Over coffee one morning in 1946, Mrs. E L. (Eloise) Snyder and Mrs. August (Betty) Spain, both former opera singers, and Mrs. Jeanne Axtell Walker decided it was time for Fort Worth to launch an opera company of its own.

With the help of hundreds of community volunteers, these ladies pulled off what many thought to be an impossible feat, bringing together all of the necessary elements for a first-class opera production in just seven months. The Fort Worth Civic Opera Association, as it was then called, opened with its first production, La Traviata, on November 25 of that year.

From these inspired beginnings, Fort Worth Opera has continued to provide countless memorable performances. Who could forget the 1962 production of Lucia? Not only did Placido Domingo star in his first major operatic role in America in this production, but Lily Pons also delivered her farewell operatic performance. And, two years later, Beverly Sills’ debut in Galatea left Fort Worth and the world clamoring for more.
In July of 2001, Fort Worth Opera hired a new general director, Darren K. Woods. Darren brought with him energy, enthusiasm, and a vast knowledge of the opera business. The 2002/03 season was Darren’s first at Fort Worth Opera. During that season, the company revamped it’s image with a new logo, new look, new strategic direction, new mission statement and a passion statement to capture the company’s enthusiasm for great opera in Fort Worth.

After 60 years of producing opera over the fall and winter, Fort Worth Opera announced in February of 2006, another change of even greater magnitude: it will condense its entire schedule to an annual spring festival – with all of its operas and concerts being presented over a four week period. The inaugural Fort Worth Opera Festival opened in May, 2007 and featured the company's first main-stage world premiere, Frau Margot, by composer Thomas Pasatieri.

In spite of the company’s progressive moves, it remains one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the entire nation, and the oldest continuously performing opera company in Texas. As of the end of the 2007 Season, the company has produced 219 main-stage operas.

Fort Worth Opera also boasts a highly successful opera education program. The Children’s Opera Tour brings the exciting and colorful world of opera to approximately 100,000 school children each year across the state of Texas. The tour provides the first experience with classical music and drama for many elementary and middle school students. Fort Worth Opera’s other educational and community outreach programs bring an operatic experience to people in every age, ethnic and social group.

Over 500 performers and production personnel are employed by Fort Worth Opera each year. This includes local performing arts groups, such as the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet and the Texas Boys Choir.

Approximately 85% of Fort Worth Opera’s annual budget is returned to Tarrant County each year.

Our Mission

To educate, entertain, and expand the horizons of current and future audiences and artists through variety and artistic integrity.

Our Passion

To become recognized internationally as an organization that preserves and expands the transcending Art of opera.

This biography was most recently edited by...
sbarnebey - 18 Dec 2009