• Where do you perform?
We cut out overheads and offer an up-close experience of opera by not being based in an opera house or grand theater. Instead, we perform in different intimate venues around Charlottesville that fit the project. These have included: Old Metropolitan Hall; The Haven; Vinegar Hill Theatre; The Local Restaurant; The Alderman Library at UVA, and many more.
• Why are you in Charlottesville?
1. Because it's a great place to live and call home.
2. Because our co-founder, opera director Maggie Bell, is from here.
3. Because C'ville is a place "where tradition is always new".
4. Because great art shouldn't just happen in big cities.
5. Because MarieBette Café. : )
• What is "chamber opera"?
It's mini-opera! It's like the difference between an orchestra and a string quartet, or between a Hollywood Blockbuster film and an indie feature. Smaller budget, smaller-scale, same (or better!) quality.
• How is VHO different from other opera companies?
First of all, we are a troupe. Almost all other opera companies in America just hire freelance artists, slotted into productions - but we start with our core Ensemble of 12 singers, and build from there.
Secondly, we are energizing and reinventing the art form itself - challenging all assumptions about casting, rehearsal process, presentation, even Board structure.
Thirdly, we are interested in creating opera that is of a time and place, i.e., Charlottesville in 2019. This means interpreting characters and telling stories onstage through the lens of our lives here, collaborating with community members, and folding in local artists, businesses and organizations into our shows in any way we can.
• Why don't you sing "pop-up operas" on the streets of C'ville?
Well . . . we've thought about it. But: this would require microphones (to sound good outside), something we don't use in opera; we'd have to pay our singers the same as any other performance (we don't ask them to sing for free); it might get YouTube clicks, but would it change anyone's life?
• What does your name refer to?
"Victory Halls" were built all over the world after WWI as community theaters, and to encourage touring musicians to perform concerts in regional towns. Although C'ville doesn't have a Victory Hall (Scottsville does!), we like to harken back to that spirit: anywhere we perform becomes the Victory Hall.
• Aren't you an amateur opera company?
Quite the contrary - our singers, all of whom have international performing careers, have been invited from the entire opera industry because of their standout talent as great singing actors. You might see them at The Met in New York one week, and in C'ville the next!
• Are you a nonprofit?
• How do you make a living?
Opera singers get asked this all the time by well-intentioned people. The VHO co-founders make a living as opera singers, teachers, and producers. VHO pays its bills the same way all nonprofit performing arts orgs do: through ticket sales, donations and grants. We are proud that VHO has stayed on-budget in every one of its 3 seasons, while prioritizing fair pay for our singers. We currently pay fees that are up to 3 times higher than other regional companies, since we know what a sustainable living wage is for performing artists, and we respect and value the decades of training and the months of preparation that go into performing a role at this level.
• I don't think I like opera. Why should I come to one of your shows?
Because we don't like opera, either—opera that's boring or stilted or snobby. Opera is theater, told through the human instrument. At VHO, we aim to make opera that is great theater: relevant, exciting, and beautiful. Also, going to the opera is a great date night.