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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Byers - 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
Cowtown Opera Debut.
Elsewhere: First Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Fiordiligi (Così fan Tutte), Elle (La Voix Humaine), La Chatte (L’enfant et les sortileges), Angelina (La Cenerentola), Amy (Choir Practice), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), Forester’s wife, Innkeeper’s Wife (The Cunning Little Vixen), La Baronessa de Champigny (Il capello de Paglio di Firenze), Mércèdes (Carmen), Seour Mathilde (Dialogues des Carmelites), Sylviane (The Merry Widow). Rachel received her Bachelor of Music from UBC and her Master of Music and Professional Studies certificate from the Manhattan School of Music. Rachel is a proud Canadian soprano and looks to singing with Cowtown!
For Cowtown Opera: Cherubino (Figaro’s Wedding), Ella (Ella:Cinderella Goes To Comic-con), Ava Maria (Full Tibetan, 10-Minute Play Festival), Chorus (Revenge of the Bat).
Elsewhere: Hansel (Hansel & Gretel), Dido (Dido & Aeneas), Bianca (The Rape of Lucretia), Molly (Scorpions’ Sting), Kate Pinkerton (Madame Butterfly).
Courtney earned her Bachelor of Music with distinction from the University of Lethbridge and her Master of Music from the University of Western Ontario where she was a winner of the Martista Brookes Concerto Competition, and is a proud alumna of Calgary Opera Emerging Artists. Recently she has performed at Calgary Opera’s “Opera in the Village” festival, CPO’s Education Series, University of Lethbridge Music at Noon, Bow Valley Chorus, ProArts Society, and Calgary Concert Opera. Courtney also enjoys cool mountain air, gardens, and raising her young children
For Cowtown Opera: Falke (The Bat), Figaro (Figaro’s Wedding), Caterpillar (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Alidoro (‘Ella!), Camera Man (The Bachelor), Jugocapo (Archibaldo!).
Elsewhere: Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Seneca (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Herr Brentano/Col. Krause (The Brothers Grimm), Benoît/Alcindoro, Colline, Schaunard (La bohème), Rev. Olin Blitch (Susannah), King Balthasar (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Figaro (Le Nozze Di Figaro), Guglielmo (Cosi Fan Tutte), Dr. Dulcamara (L’Elisir D’Amore), Frank (Die Fledermaus), Papageno (The Magic Flute), Bob (The Old Maid and the Thief), and Robin Oakapple/Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (Ruddigore). Ian completed his Bachelor of Music at the University of Lethbridge with Dr. Blaine Hendsbee, and is an active performer and teacher in Calgary and across Canada
For Cowtown Opera: Patti (NYC Meets YYC)
Elsewhere: The Secret Garden (Theatre Calgary), Hansel and Gretel (Calgary Opera), Turn of the Screw (Opera on the Avalon),Frasquita (Carmen), Peep-Bo (The Mikado), Le Portrait de Manon (Calgary Opera), The Rape of Lucretia (Calgary Opera), Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Calgary Civic Symphony. Laura has a M.Mus. in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory and is an alumna of the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist program. She is supported by the Nova Scotia Talent Trust and The Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Laura has performed locally as a Cowtown Roster artist for three seasons. She teaches voice and piano in Calgary.
For Cowtown Opera: Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Musetta (La Bohème), Adina (Love Potion No. 9), Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Ida (Die Fledermaus), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Meg (Phantom of the Opera – Sing-Along).
Elsewhere: Fairy Godmother (Calgary Opera), Laurette (Calgary Opera), Rodelinda (McGill Opera), Amy March (McGill Opera), Countess Blavinskeya (The Dream Healer – world premiere), Nanetta (UBC Opera), Despina (UBC Opera), Susanna (Opera Nuova), Gilda (Calgary Concert Opera), Sophie (Calgary Concert Opera). Lauren received her MMus from McGill University and BMus from UBC in Opera. Lauren is an avid performer and teacher based in Calgary, and can be found flying down the Rockies on a pair of skis or a mountain bike.
For Cowtown Opera: Debut
For Mixed Precipitation’s Picnic Operetta: Zerlina (Donald Giovanni), Morgana (Alcina), Philidel (King Arthur). University of Minnesota: Peaseblossom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Lizz is a multi-disciplinary creator and performer. Her most recent devised work, Pierrot’s Gender Reveal Party, premiered at Calgary’s 2019 Festival of Animated Objects. A current MFA directing candidate in the Drama department at the University of Calgary, Lizz’s work explores environmental issues, equality, and queerness. As a part of her exploration in experimental performance, Lizz recently performed and presented on Experimental Music and Ecomusicology, at the 2019 Musicking Conference in Eugene, Oregon.
For Cowtown: Eisenstein (The Bat), Ken (NYC Meets YYC), and Nemorino (Love Potion No. 9)
Mr. Bruce’s love for music was inspired from an early age. His foundation in the performing arts was cultivated through his parent’s influence, both of whom are professional musicians.
Mr. Bruce is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts. He advanced his training at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and continued as a participant of the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist Development Program.
For Cowtown Opera: Mad Hatter (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Secret Lives of Corporate Calgary, Cowtown Cabaret.
Elsewhere: Winifred Banks (Storybook Theatre’s Mary Poppins), Stepmother (Into the Woods), Reno Sweeney (Anything Goes), Marcellina (The Marriage of Figaro), Oolie/Donna (City of Angels), Lady MacDuff (Nightshriek), Calgary Opera Chorus, various singing and dancing roles in The Drowsy Chaperone, The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, Shrek, West Side Story, Oklahoma, and others. Meaghan is a graduate of the Theatre Arts program at MacEwan University, and holds a B.Mus. from the University of Alberta. She teaches musical theatre, ballet, tap, and voice. Meaghan is excited to be part of another amazing Cowtown Opera season.
For Cowtown Opera: First Lady (The Magic Flute), Miss McLennan (Annie Davidson), Bottle (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Roster singer.
Elsewhere: Barbarina and Bridesmaid (Nozze di Figaro), Shepherd Boy (Tosca), Sister Catherine (Dead Man Walking-Canadian premiere), Page (Rigoletto), Cousin (Madame Butterfly), Claire Holmes (Secret Garden), Stewardess Hutchison (Titanic), Mascha (Czarevitch), Alice (A Sunday Excursion). Melissa studied voice at University of Calgary, is the recipient of Calgary Opera’s Brian Hanson Scholarship award, and the Royal Conservatory of Music medal for voice. She has performed in concert in Calgary, United States, Europe and cities across Canada. Her recordings include a CD of favourite songs.
Emily Diehl-Reader – Cowtown Opera Debut
For Cowtown Opera: Female AI (Does Not Compute). Elsewhere: Ottavia (L’incoronazione di Poppea), She (A Tall Order – Canadian premiere), Elvira (The Confused Castrato – world premiere), First Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Marie (Mai ’68 – world premiere), Emily Carr (Emily, the Way You Are – Manitoba premiere). Emily received her Master of Music from the University of Manitoba. Recently, Emily sang excerpts from Frauenliebe und Leben in the guise of Robert Schumann in Manitoba Underground Opera’s groundbreaking show Lost Voices. Emily also narrates audiobooks and produces podcasts.
FOR COWTOWN OPERA: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, NYC Meets YYC, Annie Davidson.
ELSEWHERE: Performance highlights include Mary Poppins, Company, In the Heights, Titanic (Storybook Theatre), City of Angels, JC Superstar (Front Row Centre), The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance (OVAF), Wonderful Town, Les Miserables, Light in the Piazza (Lethbridge Symphony), Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte (Lyric Opera Studio Weimar). OF INTEREST: Steven received his BMus from the University of Lethbridge (cum laude). He works as a singer, actor, vocal instructor, church soloist, part time music teacher, graphic designer and collaborator of all sorts! He enjoys movement culture, gardening, and hand lettering/calligraphy.
A Calgary native, Amanda is excited to be a part of Cowtown Opera this year. She is a graduate from McGill University’s classical vocal performance program and has performed as The Queen in The Queen, The Bear, and The Bumblebee at the Banff Center and at the Taylor Center for Performing Arts. Amanda has recently performed in the Mountain View Chamber Music Festival as well as in the Recital Series at the Lougheed House and completed a recital at the King Eddy. She has been seen in excerpts and roles with McGill Opera, has participated in Opera Nuova and returned to work for a tour as Mrs. Henceforth and Telerina in Isaiah Bell’s Mr. Moreover’s Magic. Amanda has performed with the Calgary Arts Orchestra, VoiceScapes, Classical Revolution Calgary, the Bach Society, Cowtown Opera, Early Music Voices, Mountain View International Song and Chamber Music Festival, and is also working with the Calgary Board of Education as a music specialist
For Cowtown Opera: Debut.
Elsewhere: Countess (Marriage of Figaro), Venus (Orphee aux Enfers), Beth (Little Women). Melanie received her Diploma in Music Performance from Mount Royal University and her Degree in Music Performance from the University of Manitoba, where she studied with Canadian Coloratura Tracy Dahl. In Concert Melanie has performed with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bach Festival Society Orchestra. Melanie is an active teacher, choral conductor and adjudicator throughout Alberta. She loves being surrounded by music and inspiring young singers.
For Cowtown Opera: Sister Berte and Max (Sound of Music Sing Along)
Host (Cowtown Christmas 2018)
Elsewhere: Charlotte (The White Feather), Linfea (La Calisto), Euridice (Euridice), Tessa (Gondoliers), Elsie Maynard (Yeomen of the Guard), Chava (Fiddler on the Roof).
Susan received her Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance from McGill University.
Susan is an avid music educator, here in Calgary. She has devoted much time towards developing programs that will inspire students towards a love of performing and sharing the art of song.
For Cowtown Opera: Gianetta (Elixir of Love), Liesl (Sing-Along Sound of Music).
Praised for the “special, silvery beauty and expressiveness” of her singing (Calgary Herald), Hannah has been featured extensively as a soloist and performer in Calgary and abroad. She has appeared with a variety of musical organizations including the Calgary Philharmonic and Red Deer Symphony orchestras, baroque chamber ensemble Rosa Barocca, Luminous Voices, Early Music Voices, Mountain View Festival, Calgary Bach Society, and the CPO Chorus for which she is the soprano section principal. Other highlights include two solo recitals in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and performing as a finalist in the RBC Concerto Competition.
For Cowtown Opera: Alices’ Adventures in Wonderland (Victorian), A Cowtown Christmas, COSA alumna,
Elsewhere: Multi Denominational Church solo performances, Medicine Hat College choir, WHL Canadian Anthems, Miss Canada Production, Cindi studied opera at Utah State University and took time off to raise four energetic boys! Cindi is currently an interior designer in Calgary and is so excited to rekindle her passion for opera and the culture surrounding music!
For Cowtown Opera: Adele (The Bat), Desi (Cowtown Cabaret: Prison Divas).
Elsewhere: Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Noémie (Cendrillon), Sara (Black Burned Wood), Circle (Numera). Upcoming: Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier). Anna holds a masters of music in Voice from the University of Maryland. As a soloist, Anna has performed with Calgary Concert Opera, the Key30 Orchestra and the Calgary Pro Arts Society. When she isn’t performing, Anna is an active teacher in Calgary
For Cowtown Opera: Cowtown Opera Debut
Elsewhere: Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro) ,Marthe (Faust), Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress), Tisbe (Cenerentolla), Mustard Seed (A Midsummer Nights Dream)
Dallas is excited to return to Calgary after receiving her Bachelor of Music, majoring in opera, from the University of British Columbia under the tutelage of Marisa Gaetanne. Dallas is also an honours graduate from the Mount Royal Vocal Academy. Dallas has performed across North America, including two performances at Carnegie Hall in New York, and a performance for the wife of our former Prime Minister at a Rheumatoid Arthritis Charity event in Ottawa.
For Cowtown Opera: Cowtown Opera Debut.
Elsewhere: Eva Peron (Evita), Cosette (Les Miserables), Cinderella (Cinderella), Lead Female Singer (Holland America Cruise Line), Lead Female Singer (Busch Gardens, Tampa). Selena studied at Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts in St Louis for a BFA in Musical Theatre. She is also a mother of two little, active boys and enjoys performing in local musical theatre when she can find the time! Selena is thrilled to be a part of such an exciting initiative to bring music to the general public. A huge thank you to her husband and boys for the endless love and support.