Philadelphia’s Groundbreaking Opera Festival Is Back, September 20-30

Opera Philadelphia's O18 festival returns with 25 contemporary performances — including a free event on Independence Mall...

For a second straight year, Opera Philadelphia puts Philadelphia squarely at the forefront of the music world with its O18 Festival, an 11-day extravaganza of concerts and happenings running from September 20 to 30.


  • The 11-day O18 Festival runs from September 20 to 30.
  • The fest features seven operatic happenings, including two world premieres.
  • Twenty-five total performances take place in six venues across the city.
  • Ticket prices range from free (!) to $275.

The operatic productions scheduled for O18 include four full operas: a new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, a reworking of Francis Poulenc’s La voix humaine and two world premieres.

Other performances to look forward to include recitals of up-and-coming singers, a genre- and gender-bending cabaret theater piece and a return of the popular Opera on the Mall with an HD showing of last year’s festival hit We Shall Not Be Moved on Independence Mall.

Festival Overview & Tips

Opera Philadelphia’s second-annual O18 festival solidifies Philadelphia’s reputation as a hot spot for contemporary opera.

With 25 performances over 11 days, the fest offers much to delight opera aficionados as well as a selection of events that make opera more accessible to the novice.

Opera on the Mall
(Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)
Opera Philadelphia’s groundbreaking 11-day O18 festival brings 25 performances to spaces all over the city, including the popular Opera on the Mall event on Independence Mall on September 29.

The O18 festival takes place at some of the city’s top cultural institutions. Popular venue Theatre of the Living Arts hosts two modern music shows, while other innovative works showcase the acoustics of the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Still more performances use the majestic galleries of the Barnes Foundation or the intimate confines of the Curtis Institute of Music’s Field House.

Finally, opera fans should look forward to the return of the popular — and free (with a ticket)! — Opera on the Mall on Saturday, September 29 on Independence Mall.

Look for the print guide for a complete program of events or check here for a comprehensive calendar and details.


Tickets to every show can be purchased online and range from free (Opera on the Mall) to $25 to $275. Some performances are already sold out, so it’s best to snag tickets soon.

If tickets are still available, students can purchase seats for as little as $10 beginning two hours before curtain for performances at the Academy of Music and Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Advance reservation tickets for youth under 19 years old are half off with the purchase of a full-price adult seat.

Read on for our a guide to the performances scheduled for O18. See you at the opera!

Sky on Swings

Sky on Swings for Opera PhiladelphiaPhoto by Dominic M. Mercier

O18 kicks off with a world premiere opera that takes an uncompromising look at living with Alzheimer's disease.

Sky on Swings

When:September 20-29 (select dates)
Where:Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street
Cost:$25 and up

Fridays at Field

Intimate recitals by members of Opera Philadelphia’s Emerging Artists Program from the Curtis Institute of Music.

Fridays at Field

When:September 21 & 28
Where:Curtis Institute of Music Field Concert Hall, 1726 Locust Street

Lucia di Lammermoor

Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera PhiladelphiaPhoto by Kelly & Massa

Star vocal talents lend their voices to a brand-new production of a romantic opera by 19th-century Italian musical genius Gaetano Donizetti.

Lucia di Lammermoor

When:September 21-30 (select dates)
Where:Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street
Cost:$25 and up

Glass Handel

Glass Handel at Opera PhiladelphiaPhoto by Pix Talarico

The very different musical stylings of George Frideric Handel and Philip Glass collide in an operatic art installation.

Glass Handel

When:September 22, 23 & 30
Where:Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Ne Quittez Pas: A Reimagined La voix humaine

See a newly imagined version of the famed confessional opera of the 1950s and a revue of French art songs.

Ne Quittez Pas: A Reimagined La voix humaine

When:September 22-30 (select dates)
Where:Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South Street
Cost:$25 and up

Queens of the Night

Queens of the Night at Opera PhiladelphiaPhoto by Dominic M. Mercier

Cabaret stars Blythely Oratonio and Martha Graham Cracker join special guests for three nights of improvisational theatrical performances.

Queens of the Night

When:September 24, 25 & 28
Where:Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South Street
Cost:$25 and up

Opera on the Mall: We Shall Not Be Moved

We Shall Not Be Moved at Opera PhiladelphiaWe Shall Not Be Moved | Photo by Dave DiRentis

The contemporary opera that rocked audiences at last year's festival gets a free showing on Independence Mall. Pro tip: Bring a blanket and some warm clothing.

Opera on the Mall: We Shall Not Be Moved

When:Saturday, September 29, 7 p.m.
Where:Independence Mall, 5th & Market Streets
Cost:Free (tickets required)



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