Seattle Opera 


Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera is recognized internationally for the quality of its productions. In particular, the company is known as the pre-eminent presenter of Wagner's Ring cycle outside of Bayreuth, Germany. More than 800,000 people engage with Seattle Opera performances, community activities, and education programs each year. Community members are invited to explore and enjoy opera through a variety of entry points that excite opera novices and experts alike.

Mission Statement
Seattle Opera strives to produce musically extraordinary, theatrically compelling operas, employing uniformly high-quality casts, dramatically aware conductors, and innovative yet textually concerned directors and designers. By continuing our emphasis on the work of Richard Wagner and by achieving national and international recognition for the quality of all of our programming, Seattle Opera commits itself to advancing the cultural life of the Pacific Northwest through education and performance.
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Seattle Opera
1020 John Street 
(206) 389-7600 

Ms. Kelly Tweeddale 
Executive Director 


Seattle Opera Programs

Seattle Opera produces five mainstage operas each season at McCaw Hall. We are committed to innovation and providing audiences with at least one new production, co-production, or signature production each season. Seattle Opera attracts an international audience for its Ring Festival, mounted every four years. Patrons from all 50 states and 22 countries will attend our August 2013 Ring Festival, solidifying Seattle as a cultural destination and providing an economic boost to the region.

Seattle Opera’s Education and Community Engagement programs serve more than 750,000 individuals each year. Mobilizing opera as a powerful educational tool, our youth education programs inspire creative expression, extend and deepen learning in the arts and other subjects, and improve student outcomes for Pre-K through high school students. Opera Goes to School fosters learning in arts and science through our commissioned trilogy, Our Earth. Fully staged 40-minute in-school performances of Our Earth, followed by a Q&A with performers, bring live opera to students. Program impact is deepened with community performances of Our Earth. Community programs for adults and families satisfy operatic curiosity, foster lifelong learning, and facilitate meaningful exchange of ideas. Belonging(s) is another powerful community project that includes the commission of a new opera, as well as integrated engagement activities that build relationships through an exploration of history, cultural identity, and legacy. Our free Speakers Bureau talks take place in venues across Puget Sound and increase access regardless of income or ability to travel.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Recent successes include a dramatic increase in the number of individuals we served through education and community engagement programs in the past season. For example, student participation in our Opera Goes to School program increased to more than 13,150 in 2012/13 from just under 2,000 annually in past seasons. We also increased the number of Speakers Bureau talks compared to the previous year, increasing from 171 to 263 in 2012/13. With enhanced program formats, new community partners, and an increased focus on this area of our work, a much larger population enjoys and learns through our programs. Providing quality arts education is central to our mission and we are thrilled to serve more and more students and adults each year.

Challenges include maintaining high artistic quality and increasing community impact with limited resources. We are committed to providing individuals with diverse artistic experiences ranging from performances of beloved operas like La Bohème to lesser-known works like Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, both of which were presented in the 2012/13 season and received fantastic reception by patrons and critics alike. We have also been able to increase our community impact, as noted above, even with limited resources. We successfully funded our education programs through contributed income in the 2012/13 season and with continued dedicated support from our community, we will be able to connect with patrons in more ways and more deeply than ever before.


The Seattle Opera is committed to providing high-quality opera performances for diverse audiences in King County. In addition to its mainstage programming, the company’s youth and adult education programs reach thousands of people from around Washington each year through in-school residencies and presentations, lectures, radio previews and broadcasts, community events and pre- and post-performance talks.

Best Practices
The Opera is using innovative technology strategies to engage a younger audience, such as podcasts, blogging and an expanded web presence to reach both existing subscribers and new segments of the population. They retooled their entire communication strategy to take into account new opportunities presented through technology and social media. High school programs have really taken to the opportunity to blog about dress rehearsal performances and school programs.

The organization has gradually grown in size and complexity in the many years since its inception. The economic situation has forced the organization to step back and evaluate its plan for the coming years. They will be experimenting with a model used successfully by other opera companies around the country in consolidating performances, but will re-analyze this each year. It has a well-qualified board and staff and has been making appropriate changes and cuts to position themselves through the economic recession.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
Staff are constantly evaluating ways to make the opera more accessible to the community- to remove the mystique without losing the magic. They utilize their web presence to give behind the scenes looks to the public, as well as provide open houses at McCaw Hall. Their BRAVO! Affinity group gives operagoers 21-40 a chance to experience opera for a reduced price, as well as providing social activities
Additionally, their education and community programming takes opera into schools and the community, working to make opera real and relevant for a diverse group of individuals. Their education programs are an opportunity for the organization to help kids discover a love of opera, and grow their future audiences.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

9/10/2012 $25,000.00support general operating expenses.
6/10/2009 $28,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/22/2007 $40,000.00support the purchase and implementation of new accounting software.
3/16/2005 $20,000.00purchase a shop vehicle.


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