A Brief History of Opera New
Past, Present, and Future
Opera New York, Inc. was founded in 1982 by Judith Fredricks and Chester Ludgin at the request of their sponsor, The Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca. ONY was created to bring opera, concerts, and musical theatre to the communities, parks, boroughs, and schools of New York City. The productions were to be accessible in language and style to contemporary audiences, based on the format of the old and revered New York City Opera. The home for ONY was the theatre complex at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and the company consisted of 50 of NYC's most talented young artists, directors, and musicians.
After arts funding was reduced by the City of New York, Opera New York became an opera workshop, The Academy for the Performing Artist. Both Mr. Ludgin and Ms. Fredricks taught classes of all kinds, from acting and voice to dance and movement for singers. The Hudson River Park Conservancy of New York, under the guidance of The Hon. Angela Boone and Arne Abramowitz, became the next supporting organization, helping to develop concerts for the piers and parks of New York City. Thus, The Four Divas concerts were produced as well as many other cross-over concerts, many of which have toured Germany, Norway, Austria, Italy, and Sweden over the last 5 years.
Ten years ago Opera New York established The Writers Stage as another division of ONY, developing new operas and musical theatre pieces for off-Broadway theatres and opera stages. The most recent complete productions performed off-Broadway have been Rappaccini's Daughter, a music-drama based on the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne; Vincent, a musical based on the life and letters of Vincent Van Gogh, both works with book, music, and lyrics by Robert Mitchell; and Tales From the Manhattan Woods, a present-day adaptation of Die Fledermaus, with book and lyrics by Frederick Stroppel set to the original Strauss score. Tales From the Manhattan Woods ran off-Broadway from November 2003 to January 2004. All three productions were directed by ONY Artistic Director Judith Fredricks and received enthusiastic reviews. The Writers Stage under Opera New York is now seeking its next production in the cross-over genre.
Opera New York is currently dedicated to its most ambitious project to date, the first Chester Ludgin American Verdi Baritone Competition, which it plans to produce in the spring of 2005 and establish as an annual event in New York City. This competition was a longtime dream of ONY’s late Co-Founder and Artistic Advisor, the great American baritone Chester Ludgin. ONY calls upon the arts community of New York City to join in this endeavor as a celebration of Mr. Ludgin's life, artistry, and, above all, his great humanity.
[ The Chester Ludgin American Verdi Baritone Competition 2006]
[Events, Parties, and Snapshots, 2004-05]