The Haymarket Opera Company aspires to enrich the musical community of Chicago and the Midwest with performances of 17th and 18th century operas. Chicago does not have an opera company that specializes in the repertoire from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. The board of directors, donors, and volunteers of HOC believe that the company will become a cultural gem of the city and region. HOC seeks to engage audiences of all ages with passionate performances of familiar as well as forgotten works.
The company's repertoire spans nearly two hundred years from Jacopo Peri's beautiful Euridice (written in 1600, the opera is the first for which the text and score survive) to the late 18th century masterworks of Mozart. Each production is staged intimately and guided by close attention to details of the libretti and scores. The operas are thoroughly researched and the audience will find fascinating information in their program notes. The world-class vocalists of HOC are trained in historically informed practices of sound production, diction, and ornamentation. They are also experienced actors who are schooled in baroque gesture and dance. Some operas will be staged in period costumes and sets while other productions will incorporate the aesthetics of the period in a more modern guise.
The Haymarket Opera Company uses a chamber orchestra of period instruments played by top experts in the field. Our instrumentalists are not only specialists on their individual instruments, they are historians who recreate the sounds 17th and 18th century composers would have heard as they wrote. Gut strings, valveless trumpets, and woodwinds with fewer keys lend a special timbre to the sound of the instruments and allow the music to breathe in a unique way. The players have been performing together for over a decade and their synergy is exciting and passionate. Their collective experience with orchestras around the country and world make for an opera orchestra of exceptional caliber.
The Haymarket Opera Company makes its home at the Mayne Stage, 1328 West Morse Avenue in Chicago. While the theater's origins can be traced back to the 20th century (built in 1912 as a vaudeville and movie house), it provides a perfect venue in which to perform 17th and 18th century operas. The setting is intimate and has a superb acoustic and perfect sight lines. Nestled in Rogers Park, one of Chicago's lakeside neighborhoods, the Mayne Stage is conveniently located steps from the CTA Red Line "Morse" stop and has inexpensive valet parking and plenty of street parking. Opera goers may also enjoy a full meal and/or drinks at Act One, the Mayne Stage's in-house restaurant.
The Haymarket Opera Company's name derives from two historical sources: Chicago's 1886 Haymarket Riot and the establishment of the King's Theatre in London's Haymarket district in 1705. As a pivotal moment in the history of labor relations in "the city that works," the Haymarket Riot is engrained into the city's character. It is an historical moment that is quintessentially "Chicago." On May 4, 1886, there was a public gathering of workers in Chicago who were on strike for an eight-hour workday. Police attempted to disperse the protesters when an unknown person threw a bomb. The police then opened fire, killing several demonstrators and eight officers. The site of the incident was designated in 1992 as an historic landmark. The Haymarket Affair, as it became known, is remembered internationally each year on May Day.
The King's Theatre in the Haymarket district of London is inextricably linked with the history of 17th and 18th century music. Between 1711 and 1739, more than 25 operas by George Frederick Handel premiered there. In the early 19th century, the theatre hosted the opera company that was to move to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in 1847, and presented the first London performances of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, Così fan tutte, and Don Giovanni.
HOC's name thus reflects its dual commitment to the city of Chicago and to the music of the 17th and 18th centuries.