The 12th-oldest company in the United States, Kentucky Opera began with a modest $10,000 budget in 1952. But there was nothing modest about the intentions of its founder, conductor Moritz von Bombard, who also served as stage director, set designer, marketing manager, and even trained the singers. By the end of the decade the company had mounted five world premieres. The repertoire also included numerous regional premieres.
Bombard’s pioneering spirit carries over into the company’s educational programs. The Opera Puppet Theatre is the only one of its kind in the United States. In the week-long program, youngsters make their own puppets and then present an opera for an audience.
Its VISIONS! program brings high schoolers together for two weeks to create a short opera in a free performance. Subjects have included Louisville notables Muhammad Ali and anthropologist Dian Fossey. KO was an early participant in Opera America’s Music! Words! Opera! program. Participants in the Rudd Young Artists Program conduct regional tours to bring opera to young audiences. Several adult programs seek to expand the audience base.
Currently Kentucky Opera offers a three-opera season, which takes place in the fall. Producing lesser-known works continues to be a company hallmark as operas such as Massenet’s Werther and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta share the stage with traditional crowdpleasers.
Kentucky Opera Information
- Public Transportation: Fair
- Handicapped Accessibility: Yes
- Performance/Programs: Kentucky Opera usually does two performances of each opera, the first on a Friday and the second on a Sunday.
- Admission: Single tickets are $30-$105.
- Subscription/Memberships: 3-opera subscriptions are $78-$253. Subscriber benefits include free ticket exchanges, 15% discount on additional single tickets for friends and family, fall season preview CD, invitations to opening night cast parties, 10% discount on OperaShop purchases, priority seating, and an overall 20% savings on regular ticket prices.