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Music — particularly opera — has been a mainstay in new Opera Omaha chief’s life

A revelation onstage at New York’s Carnegie Corridor led Opera Omaha’s new common director to a rewarding profession.

Allison Swenson, just lately named to interchange Roger Weitz as chief of Nebraska’s solely opera firm, was performing with a highschool choir on the time. She liked to sing, however she had been questioning what she would do if she wasn’t destined to be a diva.


“I noticed a lady operating round with a clipboard,” she mentioned in a current interview. “A light-weight went off and I believed, ‘You possibly can work on the enterprise facet of classical music.’”

Swenson, 37, will come to Omaha with a formidable background in arts administration, having labored for 2 extremely regarded opera organizations in her quick profession. She is at present director of improvement for the Santa Fe Opera, the place she has labored since 2013, and she or he began out as inventive operations supervisor with the Glimmerglass Competition in Cooperstown, New York.

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She has a bachelor of music diploma from Ithaca (New York) School with an outdoor discipline in built-in advertising and marketing communications.

Opera Omaha has been on her radar for a very long time, she mentioned. A number of Omahans are patrons of the Santa Fe Opera, and so they boast about their metropolis, its help of the humanities and particularly its modern opera firm.

“I do know from the Omaha patrons how necessary it’s within the metropolis of Omaha to have the very best of every thing,” Swenson mentioned, “One of the best zoo, the very best symphony, the very best opera firm…”

She started to carefully comply with Opera Omaha’s inventive endeavors a number of years in the past after it acquired nationwide consideration for the brand new ONE Competition, the corporate’s first multi-week, multi-activity opera showcase.

“Their productions had been so contemporary,” Swenson mentioned. “It is an organization that is in such great form, due to Roger’s management from him. It is in a group that cares in regards to the arts and the vibrancy of town.”

When Weitz introduced he was stepping right down to spend extra time along with his spouse and son, she jumped on the probability to use.

“It is actually a job that anybody who aspires to arts group management would need,” she mentioned.

Her first interview for the job was over Zoom. She was in Italy on a visit for the Santa Fe Opera, and her speak de ella with Opera Omaha representatives was at 2 am her time de ella. She slept after the interview and was slightly disoriented when she awoke.

“I believed ‘I do not know precisely what I mentioned, however I hope I did OK,’” she mentioned.

She will need to have, as a result of they invited her to Omaha for a second interview. She additionally took an unbiased journey to town final fall to see the corporate’s manufacturing of “X”, an opera about Omaha-born civil rights activist Malcolm X.

On that journey, she explored town on her personal, falling in love with the Outdated Market and different neighborhoods.

“I used to be fully charmed,” she mentioned. “I could not consider how pleasant everybody I got here into contact with was.”

She was additionally impressed with the variety of arts venues within the metropolis and with the standard of “X”, from the units, to the costumes, to the person performances and the ensemble, calling it “a really highly effective and affecting expertise within the theater .”

Swenson, who grew up in small-town Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, will get her love for opera from her father, a highschool music trainer. Her mother, a piano professor at Susquehanna College, additionally fueled her love of classical music.

Opera was all the time current in her life, she mentioned: “My dad purchased a Metropolitan Opera Guild membership in my title once I was born.”

She mentioned she brings enthusiasm to her vocation as an arts administrator, with excessive vitality and an excellent work ethic. She’s well-connected and well-regarded within the opera world, she mentioned ella, and ella has had a chance to work with among the best individuals within the enterprise, together with time because the assistant to Charles MacKay, former common director on the Santa Fe Opera.

MacKay mentioned she will likely be an asset to Opera Omaha.

“Allison is among the brightest, most achieved arts leaders of her technology,” he mentioned, “(with) a splendid monitor file as a fundraiser, supervisor and administrator. Her new position de ella with Opera Omaha guarantees to be tremendously useful each for the corporate and the sphere of opera.”

Opera Omaha Board Chair Elisa Davies mentioned Swenson “rose above” almost 40 candidates for the job. Vital nationwide arts leaders had been amongst her references, Davies mentioned, and so they all congratulated the corporate for attracting Swenson to Omaha.

Swenson, whose closing day on the Santa Fe Opera is Feb. 10, is keen to get began in her new metropolis. She plans to go away New Mexico virtually instantly and arrive right here in mid-February, a few week earlier than Opera Omaha opens “Suor Angelica.”

“I will get in my automotive and make my approach to Omaha, possibly unpack some clothes and some blouses and get to work,” she mentioned. Her husband will comply with after that.

She would not wish to speak publicly about her concepts and plans for Opera Omaha till she is settled in, meets along with her colleagues and has a greater understanding of the corporate.

She did say it was a “honest assumption” that she’s going to comply with Weitz’s programming philosophy, which she referred to as “fairly close to flawless.” And she or he was enthusiastic about constructing on his efforts to foster range amongst workers, audiences and onstage choices.

“I’m so in admiration of Roger and every thing he has completed to maneuver the opera firm ahead. I’m extraordinarily lucky to comply with him,” she mentioned. “I’m fortunate sufficient to be a kind of individuals who get to do what they all the time needed to do.”, 402-444-1267


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