Florida Grand Opera

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"FGO" redirects here. For the television network, see Frost Great Outdoors. For film grain overlay, see Film grain.

Florida Grand Opera (FGO) is an American opera company based in Miami, Florida. It is the oldest performing arts organization in Florida and the seventh oldest opera company in the country.[1] FGO stages productions at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, located in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, and also at the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida Grand Opera's 74th season will begin in the fall of 2014. This season will include Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Così Fan Tutte, Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers, and Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul.

Company history[edit]

In 1941, the company was founded as The Opera Guild of Greater Miami by Arturo di Filippi, an accomplished tenor and voice teacher at the University of Miami. It later became known as Greater Miami Opera Association. [2] FGO was created in 1994 from the consolidation of two opera companies in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region: Opera Guild of Greater Miami, originally founded in 1941 by Arturo di Filippi; and the Opera Guild, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, originally formed in 1945.

From 1941 through 1972, di Filippi led the company as General Director, regularly brought leading artists from the Metropolitan Opera to South Florida, presenting them in the roles for which they had won worldwide acclaim. A 1965 production of Lucia di Lammermoor with Joan Sutherland featured a young Italian tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, in his American debut.

Upon Dr. di Filippi's retirement, he was succeeded by Robert Herman in 1973. Herman had served as Assistant General Manager at the Metropolitan Opera under Sir Rudolf Bing and was persuaded to forgo retirement to lead the Miami company. During his administration, many of the world's leading opera singers continued to appear with the company and production values were dramatically elevated as the subscriber and donor bases increased. Greater Miami Opera entered the ranks of the country's leading opera companies and was established as one of the premier cultural institutions in the southeastern United States.

Robert M. Heuer was appointed General Manager when Herman retired in 1985. During his tenure, extensive educational and outreach programs were developed throughout the community and the company's Young Artist Studio was established. In addition, Heuer led efforts to build a much-needed state of the art performance venue in Miami, which resulted in the opening of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in 2006. Prior to that, the company's home theater was the Dade County Auditorium in Miami. Heuer's 25th anniversary was celebrated with a gala concert in 2010[3] and he retired in 2012.[4]

Susan T. Danis was appointed Florida Grand Opera's fourth General Director in 2012.[4] During her tenure at Sarasota Opera, where she had served as executive director since 1999, the company's budget grew exponentially and she successfully headed a $47 million capital campaign which included the renovation of the company's historic theater. In fall 2013, her first planned season opened with Marvin David Levy's Mourning Becomes Electra.

Music directors[edit]

Under the name of "Greater Miami Opera", Emerson Buckley was the company's music director from 1950 to 1973 and then served as artistic director and principal conductor through 1986.[5] Willie Anthony Waters, who had become chorus master of the company in 1982,[6] then served as music director from 1986 through 1992[7] and principal conductor from 1992 to 1995.[8]

Robert Herman took over as general manager of the Greater Miami Opera in 1973, and served to 1985. Formerly an assistant to Sir Rudolf Bing at the Metropolitan Opera from 1953 to 1973, Herman took the company from a small regional troupe to one of the 10 biggest opera companies in the United States. By aggressively seeking corporate support instead of relying on individual contributions, he was able to expand the budget from the $650,000 it had when he joined the company, to almost $4 million when he retired.[9]

Herman was also able to lure international superstar singers to Miami. Included among them were: Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, Beverly Sills, Judith Blegen, Plácido Domingo, Cesare Siepi, Renata Scotto, Tatiana Troyanos, Jon Vickers, Joan Sutherland, James Morris, Dominic Cossa, Martti Talvela, Joanna Simon, Teresa Żylis-Gara, Peter Glossop and James McCracken. But he also kept the house open to talented, young, American singers. His policy was to have two casts, one with international stars, the other with promising newcomers. Another innovation was to offer alternating versions of operas, in English and the original language. He also expanded the repertory considerably by arranging to exchange productions with other companies.

Stewart Robertson was FGO music director from 1997 to 2010. On June 1, 2011, Ramon Tebar became FGO's newest music director. He also became the first Spanish conductor to lead both an American opera company and an American symphony.[10]


  1. ^ Hines, Bea (September 2, 2012). "Florida Grand Opera welcomes new CEO". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Ireland, Edward (September 14, 1958). "Shameless Woman Di Fillipi's Choice". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Dolen, Christine (February 22, 2010). "Gala to honor Florida Grand Opera director Robert Heuer". Palm Beach Pulse. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Sampson, Hannah (September 2, 2012). "Susan Danis brings opera enthusiasm to Florida Grand Opera". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Emerson Buckley, 73, An Opera Conductor". The New York Times. 1989-11-20. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  6. ^ Tim Smith (1992-05-17). "Troubled Waters At The Greater Miami Opera". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  7. ^ Tim Smith (1992-05-02). "Shake-ups At Miami Opera". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  8. ^ Tim Smith (1999-04-18). "Opera's Native Son Is Back". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  9. ^ Allan Kozinn (1991-08-21). "Robert Herman, 66, Ex-Manager Of Greater Miami Opera Troupe". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  10. ^ Jan Sjostrom (2001-03-02). "Palm Beach Symphony's music director accepts post at Florida Grand Opera". Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 

External links[edit]