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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

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.

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

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

Meghan Goguen Event Manager

Meghan, mezzo-soprano, is a born-and-raised Calgarian who has spent the last year getting to know the arts scene in her home town. Besides enjoying performance opportunities with the Calgary Opera Chorus and Cowtown Opera, Meghan has forayed into the world of marketing and social media management for the Land’s End Ensemble, and will be taking on the social media management of local arts organization, Prairie Debut. Notable performances include Mrs. Soames in the Canadian Premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town, Mrs. Nolan in Menotti’s The Medium, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Lady Jane in Gilbert and Sullivan’s PatienceAside from performing, Meghan is currently a voice teacher in Calgary as well as the event manager for Cowtown Opera.


Contact Meghan at: meghan@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


  • Jody Moseley


  • Carrie Kalmykov


  • Sybil Choles


Committee Members

Cindy Royer - Accounting

Aneta Pietras - Front of House Manager

Sean Haid - Social Media Manager

Courtney Murias - Funds Development

Melissa Jackson - Funds Development

Brianna Jackson - Communications Design

Angela Minke - Administration Support

Our Roster

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

The Bat

The Bat (Die Fledermaus)
An Outrageous Costume Comedy!
Gabe Eisenstein has to spend eight days in jail, but that’s not going to stop him from going to Orlovsky’s famous Halloween Party! He concocts a scheme to get to the party, but little does he know that his wife, his maid, and his friend have their own schemes—and when everyone arrives at Orlovsky’s party, things get batty!

A Cowtown Christmas

A Cowtown Christmas
The Ginger Bread Latte of Operatic Christmas Shows!
Cowtown’s annual celebration of the holidays is back—and now in a brand new home! Come join the Cowtown family for musical merriment, holiday hijinks, and seasonal sing-alongs!

Ticket to Love

Ticket to Love
Opera’s greatest hits reimagined in a brand new story!
Patti is a Calgary flight attendant who has been unlucky in love. A chance encounter at a hockey game leads to a first date. But the game of love is not without penalties. Is it going to be a game misconduct or a come from behind victory? This romantic comedy uses the greatest hits in opera to tell a tale of modern love.


Kick off Stampede Season with Carmen
Joe loves Carmen, but she’s in love with rodeo bullrider Emilio. It’s a love triangle fated for a tragic end. The epic story is pared down to a fast-paced romantic thriller, with all the famous music you know and love in this modern adaption.

Park & Bark

Park ’n’ Bark
You bring the pooch, we’ll bring the Puccini!
Opera is coming to a dog park near you. Bring your beloved furry friend to a special selection of opera hits for dog lovers. Bark along to the Barcarolle and hear how we turn “Dido’s Lament” into “Fido’s Lament”!

Cowtown Downtown

Cowtown Downtown: Summer 2018

Join us for lunch with a side of opera. Take a break with us this summer and be fed, entertained and back at the office in under an hour! Each Thursday lunchtime event includes 40 minuites of music presented by the talented Cowtown Opera Roster Singers as well as a boxed lunch ready to enjoy when you arrive!

ATB Branch for Arts and Culture

102 8 Ave SW

Calgary, Alberta T2P 1B3


Themes for the summer include:

June 14th: Musical Theatre Extravaganza!- Listen to some of your favourite Sondheim, Gilbert and Sullivan and Rodgers and Hammerstein as you munch your lunch.

June 28th: Soprano vs. Mezzo! -A sing-off of epic proportions! Get ready to witness as two of our singers go head to head on some amazing duets!

July 5th: John Wayne Opera!- Gear up for Stampede with our Western-themed ditties. Cowboy hats and boots encouraged.

July 12th: Inside the Audition!- Come hear our singers perform opera classics…with their own personal twist; just like they do each year at the Cowtown Opera Auditions.

July 19th: Operation Operetta! – Enjoy the patter, the folly, the fun of Gilbert and Sullivan while you snack!

July 26th: Summer Lovin’!- Enjoy some of opera’s greatest love songs to pull at your heartstrings.

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)

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

Sustaining Members (contributions between $500.00 and $999.00)

Mary Rozsa de Coquet

Matthew and Kelly Burd

Sybil Choles

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


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!

“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”

“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.”

“Much gratitude for a very fun evening. Everything I'd hoped for and more. The performance was simply delightful and my audience left the theatre well pleased at the value they got for their entertainment dollar. Thanks for making me look good.”

Summer Academy

Cowtown Opera Summer Academy

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
  • Straight Theatre Scene 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
  • Seminars on Vocal Health, Career Development (2), Opera History and Aesthetics, and 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 22, 2018.


COSA is proud to present the opportunity for the Calgary community to observe and learn from our excellent Faculty Members at our 2018 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

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 22nd, 2018

Audition in person on March 24 & 25th 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 9, 2018.

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