The Australian soprano made a startling discovery preparing her new production of Der Rosenkavalier for Charlottesville.

When Australian soprano Miriam Gordon-Stewart and her two co-founders chose Der Rosenkavalieras the first opera for their brand new company, Victory Hall Opera in Charlottesville, Virginia, they had no idea they were in such close proximity to a missing link in the opera’s history.

The connection came to light in the early stages of planning, when Gordon-Stewart and her co-founders Maggie Bell and Brenda Patterson were scoping out the arts scene in Charlottesville. “When we arrived in town a little over a year ago,” Gordon-Stewart explains, “our first step was to meet everybody in town. Two of us were relative new-comers to Charlottesville and we wanted to meet everyone who worked in the arts industry – all the artists we could find. We had a series of coffees, lunches, dinners and drinks, attended things and saw what was happening in the town.”

Victory Hall Opera co-founders Maggie Bell, Miriam Gordon-Stewart and Brenda Patterson

Then, at a gallery exhibition they met an elderly German lady who was thrilled to hear they were putting on...