About

Michael Harris as Bottom, and Elizabeth Keith as Titania, in SOT’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2017

Founded in 2015, Shakespeare Opera Theatre is a professional 501c3 non-profit performing arts company specializing in classical theatre with classical music. We’ve been described as “classical mash-up,” and we think that fits us superbly!

We are proud to perform at historic and beautiful Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia, and NEW this season, at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Ashburn, Virginia.

Our History

In its inaugural 2015 season, SOT produced Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing along with Berlioz’s opera on the same subject, Beatrice et Benedict in English translation. The Washington Post hailed SOT as having “A concept that’s clever, and performers who give their all.”

In 2016, productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor and Verdi’s opera Falstaff were presented. Eric Minton of Shakespearances exclaimed “Michael Harris gave not only a highlight of the year, but one of the best Falstaffs I have ever seen.”

In 2017, SOT undertook a tour of Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax counties with A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mendelssohn’s iconic incidental music. The reviews were the strongest yet, calling the production “a magical element all its own,” with “the charm of having children play the myriad of fairies and Michael Harris giving a brilliantly nuanced portrayal of Bottom.”

In 2018, SOT was invited to begin residency in the charming town of The Plains at Grace Episcopal Church. The beautiful gothic wood and stone architecture, complete with large balcony, makes the space a perfect jewel box in which to present our intimate. and unique performances. In December of 2018 we presented the classic Christmas Opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and in February of 2019 we produced Shakespeare’s iconic tale of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, with music composed for the play by Hector Berlioz. One critic exclaimed that he was ready to “catapult out of my seat for a standing ovation” as the last scene, with its exquisite triple chorus, entered its final strains. Elizabethan Entertainments, in May of 2019, was a celebration of our 4th Anniversary, and we were delighted to share our love of Shakespeare as we inhabited the Tudor Court at its most beautiful and hilarious! The final offering of our 2018-19 season took place on Bastille Day weekend: Vive la France! celebrating the great French playwrights, philosophers and poets, and featuring works by French composers throughout history.

In 2019, we made the decision to split our offerings into two distinct seasons, with the aim to broaden our artistic horizons. We offered the perennial favorite of kids and adults alike, Amahl and the Night Visitors in December of 2019. Saturday, December 7th at 4 PM was our “pay what you Will” (William Shakespeare, that is) performance, with a special invitation by SOT’s Abilities Committee to those with special needs to attend completely free of charge. In February of 2020, We picked up our Shakespearean journey and presented Hamlet, with music from Ambroise Thomas’ eponymous opera. Vaulted ceilings of wooden beams and stone abutments transported us to gloomy Elsinore, where the equally gloomy Prince of Denmark extols in the most famous of all of Shakespeare’s scenes, the “to be or not to be” speech. As in Romeo and Juliet, the play thrives on dysfunctional family dynamics, and features more exciting sword fights than you can shake a rapier at.

The Pandemic

Shakespeare Opera Theatre closed our production of Hamlet in February of 2020. We had a summer season planned, but no contracts to artists or other personnel had gone out by early March, when the writing on the wall said there would be a complete shutdown of performances for at least a few months. Much to our shock, companies with much longer histories and more secure funding began to fold all around us, and it made for a grim time for the arts in the DC area. While some of our funding was lost for the preceding season, we counted our blessings, held our breath, and importuned our individual donors to show their support by helping to make up for the deficit. Exhale–they did!

Because of prudent planning, our very, very generous donors and sponsors, and just plain luck, Shakespeare Opera Theatre is still standing, and bursting with new artistic offerings to share with Northern Virginia and beyond in the coming season.

Our Present

This December, Amahl is back! Our audiences asked for more ticket availability, and we responded by moving some of our performances to a larger space with more audience capacity. December 11th & 12th we’ll present Amahl and the Night Visitors at our newest venue, St. David’s Episcopal Church in Ashburn, and December 18th at our established home, Grace in the Plains. The 4 PM performance at Grace on the 18th will be our special presentation by the Abilities Committee, and those with special needs are welcome to attend free of charge. Others who attend are invited to make a donation in what we call “pay what you Will.” This performance will be with the cover cast and with piano only, to give those with sensory issues a chance to enjoy this Christmas classic. Christmas treats and a fun art party for kids will be available after Saturday matinees and Sunday performances, along with Q & A with the performers!

In February 2022, Shakespeare is back with a vengeance in our ambitious mounting of William Shakespeare + Giuseppe Verdi’s Othello.

Summer 2022 brings a reprise of the dazzling Vive la France! (Ooo la la!), and a new production of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, an apocryphal opera set in 20th century Appalachian Virginia. We can’t wait to see you there!

Our Future

2021 marks SOT’s 5th season and 6th year, and we are excited to continue on in our mission to provide affordable and intimate performances of classic works with a twist. Ticket sales, as with most nonprofit performing arts companies, do not begin to meet all of our expenses, and we depend on partnerships with businesses and individuals in our community to help us bridge the budgetary gap. 2019 Sponsors include The Fauquier Bank, Middleburg Life Magazine, and Crest Hill Antiques and Tea Room, and also our many generous individual donors.

SOT offers free tickets for disadvantaged groups, low income, active military and first responders, and we hold a special matinee performance for those with mental and emotional challenges each season, presented by our Abilities Committee. SOT regularly invites local school groups to performances and to participate in Q and A sessions with the artists. We employ professional musicians, actors and singers from our region and beyond who are vital to maintaining the high level of quality our audiences have come to expect. We also give opportunities to learn about and participate in all areas of production to local high school and college students.

Won’t you consider supporting SOT with a one time gift —or in the coming season and beyond as a monthly sponsor? By helping us continue to bring classical arts to our region, you become our partner in exploring the exciting, indelible works that have stood the test of time. You can help introduce people of all ages to the wonders of these masterpieces in a manner both accessible and authentic.

You can donate by cash, check or credit card at our front desk, by emailing us at info@shakespeareoperatheatre.com, or by clicking on the green donate button at the top of the page. You can also add a donation to your ticket purchase at checkout.

Thank you for our first five seasons and six years (that’s going to confuse people forever)—and with your support, we look forward to many more!!

Dr. Lori Lind
Artistic Director

Dr. Lisa Bloy
Associate Director

Gene Allen
Executive Producer

Maggie Ramsey
Associate Producer