About Us

Our Mission

Riverside Lyric Opera is dedicated to providing opera productions to Riverside, the Inland Empire and surrounding communities. We offer outreach programs to encourage and train adults and children and to involve the community in the opera art form.

Our History

Riverside Lyric Opera (RLO) is a Riverside-based professional regional opera company, established in December 2002 as a California non-profit corporation with IRC 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
The company is the brainchild of local music educator and opera singer Reynir Gudmundsson, who started the fledgling organization as Riverside Little Opera.

Gudmundsson brought his idea of a community opera company from Connecticut where he had been involved with a similar organization. Gudmundsson approached Daniel Olson, a Riverside attorney in corporate and business law, real estate and general civil litigation, about establishing an official nonprofit corporation for the opera; Olson provided guidance for its creation. Olson was the ideal partner. He majored in music in college and was a long-time member of the Pacific Chorale. He along with his wife, interpreter Doris C. Perez, were intrigued by Gudmundsson’s idea: “The reason I agreed to be involved in this company” Perez noted, “was because of the need for opera in Riverside . . . I wanted to help in this art form and learn more about it.” The couple, together with attorney and choral singer Montessa Holt, formed the opera’s first board, and Gudmundsson served as the company’s first artistic director.

With piano accompaniment and a chorus of roughly 20 singers from the region, RLO staged its first opera Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” opened in April 2003 starring internationally-known operatic soprano Awilda Verdejo, directed by Verdejo’s husband, Hartwig Eichberg, an accomplished opera coach, director, pianist and musicologist. An estimated 130 people attended this first performance at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Riverside. “The launch went very well. All involved were very excited to be part of the new adventure and the audience was very appreciative,” said Olson. The inaugural performance also received a positive review in the local newspaper, The Riverside Press-Enterprise. Music critic Sherli Leonard noted: “the Riverside Little Opera Company may be on its way to growing bigger.”

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