Baltimore Opera Company
The Baltimore Opera Company (BOC) was an opera company in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., based at the Baltimore Lyric Opera House. On March 12, 2009, the 58-year-old opera company announced plans to pursue Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.
On December 10, 2008, the Baltimore Opera Company had filed a petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland. Cited as reasons were "dwindling ticket sales and contributions". Productions of Gioachino Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, scheduled for March and May, 2009 respectively, were canceled., and ticket-holders did not receive refunds.
The former home of the now defunct BOC, the Lyric Opera House, is a music venue modeled after the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. The building was inaugurated on October 31, 1894, with a performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Australian opera singer Nellie Melba as the featured soloist. Not long after, Enrico Caruso appeared there with the Metropolitan Opera in a performance of Flotow's Martha. One former opera singer for the Baltimore Opera is Mike Rowe, now well known as the television host of Dirty Jobs on The Discovery Channel.
In 1950, building on earlier amateur efforts, Baltimore Opera was formally established as the Baltimore Civic Opera Company, with the famous American soprano Rosa Ponselle as its first artistic director. In 1952, Ponselle brought Beverly Sills to Baltimore for a production of Manon.
In 1960, the company embarked upon a program of modernization, attracting private funding to be able to hire professional set designers and diversity its repertoire.
In 1963, the Ford Foundation made a generous contribution that allowed the Company to stabilize a format of three operas a season and to hire a full time Production Manager. In subsequent years, it staged notable productions of such operas as Der Rosenkavalier, in 1962, with conductor Kurt Adler; Rigoletto, in 1964, with Sherrill Milnes; Lucia di Lammermoor with Anna Moffo; Turandot, in 1966, with Birgit Nilsson and Teresa Stratas; and The Tales of Hoffmann in 1967 with Sills, Plácido Domingo, and Norman Treigle.
In 1970, the name Baltimore Civic Opera Company was changed to Baltimore Opera Company. The word "civic" denoted amateurism, a term deemed not anymore applicable to the Company's offerings.
In 1976, for the occasion of the American Bicentennial, the Company appropriately commissioned its first work, opera Inês de Castro, composed by Thomas Pasatieri with a libretto by Bernard Stambler. This work was a major American operatic event and featured a cast that included Richard Stilwell, James Morris, and Lili Chookasian, with staging by Tito Capobianco.
In 1993, Baltimore Opera inaugurated its Summer Aria Series, dedicated to works by American composers.
In 1994, a sizable grant was awarded to the Baltimore Opera Company by the National Arts Stabilization Fund in order to give the Company complete financial stability.
In the 1994/1995 season, the BOC added an additional subscription performance for each opera.
The company used to mount four productions a year. For example, the 2007/2008 season consisted of Verdi's La forza del destino, Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly.
After the BOC collapse in 2009, two companies sprang up in an attempt to take its place in producing Baltimore grand opera: Baltimore Opera Theatre performs at the Hippodrome downtown, while Lyric Opera Baltimore has taken over the keystone role at the BOC's old venue. Several additional companies continued to produce opera on various smaller scales as well.
- Smith, Tim. "Baltimore Opera Company to close," The Baltimore Sun, Friday, March 13, 2009.
- Smith, Tim (December 9, 2008). "Baltimore Opera seeks Chapter 11 protection". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 21 February 2009.
- "Letter To Our Patrons" The Baltimore Opera Company Web Page, December 10, 2008