Mission & History
Opera Omaha, the only professional opera company in Nebraska, began in 1958 as the Omaha Civic Opera Society, a volunteer association. With tremendous community support, it became a fully professional opera company by 1970. From the beginning, Opera Omaha was instilled with a spirit of adventure. In the Civic Opera Society’s first season (1958-1959) along with its premiere production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the Joslyn Art Museum Concert Hall, additional performances followed: Puccini’s Tosca, held at Boys Town; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, at Ak-Sar-Ben; and Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel at Technical High School.
The original directors of the corporation were Francis P. Matthews, Henry E. Pusch, Homer C. Rogers, Lloyd E. Skinner (President), and Richard Valente.
Fred Simon was a cornerstone of Opera Omaha. He served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1978-1979 and for ten years as a Chairman of the Opera Omaha Foundation. His passion for opera was remarkable, as evidenced by a private database he maintained that documented opera performances that he attended. Included in this database are the operas that he heard, the company and city where they took place, as well as the conductors directors, and singers that performed.
The Omaha Civic Opera Society was founded to meet two needs in the community:
To provide quality opera entertainment through a community-wide organization
To provide an operatic showcase for the promising vocal talent in the region
Opera Omaha produces a season of original mainstage productions, presented at the historic Orpheum Theater, and smaller productions and musical events throughout the community. Opera Omaha is internationally known for its productions of eight world premieres and four American premieres of classical masterpieces and is highly regarded regionally for an extensive education and engagement program that annually reaches thousands from elementary school through adulthood.