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Opera Theatre Young Friends Program Sees Marked Growth During 2011 Season

young-friends-for-webOpera Theatre Young Friends Program Sees Marked Growth During 2011 Season

Final 2011 Young Friends Event is June 23 at The Death of Klinghoffer

St. Louis, MO – With two of three Young Friends Nights complete in the Wells Fargo Advisors 2011 Festival Season, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) can already report a 16% growth in attendance and a 27% growth in revenue for its Young Friends program during the 2011 season. These numbers will climb further after the final Young Friends night of the season, which is scheduled for June 23 in conjunction with John Adams’s contemporary masterpiece The Death of Klinghoffer.  Led by a Steering Committee that is chaired by Mary Ann Srenco, Opera Theatre’s 2011 Young Friends events are sponsored by Macy’s.

With the national median age of an opera attendee 48 years old, OTSL’s Young Friends program focuses on introducing younger patrons to opera in a setting that encourages networking, socializing, and community development. One strong source of growth for the program has been among recently transplanted young professionals. Young Friends Nights at Opera Theatre gives them immediate access to other culturally-minded peers as they acclimate to their new home, a valuable resource for employers seeking to court out-of-town talent to St. Louis.

“My wife, Ciara, and I have met many good friends through Young Friends. Our first Opera Theatre experience was at The Marriage of Figaro last year, and we’ve been hooked ever since,” says Sameer Samana, who recently relocated to Saint Louis from Richmond, Virginia for a new position with Wells Fargo Advisors. “Having the operas sung in English was a pleasant surprise and makes it really easy to become a part of what’s going on.  I would highly recommend attendees stick around for the after party since you get to meet and greet the performers - I can’t think of any experience elsewhere that comes even close.  Knowing that Wells Fargo Advisors is such a big supporter of Opera Theatre makes me proud to be a part of the firm.” Wells Fargo Advisors is the presenting sponsor for Opera Theatre’s 2011 festival season.

Other growth has stemmed from increased partnerships between Young Friends groups throughout the city. OTSL’s June 11 Young Friends event, in conjunction with Pelleas and Melisande, was co-hosted by the Young Friends of the Saint Louis Art Museum. This unique collaboration was Opera Theatre’s single highest attended Young Friends event at the opera. “We were thrilled to partner with OTSL. The Museum’s Young Friends group not only works to promote the Museum’s collection and exhibitions to our Members, but also to expose them to the amazing array of cultural activities throughout the community”said Jennifer Thomas, Membership Director at the Saint Louis Art Museum. OTSL and SLAM will collaborate on a second event November 3 at the museum, in conjunction with SLAM’s Monet’s Water Lilies exhibit.

“Opera speaks powerfully to all ages,” says Opera Theatre General Director Timothy O’Leary, who is 36. “It is thrilling to witness younger audiences discover how much they love opera when they attend a performance for the first time.  Opera Theatre is famous for a warm atmosphere, intimate performances, and innovative programming — I applaud our Young Friends Steering Committee for helping make sure that this season’s first time opera-goers become the next generation of St. Louis opera lovers.”

Opera Theatre’s final Young Friends night of the season is June 23rd at The Death of Klinghoffer, the powerful contemporary opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams. Tickets for this event are available for $45, a price which includes reserved seating at the opera and a pre-show dinner reception. Cocktail service begins at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., and the performance at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling (314) 963-4223. Patrons must be 45 or younger to purchase a Young Friends ticket.

 About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

 Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions featuring the finest American singers, sung in English, and accompanied by members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.  As of 2010, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 22 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as, “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 47 states and 10 foreign countries in 2010.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.