Opera Orchestra of New York

The Opera Orchestra of New York (also known as OONY) specializes in the performance of opera in concert form. It is particularly known for its work in presenting rarely performed repertory. Among the numerous American premieres it has presented are Puccini’s Edgar, Boito’s Nerone, and Smetana’s Libuše.

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Carnegie Hall, OONY’s performance venue

Founded in 1971[1] by Eve Queler, who remains its conductor and music director, the orchestra presented its first season in 1972 with two operas – Rossini’s William Tell and Meyerbeer’s L’africaine – performed at New York‘s Carnegie Hall. Since then it has gone on to present more than ninety different operas there, with the season now consisting of three to four operas, which are also broadcast on National Public Radio. In the past, tickets came with a complete libretto of the opera being performed. However, the 2007/2008 season introduced surtitles for the first time.

Financial difficulties in early 2007 threatened to close the company or severely curtail its 2007/2008 season to one opera. However, these were overcome, and the 2007/2008 season of three operas opened as planned on 13 December 2007 with Verdi’s I due Foscari.[2] An additional Gala concert celebrating Eve Queler’s 100th performance conducting the orchestra at Carnegie Hall was presented in March 2008. In 2011, The New York Times reported that the orchestra had returned to financial stability:[3]

Many prominent opera singers have performed with the orchestra including Plácido Domingo, Nicolai Gedda, Montserrat Caballé, Carlo Bergonzi, Renata Scotto, Alfredo Kraus, José Carreras, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Bryan Hymel, Angela Meade, Samuel Ramey, James Morris, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Jonas Kaufmann, Mignon Dunn, Grace Bumbry and Ghena Dimitrova, many of them in the very early stages of their careers. (José Carreras made his OONY debut in 1972 on his twenty-fourth birthday.)

In 1978, the Opera Orchestra of New York instituted a Young Artists Program to train and showcase young singers. Participants sing small roles in the Carnegie Hall performances and understudy the principal ones. Notable past participants in the program include Renée Fleming, Vivica Genaux and Deborah Voigt.

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