Wednesday | Apr 11, 2012

Meet the Artist–Ko-Ko, Brian-Mark Conover

Ko-Ko is the Lord High Executioner of Titipu. He becomes the Lord High Executioner by appointment and is reluctant to carry out his duties. This isn’t really a problem until the execution-loving Mikado realizes that it’s been a long time since anyone in Titipu was executed and threatens to demote the town to a village (gasp!) unless an execution is performed rather quickly. This leaves Ko-Ko with a problem. He has to find someone to execute!

One of the most well-known parts of The Mikado is Ko-Ko’s “Little List” song. He gives us a list of the people he could execute and “who never would be missed”. The lyrics of the List are changed to reflect current trends in politics and pop culture. It is changed to suit a regional audience and often contains reference to locally and nationally known people or events.

The role of Ko-Ko requires an artist who can act, sing, and possesses a must see-it-to-believe-it level of  skill in the art of physical comedy. Opera Omaha is proud to have Brian-Mark Conover join us for The Mikado as our Ko-Ko. Mr. Conover’s wit, stage presence, and comedic flair combined with his enjoyment of the audience and a lovely baritone create a magnificent Ko-Ko!

Join us this weekend on Friday, April 13 or Sunday, April 15 for our production of The Mikado and see who Mr. Conover has on his List. Click Ticket Omaha or call 402-345-0606 or 402-346-4398 for tickets. Don’t miss it!

Biography provided by artist:

Mr. Conover has been performing for over 35 years. He is trained as a lyric baritone and holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and music. He performed in several Opera Omaha productions including Don Giovanni  and Opera for the Cure. He was a featured artist in So In Love With Broadway. Mr. Conover performed the roles of Norn, Gunther, Alberich and Katsy Snapp in Opera Omaha’s 2009 production of Das Barbecu. Additional local theatre credits include playing Uncle Max in The Sound of Music and Don Joe in No Dogs Allowed at the Rose Theater. 
While living in Chicago, Mr. Conover played many character roles including; Marcus Lycus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Annie, The Madam in Pacific Overtures, George Bernard Shaw in The Frogs, Constable Simms in Oh, Boy!, Donald Trees in The Flowers, The Duke in The Paradise Hotel, and Mr. Smith in The Bald Soprano. His national credits include several productions of Forbidden Broadway in major cities throughout the United States.

Monday | Apr 09, 2012

Meet the Artist(s)–The Opera Omaha Chorus

Opera for the Cure Chorus and featured artists

Opera companies throughout the world rely on a core of dedicated individuals to provide talent and onstage support in many opera productions. These people play varied roles, rehearse for weeks before the principle artists arrive, and add immeasurable quality and interest to the staged work. Opera Omaha benefits greatly from the support of our magnificent Opera Omaha Chorus. We could not produce The Mikado, or most other programming, without these exceptionally talented and professional men and women.  

The chorus is comprised of people from Omaha and surrounding communities in Nebraska and Iowa. Opera Omaha holds chorus auditions two to three times each year. From these auditions, select individuals are contracted on a single-show basis. Different chorus members are used for different shows throughout the season. The selection process seeks to match vocal qualities and abilities with the music to be presented. Our next auditions are Saturday, May 12 at Iowa Western Community College.

The chorus of The Mikado includes 24 fantastic performers (listed below) from our local communities. When you come to see the show, please clap loudly for our outstanding chorus members. They dedicate many hours to bring you the high-quality entertainment that you see on the stage. Enjoy the show!

Do you need tickets? Click Ticket Omaha or call 402-345-0606 or 402-346-4398. 

Opera Omaha Chorus members for The Mikado:

Derek Anderson
Katie Branzuela
Tara Cowherd
Becca Jackson Cusick
John Dart
Elmer Ellefson
Allison Falt
T. Adam Goos
Angie Heim
Jared Hiscock
Katie Kirchner
James C. Little
Megan Kate McGuire
Eric Micks
Megan Milke
Eduardo Millán
William A. Miller
Susan Seamands
Brandon Shostak
Kevin Smith
Judi Torneten
Lauren Turner
Brad A. Watkins
Camellia Yvonne Watkins

This is Opera! Chorus and featured artists

Opera Omaha
Announcement for Chorus Auditions
Omaha, Neb. – Opera Omaha is holding chorus auditions on Saturday, May 12thfrom 1:00 – 5:00 PM in the Opera Omaha Rehearsal Hall, 1850 Farnam Street, Omaha NE (entrance on 19thStreet). The selected chorus members will be singing for our first production of next season.
You must be at least 18 years old to audition.  Prospective members will be assigned a time slot and asked to present 2 selections; one in a foreign language and one in English, not to exceed 5 minutes in total.  Arias, arts songs, or church solos are all acceptable as audition pieces.  Please provide printed music as an accompanist will be available at no cost.
Contact Cammy Watkins at or 402-346-4398 x 217 for details and to schedule an audition.  Additional information is also available at

Friday | Apr 06, 2012

Big Opera is Back! Announcing our 2012-2013 Season

Opera Omaha Announces 2012/2013 Season

Opera Omaha is pleased to announce their 2012/2013 season.  This will be the 55th year that Opera Omaha has brought world-class opera to the Omaha Metro area.  Premiere performances, collaboration, and classic grand opera will be the hallmarks of what will prove to be a very exciting year for the company and its audience members.  All three main-stage operas will be presented in the historic Orpheum Theater.  This season brings glorious music, poignant romance, chilling mystery, and stunning, magnificent visual art.
“I’m delighted to announce the details of Opera Omaha’s bold new season,” says General Director Roger Weitz.  “La Traviata is one of the most beloved operas of all time; our dynamic cast is in expert hands with director Jim de Blasis and conductor Joseph Rescigno.  Jun Kaneko’s stunning new production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute must be seen to be believed; this opera will be a major event in the community.  The season finishes with Hal France returning to Opera Omaha to conduct Bartok’s powerful opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, with the legendary Samuel Ramey in the title role.  It’s a season not to be missed.”
Season Subscriptions will be on sale starting April 9; tickets to individual operas will go on sale after Labor Day.  Season Subscriptions can be purchased by phone: 402-346-4398.
Details about the season:
La Traviata
Music by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
October 5 and 7, 2012
Verdi’s tragic tale of a beautiful Parisian courtesan named Violetta and her young lover from a respectable provincial family is the first production of the Opera Omaha 2012/2013 season.  Based on the Alexandre Dumas play “The Lady of the Camellias”, which also inspired the legendary Greta Garbo film “Camille”, this classic and touching tale of love and sacrifice written in 1853 has some of Verdi’s best-loved music.  This production will evoke the world of 18thcentury Paris and the demimonde lifestyle of its main character.
Director James de Blasis returns to Opera Omaha, furthering a long history with the company including Lucia di Lammermoor with Beverly Sills in 1975.  Conductor Joseph Rescigno is another returning artist, having led Jun Kaneko’s Madama Butterfly for the company in 2010.
Conductor:                  Joseph Rescigno
Director:                      James de Blasis
Role                             Cast
Violetta                       Inna Dukach
Alfredo                       Joshua Kohl
Germont                      Jake Gardner
Flora                            Leah Wool
Barone Douphol          Kirk Vaughn Robinson        
The Magic Flute
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
February 22 and 24, 2013
New Production
The exciting centerpiece offering of the new Opera Omaha season, The Magic Flute, will be designed by Omaha’s own visual artist Jun Kaneko whose talent in opera design is recognized from coast to coast; Opera Omaha is a co-producer with four other leading opera companies including San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera in Washington, DC.  The Magic Flute is a lighthearted tale of love and adventure, charmingly fantastical, utterly unique, and perfect for the entire family.  Jun Kaneko’s newest creation promises to be a truly spectacular event for the Omaha Metro area.
Conductor:                  Nicholas Cleobury
Director:                      Garnett Bruce
Designer:                     Jun Kaneko
Role                             Cast
Papageno                     Corey McKern            
Pamina                         Monica Yunus
Sarastro                       Tom McNichols
Bluebeard’s Castle
Music by Bela Bartok
Libretto by Bela Balazs
April 19 and 21, 2013
New Production
The captivating story of Duke Bluebeard, his new wife, Judith, and a castle containing seven mysterious doors.  The secrets that lie behind them are revealed one by one through rich, haunting music.  Hal France returns to Opera Omaha to conduct this complex work featuring brilliant orchestral writing.  Mr. Samuel Ramey, one of the music world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire will return to Omaha to perform the title role.
Opera Omaha will collaborate with several local arts organizations in bringing this story to life.  Their participation in the production will help reveal the mysteries of the seven doors and demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of opera. 
Conductor:                  Hal France
Director:                      Andrew Eggert
Role                             Cast
Bluebeard                    Samuel Ramey
Judith                          Kara Shay Thomson

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

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!



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