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Cowtown Opera.

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About Us

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.

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

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

Board of Directors

  • Carrie Kalmykov


  • Brenda Lang

    Vice President

  • Del Simon


  • Eileen Kwan


  • Steve Warme


  • Peter Claghorn


Committee Members

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

Our Roster

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 Member Donations

The following donations were made July 2019 and on:

Core Members (contributions of $1000.00 and above)

Janice Dickin

Beverly and David Foy

Glynis Grigg

Don Edie

Cindy Johnson Royer Fund at the Calgary Foundation

The Donald Terry Swystun Charitable Fund

Sustaining Members (contributions between $500.00 and $999.00)

Brenda Lang

Peter Claghorn

Supporting Member (contributions of up to $499.00)

Pat and Don Maier

Del Simon

Marla Orenstein

Sybil Choles

Matthew Burd

Steven Morton

Patricia Mazzolani

Simina Ionescu-Mocanu

Print Three


Cowtown Opera makes every effort to recognize all our wonderful supporters. If we’ve missed including you on this page, please contact Bethany Yon at bethany@cowtownopera.com

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
The Bat
A Cowtown Christmas 2018
Ticket to Love
Park and Bark
Who Killed Don Giovanni?

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!

“Taylor was absolutely fabulous! She was undoubtedly the hit of the party - it was so very special. I appreciate having had the opportunity to have her here as it really made our party a smashing success.”

“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.”

“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.”

Private: Summer Academy

Stay tuned in January for audition and application information. For any direct inquiries please send to cosa@cowtownopera.com