Amarillo Opera was founded in April 1988 by Mila Gibson, who was Opera Workshop and Vocal Professor at Amarillo College from 1982-2000. The first production was Puccini’s Madama Butterfly which was produced, directed, costumed, publicized, and the title role performed by Gibson. The production was a huge success and the Founding Board of Directors was established with Dr. Merrill and Catherine Winsett, H.R. And Thelma Fulton and Gibson as the Founding Directors.
BRAVO!, the AO membership support group, was established one year later with 75 members. The Founding BRAVO! President was Dr. Bill Byrd. A strong working relationship with Amarillo College enabled the fledgling company to grow artistically, financially, and administratively. The community college continues to provide administrative facilities, rehearsal and performing spaces, support personnel, an artist-in-residence, two accompanists, and a line item budget in excess of $25,000 to assist with production expenses.
In 1995 Amarillo Opera was accepted as a professional member of Opera America. That same year the main stage performances were moved from the 240 seat AC Concert Hall Theater to the 2300 seat Civic Center Auditorium. Spring 2006, the Opera will become one of the 3 resident companies for the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.
Amarillo Opera has received the Success Award from Opera America for its internationally acclaimed Education/Outreach programs. It also has been recognized by the State of Texas Senate and House, Texas Commission on the Arts, Texas Parent Teacher Associations, Texas Regulatory and Protective System, the NAACP, the Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, and several other statewide organizations. Opera America selected Amarillo Opera to be one of the first companies to receive the Opera Fund grant in 2004.
Over ten original works by Composer-in-Residence Gene Murray have been performed throughout the Texas Panhandle, West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Murray's THE WAGE OF SIN was produced as a co-production with Amarillo Opera and KACV-TV as a special television opera in 2005. Murray's LEGEND OF COLUMBUS was performed in the Palo Duro Canyon Amphitheater.
The Opera has served from 109,000 to 200,000 people annually through their outreach programs and educational services.
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2223 S Van Buren St // Amarillo, Texas // 79109