New Works Exposed, Classical Works Reimagined
Skylark Opera Theatre (renamed in 2016) ambitiously relaunched its brand in 2016 after serving the community as a mainstay for large productions particularly featuring operetta and light opera. Looking forward, the company realized it needed to become relevant and viable to the present and open to the future. The result is a pared down, intimate, site-specific company that presents a hybrid format where opera and theatre (music and language) are equal.
1980 - Skylark Opera was founded as Opera in St. Paul by the late singer/voice teacher Virginia Hardin Olson and by President Emerita Irma Wachtler. Their Mission was to provide young Upper Midwest opera singers the opportunity to perform principal roles in a professional company.
1986 - The company changed its name to North Star Opera to reflect its audience and artist constituency, which was broader than the City of St. Paul. Initially, the company performed traditional grand opera as well as new or rarely performed works such as the Upper Midwest premiere of Kirke Mechem's Tartuffe.
1989 to 2016 - Former New York City Opera conductor and Minnesota native Steven Stucki served as music director and conductor for all performances. As Skylark Opera's Artistic Director, he expanded the repertoire to include musical theatre as well as opera and operetta.
2006 - The Board of Directors of North Star Opera changed the organization's name to Skylark Opera (“Skylark").
2016 - The Board of Directors of Skylark Opera Theatre name Robert Neu as Artistic Director.
2017 - Productions of The Tragedy of Carmen performed at Midpointe Events Center and Don Giovanni performed at The Woman's Club of Minneapolis were astounding successes. New audiences emerged, the media embraced the productions with multiple reviews, featured articles. A new Skylark was born.
2018 - Skylark continued its adventurous programming with the Minnesota premiere of As One by Laura Kaminsky, composer and Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, librettists. The story of finding one’s authentic self through the journey of transitioning from male to female drew great acclaim from audiences and critics alike. March’s raucous production of Cosi fan tutte had audiences roaring with laughter in a thoughtful, contemporary production.
Since 1991, Skylark Opera has performed more than 100 productions and has employed more than 500 actors, musicians, designers and production staff over the years. Major productions of opera, operetta and musical theater have ranged from the classic and familiar to those never-before-produced in Minnesota, among them: Romberg's The Student Prince, Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, Sondheim’s Putting it Together, Offenbach's The Grand Duchess of Gérolstein and La Belle Hélène, Herbert's Mlle. Modiste, Puccini’s La Rondine, Rorem's Our Town, Coward's Bitter Sweet, Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe, and Bernstein's On the Town.