Meet Pensacola Opera

Meet Pensacola Opera

Founded in 1983 by a group of community volunteers (some of whom remain active trustees), Pensacola Opera is the only opera company in Northwest Florida and one of only five professional opera companies affiliated with OPERA America in the state. Our mainstage productions feature acclaimed artists who regularly appear throughout our nation and the world. When they combine their talents with those of our community partners – Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Opera Chorus, and Pensacola Children’s Chorus – they fill and thrill the Saenger Theatre, enhancing the quality of life throughout the Gulf Coast.

Pensacola Opera has been fortunate to count some of the most talented industry professionals among its leadership over the past 20 years. In 2000, the company welcomed Kyle Marrero as Artistic Director, who grew the company into the professional and renowned organization it is today. Upon Kyle’s retirement in 2018, Pensacola Opera saw the fruition of a three-year transition plan which welcomed Maestro Jerome Shannon as Artistic Director and Chandra McKern as Executive Director. This new leadership team celebrated a season of firsts in the 36th Season with company debuts of Romeo & Juliet and Florencia in the Amazon.  Now in the 37th season, the fiery mainstage performances are accompanied by more events than ever from free outdoor concerts in the park to the updating of beloved galas. 

In 2003, the company established the Artists in Residence program to continue our commitment to the identification, training, and nurturing of promising young singers. More than 200 singers audition each year for the five coveted residencies. Program alumni have won opera’s most prestigious competitions and are performing on some of opera’s largest stages. Each year through our education programs, these artists positively impact over 40,000 children and adults in the community.


1984: Pensacola Chamber Opera opens its first season at Pensacola Junior College Fine Arts Auditorium with Così fan tutte in January and The Pirates of Penzance in May.

1989: Pensacola Opera performs at the Saenger Theatre for the first time with Lehár’s The Merry Widow.

1997: Pensacola Opera stages its first American musical, Sondheim’s Passion.

2000: Kyle Marrero joins Pensacola Opera as Artistic Director. Office building on Tarragona St. purchased as new home for Pensacola Opera.

2003: Launch of the Artists in Residence program, bringing opera directly to schools and community spaces throughout the year.

2004: Pensacola Opera recognized by OPERA America as being among “the fastest-growing companies in the United States.” 

2009: Presentation of Aïda – complete with a live elephant on stage – marks the reopening of the newly renovated Saenger Theatre.

2010: World premiere of The Widow’s Lantern.

2015: From Words to Music program recognized by Yale University as a Distinguished Music Education Partnership. Pensacola Opera also receives a mega-grant from Foo Foo Festival to present The Three Tenors, a free concert in the Blue Wahoos Stadium to 2,500 attendees.

2016: Partnership with Escambia County School District selected by the Kennedy Center as one of their Partners in Education – the only opera company included in nearly 100 organizations chosen that year.

2017: Pensacola Opera performs its first Spanish opera – Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires.

2019: A season of firsts – new leadership team of Artistic Director Jerome Shannon and Executive Director Chandra McKern add two new titles to the company’s repertoire: Romeo & Juliet and Florencia in the Amazon.

2021:  In response to the global pandemic, Pensacola Opera reimagines its season with live and recorded digital content and socially distanced performances of Carmen and HMS Pinafore on the Saenger Theatre stage and via live-stream.  A CARES grant from the NEA secured the salaries of the Artists in Residence, while an IMPACT100 grant provides the funding for a new opera van and the debut of the Wenger StageMobile, allowing the company to expand its free community engagement programs for over 20,000 children and adults.

Most Performed Operas

Madama Butterfly (5)
La traviata (5)
La bohème (5)
Carmen (5)
Così fan tutte (4)

Most Performed Composers

Puccini (16)
Verdi (12)
Mozart (11)
Bizet (6)
Donizetti (6)
Gilbert & Sullivan (6)

Languages Pensacola Opera has performed in

Italian, English, French, Spanish, German

World Premiere

The Widow’s Lantern (2010)

Florida Premieres

Glory Denied (2016) Dead Man Walking (2017) As One (2019)

Theatre Information


All of our performances – even those in English – are accompanied by supertitles. Think of the subtitles for a foreign film, but instead of scrolling at the bottom of the silver screen, they’re scrolling across the top of the stage.


For all events at the Saenger Theatre, patrons will be subjected to a bag and security check. Oversized bags, outside food and beverages, and umbrellas will not be permitted in the theatre.

Health & Safety

Audience members will be asked to wear a mask for the duration of your experience at the Saenger Theatre.

Seating in the theatre has been arranged to ensure social distancing between guests within different parties. We also encourage all of our guests to take advantage of the hand sanitizer which will be available throughout the theatre.

Photography & Cell Phones

The use of cameras, phones, and other recording devices is strictly prohibited during performances. You are welcome to take photos at intermission and share using the hashtags #pensacolaopera and #loveopera and tagging @PensacolaOpera.

Continue the Conversation

Join Director of Education Cody Martin for a free, informal, and enlightening introduction to the opera you are about to enjoy. This year, find this conversation online here. Follow all of our events and more at pensacolaopera.com and check back for updates and info through our social media channels.

Late Seating Policy

Doors open 90 minutes before each performance. Be mindful of downtown parking and weather conditions as you make your way to the theatre. Once the performance has started, latecomers will be allowed to be seated only at the appropriate intervals as established by the show director. Viewing screens are located in the lower lobbies of the theatre but do not provide audio feedback.


Staff & Board of Directors


Chandra McKern, Executive Director
Jerome Shannon, Artistic Director
Cody Martin, Director of Education & Artists in Residence Program
Meg Burke, Director of Marketing & Communications
Kristen Carter, Patron Services Manager
Alan C. Brothers, Finance Manager

Board Officers & Executive Committee

Ralph Peterson, Chair
Karen Huang, Vice Chair
Martha Richard, Treasurer
Tracy Clark, Secretary
Barbara Jackson, Immediate Past Chair
Malcolm Ballinger, Officer
Bobby Dunn, Officer
Ruth Orth, Officer
Buzz Ritchie, Officer

Trustees Emeriti

Don Partington
Jan Miller
Nell Potter


Diane Appleyard
Brian Baumgardner*
Allan Benton
Paula Brasch
John Brannan
Karen Burke
Mark Chastain
Donovan Chau
Juliet DeCampos
Karen Emmons
Nan Harper
Lyndi Kessler
Philomena Madden
Helen McDaniel
Lisa Minshew
Clair Montgomery
Curt Morse
Jenny Loftin
Diane Peterson
Scott Sallis
Ed Siegel
Justine Simoni
Lynne Tobin
Phil Webb
Laura Juliet Wood

*indicates new trustee