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We are

Cowtown Opera.

Not your
Opera -

All Grandmas

Experience the amazing 2018/19 Season!

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About Us

Our Vision

Cowtown Opera has become a signature artistic company of Calgary, surprising audiences with cheeky, English-language interpretations of operatic classics, remarkable vocal calibre, and daring new projects.

Cowtown Opera provides unique and entertaining performances that holler “Calgary!”
At Cowtown, we explore the intersection of classical and popular culture with innovative and contemporary performances.

Our Team

Michelle Minke

Michelle Minke Founder and Artistic Director

In 2011 Cowtown Opera founder and Calgary native Michelle Minke grabbed the bull by the horns and acted on a vision to breathe new life into an art form that has traditionally been misunderstood as elitist and boring. She and business partner Carrie Kalmykov launched Cowtown Opera with a goal of breaking pre-conceived notions about opera and providing performance opportunities for local opera talent.

Under Michelle’s leadership as Artistic Director, Cowtown Opera has developed a reputation for high quality, entertaining, accessible and original productions. She was also instrumental in creating the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy at Mount Royal Conservatory, which has provided world-class training to aspiring opera singers since 2012.

Michelle received her opera training at the Royal Academy of Music in London England, Bachelor of Music and Masters in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Toronto. Michelle is a recipient of the Mayors Enbridge Emerging Artists Award and was named top 40 Under 40 for Avenue Magazine. She was seen as a headliner for the 2013 Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show and has performed with the Canadian Opera Company, Calgary Opera, Cowtown Opera, the Anghiari Music Festival and numerous high-profile events in Calgary and across Canada.


Contact Michelle at: michelle@cowtownopera.com

Bethany Yon Executive Director

(on Maternity Leave May 18th, 2019-January 1st, 2020)

Bethany Yon holds a Masters of Music from Western University in London, Ontario and a Bachelor of Music from Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta. Bethany has embraced advanced study opportunities with Accademia Europea Dell’Opera (AEDO), The Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI), as well as Edmonton, Alberta’s Opera NUOVA. Active in the musical community in her home city, Bethany has worked with Concert Opera Company, Cowtown Opera, Calgary Opera Chorus, Classical Revolution, Calgary Pro Arts Society as well as throughout Canada and internationally. A passionate leader and manager, Bethany has, throughout her academic and professional careers, led in a vast array of administrative and business-centered capacities including conference and event planning, sponsorship generation and production management. Bethany has been recognized throughout her career as a recipient of the 2016 Calgary Arts Development Individual Artist Grant, the 2014 London Opera Guild Scholarship as well as the 2011 John Swindells Memorial Music Scholarship.

Bethany was honoured in 2019 at the Mayor’s Lunch for the Arts as the inaugural recipient of the Rozsa Foundation Emerging Arts Administrator Award.

With a love for the Cowtown Opera Company community and message at the centre of her endeavours as Executive Director, Bethany strives to lead Cowtown to and through new and exciting stages of growth, development, recognition and advancement.


Contact Bethany at: bethany@cowtownopera.com

Meaghan Schulz Interim Managing Director

(May 13th, 2019-December 31 st, 2019)

Meaghan Schulz holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, and an LLB from the University of Alberta. Meaghan has been involved with Cowtown Opera as a singer since the company’s inaugural year, and she continues to be a proud member of the roster. You may also have seen her performing with the Calgary Opera chorus, and on the Storybook Theatre stage. Meaghan is a fierce believer in the value of the arts community in Calgary, and a devoted supporter of Cowtown’s mission of providing accessible, relevant opera to Calgary audiences.

With Cowtown’s fearless leader Bethany Yon away on leave, Meaghan will strive to fill her shoes to the best of her ability.

Contact Meaghan at: meaghan@cowtownopera.com

Kennedy Greene Interim Administrative Director

(May 13th, 2019-December 31 st, 2019)

Kennedy Greene is a Calgary based Stage Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Lethbridge, and is a proud graduate of the Theatre and Dramatic Arts Technical Theatre Program. Kennedy has worked with Cowtown Opera as Stage Manager and Production Manager on several productions since 2016. She is excited to work closely with the Interim Managing Director – Meaghan Schulz and feels together they will succeed. As a self-proclaimed stationary and spreadsheet nerd Kennedy will endeavor to ensure the transition into Bethany’s maternity leave is as smooth as possible. For all business-related questions in Bethany’s absence.

Contact Kennedy at: kennedy@cowtownopera.com

Aaron Coates Associate Artistic Director

A director, writer, and actor, Aaron has worked with Cowtown Opera on many productions including The Phantom of the Opera Sing-Along,
La Bohème, The Bachelor, Archibaldo, Prison Divas, The Secret Lives of Corporate Calgary, and NYC Meets YYC. He was also a co-librettist on Cowtown’s new opera Annie Davidson.


Aaron’s other directing credits include: The Magic Flute, The Scorpions’ Sting, Hansel and Gretel, Hannaraptor (Calgary Opera School Tours), The After Party, The Way of All Fish (Lunchbox Theatre), Dying City (Pangloss), The Old Neighborhood (Rogues Theatre), Iraq and Back (Ghost River Theatre).


Aaron studied acting at Mount Royal University and at École Philippe Gaulier in Paris. For ten years, he was the co-artistic producer and director of Dirty Laundry, Calgary’s live, improvised soap opera, where he directed over 150 episodes.

Contact Aaron at: aaron@cowtownopera.com

Meaghan Schulz Event Manager

Meaghan Schulz is a singer, actor, dancer, teacher, and general lover of the arts. She has a keen desire to share the dazzling talent Cowtown Opera has in its list of roster singers with the Calgary community. Meaghan will work with you to help ensure your event is moving, magical, and memorable.

Contact Meaghan at: meaghan@cowtownopera.com

Evan Mounce Resident Music Director

Pianist Evan Mounce enjoys a close association with Calgary Opera, Cowtown Opera, Cantaré Children’s Choir, and the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus. He also works as a freelancer; vocal coaching aspiring stars and fully-fledged ones including k.d. lang. Primarily a self-taught pianist (Piano for Dummies circa 2003), in 2015 Evan decided to get serious about lessons and currently studies with Kathleen van Mourik. Evan holds a MMus from the University of Toronto in saxophone performance. His favourite artistic collaboration is with his wife, soprano Laura Brandt, and may soon include music-making with their son – born July 29th!

Sara Staples COSA (Cowtown Opera Summer Academy) Artistic Director

Sara Staples, Mezzo-Soprano is an active performer across North America specializing in opera, concert work and in professional ensembles. She has performed the roles of Annie Davidson (Annie Davidson), Maria (The Sound of Music), La Suora Zelatrice (Suor Angelica), Fiamma with Mercury Opera, Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Mercédès (Carmen), Doris Whithers (Mr. Moreover’s Magic), The Foreign Princess (Rusalka), Nancy (Albert Herring), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Hora (Egisto). Equally at home on the concert stage, Sara has been featured as the Mezzo-Soprano soloist with The Richard Eaton Singers, The Bow Valley Chorus, The Wild West New Music Ensemble, The Calgary Bach Society, Symphony of the Vines, Luminous Voices, Spiritus Chamber Choir, Voicescapes and La Vie. She has also performed as a soloist at the Taipei International Choral Festival and the Boston Early Music Festival. Also an active recitalist, Ms. Staples has performed as a part of the Mountain View International Festival of Song, Chamber Music, The Paso Robles Paderewski Festival, The Sunday’s Live Concert series at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Casalmaggiore International Festival. Ms. Staples holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music in Vocal Arts from the University of Southern California. Also a voice teacher in Calgary, Sara is passionate about arts education and the next generation of performing artists. She is thrilled to be the Artistic Director of the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy (COSA).

Ainsley Soutiere COSA (Cowtown Opera Summer Academy) Education Coordinator

Ainsley Soutiere is proud to be the Education Coordinator for the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy, as well as filling in some other administrative duties for Cowtown Opera in her spare time. She also works for the Rozsa Foundation, and for the Calgary Chapter of the International Women’s Form. Ainsley is thrilled to be keeping her feet wet in Calgary’s arts scene and is even more thrilled she gets to do it with Calgary’s only indie opera company!

Board of Directors

  • Matthew Burd

    Matthew Burd


  • John Mostowich

    Vice President

  • Kris Matthews


  • Del Simon


  • Carrie Kalmykov


  • Sybil Choles


  • Eileen Kwan


  • Steve Warme


  • Simina Ionescu-Mocanu


Committee Members

Cindy Royer - Accounting

Cindi Gedlaman - Front of House Manager

Sean Haid - Social Media Manager

Courtney Murias - Funds Development

Melissa Jackson - Funds Development

Brianna Jackson - Communications Design

Julia Lisztwan - Volunteer Manager

Our Roster

Experience the amazing 2018/19 Season!
Individual Shows $15-42 Buy Tickets today!

Cowtown Auditions

2019/2020 Cowtown Opera Season Auditions!

Date: Saturday, April 6th, 2019

Time: 1:30pm-8:30pm (exact audition times assigned following application)

Place: Mount Royal Conservatory Room ED2003


1 opera aria sung in English

(we highly encourage you to rewrite your own unique version to showcase your creativity!)


1 additional selection, any genre (also in English)

Accompanist provided ($20 cash accompanist fee required on day of auditions)

Please email admin@cowtownopera.com  with the following information on or before Saturday March 23rd to request an audition spot:


Voice Type

Email and Phone Number

Time preference (if any) for audition day

Recent headshot


Specific times will be assigned individually no later than March 30th.

In person auditions are always our preference, but should you be unable to attend the audition date, video submissions of the same required repertoire will also be accepted on or before  Fri. April 5th, 2019 in the form of Dropbox, GoogleDrive or Youtube links emailed to admin@cowtownopera.com


Support Us

Cowtown Opera relies on the generous support of sponsors and donors to help us produce high quality entertainment and fulfill our mandate of Bringing Opera to the People. You can help us achieve our vision by becoming a sponsor, donor or volunteer.


We value our sponsors for their support of the arts in our city and province and want to build great, long-lasting partnerships. Let us create the perfect sponsorship package for your business including recognition, advertising and perks such as tickets and private performances.

Please contact us to discuss sponsorship opportunities.


Individual donors are the lifeblood of our company and a direct connection to our audience. As a donor you will receive a charitable tax receipt in addition to great karma!



We’re always looking for enthusiastic volunteers. Contact us for more information!

Cowtown Opera Members (New for the 2018/2019 Season!)

The following donations were made July 2018 and on:

Core Members (contributions of $1000.00 and above)

Elizabeth Maurice

Kelly Hall

Glynis Grigg

Beverly and David Foy

Janice Dickin and Frits Pannekoek

Prairie Pacific Law

The Wettstein Family Foundation

Donald Edie

Peter Claghorn and Brenda Lang

The Cindy Royer Family Foundation

Bethany and Eli Yon

Sustaining Members (contributions between $500.00 and $999.00)

Mary Rozsa de Coquet

Matthew Burd

Sybil Choles

Deborah and Thomas Fellows

Supporting Member (contributions of up to $499.00)

Lois Henderson

Anne Kaufmann

Del Simon

Marla Orenstein

Jody Moseley

Pat and Don Maier

Jeff and Anne Davis

Leita Blasetti

Barbara Thorson

Eileen Kwan

Heather Kitchen

Past Seasons

Annie Davidson
Annie Davidson
Barber of Cowtown
Ella (La Cenerentola)
Hansel and Gretl
Hansel and Gretel
La Boheme
Love Potion #9
Magic Flute
Mary Poppins
Phantom of the Opera
Revenge of the Bat
Revenge of the Bat
Sound of Music
The Bachelor
The Bachelor
The Cougar
Wrecking Balls the Opera
Wrecking Balls the Opera
Secret Lives of Corporate Calgary
Prison Divas
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Figaro's Wedding

Can’t get enough Cowtown?

Book Cowtown Opera

…to make your event a memorable occasion!

  • Surprise a loved one with a Birthday Opera Bomb
  • Add the beauty of the human voice to your wedding or special occasion
  • Let us write you a personalized song or anthem set to your favourite aria
  • Spice up your event with our talented ‘undercover waiters’

Let us create the perfect musical experience for you, singing Broadway to Opera! Contact us to get started!

“Words cannot describe how wonderfully those 2 women sang. Their opening duet drew gasps and then dead silence. Beautiful!...Thank you, thank you for putting together that superb program for me...it brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.”

“The service of Cowtown Opera was nothing short of professional and fabulous. Our opera singer Courtney, provided a large part of the 'ambience' of the evening. I appreciated the reasonable pricing, the search for our singer, the ideas for songs and interaction with myself in selecting them, and of course the performance. I would highly recommend your company for any of its services.”

“Amanda and Maria were awesome - they were fun, engaging and our guests were delighted with the performance, as were we....It was a special treat for our Christmas party and was a great way to put us all in the right spirit for the "reason for the season”

Summer Academy

Cowtown Opera Summer Academy

July 18-27, 2019

Training Opera Singers for the Future

The Cowtown Opera Summer Academy offers intensive short-term studies for singers who wish to hone their skills in the areas of opera, art song, stagecraft and career development. Our inspirational faculty of professionals with international experience will assist you with all aspects of vocal and artistic development. COSA is geared towards singers who are entering into, currently enrolled in, or finished their post-secondary education in vocal studies. A performance opportunity in the closing concert will be offered to every student.

The program includes:

    • Yoga for the Voice & Breath and Body Work Private and Group Sessions
    • Individual Voice Lessons & Coachings
    • Private Aria Staging Sessions
    • Stagecraft & Improvisation Classes
    • Theatre Scene Study Coachings
    • Masterclasses in French Melodie, German Lieder, Opera Arias and more
    • Classes on Vocal Health, Career Development, Opera History and Aesthetics, IPA
  • Art Song Recital and Opera Scene Showcase

Watch our COSA highlight video HERE.


If you don’t think you’re quite ready to take the full COSA plunge, this is a great way to get your feet wet! The OutRider program is a wonderful opportunity for actors, dancers, choral singers, instrumentalists or anyone looking for a taste of an opera singer’s world! OutRiders tuition includes participation in the following classes & seminars:

    • Yoga and Breath Therapy for the Voice (5)
    • Stagecraft & Improvisation Classes (5)
    • Select 2 of the following seminars:
  • Vocal Health
    Marketing for Singers
    Audition Prep
    Opera History and Aesthetics
    The Wilson Method for Voice: Singing with Ease, Power & Support

Please note that OutRiders are not required to audition for COSA, however they must still submit a completed application form (including all fields that apply) by Friday June 21, 2019.


COSA is proud to present the opportunity for the Calgary community to observe and learn from our excellent Faculty Members at our 2019 Masterclasses.  All classes are open to voice students, teachers and the general public who are interested in catching a glimpse into the world of classical singing.  We remind all guests that the focus of these sessions is furthering the vocal and educational journey of our COSA participants and proper masterclass etiquette must be adhered to. We welcome guests to enjoy the teachings of our internationally recognized instructors for $10 per session, with all proceeds funding scholarships for future COSA students.

Application Information

Deadline to apply: March 8th, 2019

To access application form, please visit our page on the Mount Royal University Conservatory website

Please note: Your application to attend Cowtown Opera Summer Academy is not a registration or notice of acceptance — all applicants must audition prior to acceptance.


One aria selection
One art song selection
(any two languages must be represented)
There is no audition process for OutRiders.
A completed application & tuition must be received by Friday June 21, 2019

Audition in person on March 16 & 17th at MRU or send an electronic video submission of your audition as an email attachment or YouTube link to COSA@CowtownOpera.com . 

Deadline for electronic submissions is Friday, March 8, 2019. 

Please note that the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy is an Intensive and students are expected to attend the entire length and participate in all aspects of the course. We cannot accept applications from persons with scheduled conflicts during the outlined dates.

Questions about the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy? email cosa@cowtownopera.com