The Chicago Journal

La Selva Opera: A New Opera Company for the Masses

Maestro Vincent La Selva was a world-renowned American conductor famous for democratizing the opera. He founded the New York Grand Opera to make the art more accessible to the public. Every summer, he produced free concerts to thousands of music lovers, introducing the masses in New York to the beauty of opera. His daughter, Maria La Selva Vogt, is now on a mission to honor her father’s vision for the opera by establishing the La Selva Opera.

The new opera company aims to bring back the late maestro’s energy and vision not only to New York but to the entire country for the enjoyment of the masses. La Selva Opera represents Maestro La Selva’s vision to present opera in the way he intended—to all audiences, especially those who cannot afford the opera houses.

The new company is set to open in New York in the fall of 2021 or the spring of 2022 and will travel across the country, bringing the banner of the late conductor to all major cities in America. Accompanying the company will be a traveling museum displaying some of his most historically important items from the past.

Maestro La Selva was greatly considered a New York institution and a pillar in the city’s opera scene. In his life, he was often compared to the late great Arturo Toscanini. In 1995, the president of Italy knighted him as a cavalier in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in recognition of his services to Italian opera. He is widely considered the greatest conductor of Verdi in the world. He was also awarded the prized Handel Medallion by a former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani.

He founded and directed the New York Grand Opera, the third major opera company in New York, to create a middle ground between the amateur and the Metropolitan Opera. The Grand Opera made its unconventional debut in Central Park in 1974 with a production of Puccini’s La Bohème. This debut made its mark in history as the first fully staged opera outdoors in the United States. Over the maestro’s career, his performances were attended by over 3 million people. Vincent La Selva was known for his unique kind of energy and earthy musicianship. His passing in 2017 left a mark in the opera and classical scene in the city.

Maria is determined to bring his vision back to life as founder and executive director of the La Selva Opera, which will operate as a sister company to the New York Grand Opera. The late maestro’s friends and former colleagues Michael Hajek and Constantine Kitsopoulos will sit as artistic director and principal conductor respectively. In keeping with Vincent La Selva’s principles, the company will operate as a nonprofit, with revenues serving as the capital for future performances that will be either free or reasonably priced. 

The new La Selva Opera hopes for an exciting opening after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, they aim to become a viable and stable nonprofit opera with a strong reputation for putting on quality accessible productions for the masses.

Stay tuned for updates on the La Selva Opera on Facebook. Follow Maria on her Instagram account.

Opinions expressed by The Chicago Journal contributors are their own.