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Wednesday | Apr 04, 2012

Meet the Artist–Katisha, Melissa Parks

Katisha is listed in Boise State’s Gilbert & Sullivan archive as “an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo“. There is some debate among Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts about the use of the term “elderly” in reference to casting the role of Katisha in The Mikado. During the time period of the piece, a never married woman older than 30 years might be considered a spinster and her chances of marrying and having children thought to be negligible. Oh, my, how times have changed! Thankfully, this makes the casting of the character and the comic wit and physicality required by our director much easier. Our young and lovely Katisha excels in her role and adds to the zany madness that is Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado.

In the role of Katisha, Opera Omaha is proud to present mezzo-soprano, Melissa Parks. She began performing the role of Katisha in 2002 with The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. In a January, 25, 2002 review Bruce-Michael Gelbert of Theatre Scene praised Ms. Parks’ performance. He stated, “…it was a pleasure to have in Melissa Parks a Katisha possessing a heroic operatic instrument, offering a character of mock-tragic dimensions…”. In a 2003 review in the New York Times, writer Anne Midgette referred to Ms. Parks’ “powerful voice” in her portrayal of Katisha. The photo below is from her 2010 performance of Katisha at Michigan Opera Theatre. A reviewer for The Detroiter, Nicole Rupersburg, said the following, “Parks was a comedic gale force with an equally powerful voice, demanding laughs from the audience as she commands the cast to “BOW!” in “Mi-ya Sa-ma” as easily as she demands tears in her mournful aria “Alone, and yet alive.” 

Join us for The Mikado at Omaha’s beautiful Orpheum Theatre and witness the vocal power and comic prowess that the magnificent Melissa Parks brings to the role of Katisha. Contact Ticket Omaha at 402-345-0606 or Opera Omaha at 402-346-4398 for tickets. Get yours today! 

Photo Credit: The Detroiter. Melissa Parks as Katisha and Michael Wanko as Ko-Ko

More information about Melissa Parks is available at  Robert Gilder.

 

Melissa Parks

The 2009-2010 season proved to be noteworthy for mezzo-soprano Melissa Parks, who made her Italian debut as Mrs. Lovett in Bologna, Modena, Lugo and Piacenza in what was the Italian premiere of SWEENEY TODD and concluded the season performing the role of Mescalina in Ligeti’s LE GRANDE MACABRE in the critically acclaimed production with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert.  Of her performance, The New York Post proclaimed that, “As Mescalina, Melissa Parks combined a firm mezzo-soprano with the high-camp mugging one would expect in the role.”  Recent performances include a reprise of the role of Mrs. Peachum THE BEGGAR’S OPERA conducted by Lorin Maazel at his Castleton Festival, the Marquise de Birkenfeld LA FILLE DU REGIMENT with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and two role debuts with New Orleans Opera as Mistress Bentson LAKME and Mary DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER.  Engagements during the 2010-2011 season included the roles of Katisha MIKADO  with Michigan Opera Theatre, Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Madison Opera, Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF with Utah Opera, and Forester’s Wife and Owl THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN with the New York Philharmonic.  This coming 2011-2012 season she performs the roles of Baba THE MEDIUM and Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Michigan Opera Theatre, Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with El Paso Opera, and Katisha THE MIKADO with Opera Omaha.

Recently Ms. Parks performed the roles of Zulma L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI and the Third Maid ELEKTRA with Seattle Opera, Gertrude ROMÉO ET JULIETTE with Tampa Bay Opera, Dutchess GONDOLIERS with Utah Symphony and Opera and the role of Buttercup H.M.S. PINAFORE with Opera East Texas and Nashville Opera.  The previous season her roles included Queen of the Fairies IOLANTHE in a debut with Nashville Opera, Zulma L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI with Anchorage Opera, Buttercup H.M.S. PINAFORE with Syracuse Opera, and Gertrude ROMÉO ET JULIETTE with Utah Symphony and Opera and a return engagement as Ruth PIRATES OF PENZANCE.  In the 2004-2005 season Ms. Parks’ engagements included Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Pittsburgh Opera, Dame Quickly FALSTAFF with Dicapo Opera, Cecilia March LITTLE WOMEN with Dayton Opera, Zita GIANNI SCHICCHI with Fresno Grand Opera and a return to Utah Symphony and Opera as Katisha MIKADO

Engagements for the 2003-2004 season included a debut with Fresno Grand Opera as Marcellina LE NOZZE DE FIGARO, Erda DAS RHEINGOLD with New Orleans Opera, Third Lady DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE with Michigan Opera Theater and Buttercup H.M.S. PINAFORE with Utah Symphony and Opera.

Other engagements have included a debut with Michigan Opera Theatre as Azucena IL TROVATORE, a return to the New Orleans Opera as Mama McCourt THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, a return to Chautauqua for the Witch HANSEL UND GRETEL, a Cleveland Opera debut in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, a Virginia Opera debut as Ulrica UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, a return to El Paso as Mamma Lucia CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, Katisha THE MIKADO with Utah Festival Opera and Chautauqua, a return to Cleveland Opera as the Fairy Queen IOLANTHE, Zita GIANNI SCHICCHI with Philadelphia’s newly formed Sylvan Opera, and the Verdi Requiem with the Utah Symphony.   Other engagements have included working with the Metropolitan Opera in both LA FILLE DU REGIMENT and AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY.

As winner of the Fifth Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, she performed the role of Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF in a Gala Concert hosted by the tenor. She has had debuts with the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Mother Goose THE RAKE’S PROGRESS, Chautauqua Opera as Mama McCourt THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, Opera Delaware as Mamma Lucia CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and the El Paso Opera Company as Berta IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA.  She participated in the American premiere of the Polish opera STRASZNY DWOR as Madame Czecznikowa with Opera Buffalo.

While a student at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, Ms Parks sang Dryade ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, the Marquise LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT, the Principessa SUOR ANGELICA, Zita GIANNI SCHICCHI, the Witch HANSEL UND GRETEL, Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF, the Wife in Wargo’s CHEKHOV TRILOGY, Azucena IL TROVATORE and Ulrica UN BALLO IN MASCHERA.

Tuesday | Apr 03, 2012

Your Carriage Awaits

Do you avoid events downtown because of the distance or the hassle and expense of parking? Would you like Opera Omaha to pick you up and deliver you to the front door of Omaha’s beautiful Orpheum Theatre for a show? What if the transportation was free? It’s possible! Thanks to the generosity of a local foundation, you can attend our April 13 or 15 production of The Mikado in rock star style.

Join us and travel by luxury motorcoach from the Baker’s Supermarket in Bellevue or Village Pointe Shopping Center, Shadow Lake Towne Center, or Westroads Mall in Omaha to The Orpheum Theatre for The Mikado. Make your night on the town more relaxing. Park your car at the pick up point, enjoy dinner with friends and family, make the ride downtown with your favorite people, take in the show, and travel back to your personal vehicle with ease and in style. There is no cost to you for transportation from the pick up points to The Orpheum Theatre and back to the pick up points.

Photo courtesy of www.arrowstagelines.com

This is a great opportunity to save time and money, go green, and enjoy a new experience. The first step is to buy your tickets to The Mikado. Then, get on the bus with Opera Omaha! Your carriage awaits.

Contact Ticket Omaha at 402-345-0606 to purchase tickets to The Mikado and then visit Opera Omaha motorcoach to get on the bus!

Monday | Apr 02, 2012

Meet the Artist–Pooh-Bah, Terry Hodges

Anyone familiar with the local artistic community knows that Omaha is loaded with talent. One of these massively talented local people is, Terry Hodges. Mr. Hodges, a resident of Omaha since 2004, sings the role Pooh-Bah in our production of The Mikado. You may have seen him on an Opera Omaha stage previously in HMS Pinafore or The Threepenny Opera, among others. His performance resume includes more than 2000 opera performances and 2,500 performances as part of a touring production of The Phantom of the Opera.

As Pooh-Bah, or the “Lord High Everything Else”, Mr. Hodges acting skills and impressive bass-baritone vocal capabilities are combined to create the traditionally haughty character. Opera Omaha is honored to welcome the impressive talents of Omaha resident, Terry Hodges, as our “Grand Poo-Bah” in The Mikado.

Terry Hodges

Biography provided by the artist:

American-trained, bass baritone Terry Hodges‘ stagecraft and vocal technique have assured him a busy career in opera and music theatre in the United States and Canada. His musicianship coupled with programmes at Santa Fe and Lake George Opera Festival led to engagements at Carnegie Hall and for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, among others. Mr. Hodges’ is renowned for his portrayal of Dr. Bartolo in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA and he has been engaged for this role by companies in both the United States and Canada including Boston Lyric Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Columbus and the Tulsa Opera.

Recent and upcoming engagements have Mr. Hodges engaged as Dick Deadeyein HMS PINAFORE for Nashville Opera, as Benoit/Alcindoro in LA BOHEME for Vancouver Opera, and the role of Dulcamara in L’ELISIR D’AMORE for Tulsa Opera. In 2006-2007, he returned to Manitoba Opera for Frank in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Opera Tulsa for THE LITTLE PRINCE, and took on the role of Leporello in DON GIOVANNI for Pacific Opera Victoria and Orchestra London.

In 2005/2006 he was in Utah for KISMET and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, at Virginia Opera for Dr. Bartolo in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO and in Milwaukee for LITTLE WOMEN at Skylight Opera Theatre. The remainder of that season was filled with performances of KISMET for Toronto Operetta Theatre and MAN OF LA MANCHA back in Milwaukee.

He was heard in Thea Musgrave’s CHRISTMAS CAROL for Virginia Opera, in WOZZECK as the Doctor for Pacific Opera Victoria and as Dick Deadeye in Opera Omaha’s HMS PINAFORE. Puccini’s comic Sacristanin TOSCA took him back to the Opera Theater of St. Louis and he was in Philadelphia for Elder McLean in Floyd’s SUSANNAH.

Mr. Hodges appeared for Piedmont Opera as Luther/Crespel in Offenbach’s LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN and was Trulove in THE RAKE’S PROGRESS for Vancouver Opera. After concert performances as Dulcamara in L’ELISIR D’AMORE for Orchestra London, he returned to Piedmont Opera as the Pirate King in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and was in Omaha for MAN OF LA MANCHA and Benoit/Alcindoroin LA BOHÈME for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Mr. Hodges has been featured by Virginia Opera as Angelotti in TOSCA, Opera Saskatchewan as Frankin DIE FLEDERMAUS, Toronto Operetta Theatre as Pali Racz in ZIGEUNER PRIMAS and the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Don Pedro in LA PÉRICHOLE.

Further roles in Mr. Hodges’ repertoire include Don Alfonso in COSÌ FAN TUTTE, Colline in LA BOHEME, Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY, Dr. Engel in STUDENT PRINCEand Tevyein FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. He also has more than 2,000 performances of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA among his list of credits.

With a degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Southern Colorado, this Chicago-born bass baritone also has the oratorio works of Mendelssohn, Fauré, Haydn, Brahms and Handel at his command.

Please join us on April 13 and 15 to hear and see Mr. Terry Hodges as the rightfully exalted Pooh-Bah. Click Ticket Omaha or call 402-345-0606 or 402-346-4398 for tickets.

Friday | Mar 30, 2012

Holy Name School welcomes Kevin Short

Students in fifth and seventh grades at Holy Name School experienced the power of professional opera on Wednesday, March 28. Bass-baritone, Kevin Short visited the classroom of Opera Omaha chorus member and Holy Name music teacher Judi Torneten. Mr. Short sang “A More Humane Mikado”, one of the arias included in his performance as The Mikado at the Orpheum Theatre on April 13 and 15.

Kevin Short performing “A More Humane Mikado” at Holy Name School

Mr. Short described his character, The Mikado, and talked about what opera is and how it is different from other forms of music performance. The students asked many questions about Mr. Short and opera in general. During one part of the preview, some of the students chose to make the occasion a group performance.

Holy Name School students sing with Kevin Short

At the end of the preview, the students were excited to talk with Mr. Short. During his performance of “A More Humane Mikado”, Mr. Short picked up a student. The most common request at the end of the preview was, “Will you pick me up?” Mr. Short is now in excellent physical condition for the public performances of The Mikado.

Kevin Short answers questions from members of the seventh grade swing choir
Kevin Short lifts a smiling Holy Name student

Opera Omaha sends a huge “thank you” to Mrs. Torneten, Mr. Short, and to the staff, faculty, and students at Holy Name School for allowing us to visit. The students attending the preview and their families received invitations to attend a special performance of The Mikado at the Orpheum Theatre. We are excited to host these vibrant, interesting, young people at one of our performances.

Wednesday | Mar 28, 2012

Meet the Artist–Pitti-Sing, Leanne Hill Carlson

Omaha resident Leanne Hill Carlson sings the role of Pitti-Sing in our production of The Mikado. Her experience in musical theatre and opera combine in a fantastic addition to this Gilbert & Sullivan production. Leanne’s Omaha resume includes performances at the Omaha Community Playhouse and The Rose Theater among others. Opera Omaha is fortunate to have Ms. Carlson join us and bring her vast array of experience to the role of Pitti-Sing. 
Information below provided by Ms. Carlson:
Leanne is excited to return to Opera Omaha after performing as Guhtrune in Das Barbecu and as a featured chorus member in So in Love with Broadway.  Her most recent local roles include Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Nellie in South Pacific, Lily in Annie, Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, Belle in Beauty & the Beast, Maria in The Sound of Music, and performing in Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Ms. Carlson was a lead ensemble member at the College Light Opera Company where she played Nellie in South Pacific and Lalume in Kismet. She has been in commercial & print work and recently played the role of Shanna in the film Lucky. Her education includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Sam Houston State University and a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  Leanne and her husband, Mark, reside in Omaha and have a 17 month old son, Henry.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see the versatile Leanne Hill Carlson share her beautiful voice and acting abilities as Pitti-Sing in our April 13 or 15 production of The Mikado. Visit Ticket Omaha or call 402-345-0606 or 402-346-4398 to purchase your tickets today! 

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