Small NYC Opera Companies Band Together in New Alliance

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A new organization designed to serve New York City’s small, grassroots opera companies launches this week.

The New York Opera Alliance wants to help independent companies and producers share marketing, fundraising, costumes and other production resources. Nineteen companies have signed up so far, from veteran groups like the Bronx Opera Company to newcomers such as On Site Opera.

The idea for the New York Opera Alliance began with Peter Szep, a conductor, and Gina Crusco, artistic director of Underworld Productions Opera Ensemble. They took it to Cori Ellison, who is on the faculty of the American Lyric Theater. Ellison said one of the group’s first steps was to create a website where the companies can share their schedules.

“There is such an embarrassment of riches in the New York opera scene," she said. "There are so many different companies doing so many very interesting, different kinds of things, but very often their schedules were colliding. It wasn’t possible to see all the things you wanted to see.”

Currently, small opera troupes end up cannibalizing each others' audiences, and don't always emphasize their own distinctive qualities to opera fans, Ellison added.

The New York Opera Alliance gets logistical support from Opera America, a national service organization. Members will pay annual dues. Future plans include an annual festival of small opera companies in New York.

Organizers of the alliance estimate there are around 70 organizations that present opera performances in New York, often in small theaters, living rooms, parks, bars and restaurants.

Updated 4/14/13