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Indianapolis Opera: From “Don Giovanni” to “The Magic Flute”

The Indianapolis Opera Company was formed September 29, 1975 via the generous efforts of Miriam Ramaker of Indiana Central University (now known as the University of Indianapolis) and several other local opera enthusiasts. The opera company initially began as a Indianapolis non-profit corporation with a meager starting budget of barely $8,000. The first season was limited to a single one night performance along with two short works, including Douglas Moore’s The Devil and Daniel Webster and Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Telephone.

This initial season would spring into tremendous growth for this Indianapolis musical organization over the next five years with the emerging organization hosting several opera favorites. However, the Indianapolis Opera would see an end to its prosperous growth with a sudden financial collapse in 1981. The Indianapolis organization was accused of misappropriation of federal funds, and the operation shut down for a time.

A new board of directors was later organized with the insistence that there was a large enough crowd in Indianapolis to support an opera program. Robert Driver, the artistic director of the Syracuse New York Opera, became the new director of the Indianapolis Opera. Driver would bring a new creative perspective to the opera company and in turn would reap the rewards of sharing sets, scenery rental fees, singer’s fees, costumes and other production costs with the already established Syracuse Opera. This sharing of resources would expand further and in turn provide an even more prosperous era for the Indianapolis Opera when it partnered with Opera Memphis in 1984.

For the following three years after its beneficial partnerships with the two other companies were formed, the Indianapolis Opera would stage three operas per season. In 1987, the Syracuse Opera dropped out of the partnership, but this didn’t hinder the two remaining companies; the Indianapolis and Memphis Operas would go on to host a very successful four-production season the following year. This four production per-season format is the format this bastion of Indianapolis art continues to use today.
In 1992, Opera Memphis left the remaining operatic alliance, but this did not hamper the continued success of the Indianapolis Opera. It would go on to stage highly praised and well accepted productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, Porgy and Bess, Don Giovanni, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and The Magic Flute. These productions would star nationally recognized singers and bring even more prestige, credibility and fans to the Indianapolis Opera.

The Indianapolis Opera Ensemble was formed in 1989 as an outreach program to introduce school aged Indianapolis children to music and opera. This ensemble also acts as an outlet for young opera singers to gain exposure and professional experience. As part of the traveling educational outreach program, the Ensemble provides lectures, Discovery Guides, and fully translated opera scripts along with background information for each opera.

The Indianapolis Opera maintains a collaborative relationship with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, which provides instrumental accompaniment for the Opera. In addition to this pairing, one opera per season is accompanied by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. The Indianapolis Opera also attempts to use talented members of the Indianapolis music whenever possible via its use of the Indianapolis Opera Chorus to full various supporting roles.

For more information on the Indianapolis Opera, please visit the organization’s homepage.

Indianapolis Opera
250 E 38th St
Indianapolis, IN 46205-2644
317.283.3531

Mike Woods