40-year-old opera company presenting its final production

Nov 20, 2015

The curtain will fall this weekend on a 40-year theatrical enterprise that bills itself as the longest continually-producing opera company in Western New York.

The Buffalo-based Opera Sacra is a religious-themed opera company that has distinguished itself with its production of  sacred and classical works of vocal music. Some of the works date back 1,000 years and have included medieval literature dramas, children’s fables and contemporary masterworks.

It was founded and directed by Father Jacob "Jack" Ledwon, pastor at St. Joseph University Church on Main Street. He will turn 69 next week, and he told WBFO running the opera company has become more taxing over the years.

“I really enjoy the last couple weeks when we are putting it on stage and hearing it all put together; but there’s all the grant writing, fundraising, reports, the budget, the publicity. I do a lot of that myself, so I am kind of running out of steam with those things. So, I think that it is a good time to end.”

Father Ledwon stressed that just because Opera Sacra is ending its four-decade-long run doesn't mean that Western New Yorkers are losing interest in opera.

(Left to right), Mike Randall and Colleen Marcello have speaking parts in "Joan of Arc at the Stake." To the right is Father Jacob "Jack" Ledwon.
Credit Opera Sacra

“People that love opera are very… they’re like sports fans," he said. "They are very avid about it. They will travel distances to see an opera, they’ll spend great money to go have to go to an opera. So fans might not be as big a market as other artistic endeavors but the fans are very devoted.”

Opera Sacra’s last performance will be “Joan of Arc at the Stake” Friday and Saturday at St. Joseph University Church at 3269 Main St. Both performances begin at 8:00 p.m. with suggested donation prices for general admission and senior citizens.

Three choruses will perform in the production. The Buffalo Master Chorale, the Unitarian Universalist Church Choir and the Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus will lend 100 voices to the ambitious production that also includes dozens of musicians, actors and dancers.