Grantee Stories


Meet the Grantees: Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis

Opera Memphis has a national reputation for working to ensure that opera is accessible to all. This reputation is rooted in the 1950s, when world-renowned vocal performer Florence Cole Talbert-McCleave did her part to ensure that opera in Memphis was accessible to everyone in the community.  Talbert- McCleave broke with convention by extending an invitation for national touring opera singers to perform for black audiences in Memphis at what is now LeMoyne-Owen College at a time when these singers were touring in white-only venues.

Commitment to equity and diversity demonstrated through Talbert- McCleave’s work has never left the company and is today stronger than ever. Opera Memphis seeks to go beyond perceived opera traditions and is committed to pursuing meaningful partnerships within the community. The company has produced operas featuring all-black casts with free performances in primarily black-populated areas of the city. Recently, Opera Memphis has added outreach to the Latino community in Memphis featuring performances enhanced by moderated community conversations. 

Ned Canty, Opera Memphis general director describes today’s modern opera as inspirational music with creative storytelling. “With the support of ArtsMemphis, Opera Memphis has broadened its repertoire with original, commissioned works which bring attention to communities that have historically been underrepresented in opera.”

Originally funded through a grant from ArtsMemphis, 30 Days of Opera returned for the eighth year in September 2019. This annual event features dozens of free opera performances across Memphis and the Mid-South, turning the opera house inside-out and taking the music to the audience, not expecting the audience to find the opera.

Engaging new audiences with opera, moving opera out of the traditional setting, telling stories that create empathy and are relevant to today’s audiences. This is Opera Memphis.

For more information on Opera Memphis’ upcoming season and ticket information, visit the company’s website,

Meet the Grantees:
ArtsMemphis supports more than 70 arts organizations and artist through 164 grants totaling $2.5 million each year.  Get to know your arts organizations – they shape our city’s modern character, build on our city’s cultural vitality and strengthen our local community.
Posted by Kelsea Lewis at 11:58 AM

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