Our Story & Name
Haymarket Opera Company enriches the musical community of Chicago and the Midwest with performances of 17th- and 18th-century music. HOC is the most active early opera company in the United States, using period instruments and historically-informed vocal practices and staging conventions. We seek to engage audiences of all ages with passionate performances of both familiar and neglected works.
Our name reflects a dual commitment to the city of Chicago and to the music of the Enlightenment era. HOC's name derives from two historical sources: Chicago's 1886 Haymarket Riot and the establishment of the King's Theatre in London's Haymarket district in 1705.
As a pivotal moment in the history of labor relations in "the city that works," the Haymarket Riot is engrained into the city's character. On May 4, 1886, there was a public gathering of workers in Chicago who were on strike for an eight-hour workday. Police were attempting to disperse the protesters when an unknown person threw a bomb. The police then opened fire, killing several demonstrators; eight officers also died. The site of the incident was designated in 1992 as an historic landmark. The Haymarket Affair, as it became known, is remembered internationally each year on May Day.
The King's Theatre in the Haymarket district of London is inextricably linked with the history of 17th- and 18th-century music. Between 1711 and 1739, more than 25 operas by George Frederick Handel were premiered there.