John Anello, a young Milwaukee musician, took over the city’s just-founded Italian Opera Chorus in 1933. Anello quickly elevated the group—Wisconsin’s oldest performing arts organization and the nation’s sixth-oldest opera company—beyond its recreational roots to provide public performances. He soon changed the name to Florentine Opera Chorus to honor “the birthplace of opera as we know it.”
Its first fully staged production, La Traviata, was symbolic of its Italian roots and generally conservative approach. Under general director William Florescu, who came on board in 2004, Florentine began shedding its “opera in the box” label—a reference to companies that generally import everything from sets to singers—and staging its own productions. Thus the 2010-2011 season featured its first world premiere, Don Davis’s Rio de Sangre.
“We have to look backward and forward for a while,” Florescue noted. “This company produced operas by dead guys for 75 years, and now in two seasons in a row we’ll put on operas with the composers alive and present.”
Florentine currently maintains a three-opera season, as well as Florentine at the Lake, several free summer concerts on the Milwaukee shorefront. Its dynamic education department includes a number of in-school programs, touring shows, and adult events. It also offers a high school master class for gifted young singers.
Florentine Opera Company Information
- Public Transportation: Fair
- Handicapped Accessibility: Yes
- Performance/Programs: Performance schedule is Friday-Sunday.
- Admission: Single tickets are $28-$140. $15 Student Rush tickets available for both full-time students and teachers one hour before performance. Sign up with e-mail list to get special ticket offers.
- Group Discounts: Discounts available for groups of 10 or more.
- Subscription/Memberships: 3-opera subscriptions are $69-$378. Subscriber benefits include 10% discount on additional single tickets, ticket exchange privileges, and subscriber benefits card that allows you to get discounts to area restaurants and businesses including the following arts organizations: In Tandem Theater, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Next Act Theatre.