Best Arts Organization - 2005
Opera Theatre of St. Louis
OK, so Opera Theatre of Saint Louis isn't a scrappy, underfunded arts organization in need of publicity -- any more. Since its humble beginnings in 1976, Opera Theatre has become one of the most celebrated arts groups in the United States, with its performances routinely reviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London. In a very American twist on conventional opera, the theater performs all its works in English, accompanied by music from members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Highlights from this past season included a stripped-down-perfect production of Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet and Benjamin Britten's 1953 gem Gloriana, which RFT opera writer Lew Prince lauded as the embodiment of "technical, spiritual and artistic unity." Adding to the charm is OSTL's location in the intimate 987-seat Loretto-Hilton Center at Webster University, where many operagoers meet prior to performances for picnics on the campus lawn.