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our History
How We Came To Be

In an effort to increase the sustainability of opera, in late 2017, the Modell-Lyric determined to no longer produce or schedule opera performances, and to spin-off all matters concerning opera to a separate entity, fully independent from the Lyric.


That entity became Maryland Opera, Inc., with all of its resources and energies devoted to the production of opera and opera-related education and outreach programs. Maryland Opera, Inc. is a non-stock corporation, exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

our background

Our operatic legacy has an illustrious past spanning more than two centuries. Legendary opera artists have performed in Baltimore—Enrico Caruso, Lilly Pons, Birgit Nilsson, Renata Scotto, Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, Renée Fleming and arguably the greatest soprano of the past 100 years, Rosa Ponselle.


Discovered by Enrico Caruso, Ponselle made her operatic debut in 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera House alongside the world's most famous tenor—Caruso himself. She enjoyed a celebrated career in notable roles such as Bellini’s Norma, and she continued her lifelong support of opera in Maryland as the Baltimore Civic Opera Company’s first artistic director. Rosa Ponselle lifted opera in Baltimore to the highest level of quality, audience passion, and appreciation of the art form. She spent her post-retirement years in her beloved Baltimore County home, Villa Pace, and was devoted to teaching her craft until her death in 1981.


That storied recognition of Baltimore's rightful place in the world of opera continued uninterrupted until 2009, when spiraling production and institutional costs, coupled with disastrous nationwide economic conditions, caused the Baltimore Opera Company to disband. Its successor, Lyric Opera Baltimore, committed years of effort and dwindling financial resources trying to keep opera alive in Baltimore. At the end of 2017, those efforts could not be sustained, and opera performances voluntarily ended.


In an effort to increase the sustainability of opera, Maryland Opera, Inc. was formed after the Modell-Lyric decided to no longer produce or schedule opera performances.  Maryland Opera, Inc. is a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, fully independent from the Lyric and with newly-appointed trustees and a highly-accomplished and renowned artistic director.


Building on this strong historical foundation, Maryland Opera is energized and motivated to bring the excitement and beauty of live opera—traditional programming as well as innovative and modern approaches—to diverse audiences, including historically underserved audiences throughout Maryland. By offering a wide spectrum of opera experiences in smaller venues and seeking out collaborative arrangements with area universities and local opera organizations, Maryland Opera is confident that the future of opera in Maryland looks bright and sustainable!

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