Opera Theatre’s 39th Season Breaks Records, Growing New Audiences, International Recognition, and Community Access

Increases in “Young Friends” audiences, subscription sales, and international attendance mark significant growth for St. Louis company

St. Louis, MO, June 30, 2014 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis wrapped up its acclaimed 39th season on Sunday, June 29 with significant growth in subscriptions, overall attendance, and reach in the St. Louis community and beyond. The Wells Fargo Advisors 2014 Festival Season generated $1.8 million in total box office revenue, an increase of 5.8% over the previous year. Subscription revenue and attendance increased by 8.4%, the second year of growth since 2012, bucking national sales trends for performing arts subscriptions. Major national and international media coverage helped draw audiences to St. Louis for the opera season from 43 states, 14 countries, and 5 continents, from as far away as Australia and Sierra Leone. Once again, audiences also came from every zip code in the St. Louis metropolitan region.

Season events began weeks before the first mainstage performance, thanks to the company’s first surprise outdoor concert, Spring Sing! in Kiener Plaza. During the season, Opera Theatre’s total audience grew to 30,148 attendees across main season performances, free lunchtime concerts, and a range of community engagement events, hosted in partnership with the Contemporary Art Museum, The Missouri History Museum, St. Louis ArtWorks, Craft Alliance, the Kranzberg Arts Center, Arts & Faith St. Louis, The Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Louis, and Kingdom House, among others. Main season performances attracted 24,468 of these attendees, among the company’s highest main season attendance figures in a decade. In addition, the company reached more than 9,000 K-12 students through special performances, and in-school arts-in-education programs.

Box office results met or exceeded many Opera Theatre records. Highlights include the following:

Opera Theatre’s profile in St. Louis and across the country grew in 2014 as well:

The success of Opera Theatre’s Wells Fargo Advisors 2014 Festival Season maintains Opera Theatre’s tradition of fiscal strength and stability, reflected in part by the growth and stewardship of the OTSL endowment, which has grown to exceed $27 million, representing an increase of more than 60% since the start of general director Timothy O’Leary’s tenure in 2008.

“Opera Theatre’s success in 2014 resulted from an amazing team effort,” said general director Timothy O’Leary. “The Opera Theatre family is what makes a season like this possible – the leadership of our music director Stephen Lord and artistic director James Robinson, our tremendous artists onstage and behind the scenes, the great players of the St. Louis Symphony, our deeply committed board and donors, our outstanding staff, our gung-ho volunteers, and our passionate audience. I am so grateful to them all and look forward to another great season in 2015 – Opera Theatre’s 40th.”

Opera Theatre’s 2015 season opens on May 23, 2015 with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and continues with the much-anticipated return of soprano Corinne Winters in Puccini’s La rondine. In 2015, Opera Theatre will also produce its 24th American premiere, Handel’s Richard the Lionheart. The season concludes with the first new major production of Tobias Picker’s acclaimed Emmeline in nearly twenty years. In honor of the company’s 40thanniversary, OTSL will also offer a first-ever concert showcasing the company’s talented Gerdine Young Artists on stage with the members of the St. Louis Symphony. Subscriptions are currently on sale and available by calling the Opera Theatre box office at (314) 961-0644.

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, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2014, Opera Theatre has presented 24 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be one of the highest percentages 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,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit. 

Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation.  Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, Lawrence Brownlee, Jamie Barton, Corinne Winters, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Christine Goerke.  Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008, with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.  For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.

Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2014 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.

Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts and Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.