Livermore Valley Opera a World-Class Act

The mission of Livermore Valley Opera (LVO) is to enrich the community by producing world-class operas, fostering the careers of professional opera singers, and encouraging a wider appreciation of opera and the associated arts through community outreach and educational programs for youth. The nonprofit was founded in 1992 and based at the Livermore High School. LVO began its transition to a world-class professional opera company in 2007 with a fully staged production of La Boheme at the opening of its new home, the Bankhead Theater, located in the heart of downtown Livermore.

"In October, LVO will present Of Mice and Men by Carlisle Floyd, arguably the greatest of America's 20th Century opera composers, who adapts to the operatic stage John Steinbeck's powerful Nobel Prize winning novella detailing a tragic story of two displaced migrant ranch workers in California during the Great Depression," says Keith Sawyer, President of LVO's Board of Directors. "The opera's premise, offering a plea for compassion and hope, is as timely now as when John Steinbeck wrote his novella in 1935. Steinbeck's local California roots coupled with his literary genius provide an opportunity to connect with LVO's community."

To promote this production to a broader audience, LVO is partnering with the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas with the mutual goal of building community bridges and forging connections between two local arts and cultural organizations. On February 17, 2024, LVO will host a fundraising event at the Bankhead Theater featuring a performance by The Three Redneck Tenors. In March 2024, LVO will present The Magic Flute, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which officials describe as "a fairy tale of darkness, light, and a quest for truth, beauty, and pure love."

Historically, LVO has reached 10,000 school students annually through a variety of opera experiences. These range from opportunities to attend opera dress rehearsals to broader access to full opera performances to operatic programs performed in the schools to master classes held for middle and high school students. During the upcoming 2023-2024 season, LVO plans to resume its comprehensive schedule of community and educational outreach. These opera-related programs are provided free of charge to schools, senior centers, and public libraries.

LVO has many volunteer opportunities available for those with skills or experience in various areas. They include marketing, fundraising, photography, singing in the chorus, and more. Currently, the nonprofit seeks specific help as well. "As we prepare for our next opera, we are in need of dedicated individuals to help us with set building," notes Sawyer. "We believe that a successful opera relies on attention to detail to create a captivating atmosphere. That's why we are inviting individuals with a passion for creativity, craftsmanship, and teamwork to join the LVO team in constructing and painting exceptional set designs that will leave a lasting impression on our audience. Whether you have experience in set design, construction, or simply possess a knack for do-it-yourself projects, we welcome all volunteers with open arms."

LVO relies on donations and fundraisers to support its mission. It holds two summer Opera in the Vineyard events annually. The second Opera in the Vineyard event for 2023 will be held at Garre Vineyard & Winery in Livermore on August 27 from 5 to 8 pm. At this "bring-your-own-picnic dinner" event, guests can sample award-winning wines from Garre Vineyard & Winery while listening to the melodic voices of gifted LVO singers. A menu of arias and Broadway show tunes also allows guests to purchase a personal musical performance to be enjoyed at their table.

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