To Our Chautauqua Opera Community—

The Board of Trustees of the Chautauqua Institution met yesterday for its quarterly meeting with the primary agenda being to determine the Institution’s course of action for the 2020 Summer Assembly. Michael Hill, president of the Chautauqua Institution, has released a communication addressing the Board’s decision which includes the suspension of all in-person programming at the Institution this summer. View more information here.

Thus, it is with a heavy heart that I write to announce that the Chautauqua Opera Company’s 2020 season will be canceled. For 90 consecutive summers, Chautauquans have gathered in Norton Hall to celebrate opera’s rich history, to hear our country’s great singers, and to catch first glimpses of promising young singers as they launch their professional careers. Our 2020 season of ToscaThumbprint and The Mother Of Us Allwas set to celebrate the centenary of the 19th Amendment, the central role Western New York played in the suffrage movement, and to give voice to three powerful women. Nevertheless, with the health and safety of our company and audience as the highest priority, it has become undeniably clear that the global COVID-19 crisis makes it impossible to proceed with this season’s productions.

Every June I find myself reflecting on what it means to be an opera company. While “the Chautauqua Opera Company” has existed since 1929, the true company is the dozens of individuals whose energy, talent, skill and devotion bring our productions to life each season. The Chautauqua Opera Company thrives on its mix of individuals whose tenure stretches into decades and those who join us for a handful of seasons. The company is in fact quite different every year, and I am saddened that the unique group of artists who were to make up our 2020 company will not have the chance to gather, to work together and to make opera.  

We have several tasks ahead of us as a company in the coming weeks and months:

  • SUPPORTING the artists and artisans who were to make up our company. These are challenging times for artists everywhere. Chautauqua Opera will do everything possible to support the over 50 individuals who have had their contracts with us canceled.
  • AMPLIFYING the voices of the 20 singers who were to make up our Young Artist Program this summer. Performing opportunities are only one, albeit critical, element in any Young Artist Program. We will find every way possible to introduce you to these 20 talented artists, and to help foster their growth even as we do not hold an on-grounds season.
  • CONTRIBUTING to the online Chautauqua experience. The arts are a vital part of the Chautauqua experience, and we will pour our energy into making Chautauqua Opera a vibrant participant in the global Chautauqua assembly this summer.

Much planning continues for this summer and next, and I look forward to sharing happier news with you in the coming weeks and months. It is our intention that ToscaThumbprint and The Mother Of Us All will come to life at Chautauqua in a future season.

If you have purchased tickets to one of our productions this summer, the Chautauqua Ticket Office will be in touch via email to offer you options for securing refunds, credits toward a future purchase, or transitioning your ticket value to a donation, should that be your desire. It is not necessary to contact the Ticket Office. They will reach out to you in the next 30 days.

Chautauqua is a unique and treasured place. For 90 years it has offered an immediate and vibrant connection between our artists, our audience and our community. The only bright spot I find in the decisions we make today is that the sole intention is to keep our company and community healthy so that we can gather again in the future, share a common space and experience great opera. Please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected with us over the coming months.


steve sig

Steven Osgood
General and Artistic Director

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