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Cowtown Opera.

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Experience the amazing 2016/17 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.

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 endeavors as Executive Director, Bethany strives to lead Cowtown to and through new and exciting stages of growth, development, recognition and advancement.

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.

Board of Directors

  • Matthew Burd

    Matthew Burd


  • Kris Matthews


  • Andrea Wettstein


Committee Members

Lauren Woods - Event Manager

Cindy Royer - Accounting

Lorie Francescut - Box Office Manager

Sara Staples - Summer Academy Artistic Director

Ainsley Soutiere - Summer Academy Education Coordinator

Our Roster

Experience the amazing 2016/17 Season!
Individual Shows $15-38 Buy Tickets today!
Secret Lives of Corporate Calgary

Secret Lives of Corporate Calgary

Set in the beautiful Winter Garden at Jameson Place, you will literally follow the action in this one hour original work. You will be a part of the show as you travel to separate locations to follow each story - the office love affair, the admin assistant dying to be a ballet dancer, the broker with a secret lover in Mexico, and a CEO with a sexy secret business on the side - all meeting up at the end for one big finale.
Please note: there is no seating for this event, you will walk between scenes.

A Cowtown Christmas

Celebrate Cowtown style at our annual Christmas sing along. Featuring Cowtown's talented singers, a chamber orchestra and your own voice! Seasonal fun for the whole family.

Cowtown Cabaret featuring Prison Divas

Inspired by Orange is the New Black, these jail bird divas have gotten into all kinds of trouble. Taking tunes you know and turning them into something all our own, you'll want to hear what Cowtown has come up with this year!
Come and see imprisoned prima donnas, duelling divas, unbelievable feats of strength and grace and a special guest appearance by Andrew Love - YYC's very own broadway star and Cowtown Opera alumni!
Please note this is an adult-themed show.

NYC Meets YYC - A Broadway Sing-along

Ken and Patti are a Calgary couple embarking on a "baby moon"--a trip to New York City before the arrival of their first child. But when they're forced to take separate flights, their trip goes in wildly different directions as they encounter a motley assortment of New Yorkers, including a heartbroken cab driver, a homeless stockbroker, an illegal riverboat captain, and mobsters from Jersey!
Including all your favourites from Sound of Music to Les Mis, Westside Story and My fair lady wrapped up in an original story, this is a fun show for the whole family to sing along to! 

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

Can’t get enough Cowtown?

Book Cowtown Opera today 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!

“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.”

“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

Training Opera Singers for the Future, not the Past

The Cowtown Opera Summer Academy at Mount Royal University Conservatory offers intensive short-term studies for the modern day singer. With an emphasis on equipping the young artists of tomorrow with the tools they need to succeed as a whole singer, our international faculty of esteemed professionals will guide you through your journey of vocal and artistic development.

The program includes:

  • Yoga and Breath Therapy for the Voice
  • Individual Voice Lessons and Coachings
  • Stagecraft Classes
  • Masterclasses in French Art Song, German Lieder, Opera Arias & more
  • Classes on Vocal Health, Career Development, Monologue Preparation and Lyric Diction
  • Art Song Recital and Opera Scene Showcase

By the end of the week you will have increased confidence in your artistry and performance skills, as well as a better understanding of vocal health, anatomy and pedagogy. A performance opportunity in the closing concert will be offered to every student.

Past faculty include Kimberly Barber, Patrick Raftery, Elizabeth Turnbull, Catherine Robbin, Brett Polegato, Aria Umezawa, Jessica Derventzis, David Wilson and many other notable teachers, coaches and artists from across Canada.

This years program will run from August 10 – 19, 2017 at the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

Application Deadline: February 17, 2017
Auditions: March 4 & 5 2017 (Calgary)

Application is available here

For more information, please email cosa@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!