Opera Hamilton made its debut performances in the community of Hamilton in 1980, staging two operas in its first season. The company was established by the ambitious spirits of Artistic Director Steven Thomas and General Manager Ruth Slater accompanied by the strong support of its leadership board.
In 1986, the company appointed conductor Daniel Lipton to the position of Artistic Director. In his first season, the company created an 'opera highlights' concert - POPERA™ - which has now become an audience favourite.
By 1994 Opera Hamilton had established itself as a strong artistic presence within the Hamilton community and surrounding area. During the 1994-95 season, Canadian Ken Freeman was hired as the company's first General Director. In the interests of promoting community partnership and with a view to harnessing the positive momentum already established by the company, Opera Hamilton became affiliated with Kitchener-Waterloo Opera in order to present opera productions in that community as well. In 1995, Opera Hamilton was re-incorporated as Opera Ontario, Inc., being separately marketed as "Opera Hamilton" and "Kitchener-Waterloo Opera."
In 2004 Edmonton native David Speers became the company's General and Artistic Director, having held the post previously with both the Calgary Opera (1988-98) and the Arizona Opera (1998-2004).
In his six years with the company, David Speers has worked tirelessly to strengthen the Opera Hamilton organization. He has seen the company through a period of great change and his vision for the future of the company has been integral to its ongoing regeneration. Mr. Speers continues to develop and implement a new Strategic Plan, including the re-branding of the new Opera Hamilton as it re-emerges with a fresh identity. He looks forward to dynamic and exciting future seasons and is enthusiastic about developing a renewed sense of partnership with the community and a rebirth of Hamilton's passion for Opera.
It was with great pleasure and pride that Opera Hamilton celebrated its 30th Anniversary Season in 2009/10. As the 2010/11 Season ushers in the company's fourth decade of presenting world-class opera productions it is clear that Opera matters in Hamilton and the surrounding communities. The company takes great pride in impacting the regional arts scene and the local economy.