Virginia Opera might be the nation’s hardest-working regional company. It stages four operas annually, with four performances of each one in Norfolk (its headquarters) plus two more in both Fairfax and Richmond—making it the country’s only company to have regular venues in three different cities. And there may be more. Virginia Opera performed Porgy and Bess in Newport News, its first production in the Virginia Peninsula, in 2010. This broad reach is one reason why the company was named The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1994.
Perhaps befitting that status—and a budget of more than $5 million—the company maintains what it claims is the country’s largest education program, serving more than 150,000 Virginians annually. The majority of the programs—such as touring operas, study guides and Family Day at the Opera—are geared toward young people. Operation Opera—unique to Virginia Opera—provides custom-tailored adult-oriented free live presentations and partners with two radio stations to expand its reach even further.
In 2010, artistic director Peter Mark, with the company for more than 35 years, left in a dispute. The impact of his departure on the company’s productions will be seen in the next few years.
Virginia Opera Information
- Other Venues: Carpenter Theatre (600 E. Grace Street, Richmond); George Mason University (Center for the Arts, Fairfax).
- Public Transportation: Fair
- Handicapped Accessibility: Yes
- Performance/Programs: Performance schedule is Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- Admission: Single tickets are $25-$114.
- Group Discounts: Discounts available for groups of 10 or more.
- Subscription/Memberships: Several subscription series available, starting as low as $43. Subscriber benefits include discounts on additional tickets, lost ticket replacement, ticket exchanges, and special invitations to Virginia Opera events. Opera Guild memberships are $50 per year. Member benefits include 10% Opera Gift Shop discount, exclusive backstage tours and educational programs, and Guild Night dress rehearsal tickets.