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Friday | Sep 14, 2012

Choral Collaborative and the Maestro

Georg Getty’s Omaha Northwest High School Choir and Maestro J. Gawf work on Italian and Latin diction

We know that arts education is important to academic, social, and emotional development and that kids involved in extracurricular arts-related activities are more likely to be high achievers in many areas. In Omaha and the surrounding communities, there are numerous opportunities for kids to be involved in band, choir, drama, and a host of other activities. This is a truly wonderful thing about Omaha and our fantastic public schools.

To further enhance arts education, organizations from outside the school, like Opera Omaha, collaborate with educators and new ideas are presented and community connections are forged. So, how is Opera Omaha part of this process? We have a plan!

Opera Omaha’s Resident Music Director, J. Gawf, spent parts of the past two weeks in area high school music rooms. He worked with high school choirs on Italian and Latin diction in preparation for the 2012 Choral Collaborative rehearsals and concert. Maestro Gawf works with the students before the schools come together to sing a fantastic program with an orchestra and featured professional singers. The Choral Collaborative concert is presented in partnership with the Omaha Symphony in the Holland Performing Arts Center on Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 2:00pm.

We are thrilled to be part of connecting students to the community through arts education and honored to work with the Omaha Symphony in presenting the students’ efforts to the public. Please make plans to join us, hear wonderful music, and see these young people perform musical works of great significance. We look forward to seeing you there!

The information below comes from the Omaha Symphony website.


CHORAL COLLABORATIVENovember 11, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Holland Performing Arts Center

Choral Collaborative provides opportunities for high school choirs to perform large symphonic and operatic works with the Omaha Symphony and guest soloists. Working towards a formal performance through individual and combined rehearsals, students are granted unparalleled experiences and access to the world of professional arts.

Congratulations to the 2012/13 Choral Collaborative Choirs: Bellevue East, Omaha Bryan, Bellevue West, Blair, Westside High School, Omaha Northwest, Lincoln Southwest, and Lewis Central.

Are you interested in participating in the 2013/14 Choral Collaborative program?  Contact us for more information!

Tuesday | Sep 11, 2012

We love working with IATSE Local 42!

What is IATSE and why do we love working with them? IATSE is the acronym for International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. These professional men and women make our productions possible. They are responsible, thoroughly trained, and local. Their skills are valuable and consistent. Our singers and other performers are more safe with members of IATSE Local Union No. 42 behind the scenes.

IATSE member Lance Hedlund and fans at the 2012 Septemberfest Labor Day parade

Opera Omaha is proud to work with our local union stagehands! A big “thank you” goes to everyone who helps us produce big opera.

To learn more about IATSE Local Union No. 42, click here to visit their website.

Thursday | Sep 06, 2012

Omaha Creative Week and the Opera

Opera productions are full of creative people from varied artistic and administrative backgrounds. Like other forms of live theatre, opera includes designers for lighting, stagecraft, costumes, props, and the list goes on. Talented, hard-working musicians perform in the orchestra pit and sing on stage. Long before these artists arrive, the opera is worked and worked again in the minds and on the papers of the stage director and administrative staff. With all these elements to choose from, Opera Omaha was a natural fit for an activity during Omaha Creative Week.

Omaha Creative Week provides this description for the week and the purpose behind it on their website:

Omaha Creative Week celebrates the greatest social and economic transformation of our time — when creative talent and fresh ideas transcend rigid organizations and hard assets. Omaha Creative Week celebrates local innovation in culture, businesses, education and social services and those who create new ideas, forms, methods and interpretations.

So, how exactly does Opera Omaha fit into the week’s events? To begin, many of the planning meetings for the week were held at our new administrative offices at 1850 Farnam Street. The team of Caretakers (as termed on the website) met in our rehearsal space and put everything together. The week is filled with “Sparks”. All participating organizations developed a plan to include the public in either a new or regularly scheduled event as part of the celebration of creativity. To further our involvement, Opera Omaha scheduled two Sparks.

Our Sparks are tonight, September, 6 beginning at 6:30pm and Saturday, September 8 beginning at 12:30pm. What will we be doing? Our talented Opera Omaha Chorus is in rehearsal for our October 5 and 7 production of Verdi’s grand classic opera, La traviata and YOU are invited to join the rehearsal. We have an empty rehearsal room, all we need is you. Come, bring your friends, and release that inner diva!

Opera Omaha rehearsal room, photo credit Elmer Ellefson

Tuesday | Aug 28, 2012

Collaboration: It’s what we do

Our 2012-2013 season marks a return to big productions and classic stories. We’re beginning with a beautiful, traditional production of Verdi’s La traviata, presenting a new Jun Kaneko designed production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and concluding our season with a mysterious world of doors in Bartok’s only opera, Bluebeard’s Castle.

As different as the three productions are, there is a collaborative thread in each. We work with the Omaha Symphony to provide an outstanding orchestra and our ongoing partnership with Ballet Nebraska is enhanced and increased this season. Ballet Nebraska dancers are featured in each of our 2012-2013 operas.

We’re offering opera and ballet intertwined with a wonderful orchestra in the beautiful Orpheum Theatre. This is truly live performance at its finest! It wouldn’t be possible without our partners at the Omaha Symphony and Ballet Nebraska. Thank you for your ongoing support!

The information below is from Ballet Nebraska’s website and is available here: http://balletnebraska.org/2012/overturff-and-gawf-discuss-ballet-nebraskaopera-omaha-collaborations-for-upcoming-season/

Overturff and Gawf discuss Ballet / Opera collaborations

Omaha – July 31, 2012    If you are a patron of the arts in Omaha, you’ll see familiar faces in several places this season, as evidenced by Ballet Nebraska and Opera Omaha’s unveiling of four collaborative productions this morning on CBS Channel 3 KMTV’s Morning Blend show.

View ‘Morning Blend’ interview here.

ABOVE: J. Gawf and Erika Overturff discuss the upcoming ballet and opera seasons with ‘Morning Blend’ hosts.

Omaha’s professional ballet and opera companies will collaborate this season on several productions — beginning with a two-city performance of The Nutcracker at the Arts Center at Iowa Western on Nov. 30 and at Omaha Music Hall on Dec. 2. J. Gawf, musical director of Opera Omaha, will assemble and direct young singers for their performance as the North Wind Chorus during the Land of the Snow scene in Ballet Nebraska’s version of The Nutcracker – which premiered on tour in 2010 and to Omaha and Council Bluffs audiences last year.

In turn, Gawf says “Ballet Nebraska is going to be involved in every one of Opera Omaha’s productions this year.”

Overtuff will choreograph and direct Ballet Nebraska’s professional dancers for the opera’s production of the beloved Verdi classic La Traviata Oct. 5 & 7 at Orpheum Theater.
Ballet Nebraska dancers will also appear in movement for scenes in Jun Kaneko’s stunning new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute Feb. 22 & 24 at Orpheum Theater.


Bluebeard’s Castle (April 19 & 21 – Orpheum) will not only feature professional guest dancers from Ballet Nebraska but also the Omaha Symphony on the stage — and marks the return of Hal France to the conducting stage.

In addition to its performances with Opera Omaha and The Nutcracker – including a touring production in Spirit Lake, IA – Ballet Nebraska will present a fall production of Momentum featuring Armando Duarte’s Safona de Boca, Overturff’s Tropico and Matthew Carter’s Sadako (Oct. 19 & 21 at Witherspoon Hall, Joslyn Art Museum) as well as an adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic Alice In Wonderland choreographed by master ballet storyteller Kennet Oberly (April 26 & 27 at IWCC Arts Center).

Tuesday | Aug 21, 2012

Meet the Blogger!

Well, ahem, this is uncomfortable. Hi. My name is Amy. (Now you say, in unison and your most Simpson-esque voice, “Hi, Amy.”) I’m the blogging, facebooking, tweeting, pinterest-posting part of Opera Omaha. During an employee transition at the end of 2011, I took over the social media responsibilities for Opera Omaha. I knew less than nothing about most social media. Now I feel comfortable enough to say, “We’ve come a long way baby.” 

This morning, at our weekly staff meeting, I was looking for a blog topic. My darling co-worker, Cammy Watkins, said that I should be the topic and that she was going to write the article. To my horror, she did. Here it is. Meet the blogger!

Written by Opera Omaha’s Production Coordinator, Cammy Watkins.

Do you tweet, Facebook or Pinterest with Opera Omaha?  If so, then you have been interacting with Opera Omaha’s own Social Media Diva Amy Ellefson!  Amy, who celebrates her 1 year anniversary with Opera Omaha on August 25th, has become the face of Opera Omaha for all things social media!  Not only is Amy keeping the twitterverse  a buzz with pithy commentary, she has also helped many of us “old-timers” reminisce about the shows of yore by posting old production shots on The Facebook. (Yes, I call it The Facebook. Clearly, I’m not as hip as Amy!)
On top of bringing sexy back to opera via the internet, Amy is also the pleasant voice that answers your calls and smiling face that greets you at the door when you visit our offices!  Don’t  think that Amy’s skills are limited to social media and receptionist work.  Amy has a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies and is currently working on a Master of Science in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. I am sure that this, coupled with her experience during her days in trucking, will make her a force to be reckoned with!  
With 5 children and a husband at home Amy is a busy bee. Amy said this about her busy lifestyle, “Things haven’t changed much since I was 10 years old. I generally spend the traditional school year attending school and the summer playing. I have a husband and five kids so I just have a few more people to spend time with.”
Next time you tweet, post, or pin make sure you give Amy a shout out and if you are planning on going to happy hour invite her a long or be sure to toast the Opera Omaha Social Media Diva!
Amy enjoying popcorn with her youngest son, Ramsey

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