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Seattle Opera

Seattle Opera
Seattle Opera

© Bob Brown

If German composer and conductor Richard Wagner were alive today, he might swell with pride knowing that the Seattle Opera is America’s preeminent presenter of his operas. The composer would probably beam to hear that it also has the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the country.

Seattle Opera was founded in 1963 by Glynn Ross, who noted a distinct shortage of Wagner’s operas being performed in the United States. He remedied the situation in 1975 by bringing the full cycle of Ring des Nibelungen to Seattle, which was the first time the famous opera had been performed by an American company since it ran at the Metropolitan Opera in 1939. The next Seattle cycle will be performed in 2013.

The opera’s season runs from August to late May, with approximately six operas per season. Performances are held in Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, a space the opera has shared with the Pacific Northwest Ballet since the theater was built in 2003.

Though you don’t need to be fluent in Italian, German, or French to know when an overweight woman in a Viking hat is experiencing a moment of distress, Seattle Opera likes to ensure your comprehension of every scene by projecting English translations above the stage during each performance. Even the ones in English.

Seattle Opera is currently pushing to make the arts accessible for a younger demographic. Because of this, student tickets are available for Family Day matinees for a mere $15. The education department offers school programs that include backstage tours for middle school students, and short, kid-friendly adaptations of longer operas for children in grade school. The opera caters to adults as well, with pre-performance talks and free one-hour public previews preceding most new productions.

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