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Our Commitment

One of the founding principles of New York City Opera was its commitment to the nurturing and development of emerging artists, and to the production of new American works. During its history, NYCO launched the careers of dozens of major artists and presented engaging productions of both mainstream and unusual operas alongside commissions and regional premieres. The result was a uniquely American opera company of international stature.

Stars who launched their careers at New York City Opera include Beverly Sills, Catherine Malfitano, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Plácido Domingo, Tatiana Troyanos, Carol Vaness, and Shirley Verrett, among dozens of other great artists.

New York City Opera is also proud to have a long history of inclusion and diversity. NYCO was the first major opera company to feature Black singers in leading roles, the first to produce a new work by a Black composer, and the first to have a Black conductor lead its orchestra.

 

This effort continues today in casting, repertoire, and specific initiatives that seek to reflect the diversity of New York City. Since 2016, NYCO's Ópera en Español series has been dedicated to exploring the rich repertoire of Spanish-language operas; and since 2017, NYCO's Pride Initiative has celebrated the culture and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community each June during Pride Month. 

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New Works

New York City Opera’s dedication to creating new and timely works dates from its earliest years. To date, City Opera has produced 36 world premieres, including the 2019 new works: Ted Rosenthal’s jazz opera Dear Erich and Iain Bell’s Stonewall. City Opera continues this mission in January of 2022 with the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. To view the full list of City Opera premiers click here.

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Diversity and Inclusion

New York City Opera has a long history of inclusion and diversity. It was the first major opera company to feature Black singers in leading roles (Todd Duncan as Tonio in Pagliacci, 1945; Camilla Williams in the title role of Madama Butterfly, 1946); the first to produce a new work by a Black composer (William Grant Still, Troubled Island, 1949); and the first to have a Black conductor lead its orchestra (Everett Lee, 1955). This effort continues today in casting, staffing, repertoire, and specific initiatives that seek to reflect the diversity of New York City.

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Ópera en Español

City Opera inaugurated Ópera en Español, a series dedicated to exploring the rich repertoire of Spanish-language operas, with the New York premiere of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas in June 2016. In subsequent seasons, the series included the New York Premiere of Jose “Pepe” Martinez’s Mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Astor Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires, and the American premiere of Antoni Literes’ 1715 Spanish Baroque opera, Los Elementos.

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Pride Initiative

In June of 2017, City Opera inaugurated its groundbreaking Pride Initiativewith the New York premiere of Péter Eötvös’s adaptation of Tony Kushner’s iconic play Angels in America. The multi-season series presents works celebrating the culture and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community each June during Pride Month and has included the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain, Laura Kaminsky’s As One, and the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Stonewall. New York City Opera is the only opera company in the world with an ongoing commitment to celebrate LGBTQ+ voices each Pride Month.

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