Summer Outdoor Series planned for Late Summer 2021

Kentucky Opera’s Amplify Your Voice initiative, launched in 2020, continues to underpin the 2021/22 season as a way to bring the community together with shared purpose

Early Announcement for 2022/23 - La bohème to kick off its 70th anniversary season

Subscriptions for the Brown-Forman 2021/22 season will be available starting in mid-May, 2021 at or by calling (502) 584-4500.

Louisville, KY, April 14, 2021 – Kentucky Opera has announced its Brown-Forman 2021/22 season highlighting community and artistic partners, as well as key themes of Faith, Justice and Family that resonated throughout Kentucky Opera’s 2020/21 virtual season.

Kentucky Opera’s Brown-Forman 2021/22 season will include two mainstage opera productions, Orfeo and An American Dream, as well as a Holiday Celebration concert and Youth Opera Project production of Robin Hood.

Orfeo, by Christoph Willibald Gluck, is a timeless story of sacrificial love and a longing for second chances. Kentucky Opera will produce two performances of this poignant retelling of this ancient myth at the Brown Theatre on February 11 and 13, 2022 in collaboration with Louisville Ballet and Bourbon Baroque. Maestro Judith Yan conducts her Kentucky Opera debut, and Kelly Kitchens (The Marriage of Figaro, 2020) returns as stage director. Praised by The Washington Post for her “gorgeous, warm voice that you want to keep listening to,” mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin (Enemies, A Love Story, 2018) will be featured in the title role.

An American Dream follows next on April 8 and 10, 2022 at the Brown Theatre. An American Dream explores the lives of two families — a Japanese-American family and an American and his new German Jewish bride — and the house and belongings that weave all of their lives together. Set in the early 1940s following President Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, An American Dream was commissioned by Seattle Opera in 2014. Jack Perla’s music with a libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo has been described as “touching…sentimental…lyrical” by Opera News. Maestro Joseph Mechavich (Carmen, 2019) returns to Kentucky Opera to conduct this production directed by Matthew Ozawa (The Barber of Seville, 2018). Soprano Helen Huang, mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen, and bass-baritone Ao Li make their Kentucky Opera debuts, and local favorites, baritone Morgan Smith (Enemies, A Love Story, 2018) and soprano Emily Albrink (Carmen, 2019), return once again to the Brown Theatre.

A season-opening Holiday Celebration and a Youth Opera Project production of Robin Hood will bookend the mainstage season. The Holiday Celebration at the Brown Theatre will feature the local Kentucky Opera Chorus and Soloists in a single performance on December 16, 2021. Robin Hood, a youth opera written by Ben Moore and Kelley Rourke, will close the season with Kentucky Opera’s Youth Opera Project participants performing at the Bomhard Theatre on June 10 and 11, 2022.

Photo of Kentucky Opera General Director and CEO Barbara Lynne Jamison
Kentucky Opera General Director and CEO Barbara Lynne Jamison

“We are excited to be back at the Brown Theatre to celebrate and gather with our community,” says Barbara Lynne Jamison, Kentucky Opera’s General Director and CEO. “The operas that we are producing this season allow us to celebrate being together again, and also to honor how this past year may have influenced our perspectives on the treasure of family and friendships, the value of belonging, and the importance of justice.”

Kentucky Opera will continue offering Opera Talks prior to each mainstage performance. Opera Talks give audiences an opportunity to learn more about the art form, offering historical context, character analysis, and in-depth discussion about the opera.

Amplify Your Voice and Community Partners

Kentucky Opera will continue to work closely with community partners in the 2021/22 season as part of its Amplify Your Voice initiative to foster continued discussion and collective storytelling. Kentucky Opera created its Amplify Your Voice initiative in 2020 to uplift the voices of our local community with community partners including One West, Interfaith Paths to Peace, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Urban League, The Pride Foundation, and many others.

Awakenings – Art-Centered Community Conversations to Return in 2021/22 Season

The Awakenings series is a unique program created by Kentucky Opera that brings partners from around the community together to explore the connections of the opera's themes to our society today. Awakenings are art-centered events designed to open our eyes to the world around us by challenging tradition, questioning social narratives, and inviting varied perspectives. Details to be announced.

Outdoor Summer Opera Series to Take Place in Late Summer

Kentucky Opera has also announced that it will produce a series of outdoor performances in late Summer 2021 at various local outdoor venues. “This summer series will be a wonderful way to enjoy musical performances by local singers in a relaxed and casual environment,” says Jamison. Additional details will be released soon.

70th Anniversary Season Opening Performance Announced

Kentucky Opera plans to open its 70th anniversary season in September 2022 with Puccini’s La bohème. A story of family and friendship among a group of struggling artists in Bohemian Paris, La bohème has moved audiences for over a century with its luscious melodies and powerful storytelling. As one of the most beloved operas in the canon, La bohème has inspired many derivative works, including the Tony Award® winning musical RENT. “Sometimes friends are the family we choose,” says Jamison. “La bohème demonstrates the sacrifices we are willing to make when we truly care about others. We can’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate our community as we open our 70th anniversary season,” says Jamison.

Youth Opera Project to Resume in Fall 2021

Kentucky Opera’s Youth Opera Project, an initiative launched in 2019 by Kentucky Opera and General Director and CEO Barbara Lynne Jamison will resume in the fall of 2021. Video auditions will be held over the summer. Participants of the Youth Opera Project work weekly with professional artists in a fun, supportive, and enriching environment to prepare fully staged, professional music theatre productions. They represent Kentucky Opera in community performances throughout the region and on the mainstage. The Youth Opera Project is open to everyone ages 8-18, regardless of skill level or ability to pay. No prior experience is necessary. Youth Opera Project members will perform Kentucky Opera’s production of Robin Hood in June 2022 and may also audition for its production of La bohème in September 2022.

Commitment to Our Community’s Safety

Kentucky Opera is grateful for the partnership of Kentucky Performing Arts and the Brown Theatre as Kentucky Opera’s home theatre. As Kentucky Performing Arts venues reopen, they will be following the guidance of local and state health officials, as well as recommendations from the CDC, in order to maximize safety. The impact of COVID-19, as well as public health guidelines and laws, may change often, and protocols will be updated as new guidance becomes available. Please check often for the most recent information.

Brown-Forman 2021/2022 Kentucky Opera Season

Holiday Celebration

Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 7:30 pm
Brown Theatre

A performance featuring Kentucky Opera’s local Chorus and Soloists with winter vignettes from various operas and other popular holiday favorites.


Composer: Christoph Willibald Gluck
Libretto by: Raniero da Calzabigi
Premiered 1762, Vienna, Austria – Burgtheater
Last performed by Kentucky Opera on February 11, 1967

Current Production
Friday, February 11, 2022 at 8 pm and Sunday, February 13, 2022 at 2 pm
Brown Theatre

Conductor: Judith Yan
Director: Kelly Kitchens
Choreographer: Robert Curran (Artistic Director, Louisville Ballet)
Chorus Master: Lisa Hasson

Orfeo: Catherine Martin, mezzo-soprano

Produced in collaboration with Louisville Ballet and Bourbon Baroque

Photo of conductor Judith Yan
Judith Yan
Photo: Johann Persson
Photo of stage director Kelly Kitchens
Kelly Kitchens

Photo of mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin
Catherine Martin
Photo of Louisville Ballet Artistic Director Robert Curran
Robert Curran

Photo of Kentucky Opera Chorus Master Lisa Hasson
Lisa Hasson

An American Dream

Music by: Jack Perla
Libretto by: Jessica Murphy Moo

Premiered: Friday, August 21, 2015
Commissioned by Seattle Opera
This is the Kentucky Opera Debut

Current Production
Friday, April 8, 2022 at 8 pm and Sunday, April 10, 2022 at 2 pm
Brown Theatre

Conductor Joseph Mechavich
Director Matthew Ozawa


Setsuko Kobayashi: Helen Huang
Eva Crowley: Emily Albrink
Jim Crowley: Morgan Smith
Hiroko Kobayashi: Nina Yoshida Nelsen
Makoto Kobayashi: Ao Li

Photo of conductor Joseph Mechavich
Joseph Mechavich
Photo of director Matthew Ozawa
Matthew Ozawa
Photo of soprano Emily Albrink
Emily Albrink
Photo of Nina Yoshida Nelsen
Nina Yoshida Nelsen
Photo of soprano Helen Huang
Helen Huang
Photo of Morgan Smith
Morgan Smith
Photo of Ao Li
Ao Li

Robin Hood, a youth opera

By Ben Moore and Kelley Rourke
Originally Commissioned by The Glimmerglass Festival
This is the Kentucky Opera debut

Current Production
Friday, June 10, 2022 at 7 pm and Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 2 pm
Bomhard Theatre at Kentucky Center

Members of Kentucky Opera’s Youth Opera Project

About Kentucky Opera

Kentucky Opera was founded in 1952 and designated the State Opera of Kentucky in 1982. The mission of Kentucky Opera is to enrich and engage our community through spectacular music, creative storytelling and the thrill of the human voice. Follow Kentucky Opera on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supports Kentucky Opera with state tax dollars. Federal funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.