Opera Western Reserve celebrates long-term success with its 20th production this November with a reprise of the vivacious Carmen by George Bizet. It does not seem that long ago when David Vosburgh [who became production director] and Patricia Kavic [who served as board chair for OWR’s first ten years] convinced others to join them with a “leap of faith” and launched an opera company in Youngstown.
David and music director Susan Davenny Wyner then took the helm and created high-quality productions which have drawn increasing attendance over the years. After David’s retirement, we were excited to have Scott Skiba join us with his creative production designs.
OWR has given dozens of young soloists the opportunity to expand their repertoires. They have gone on to perform in many major venues including the Metropolitan Opera, the Spoleto Festival, the Cleveland Orchestra, Michigan Opera, and Sarasota Opera. In 2012 we were honored with a performance by Youngstown native and world-star tenor Lawrence Brownlee.
Meanwhile, the Young Artists program, now known as Emerging Artists, has served dual roles of bringing opera into schools and providing opportunities for local performers. The Emerging Artists will present Jack and the Beanstalk in the Jeanne D. Tyler Grand Ballroom at Stambaugh Auditorium on Sunday, March 12.
OWR is eager to try new things. We have partnered with other arts organizations and now host an annual summer fundraiser, this year on June 8 on the 5th Avenue Steps and Promenade at Stambaugh Auditorium.
To take advantage of the greater staging opportunities available to us, we will present Carmen on November 17, for our first venture outside of Stambaugh Auditorium, in Powers Auditorium at the DeYor Performing Arts Center.
Pat Kavic turned the chairmanship over to me in 2013 and I will be completing my term in June. Opera Western Reserve will continue, under incoming chair Denise Glinatsis Bayer to be a highlight of the area’s artistic scene thanks to the very generous support of individual donors, corporate donors, foundations and trusts, and the Ohio Arts Council.
On Friday, November 11, 2022, Opera Western Reserve presented La Bohème in the historic Stambaugh Auditorium Concert Hall. Composed by Giacomo Puccini, the opera tells the story of friends and lovers who are artists, writers, and musicians struggling to live and create their art in 1800s Paris. La Bohème contains some of opera’s best music and has remained popular with audiences since it was written. The creative team was led by Production Director Scott Skiba and Susan Davenny Wyner (Music Director and Conductor), and included Robert Pierce (Stage Manager), Ariana Wyatt (Assistant Director), Joyce Jones (Assistant Stage Manager), Dean La Salandra (Assistant Stage Manager), Jon Simsic (Chorus Master), Steve Shack (Lighting Designer), Brittany Powell Merenda (Projection Designer), Brian Palumbo (Costume Designer), Leah Altiero (Hair/Makeup Technician), and Ben Malkevitch (Rehearsal Pianist & Supertitle Operator).
Rhea Olivaccé – Mimì
Jonathan Kaufman – Rodolfo
Rachel Copeland – Musetta
André Chiang – Marcello
Brian K. Johnson – Schaunard
Dan Ewart – Colline
Jason Budd – Benoit/Alcindoro
Anthony Casacchia, Jessica Chisholm, Kristina Clemons, Elizabeth Crowll, Amanda Egolf, Colleen Harris, Alexander Kluchar, Dean La Salandra, Maeve Law, Allegra Lewis, Emily Adgate Lewis, Joshua Lewis, Julia Mihalich, David Mouse, Lauren Nord, Diane Pack, Lucy Papini, David Pratt, Donald Rasely, Kathie Steeb, Abby Witherstine
Mary Amrhein-May, Jeffrey Bremer, Stephanie Carter Dennis, Brendan Considine, Karen Considine, Katie Farrington, Jonathan Moser, Vince Huzicka, Heather Johnson, Jay Koziorynsky, Christopher Krummel, Julian Machala, Ida Mercer, Martin Neubert, Nancy Paterson, Mary Price, Janice Pylinski, Amber Rogers, Natalie Sahyoun, Peter Sapkowski, Gloria Slocum, Rachel Vaduva, Alice Wang, Don Yallech
On Sunday, March 12th Opera Western Reserve’s Emerging Artists returned to schools and traveled throughout Mahoning Valley to perform the children’s opera, Jack and the Beanstalk. Almost 1,400 people enjoyed this performance across Mahoning County. Closing their weeklong tour, the cast also performed a public production for over 80 people in Stambaugh Auditorium’s Ballroom.
This operatic retelling of the popular fairytale is a wonderful introduction to the world of opera for youth and adults. Opera Western Reserve is proud to have been many people’s first opera experience! The Emerging Artists cast consisted of Ciara Newman, Kate Tiemens, and Robert Pierce playing quirky storybook characters to bring the fairytale classic to life. The children’s opera was accompanied by Allison Hillier, who played the Gilbert and Sullivan inspired tunes. This free program was a great experience returning to schools since March 2020, and we look forward to next year’s tour!
Aimee and Lulu Seidel Foundation
The Christine Blair Legow and Elliot P. Legow Fund of the Community
Foundation of the Mahoning Valley
Ronald and Marcia Gould
Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish
Brian and Amy Kren
Barbara H. Tinkham
Tedrow L. and Susan M. Perkins
Alan and Margaret Gittis
Dr. Gregory Huang and Natalie Lariccia
Andreas and Dale Foerster
Elizabeth Blair Kauffman
Toni and Steve Schildcrout
Chaya and Sandy Kessler
Jeffrey M. Simon
Linda and Stanley Palumbo
Dustin and Valerie Dill
Jayson B. Jordan