Chicago Opera Theater expands the tradition of opera as a living art form by engaging lovers of music and storytelling through innovative experiences predominantly of new and rarely performed works.
COT opens the doors to opera through accessible performances and a welcoming environment.
COT enriches the lives of children and youth through participatory arts programming.
COT is a platform for the next generation of artists in the opera field to grow and launch professional careers.
COT connects emotionally and intellectually with a broad and diverse Chicago audience through collaboration with our community.
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is now in its 43rd season and has been a founding resident company at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park since 2002. In its 40-year history, including the 2015 Season, COT staged a total of 123 operas, 63 Chicago premieres and 33 operas by American composers. The company was founded in 1974 by Alan Stone, and evolved to be an innovative, nationally recognized opera company under the guidance of General Director Brian Dickie, who led the company from 2000 to 2012. Andreas Mitisek became COT’s new General Director in June 2012. He is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills, and innovative audience-building initiatives.
The unique leadership styles of Stone, Dickie, and Mitisek have built the company’s national reputation for breaking new ground and creating the future of opera. COT’s earliest productions were small-scale stagings of Mozart and Rossini operas meant to provide performance opportunities for up-and-coming Chicago-area singers. A watershed moment came in 1976 when COT staged its first American opera, Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All. The move was seen as a gamble on the part of Artistic Director Alan Stone, who saw a need to bring more American operas to Chicago audiences. The production sold out, establishing Alan Stone’s gamble as an incisive decision. Brian Dickie continued this vision, bringing COT to the leading edge of American opera companies, establishing COT as an advocate for 17th, 18th, and 20th century works, and attracting collaborators from around the nation and the world. Andreas Mitisek is revitalizing COT’s commitment to new and rare works, infusing COT productions with OPERA (Outside the box; Provocative; Engaging; Relevant; Adventurous Experiences). Mitisek is dedicated to attracting new audiences to COT by collaborating with other arts organizations and by exploring unorthodox performance venues such as swimming pools, parking garages, and warehouses.
With Andreas Mitisek’s combination of administrative talent and artistic vision for 2016 and beyond, COT will continue building the future of opera by engaging broad and diverse audiences through intimate performances, artistic collaborations, and education and outreach. Programs such as Opera for All (OFA) and the Young Artists Program (YAP) are building the next generation of opera fans and opera artists. OFA is an elementary education and outreach program running successfully since 2000 that gives Chicago Public School students in disadvantaged neighborhoods the opportunity to write, produce, and perform their own original operas. It is the only program of its kind in the Chicago area. Also running successfully since 2000, the Young Artists Program (YAP) provides performance opportunities and training for promising young opera artists. COT now stages three productions each year and attracts singers from around the country and the world.