The Atlanta Opera
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Mission & History


Enrich our community by creating the highest quality operatic and theatrical programming that re-imagines the classics and introduces new works; expands and engages our audience; and stimulates critical conversations.


Be a vital leader in the renaissance of opera in America by engaging a 21st century audience.


Atlanta’s taste for opera began in the early years of the 1900’s with the Metropolitan Opera’s annual week-long tour to Atlanta. Performing at the Auditorium-Armory, the fabulous Fox Theatre and finally the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, the Metropolitan Opera’s annual tour was a major social event.

Every night of the week featured the performance of a different opera starring opera legends including Enrico Caruso, Marian Anderson and later, Luciano Pavarotti. The audience included a who’s who of Atlantans and was celebrated with posh parties at the Georgian Terrace, Piedmont Driving Club and other upscale venues. In the late 1970’s, the Metropolitan Opera stopped touring to Atlanta, leaving a void in the region.

Volunteers and civic leaders joined forces to continue opera in Atlanta. In 1979, the Atlanta Civic Opera was born, a result of a merger between two competing entities, Atlanta Lyric Opera and Georgia Opera. The first artistic director was noted composer Thomas Pasatieri. In 1985, the company was renamed to The Atlanta Opera.

The company’s first production was La traviata on March 28, 1980 at the Fox Theatre. The following December, a festive gala was held in Symphony Hall with such noted young artists as Catherine Malfitano, Jerry Hadley and Samuel Ramey.

Throughout the years, The Atlanta Opera has been an integral part of a growing and thriving city. It has helped foster young international talent as well as local talent. The Atlanta Opera is proud to celebrate 30 years of opera in Atlanta during the 09/10 Season. It has become a strong company that will thrive for years to come.

TAO Repertoire History (PDF)

Major Milestones

Internal Revenue Service grants The Atlanta Civic Opera its 501(c)(3) status and the company officially begins. A few years later, it becomes The Atlanta Opera.

The Atlanta Opera appoints William Fred Scott as Artistic Director. Alfred Kennedy named as Executive Director the next year.

The Atlanta Opera moves to the 1,748-seat Symphony Hall.

The Atlanta Opera moves to the 4,518-seat Fox Theatre – the largest indoor venue for opera in the U.S.

The Atlanta Opera hits $1 million mark in ticket sales for a single season.

The company takes up residence in its own building and rehearsal space, The Atlanta Opera Center, located at 728 West Peachtree Street, NW, thanks in part to strong contributors who helped achieve capital campaign goals.

The Atlanta Opera hosts the 31st Annual OPERA America Conference.

Atlanta Opera opens its 2003-04 season with AIDA at the 4,591-seat Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center.

The Atlanta Opera celebrates its 25th anniversary as an opera company.
The company hires Dennis Hanthorn as General Director to oversee all artistic and administrative business.

Maestro William Fred Scott celebrates 20 years as Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera before resigning on May 1.

The Atlanta Opera announces it will move its performances to the new Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre beginning in the fall of 2007. The company sells its administrative offices located at 728 W. Peachtree Street to eliminate its long-term debt and create cash reserves to ensure its long-term sustainability.

As the first resident company of Cobb Energy Centre, The Atlanta Opera opens the 2007-2008 season with an acclaimed production of TURANDOT.

The company also announces three major corporate sponsors – Zurich, AT&T Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. – who each commit to six-figure, five-year donations; these are the largest corporate donations in the company’s history.

The Atlanta Opera announces that it has reached its fundraising goal in a $10.9 million capital campaign, the largest campaign ever achieved in the company’s history.
The Atlanta Opera Chorus performs at the Opera-Comique in Paris, in Granada and Cannes in a production of Porgy and Bess.

Walter Huff, the company’s acclaimed Chorus Master, celebrates 20 years with The Atlanta Opera.

The company completes its second season at Cobb Energy Centre. Over two seasons in the new venue, the Opera’s audience has increased by 60%.

Sixty-four per cent of the company’s audience lives outside the perimeter, with 29% travelling at least 60 miles round-trip to attend an Atlanta Opera performance.

The Atlanta Opera was the recipient of a $9 million bequest from longtime board member Barbara D. Stewart.

Tomer Zvulun appointed as the Atlanta Opera's new General & Artistic Director.

The vision of The Atlanta Opera is to be a vital leader in the renaissance of opera in America by engaging a 21st century audience.

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