Michigan Opera Theatre changes name to Detroit Opera ahead of return

Posted at 8:17 AM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 08:19:05-05

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Opera Theatre is changing its name to Detroit Opera.

The change comes after 50 years as the Michigan Opera Theatre and is in conjunction with the premiere of La bohème at the Detroit Opera House on April 2.

It's also part of a vision that Detroit Opera President and CEO Wayne Brown and Gary Wasserman, and Artistic Director Yuval Sharon, announced in spring 2020 that wanted to create a new standard for American opera that emphasized community, accessibility, risk-taking and collaboration.

"As we enter our second half-century, and with all the unique new productions emerging, our Board and Trustees decided that it was time for a change," Brown said in a statement. “We are a Detroit-based company operating in Detroit, a city with a growing national and international recognition as an arts-focused city. We want to take advantage of that recognition and add to it."

Opera productions are returning to the Detroit Opera House after a two-year break due to COVID-19, and they are ready to welcome audiences back.

According to Board Chair Ethan Davidson, they are partnering with sevel opera companies over the next year, including the Metropolitan Opera.

“Detroit Opera is already who we are. This company is of Detroit, and its home since 1996 is the Detroit Opera House. David DiChiera took a chance on Detroit in challenging times for the city, and we want to make it clear we intend to stay rooted right here," Sharon said in a statement. "The fact that we are celebrating 'The Next 50' of the organization, renovating the hall to make it more accessible for the audience, and signaling a change in artistic direction—all of this says now is the time to adapt and align ourselves even more with our community.”

La bohème will be the first opera performance in the venue in more than two years. It will perform April 2, 6 and 10.

"The music that begins Act I and Act IV is almost identical, and even in its normal chronology, La bohème isn't a connected linear narrative, but a collection of short episodic narratives. So a reverse chronology comes more easily than you might expect," Sharson said. "But the effect is profound: suddenly, La bohème, this classic, archetypal opera, becomes a bit of a mystery. We know there's a darkness to it, we watch the death and tragedy unfold. But where does it start? As we move through the world of memory, we witness a resurrection, and a new love blooming. When the audience leaves the theater, they won't be left with the heaviness of inevitability. Instead, they'll be left with a notion that the pain was worth the fleeting moments of joy. We move backward, so our audience can move forward."