410 W Girard Ave | Philadelphia, PA

Mission Statement

Mission Statement

International Opera Theater (IOT) is a non-profit organization based both in Philadelphia and Italy. Founded in 2003, the company is dedicated to the transformative power of spontaneity driven art, specifically in opera and musical theater, taking into consideration in its approach the fundamentals of commedia dell’arte and the principles of complexity, swarm and emergence theories. As concentric ambassador to Italy and the US, IOT draws from both heritages to create contemporary world premiere operas that link the Italian lyric tradition with the innovative spirit of modern America.During its 10 year activity, IOT has commissioned 10 original operas as well as other multicultural works, bringing together artists from more than 36 different countries and collaborating with some of the finest artistic organizations in the world including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The International Festival of Culture in Bergamo, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, The Museum of Modern Art in New York,The American Composers Forum, The Association for the Highest Level of Musical Perfection in Saluzzo and more.Shaping and redefining a new field of interdisciplinary art, the work of IOT exemplifies the virtues of participation, dialogue and respect present in community building and essential in our globally developing world.Committed to a sustainable model, IOT musical and stage directors work concurrently through an intuitive, movement based system to realize a premiere, which often takes years, in less than one month. Costumes and sets are primarily fabricated in Philadelphia under the guidance of Mi-Kyoung Lee, internationally renowned South Korean maker, head of fiber arts at the University of the Arts. 75% remainder fabrics  and mundane objects such as plastic bags, pipe cleaners, paper towels, tissue paper, woven plastic vegetable covers, water bottles, duct tape, plastic fencing, etc. are transformed into objet d’art under the hands of Mi-Kyoung and her UArts assistants.

At the heart of the IOT mission is facilitation of self discovery and nonverbal intercultural communication, provoking the training of a new generation of operatic artist through imagination driven productions, as well as master classes, interactive auditions and international competitions which bring artists from throughout the world to Italy and from Italy and beyond to Philadelphia.

IOT cultural education excites children through an innovative and empowering symbiotic paradigm. Presently IOT and International House Philadelphia are in preparation for a global peace project, a 5 language production that was developed in Philadelphia in 2003 and subsequently presented there for 7 years. This project enlivens ages 6-18 through the recreation of the last performance of an opera given 55 performances by youth in a concentration camp- a camp that held 15,000 children, of which only 150 were able to return home. Honoring youth in all cultures who were never able to return home, the project is envisioned to be presented simultaneously on all continents beginning in The Middle East  where Arabic and Jewish children will gather in Nazareth and Bethlehem to share music in 5 languages: French, German, Italian, English and Czech, as well as Arabic and Hebrew in this historically researched experience which addresses the precept of children as innocent victims of war, unable to return home. Project is planned for UN International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014.

In addition to the 8th production of  the Holocaust opera mentioned above, upcoming in March is the 9th production dedicated to life and works of Maurice Sendak at Rosenbach Museum, Philadelphia, master classes in Italy and in May 2013, American premiere of JAGO, sequel to Verdi’s Otello, in celebration of 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, with winner of International Opera Competition in Citta’ di Saluzzzo, dedicated to Magda Olivero, coming to Media Theatre near Philadelphia for American premiere and returning to Vercelli and Citta’ di Saluzzo to complete the performance circle.

At end of July 2013, IOT will present the world premiere of their 10th Italian opera: premiere Camille Claudel in Citta’ della Pieve followed by tour to Teatro Valle, oldest theater in Rome, Pavia and other Italian cities. IOT is poised, in collaboration with The Alliance Francaise and The Italian Consul in Philadelphia, to bring the story of this brilliant French sculptor,  inspiration for and lover of Rodin, yet completely unrecognized in her own lifetime, presented in the Italian language and written by the young Italian composer, Gianmaria Griglio, to Philadelphia. 2013 marks one hundred years since Claudel was interred in a mental institution where she spent the last 30 years of her life.


Karen Saillant, Founder and Artistic Director