Tuesday | Feb 12, 2013

Meet the Artist: Tamino, Shawn Mathey

Tamino is the first character to appear on the stage in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He has a bit of a rough time during the opera. He is irritated by the bird catcher, Papageno, attacked by a two-headed serpent, hunted by Monostatos for falling in love with Pamina, and taunted by the Three Ladies and their mistress, the Queen of the Night. Whew! That’s enough to destroy anyone’s power of positive thinking!

The nature of the story line requires the tenor singing Tamino to portray a wide range of emotions and physical movement in addition to being a phenomenal vocalist. Our Tamino, tenor, Shawn Mathey satisfies the demanding requirement’s of Mozart’s opera with grace and impressive vocal abilities. Mr. Mathey’s official biography is below. You can learn more about him on his web page.

Join us on Friday, February 22 or Sunday, February 24 to see Mr. Mathey bring light and life to the role of Tamino. His portrayal is sure to delight and entertain you. For tickets go online or call 402-345-0606. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Tenor, Shawn Mathey

TENOR, SHAWN MATHEY–Biography provided by artist
Tenor Shawn Mathey performs in the most important and distinguished opera companies and music festivals in the world including the Paris Opera, the Opernhaus Zurich, the Salzburg Festival, Aix-en-Provence Festival, the Theater an der Wien, and the Frankfurt Opera, among many others.

This season marks Shawn Mathey’s return to London for one of his signature roles, Tamino, at the English National Opera. He will reprise this role for further performances of Die Zauberflöte in Charlotte and Omaha. He will also be heard in an Opera Gala Concert at home in Toledo, OH. Further projects include returns to the Washington National Opera and the Cincinnati Opera, both in leading roles.

Last season, Mr. Mathey made auspicious debuts with the San Francisco Opera as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, the Dallas Opera as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, the Lisbon Opera as Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte and the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome as Lysander in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Tuesday | Feb 05, 2013

To Tweet or not to Tweet

Photo Credit: Elmer Ellefson


To tweet or not to tweet during a performance. That is the question posed, on Twitter, of course, by the National Endowment for the Arts. It turns out that the question of allowing social media use during live performance is fraught with contention and, in some cases, disgust at the very idea. The responses continued for more than a week! That’s a long life for conversation limited to social media and 140 character replies.

Reactions to #2tweetornot2tweet ranged from this by @margogray:

“Tweet seats & tweet-friendly performances have grt potential for artist/aud interaction, like live DVD extras! @NEAarts #2tweetornot2tweet”

to this by @AnikaNoniRose:

“@NEAarts @operaomaha Tweeting during a performance is simply rude. Also, distracting for both the audience and performers”

As an arts organization, our primary focus is to bring live performance to the stage and into the community for an audience. When talking about anything that we do at Opera Omaha, the question is always, “How do we build our audience?” The possible applications of social media offer new opportunities with very little or no financial investment. This is a big deal in our world of growing expenses and shrinking budgets.

Although we were a little ahead of the #2tweetornot2tweet conversation on Twitter, it was a tweet by Palm Beach Opera that pushed us into having “the talk” within our own organization. This was the tweet that set us into motion, from @palmbeachopera:

“Registration to participate in Tweetseats for La Traviata is OPEN now! … Space is limited, so reserve your spot now.”

After a message of encouragement from our Chair of Long Range Planning, some internet-based research, and a chat with Ceci Dadisman at Palm Beach Opera, we made a decision. Opera Omaha will be stepping into the social media tide pool known as “Tweet Seats” during the final dress rehearsal of our April, 2013 production, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

Initially, we’re offering Tweet Seats only during the final dress rehearsal, limiting the number of Tweet Seats to 10-15, inviting participants from our list of current Twitter followers, and will have a list of guidelines for our tweeters. The decision to offer Tweet Seats turned out to be an easy one. Our goal as a company is to share the productions that we, and the singers, work on all year long with a larger, more diverse audience. This is just one way to reach out. We’re willing to give it our best shot.


Thursday | Jan 31, 2013

Meet the Artist: Pamina, Monica Yunus

Who is Pamina? What part does she have in the storyline of The Magic Flute? According to a character analysis posted on harmonia mundi’s website, Pamina is:

“the object of both the noblest and the basest desires (Tamino and Monostatos respectively), she is Tamino’s reward for successfully undergoing his initiation. As the daughter of the Queen of the Night, she is torn between her filial love and her love for Tamino. She plays an active role on the path towards wisdom, leading Tamino behind her in the final trials. Mozart assigned her the most deeply-felt arias, quivering with emotion, sometimes desperate, in which she displays a nobility and resolution that foreshadow the qualities of the heroines of early Romanticism, such as Beethoven’s Leonore or Agathe in Der Freischütz.”

Soprano, Monica Yunus

There is no lady more suited to play a noble heroine than soprano, Monica Yunus. In additional to performing with The Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, and an impressive list of European and U.S. opera companies, “Ms. Yunus is the Co-Director of Sing for Hope, a non-profit organization that mobilizes artists in volunteer service to benefit communities in need. (” Please take a moment to learn more about Sing for Hope through the organization’s website.

In the previous calendar year, Opera Omaha has been fortunate to welcome Monica Yunus as a special guest artist at KANEKO and the Joslyn Art Museum. We are thrilled to have Ms. Yunus return to Omaha to sing the role of Pamina in The Magic Flute. More information about the artist and humanitarian is available below and on her website.

The following biography was provided to Opera Omaha by Ms. Yunus.


Soprano Monic Yunus joins The Metropolitan Opera as Yvette in their production of La Rondine, Opera Omaha as Pamina in The Magic Flute, and The Wichita Symphony performances of Carmina Burana during the 2012-2013 season. Recent engagements include Norina in Don Pasquale with Opera Memphis, Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera with Washington National Opera, Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Austin Lyric Opera, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Omaha, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Palm Beach Opera, and Adele in Die Fledermaus with Nashville Opera. She has joined The Metropolitan Opera for numerous productions including The Enchanted Island, Le Comte Ory, Die Zauberflöte, Manon, and Don Giovanni. Recent concert performances include engagements with Andrea Bocelli in Lajatico, Italy, with José Carerras at The Zouk Mikael International Festival in Lebanon, and with Plácido Domingo at The Jordan Festival in Amman, Jordan.

Monday | Jan 28, 2013

Meet the Artists: Priests/Armored Men, Edwin Vega and Darik Knutsen

Today, we introduce you to the two marvelous young men who sing the roles of the Priests and Armored Man #1 and #2 in our February 22 and 24 production of The Magic Flute. Please read on to meet Mr. Edwin Vega and Mr. Darik Knutsen. More information about the singers is available on their websites through these links: Edwin Vega and Darik Knutsen.

First, we have the photo and biography of Mr. Edwin Vega, tenor. Mr. Vega recently earned high praise from the press for his appearance with the English National Opera. We can’t wait to welcome Mr. Vega to Omaha when he joins our The Magic Flute cast as a Priest and Armored Man #1!

Tenor, Edwin Vega

Biography: Tenor, Edwin Vega (Courtesy of ADA Artist Management and Representation)

Tenor Edwin Vega recently made his debut with the English National Opera debut as Molqi in Death of Klinghoffer followed by his role debut of Goro in Madama Butterfly with Nevada Opera. This past summer Mr. Vega returned to the Santa Fe Opera as a Servant (Arabella) and King Edrisi understudy in Szymanowski’s King Roger. Mr. Vega recently returned to the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble performing the roles of Tanzmeister and Brighella in new production of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, and to Chicago Opera Theater for the Chicago premiere of Charpentier’s Medee. Last season he was featured as Rubens Barrichello (the title character’s protégé) in the Metropolitan Opera’s new opera workshop of Michael Torke’s Senna. Mr. Vega made his Carnegie Hall debut in Jerry Springer – The Opera starring Harvey Keitel and sang Rinuccio in the summer of 2010 with the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s new production of Gianni Schicchi.

Next, we present the photo and biography of Mr. Darik Knutsen, baritone. Mr. Knutsen is a Priest and Armored Man #2 in our The Magic Flute cast. He also performed in a community outreach appearance for Opera Omaha at the Cathedral Arts Project’s annual Flower Festival this week before beginning rehearsal for The Magic Flute. Mr. Knutsen’s recent performances earned praise from multiple media outlets. Welcome to Omaha, Mr. Knutsen!

Baritone, Darik Knutsen

Biography: Baritone, Darik Knutsen

Darik Knutsen, baritone from McLean Va, began singing as a boy soprano with the National Cathedral Boys’ Choir when he was 9 years old.
This coming spring he looks forward to singing the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Middlebury Opera. This past November Mr. Knutsen made his international debut singing Marcello in La Boheme under Lorin Maazel in Muscat, Oman.
This past summer Mr. Knutsen sang the male lead, Fredrik, in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with the Castleton Festival. He also understudied the role of Figaro in Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia. Previous operatic experience includes Wagner in Faust with the Santa Fe Opera 2011, Arcas in Charpentier’s Médée with Chicago Opera Theater 2011, Schlemil in The Tales of Hoffmann SFO 2010, Servant in the World Premier of Life is a Dream SFO 2010, as well as the title role of Eugene Onegin at the Chautauqua Institute of Music 2009.

Thursday | Jan 24, 2013

Meet the Artists: The Spirits

This is a special “Meet the Artist” blog post. We don’t often have the opportunity to highlight the achievements and talents of very young singers. Today, we bring you four members of the Metropolitan Boys Choir of Minneapolis/Saint Paul who sing the roles of the Spirits in our February 22 and 24, 2013 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

The four boys and Boys Choir Director, Bea Hasselmann, will be in Omaha during the first two weekend in February and then take up temporary residence for two weeks as they rehearse to perform their roles. We are thrilled to have Camilo, Joseph, Matt, and Riley join us and be part of this professional opera production! Welcome to Omaha!

Photo courtesy of San Francisco Opera and Takashi Hatakeyama

The photo above is from the San Francisco production of The Magic Flute and appears here courtesy of photographer Takashi Hatakeyama. This same Jun Kaneko-designed production, including costumes, is what you will see on the beautiful Orpheum Theater stage when you Opera Omaha presents the opera on February 22 and 24, 2013. The photo illustrates the positioning of the Spirits as they “fly” over the stage.

Don’t miss this beautiful production of Mozart’s classic opera. It has humor, drama, and flying children. That’s entertainment! Tickets are still available for both dates by calling 402-345-0606 or online through Ticket Omaha.

More information about the Metropolitan Boys Choir of Minneapolis/Saint Paul is available on the organization’s website. A group photo, provided by the organization, is below.

Metropolitan Boys Choir of Minneapolis

Director Bea Hasselmann’s biography from our program is below.

Bea Hasselmann is the founder/Music Director of the Metropolitan Boys Choir, a successful program for boys’ voices that has been in existence for forty-two years. She has taught music in schools to students in grade, junior, senior high schools and college. She has received numerous awards from music fraternities/organizations and the State of Minnesota. She served as a chairperson of state and national committees for the American Choral Directors Association and has been a choral clinician/speaker for music conventions and festivals in numerous states and at an International Choral Symposium at Yale University in 2012. In 2000 she created a music program at the Minnesota Correctional Facility of Red Wing for men, a program that has generated national and international interest.



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