Monday | Jan 16, 2012

Opera Omaha Guild awards Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions scholarship

Saturday, January 14 in the O’Donnell Auditorium of Nebraska Wesleyan University, fifteen young singers competed in the Nebraska District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  The singers were vying for scholarships and the opportunity to advance to the Council’s Upper Midwest Region Finals in Minneapolis next month.
Opera Omaha Guild President Sheila McNeill was on hand to award one talented singer, tenor Adam Fieldson, the Opera Omaha Guild’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions scholarship.  This $600 scholarship comes with an invitation for the winner to perform at future Opera Omaha Guild events.  There was a strong showing from Opera Omaha at the event. Joining Guild President Sheila McNeill was a past Guild President Gloria Dunbar, Guild member Kate Morris, Board Chairman John Newman, Advisory Board member Don Burt, and General Director Roger Weitz.  
This is an annual event that is free and open to the public – we hope to see you there next year!

Opera Omaha Guild President, Sheila McNeill congratulating scholarship winner Adam Fieldson.

(from left to right) Sheila McNeill, Roger Weitz, Gloria Dunbar, and Kate Morris enjoyed the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions together last weekend.

Monday | Jan 09, 2012

Opera Omaha is Moving and Shaking on the Morning Blend

Opera Omaha’s General Director, Roger Weitz, and Resident Music Director, J. Gawf are on Omaha’s Morning Blend talking about our recent move, upcoming productions and chorus auditions, and opportunities for young professionals to get involved with the organization. Watch the clip and then visit us in our new space at 1850 Farnam Street in beautiful downtown Omaha!

Friday | Nov 11, 2011

Opera Omaha Guild Holiday Boutique

From Sheila McNeill
President, Opera Omaha Guild
The Opera Omaha Guild has four spectacular items that will be raffled off over the five performances of Hansel & Gretel. Pictures are shown of the Madame Alexander Hansel & Gretel dolls and of the gingerbread house that well known artist, Matt Jones, crafted for us. He did an amazing job – the house has polished oak floors, glass windows, the front door is oak and he even made the oven and wishing well that are featured in Opera Omaha’s production of Hansel & Gretel. One of our favorite Guild members and donors, who requested to remain anonymous,  provided furniture and even a beautiful rug for the floor. It is a thing of beauty. And we have a basket of all the items needed to make the most wonderful gingerbread cookies, to store them in and an aroma house to add to the ambiance while you are making them.  Not to be outdone, Omaha Steaks has given us a $250.00 gift certificate. The tickets are selling for $10.00 for one, $25.00 for three.
The Holiday Boutique is selling handmade ornaments fashioned out of boiled wool, paper, felt, glass and also origami. We have pre-decorated Christmas trees, handbags, mini tree skirts, wine paired with Opera Omaha Guild wine glasses, jewelry, and many other items. We have priced many of them so that children will be able to afford them.
The star of the Bake Sale will be Hansel & Gretel gingerbread cookies made by Wheatfield’s. We also will sell biscotti, brownies, and dreidels.

We will be open for business one hour before each performance and after the performances.

Tuesday | Oct 25, 2011

National Opera Week


Omaha, NE October 24, 2011
Opera Omaha Celebrates National Opera Week
Friday, October 28 – Sunday, November 6
Opera Omaha is proud to join dozens of other opera organizations nationwide to celebrate National Opera Week (October 28 – November 6), coordinated by OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, with support of the National Endowment for the Arts.
National Opera Week celebrates the vibrancy of opera in America today, and brings the inventiveness and excitement of opera to a national audience. The strength and diversity of established opera companies, community opera ensembles and opera training programs across the United States will be shared through free, dynamic activities designed to engage novices, opera lovers and everyone in between.
“From behind-the-scenes tours to enlightening performance talks to Twitter contests and more, there is something for everyone during National Opera Week,” states Marc A. Scorca, president & CEO of OPERA America. “National Opera Week draws attention to the creativity and dynamism that propels our field today. We are proud to highlight this depth of opera activity across the United States.”
During National Opera Week, Opera Omaha will host several events that will provide all ages an opportunity to enjoy and learn about opera and Opera Omaha.  In keeping with their mission of Opera for Everyone each of the events will be free of charge.
The following events will take place throughout Omaha:
Hansel and Gretel at the Omaha Children’s Museum
On Saturdays starting October 22nd – November 5thOpera Omaha will present free preview performances of Hansel and Gretel at the Omaha Children’s Museum (OCM) theater.  The previews will feature a few of the characters in the production including Hansel and Gretel.  Performances dates and times are as follows: 10/22 and 11/5 at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. 10/ 29  at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. 
Local artist, Watie White and visitors to OCM we be building a recycled arts installation of a Gingerbread house.  The house will move to the lobby of the Rose Theater on November 11 and be featured during the performances of Hansel & Gretel.
Art and Opera.
Opera Omaha and the Opera Omaha Bravo Club (Opera Omaha’s Young Professional Club) will host an Art and Opera night on November 1stfrom 7pm – 9pm at the House of Loom (1012 S 10TH St, Omaha).  The Art and Opera night will feature local artists Jun Kaneko, Watie White, and Catherine Ferguson’s original artwork and scenic designs for Opera Omaha productions.  The artist will display their works from 7pm – 8pm during the Art and Opera Cocktail Hour. Refreshments will be provided free of charge.  From 8pm – 8:30pm Opera Omaha General Director, Roger Weitz will lead a discussion with the artist about their inspiration and experiences working with Opera Omaha.  Following the presentation Opera Omaha will host an after party with a House of Loom DJ who will spin a music blend of house/techno mixed and opera standards. 
Opera in Omaha
Mayor Suttle has proclaimed October 30 – November 5 Opera Omaha Week.  Following the MET – LIVE in HD showing of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Film Streams (1340 Mike Fahey St., Omaha), Opera Omaha will host a gathering for opera enthusias at Goodnights Pizza (1302 Mike Fahey St).  Food will be provided with a cash bar.   Mayor Jim Suttle, Jim Eisenhart, former drama teacher at Omaha South High School;  and Karla Ewert, VP of Brand and Image Management at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce will be among the special guests at this event.   
“We are so appreciative of the local support that the Omaha gives to us.  National Opera Week is the perfect way for us to say thank you to our community.” said Brad A. Watkins, Communications Director of Opera Omaha, “This is also a great lead up to our second show of the season, Hansel & Gretel, the classic opera for all ages.”
Launching National Opera Week will be the NEA Opera Honors award ceremony on Thursday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C. For the first time, this event will be available worldwide through a live webcast that also will be archived after the event and accessible at The NEA Opera Honors is the nation’s highest award in opera and recognizes outstanding artists for their lifetime achievements and contributions to the excellence and perpetuation of opera in America. This year’s honorees are stage designer John Conklin, general director Speight Jenkins, mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens and composer Robert Ward. The October 27 award ceremony and live webcast will feature video tributes, guest performances from artists such as tenor Lawrence Brownlee and mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, and an onstage conversation with the honorees. For additional information, visit
For more information about National Opera Week events around the country, please visit Join the National Opera Week conversation on Twitter with #OperaWeek and the local conversation with #OperaOmahaWeek.
About Opera Omaha
Opera Omaha, the only professional opera company in Nebraska, began in 1958 as the Omaha Civic Opera Society, a volunteer association, and with tremendous community support became fully professional by 1970. Opera Omaha produces a season of original mainstage productions, presented at the historic Orpheum Theater, and smaller productions and musical events throughout the community. Opera Omaha is internationally known for its productions of eight world premieres and four American premieres of classical masterpieces, and is highly regarded regionally for an extensive education and outreach program that annually reaches as many as 15,000 people from elementary school through adulthood.
Additional press contact:
For OPERA America/National Opera Week: Patricia Kiernan Johnson, 212-796-8620, ext. 217,

Tuesday | Oct 04, 2011

It’s More Than Just a Concert

 In a little more than one week, Opera Omaha kicks off its 54th Season with the glorious This is Opera!   As we prepare for this season opening event, people are asking me,  “But, isn’t this just a concert?”  My answer is always, “Yes, but it’s so much more than that”.

We are proud to welcome James de Blasis back to Opera Omaha to direct a cast of all stars that are known and beloved by Omaha audiences.  Mr. de Blasis has a long history not only with Opera Omaha, but with American opera in general.  He served as General Director and Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera for many years.  He directed across the country, bringing opera to life in places from El Paso to New York City.  He has a special place in Opera Omaha history as an integral part of Opera Omaha’s evolution from the all-volunteer Omaha Civic Opera Society into the fully fledged professional opera company that it is today.  Omaha audiences still speak of his Lucia di Lammermoor, starring famed soprano Beverly Sills, that opened the newly renovated Orpheum Theater in 1975.  I am lucky to have been in many planning meetings with de Blasis and the production team as they sketch out This is Opera! and I can assure you that this will be no “park and bark” concert.  De Blasis is bringing all of his skills together to entertain and impress an audience.

The fantastic cast will bring de Blasis’ vision to life.  Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, Arnold Rawls, Todd Thomas, and Stacey Rishoi join 48 members of the Opera Omaha Chorus and the Omaha Symphony to perform some of the best music in operatic history.  You won’t want to miss Arnold Rawls performing “Nessun Dorma” from Puuccini’s Turandot. The Kansas City Star said this of Rawls’s recent triumphant performance at the Kansas City Lyric Opera, “…Any Calaf, I suppose, will be judged by the quality of his third-act aria, “Nessun dorma,” the most familiar melody in the score and tenor Arnold Rawls gives it a bravura reading. The intensity of his performance earned a spontaneous burst of applause.”  Blancke-Biggs wowed Omaha audiences performing the title roles of Tosca and Aida.  Thomas appeared just last spring in Madama Butterfly and Rishoi returns for the second time in company history after appearing in Little Women.   These are some powerful voices and you won’t be disappointed in how they sound together on the gorgeous Orpheum Theater Stage.    I often say that seeing the fantastic architecture of the Orpheum Theater is worth the price of admission.  This historic theater is such an important part of this city and Omaha is proud to host such a great place for opera.

I invite you to participate in the silent auction taking place before This is Opera! in the lobby of the Orpheum Theater.  A special toast with complimentary champagne launches the bidding at 6:00 pm.  Several opera stars and important artists from Opera Omaha’s 54 year history donated items for your bidding pleasure. A plate signed by famed soprano Beverly Sills, a copy of soprano Renee Fleming’s autobiography signed by the artist, a Jun Kaneko print of the Madama Butterfly wedding, and a pastel painting by famed conductor, Joseph Rescigno are just a few of the unique objects featured.  Many other items will be available including dinner parties, wine, and Chicago Opera Theater tickets.  All proceeds from the auction go to the Opera Omaha Guild which helps fund the educational efforts of Opera Omaha.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear great performances of magnificent music in a beautiful venue. Join us for This is Opera! We look forward to seeing you on October 15!

Click here to buy your tickets today!

Brad Watkins
Opera Omaha Communications Director



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