Asheville Lyric Opera is a professional, 501 (c)(3) non-profit opera company located in Asheville, North Carolina. ALO provides Western North Carolina with a magnitude of theatrical experiences at a central location, the Diana Wortham Theatre, in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Asheville Lyric Opera stages original productions of opera and lyric theatre to enrich, engage, and educate. We serve patrons and the community through collaborations and outreach with organizations and schools from Asheville and the surrounding region.
As Asheville Lyric Opera comes into its 17th season, we can celebrate a tradition that boasts over 50 productions, 20 tour destinations, and different generations of nationally-renowned conductors, directors, and singers, including Lawrence Brownlee, Angela Brown, Timothy Meyers, and Elizabeth Caballero. When looking for a city to begin a new opera company, Founder David Starkey decided on Asheville, North Carolina. With its thriving artistic community, vibrant downtown, and spirit of philanthropy, Asheville would become home to the company which sustains the life of opera in Western North Carolina: Asheville Lyric Opera.
Asheville Lyric Opera’s mission was founded on the cornerstone that community education and outreach should be our main goal. ALO has been dedicated to providing educational programs for the community since our first production of La Bohème with Asheville Symphony Orchestra in 2000, which featured, along with a children’s chorus, a regional young singer as part of our Apprentice program. The Apprentice program gave the singer an opportunity for a small role in a production as well as to work alongside the best in the opera industry. Asheville Lyric Opera grew our educational impact on the community by beginning the Educational Opera series in 2006. That year, ALO performed our first Education Opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, at Asheville High School. ALO continued that tradition until 2011, when Asheville Lyric Opera reorganized the Apprentice program to be a more traditional summer Young Artist Program. It has now fully blossomed into the program we know today, where ALO gives rising, young professional singers the opportunity to concentrate on developing their vocal performance. That same year, ALO also began to expand the use of local University and College students in our chorus as another engaging opportunity for young singers. You can now find University and College students in the chorus of every show.
Asheville Lyric Opera is known for producing repertory in the Bel Canto – literally translated as “beautiful singing” – style. ALO has explored repertory in French, German, and operetta, but has always put its main focus on the works of three core composers: Mozart, Verdi, and Rossini. In the past few years, we have expanded our repertory to include classical musical theatre. Beginning with The Sound of Music in 2011, Asheville Lyric Opera now puts on one Classic Lyric Theatre production each year.
Another cornerstone of Asheville Lyric Opera’s mission is collaboration. ALO has always taken pride in collaborating with local and regional artists and organizations. Asheville Lyric Opera is unique in that we still take some of our productions on tour, while most opera companies have ended their tour programs. Beginning with our modest tours in 2003 to Newberry Opera House in Newberry, SC, and culminating in our 2015 tour of Barber of Seville to three destinations across the eastern US, Asheville Lyric Opera takes pride in collaborating with other organizations to spread our message and fan base.
Asheville Lyric Opera has big things yet to come! In 2015, we launched our Secondary Series, a series of concerts and productions that bring opera to Asheville year-round. We introduced the Chamber Opera, a series of small, intimate productions, with our production of “The Impresario” in 2014. Singing in the Park, a free public performance in the heart of downtown Asheville, had its debut in April 2015 and now has three performances a year during spring, summer, and fall. Asheville Lyric Opera looks forward to 2016 to continue to grow our positive impact on Asheville’s arts community with our mainstage productions, education and outreach programs, and collaborations in the community and region.