Founded by opera singer Marita Farrell and philanthropist Evangeline Atwood, Anchorage Opera began with the trailblazing work of this dynamic duo. The pair quickly secured financing, performers, and the Anchorage Symphony as their orchestra to produce a series of cameo performances, including Rigoletto and Faust. The company also recruited Willard Straight to direct and lead many full-length operas, including Carmen, Cosi fan tutti, and The Elixir of Love.
In the mid-1960s, Elvera Voth, a determined advocate for the performing arts in Anchorage, inherited the company. Under her direction, Anchorage Opera began to blossom. Several new faces joined the organization, including Jan Ingram, the company’s first full-time professional manager; Gloria Allen, an opera singer, producer, and administrator; and Michael More, a third generation Alaskan and trained operatic tenor with a limitless talent.
Since Voth’s direction, AO has had a succession of committed leaders, including Jim Wright, Torrie Allen, Reed Smith, and the current General Director, Ben Robinson.
Today, AO has expounded on the concept of an operatic experience, encouraging community outreach, volunteerism, artistic development, and educational growth. As a self-maintained organization, AO produces handcrafted sets, costumes, furniture, and lighting arrangements all within their establishment. Anchorage Opera is a company and an experience truly “made in Alaska.”