Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 10 months
Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Promote opera/develop audiences/communicate/write
Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Seeing all of the patrons being moved/stunned/delighted/transformed by opera at the Orpheum at performances.
What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: I don’t think it’s unexpected, but I manage social media.
Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: I loved our recent production of The Barber of Seville. So fun! Theatrically, Billy Elliot is one of my all-time favorites, and I would kill to see Hamilton on Broadway.
Your unofficial position in the company: Resident Snacker
Your secret talent: I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty awesome at writing song parodies and jingles.
Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: The juggler. I think marketers are always juggling a lot of projects and nonprofit arts just bump that up to the next level.
Outside of the office you can be found doing…: Walking my Bernese Mountain Dog, Finley, playing volleyball with my friends, dining with my husband, watching garbage reality television.
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 5 years
Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Planner
Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Joining incredible staff, Board, artists, volunteers, audience, and community in bringing incredible works of art to life. It is highly rewarding to be a part of the process from start to finish: from the inception of an idea to the final performance.
What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: I’m an obsessive proofreader
Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: Sometimes a live performance of a beautiful work comes at a pivotal time in your life and the result is beyond magic. One of those biggest moments for me was a performance of Tristan und Isolde at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2000; the finale of the opera – the Liebestod – almost sent me over the edge.
Your unofficial position in the company: The Optimist
Your secret talent: Making budgets bend to my will
Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: El Capitan
Arch-Nemesis: The Copy Machine
Outside of the office you can be found doing… Jumping on a trampoline with my 5-year old son, Freddie
Katherine (Kat) Pursell
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 1 year
Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Manage all technical aspects of shows
Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Seeing the final product being a success with an audience on opening night.
What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: Drive the 26’ box truck like a champ! I’m also a carpenter and theatre electrician so I pitch in from time to time.
Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: I could not pick a favorite! I love the arts in all its’ forms.
Your unofficial position in the company: Your secret talent: I sing and play guitar.
Outside of the office you can be found doing….: Relaxing! Going to movies, watching TV, riding my bike through the park, hanging out with friends, etc.
Engagement Programs Manager—Community Programs
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: 11 months
Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Build and produce community based programming
Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Seeing the faces of members of our community that are affected by our programming, and using my position to be an advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in our community. Two groups that are so often not included in today’s society are the elderly and the disabled.
At The Rose Blumkin Jewish Home we created a special 45-minute recital program by one of the artists from our mainstage production of Handel’s Semele. Our artist, Nikola Printz, accompanied by Opera Omaha’s Resident Music Director J. Gawf, presented a program to 86 seniors—most of whom were wheelchair bound—that included music from opera, musical theater and jazz. It was amazing to see the transformation of this elderly group of adults as the power of music caused all of them to straighten up their posture and beam with joy. We had several seniors come up to us at the end of the program and thank us for bringing music to them.
Opera should be used as a form of expression to help heal and empower our community. Our new collaboration with disabled adults at Ollie Webb Center, Inc. provided another opportunity to do just that. These adults were hungry for an opportunity to feel included in the performing arts world. From meetings with their Artistic Director, Jim Hoggatt, I created two special programs. The first being an open staging rehearsal for La fanciulla del West with our principal artists followed by a talk back with the director Lillian Groag. Ms. Groag talked with the adults before the rehearsal about what they were about to witness and then guided them through the rehearsal process as it was taking place. The adults left excited and thrilled to be there. One of the attendees said she was now inspired to write a story about cowboys in outer space. The success of this initial program caused us to create another program for Handel’s Semele. This time we had the director James Darrah talk with the adults about the choreography in the production. Then they met three dancers from the opera, who demonstrated how they warm-up and then performed several minutes of choreography. It was heartwarming to see these members of our community that so often feel left out, seem validated and a part of the arts world.
What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: I have a lot of coffee dates. Most of the programming developed is done through an organic collaboration with several different organizations. I try not to simply create programs beforehand and then go to organization to tell them what I want to specifically do with them. Of course, I have a rough plan, but I am more interested to see what excites a community partner about a collaboration with Opera Omaha. From there, I find that partnerships and then the programs developed from those meetings are more meaningful and impactful not only to the parties involved, but to the people that they are serving. Being a bit of a control freak, this process can be a bit nerve-racking as you need to put a lot of trust into other organizations. In the end though, the success of the programs makes it all worth the while.
Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: Well it all depends on when you catch me. As of today—at this moment—I would have to say my favorite opera is Otello followed by La traviata, Norma, Il trovatore, Lohengrin amongst others.
Your unofficial position in the company: Opera Guru / Opera Editor
Your secret talent: I could say a practical one, but I think I should add some color to this description. Yes, it is true I can do the Elvis lip.
Create a super-hero persona based on your position in the company: Normal thirty-year old guy by night, but by day possessing lighting speed, unyielding stamina and a strong moral compass that allows me to bring together people of varying backgrounds, religions and ideologies through the healing power of opera.
Pick two more staff members to be your sidekick and arch-nemesis: Ha… I know better than to pick sides in a small office. I consider the whole staff to be my partners in crime.
Outside of the office you can be found doing….: Exercising, listening to opera, practicing piano and voice, cooking up a new vegetarian dish, face timing with friends and family back in NYC or hanging out with my best friend at La Buvette or Plank.
Length of time you have worked with Opera Omaha: Little over a year
Six-word summary of your job/duties/what you do: Encourage company growth through generous giving.
Describe the best or most rewarding part of your job: Seeing the productions come to life on the main stage of the Orpheum Theater. Sitting through a Final Dress Rehearsal for the first time will truly take your breath away – such talent!
What is something you do in your position that people might not expect: I’ve been known to make a mean crostini or two – right in the office kitchen! (Check our Twitter page from last fall and you will find some of our creations.)
Your all-time favorite opera or theatrical production: Oh, I can’t just pick one! I’m fortunate enough to say that every show holds a special place in my heart.
Your unofficial position in the company: Resident DJ, karaoke singer, and I will occasionally attempt my skills as a breakout dancer.
Your secret talent: I can consume a lot of snacks in any given day.
Outside of the office you can be found doing… Spending time with loved ones and my furry “children”, traveling (I was able to visit Iceland and Montreal just this spring!), dining out, and enjoying Omaha and all of the fun activities this wonderful city provides for us.
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