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.

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 from 1953-1973 and was persuaded to forgo retirement to lead the Miami company. During his administration, the budget grew from $650,000 to $4 million, and many of the world's leading opera singers continued to appear with the company; 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.

On October 30, 2014, Danis sent out an announcement to FGO patrons and audience members indicating the uncertain future of the company due to an unworkable business plan and declining revenue.[5] A series of "townhall" meetings were held to which audience members were invited in order to learn more about the company's past, present and future.

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.[6] Willie Anthony Waters, who had become Chorus Master of the company in 1982,[7] then served as Artistic Director from 1986 through 1992[8] and Principal Guest Conductor from 1992 to 1995.[9]

Stewart Robertson was FGO music director from 1997 to 2010. On June 1, 2011, Ramon Tebar became FGO's music director. He also became the first Spanish conductor to lead both an American opera company and an American symphony.[10] In 2014, pursuing an international conducting career, he became FGO's Principal Conductor.

The company's rich 74-year production history has included numerous performances by internationally acclaimed singers. Included among them are: Renata Tebaldi, Eleanor Steber, Richard Tucker, Franco Corelli, Birgit Nilsson, Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes, Beverly Sills, Judith Blegen, Plácido Domingo, Cesare Siepi, Renata Scotto, Tatiana Troyanos, Jon Vickers, Nicolai Gedda, Joan Sutherland, James Morris, Martti Talvela, Diana Soviero, Deborah Voigt, Helen Donath, Thomas Stewart, Evelyn Lear, Teresa Żylis-Gara, Peter Glossop, James McCracken, and many more.

Young Artist Program[edit]

Florida Grand Opera's Young Artist Studio is a highly competitive 6-8 month residency program that accepts only 8-12 artists from over 600 applicants every year. The program was founded in 1984 with the goal of giving young singers the chance to improve and refine their skills that were initially developed during formal music education in university, music school and/or conservatory. Part of this training includes mainstage and recital performance experience which is important to developing a successful career in opera.

Throughout the program, Young Artists receive individual coaching sessions and participate in master classes and seminars, hosted by acclaimed guests artists. Special classes in audition techniques, fight choreography, dance, personal finance, and public relations are also offered.

FGO's Young Artists also perform in recitals and concerts on an almost weekly bases for the education and community outreach programs for the organization. These initiatives bring opera to audiences throughout South Florida and enable the Young Artists to gain valuable experience and feedback.

Additionally, Young Artists have the opportunity to cover lead roles throughout FGO's season, perform lead roles in the company's "Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places" series, and perform in featured and supporting roles on main stage productions. [11]

Former Young Artists[edit]

To date, Florida Grand Opera's Young Artist program has trained more than 150 young professionals who now appear on the stages of the nation’s leading operatic and theatrical organizations. Notable graduates of FGO's Young Artist program include Sarah Coburn, Rachele Gilmore, Leah Partridge, Elizabeth Caballero, Jonathan Michie, Andrew Bidlack, and Tom Corbeil. [12]

Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places[edit]

Once a year, with the hopes of exposing a younger audience to opera, FGO produces a guerrilla-style opera production as a part of its "Unexpected Opera in Unexpected Places" series. These productions typically consist of an all-Young Artist Program cast and are performed in various, non-typical performance venues throughout Miami.

Education Programs[edit]

To focus on opening young audiences to the wonders of classical music, Florida Grand Opera offers a variety of free educational and family activities throughout the year. During its 2014-15 Season alone, more than 20,000 children, families and community members throughout Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties participated in these events. [13]


Florida Grand Opera provides innovative opportunities for students and teachers to make music in their classrooms, make music education resources available for free to schools and allows them to experience the opera art form as audience members.

CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS are offered to any school that seeks to feature a member of FGO’s staff or Young Artist Studio in an educational setting.

OPERA LAB is a “laboratory of learning through opera”, 16 week, in-school residency program. During the 2014-2015 season, FGO’s Operalab will be conducted at Hialeah Senior High School.

TEACHER WORKSHOPS FGO partners with Miami-Dade Public Schools to present day long workshops to Music, Theatre, Social Studies, English and Foreign Language teachers. Using methods of opera-integration as the focus of learning, teachers explore various ways of incorporating opera into their curriculum.

STUDENT DRESS REHEARSALS 5,000 middle and high school students from South Florida schools attend the final dress rehearsals of the season's productions at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

COMMUNITY PROGRAMS provide free public recitals and musical workshops throughout South Florida, making opera accessible to over 24 communities. These programs bring musical experiences to people of all ages and circumstances.

READ ALONG, SING a SONG is Florida Grand Opera’s literacy-through-music program. Partnering with Miami-Dade and Broward County Public Libraries, FGO Teaching Artists use the power of music to bring books to life and promote the benefits of literacy.

FAMILY DAY is a collaboration between FGO and South Florida community venues; bringing a fun-filled day of opera to the people.

COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS are an adult education series that brings the opera art form into South Florida communities through thought-provoking discussions and performances. Using FGO’s 2014-2015 season as a catalyst, these hour-long events allow audience members to reflect, rethink and find new meaning in issues that affect South Florida. [14]


  1. ^ Hines, Bea (September 2, 2012). "Florida Grand Opera welcomes new CEO". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2013. [dead link]
  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. ^ Lebrecht, Norman. "Be very afraid: Another US opera company says it is going bust". slippedisc.com. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Emerson Buckley, 73, An Opera Conductor". The New York Times. 1989-11-20. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  7. ^ Tim Smith (1992-05-17). "Troubled Waters At The Greater Miami Opera". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  8. ^ Tim Smith (1992-05-02). "Shake-ups At Miami Opera". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  9. ^ Tim Smith (1999-04-18). "Opera's Native Son Is Back". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  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. 
  11. ^ http://www.fgo.org/young-artists/
  12. ^ http://www.fgo.org/young-artists/
  13. ^ http://www.fgo.org/education/
  14. ^ http://www.fgo.org/education/

External links[edit]