About MassOpera

OUR MISSION
MassOpera cultivates experiences for artists and audiences that challenge the status quo and reflect our diverse community

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • To produce the highest quality artistic product possible
  • To ensure singers and all artists are compensated for their work and technical skills
  • To produce at least one fully staged opera OR musical with orchestra per season
  • To ensure gender parity both on-stage and off
  • To educate singers to be great artists and great business people
  • To engage the public both as audience members and life-long learners
  • To support new work and tell new stories
  • To ensure representation of all kinds of races, religions, genders and gender identities, sexual orientations, cultures, and body types on stage both with the characters we present and the artists who play them

HISTORY AND FUTURE

HISTORY

MassOpera was founded in 2007, as MetroWest Opera, by Artistic Director Dana Varga, to provide young classical singers performance opportunity to fill the gap between conservatory and a flourishing professional career.  When MetroWest Opera was founded, there were only a few small opera companies in the Boston area, and the time was ripe to create more opportunity for these emerging singers.

The main tenets of MetroWest Opera’s mission were to:

  1. Provide paid performance opportunity emerging classical singers
  2. Produce fully staged opera with orchestra
  3. Produce standard repertoire so that singers could tackle roles they would need to know to flourish in this very competitive industry
  4. Choose repertoire that ensured gender parity in casting

In 2010 MetroWest Opera introduced its first Annual Vocal Competition for Emerging Artists, in which singers compete for cash prizes, and has held this program annually ever since.  In addition to our Annual Production and Vocal Competition, MetroWest Opera created several programs to help with professional development of singers (Artist Development), including Audition Preparation Evenings, The Business of Singing Workshop, and other educational programs.

FUTURE

The future IS MassOpera.  During our 10th Anniversary Season in 2017 and 2018, both the board and staff of MetroWest Opera felt that we had successfully fulfilled our mission for ten years, but that the landscape of opera in Boston had shifted, and so too should our mission and values.

We were now one of several small opera companies, each with a slightly different mission and approach to opera. Through a series of group exercises, countless conversations, and much soul-searching we decided we wanted to:

  • Have the opportunity to produce musical theatre and other performance mediums, alongside that of opera
  • Support and encourage all the various and talented artists and designers who make opera so powerful and entertaining
  • Produce original works that have never been told, alongside venerable standard repertoire
  • Commit to serving and inspiring our audience. An opera company is nothing without its audience!

 

Therefore, looking to our audience, we—MassOpera—will:

  • Be forward thinking and ever-responsive
  • Strive to push the operatic art-form forward to tell diverse and compelling stories
  • Advocate for artists and the art we produce
  • Contribute to the quality of life and cultural landscape of Greater Boston
  • Act as an engine of economic activity that has ripple effects throughout the region   
  • Look to you, our audience, for stories that need to be told and heard, that reflect your accomplishments and struggles and the immense diversity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

MassOpera will create a place for everyone at the table.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Isabel Holm - Board Member

Isabel Holm - Board Member

Bio

Ian Kabat - Board Member

Ian Kabat - Board Member

Associate Creative Director, Dell Corporation

Bio

A graduate of Tufts University and The Museum of Fine Arts, Ian is currently the Associate Creative Director at Dell Technologies. Ian has shown his art at many galleries throughout the country, and has received many awards and much recognition for his oil paintings, watercolors and sculptures. He is the owner and operator of Franklin Sculpture Park and is currently certified as an advanced meditation teacher.
Jay Joynes - Board Treasurer

Jay Joynes - Board Treasurer

Finance Operations Administrator CRICO/Risk Management Foundation

Bio

Jay Joynes received his BME from Wilkes University and an MBA from Temple University. He now works as a Finance Operations Administrator for CRICO/Risk Management Foundation. In this role, Jay oversees company operating budgets and forecasting. Previously Jay has served on the Board of Directors for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, where he helped develop the current strategic plan, and additionally created and chaired the Diversity Committee. This opportunity also enabled Jay to reach new fundraising goals with corporate sponsors. In addition to this, Jay founded and operated JMJ Events (a boutique event planning firm). Through his career, Jay has acquired certification in Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, Healthcare Quality and Event Planning.
Jennifer Kain Kilgore, Esq. - Board Attorney

Jennifer Kain Kilgore, Esq. - Board Attorney

Bio

Ryan Miller - Board Chair

Ryan Miller - Board Chair

Northeast Market Development Manager, Starbucks Coffee Company

Bio

Ryan is a 13-year partner of Starbucks Coffee Company and serves as Northeast Market Development Manager.  Ryan began playing piano at age six after being inspired by Marvin Hamlisch at a tour stop in Ryan’s hometown.  He then studied classical organ which lead to him to a diocesan music director position by age 16.  Ryan pursued a double major at Seton Hill University in HR Management and Piano Performance with a secondary focus in Vocal Performance. Ryan also co-chairs the Starbucks Women’s Impact Network and serves on the board of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus as Clerk.
Chris Mitre - Board Member

Chris Mitre - Board Member

Staff Accountant, The Boston Foundation

Bio

Chris Mitre is the Staff Accountant at The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation and one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of more than $1.3 billion. He ensures GAAP principals are met when handling the different investment accounts, and external and internal operating and grant making accounts totaling more than hundreds of millions of dollars in monthly activity.  Chris completed both his undergrad, majoring in Accounting, and his Master’s in Business Administration at The University of Massachusetts Boston.
Dr. Edward Nardell - Board Member

Dr. Edward Nardell - Board Member

Professor of Medicine and Public Health, Harvard University

Bio

Dr. Edward Nardell is a Professor of Medicine and Public Health based at Harvard University and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Division of Global Health Equity.  His academic focus is tuberculosis (TB) – the disease that killed Violeta, Mimi, and countless other characters, performers, authors, and composers over the centuries.  But love of opera started much earlier with a lifelong interest in vocal music – perhaps inherited through his Neapolitan roots. Other musical interests include the recorder and early music, singing cabaret and in the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. He directs a piano-based concert series at his Brookline residence, Longwood Towers.
Colombia Nunez Orozco - Board Clerk

Colombia Nunez Orozco - Board Clerk

State Street

Bio

Christian Short

Christian Short

Bain Capital

Bio

STAFF

Morgan Chalue

Morgan Chalue

Director of Special Events

Bio

Morgan Chalue holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Boston University, where he is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Arts Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Fundraising Management. He is the Director of Music at Stratford Street United Church in West Roxbury, where he leads a program of professional and volunteer musicians and has written and premiered multiple original hymns. Along with his work at MassOpera, he also works as a freelance arts professional. He previously spent a summer as the Program Coordinator for the Young Artist Vocal Program at Boston University Tanglewood Institute and worked as the Student Manager of Admission Ambassadors for Boston University School of Music, creating the new ambassador program for the school.
Cassandra Lovering

Cassandra Lovering

Producing Artistic Director

Bio

 Cassandra Lovering is a Boston-based Elliot Norton and IRNE award nominated director, producer, dramatic coach, teacher, and dramaturg.  Her work examines gender roles and relationships with a particular focus on the experience of women.  As the PAD of MassOpera, she’s excited to head up new programming like the New Opera Workshop and to direct Die Fledermaus in the Spring. Some directing selections include: It’s not about my mother (new work) Little Dog Laughed (IRNE and Norton Nominated) Suor Angelica, Trouble in Tahiti, Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night and The Beautiful Bridegroom.  This winter she will be part of the National Young Arts Program’s creative team for the classical instrumentalists division.  She received her MA in Theatre from Villanova University with a focus on directing and dramaturgy.  She is a Lincoln Center Director’s Lab 2018 Alum.
Samantha Lovewell

Samantha Lovewell

Director of Community & Foundation Relations

Bio

Samantha is thrilled to be a part of the MassOpera team!  She works as the Advancement Officer and a Teaching Fellow for Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC), and volunteers as the Co-Executive Director for Refugee Orchestra Project (ROP). She believes firmly in the power of the arts to bring all people together to achieve equity, equality, and diversity. Samantha holds a Bachelors of Music (Voice) and minor in Theater Arts from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. In May 2019, she will graduate from Boston University with an MS in Arts Administration and Fundraising Management Certificate.
William F. S. Neely

William F. S. Neely

Executive Director

Bio

William Neely has been the Executive Director of MassOpera for four years.  He also is a freelance marketing and development consultant with non-profits and small businesses.  He has a background as a theatre and film actor, and now frequently performs in cabaret settings and sings with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. He serves on the Board of Directors of the North Shore Alliance of LGBTQ Youth.
Mary-Alexandra Onstad

Mary-Alexandra Onstad

Director of Individual & Corporate Giving

Bio

Mary-Alexandra Onstad is a versatile soprano, voice teacher and arts administrator. She graduated from The New England Conservatory of Music in 2010 with a graduate diploma in Voice and Opera studies and has called Boston home ever since. She also earned her Masters of Music in Voice Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA and her Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. When Mary-Alexandra is not busy on stage or teaching,  she is working as the Administrative Coordinator at North End Music and Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC). She is looking forward to another exciting year with MassOpera as the Director of Individual and Corporate Giving.  You can find more information at mary-alexandraonstad.net.
Jennifer Soloway

Jennifer Soloway

Director of Education & Engagement

Bio

Soprano, Jennifer Soloway, is a native of Atlanta, Georgia and has performed with The Boston Conservatory, Oklahoma City University Bass School of Music, Taos Opera Institute, the Harrower Opera Institute at Georgia State University and the Seagle Music Colony and more.  Some past roles include; Cunegonde in Candide, Agnes Gooch in Mame, Stephanie in Jake Heggie’s To Hell and Back, and Morgana in Handel’s Alcina, Zina in Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Emily in Our Town, and Rose in Street Scene.  Ms. Soloway earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Oklahoma City University and her Master of Music in Opera Performance from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee under the tutelage of Rebecca Folsom.
Czarina Olivia Schocker

Czarina Olivia Schocker

Director of Operations and Administration

Bio

Czarina Olivia Schocker is a mezzo-soprano, educator, and arts administrator originally from the border cities of Ciudad Juárez, Chih., México and El Paso, Texas. She continuously works in finding collaborations with music nonprofits that follow her pedagogy and performance philosophies. She is presently living in Houston, TX and manages COMPASSion Music Studio which focuses in bringing joy through music while making music education accessible to all ages and cultures. Mrs. Schocker has vocal performance and music education degrees from UT Austin and UT El Paso
Dana Lynne Varga

Dana Lynne Varga

Founder & Artistic Director

Bio

 Dana Lynne Varga is the Founder and Artistic Director of MassOpera. She is an accomplished soprano, voice teacher, entrepreneur and career coach, and presently on the voice and opera faculty of the Longy School of Music.  Dana won first place in the 2016 Classical Singer National Competition. She has sung with numerous organizations including Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, the Caramoor International Music Festival, Opera Maine, the Cantata Singers, the Metropolitan Chorale, the Springfield Symphony, Coro Allegro, and the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra. Favorite operatic roles performed include Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Musetta in La Boheme, Micaëla in Carmen, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus and the title roles in Alcina and The Merry Widow. An avid concert soloist, recent highlights include Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, the Brahms Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Messiah, and the Bach Magnificat and B Minor Mass. Dana holds the DMA degree from Boston University and the MM degree from the New England Conservatory. Visit Dana’s performance website at www.danavarga.com and her career coaching site/blog at www.theempoweredmusician.com
Nataly Wickham

Nataly Wickham

Marketing & Development Associate

Bio

 Nataly Wickham is a young professional blazing a trail in the arts. As a former singer, Ms. Wickham is committed to providing accessible performance opportunities for the greater Boston community. She is currently the Program Manager for the Community Performances and Partnerships Program at New England Conservatory. There, she facilitates community service opportunities for conservatory students throughout the community as well as helping maintain a partner roster of nearly 200 partnerships.  This fall, she was invited as an assistant for the Metropolitan Opera Education Department’s yearly professional development workshop, which helped to prepare teachers for the nationwide programming of HD broadcasts in schools.  Wickham has degrees in vocal performance as well as education and is a graduate of New England Conservatory’s Artist Diploma Program.

CONTACT US

MASSOPERA
27 GERRISH STREET
BRIGHTON, MA 02135

978 210 2709
INFO@MASSOPERA.ORG

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