Victory Hall Opera is now in its 4th Season of bringing cutting-edge, thrilling opera to Charlottesville. Led by opera singers Miriam Gordon-Stewart (Artistic Director) and Brenda Patterson (Director of Music), and co-founded by Charlottesvillian opera director Maggie Bell, VHO presents a new model for what an opera company can be: not an institution, but a troupe: of 12 exceptional, high-caliber singers, advancing the art form together.
VHO presents contemporary productions of "chamber opera" and song in intimate, alternative venues, offering an up-close experience of the human instrument.
With groundbreaking cross-genre collaborations, every performance we give has to meet our three-fold test: it must be "disarming, exquisite, sincere".
And our name? "Victory Halls" were built all over the world after WWI as community theaters, and to encourage touring musicians to perform concerts in regional towns. Victory Hall Opera harkens back to this spirit and seeks to bring the best the opera world has to offer back home to Charlottesville, VA.
More questions? Check out our FAQs page!
And: the Story Behind the Story
We were having our careers in opera, "living the dream". And a dream it was: wearing the big costumes, singing with the big orchestras, feeling the rush. But we had noticed that things weren't going so well for the industry at large: audiences were dwindling, fees for singers being slashed. And too often we were asked to do old-fashioned productions in rented costumes that just didn't seem relevant to our time.
We sang in Germany, at the Sydney Opera House, in Paris, at The Met. These places tried to find their own solutions, hiring famous directors who wanted everyone to be naked on stage, or by building multi-million-dollar sets.
No one asked the singers. We would gather in Green Rooms, always debating, full of ideas, anger, passion. We wanted opera to be better. And we knew the only people to save it would be the ones who know it and love it best, the singers. Because without singers, there is no opera.
We believed in our art form, that we had dedicated our lives to. We had trained for decades for a reason: it is a calling. And we knew its power to inspire, to heal, to elevate, at its best.
Three of us met in Berlin one cold night and decided to do something about it. Let's start a different kind of opera company, we said. One led by singers, one that unleashes their knowledge and potential. One that speaks to our time, to all of our stories, in our diversity. One that can take risks because the budgets are kept small, while the quality of what's happening on stage stays high.
Let's stop blaming the dwindling audiences, we said, and challenge ourselves to do better—to make opera better. It starts with us. And you. The opera revolution starts right here in Charlottesville.