In 1956, Elvis Presley burst on the American music scene with “Heartbreak Hotel.” That same year Opera Memphis came into existence, albeit with considerably less fanfare than The King. It began modestly, combining locally-produced operas and touring shows from the Met. It began adding top-drawer international talent in the 1970s and now has its own “Queen.” That’s Memphis-based Kallen Esperian, one of the Three Sopranos and a regular in leading roles at the Met, La Scala and similar venues. She often appears with Opera Memphis.
The company took a big step forward in 2003 when Clark Opera Memphis Center opened. The venue brings adminstration, rehearsal hall, small performance stage and other functions under a single roof. Today Opera Memphis maintains a three-work season, with a fall/winter/spring schedule.
Two-week Summer Opera Conservatory programs offer students as young as eight the chance to produce an opera from the ground up with a variety of classes and vocal coaching (sometimes from Esperian). Other education efforts include Artist-in-Residence school tours and the ACT Songwriting Program, in which students compose and record an original song.
Opera Memphis Information
- Public Transportation: Fair (accessible by #50 bus)
- Performance/Programs: Approximately 3 major productions per season.
- Admission: Varies ($20-85) depending on event and seating choice.
- Subscription/Memberships: $45-282 (depending on seating choice) allowing admission to each season production.