Opera in New Orleans has been a tradition dating back to the late 18th century, with the great French Opera House (located in the French Quarter) as its center from 1859 until it was destroyed by fire in 1919. After that fire, the city only received occasional visits from other opera companies on tour. It wasn’t until 1943 that a group of opera lovers, led by Walter Loubat, drew up the charter founding the New Orleans Opera Association, in order to have opera in the city on a regular basis. The inaugural summer season included open-air performances—“Opera Under the Stars”—in City Park Stadium. For fall, productions moved to the Municipal Auditorium, the association’s home until 1973, when it moved to the Theatre of Performing Arts.
Though its 2005/2006 season was canceled due to Hurricane Katrina, the association has rebounded, and today has a full schedule of productions planned this year. Kicking off the 2007-2008 season is “Faust,” Oct. 19-21, with four more productions following: “Il Trittico,” a New Year’s Eve party, “Rigoletto” and “West Side Story.”
The audience at the first opera production of the New Orleans Opera Association. It was held in City Park in 1943.