Opera Guild, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale
Opera Guild, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, strives to be a driving force of cultural growth in Broward County, through the presentation of the most comprehensive art form in the world, opera. Our world-class operatic productions are all-inclusive artistic offerings that incorporate powerful voices, entrancing dance, captivating set design, and more. We strive to bring each element of this multi-faceted spectacle to life on stage, having a positive impact on Broward County.
We aspire to foster young, promising singers through our Studio Artist Studio, contributing to a future for the tradition of opera. Our educational programs focus on introducing young audiences to the wonders of opera through multiple approaches; from in-classroom activities to attendance at performances at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. By staying at the forefront of technology and social media, we work to create a deeper level of engagement with our current audiences while connecting with new ones.
About Opera Guild, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale:
In 1945, a group of opera and music lovers in Fort Lauderdale established The Opera Guild, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale (OGFL) with the purpose of providing funds to bring fully staged opera productions to Fort Lauderdale following their performances in Miami. The Opera Guild of Greater Miami was founded in 1941, and was bringing many of the Metropolitan Opera’s leading artists to perform in their productions.
For fifty years, The Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale presented performances of the Opera Guild of Greater Miami (later Greater Miami Opera) each year in the War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park. During these years, OGFL, was able to develop an enthusiastic audience for grand opera, and a loyal group of donors and ticket buyers. Among the artists to appear in Fort Lauderdale during these years were Luciano Pavarotti, Richard Tucker, Renata Scotto, Virginia Zeani, and Franco Corelli.
This mutually beneficial partnership persisted over the decades as OGFL and the Greater Miami Opera (GMO) worked to support of the founding of the Florida State Arts Council, the Broward County Cultural Division, and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, OGFL annually hosted a variety of educational programs and events throughout the community, along with social fund raising galas managed by The Opera Society, its affiliate organization.
The Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale’s board members and The Opera Society board members were instrumental in raising funds to build the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Theodore Friedt, Carl Mayhue and many other members of these two groups took leadership positions in the drive to build the BCPA. Because of the large stake that the supporters of the Opera had in the building of the BCPA, the Opera was always given larger grants. In 1992, Josephine S. Leiser made a large gift to build the Josephine S. Leiser Opera Center near the BCPA and many after-opera parties, songfests and educational events were held here.
Shortly after the opening of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in 1991, it became clear that production costs made it unfeasible for OGFL to independently produce opera and that the best solution was to continue bringing GMO productions to Fort Lauderdale and to merge the two organizations, creating a third umbrella company, Florida Grand Opera.
This was accomplished in 1994. Board meetings alternate between Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, and Florida Grand Opera productions became a mainstay of the Broward Center’s annual classical music programming. Board members come from both Broward and Dade. Galas alternate between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Because opera is an expensive art form, it makes sense to have a larger donor base for support. The costs of moving a production from Miami to Fort Lauderdale are great but less than the cost of originating a production from scratch.
In the mid-2000s, opera companies across the country experienced unprecedented audience expansion as attendance and ticket sales increased. During the 2005-2006 season, more than 31,000 tickets were sold for opera performances at the Broward Center. Serial nationwide economic reversals began to stall growth, and the great recession of 2008 brought serious financial reversals to performing arts organizations across the country. Many opera companies, such as Baltimore, closed their doors forever.
Despite these financial setbacks, The Opera Society in conjunction with OGFL and FGO, continues to sponsor their In- School Opera project. This program brings an age-appropriate 30- minute production to middle schools in Broward. At the high school level, a member of the FGO Education Department visits the school to prepare the students for a live and/or dress rehearsal performance. Children are also prepared for a theatre experience prior being bussed to an opera dress rehearsal.
OGFL has continuously had an office in Fort Lauderdale since its inception in 1945. FGO and its component parts; Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale and Greater Miami Opera, continue to take pride in being one of one two companies in the United States to perform in two major metropolitan cities. It’s accounting systems and audits are designed to treat the three entities separately and combined, yet not consolidated.
Opera combines all the performance disciplines: orchestra, chorus, principal artists, stage, scenery, costumes, make-up, dance, choreography, stage direction, lighting, etc. Thus, it is costlier to produce than other art forms. Our community attracts a sophisticated and cultured populace. The people who live here and move here expect a high quality of opera, so we rely a great deal upon county support to produce high quality opera for the community.
For more information on Opera Guild, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, visit us at www.FGO.org.