Gotham Chamber Opera was the nation’s leading opera company dedicated to vibrant, fully staged productions of works intended for intimate venues from 2001-2015. Its high quality presentations of small-scale rarities from the Baroque era to the present earned Gotham an international reputation and unanimous critical praise. Moreover, Gotham Chamber Opera is credited with legitimizing and popularizing the hitherto deprecated genre of chamber opera throughout the world.
Founded by conductor and Artistic Director Neal Goren, Gotham debuted in 2001 (as Henry Street Chamber Opera) with the American premiere of Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione. In subsequent seasons, Gotham produced many more local and world premieres, including such works as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Milhaud’s Les Malheurs d’Orphee, Bohuslav Martinu’s Les Larmes du Couteau and Hlas Lesa, Sutermeister’s Die schwarze Spinne, Handel’s Arianna in Creta, Britten’s Albert Herring, and Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino. The company renamed itself Gotham Chamber opera and became an independent 501(c)3 organization in 2003.
Gotham partnered with notable New York and national institutions, including Lincoln Center Festival and Spoleto USA for the 2005 production of Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco; the Morgan Library and Museum for Scenes of Gypsy Life (an evening of song cycles by Janáček and Dvořák) in 2008; and the American Museum of Natural History and the American Repertory Theater for 2010’s production of Hadyn’s Il mondo della luna. That production featured lunar exploration video developed by the Museum and NASA and broadcast on the Hayden Planetarium’s 180-degree dome.
Gotham earned a reputation for showcasing outstanding young singers alongside established directors and choreographers such as Mark Morris (the 2009 production of Hadyn’s L’isola disabitata), David Parsons (the New York stage premiere of Astor Piazzola’s tango opera, María di Buenos Aires), Karole Armitage (the world premiere of Ariadne Unhinged), Basil Twist (La bella), Christopher Alden (Scipione and Arianna in Creta), and Diane Paulus (Il mondo). In October 2010, Gotham partnered with director Moisés Kaufmann and his company, Tectonic Theater Project, to co-produce the first United States stage performances of Xavier Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas, at the New Victory Theater.
For the 2011-2012 season, Gotham celebrated its tenth anniversary with the world premiere of Dark Sisters, by Nico Muhly, and a revival of its first production, Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione. Moving into its second decade in 2013, Gotham presented a sold-out run of Cavalli’s Eliogabalo at The Box and two performances of Daniel Catán’s La Hija di Rappaccini (Rappaccini’s Daughter) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Esplanade. That production then toured to Los Angeles, where it was presented by the Broad Stage at the Greystone Manor in Beverly Hills. In the 2013/14 season, Gotham partnered with Trinity Church Wall Street to present the US stage premiere of La descente d’Orphée aux enfers by Charpentier and partnered with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to present Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda in the museum’s Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court along with the world premiere of Lembit Beecher’s I have no stories to tell you in the museum’s medieval court. The season closed with the United States premiere of Toshio Hosokowa’s The Raven, which featured celebrated dancer Alessandra Ferri, as the inaugural event of the New York Philharmonic Biennial. The 2014/15 season, which proved to be Gotham’s last, included a reprise of its 2010 production of El gato con botas and concluded with The Tempest Songbook, which juxtaposed songs of Henry Purcell with the United States premiere of songs by Kaija Saariaho, featuring the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Gotham Chamber Opera ceased operations in October 2015 at the height of its artistic success.