Delaware Public Media

Opera Delaware is singing a happy tune after winning a major grant

Jun 2, 2015

Opera Delaware has won the biggest grant in its history.  

The company has been awarded $450,000 from the Longwood Foundation.

The good news follows a particularly difficult year for the Wilmington arts organization.

In 2014, Opera Delaware canceled their spring opera production and announced it was revamping in response to an 87 percent drop in corporate support. They instead presented several scaled down productions and adopted a weekend festival format which debuted last month.

Opera Delaware's General Director Brendan Cooke says the grant is validation the company is moving in the right direction.

“It’s an extraordinary show of faith in our new business model moving forward which is really designed to bring people from all over the country and frankly all over the world to Wilmington.”

Cooke adds the company had to make many difficult choices in order to survive.

“Arts organizations don’t survive by doing less with less,” he says. “You sort of circle the drain of irrelevance that way. It had happened to other regional opera companies and we saw it kind of happening here and we saw the need to reinvent. So it’s with a great sense of gratitude to the patrons that stuck with us to give us that time to retool.”

Opera Delaware's next spring festival is scheduled for the weekends of May 14 and 21, 2016. The festival will feature performances of two main stage operas at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington.

Opera Delaware is the nation's 11th oldest professional opera company and celebrates its 71st season in 2015-2016.

This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.