Center City Opera Theater strives to:
(1) Present opera productions of the highest professional quality, specially conceived for an intimate setting, and featuring newly commissioned works;
(2) Recruit new audiences for opera through the immediacy of these intimate performances, as well as through affordable ticket prices;
(3) Provide opportunities for emerging opera professionals (singers, directors & designers) who are becoming known nationally for their excellence;
(4) Fill a large and growing void in arts education in the region with comprehensive, onsite educational programs and a wide array of internships.
The Center City Opera Theater (CCOT) is one of the most innovative opera companies in the United States, praised for its productions of new opera as well as for developing new work, new artists and new audiences. One thing that defines everything CCOT does is an unshakeable belief in the emotional power of telling stories by bringing outstanding theater and live music together. We are committed to developing new works with a contemporary resonance from the artists of the future. From the seed of an idea to a finished production, we offer these artists the chance to create and innovate.
Our Creative Development Projects (CDP) is not only about working with artists on ideas for future operas, but building partnerships and relationships around projects. We offer an holistic approach to the development of ideas and people, creating innovative projects and developing talents that are the future of opera. We also actively seek to work in partnership with various community organizations, both cultural and social service oriented, as well as with other like-minded opera/theater companies to help spread the conversations generated by our work.
Since our founding in 1999 by General & Artistic Director Andrew Kurtz, the Center City Opera Theater has not only maintained its status as one of two professional opera companies in Philadelphia, but remains the only professional opera company in the United States whose primary mission is the creation and production of new work. Now in its 13th season, the company has produced over four dozen operas. CCOT’s secondary mission is cultivating broader opera audiences, while providing opportunities for young professional singers.
In September 2008, CCOT launched ConNEXTions: The Next Generation of Opera during the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, presenting the world premieres and workshops of new works. CCOT’s Creative Development Projects grew out of ConNEXTions and is now the driving force behind CCOT’s innovative mission. Creative Development Projects are an ongoing series which guides and facilitates to fruition the production of new opera works through successive music workshops. In 2010, Obie-award winning playwright Albert Innaurato was named Artistic Director of the Creative Development Projects. The Creative Development Projects process guides a work from initial conception all the way to world premiere.
CCOT’s dynamic Young Artist Program, which selects artists by audition from around the world, is a singular training experience for young opera professionals. These artists perform in fully staged productions with orchestra, as well as participate in the Creative Development Projects opera workshops.
Since 2010, CCOT has increasingly made use of site-specific performance venues, such as the piazza of the 9th Street Italian Market, for a production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, and The Market & Shops at Comcast Center for the North American premiere of Edward Rushton’s The Shops.
Center City Opera Theater has produced operas in multiple venues: Centennial Hall on the Main Line of Philadelphia; the Kimmel Center’s intimate 563-seat Perelman Theater; Kimmel Center’s smaller 150-seat black-box theater Innovation Studio ; Gordon Theater in Camden, Nj; OperaDelaware Studio Space in Wilmington, DE; St. Stephen’s Theater; Mandell Theater at Drexel University; and Ethical Society of Philadelphia on Rittenhouse Square to name a few.
Notable moments in our history include the the world premiere of the chamber orchestra version of Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in June 2007, which was commissioned by Center City Opera Theater, and received glowing international reviews. Other regional premiere includ Adamo’s Little Women and Floyd’s Of Mice and Men.
Center City Opera Theater’s OPERAtunities in Education in-school program works with multiple partner schools in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. A separate Education Board of Directors runs this program, producing a curriculum that addresses national and local standards. All of our artists participate with classroom visits to our partner schools, as well as outreach events that are open to the general public. Artists are chosen not just for their abilities to perform, but also for their abilities to be an asset to our education program.
Center City Opera Theater maintains active relationships with the other major arts organizations such as the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) and the Michener Museum. Center City Opera Theater’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata included curators from both PMA and Michener, who participated as members of the design team, as projected images drawn from art collections around the world were the primary scenic element of this production. Center City Opera Theater has achieved great critical success with all of its productions over the past eight years.
The ability of Center City Opera Theater to advance careers of emerging theater professionals is best evidenced by the continuing accomplishments of its artists. Center City Opera Theater artists are now appearing or working on the stages of some of the world’s premier companies, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Baltimore Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, and Opera Company of Philadelphia.