A New Act for the Opera Industry’s Greatest Resource Opera America
Founded in 1970, OPERA America is a national nonprofit organization committed to enriching the creation, presentation, and enjoyment of opera. Through a range of services that support individual artists, organizational sustainability, and audience development, OPERA America strives to create a vibrant culture within which the art of opera can truly flourish. During the organization’s relocation from Washington D.C. to New York City, and subsequent expansion, Denham Wolf served as an indispensable partner.
Denham Wolf was initially retained by OPERA America to identify space for administrative offices in New York City, the first of many anticipated steps in implementing the organization’s new vision. After successfully locating and negotiating the lease for 5,600 square feet of office space, we continued to seek solutions for all the programmatic elements of OPERA America’s new Manhattan home. Ultimately, our team negotiated an expansion for OPERA America within the same building, which accommodates a state-of-the-art audition hall, a rehearsal hall, vocal studios, a recording studio and media center, and recording and research libraries, in addition to the original administrative offices.
A signature feature of the new 25,000 square foot National Opera Center is the acoustically sophisticated audition hall, which requires exceptionally high ceilings and wide column spacing, nearly impossible characteristics to find in midtown Manhattan’s available building stock at that time. Thanks to Denham Wolf’s determination and creativity, the landlord of OPERA America’s new Manhattan offices agreed to a partial removal of the slab between two contiguous building floors, resulting in a unique double-height space for the audition hall. During construction, OPERA America was able to operate with the same building thanks to swing space secured by Denham Wolf. In addition, OPERA America’s long-term and build-to-suit lease provided important leverage in soliciting of investments from the landlord and the City.
Finding the right space for OPERA America was made even more complex by the organization’s stringent budget, tight timetable, and highly technical installation process. The Project Management Services that we provided included the vigilant monitoring of the design and construction teams’ progress, anticipating and promptly resolved potential problems throughout the design and construction process. Following completion of the landlord’s preparatory work, the full 25,000 square foot facility was built out in less than six months.
“We are proud to have been a part of OPERA America’s momentous relocation. The unconventional nature of their new site demonstrates how creativity, both in the arts and in real estate transactions, can reveal new paths to success.”
—Paul Wolf, Co-President at Denham Wolf
Since the National Opera Center’s opening, the program activities have exceeded OPERA American’s expectations, resulting in a platform of long-term sustainability and growth for the organization.