The origins of opera traditions in Latvia may be traced back to the eighteenth century, when the first musical productions were staged in the Duchy of Courland and the first traveling opera troupes appeared in Riga. The city’s German Theater, which offered dramatic theater, opera, and ballet productions, was opened in 1782.
The official history of Latvian opera began in 1912, when the Latviešu Opera was established in Riga by Pāvuls Jurjāns. During the First World War, the singers evacuated to Russia. But in 1918, the company returned to Riga as the Latvju Opera, under the direction of Professor Jāzeps Vītols, the founder and long-time rector of the Latvian Academy of Music. On January 23, 1919, the Latvian National Opera staged its debut performance: Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman.
The LNO Opera Company today is a repertoire theatre which performs opera and ballet in a season that runs from September to the end of May. In the course of a season, the LNO will perform approx 200 performances. In a year, generally six new productions will be made, shared across both opera and ballets.
The Principal Set Designer is Andris Freibergs, and the Principal Costume Designer is Kristīne Pasternaka. The opera soloists work together with their vocal coaches Anita Garanča and Margarita Gruzdeva and rehearsal pianists Mārtiņš Zilberts, Ilze Grīnberga, Laila Holberga, Ilze Ozoliņa, and Elizabete Šīrante.
The Principal Chorus Master since 2006 is Aigars Meri. He works together with Choir Supervisor Andris Pujāts and Choir Rehearsal Pianist Ieva Šmite-Misiņa. The LNO Choir Patron is Latvijas Dzelzceļš.