The CLEVELAND OPERA was organized in 1976 by David and Carola Bamberger and John Heavenrich as the New Cleveland Opera Co. Formed to be the city's major resident producing opera company, by 1995 Cleveland Opera was ranked 10th nationally in audience size among companies outside New York. Its singers have included veterans of the Metropolitan Opera as well as outstanding younger American singers, including Sherril Milnes, Roberta Peters, Elizabeth Holleque, Johanna Meier, Jon Garrison, and Richard Stilwell. They are supported in the pit by the OHIO CHAMBER ORCHESTRA under the batons of such conductors as Franz Allers, Sixten Ehrling, Scott Bergeson, Robt. Page, Stuart Raleigh, and famed comic Victor Borge in his operatic conducting debut. Beginning at Byron Auditorium in SHAKER HTS., the company moved to the HANNA THEATER by the 1980/81 season and in 1984 took up residence at the Playhouse Square Ctr.'s STATE THEATER. Its "Cleveland Verdi Festival" (1982/83) was the first season by any American company dedicated to the works of a single composer. Cleveland Opera won an Emmy for Best Production of Cultural Significance (1978) for its televised staging of Britten's The Little Sweep. It received national attention for its world premiere of Stewart Copeland's Holy Blood and Crescent Moon in 1989, though the opera was not a critical success. In the 1994/95 season, Cleveland Opera was the only company in the western hemisphere to produce Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger, an enormous spectacle requiring over 150 people in the orchestra and chorus alone. The opera's tour department has performed throughout the state 150-250 times annually for community groups, schools, and social-service institutions. Cleveland Opera has received funding from a variety of foundations (the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, the GEO. GUND FOUNDATION, the Natl. Endowment for the Arts), individuals, and corporations (TRW, EATON).

Cleveland Opera Records, WRHS.

See also MUSIC, OPERA.

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