Anchorage Opera
Anchorage Opera is a professional opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 company located in Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 and is a member of OPERA America
Opera America
Opera America, officially OPERA America, is a service organization in North America promoting the creation, presentation, and enjoyment of opera...


About AO

Anchorage Opera (AO) is the largest producer of the performing arts in Alaska and one of America’s leading regional opera companies. As the center of opera in Alaska, AO provides the finest operatic experiences to residents and visitors, while also serving as a professional resource for American artists, administrators and technical staff, helping them to refine their talent and perfect their craft.

Enriching Alaskan Life

AO ranks among Alaska’s leading arts businesses, contributing significantly to the economy and quality of life in the state. Each season, AO produces operas and musical events in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts for audiences of over 12,500. AO’s educational outreach programming for culturally and economically diverse audiences reaches as many as 20,000 youth and adults annually in the Greater Anchorage Area, and in communities across the state including Fairbanks, Valdez, Dillingham, Kodiak and other outlying areas.

Grand Opera "Made in Alaska"

AO is a major seasonal employer in Alaska’s creative community, providing full- and part-time employment to hundreds of people each year. The company offers important training and work for the best local singers, musicians, artists and craftspeople. AO operates professional scenery and costume shops, and maintains an extensive inventory of lighting equipment, furniture, costumes and properties. All productions are rehearsed and mounted in Anchorage. Sets are built and costumes are made at our Opera Center. AO shows are truly “Made in Alaska.”

Legacy of Volunteerism
Founded in 1962 as an all-volunteer organization, today AO continues to reap enormous benefits by having of one of Alaska’s strongest and most dedicated arts volunteer support bases, with nearly 90 active participants. These generous volunteers assist with administrative duties, special events, fundraising, housing and production.

Core Commitments

Artistic Integrity and Diversity
AO is committed to presenting high quality local and national talent that celebrates the diverse range of artistic and musical offerings within the world of opera. It is also committed to showcasing the accomplishments and creativity of Alaska native composers and performers.

Opera Appreciation and Education
AO is dedicated to producing the finest musical events that advance the public's understanding and appreciation of opera through a variety of presentations. These include family friendly concerts, student dress rehearsals, pre-show lectures, community opera talks, and numerous educational awareness initiatives.

Community Collaboration
AO has been commended for its collaborative work with other arts and cultural organizations in Alaska including the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. AO also regularly partners with artists from Alaska Dance Theatre, Anchorage Concert Chorus, the Alaska Children’s Choir, and the Anchorage Festival of Music.

Economic Impact
AO is a non-profit organization and relies heavily on donations from public and private sources, and the goodwill of volunteers. The Board and staff of AO understand that it competes for these resources alongside many other worthy concerns. We are committed to making these investments of both time and money return tangible cultural and economic benefits directly to the Greater Anchorage Area and the people of Alaska.


Anchorage Opera was one of the first major performing arts institutions established by Americans in the Circumpolar North. The company was officially incorporated as Anchorage Civic Opera in 1962.

The company has it roots in the vision of opera singer Marita Farrell and philanthropist Evangeline Atwood. Farrell and Atwood worked together to produce grand opera in Anchorage. They secured financing, assembled performers and coordinated with the Anchorage Symphony for an orchestra. After Farrell left Alaska, other opera enthusiasts and performers helped to keep the venture alive.

In the early 1960s, the company put on a series of cameo presentations including Rigoletto and Faust, which were all performed on the stage of the old Sydney Lawrence auditorium (the current site of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts). Later within this time frame, the company, under the auspices of the Community College (now the University of Alaska, Anchorage), recruited Willard Straight to direct and help lead operations. Under Straight’s guidance, several full-length operas (including Cosi Fan Tutti, The Elixir of Love, and Carmen) were presented in Anchorage.

During the mid 1960s, the directors of AO recruited Elvera Voth (then director of the Anchorage Community Chorus) to take the helm. Voth inherited a company with a large coterie of singers, dancers, musicians and production personnel along with a very energetic Board of Directors.

Voth was a tireless advocate not only for AO, but for all the performing arts organizations in Anchorage. During Voth’s time with the company, several prominent Alaskans such as Jan Ingram (the company’s first full-time professional manager) and Gloria Allen (opera singer, producer and administrator who moved to Anchorage from New York City in the mid 70s) helped make the company successful.

In 1979, the company, still under Voth’s leadership, recruited Michael More, a 3rd generation Alaskan and trained operatic tenor with a burgeoning career, to help guide the company through its next phase of growth. By 1985, AO had become recognized as one of the nation’s leading regional opera companies and was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of the six most promising Opera Companies in the United States

Since 1985, AO has had a succession of committed leaders including Jim Wright (now serving as General Director of Vancouver Opera, BC.). During the summer of 2006, after a nationwide search, AO’s Board of Directors elected Torrie Allen as the new General Manager.

Today, AO stands as one of Alaska’s most vigorous arts institutions and ranks among America’s leading regional opera companies. Each year, the company serves thousands of adult and youth residents and visitors through multiple community and education partnerships, mainstage performances, and a content-rich website.

From free student dress rehearsals to active partnerships with a wide variety of Alaskan organizations and an ever-expanding list of patrons and supporters, all of Alaska reaps the benefits. And, as it was in the beginning, generous individuals and institutions from all parts of the community including the members of AO’s Board of Directors, a dedicated core of volunteers, the Anchorage Opera Guild, AO’s Advisory Council, and many others give of themselves and their resources to ensure that AO’s grand tradition of enriching Alaskan life continues undiminished.
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