Opera Birmingham, the only professional opera company in Northern and Central Alabama, has entertained audiences for over 55 years. From its humble beginnings in 1955 to its 50th anniversary in 2005 and beyond, Opera Birmingham has produced world-class operatic productions and concerts that have been hailed by critics and loved by audiences.
Opera Birmingham began in 1955 as the Birmingham Civic Opera. Under the leadership of Martha Dick McClung, director of Opera Theater at Birmingham-Southern College, the company’s first production was Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, followed by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly the following year. Since then, the Opera has produced over 50 different operas, and has brought hundreds of the best operatic performers from all over the world to Birmingham’s artistic doorstep.
After merging with Southern Regional Opera in 1986, the company became Birmingham Opera Theater for its 1987 season, and finally Opera Birmingham in 1996. The current General Director, Keith A. Wolfe, will lead the Opera into its sixth decade.
Who We Are
Keith A. Wolfe, General Director
Mr. Wolfe comes to Birmingham after fourteen seasons with Fort Worth Opera, first as Managing Director since 2001 then as Executive Director as of March 2014. He also served as the former Artistic Director of the Fort Worth Men’s Chorus, and was appointed as Interim Director of the Opera Studio at Texas Christian University. During his tenure at Fort Worth Opera, Mr. Wolfe developed a number of expanded training programs for area young artists, including the development of the Fort Worth Opera Studio and formulated “The Ten Commandments of Auditions” with General Director Darren K. Woods, which was featured in Classical Singer magazine. Recent programming included strategic planning for singers in master classes and seminars, and served as a panelist for Opera America, presenting both the strategic planning process as well as how technology can be used to streamline the artistic process.
Previously, Mr. Wolfe served for seven years as the General Manager of the Seagle Music Colony in upstate New York, the oldest young artist training program in the United States, where he returned to conduct Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata, and workshops of Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls and Joe Illick’s Bliss. Mr. Wolfe holds both bachelors and masters degrees in education and opera. Prior to moving into arts administration, he performed with the Virginia Opera, the Washington Opera, the Virginia Symphony, the Shreveport Symphony, and the Virginia Pro Musica. Among his roles, favorites include Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, and Nanki-poo in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. Mr. Wolfe was identified as the result of a national search conducted by Margaret Genovese of Genovese Vanderhoof and Associates of Toronto, the continent’s leading search firm in the field of opera.
The Opera Birmingham Chorus
The Opera Birmingham Chorus, led by Chorusmaster Daniel Seigel, is an essential part of the success of Opera Birmingham. Chorus rehearsals traditionally take place on alternating weekends—Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings—beginning in the fall. For three weeks in advance of a production, rehearsals increase—taking place every Tuesday and Thursday evening, as well as Saturday and Sunday.
In addition to performing in Opera Birmingham’s fully-staged operas, the Opera Chorus also participates annually in the holiday concert, and has produced its own fundraiser, the Chorus Cabaret, which takes place in the fall.
Choral groups and college choirs are often invited to participate in Opera Birmingham productions.
Auditions are held year-round. Singers interested in auditioning for the Opera Birmingham Chorus should email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.