So who’s biggest and baddest?

There’s a bit of a debate about which North American opera company is the second largest. Nobody, of course, disputes the Metropolitan Opera’s overwhelming lead in sheer size. With 26 productions in repertoire for 2011/12 and something like 220 performances it is over three times the size of it’s leading rivals. It also has the biggest house, seating 3,800 with 300 standing room spaces. The next largest operations are:

San Francisco Opera – 9 productions, 72 performances plus 2 “Carmen for Families”.

Canadian Opera Company (Toronto) – 7 productions, 68 performances plus 1 Ensemble Studio performance.

Lyric Opera of Chicago – 7 operas plus “Showboat”, 59 opera performances plus 12 of Showboat (It seems to be SOP at the Lyric to do 7 “proper” operas plus a musical or operetta).

No-one else has more than 6 productions. All figures based on 2011/12.

Now the war Memorial Opera House in San Francisco seats 3,146 so assuming a reasonable capacity utilisation I think that makes them no. 2 by any measure. The Civic Opera House in Chicago seats 3,563 so assuming they too sell a reasonable proportion of their seats they probably come in at 3. The Four Seasons Centre only seats around 2,100 (actually a much more typical number for an opera house by world standards) but is almost always virtually sold out. So around 140,000 seats are sold for the COC in a season bringing them in at no. 4.

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