Intimate Opera of Indianapolis

Steven-R-LinvilleAmy E HayesA group of music school graduates, looking for opportunities in Indianapolis, decided to create an independent opera company in the city. Four years later, Intimate Opera is starting to make a big impact on the city’s arts scene. Executive Director Amy Elaine Hayes, one of the company’s co-founders, and Executive Producer Steven Linville, talked with 21CM about their experience as music entrepreneurs. 

What’s your elevator speech?

Intimate Opera is a small opera company trying to make a big impact in Indianapolis. Our goal is to provide performance opportunities to local artists while providing the audiences of Indianapolis exposure to musical experiences that they would not have otherwise. We want people to understand what opera really is – not the fat lady with horns but art that anyone can enjoy. We are all real people who want to break down the opera stereotypes.

What’s your five-year plan for the company?
Become a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and continue to educate and entertain audiences in Indianapolis with new and underperformed works.

What are you most proud of?
We are proud to be presenting quality productions of new works, or rarely performed works, in a more intimate setting. Our goal is not to be a big opera company or to try to present the standard repertoire. We pride ourselves on being able to present material that we are interested in and that we believe will educate and entertain our audiences.

Talk about a mistake (or two) and the lessons you learned.
We have made plenty of mistakes, but there are two that we have learned from the most: First, trying to do too much too fast. We are a small company run by two people, and we nearly wrecked ourselves trying to create a full season of shows. By the time we got to December, we were totally exhausted and uninterested. However, this led to us re-envision what Intimate Opera is and can be. We now treat ourselves much more as a production company and less like a company with a performing arts series.

Our second mistake was not so much a mistake of our [own making] but one that we fell into because of how the company started. Intimate Opera began as part of the IndyFringe Theatre Festival in 2011. We felt, and still feel, a close tie to IndyFringe, and continued to be a part of the festival even after we branched out and did other performances. During our third year in the festival, it became quite clear that we were trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – IndyFringe Festival was not the right vehicle for opera. We are still grateful to IndyFringe for our start and look forward to continuing to perform in their theater spaces while exploring other collaborations in other parts of Indianapolis. Once we find the right opera for the festival – one that we think will appeal the more theater-centric audience or perhaps one that we create on our own – we will surely get back into the festival circuit. 

What are your top three tips for someone who wants to start an endeavor like yours?
1) Experiment to find out what you do well and how you are needed in your community.
2) Be flexible. Nothing will ever go how you plan.
3) Be patient. Nothing will ruin the organization faster than trying to outgrow your abilities.

Connect with Intimate Opera of Indianapolis on The Hub.


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8 Responses

  1. We’d like to thank Kati Moser for the beautiful photography she does for Intimate Opera!

  2. Kevin Salinas says:

    I went to a performance that the Intimate Opera gave and was blown away! The fact that they are there to provide people with opportunities is great and there definitely needs to be more organizations like this one.

  3. Abigail Martin says:

    This reminds me of a similar performance company in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Chamber Opera, also a smaller company, performing regularly in theatrical spaces, and doing less well known works. I saw a production of theirs last fall, and I really enjoyed it. However, I think they faced an interesting challenge–the space did not have the technological capacity for good subtitles to be projected, and they chose to perform in the original language. I spent the entire performance straining to see the words. I think that I would have enjoyed the opera a lot more had they been more innovative, instead of trying to stick with the traditional method of conveying lyrics for a production in another language. These small companies have a lot of ability to be creative, something that isn’t often seen in the world of classical music, and I would really like to see them take advantage of that. Though I have not seen anything by Intimate Opera, that certainly sounds like something they are doing!

  4. Saige Trottman-Huiet says:

    Endeavors like these are also so inspiring. Not only do I love the performance aspect of an intimate opera, but also that they are focused on the educational aspect. I really admire that they are trying to make it a not-for-profit. It shows their dedication to innovation in the music community and education beyond just the already existing community.

    • Isabel Lopez-Roldan says:

      I completely agree with you, Saige. I also love the performance and educational aspects of the Intimate Opera. This truly demonstrates their dedication to share their passion for music without focusing solely on personal financial benefits. I really admire their efforts to reach out to the community. I’d definitely love to see one of their performances!

  5. Allan Whitehead says:

    I love how the intimate opera is trying to focus on the educational aspect. This shows that we can share our passions for music without the problems of money. Reaching out to the community is truly what the arts are about.

  6. Megan says:

    I think its inspiring that the Intimate Opera is going to become a not-for-profit that plays underperformed works. It’s a great opportunity to educate the public and also give composers more exposure. I also like their advice that being flexible is a good way to succeed. They performed in the IndyFringe Festival but discovered it wasn’t quite what they belonged in, and it worked out.

  7. Emily Hoyland says:

    I think it’s wonderful that Intimate Opera tries to create an operatic experience that breaks down preconceived notions that a potential audience may have. Many people are hesitant to go to something like an opera and I appreciate their endeavor to make opera more accessible to the average listener

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