The Opera Atelier (TOA) originated in New York City out of the desire to provide a kinder way for recent graduates to move into the often disconcerting world of opera. Merging the requirements of the art and the business of opera, the founders put their experience at the service of artists who were beginning or redeploying their careers. The support provided included intensive opera role and audition preparation, emotional support, public relations, and artist management services. Opportunities to participate in TOA productions- including Tosca, Aida and L’elisir d’amore, besides numerous recitals and scenes programs- or procured elsewhere by its management services, gave artists the chance to use their newly honed skills. Thanks to TOA, dozens of artists renewed their career pursuits, as debuts and contracts were obtained for them in leading opera houses on both sides of the Atlantic, and as young artists entered quality young artists programs.
Since its incorporation in Florida in 2011, TOA has been presenting original productions of opera in South Florida, as well as innovative programs infusing this art form with dance, ballet, visual arts and fashion. In the process, TOA has collaborated with local organizations, as well as local, national and international artists. South Florida presentations have included Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Manuel Artime Theater, Miracle Theatre, Roca Theater, and Steinway Piano Gallery.
Besides producing quality performances for the community, the organization, in the spirit of a Renaissance atelier, provides a creative platform where artists at different stages of their careers collaborate, young artists hone their craft in a nurturing environment, and where audience and artists inspire each other.
Works produced have included Don Pasquale, La Boheme, Lucia di Lammermoor and Le Nozze di Figaro. The Great Opera Moments Series has proven a favorite format, through varied programs of anthological scenes from operas, designed to whet the appetite of the general audience and attracting new followers. Established performers, such as Met sopranos Sandra Lopez and April Evans, next to excellent local singers, have been featured, as well as choreographer Leyson Ponce, and laurate virtuoso violinist Erzhan Kulibaev. Salient collaborations have included Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, Steinway Piano Gallery, Barry University, Allegro Music, Amazonia Vocal Ensemble, and the Downtown Miami Charter School.
In alignment with its mission, The Opera Atelier has brought opera and music education to public and private schools, senior and community centers through residencies, concerts and workshops. TOA educational programs include the MOZ-Art Program, an intensive summer program for children 9-17 with instruction in the art of the musical, the opera and the zarzuela, as well as the new Close Encounters with Music: Creating through Sound, a program to teach music composition to elementary school children- both funded by the Miami Dade Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional residencies and afterschool programs have included a successful music initiation program at the Downtown Miami Charter School and an introduction to opera for children at SMDCAC, as well as community concerts for mental health organizations, such as Morning Star and 1st JPA Behavior Clinic Management Clinic. Outreach activities have extended to senior residences and nursing facilities, such as Independence Hall, Vista Alegre, and Brisas del Mar in Little Havana.
To make cultural programming more accessible to Little Havana residents, The Opera Atelier rededicated an additional space as an intimate contemporary performance hall/gallery on Eight Street for concerts, lectures, workshops and exhibits. As part of its series Culture for the Mind and the Heart, The Opera Atelier cultivates the art of the salon by presenting small format soirees, including historical reenactment of famous events in music history. Free performances for the community as well as performance workshops are scheduled regularly. The Opera Atelier makes available the Sala Santa Cecilia space to other nonprofits as free or low-cost rehearsal space. Organizations who use the space regularly include Florida Opera Prima and Voices of Miami.
The Opera Atelier is thankful for the support received from the Miami Dade Department of Cultural Affairs, the State of Florida, the City of Miami, the City of Coral Gables, the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Downtown Miami Development Authority, as well as private foundations and individual donors, whose contributions have enabled The Opera Atelier to continue its mission in performance and education.