|Origin||Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA|
|Associated acts||Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra|
The Florentine Opera Company is Wisconsin's oldest fully professional performing arts organization and the sixth-oldest opera company in the United States. The company presents on three staged productions per season largely from the standard operatic repertoire. Performances take place at the Marcus Center in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Florentine Opera was founded in 1933 by John-David Anello. At that time, the group was called the Italian Opera Chorus, and it met at the Jackson Street Social Center. In 1942, the group became The Florentine Opera Chorus, remaining under the direction of John D. Anello. He explained that the change in name "was to honor the birthplace of opera as we know it. The craft originated in the Italian city of Florence, which has been known as a bustling center for the arts for many centuries." By this time, the chorus had grown to a group of 100 members of many nationalities, with a waiting list of over 100 more. In the program of the first "Opera Album" after the name change is written the Florentine Opera Chorus motto: "If our song has stopped one heart from aching, we have not lived in vain." In 1950, the Florentine Opera Chorus extended its efforts from operatic choral performances to the production of complete operas and the company became a private venture, changing its name one final time to the Florentine Opera Company. Over the past decade, the Florentine Opera has premiered several new American operas. It produced the American premiere of Lowell Liebermann's opera The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1999. In 2009, the Florentine presented Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein's Elmer Gantry. A world premiere of Don Davis' Spanish language Rio de Sangre opened in 2010.
William Florescu has been General Director since 2005. Joseph Rescigno is the Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor, having served since 1981. Scott S. Stewart has acted as the Chorus Master and Associate Conductor since 1978. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra serves as the orchestra in performances by the Florentine Opera.
Notable performers at the Florentine Opera have included Diane Alexander, June Anderson, Angela Brown, José Carreras, James Courtney, Gilda Cruz-Romo, Plácido Domingo, Dale Duesing, Marisa Galvany, Anthony Dean Griffey, Jerome Hines, Lise Lindstrom, Spiro Malas, Susanne Marsee, James McCracken, Sherrill Milnes, Raquel Montalvo, Jan Peerce, Luciano Pavarotti, Ewa Podles, Samuel Ramey, Natalia Rom, Beverly Sills, Erika Sunnegårdh, Harry Theyard, and Richard Tucker.
Associations and Funding
The Florentine Opera is a charter member organization of the United Performing Arts Fund and receives funds from the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin, as well as support from corporations, patrons and foundations, and individuals such as the Target Corporation, Nita Soref and the Bradley Foundation. The Florentine Opera Company is a member of Opera America.
- Pawlyszyn, Melanie. "Florentine Opera Company celebrates National Opera Week in Milwaukee". Newspaper. The Warrior Periodical. Retrieved 2/6/2012.
- Oestrich, James. "OPERA REVIEW; Wilde With Shades Of Mahler and Strauss". Theater Review. New York Times. Retrieved 2/6/2012.
- Schuyler, David. "Florentine's 'Elmer Gantry' garners three Grammy nominations with two subsequent Grammy Awards". Online Article. Biz Journals. Retrieved 2/6/2012.
- Reinardy, Kathryn. "Florentine Opera presents Free "Rio de Sangre" Opera Insights". Opera Preview. wauwatosanow. Retrieved 2/6/2012.
- "Florentine Opera Sponsors". list of funders. Florentine Opera Company. Retrieved 2/6/2012.
- "Bradley Foundation Grants". List of donations. The Bradley Foundation. Retrieved 2/6/2012.
- "Opera America Membership list". Membership list. Opera America. Retrieved 2/6/2012.