A Year Like No Other

2021 was certainly a difficult time in New Orleans…the continuation of COVID restrictions, the cancellation of Mardi Gras festivities, and Hurricane Ida were only a few of the obstacles that life threw at us.  But we still have plenty to celebrate.

Here are our 21 favorite events of the past year:

In Chronological Order…


On January 15, New Orleans Opera debuted its first-ever internet-streamed performance:  The Guild Home Concert, starring Bryan Hymel, Irini Kyriakidou, Michael Borowitz, the LPO, and Maestro Robert Lyall.  The concert also featured a look inside the historic Guild Home in the Garden District. 


February saw the release of A Night at the Opera through the LPO’s Orpheum Sessions streaming online.


New Orleans native Emily Treigle was one of five Grand Finalist winners at the Metropolitan Opera’s 2021 edition of its annual competition.  Emily is currently living in Texas as part of Houston Grand Opera’s young artist program, but you can see her onstage in New Orleans in February as part of NOOA’s Gala concert.  (Tickets here)


NOOA’s third foray into streaming was a presentation of Menotti’s The Medium, starring Victoria Livengood and Sarah Jane McMahon, recorded at the H. Lloyd Hawkins Scenic Studio by Esplanade Studios.  Take a look at the images from this movie here.


April saw our return to the Broadside (the outdoor movie venue of the Broad Theater) for a viewing of Verdi’s La Traviata in the Zefferelli film featuring Placido Domingo and Teresa Stratas. The evening also included a live, pre-performance concert of Verdi favorites as a curtain-raiser to the film. Read more about it here.


Opera on Tap was held outdoors for the majority of 2021, with concerts in the yard of the Guild Home. Audiences enjoyed beautiful spring and fall evenings on the lawn while listening to talented local singers perform operatic arias as well as operetta and musical-theater selections.


We finally returned to live performance in May, with an abridged performance of Porgy and Bess, outdoors in Audubon Park. Read more about it here.


The Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera held their annual Mad Hatter’s luncheon and fashion show in the spring of 2021, after a one-year hiatus, which included a festive luncheon and fashion show at the Metairie Country Club. 


The summer saw the release of The Lacrimosa Project (“Lacrimosa” is Latin for “weeping,” or “tearful”). Opera singers throughout the city joined their voices together for the Lacrimosa movement from Mozart’s Requiem, accompanied by the LPO under the baton of Maestro Robert Lyall. The performance, recorded at the Esplanade Studios, served as the soundtrack for Crista Rock’s filmed tribute to New Orleanians lost to COVID-19. Read more about this project and watch the video here.


New Orleans Opera is profoundly grateful for funding to keep us afloat during this pandemic. Both the Paycheck Protection Program and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant were instrumental in allowing us to keep our staff employed and stay present in the community, providing both operatic performances and educational opportunities to New Orleanians.


At the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors in June of 2021, NOOA welcomed four new Directors:  Ron Austin, Edgar “Dooky” Chase, Tim Fields, and Elizabeth Landis.


The Sylvain Society held their annual Big Wig Ball at the ARTMazing Gallery in July, raising funds to support NOOA’s education programs. 


Also in July, New Orleans Opera welcomed Dr. Tara A. Melvin as the new Director of Community Partnerships and Education.  A native of New Orleans, Dr. Melvin is an accomplished operatic soprano in addition to being an educator and community builder. 


August brought Hurricane Ida and, while that was definitely NOT a highlight of 2021, it reminded us of the power music can have to lift the spirit of a community. New Orleans Opera singers appeared as pop-up performers at community-based events where mutual aid was being shared with those in need.


September 27th marked a historic night for opera in the United States:  The Metropolitan Opera opened their season by performing an opera by a Black composer for the first time in its history:  Fire Shut Up in My Bones, by New Orleans native Terence Blanchard, and based on a book by Louisiana native Charles Blow.  Later in the fall, the Edgar “Dooky” Jr. and Leah Chase Family Foundation sponsored 100 students to see this opera live in HD. 


Opéra Nouvelle returned to Deutches Haus in October for Kulturabend:  Beer, Bratwurst, Pretzels, and Opera! 


A highlight of the year was New Orleans Opera’s Tribute to Robert Lyall in November, a gala evening to celebrate the legacy of excellence in his 23-years with the Association.  Hundreds gathered to congratulate him on his many accomplishments over his storied career, and the evening culminated with a performance by world-renowned opera star Jamie Barton.


November also saw the Opera’s return to the Mahalia Jackson Theater!  In collaboration with the LPO, NOOA presented Act One of Wagner’s Die Walküre to great acclaim; The New Orleans Die Walküre was much more than just an emotional ‘welcome back’ after nearly eighteen months: it also set the bar very high as an example as to what both the Opera Association and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra can accomplish in partnership.” — George Dansker for Opera News


We are so grateful to our many supporters, without whom we could not continue to produce opera in this city!  November launched our monthly giving program, and we look forward to celebrating our Founding Opera Sustainers at a party this spring! It’s not too late, click here to join. 


Although our education programs can’t return to the classrooms yet, we’re continuing to create new ways to provide artistic experiences for our youngest audiences, and The Storybook Project is our newest way to do so. Read more here


Drs. Ranney and Emel Songu Mize recently committed to creating The Ranney and Emel Songu Mize Chamber Opera Series, which will support the production of operas at alternate venues in the greater New Orleans area. Ranney Mize will, separately, be recognized as a recipient of the OPERA America National Trustee Awards for 2022. The prestigious honor notes Dr. Mize’s many years of service to New Orleans Opera as well as his involvement with all the classical arts in New Orleans. 

Your support is what has made all this possible. 

Please consider making a gift of $21 or more so that we can continue providing performances and education to the community of New Orleans into the future.  Click here to donate.

Thank you so much for being part of our New Orleans Opera family!