Wednesday | Feb 13, 2013

Meet the Artist: Papageno, Corey McKern

Papageno, as described by the host in a recent Omaha radio station interview, serves as the “comic relief” in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The role was originally sung by the opera’s librettist, Emanuel Schikaneder, and may be one of the most widely-recognized roles in opera. Papageno is described by harmonia mundi  in the following manner:

Papageno : the birdcatcher, a clumsy, comical character…The attribute of this ‘know-all’ who really knows nothing is a set of panpipes that can charm birds (he will also make incidental use of a set of magic bells). In a sense he lies at the centre of the opera: his failed, even parodic initiation sets in perspective the gravity of the itinerary followed by the Tamino/Pamina couple and the solemnity of a discourse which thus always remains human and accessible. He emerges as an amiable coward with a tendency to put his foot in it, deeply in love with life and with his Papagena, and his feathered person and catchy tunes add a touch of bright colour to the austere interplay of shadows and light which structures the drama (

We are pleased and honored to welcome baritone, Corey McKern back to Opera Omaha for this role. You may have seen him previously as Slook in our February 2012 production of The Marriage Contract. Mr. McKern sings the role of Papageno in Opera Omaha’s production of The Magic Flute with great skill and just the right amount of sulky humor. He possesses both the operatic and theatrical chops to accurately portray both the longing and the mirth in the role.

Thanks to Corey McKern and our music staff, you will see and hear a wonderful portrayal of Papageno when you join us on Friday, February 22 or Sunday, February 24 to see The Magic Flute. Tickets can be purchased online through Ticket Omaha or by phone at 402-345-0606. Don’t miss this your chance to see this enchanting production of a classic opera including marvelous singing.

To learn more about Mr. McKern, please visit his official website. His program biography and photo are below.

Baritone, Corey McKern

Corey McKern–Biography provided by the artist.


Award-winning baritone Corey McKern continuously earns critical acclaim and accolades in every appearance he makes. In his 10 performance run as Marcello in La bohème at the Santa Fe Opera last summer, the Santa Fe New Mexican said, “Corey McKern’s resolute, robust-voiced and rambunctious Marcello, a perfect picture of a wannabe Parisian painter, was one of the best I’ve ever heard.” This season, engagements include his debut with Austin Lyric Opera as Silvio in I Pagliacci, his role debut as Dandini in La Cenerentola with Nashville Opera, the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro with Syracuse Opera, Anthony in Sweeney Todd with Pensacola Opera, King Henry II in Becket with Long Island Masterworks, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Birmingham, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Saratoga, and his debut with the St. Louis Symphony performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Wozzeck.

Tuesday | Feb 12, 2013

Meet the Artist: Tamino, Shawn Mathey

Tamino is the first character to appear on the stage in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He has a bit of a rough time during the opera. He is irritated by the bird catcher, Papageno, attacked by a two-headed serpent, hunted by Monostatos for falling in love with Pamina, and taunted by the Three Ladies and their mistress, the Queen of the Night. Whew! That’s enough to destroy anyone’s power of positive thinking!

The nature of the story line requires the tenor singing Tamino to portray a wide range of emotions and physical movement in addition to being a phenomenal vocalist. Our Tamino, tenor, Shawn Mathey satisfies the demanding requirement’s of Mozart’s opera with grace and impressive vocal abilities. Mr. Mathey’s official biography is below. You can learn more about him on his web page.

Join us on Friday, February 22 or Sunday, February 24 to see Mr. Mathey bring light and life to the role of Tamino. His portrayal is sure to delight and entertain you. For tickets go online or call 402-345-0606. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Tenor, Shawn Mathey

TENOR, SHAWN MATHEY–Biography provided by artist
Tenor Shawn Mathey performs in the most important and distinguished opera companies and music festivals in the world including the Paris Opera, the Opernhaus Zurich, the Salzburg Festival, Aix-en-Provence Festival, the Theater an der Wien, and the Frankfurt Opera, among many others.

This season marks Shawn Mathey’s return to London for one of his signature roles, Tamino, at the English National Opera. He will reprise this role for further performances of Die Zauberflöte in Charlotte and Omaha. He will also be heard in an Opera Gala Concert at home in Toledo, OH. Further projects include returns to the Washington National Opera and the Cincinnati Opera, both in leading roles.

Last season, Mr. Mathey made auspicious debuts with the San Francisco Opera as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, the Dallas Opera as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, the Lisbon Opera as Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte and the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome as Lysander in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Tuesday | Feb 05, 2013

To Tweet or not to Tweet

Photo Credit: Elmer Ellefson


To tweet or not to tweet during a performance. That is the question posed, on Twitter, of course, by the National Endowment for the Arts. It turns out that the question of allowing social media use during live performance is fraught with contention and, in some cases, disgust at the very idea. The responses continued for more than a week! That’s a long life for conversation limited to social media and 140 character replies.

Reactions to #2tweetornot2tweet ranged from this by @margogray:

“Tweet seats & tweet-friendly performances have grt potential for artist/aud interaction, like live DVD extras! @NEAarts #2tweetornot2tweet”

to this by @AnikaNoniRose:

“@NEAarts @operaomaha Tweeting during a performance is simply rude. Also, distracting for both the audience and performers”

As an arts organization, our primary focus is to bring live performance to the stage and into the community for an audience. When talking about anything that we do at Opera Omaha, the question is always, “How do we build our audience?” The possible applications of social media offer new opportunities with very little or no financial investment. This is a big deal in our world of growing expenses and shrinking budgets.

Although we were a little ahead of the #2tweetornot2tweet conversation on Twitter, it was a tweet by Palm Beach Opera that pushed us into having “the talk” within our own organization. This was the tweet that set us into motion, from @palmbeachopera:

“Registration to participate in Tweetseats for La Traviata is OPEN now! … Space is limited, so reserve your spot now.”

After a message of encouragement from our Chair of Long Range Planning, some internet-based research, and a chat with Ceci Dadisman at Palm Beach Opera, we made a decision. Opera Omaha will be stepping into the social media tide pool known as “Tweet Seats” during the final dress rehearsal of our April, 2013 production, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

Initially, we’re offering Tweet Seats only during the final dress rehearsal, limiting the number of Tweet Seats to 10-15, inviting participants from our list of current Twitter followers, and will have a list of guidelines for our tweeters. The decision to offer Tweet Seats turned out to be an easy one. Our goal as a company is to share the productions that we, and the singers, work on all year long with a larger, more diverse audience. This is just one way to reach out. We’re willing to give it our best shot.


Thursday | Jan 31, 2013

Meet the Artist: Pamina, Monica Yunus

Who is Pamina? What part does she have in the storyline of The Magic Flute? According to a character analysis posted on harmonia mundi’s website, Pamina is:

“the object of both the noblest and the basest desires (Tamino and Monostatos respectively), she is Tamino’s reward for successfully undergoing his initiation. As the daughter of the Queen of the Night, she is torn between her filial love and her love for Tamino. She plays an active role on the path towards wisdom, leading Tamino behind her in the final trials. Mozart assigned her the most deeply-felt arias, quivering with emotion, sometimes desperate, in which she displays a nobility and resolution that foreshadow the qualities of the heroines of early Romanticism, such as Beethoven’s Leonore or Agathe in Der Freischütz.”

Soprano, Monica Yunus

There is no lady more suited to play a noble heroine than soprano, Monica Yunus. In additional to performing with The Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, and an impressive list of European and U.S. opera companies, “Ms. Yunus is the Co-Director of Sing for Hope, a non-profit organization that mobilizes artists in volunteer service to benefit communities in need. (” Please take a moment to learn more about Sing for Hope through the organization’s website.

In the previous calendar year, Opera Omaha has been fortunate to welcome Monica Yunus as a special guest artist at KANEKO and the Joslyn Art Museum. We are thrilled to have Ms. Yunus return to Omaha to sing the role of Pamina in The Magic Flute. More information about the artist and humanitarian is available below and on her website.

The following biography was provided to Opera Omaha by Ms. Yunus.


Soprano Monic Yunus joins The Metropolitan Opera as Yvette in their production of La Rondine, Opera Omaha as Pamina in The Magic Flute, and The Wichita Symphony performances of Carmina Burana during the 2012-2013 season. Recent engagements include Norina in Don Pasquale with Opera Memphis, Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera with Washington National Opera, Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Austin Lyric Opera, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Omaha, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Palm Beach Opera, and Adele in Die Fledermaus with Nashville Opera. She has joined The Metropolitan Opera for numerous productions including The Enchanted Island, Le Comte Ory, Die Zauberflöte, Manon, and Don Giovanni. Recent concert performances include engagements with Andrea Bocelli in Lajatico, Italy, with José Carerras at The Zouk Mikael International Festival in Lebanon, and with Plácido Domingo at The Jordan Festival in Amman, Jordan.

Monday | Jan 28, 2013

Meet the Artists: Priests/Armored Men, Edwin Vega and Darik Knutsen

Today, we introduce you to the two marvelous young men who sing the roles of the Priests and Armored Man #1 and #2 in our February 22 and 24 production of The Magic Flute. Please read on to meet Mr. Edwin Vega and Mr. Darik Knutsen. More information about the singers is available on their websites through these links: Edwin Vega and Darik Knutsen.

First, we have the photo and biography of Mr. Edwin Vega, tenor. Mr. Vega recently earned high praise from the press for his appearance with the English National Opera. We can’t wait to welcome Mr. Vega to Omaha when he joins our The Magic Flute cast as a Priest and Armored Man #1!

Tenor, Edwin Vega

Biography: Tenor, Edwin Vega (Courtesy of ADA Artist Management and Representation)

Tenor Edwin Vega recently made his debut with the English National Opera debut as Molqi in Death of Klinghoffer followed by his role debut of Goro in Madama Butterfly with Nevada Opera. This past summer Mr. Vega returned to the Santa Fe Opera as a Servant (Arabella) and King Edrisi understudy in Szymanowski’s King Roger. Mr. Vega recently returned to the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble performing the roles of Tanzmeister and Brighella in new production of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, and to Chicago Opera Theater for the Chicago premiere of Charpentier’s Medee. Last season he was featured as Rubens Barrichello (the title character’s protégé) in the Metropolitan Opera’s new opera workshop of Michael Torke’s Senna. Mr. Vega made his Carnegie Hall debut in Jerry Springer – The Opera starring Harvey Keitel and sang Rinuccio in the summer of 2010 with the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s new production of Gianni Schicchi.

Next, we present the photo and biography of Mr. Darik Knutsen, baritone. Mr. Knutsen is a Priest and Armored Man #2 in our The Magic Flute cast. He also performed in a community outreach appearance for Opera Omaha at the Cathedral Arts Project’s annual Flower Festival this week before beginning rehearsal for The Magic Flute. Mr. Knutsen’s recent performances earned praise from multiple media outlets. Welcome to Omaha, Mr. Knutsen!

Baritone, Darik Knutsen

Biography: Baritone, Darik Knutsen

Darik Knutsen, baritone from McLean Va, began singing as a boy soprano with the National Cathedral Boys’ Choir when he was 9 years old.
This coming spring he looks forward to singing the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Middlebury Opera. This past November Mr. Knutsen made his international debut singing Marcello in La Boheme under Lorin Maazel in Muscat, Oman.
This past summer Mr. Knutsen sang the male lead, Fredrik, in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with the Castleton Festival. He also understudied the role of Figaro in Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia. Previous operatic experience includes Wagner in Faust with the Santa Fe Opera 2011, Arcas in Charpentier’s Médée with Chicago Opera Theater 2011, Schlemil in The Tales of Hoffmann SFO 2010, Servant in the World Premier of Life is a Dream SFO 2010, as well as the title role of Eugene Onegin at the Chautauqua Institute of Music 2009.



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