2020 Composer-in-Residence

2020 Composer-in-Residence


Frances Pollock

Known for her “bold and bracing” (Baltimore Sun) opera writing, Frances Pollock’s music “pulls no punches and never flinches” (City Paper). Originally from North Carolina, Frances is inspired by a variety of artists including Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Francis Poulenc, Joni Mitchell, Missy Elliot, Stephen Sondheim, Jonathan Dove, and Billy Joel.

Frances’ first opera, Stinney, was workshopped in Baltimore in 2015, where it won a Johns Hopkins Diversity Grant and a Best of Baltimore award. It was presented again in workshop in the 2019 PROTOTYPE festival in New York City and will have its world premiere in 2021 with Greenville Light Opera Works in Greenville, SC. Frances has since written operas for Washington National Opera (What Gets Kept, librettist Vanessa Moody) and Lyric Opera of Chicago/Seattle Opera (Earth to Kenzie, librettist Jessica Murphy Moo). This coming season, Frances is writing music that will be premiered by Opera Omaha, Bel Cantanti Opera, and Chautauqua Opera Company. In addition, she is currently developing a cross-disciplinary piece called Salt, with librettist (and wife and best friend) Emily Roller, which will be presented in workshop at the 2020 YOST conference at Yale University.  

Frances is a founding member of the new music non-profit, Prima Volta. She holds a Bachelors of Music in theory and composition from Furman University and a Masters of Music in vocal performance from Peabody Conservatory. She is currently completing her doctorate in composition at Yale University. 

Learn more at FrancesPollock.com

Chautauqua Opera mainstage performances feature internationally acclaimed artists in principal roles. To request an audition or learn more about mainstage auditions for managed singers, the singer's agent/manager should contact Chautauqua Opera staff directly.

Founded in 1929, The Chautauqua Opera Company is North America's oldest continuously operating summer opera company and 4th oldest opera company after the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera and San Francisco Opera. The Chautauqua Opera Company offers more than 30 operatic events each season, including: three mainstage productions, performed in the historic 1,300-seat Norton Hall and Chautauqua Institution's 4000-seat Amphitheater; concerts with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra; weekly artsong recitals; opera performances for young audiences; Young Artist open-mic nights; and Opera Invasions. Chautauqua Opera productions feature internationally recognized Guest Artists alongside emerging artists from Chautauqua Opera's Young Artist Program.

Norton Hall

General Information

norton hallNorton Hall seating is reserved during mainstage performances. During ancillary events, such as Operalogues and the Opera Scenes program, seating is general admission. For mainstage performances, doors open 30 minutes before curtain time.

The building is air-conditioned. Restrooms and a water fountain are located in the lobby area. Food and drink (except water) is not permitted in the theater.

The Chautauqua Opera Guild  maintains a boutique of Chautauqua Opera Company merchandise. The boutique is open 30 minutes before curtain time and during intermission. 

Accessibility Information 

Access to Norton Hall’s main entrance on Pratt Avenue requires navigating two sets of stairs. Scooters and wheelchairs can easily enter Norton Hall using the rear entrance on Wythe Avenue. Using the accessible entry, guests will enter on the floor section. Accessible seating is available only in the floor section as indicated on the venue map. Norton Hall does not have an elevator; access to the balcony seating requires navigating stairs.  

There are a limited number of accessible parking spaces to the rear of Norton Hall, on Root Avenue, and in the Main Lot. A valid state-issued accessible parking permit is required to park in these spaces, and standard parkingrates apply.

  • To drop off a guest with mobility challenges, a temporary drop-off pass can be obtained at any gate. We recommend entering through the Welcome Center Main Gate or the Turner Gate. All guests entering the grounds are required to present a valid gate pass or opera performance ticket.  

  • The Institution provides regularly scheduled complimentary transportation service in the Main Lot and on the grounds during the season. 

Accessible restrooms are located in the lobby.

When the building is open for performances, the assistive listening system will be available. Bring your own equipment or use our complimentary equipment, available for loan during the performance. Please ask an usher for assistance.

  • Norton Hall uses anInfrared (IR) Assistive Listening System. The equipment is coil-compatible as long as the guest has a compatible jack/patch cord. Most users own several different sizes just in case. The system is also helpful for guests who need hearing assistance but don’t have a hearing aid.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Assistive Listening Systems

For further information contact the Ticket Office at (716) 357-6250 or email ticketoffice@chq.org.


Norton Memorial Hall was donated to Chautauqua Institution in 1929 by Lucy Coit Fanning Norton in honor of her husband Oliver Willcox Norton and her daughter Ruth. Her son Ralph Norton, who by then was a trustee of the Institution as well as an executive at Acme Steel, oversaw the design and construction as an expression of his passionate philanthropic commitment to Chautauqua and to music, art, architecture and beauty. He chose as artistic consultant the Chicago-based Beaux-Arts sculptor, Lorado Taft. As architect he chose Otis Floyd Johnson, and as sculptors Mr. and Mrs. Fred Torrey and Elizabeth Hazeltine, all associated with the Taft Studio in Chicago.

Roosevelt 5The opening of Norton Hall in July 1929 was a momentous occasion for Chautauqua. The governor of New York, Franklin Roosevelt, who had come to speak in the Amphitheater, toured the grounds along with his party, and Arthur Bestor and Ralph Norton, stopping at Norton Hall. The inaugural performance during the summer of 1929 was Friedrich von Flotow’s “Martha”. Among those who attended were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Edison, Adolph Ochs, and Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Bestor.

Excerpted from a history of Norton Hall, written by Cynthia Norton, Great granddaughter of O.W. and Lucy Norton. Read the full history.

Photo: Arthur Bestor, Ralph Norton, Guernsey Cross, Elliott Norton, Gov. Roosevelt, James Norton, Mrs. Roosevelt in front of Norton Hall.