Blog

Monday | Nov 21, 2016

Get to know the staff: Shannon Walenta

Shannon

Shannon Walenta
Managing Director
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 3 months (formerly 10 years 1995-2005)

Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Oversee development, marketing, and engagement departments

Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Opera is an art form about which I feel very passionate, and it is really fulfilling for me to help new folks, especially young people, get hooked on opera!

What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: I write a lot!

Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: Probably La Traviata. I fell in love with the tragic heroine after reading La dame aux camelias by Alexandre Dumas, before I ever saw the opera.

Your unofficial position in the company (e.g. ‘class clown’, ‘bouncer’, etc.): The Mom? staff meeting wrangler?

Your secret talent: I make awesome oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: Glue Woman: the superhero who keeps all the details in lots of different areas moving together for the good of the whole

Outside of the office you can be found doing….: Reading, swimming, hanging out with my family and two pooches

Friday | Nov 18, 2016

Get to know the staff: Rebecca Ihnen

bex-selfieRebecca Ihnen
Office Manager
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: About 5 months

Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Helping the daily operations run smoothly.

Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Seeing an event or performance transform from the beginning stages to the finished product.

What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: The arts admin world is different every day so you will see me do all kinds of tasks from answering the phones in the office to handling a power drill at an event.

Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: The first opera I attended, Tosca.

Your unofficial position in the company (e.g. ‘class clown’, ‘bouncer’, etc.): Birthday party planner and in-house florist.

Your secret talent: I can play a full game of Monopoly without getting angry.

Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: The Replenisher. Keeping that coffee and copy paper comin’ day after day.

Outside of the office you can be found….: In a coffee shop.

Thursday | Nov 17, 2016

Get to know the staff: Rachel Wagner

pups

Rachel Wagner
Graphic Designer
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 4 months

Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Create visually interesting and exciting communication

Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Being part of a company doing such great things in our community

What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: I make lists and color code all my projects. I even use an actual paper planner.

Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: Though I haven’t seen many, my favorite opera is La bohème. It was the first opera I ever saw my junior year of high school, and it seems extra special that is was our season opener my first year here.

Your unofficial position in the company (e.g. ‘class clown’, ‘bouncer’, etc.): Makeup Guru

Your secret talent: Photoshop

Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: The girl that gets all the projects done on time (knock on wood)

Outside of the office you can be found doing….: Playing with my two dogs, cooking, knitting, antique shopping and binge watching Netflix

Wednesday | Nov 16, 2016

Get to know the staff: Laura Jaros

Laura JarosLaura Jaros
Development Associate
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 2 months

Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: supporting philanthropic culture of the company

Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Getting to meet so many wonderful people!

Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: I honestly can’t choose, they are all amazing 🙂

Your unofficial position in the company (e.g. ‘class clown’, ‘bouncer’, etc.): “Lounge Bouncer” according to some of our patrons

Your secret talent: yoga enthusiast

Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: I am going to go with Robin as in Batman and Robin, I’m kind of like Jessica’s sidekick.

Outside of the office you can be found doing….: spending time with my family and friends, traveling, dancing, practicing yoga, binge watching TV shows, working out, FaceTiming with my besties back in LA

Monday | Oct 31, 2016

La bohème: Why do we still care?

What is it about this story that still touches us? I think it all boils down to the fact that this story makes us believe in love. I know that sounds cheesy, stay with me.  I came to Omaha not really liking this opera, if I’m completely honest. I just didn’t get it! I’ve worked on this show before and I’ve been in it twice. (I was the worst Alcindoro ever!)

Even being around this opera so much, I never understood what Puccini was trying to convey. My perception was that it was just a big overblown opera with lots of people, a million props and no real core. Now I get it. These characters are the people we all secretly want to be. They are young vibrant artists who choose poetry, music and art over money and an endless life of adulting. They feel deeply and passionately. They live for art and love. Through the Bohemians, Puccini reminds the audience of the joy and sadness of finding true love and losing it. We are all guilty of shutting ourselves off and enjoying the safety of isolation. We hide behind screens and dating apps, never willing to take the risk of experiencing the type of love portrayed in the opera.

Opera Omaha's production of La bohème. Photo by Matthew Haney

Opera Omaha’s production of La bohème. Photo by Matthew Haney

These ideas also captured the imagination of Jonathan Larson 100 years later. He produced a modern retelling of the same story in his musical, RENT. The universality of the story of these bohemians truly experiencing life, love and hardship was still relevant to audiences in 1994 when RENT had its first performance. The Bohemians in the 90s were struggling with HIV and drug addiction instead of tuberculosis of the 1860s, but the portrayal of love is still the same. Both pieces remind audiences that Love is more important than materialism and to live for today because tomorrow is uncertain.

Why do we care? I think because we’ve all personally experienced the situations from the scenes of the opera and we can all identify with one of the different characters. I’ve had terrible breakups like Rodolfo and Mimi and I’ve been destructively in love like Marcello and Musetta. We’ve all had to say goodbye to someone we love before we were ready. This opera is real. This opera is so true to life. This production made me fall in love with this piece for the first time. It makes me want to fall in love again and I think it will have the same effect on you.

Viva la vie Bohème!

~Matthew Haney, Assistant Director, La bohème

 

La bohème
Nov. 4 & 6, 2016
Orpheum Theater
Buy tickets

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