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 (affectionately known as “Grace the Plains”) in The Plains, Virginia.
In the inaugural 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. Orchestral forces were expanded, and a committed assistant conductor and pianist was added with the arrival of Dr. Lisa Bloy. Orchestral players and singer-actors from all over the mid-Atlantic were hired. 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 take up 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 they were 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’ll again be offering the perennial favorite of kids and adults alike, Amahl and the Night Visitors in December of 2019. Saturday, December 7th at 4 PM is 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’ll pick up our Shakespearean journey and present Hamlet, with music from Ambroise Thomas’ eponymous opera. Vaulted ceilings of wooden beams and stone abutments transport 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.
In the summer of 2020, we’ll be offering some non-Shakespearean, but equally classic and worthy works. June brings a new play by up and coming DC playwright, Andrew Watring, Shakespeare is a White Supremacist. Don’t let the title fool you, It’s not another in your face, angry, purposeless hand wringer. It’s thought-provoking, insightful, and incisive, without cliches and truly new and different.
Another first, we’re starting a resident artist program in the summer of 2020. Coming in July, our singing actors will dazzle in a concert titled American Century, then with a fully staged production of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, an apocryphal opera set in 1930s Appalachian Virginia. We can’t wait to see you there!
2020 marks SOT’s 5th 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 western civilization’s masterpieces in a manner both accessible and authentic.
You can donate by cash, check or credit card at our front desk, or by clicking on the green donate button at the top of the page.
Thank you for our first five years—we look forward to many more!!
Dr. Lori Lind
Dr. Lisa Bloy