Wednesday | Mar 21, 2012

Meet the Artist–Yum-Yum, Sarah Lawrence

Soprano Sarah Lawrence joins Opera Omaha for The Mikado as Yum-Yum. She previously performed as Yum-Yum at the Madison Savoyards. The video below shows Ms. Lawrence in that performance. The video is property of Madison Savoyards, Ltd. and is posted on YouTube. Enjoy!

Don’t miss your chance to see Sarah Lawrence sing the role of Yum-Yum with Opera Omaha! Get your tickets to the April 13 or 15 performance of The Mikado by clicking here to visit Ticket Omaha or calling 402-345-0606 or 402-346-4398.

To learn more about Ms. Lawrence, please visit You can listen to recording of her enchanting soprano and view photos of recent performances. The following biography also came from her website.

Sarah Lawrence is enjoying a widely varied career. Her rapidly expanding repertoire includes oratorio, operetta, opera and musical theatre. The release of her CD, Sweet Hello, marks her debut as a recording artist.
Sarah’s concert repertoire shows her versatility. She has performed Handel’s Messiah with the symphonies of Omaha, Madison, Cheyenne, and the Apollo Chorus in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. With Wisconsin’s Peninsula Music Festival she has sung Haydn’s Creation and Bach’s B Minor Mass. Other Haydn performances have included the St. Cecilia Mass with the Rochester Oratorio Society, the Lord Nelson Mass with the North Shore Choral Society, and Paukenmesse with the Sheboygan Symphony. With the Madison Symphony Orchestra she has also performed Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. She sang Prokofiev’s The Ugly Duckling and Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared in pops concerts with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra and the Southwest Michigan Symphony.
Equally comfortable on the stage, Ms. Lawrence has performed the role of Masha in The Music Shop, Norina in Don Pasquale, Gretel in Hansel & Gretel, Frasquita and Micaela in Carmen, and Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor. She has appeared with Madison Opera, Opera for the Young, Light Opera Oklahoma, Dorian Opera Theatre and Lyric Opera of the North. With Minnesota’s Colder By The Lake, she created the role of Missy in the world premiere of Tyler Kaiser’s Les Uncomfortables, and the role of Pristine in The Phantom of the Norshor. She appeared with Lyric Opera of the North in their production of The Magic Flute as Pamina. A huge fan of Gilbert & Sullivan’s operettas, Sarah has appeared as Rose Maybud in Ruddigore, Angelina in Trial by Jury, Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance.
Ms. Lawrence appeared as Christine Daaé as a member of the Third National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera and in Phantom: The Vegas Spectacular. In recent seasons, she has also appeared as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte with the Peninsula Music Festival, the title role in Lyric Opera of the North’s production of Semele, the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, and as an Equity guest artist with The Duluth Playhouse as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. The current season includes an appearance with Colder By The Lake in Older By The Lake and a return to the Duluth Playhouse, this time as Lily in The Secret Garden, as well as another turn as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance as a part of the Tall Ships Festival in Duluth.

Friday | Mar 16, 2012

Meet the Artist–Nanki-Poo, William Ferguson

Photo by Jim Scholz: William Ferguson as Frederic with Patrick Ryan Sullivan

Opera Omaha is thrilled to welcome William Ferguson back to our stage in the role of Nanki-Poo in The Mikado. You may remember Mr. Ferguson from his appearance as Frederic in our most recent prior Gilbert & Sullivan production, The Pirates of Penzance.

In an Omaha World Herald review of Mr. Ferguson’s Frederic he was praised. The reviewer wrote, “Tenor William Ferguson, as the reluctant pirate Frederic, sang with a powerful and transparent lyric tenor voice–and seemed to be channeling the sweet silliness of Michael Palin.”

We are certain that you will enjoy Ferguson’s interpretation and magnificent voice in his performance as Nanki-Poo in The Mikado. Join us on April 13 or 15 to see tenor William Ferguson bring that “transparent lyric tenor” and “sweet silliness” to a different role. Buy your tickets today! Ticket Omaha or 402-345-0606 or 402-346-4398

Mr. Ferguson’s biography and photos are found here:


Acclaimed for his versatility in both opera and concert, William Ferguson made his debut with the Santa Fe Opera in 2006 as Caliban in the North American premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest, and in 2005, he bowed in Sydney with Opera Australia singing Truffaldino in a new production of The Love for Three Oranges directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Richard Hickox (subsequently released on compact disc under the Chandos label). The same year, Ferguson joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera where he has performed Beppe in I Pagliacci as well as roles in Le Nozze di Figaro and The Magic Flute (under the baton of James Levine). A regular artist at The New York City Opera, his performances have included the title role in Candide, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, the Funeral Director in A Quiet Place, and twice as Hérisson de Porc-Épic in L’Étoile–among many others.

Additional credits include Andres in Wozzeck with Opera Festival of New Jersey, Ferrando in Così fan tutte at The Aspen Music Festival, Carl in Bitter Sweet for the Bard SummerScape Festival, Pang in Turandot with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Frederic in Pirates of Penzance with both Virginia Opera and Opera Omaha, the Sailor in Dido and Aeneas with Gotham Chamber Opera, the title role in Albert Herring directed by Lotfi Mansouri at The Music Academy of the West, Gonzalve in L’Heure Espagnole and Fenton in Falstaff at the Tanglewood Music Center (both with Seiji Ozawa), and Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw at the Chautauqua Institution. Ferguson has also performed with Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall on several occasions, including as Nick in La Fanciulla del West and as Laërte in Mignon.

A compelling interpreter of new music, Mr. Ferguson sang Bentley Drummle in Dominick Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire at Opera Theatre of St. Louis and performed in the world premiere productions of Anthony Davis’ Wakonda’s Dream with Opera Omaha, Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry with Peak Performances at Montclair, and operas by Lee Hoiby and Harold Farberman. While in St. Louis, Ferguson sang the role of Hippolyte in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie as a last minute replacement earning a review in Opera News stating that he sang “with grace, and striking self-possession.” He holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degree from The Juilliard School and is a native of Richmond, Virginia.

A passionate concert and recital performer, Mr. Ferguson has appeared with The American Symphony Orchestra, BBC Orchestra (London), Boston Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (England), Handel and Haydn Society, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Musica Sacra New York, National Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Oratorio Society of New York, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (Netherlands); as well as the local symphony orchestras of Bellingham, New Haven, Omaha, Richmond, Santa Barbara, Wheeling, and Winston-Salem.

Ferguson appears as Brian on the recording and DVD of Not The Messiah, a comic oratorio based on Monty Python’s film Life of Brian, recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in London. His repertoire ranges from that of the baroque masters to the difficult cycles of Schubert, Schumann, Janá•ek, and Rorem—showcasing him across the United States in chamber programs and recitals for the 92nd Street Y, Bard Music Festival, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Marlboro Music Festival, and Young Concert Artists among others. Ferguson has performed extensively with The Marilyn Horne Foundation, Five Borough Music Festival, as well as The New York Festival of Song.

Mr. Ferguson has been the recipient of several awards and honors including First Place in the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition, The Elihu Hyndman Career Grant from Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Judges’ Award in the Opera Index Competition, a Bagby Foundation Career Grant, and The Alan Weiler Award for Excellence presented by Opera Orchestra of New York. In 2003 he was awarded the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Recital Award granting him a New York recital debut in Alice Tully Hall.

Upcoming performances include a staged production of Handel’s Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, appearances with Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Richmond Symphony, The Waterbury Symphony, a world premiere song cycle by Chester Biscardi with the new music ensemble Sequitur, recitals with guitarist David Leisner in New York and Nebraska, a concert with cellist Yahuda Hanani at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and Nanki-Poo in The Mikado with Opera Omaha.

Tuesday | Mar 13, 2012

Being in Demand–Cammy Watkins

Who doesn’t want to be “in demand”? Being in demand is a goal for every artist or performer I know. It’s wonderful to produce great work, create fantastic art, and to enjoy your life’s work, but being in demand is what pays the bills. Cammy Watkins, Opera Omaha’s Production Coordinator and chorus member, is in demand.

Cammy’s day-to-day responsibilities with Opera Omaha include managing the young professional’s group, Bravo Club, making contractual and travel arrangements for local and visiting artists, and providing invaluable management support to the production department in many other ways. When she is not facilitating great opera from the administrative and production side of the scene, she is on stage performing. 2012 marks Cammy’s 8th year as a member of the Opera Omaha chorus. She also performs with the Omaha Symphony as part of their annual Christmas with the Symphony production. In addition to all of that, she regularly performs as a soloist at church.

If you are fortunate enough to be a teacher bringing kids to the Omaha Symphony’s Carnegie Hall LINK UP event this week on Wednesday, March 14 or Thursday, March 15, you can see Cammy perform live at the Holland Performing Arts Center. If not, you can see her as part of the Opera Omaha chorus in our April 13 and 15 production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. Don’t miss seeing this vibrant and talented Omaha native in action. Cammy Watkins is in demand. Get your tickets today!

To purchase tickets to Opera Omaha’s production of The Mikado, go online at Ticket Omaha or call 402-345-0606. More information about the Omaha Symphony’s Carnegie Hall LINK UP event is below. Registration is closed for that event. 

Photo by Jim Scholz: Cammy Watkins in The Abduction from the Seraglio
This information and more is found here:

The Orchestra Moves!
Grades 4-6
Wednesday, March 14, 2012  – 9:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.
Thursday, March 15, 2012 – 10:00 a.m.
(Additional performance due to popular demand!)
Holland Performing Arts Center
$5.00 per recorder student (includes student book, recorder, and concert!)
FREE for strings students
The Omaha Symphony is once again proud to partner with Carnegie Hall to present The Orchestra Moves!  Students will discover musical movement by exploring the way composers use motif, melodic direction, and dynamics, all while learning to read music and play instruments.  Designed for students learning to play the soprano recorder and stringed instruments, Link Up is a supplementary curriculum that culminates with your students performing live with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra.
Repertoire includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Strauss’s The Blue Danube, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Toreador from Bizet’s Carmen and more.

Friday | Mar 09, 2012

Meet the Artist–The Mikado, Kevin Short

Singing the title role in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, is the incredible bass-baritone, Kevin Short. Mr. Short most recently graced the Orpheum stage for Opera Omaha in our 2010 production of The Marriage of Figaro and our 2008 production of AidaOn April 8, 2008, Omaha World Herald reviewer John Pitcher praised Mr. Short’s interpretation and performance of Ramfis in Aida as “burnished and unfailingly sensitive”. Join us on April 13 or April 15 to hear the marvelous Kevin Short sing The Mikado in a style that will differ, but be no less musically fantastic, than his performance in Aida

 Photo by Jim Scholz: Kevin Short as Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro

 Photo by Jim Scholz: Kevin Short as Ramfis and Opera Omaha chorus members in Aida

Mr. Short’s biography and information about past and upcoming performances is found here:

Bass-Baritone Kevin Short

Versatile bass-baritone Kevin Short is thrilling audiences around the globe in a wide range of repertoire ranging from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, to Verdi’s Attila and Don Carlos, and Bizet’s Carmen.

North America

In North America Kevin has performed multiple roles with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Pacific, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Indianapolis Opera, Utan Symphony, Opera de las Americas, Opera Memphis, Berkshire Opera Company, Nashville Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Birmingham, New Jersey Opera Festival, Kentucky Opera and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis to name but a sample of the many companies where he’s performed.


Making Switzerland his home now for a number of years, Kevin is also coming to the attention of European theaters and has performed at Paris’ Opera Comique, Theatre Caen, Grand Theatre du Luxembourg Oper der Stadt Koln, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Theater Aachen, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Theater Basel, Theater Bern, Theater St. Gallen, and Teatro Nacional di São Carlos in such roles as Attila, Philippe in Don Carlos, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Mephistopheles in Faust, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Escamillo in Carmen, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Figaro and Il Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Porgy in Porgy and Bess.


Important festivals with which Kevin has performed include the Bregenzer Festspiele, Baden – Baden, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, France; Sarasota Opera Winter Festival, the Saito Kinen festival in Matsumoto, Japan, and festivals in Beijing, China; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Granada, Valencia, and Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


Kevin also enjoys an active concert schedule and has worked with important orchestras in the U.S.and around the world including the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Detroit Symphony, the New York Pops Orchestra, and the Opera Orchestra of New York. In Europe and Asia, he has performed with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Swiss and Italian RAI Orchestra, Radio France Orchestra, Parma Reggio Emilia Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Hiroshima Symphony, and the Winter Olympics Festival Orchestra for the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. His vast concert repertoire include works by Bach and Beethoven and continue to the late 20th century, including Verdi’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.


Kevin received his training at Morgan State University, B.S., the Curtis Institute of Music, M.M., and the Juilliard School of Music Opera Center. While attending these institutions he was a prize winner in numerous competitions, but a few highlights include the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the International Competition for Verdian Voices, the Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition, the Bruce Yarnell Competition for Basses and Baritones, the Opera America Competition, the Leiderkranz Competition, and received awards and grants from the Sullivan Foundation, the Shoshana Foundation, and Opera Index.

 For tickets to The Mikado contact Ticket Omaha at 402-345-0606, Opera Omaha at 402-346-4398, or go online at

Wednesday | Mar 07, 2012

Meet the Artist–Set Designer, Peter Dean Beck and Lighting Designer, Donald Thomas

The Wednesday installment of our Meet the Artist series presents you with a two-for-one preview of the professionals behind the set and lighting design for The Mikado. Set Designer, Peter Dean Beck and Lighting Designer, Donald Thomas are today’s featured artists. Any staged production relies on the expertise, professionalism, and skill of the people working backstage. The magnificent performances of the actors onstage are only part of the show. The set and lighting create the mood and place of a performance and allow the actors to perform safely and to their full potential.

Enjoy reading about our featured artists, Peter Dean Beck and Donald Thomas.

Beck’s biography and photos of his past work are found here:  

“PETER DEAN BECK has designed scenery and/or lighting for over two hundred fifty productions around the country. Among his opera credits are Falstaff, Turandot, Manon, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo et Juliette for such companies as Atlanta Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Virginia Opera, and Chautauqua Opera. He has designed productions of Andrea Chenier, L’Italiana in Algeri, Macbeth, Elektra, and Tristan and Isolde for Hawaii Opera Theatre, where he has been principal designer for twenty-five seasons. He has also been designing opera productions for the University of Colorado for sixteen seasons. His other musical theater credits include West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Candide, The King and I, and Fiddler on the Roof. He designed The Indigo Girls Project for Atlanta Ballet and Nutcracker for Ballet Hawaii. He designed a double bill of le Rossignol and Cavalleria Rusticana for Sakai City Opera in Japan and lit Cav/Pag in Macao and Don Carlo in Hong Kong.”

Thomas’ biography, photo, and a link to photos of his past work is found here:

“One of opera’s leading Lighting Designers, Donald Edmund Thomas has designed productions for companies worldwide including L’Opera de Montreal, Seattle Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera de Puerto Rico, Dallas Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Pacific, the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee, Baltimore Opera, Opera Carolina, New Orleans Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Columbus, Fort Worth Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera Delaware, Toledo Opera and Sarasota Opera. He is the Principal Designer for the Summer Opera Theatre Company (Washington, DC), a position he has held since 1990, designing over 25 productions. He also serves on the Board of Directors of that Company.

In the 2010-2011 season, productions included Carmen at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, La Voix Humaine/I Pagliacci for Opera Cleveland, and Don Giovanni and DiChiera’s Cyrano at Florida Grand Opera. Engagements from the 2009-2010 season included Tosca at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Otello at Palm Beach Opera, Aida at the Atlanta Opera, and Tosca at Michigan Opera Theatre. In the recent 2008-2009 season, lighting productions included Sweeney Todd with Augusta Opera, Rigoletto and Candide with Toledo Opera, Sleuth, Beehive and Evita at the Maltz-Jupiter Theatre in Florida, Rigoletto with Palm Beach Opera, Il Trovatore with the Atlanta Opera, Tosca with Arizona Opera, and Faust with Madison Opera. In the 2007-2008 season, productions include the world premiere of David DiChiera and Bernard Uzan’s Cyrano with Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Company of Philadelphia, as well as I Pagliacci for the Seattle Opera, and La Tragedie de Carmen for the Augusta Opera.

His next lighting productions include Carmen at Seattle Opera, Le nozze di Figaro with the Lyric Opera Baltimore, The Mikado at Opera Omaha, Tosca at Fort Worth Opera, and I Pagliacci with Michigan Opera Theatre.

Additional noted productions from recent seasons include La Fanciulla del West and Manon Lescaut at the Seattle Opera, Roméo et Juliette with Michigan Opera Theatre, Carmen with the Virginia Opera, Roméo et Juliette for Atlanta Opera, Le Nozze di Figaro for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Cosi Fan Tutte for Opera Pacific, Aida and Madama Butterfly for Palm Beach Opera, and Faust with Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera, and Palm Beach Opera.

As frequent lighting designer with Florida Grand Opera, Mr. Thomas has designed productions of La Gioconda, Katya Kabanova, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci. With L’Opera de Montreal he has designed Il Trovatore, Otello, Carmen, La Gioconda, Die Zauberflöte, and Le Nozze di Figaro. Starting in 1992, he has designed over 30 productions for the Baltimore Opera, including Les Pêcheurs des Perles, Norma and Falstaff and the Werner Herzog productions of Tannhauser and Die Zauberflöte. Among the 52 productions he designed for the Florentine Opera since 1985 are Porgy and Bess, Die Fledermaus, La Bohème, Hänsel und Gretel, Abduction from the Seraglio, Eugene Onegin, La Cenerentola, Die Walkure, Elektra, Rigoletto, Der Fliegende Hollander, Turandot, The Consul, The Pirates of Penzance, Carmen and La Fille du Regiment.

Mr. Thomas also works extensively in theater, having designed Alcazar de Paris on Broadway, Fiddler on the Roof for the Theatre Now National Tour, A Moon for the Misbegotten for American Repertory Theatre, Savages for Center Stage Theatre, and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny for the Yale Repertory Theatre. For the Maltz-Jupiter Theatre in Florida he designed recent productions of Barefoot in the Park, Deathtrap, and Man of La Mancha. He will design their 2008 productions of The Full Monty and Master Class. Mr. Thomas has an MFA from the Yale School of Drama in lighting and scenic design. Examples his work can be seen at”

Join us for Opera Omaha’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado on Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm or Sunday, April 15 at 2:00pm to experience the set designed by Peter Dean Beck and the lighting designs of Donald Thomas. Visit or call 402-346-4398 to reserve your seats today!



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