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News - World Opera Day | A Glimpse at the North American Canon Over the Decades

Friday, October 25, 2019

Contemporary opera is booming with a bounty of world premieres taking place each season. The upcoming 40th anniversary in 2020 of the premiere of Kirke Mechem’s beloved opera on Moliere’s Tartuffe inspired us to look back at some operas which have played a key role in establishing the contemporary opera canon, especially as seen and heard in North America. 

Kirke Mechem: Tartuffe 
40th anniversary in 2020
Premiered May 27, 1980, at San Francisco Opera

The following list highlights additional works soon to celebrate landmark anniversaries, and which remain as impactful now since they first appeared onstage.

Dmitri Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District 
90th anniversary in 2024
Premiered January 22, 1934 at Leningrad Maly Operny, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Sergei Prokofiev: Betrothal in a Monastery (The Duenna) 
75th anniversary in 2021
Premiered November 3, 1946 at Kirov Theatre, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Gian Carlo Menotti: The Consul 
70th anniversary in 2020
Premiered March 1, 1950 at Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia, PA

Samuel Barber: Vanessa 
65th anniversary in 2023
Premiered January 15, 1958 at The Metropolitan Opera

Peter Maxwell Davies: The Lighthouse
40th anniversary in 2020
Premiered September 2, 1980 at Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

Olivier Messiaen: Saint François d'Assise 
40th anniversary in 2023
Premiered November 28, 1983 with Paris Opera at Palais Garnier, France

Robert Xavier Rodríguez: Frida 
30th anniversary in 2021
Premiered April 07, 1991 at American Music Theater (now Prince Theater), Philadelphia, PA

John Corigliano: The Ghosts of Versailles 
30th anniversary in 2021
Premiered December 19, 1991 at The Metropolitan Opera

Aulis Sallinen: Kullervo 
30th anniversary in 2022
Premiered February 25, 1992 at Performing Arts Center Of Los Angeles County, CA

Bright Sheng: The Song of Majnun 
30th anniversary in 2022
Premiered April 09, 1992 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Thea Musgrave: Simón Bolívar
25th anniversary in 2020
Premiered January 20, 1995 at Harrison Opera House, Norfolk, VA

Daniel Catán: Florencia en el Amazonas
25th anniversary in 2021
Premiered October 26, 1996 at Wortham Theater Center, Houston Grand Opera

Anthony Davis: Amistad 
25th anniversary in 2022
Premiered November 29, 1997 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mark Adamo: Little Women 
25th anniversary in 2023
Premiered March 13, 1998 at Houston Grand Opera

André Previn: A Streetcar Named Desire 
25th anniversary in 2023
Premiered September 19, 1998 at San Francisco Opera

John Harbison: The Great Gatsby
25th anniversary in 2024
Premiered December 20, 1999 at The Metropolitan Opera

Poul Ruders: The Handmaid’s Tale 
20th anniversary in 2020
Premiered March 6, 2000 at Danish Royal Opera, Copenhagen, Denmark

Kaija Saariaho: L’Amour de loin 
20th anniversary in 2020
Premiered August 15, 2000 at Salzburg Festival, Felsenreitschule, Salzburg, Austria

Tan Dun: Tea: A Mirror of Soul 
20th anniversary in 2022
Premiered October 22, 2002 at Suntory Hall with NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, Japan

For more information please contact Peggy Monastra or Marcos Cuevas and visit

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