History in the Rock.
Where can people experience opera in Arkansas?
What professional performing opportunities are there for opera singers and performers to practice and perfect the art form?
These questions sparked the beginnings of Opera in the Rock. We received our determination of tax-exempt status in June 2013 and have been a major organizer of artistic collaboration in central Arkansas ever since. Today, we continue this tradition of partnership with other arts organizations to blend art forms and perform together in order to enrich the cultural landscape of our home state. Our first performances in 2014 were held in partnership with the Argenta Community Theatre; our first full-length opera, The Magic Flute, followed in January 2015 in partnership with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and the Arkansas Festival Ballet.
Every season has highlighted our commitment to collaboration, featuring continued partnerships with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Ballet Arkansas, Argenta Community Theatre, the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, the Clinton Foundation and William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, and others. We have also partnered frequently through the years with school districts and libraries in central Arkansas, including the Central Arkansas Library System and the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library. In addition to full-length operas, we have annually presented short works, including our 2020 production of Gift of the Magi, presented free to the community through our partnership with Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church.
In 2017, we began exploring what diversity, equity, and inclusion in the arts means in a genre steeped in tradition that often translates to exclusion.
That year, we staged the first production of African American Arkansan William Grant Still’s Troubled Island here in the composer’s home state. That performance featured an all-African American cast and an engaging community education program that celebrated voices of color in opera and drew our community into the conversation. We continue our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that seek justice in representation on the opera stage.
We have continued a tradition of excellence by fully staging opera performances in every season since our first, and we have been recognized as Arkansas’s only Professional Company Member of OPERA America, providing paid performance opportunities to support artists and the artistic infrastructure of our community. Through a history of powerful collaborations and a commitment to artistic merit in the performance of opera works, we look to a bright future for opera and the arts in central Arkansas.