The Wolf Trap Opera Company (sometimes abbreviated WTOC) was founded in 1971 as part of the program of the Wolf Trap Foundation located near the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Fairfax County, Virginia. The company is a residency program for aspiring opera professionals, with its major production being a summer opera festival.
The company's mission is to discover and develop talent in the opera field and to serve young singers by giving them training and performance experience with opera productions, concerts and recitals each summer at the Filene Center and The Barns at Wolf Trap. Productions also feature the work of rising directors, conductors, designers, coaches, stage managers, scenic artists, and technicians.
The Company provides performance and career development opportunities for two tiers of emerging professional singers. Filene Young Artists have typically recently finished academic study and apprentice training and are about to enter the full-time professional stage of their careers. They sing all featured and supporting roles in WTOC productions and are featured in concert and recital. Notable Filene Young Artists include Lisa Hopkins Seegmiller, John Holiday and Craig Colclough.
Studio Artists are either about to finish their undergraduate study or have just begun work on a graduate degree. They sing ensemble and small roles in WTOC productions and present a staged scenes program.
From a pool of over 1,000 singers, typically 400 to 500 are chosen to audition. From that group, 15 to 20 are selected as Filene Young Artists and 12 to 16 are selected as Studio Artists.
The company typically presents three operas at the Filene Center and/or The Barns at Wolf Trap. In addition, recitals and other performances take place. In 2010 the company presented Zaide, Il turco in Italia, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The 2012 season included Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at The Barns. The 2013 season opened with Gioachino Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims, followed by Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata and Falstaff.
Wolf Trap Opera also regularly presents operatic rarities in full production. Recent seasons have included performances of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles in 2015, Florian Leopold Gassmann's L'opera seria in 2016, Philip Glass' The Fall of the House of Usher and The Juniper Tree, John Musto's Bastianello and Rossini's La pietra del paragone in 2017, Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins in 2018, as well as Gluck's L'île de Merlin and Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis in 2019.
Over 90% of recent Filene Young Artists are working as professional singers. Among notable alumni are Stephanie Blythe (1995 and 1996), Lawrence Brownlee (2001), Elizabeth Futral (1991), Denyce Graves (1989), Christine Goerke (1995), Nathan Gunn (1994 and 1995), Beverly Hoch (1980), Lisa Hopkins (2007), Michael Maniaci (2002), Simon O'Neill (2003), Dawn Upshaw (1985), Jennifer Larmore (1983), Mark Delavan (1988), Paul Austin Kelly (1987), James Maddalena (1975, 1976, and 1977), Mary Dunleavy (1993 and 1994), Robert Orth (1975, 1976, and 1979), Rockwell Blake (1974 and 1976), Richard Croft (1985), and Anna Christy (2000 and 2001).