If it’s summer in Cincinnati, it’s time for opera in Cincinnati. 

This has been true for nearly 100 years, since community leaders enticed off-season stars from New York’s Metropolitan Opera to come find summertime work in Cincinnati (performing at the Zoo, no less!). The Cincinnati Opera is the second oldest opera company in the country.

A great deal has changed in the last century, but Cincinnati Opera remains a vital part of our region — as evidenced this past week when the company served up three powerful and distinct experiences. On Saturday, classical music lovers enjoyed a lavish production of Beethoven’s rarely performed “Fidelio.” On Monday, the opera came out to the community, at New Jerusalem Baptist Church, for one of this year’s Opera Goes to Church collaborations. (Yes, each summer the Opera joins the choirs and musicians of area churches and temples. The result is a uniquely inspirational experience shared by hundreds of church-goers and new-found friends.)

And in between, on Sunday, Cincinnati Opera performed the final presentation of “Fellow Travelers,” a gripping and timely world premiere that has been racking up positive reviews and press around the country. 

Commissioned and workshopped by the Cincinnati Opera and University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, “Fellow Travelers” is a modern opera that tells the story of the “lavender scare” of 1950s, when gay government workers were persecuted. If you’ve seen the show, superbly acted and filled with poignant music, you recognized its timeliness — and timelessness — immediately. Cincinnati Opera dedicated the 10 performances to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. 

No wonder word about this world premiere has rippled far and wide from Cincinnati. I received a many-times forwarded email, originating in England, with the subject line: “Heard Around the World,” with a link to a news story about “Fellow Travelers” published by New York Public Radio (WQXR), aptly entitled “Finding Opera and Freedom in Cincinnati.” The Cincinnati Opera, with this show, is just the latest of our region’s amazing arts assets to shine the national spotlight on our region. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and NPR have all had significant stories about our performing and visual arts. 

These stories build Greater Cincinnati’s reputation as a place where exciting things are happening. They tell those of us who live here what we already know — but isn’t it fun to see the rest of the world catching on? Let’s spread the news a little further.