking forward to learning more about these programs? Visit operade.org!
Cover photo credited to Sam Wilson
Photo of Red Carpet credited to Meghan Newberry Photography
Photo of Pop Up Opera credited to OperaDelaware Staff