Vision and Mission
As the resident professional company of the College of Wooster, the Ohio Light Opera seeks to preserve the tradition of operetta and musical theater with engaging and accessible productions that uplift, educate, and entertain a diverse present-day audience.
For 43 seasons, The Ohio Light Opera (OLO) has dedicated itself to exploring and producing the best of traditional operetta and musical theater. Although the repertoire has evolved over the past four decades, “Light Opera” in our title reflects the rich tradition of OLO’s origin. The company was founded by James Stuart as a Gilbert and Sullivan repertory summer festival and has grown to encompass all forms in the light opera canon. This includes the complete Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire and both the recognized treasures of Viennese, French, German, British, and American operetta, and the rare gems of artistic value that were popular in their day but have long since been forsaken. In recent years, the company has expanded its offerings to include traditional musical theater—its forgotten musical gems and popular Broadway titles that are nevertheless being produced less often today.
The historical performance practices of each work are delicately balanced with the resources of a state-of-the-art theater, audience accessibility, and engaging performance values. A revolving repertoire season with at least six titles and over 50 performances allows patrons, throughout the summer, to attend performances of a specialized grouping of titles: three operettas or three musicals in two days, or all the titles of a summer season in four days. No other company offering a similar repertoire can provide this unique performance opportunity.
Between 15 and 20 thousand patrons each season see productions in The College of Wooster’s intimate Freedlander Theatre. Over 100 company members from throughout the United States are selected each year to participate in our residency program. The 30 performing artists who make up the vocal ensemble are chosen for their abilities to perform and work at the highest level in all disciplines demanded by the company’s specialized repertoire: singing, acting, and dancing. The 30 members of OLO’s orchestra perform full and original orchestrations of each season’s historical titles.
The Ohio Light Opera has built and earned a reputation for producing historical titles in the spirit of fidelity and faithfulness to the original material. This commitment over 40-plus years has brought over 750,000 patrons to our festival seasons. OLO balances past artistic practices with the sensitivities expected from today’s society. Whereas the music and orchestrations remain sacred, modifications to lyrics and dialogue and elimination of blatant stereotypes are at times undertaken to mitigate prejudices prevalent at the time of a work’s creation. To completely ignore these prejudices would be the same as not acknowledging or recognizing that they existed.
With 151 titles produced, and over 2750 performances, the Ohio Light Opera has become the forerunner in promoting the lyric theater genre. The company’s contribution to the preservation and promotion of traditional lyric theater has received recognition in prominent national and international publications, and its work is frequently cited by leading scholars of operetta, light opera, and musical theater. In residency on The College of Wooster campus, the summer festival offers a country setting with an inviting community that is proud of the unique service that this company has given to its many patrons and the art form.
—Steven A. Daigle, Artistic Director
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