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Seattle Opera.

About the Opera Center

History

Facts

Photos

Events


The Opera Center is our newest endeavor to provide state-of-the-art Education, Artistic, and Civic spaces to the residents and visitors of Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest Area. Through integrated operations, new partnership opportunities, increased community-wide programs, and a broad economic impact for the region, we can do more than ever before to unlock opera for all.

While we will continue to present performances and programs in the adjacent Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, our administrative and production spaces have been in a building at the end of its useful life. With careful consideration in 2015, Seattle Opera’s Board of Directors moved forward with an incredible plan to build a new purpose-built facility which will revitalize the northeast corner of the Seattle Center Campus. Our new civic home will be a community resource where Seattle Opera will:

  • Serve thousands more with a dedicated space for dynamic Education and Community Engagement programs to meet the growing needs of our broad community
  • Create an environment for world-class artistry in a new, purpose-built facility
  • Establish a welcoming and accessible community resource on the Seattle Center campus

More than 1,000 donors have joined Seattle Opera to support this $60 million capital project and we have less than $850,000. Please join us and make your donation today. We can't wait to join forces with you and the rest of our community to ensure a bright future for opera in our community. Please join our Grand Opening Celebration on December 15, 2018. Learn More

History

1928

Mayor Bertha Knight Landes dedicates Seattle’s Civic Center, including an enormous Civic Auditorium, at 3rd and Mercer, and the Ice Arena, at 4th and Mercer.

1962

Seattle Center developed for the World's Fair. Civic Auditorium renovated and reopened as the Seattle Opera House. The ice arena becomes a large multi-purpose venue named Seattle Center Arena (and later Mercer Arena). Above them both towers the city’s new, iconic Space Needle.

1963

Seattle Opera incoporated and the first performances are of Puccini's Tosca. Glynn Ross, the first General Director, leads company operations housed in Seattle Center Armory, down the hall from the administrative headquarters of the Seattle Symphony. Rehearsals are run out of various locations in the city, but in the early decades out of a Fremont warehouse.

1966

Henry Holt appointed Music Director. A talented and tireless educator, Holt builds Seattle Opera’s National Artists Program into a launching pad for many careers. Meanwhile, massive education programs begin touring operas around the state, filling the opera house with school children for special performances, and sending educators into classrooms.

1973

Noye’s Fludde, an opera by Benjamin Britten, performed at Seattle Opera House by a cast including some 350 school children.

1975

Seattle Opera rehearses its first-ever Ring cycle at a former airplane hangar at Sand Point.

1983

Speight Jenkins appointed company’s second General Director. He will produce 30 seasons of opera in Seattle.

1993

Seattle Opera leases former carpet factory building in South Lake Union as headquarters for operations including administration, storage, and rehearsal. The first opera rehearsed here was Don Carlos.

2000

Company renovates parts of South Lake Union facility with addition of another rehearsal studio, bathrooms, coaching rooms, and a music library.

2001

Costume Shop finally leaves Seattle Center Armory and joins the other operations at the Fred Rodgers Building in South Lake Union.

2002

Mercer Arena used by Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet as temporary performance space while the Opera House is renovated.

2003

After 18 months of renovations, Opera House reopens in August with Wagner’s Parsifal as Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

2007

Seattle Opera signs agreement with City of Seattle to redevelop Mercer Arena site for company’s future civic home, the Opera Center, adjacent to McCaw Hall.

2014

Aidan Lang appointed as company’s third General Director. Over the next five years, he will lead the campaign to build the Opera Center.

2016

The chamber opera As One opens to critical acclaim at Seattle's Washington Hall. Future chamber operas will be presented in the Opera Center.

2017

Mercer Arena torn down and construction begins on the Opera Center.

2018

Company opens the 105,000 sq ft Opera Center, including 20,000 sq ft of dedicated space for community programming and education, a first in the company history.

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Grand Opening

Saturday, December 15 at 2:00 PM
Opera Center | 363 Mercer Street

Join us for the Grand Opening of the Opera Center, our civic home next to McCaw Hall. Come explore this beautiful new space which will transform how our community connects with opera.

Learn More