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Chicago Opera Theater

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The Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is an American opera company based in Chicago, Illinois. COT has been a resident at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago's Millennium Park and is currently in residence at the newly renovated Studebaker Theater in the historic Fine Arts Building. In addition to productions of selected operas from the core opera repertoire, COT has had an emphasis on American composers and performers who sing in English.

Alan Stone founded the company as the Chicago Opera Studio in 1974.[1][2] Stone utilised Jones Commercial High School as the mainstage location for the company until 1976. Subsequently, the company held a residency at the Athenaeum Theatre on the north side of Chicago through 2004. The company also gave occasional performances at the Merle Reskin Theater of De Paul University and at Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois.[3]

Stone served as artistic director of COT until 1993.[4] General managers of COT have included Marc Scorsa (1984-1990),[5] Mark Tiarks, Jean Perkins, and Joseph De Rugeriis.[6]

Long-standing financial difficulties led to the buildup of a deficit at COT of $500K (USD) by the spring of 1993.[5][3] De Rugeriis and the COT board of directors chose to cease operations before the close of the company's 19th season.[6] Following this initial shutdown of the company, the plan was for COT to reorganise its board and staff, and raise funds for a revival of the organisation. A $300K USD challenge grant caused the timetable to be accelerated. The company resumed operations in 1994, following a further series of high-level donations.[3]

Brian Dickie became general director of COT in 1999, and held the post until August 2012.[7] In December 2011, COT named Andreas Mitisek as its next general director, effective in 2012.[8] In February 2017, COT announced that Mitisek would step down as artistic director at the expiration of his contract in September 2017. Douglas Clayton, formerly the executive director, assumed the role of General Director on September 1, 2017.[9] In June 2017, COT announced the appointment of Lidiya Yankovskaya as its next music director, with immediate effect.[10] Yankovskaya is the first female conductor to hold the music directorship of COT.


  1. ^ Marsh, Robert C., "The Fox Years", p. 167: "In April 1974 Alan Stone, who had learned from missteps with the offerings of this Pilot Knob company the previous year, was back on the operatic scene, this time in the five-hundred-seat auditorium of Jones Commercial High School (which remained his company's mainstage location through 1976) with a workshop group he called Chicago Opera Studio and a production of Così fan tutte that had excellent young singers and genuine charm. Six performances cost $8,000 to produce."
  2. ^ Marsh, Robert C., "Author's Preface": "It should be said that Chicago has always had a number of smaller opera groups, some ethnically oriented, some essentially opera workshops to give vocal students performance experience. The Chicago Opera Theater began in 1974 as an organization of this type but was transformed into an important professional production group."
  3. ^ a b c John von Rhein (1994-04-10). "Paused At The Crossroads". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  4. ^ John von Rhein (2008-07-11). "Alan Stone, 79, Founder, director of Chicago Opera Theater". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  5. ^ a b Lewis Lazare (1990-12-20). "COT Soap Opera: Was Marc Scorca's Exit Better Than His Perfromance?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  6. ^ a b Lewis Lazare (1993-05-06). "What's Wrong With Chicago Opera Theater?". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  7. ^ Lawrence A. Johnson (2011-01-12). "Brian Dickie to exit Chicago Opera Theater in 2012". Chicago Classical Review. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  8. ^ Deanna Isaacs (2011-12-07). "Andreas Mitisek will head both Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  9. ^ John von Rhein (2017-02-05). "Mitisek out, Clayton in at Chicago Opera Theater". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  10. ^ John von Rhein (2017-06-20). "Chicago Opera Theater names new music director". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-06-21.

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