In 1917 in Moscow Mordechai Golinkin wrote his thesis The Vision of the Hebrew Art Temple of Opera Work in Palestine. Six years later Golinkin arrived in Palestine to make his dream come true. Opera life in the pre-statehood Israel began in Tel Aviv on July 28, 1923 with Verdi's La traviata. No opera temple was in existence in the city, which was full of sands, and Golinkin's Palestine Opera had to perform in unsuitable cinema theatres. Golinkin directed the Palestine Opera for four years. In 1940, the composer Marc Lavry and the conductor George Singer established the Palestine Folk Opera. By 1946 sixteen productions had been staged, among them the first opera in Hebrew, Dan the Guard by Lavry, the poet Shin Shalom and writer Max Brod.
A major change came on November 13, 1945 when American soprano Edis de Philippe landed in Israel and within a short time created the Israel National Opera. And so with its birth, the new state had its own opera company. De Philippe's company performed night after night all over the country. She even managed to lure young opera stars in the making to spend some time in Israel and learn their craft in Tel Aviv.
In 1982 the Ministry of Culture and Education decided to cease its funding of the Israel National Opera. The company folded but Israel could not have afforded life without opera. In 1985 The Council for Arts and Culture initiated a new framework for opera in Israel. The New Israeli Opera was inaugurated as collaboration between the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv and the Israel Chamber Orchestra. Uri Offer, the then general director of the Cameri Theatre, was appointed general director of the New Israeli Opera, a post he held for a decade, and Yoav Talmi, who was the music director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra, was appointed music director of the New Israeli Opera. The New Israeli Opera, funded mainly at the time, by the Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality, featured as its first production Dido and Aeneas by Purcell at the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. The new Israeli Opera was enthusiastically supported by the then Mayor of Tel Aviv, Shlomo Lahat, who was the living spirit behind this new opera company, and the director of the Council for Arts and Culture, Avner Shalev.
Inaugurated in 1985, The Israeli Opera is today one of the focal points of Israeli culture - a vibrant international company committed to presenting opera as a dramatic theatrical art form.
Since 1994, the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center has been the headquarters of the Israeli Opera. The building was designed by Yaakov Rechter and the foyer by Ron Arad. The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center is the main part of the Golda Center, located between Weizmann St., Shaul Hamelech Blvd. and Leonardo da Vinci St. This area was intended for public buildings in the late 1950s. Over the years the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Beit Ariela Sha'ar Sion Library and the square that connects them were built. In the early 1980s, the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo dedicated the western part of the area to the Performing Arts Center, one of Tel Aviv's major cultural complexes. Since its inauguration, the Center has been the permanent headquarters of the Israeli Opera. Subsequently his additional wing was completed, which houses the Cameri Theater.
Constantly expanding its audience base, the Israeli Opera today enjoys the support of over 18,000 subscribers and mounts an average of eight productions each season. Israeli Opera productions feature leading opera artists from all over the world side by side with Israeli opera artists. These days the Israeli Opera collaborates regularly with leading opera houses all over the world and enjoys rave critical reviews in the international opera press for its performances on home turf and abroad. All Israeli Opera productions are sung in the original language with Hebrew and English surtitles . In recent years the Israeli Opera also presents dance, classical music, jazz and children music series at the Opera House.
In October 2005, the Israeli Opera inaugurated the “Founders’ Corner”, a memorial wall at the Opera House foyer, dedicated to the founders of opera in Israel.
The Israeli Opera is supported by the Ministry of Culture, by the Municipality of Tel Aviv Yafo and by private and public institutions who generously donate to the company.