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:

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

Wednesday | Aug 15, 2012

We made it to Maha!

The weather was gorgeous! The people were friendly and fantastic! The music was astounding! Our experience in the 2012 Maha Music Festival’s community village was the very best part of last week. Really, it was.

You may be wondering what an opera company would be doing at a decidedly non-classical music festival. We have a remedy for your curiosity; photos! Enjoy a few of our favorites from the festival and pop on over to our Facebook page to see the rest. Happy viewing!

For the Facebook album, click here

Friday | Aug 10, 2012

Opera Omaha at the Maha Music Festival

The 2012 Maha Music Festival features a fantastic line up of national, regional, and local bands. This is the festival’s second year in the redeveloped area of Aksarben with the stages and performances happening in beautiful Stinson Park. Maha is run by volunteers and is a non-profit festival.

This non-profit status made the addition of a “community village” to the 2012 festival feel like a natural fit. The community village is an area dedicated to local non-profit organizations that present a broad picture of the culture of Omaha. The staff at Opera Omaha are THRILLED to be part of the festival and to have the opportunity to bring our programs and season to a new audience.

The official Maha blog article about the village is included below as is a link to the festival website. We’ll be there tomorrow. Will you join us?

Enjoy this video from The Mynabirds. This is just one of the marvelous bands playing at the 2012 Maha Music Festival. Don’t miss it!

Maha Music Festival website

An inside look at the Community Village

Maha is about integrating the best musicians our city has to offer with top musical talent from around the country. It’s about bringing people from our community and beyond together in the name of great music. It’s about being in Omaha and loving every second of it. In the plainest sense, Maha is about community.
There are some amazing things happening in our community – things we wanted to share with you. So, the idea of the Community Village was born.  The Community Village (or CV, as we affectionately call it) will showcase some of the key organizations and community groups dedicated to making the Omaha area even better.

We challenged these organizations to bring you opportunities to interact with their respective missions in fun and creative ways. You’ll learn about homelessness, poverty, sexual health, Nebraska’s vibrant music community and rockin’ women (and girls). You’ll engage in dialogue about religious and spiritual identity. You’ll have the opportunity to register to vote. You’ll get to flex your opera skills in the shower (fully clothed, of course). And you’ll even have the chance to make your own art.
Without further ado, we welcome the following community organizations to take part in this year’s Community Village:

  • Joslyn Art Museum
  • Heart Ministry Center
  • The Durham Museum and Omaha Girls Rock
  • Goodwill
  • Project Interfaith
  • The Kent Bellows Studio & Center for Visual Arts
  • Nebraska Appleseed
  • KRNU
  • Opera Omaha
  • Hear Nebraska
  • Omaha Jitterbugs
  • Planned Parenthood

The village will be open until dusk on August 11 at the back of Stinson Park, so please take some time to stop by and check it out. These organizations work hard to make Omaha an amazing place to live, work, learn, and more. This is your chance to interact with them in a totally new way.

If you have any questions about the Community Village, feel free to contact the committee at



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