Explore opera!

Madison Opera offers a wide range of education and engagement activities from both adults and students.  Keep reading for information on talks and previews, the Student Matinee, and the High School Apprentice Program.

Our online content includes recorded versions of General Director Kathryn Smith’s previews (posted about three weeks prior to each opera) and Opera Guides, which offer links to online resources about each opera, such as video samples, pop culture references and more.

Opera Novice

Demystifying opera
one hour at a time

Opera Novice Square

New to opera? Just want more insight? Come to the Madison Opera Center for a short, fun, and informative evening, led by General Director Kathryn Smith. Learn about different aspects of opera and its history, enjoy a live performance, and have the chance to ask questions. It’s the perfect jump-start for the opera-curious.

The Operas of Verdi
Friday, October 11, 2019 | 6-7pm

Welcome to the 21st Century: New American Operas
Friday, January 17, 2020 | 6-7pm

Multitudes of Orpheus: The Myth and the Opera(s)
Friday, March 27. 2020 | 6-7pm

Opera Novice is held at The Margaret C. Winston Madison Opera Center and is FREE and open to the public. RSVP’s are requested.

Community Previews

An informative sneak-peek of each upcoming opera

201920 Season_LearnPage

Free previews are held during the year in public libraries and retirement communities, bringing opera up close to our neighborhoods.  Madison Opera staff lead a multimedia look at each opera – their composers, their histories, and details of Madison Opera’s upcoming production.  Each preview also includes a live performance of an aria from the opera.

Fellow Travelers Preview
January 9, 2020 | 7pm
Capitol Lakes Retirement

Orpheus in the Underworld Preview
March 24, 2020 | 7pm
Capitol Lakes Retirement

Capitol Lakes Retirement Community
333 W. Main Street 
Madison, WI 53703

Opera Up Close

There’s no better way to get up close with opera

Opera up Close Square

Join Madison Opera for a series of behind-the-scenes previews of this season’s productions. 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.

La Traviata Preview
Sunday, October 27, 2019 | 1-3pm

Fellow Travelers Preview
Sunday, February 2, 2020 | 1-3pm

Orpheus in the Underworld Preview
Sunday, April 12, 2020 | 1-3pm

Opera Up Close is held at The Margaret C. Winston Madison Opera Center. Admission is $20 for non-subscribers, payable a thte door. Subscribe and save up to $60 on Opera Up Close tickets.

High School Apprentice Program

Madison Opera’s High School Apprentice Program offers high school juniors and seniors the unique opportunity to explore the world of professional opera. With behind-the-scenes access to rehearsals and performances, one-on-one interaction with professional artists and industry experts, and guidance on training, the apprentices receive a thorough introduction to the production process and careers in the performing arts.  Many former apprentices have gone on to sing in the Madison Opera Chorus.

Apprentices will have the opportunity to:
-meet and dine with distinguished guest artists
-attend rehearsals and performances
-participate in masterclasses and workshops
-attend Opera Novice and Opera Up Close previews
-speak with Madison Opera staff and crew on working in the opera industry
-take a backstage tour of the Overture Center
-have a great time while learning about what it takes to bring an opera to life

The program is free of charge, generously underwritten by Madison Opera’s supporters. More information about the program can be found here.

We are now accepting applications for the 2019/20 program until September 30th. Please click the button below to apply!

Student Matinee

Now in its fourth decade, the Student Matinee program brings thousands of middle and high school students from across Wisconsin to a Madison Opera performance.  The 2019/20 Student Matinee is La Traviata on October 30, 2019 in Overture Hall.

La Traviata last approx. 2 hours 45 minutes, including 2 intermissions. Closer to the matinee, teachers will receive further details regarding bus and parking information; as well as a study guide for the performance. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Preview Videos

Rusalka Preview

A Little Night Music Preview

Cav/Pag Preview

Opera Guides

Madison Opera’s Click | Read | Watch | Listen guides offer an introduction to each opera, with links to online resources, such as full scores, YouTube samples, pop culture references, and more.  Click below to download each pdf guide.


A. Paul Jones
Charitable Trust

Herb Kohl Philanthropies

With additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, The Evjue Foundation, Inc. charitable arm of The Capitol Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation