Virginia Landis Stewart founded ONCE UPON AN OPERA in 2008 with the mission to ignite a passion in children for classical music and to promote their intellectual development through the literary arts.
Currently six opera stories are complete, with an additional seven in development including a commissioned work based on the classic Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Each 20-minute opera story introduces original lyrics and twists on well-known classical music and fairytales, creating a literacy connection through music. Life lessons, good morals and sound decisions are always part of the story mix. The result is a fun and engaging method for developing passion in children of the rich complexity of the performing arts and opera. Young performers find inspiration, encouragement and personal mentoring from professional artist as they sing and perform together in the diverse cast. Whether singing a lead part, joining in the chorus or watching all the action from the audience, every ONCE UPON AN OPERA production is a delightful and memorable experience for all.
A long-time resident of Los Angeles, Virginia is originally from Michigan where her family strongly supported and nurtured her early developing musical talents. In elementary school Virginia was a serious piano student and began her vocal training at Sienna Heights University. She was a solo vocal performer by the age of 12. In her middle school days Virginia toured Europe as cellist in a State Youth Orchestra from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She attended the Interlochen Arts Academy for all four of her high school years and then receiving a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance (opera) from the University of Michigan School of Music.
After graduation she performed in European cathedrals as a soloist alongside organist Marilyn Mason and relocated to New York where she sang in several Off-Broadway productions and premiered lead roles in such Off-Broadway musicals as The Great Gatsby; It's A Wonderful Life; Little Women; Under Your Pillow and Pinafore in Blue. In Los Angeles she has sung lead operatic roles with Lyric Opera of Los Angeles, Casa Italiana Opera Company, Repertory Opera of LA, and El Dorado Opera. From January 1995-2006 she worked in the Hollywood film industry in post production for Universal Studios. During this time she developed a series of educational theatrical presentations for the Los Angeles County and Tampa, Florida schools systems with her sister, Elizabeth Stewart.
Education, music and autism-related causes have always been close to her heart as evidenced by her lifelong history of volunteering at hospitals, churches and organizations serving children and adults with special needs. Autism was an ever present reality of her childhood as she helped care for her sister afflicted with the disorder. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors of Rockwood Farm, a non-profit rural enrichment and living option for adults with autism.
Virginia is married to Alex Britton and they are the proud parents of five singing daughters, two of whom are featured on THE THREE PIGGY OPERA (Reese and Zoe) and all of whom love to perform!