Join Madison Opera Offstage!

Every season Madison Opera supplements its mainstage performances with innovative ways to experience and explore the breadth of the art form. From online lectures and in-person panel discussions to recitals and creative collaborations. Most of these programs are free and all of them are an enlightening exploration of opera.

Community Previews

Every season, Madison Opera brings free previews of our operas to local retirement communities. Madison Opera staff offer a multimedia look at each opera – their composers, their histories, and details of our upcoming production – and a Studio Artist performs an aria from it.

Candide Preview
Wednesday, March 27 ~ Oakwood Village (West)
Thursday, March 28 ~ Capitol Lakes

Digital Previews

Have tickets to a performance? Thinking of buying some? Watch a multimedia preview of each show to learn more, with an entertaining look at its composer, history, and music, as well as information on Madison Opera’s production.

Watch live for the chance to ask questions of Kathryn during the preview; the previews will then remain online for you to watch whenever you wish.

Digital Preview: Candide
April 4, 2024 at 7 pm
Streaming live at

Digital Preview: Tosca
Streamed on October 12
Watch on YouTube

Digital Preview: The Anonymous Lover
Streamed on January 4
Watch on YouTube

Opera Up Close

Madison Opera’s popular series of behind-the-scenes previews of each opera returns! General Director Kathryn Smith leads a multimedia exploration of the history of each opera, followed by a roundtable discussion with the production’s leading artists and creative team.

Candide Up Close
Sunday, April 21, 1-3 pm

Opera Up Close is held at The Margaret C. Winston Madison Opera Center.
Admission is $20 for non-subscribers, $10 for 2 show subscribers and free to 3 show subscribers, payable at the door. Subscribe and save up to $60 on Opera Up Close tickets.

Opera Talk with Kathryn Smith

There is so much more to opera than what happens on stage in any one production. In these hour-long lectures, General Director Kathryn Smith takes a dive into centuries of history, thematic connections, and stories, illustrated with slides, video, dry humor, and cute animals.

Watch live for the chance to ask questions of Kathryn during the talk; the talks themselves will remain online for you to watch when it suits you.


Opera Talk: Novel Adaptations
March 7, 2024 at 7 pm

There is nothing like a great book made into a great opera. Although sometimes great books can make mediocre operas, and mediocre books can make great operas. Join Kathryn for an exploration of literary opera, from Candide (Voltaire / Bernstein) to War and Peace (Tolstoy / Rimsky-Korsakov) and beyond.
Streaming live at


Opera Talk: Killer Soprano Roles
September 21, 2023 at 7 pm

Never turn your back on a soprano with a knife. Or poison in her ring. Or magic powers. Sometimes operatic characters learn these lessons the hard way. Join Kathryn for a dive into killer soprano roles, with a likely detour into some famous sopranos with equally killer voices.
Streaming live at

Opera Talk: Operatic Animals
December 7, 2023 at 7 pm

Presenting the adorable side of opera! As winter begins, Kathryn will introduce you to some of opera’s cutest (or not-so-cute) animals, from those that have plot purposes (dragons, chiefly) to those that have trod the boards, shared dressing rooms with singers, and otherwise made audiences and performers smile for centuries.
Streaming live at

Studio Artist Recitals

New for the 2023/24 season. Enjoy an evening of music as Madison Opera Studio Artists present a collection of songs that span from opera to art songs and contemporary to classic. Free and open to the public.

Capitol Lakes

Thursday, November 30 at 7 pm
Sunday, March 10 at 3 pm

Oakwood Village (West)

Friday, December 1 at 7 pm
Wednesday, March 20 at 7 pm

Opera Postcards from Madison

Like love notes to our hometown, our Opera Postcards pair performers and places to bring you soaring music, a little bit of drama, and a lot of smiles. Watch below as we take you to the Children’s Museum, Central Library, Chazen Museum of Art, Olin Park, and the Overture Center for the Arts.