Pictorial History by Decade

1999-present

The Opera Goes Global 1999 – Stephanie Blythe debuts / 2001- partnership with Finland’s Savonlinna Opera Festival for Wagner’s Tannhäuser / 2003 - first opera in Czech (The Cunning Little Vixen)  / 2004 – Rizley Education Endowment Fund created / 2005 – first opera in Russian (Eugene Onegin) / 2006 – Spanish surtitles introduced (Carmen) and co-producing company of The Little Prince / 2008 – Sarah Coburn debuts

Tulsa Youth Opera is created in 1997 with a production of Hans Krása’s Brundibar.
Little Prince Graham Phillips and Pilot David Adam Moore in Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince

1989-1998

Approaching the Golden Years 1990 – Artistic Director Nicholas Muni’s contemporary staging of La Traviata creates a national stir / 1991 – Laven Sowell awarded the Governor’s Arts Award / 1994 – General Manager Myrna Ruffner secures a National Endowment for the Arts Challenge Grant for Tulsa Opera’s Endowment Fund / 1997 – Carol I. Crawford named General Director

Tulsa Youth Opera is created in 1997 with a production of Hans Krása’s Brundibar.
Tulsa Youth Opera is created in 1997 with a production of Hans Krása’s Brundibar.

1979-1988

Coming of Age 1979 – Third annual production added / 1980 – Simon Estes debuts / 1984 – surtitles (English translations) introduced / 1987 – The Wall Street Journal praises Tulsa Opera’s 1987 Don Carlo for “a cast that even La Scala would be envious of”

Luciano Pavarotti is greeted by Ed Purrington for the superstar tenor’s 1981 Endowment Fund benefit recital.
Luciano Pavarotti is greeted by Ed Purrington for the superstar tenor’s 1981 Endowment Fund benefit recital.

1969-1978

Opera on the Move 1975 – Edward C. Purrington named General Director and new Opera headquarters constructed / 1976 – Conductor Judith Somogi debuts / 1977 – Aida performed in the new PAC / 1978 – President’s Council founded

Beverly Sills in the 1978 I Puritani, her last performance in Tulsa before retiring entirely from the opera stage.
Beverly Sills in the 1978 I Puritani, her last performance in Tulsa before retiring entirely from the opera stage.

1959-1968

Early National Prominence 1959 – Il Trovatore features opera superstars Jussi Bjoerling, Leonard Warren, and Elinor Ross / 1960 – Anna Moffo debuts and 4,000 prism chandelier is covered in Life magazine / 1961 – First Opera Ball

Music Director Carlo Moresco, General Manager Jeanette Turner, Virginia Torres (founder of the Children’s Opera Workshops), and Chorus Master Laven Sowell celebrate an opening night performance.
Music Director Carlo Moresco, General Manager Jeanette Turner, Virginia Torres (founder of the Children’s Opera Workshops), and Chorus Master Laven Sowell celebrate an opening night performance.

1948-1958

The Beginnings Professional opera singers Ralph and Ione Sassano incorporate the Tulsa Opera Club in December, 1948 and produce Verdi’s La Traviata in downtown’s Central High School / The Guild of Tulsa Opera is formed in 1955

The original Tulsa Opera Headquarters building at 1610 South Boulder was purchased by Lady Maud Lorton Myers.