Mobile Opera is an opera company located in Mobile, Alabama and is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in the United States as well as the oldest in Mobile itself having been founded as the Mobile Opera Guild in 1945.
Two performances were presented in April 1946 under its founder Madame Rose Palmai-Tenser, a European concert artist from Czechoslovakia, and, as its General Director, Mrs. Tenser continued to lead the company for the following 25 years.
The establishment of the Mobile Opera Guild Auxiliary (the eighth in the nation to be affiliated with the Metropolitan Opera Guild) provided an outlet for the countless volunteers whose support throughout the company's history has been so vital to its success. In addition to mainstage productions, programs of opera excerpts were presented throughout a five-state area, establishing the company's long-standing commitment to arts education in the schools and communities of Alabama and the Gulf Coast. Following the death of its founder in 1971, the leaders of Mobile Opera continued to kindle the operatic fire ignited by "Madame Rose", ennobling her efforts through the establishment of the vocal scholarship competition which bears her name and awards over $5,000 annually.
The emergence of Katherine Willson ensured the security of the company's future, overseeing the company's growth and expansion as the company's Production Coordinator and General Manager. During the company's 1995/1996 season, Mrs. Willson was elected the first female President of the Board, celebrating Mobile Opera's 50th Anniversary Season and her own distinguished thirty-five year commitment to Mobile Opera. Under the guidance of Pelham "Pat" Pearce, Mobile Opera continued to earn notoriety for both the quality of its productions and its innovative programs dedicated to education and community outreach.
Mobile Opera's commitment to the encouragement of promising young American operatic talent has seen such outstanding artists as Christine Weidinger, Michael Devlin, Susan Quittmeyer, Anthony Laciura, Barry McCauley, Stella Zambalis, Linda Zoghby, Amy Johnson, Philip Webb, Hal France and Sylvia McNair leave the Mobile Opera stage for appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera and the prestigious opera houses and festivals of Europe.
Under Executive Director Earl Jackson, Mobile Opera continued its commitment to education and community outreach, Artists in Residence, "Teen Night At The Opera", "Opera-UpClose", "Music A La Carte", "Afternoon of Stars", and discounted tickets for students and senior citizens. An Education Director was hired in Spring 2008 in the hope of enhancing current programs as well as creating new educational opportunites. In June 2008, Andy Anderson replaced Jerome Shannon as Artistic Director, a post which he had held for the previous eleven years.
In July 2002, Mobile Opera relocated its offices to the Josephine Larkins Music Center, a newly renovated rehearsal and administrative facility located in the designated downtown arts district, which the company shares with the Mobile Symphony. This unique collaboration between Mobile's premiere performing arts organization has been hailed as a beacon for the redevelopment of the downtown area. With a 2,400 square foot rehearsal hall, seven private music studios, conference room, catering kitchen, patron ticketing services, landscaped courtyard and administrative offices, the Larkins Music Center is quickly becoming an important cultural and community asset.