In 1985 eighteen individuals met to form a group interested in promoting quality opera performance in Wichita and beyond. This group soon became Opera Kansas. These individuals were dedicated to bringing opera performances to the state and educating Kansans to this great art form, recognizing that with knowledge, follows appreciation. Opera Kansas was incorporated in December 1985 as a 501 ©(3).
During the early years, the group sponsored out-of-town trips to enjoy live opera performances, offered opera appreciation classes and presented film festivals that included Aida, Turandot, and La Forza del Destino.
In 1989, Opera Kansas produced its first opera. It staged the one-act opera, An Evening with Amadeus, as an official River Festival event. The production was so well received that for the next ten years, one-act operas were presented annually at the River Festival.
Some of the operas presented were Arabian Nights at the Opera, Gianni Schicihi, The Old Maid and the Thief, The Telephone, Gallantry, The Jumping Frog of County, and The Marriage Contract
Over the past three decades, the company has brought many national and international opera performers to Wichita audiences. Some of these artists include Joyce DiDinato, Samuel Ramey, Nicholas Saverine, Charlene Ayers, Brian Frutiger, Michael Nansel and a host of other high quality performers that reflect the organizations’ mission.
Throughout its history, well-known leaders of Wichita have led Opera Kansas. Foremost was Burton Pell who served as president and producer for many years. Other community leaders have been Willard and Jean Garvey, Mary Koch, Dan and Shoko Severt, Harald Boschmann, Delmar Klocke, Al Buck, Van and Virginia Fiser, Dr. Walter Myers, Dr. George and Mary Jane Gibson, Dr. Jerold and Diane Leisy, and Sherri Pilgreen.
Opera Kansas Today
Today, Opera Kansas produces a series of modern and rarely performed operas throughout the state. Additionally, the opera company works with the K-12 school system to create music educational programs that fit with in the core history and literature curriculum. Opera Kansas is also committed to making opera accessible by taking performances into the community, singing in retirement homes, parks and public places in downtown Wichita.
After thirty years, Opera Kansas is still committed to bringing the power of high quality opera to people living in a modern world. The opera company is grateful for support from patrons and audiences across Kansas.
Our people are our ultimate asset
The mission of Opera Kansas is to present engaging accessible productions and educational initiatives to enrich audiences by:
- Providing innovative works of one act and chamber operas at affordable prices.
- Providing a stage for new and rarely performed operas and vocal works.
- Providing a focused partnership that meets the state’s K-12 school curriculum.
- Providing emerging professional singers the opportunity to cultivate their art through the practice of performance in a respectful professional environment.
- Maintaining a fiscally responsible opera company of artistic excellence.
- Providing intimate performances by taking opera into the community.
Current Board Members
Managing Artistic Director
Vice President GINA GOUCHENOUR
RICHARD MORROW C.P.A.
Board of Directors
J. MATTHEW LEAVITT, ESQ.
BENJAMIN WINTERS, ESQ.