All Opera Companies in the US

This is just a short post about the new list I’m compiling of all opera companies in the US that I started a couple days ago. While it’s nice to see how much activity is being done in the opera scene since 2000, this won’t show us the overall trajectory of opera in the US and that’s something in which I am just as interested. Since starting this list of all companies I’ve also come across another 10 companies formed since 2000 bringing the number of companies formed in the 21st century to over 110.

What’s interesting is that there seems to be just a little over 100 companies in the US since around the turn of the century.  This piece lists 125, and Opera American lists 122 members. This doesn’t mean that there were only 122-125 opera companies by the first decade of the 21st century–59 on my list of groups formed since 2000 would fall within this and I doubt many of the latter are included in the Opera America list (which is surely where the 125 number in the other piece came from) which is part of the problem for getting a sense of the evolution or growth of Classical Music.  As long as we only selectively include organizations, we only get a sense of the evolution or growth of those organizations, which is essentially selection bias.

It’ll be interesting to see the overall picture of company/group formation throughout the history of the US.

Metropolitan Opera in 1905
Metropolitan Opera in 1905
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One thought on “All Opera Companies in the US

  1. First, disclosure: I am married to a cellist, who has played in opera companies.

    Second, thank you for doing this, great work!

    Third, I agree with you, we won’t know the overall trajectory until we know the closings as well as the opening (e.g. Cleveland Opera… now you can guess where I live!)

    Fourth, a more dismal point. Economics 101 tells us that as we increase supply of something, prices fall. Is it always a good thing that opera companies proliferate? If there were only one opera company in America (not something I advocate!) it would attract 100% of the state and private funding, and 100% of ticket revenue, and be able to pay its singers and musicians handsomely. If there were 100,000 opera companies in the USA (not something I advocate!), then many of them would have to give away tickets (actually, many do, now) in a desperate attempt to attract the limited number of opera-goers. And thus have insufficient funds to pay musicians and singers living wages. Obviously, we are somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, and I wonder if we are closer to the latter than the former. Ever since Cleveland Opera (and then Lyric Opera Cleveland) folded, several new companies have sprung up to fill the gap. And bravo to them… but as far as I can tell all of them offer wages much lower than what the prior companies offered.

    One could say that that was the fault of CO and LOC (that they paid too much, and so went broke), but that is actually just proving my dismal point… (and if you want to see something sad, look at http://www.lyricoperacleveland.org).

    Like

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