Opera Central

How does opera fit into contemporary issues and our world at large? The conversation is open and ongoing with Central City Opera’s new Zoom chat series Opera Central, “where artists and administrators come together to talk about the world of the arts.”


Episode 9:

Ana Luna Uribe, Lisa Young and Teila Theisen

Today Opera Central proudly hosts the heads of two leading equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) organizations in Colorado: IDEA Stages Founder Lisa Young and Alliance for Music Education Equity Director Ana Luna Uribe. They talk with CCO Audience Development Manager Teila Theisen about their goals for our local arts community, “working out” or “exercising” inclusivity, the importance of stepping outside your bubble and much more. 

Ana Luna Uribe-Leteinturier

Ana Luna is a French-Colombian violinist, born and raised in the United States. She is currently based in Denver and is an avid performer, teacher and arts administrator. As a multi-faceted performer, Ana Luna is currently experimenting with arranging, electronic music and loop pedaling. Interested in serving her community through the arts, Ana Luna is currently the Director of the Alliance for Music Education Equity and the Site Coordinator at El Sistema Colorado. 

Ms. Uribe has also been an active part of the Next Festival of Emerging Artists in New York City since March of 2020. One of her main focuses is new music and collaboration and she has worked to bring new works to life with composers such as Lisa Bielawa, Ryan Lindveit, Samantha Wolf, Andrew Dewey and Sergio Herrera, among others. 

As an orchestral player, she has appeared with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, the Sinfonia Gulf Coast Orchestra, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and the Boulder Symphony. Recent festivals attended include the Domaine Forget Academy in Quebec, the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC and a Violin Fellowship at the Texas Music Festival in Houston, TX. She has performed under the batons of great conductors such as Brett Mitchell, Yoav Talmi, Andres Franco, Gerard Schwartz and Ari Pelto. 

As a chamber musician, she has played with groups at the Domaine Forget Academy, the Texas Music Festival, the Eastern Music Festival, the Florida State University and the Lamont School of Music. She has studied under artists such as Neal Carey, Basil Vendryes, Shannon Thomas, Elizabeth Phelps and Qing Li. Most notably, in 2014, she was chosen as the second violinist for the Miami Music Project String Quintet. The group travelled to Paris, France to bring the works of Cuban, Haitian and Brazilian composers to the International St. Denis Festival. Her string quartet was also given an honorable mention for their performance of the Barber String Quartet at the 2020 Lamont Chamber Music Honors competition. 

Ms. Uribe holds a Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance from the Florida State University’s College of Music where she studied with Corinne Stillwell as well as a Master’s degree in Violin Performance from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music where she served as teaching assistant to Linda Wang and Igor PIkayzen. 


Lisa Young

Lisa Young is an actor-vist, director, singer, teaching artist and founder of IDEA Stages, a grassroots movement for theatre that uses the philosophy we are all accountable for inclusion, diversity, equity and access in the arts. She has served on the Colorado Theatre Guild Board since 2013 and 30+ years in community and professional theatre. In addition, Lisa is a drama-teaching artist at Boston P-8 in Aurora Colorado.  

IDEA Stages’ Story & Purpose: IDEAs was founded by actor-vist Lisa Young, (a Black Woman who is a stroke survivor), in May 2020 after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and countless other Black people. In 2020, as we considered the impact of COVID-19, and the mobilization and out-cry for justice from people supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, we also asked ourselves “What are we prepared to do to dismantle racism, anti-Blackness and inequalities in theatre?”  

IDEAs is a grassroots outreach organization providing activism, resources, and accountability for the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) in theaters to our members. We serve our membership of individuals, companies, and communities by granting IDEAs designations to organizations which fulfill guiding principles - called Pillars of Inclusion - within their policy and infrastructure. We are Change Agents, who are making demonstrable advancements, real and effective. 

Teila Theisen

Teila Theisen joined the Central City Opera as Audience Development Manager, the newest member of the Marketing and Communications team, in 2020. Teila has an extensive background in performing arts and began studying dance, opera and choral music at age seven. She has a bachelors in fine arts, cum laude, from Northern Illinois University and has been working in the nonprofit sector for nearly ten years.

Teila is a three-time AmeriCorps Alum, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from The Gambia, West Africa and has worked with several national nonprofits, including Girl Scouts and The Boys & Girls Clubs. Teila has a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion work, community development, travel and music. She is very much looking forward to working with the entire Central City Opera team to create unique and memorable experiences throughout Colorado! 

Episode 8:

Stephen Brackett and Gail Bransteitter

Recorded February 24, 2021

Colorado Music Ambassador and Flobots emcee/lead singer Stephen Brackett talks about music as a tool for liberation, working with young people through his nonprofit Youth On Record and the state of music in Colorado with CCO Director of Marketing and Communications (and longtime friend) Gail Bransteitter. From the halls of George Washington High School to leadership of the Colorado arts world, Stephen and Gail have both been dedicated advocates and artists making a difference in our community for decades.

Stephen Brackett

Stephen Malloy Brackett has been rhyming words as a calling and profession for the last 12 years. He has toured the world with his band, Flobots, using music as a platform for engagement and collective empowerment. The band’s platinum hit, “Handlebars,” has allowed Stephen to share the stage with many of his heroes including Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, Bernie Sanders, and Emily Keys.

His time as a philosophy student at Colorado State University nurtured his life-long love affair with the arts, education, and activism. Blending his passions, he co-founded the non-profit Youth on Record in 2008. Youth on Record exists to empower Colorado’s youth to achieve their academic, artistic, and personal best by employing local, professional artists as their educators. To date, Youth on Record has impacted the lives of thousands of young people and after 11 years serving on the Board of Directors, Stephen is proud to join the staff this year as Director of Special Programs.

Born and raised in Denver, he has seen a decline in arts education in the public school system, and is doing all he can at Youth on Record to ensure that all young people in Denver have the tools to tell their own story – be it through music production, lyric writing, poetry, spoken word or movement. Stephen is a driving force in curriculum development and program planning for Youth on Record.

Stephen comes from a family that set a precedent of using your gifts to benefit others. He gives credit to his mother, Ava Malloy Brackett, for setting a precedent that allowed no label to define her outcome. Stephen lives in his hometown of Denver, Colorado with his brilliant wife Jennifer, dog Scout, and beloved cat, Puma.

Gail Bransteitter

Gail Bransteitter has a more than a decade of non-profit marketing experience and a passion for the performing arts. She is a graduate of Denver’s George Washington High School and Cornell College in Iowa, where she received her B.A. in Theatre. She began her career doing production work for theatre companies and schools throughout the metro Denver area. She then shifted into the non-profit sector where she worked as the National Communications Manager at Mercy Housing. She went on to serve as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver before moving into her current role as the Director of Marketing at Central City Opera. 

Bransteitter is an active patron and supporter of Colorado’s performing-arts community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Buntport Theater and The Denver Actors Fund. 

Episode 7:

Phebe Berkowitz-Tanners and Katie Nicholson

Recorded November 4, 2020

Phebe Berkowitz-Tanners’ family made a second home at Central City Opera 1953-1963 while her father played in the orchestra. Now a dedicated supporter, Phebe reminisces about mounting backyard opera productions with other children of the Festival company, experiencing the world premiere of The Ballad of Baby Doe from behind the scenes and the world-wide CCO community that she found throughout her career as an opera stage director. 

Katherine Nicholson

Katherine (Katie) Nicholson’s career started with an internship at The Dallas Opera (TDO) in 2012. After a few months interning, she was hired as Development Associate at The Arts Community Alliance (TACA). After four years of learning every she could about the field of development, hosting numerous successful galas, luncheons and food/wine events and climbing to the position of Senior Development Manager, Katie left TACA to move to Colorado. A week after she and her husband settled in their new home, she was hired as the Assistant Director of Development at Central City Opera. After three marvelous summer festivals, she was promoted to Director of Development in 2020, where she took the reins on the Voice Your Dreams Endowment Campaign. Katie currently manages a staff of three in the development department and is excited about what the future holds for the Central City Opera. In addition to her work with CCO, she is active on the CultureHaus Board at the Denver Art Museum, the Junior League and 2022 Triennial Jazz Performance Award Judge for the Sigma Alpha Iota National Convention.

Phebe Berkowitz-Tanners

New York native Phebe Berkowitz-Tanners is an accomplished stage director and dedicated patron of the arts. Part of a musical family, Phebe spent 10 full summers during her childhood in the historic Central City Opera House, where her father played in the Festival orchestra, watching rehearsals and memorizing 17+ operas. She began her career as a stage manager at Lake George Opera Festival—now Opera Saratoga—where she first made contact with her close friend and mentor John Moriarty, Central City Opera’s Artistic Director Emeritus. Phebe’s incredible 44-years with the Metropolitan Opera company started soon after in 1971. She joined acclaimed opera director and administrator August Everding as an assistant for Tristan und IsoldeRudolf Bing’s last new production, and directed a revival production herself. Phebe also directed and stage managed abroad for many years, during which time she worked directly with famed Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti on the world premiere of Help, Help, the Globolinks! Between 1968 and 1973, she acted as Lighting Stage Manager for Hamburg State Opera, Resident Stage Director at Paris Opera and Assistant Stage Director at the Bayreuth Opera Festival. Along with the Metropolitan Opera, her credits at home in the U.S. include assistant directing with Chicago Lyric Opera and San Francisco Opera, among others. Phebe has also volunteered with The Sylvia Center Young Chef’s Program, Women in Need and Women for Bloomberg.

Episode 6:

Mica Dominguez-Robinson, Daniela Guzmán-Égüez, Armando Contreras and Margaret Siegrist

Recorded October 2, 2020

En Mis Palabras performers share their thoughts and experiences on racially accurate casting, representation in the performing arts and the importance of telling diverse stories on the operatic stage. Guests include Mica Dominguez-Robinson, who originated the leading role of Ana Maria, and brand new cast members Daniela Guzmán-Égüez (Ana Maria) and Armando Contreras (Esteban). Hosted by CCO Marketing Content Manager and Opera Central Producer Margaret Siegrist. 

Mica Dominguez-Robinson

A Denver native, Mica Dominguez-Robinson is a New York City-based soprano who graduated with a Bachelors of Music from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and a Masters of Music at NYU Steinhardt. 

Mica had the opportunity to perform as a back-up singer with Josh Groban, Shoshana Bean and Dianne Reeves and originated the lead role of Central City Opera’s commissioned bilingual opera, En Mis Palabras/In My Own Words. She recently performed at Radio City Music Hall as a singer for Telemundo for the NBC/Universal Upfronts, with the International Tour of The Wizard of Oz and as a lead vocalist for the Cirque Dreams Holidaze National Tour. 

Some of her favorite regional roles include Betty in White Christmas, Eva understudy/ensemble in Evita, Marta in Company, Rosie in Bye, Bye Birdie, Lily understudy/Rose in The Secret Garden and Cathy in The Last Five Years. She has worked as a Resident Artist with Di Capo Opera Theater performing in Tosca, Iolanta, Beauty and the Beast and The Most Happy Fella, as well as their Resident Artists’ cabaret. Mica also performed the role of Micaela in Carmen with the Boulder Symphony Orchestra. 

For two years Mica traveled the world performing and visiting over forty countries on Silver Seas cruise lines hired by Choozi Entertainment. She has also performed in different variety shows and production shows in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and with Princess Cruise lines at Denali Wilderness Lodge in Alaska. 

When she’s not performing Mica enjoys spending time with her family and friends, seeing shows, traveling, yoga, working out and reading. 



Daniela Guzmán-Égüez

Ecuadorian soprano Daniela Guzmán-Égüez is equally at home with opera and concert repertoire, where she captivates audiences through her powerful and silvery voice with artistry and commanding stage presence. 

Ms. Guzmán-Égüez made her professional operatic debut in Ecuador’s leading theater Teatro Nacional Sucre in the role of Gianetta in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore in 2010. Roles in her repertoire include Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni,  Susanna and the Countess in Le nozze di Fìgaro, Nella and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Micaela in Carmen, the title role in Suor Angelica and Giorgetta in Il Tabarro. Sacred and concert repertoire include Händel’s Messiah, Faurè’s Requiem Mass, Beltran’s Cantata de Ramos, among others. Ms. Guzmán-Égüez is an advocate for making Latin American and Spanish music known and she constantly incorporates zarzuela and Latin American art song to her performances. Ms. Guzmán-Égüez also enjoys performing music by living composers such as Gerardo Guevara, Edgar Valcarcel, Jaime León, Francisco Mignone, Kaija Saariaho, Kate Soper and Julie McCarthy. 

Ms. Guzmán-Égüez is an alum of the Teatro Nacional Sucre Young Artist Program. She holds a Master of Music from Texas Christian University and Bachelor of Music from the University of Denver, where she recently completed an Artist Diploma. She is also a Touring Artist for the Central City Opera education department. 


Armando Contreras

Mexican American baritone Armando Contreras is a former member of Central City Opera’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program, Encouragement Award District Winner of the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a recent graduate of Lyric Opera of Kansas City (LOKC) Des Moines Metro Opera’s young artist programs.

He was recently seen as John Proctor (The Crucible), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) and Belcore (L’elisir d’amore) in the Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Scenes program and as the Imperial Commissioner in LOKC’s Madama Butterfly. In the 2018/2019 season, Mr. Contreras sang the leading baritone role, Filippo, in the US premiere of Rossini’s La gazzetta with Pacific Opera Project. He also portrayed the role of Nardo in La finta giardiniera with University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). 

Engagements in the 2017/2018 include Le Dancaïre in Carmen with Central City Opera, the Herald in Rigoletto and Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia with LOKC, Peter in Hänsel und Gretel and L’horloge comtoise/Le chat in L’enfant et les sortilèges with UMKC. He also covered the role of Doug Hansen in Joby Talbot’s Everest in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City premiere. 


Margaret Siegrist

CCO Marketing Content Manager and Opera Central Producer Margaret Siegrist is a Colorado-based marketing professional, opera director and mezzo-soprano. Known for “getting the audience involved,” Margaret strives to tell timely stories and champion innovative perspectives in all areas of her career. She’s been a Central City Opera staff member since 2017 and has worked as a marketing consultant and copywriter for many other organizations including Loveland Opera Theatre, Concordia Foundation in London, the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts, University of Northern Colorado Opera Theater and College of Saint Benedict School of Music. Recent directing projects include the Rossa Crean’s new opera The Times Are Nightfall, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince and scenes from Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick. Margaret appeared as a featured soloist in a live art installation at the Denver Art Museum’s Untitled series; she performs regularly with Opera on Tap Colorado and the Central City Opera Touring Artists. Margaret earned her master’s in opera performance at University of Northern Colorado under Dr. Melissa Malde and holds bachelor’s degrees in marketing and voice performance from College of Saint Benedict.

Episode 5:

Tony Garcia, Deb Morrow and Margaret Siegrist

Recorded October 8, 2020

The conversation on our original, bilingual opera En Mis Palabras and diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts continues. Today we discuss Su Teatro and Central City Opera’s collaboration on the En Mis Palabras workshop and premiere, Denver’s rich Chicano history and art as cultural affirmation. Featuring some of the original artistic minds behind the opera, director Tony Garcia and former CCO Director of Education and Community Engagement Deb Morrow, hosted by CCO Marketing Content Manager and Opera Central producer Margaret Siegrist. 

Tony Garcia


Su Teatro Executive Artistic Director Anthony (Tony) Garcia was the original director of Central City Opera’s bilingual opera En Mis Palabras/In My Own Words. 

With a formidable sense of humor and extensive knowledge of Chicano history, Denver native Anthony J. Garcia inspires and serves his community through his work as an award-winning playwright, musician, composer, educator, social activist, mentor and nonprofit leader. He has been able to bring conversations about gentrification of neighborhoods, racial inequity, immigration, impacts of war and even the trials of love to light through Su Teatro’s varied programming. Tony has touched and transformed countless lives around the country, but it’s in Denver where his passion, stories and civic contributions have made an enduring impression on the community. 

As a kid, Tony grew up surrounded by the Chicano movement and was influenced by its tenets around social and political justice and cultural identity. Raised in Denver’s Westside neighborhood, Tony was one of hundreds of Chicanos who were involuntarily displaced in order to build the Auraria campus. He saw first-hand the effects of how social and economic oversight of a community could result in extreme hardship. Tony was shaped by this change but found strength in his identity and voice. His play The Westside Oratorio details the experience of 7 generations from that community beginning with the discovery of gold in Mexican Diggings at the base of Ruby Hill in 1858 predating Denver’s existence to the displacement in 1970. 

Tony received his B.A. in theater from the University of Colorado at Denver. In 1972, Tony joined the student-organized theatre group Su Teatro as a guitar player; he soon became the primary playwright, director and creative force behind the company. Over the years, Su Teatro has survived to become the third oldest Chicano theatre in the country. It was in 1989 that he became Su Teatro’s Executive Artistic Director. In addition to running the theatre, spearheading its development and subsequent move to Santa Fe Drive, he has expanded the American theatre canon by contributing more than 40 new plays and original works for the stage. He has inspired a new generation of Latino artists and leaders in the process. Through Tony’s commitment to cultural equity and a desire to “broaden the mainstream,” he has worked to influence arts policy creating opportunities for the Latino arts sector and offering an opportunity for the Chicano and Latino community share their stories, history and experience. 

The sphere of Tony’s influence is both vast and deep. He’s served as a faculty member in the Department of Chicano/a Studies at Metro State College for over 25 years and is a board member of the National Association of Latino Art and Culture and a former board member of the Western States Arts Federation. His numerous distinctions include being named Denver Post’s Theater person of the Year in 2010, an artist in residence at the Island Institute in Sitka, AK in 2009, the recipient of the University of California Irvine’s Chicano Literary Award for Playwriting in 1989 and was awarded the United States Artist Rockefeller Fellowship in Theater Arts. In 2011, Tony was also named a Bonfils-Stanton Livingston Fellow. 

Tony’s commitment to Denver and Colorado is as strong today as it was nearly 50 years ago. He continues to advocate for equitable representation of cultural work and organizations, mentor young artists, contribute to civic change, and shine a light on Colorado’s Chicano community. 


Deb Morrow

Deb was previously Central City Opera’s Director of Education and Community Engagement. For 25 years, she was responsible for creating and implementing entertaining and educational programs for all ages and making a musical impact on communities throughout the Rocky Mountain region with those programs. Highlights included annual Opera Rocks the Rockies tours, which brought vocal music programs to more than 100 towns and cities in Colorado and Wyoming; Opera Alive! which trained educators and mentored students in the creation of original musicals in the classroom; En Mis Palabras/In My Own Words, a bilingual opera commissioned for middle and high school audiences; A Summer Intensive for high school students to hone performance skills while co-creating and performing an original work; immersive performance programs for elementary students and families; cabaret-style programs and CCO Festival previews for adult audiences; and major performance collaborations with such organizations as the University of Colorado, Colorado Children’s Chorale and the Colorado Symphony. On the administrative side, Deb managed department budgets and payroll for 25 contractors, created a scheduling and tracking system to handle more than 150 events each year, and managed staff and contract artists. 

Deb joined the Arvada Chorale as General Manager in early 2019. The Chorale is a 43-year-old, well-respected community chorus serving the western suburbs of Denver. She handles all administrative duties and serves as production manager for concerts. 

Margaret Siegrist

CCO Marketing Content Manager and Opera Central Producer Margaret Siegrist is a Colorado-based marketing professional, opera director and mezzo-soprano. Known for “getting the audience involved,” Margaret strives to tell timely stories and champion innovative perspectives in all areas of her career. She’s been a Central City Opera staff member since 2017 and has worked as a marketing consultant and copywriter for many other organizations including Loveland Opera Theatre, Concordia Foundation in London, the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts, University of Northern Colorado Opera Theater and College of Saint Benedict School of Music. Recent directing projects include the Rossa Crean’s new opera The Times Are Nightfall, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince and scenes from Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick. Margaret appeared as a featured soloist in a live art installation at the Denver Art Museum’s Untitled series; she performs regularly with Opera on Tap Colorado and the Central City Opera Touring Artists. Margaret earned her master’s in opera performance at University of Northern Colorado under Dr. Melissa Malde and holds bachelor’s degrees in marketing and voice performance from College of Saint Benedict.

Episode 4:

Steven Aguiló-Arbues, Roger Ames, Emily Murdock and Margaret Siegrist

Recorded October 8, 2020

This is part of a three-episode series featuring our original, bilingual opera En Mis Palabras/In My Own Words and exploring equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts. Today, we discuss the ongoing growth and evolution of the opera’s text, the idea of enriching story-telling through inclusion of many creative voices and, finally, what the En Mis Palabras means to artists and audiences who’ve experienced it. Guests include composer Roger Ames, pianist and coach Steven Aguiló-Arbues and CCO Director of Education Emily Murdock, with host and CCO Marketing Content Manager Margaret Siegrist.

Steven Aguiló-Arbues

Argentinean-American Steven Aguiló-Arbues enjoys his various roles as a conductor, vocal coach, répétiteur and recitalist. He is currently the Program and Music Director of Studio Artists at Sarasota Opera. He has also served on the music staffs of Opera Colorado, The Atlanta Opera, Central City Opera, Boulder Opera Company, Festival Amadeus (Montana), Crested Butte Music Festival, Miami Music Festival and Centro Studi Lirica in Italy.  

Mr. Aguiló-Arbues has also worked and taught at academic institutions including the Manhattan School of Music, Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Colorado in Boulder. He earned his Professional Studies Certificate and Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

He currently resides in Colorado with his wife and daughter. 


Roger Ames

Roger Ames, composer, author and artist mentor, has written operas and musicals for numerous American opera companies, off-Broadway, London Fringe and the Hartford Stage. He is also well-known as a choral composer, his Requiem for Our Time, set to the poetry of Anne Sexton, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2008. En Mis Palabras, with librettist Jeffrey Gilden, has toured throughout Colorado and was produced for the National Performing Arts Convention in Denver. 

His collaborative work with the Colorado Springs Conservatory/Central City Opera Intensives has resulted in several new one-act operas for adolescent voices written in collaboration with the young members of that ensemble, who then performed their work at the Central City Opera Festival.  

As an author, Ames wrote Music! Words! Opera! for Opera America’s textbook series. It’s a multi-level curriculum that provides structures for teachers who want to write operas with their children and/or study opera at a deep level. He has studied composition with Samuel Barber, John Kander, Lukas Foss, Robert Washburn and others, and he has degrees from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam and the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College.  


Emily Murdock

Emily Murdock, Central City Opera Director of Education, has been with the company since 2011, bringing opera performances and education to schools and communities across Colorado and Wyoming. An accomplished soprano, Emily has performed with Central City Opera, Opera Colorado, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Opera Maine, Opera in the Ozarks, Boulder Opera Company and many regional choral and symphonic organizations. She is currently the soprano soloist and section leader at Augustana Lutheran Church in Denver. As Liria Duo with pianist Sara Parkinson, Emily performed and produced the album Songs of Her Self: Songs of Libby Larsen, which features the premiere recording of Larsen’s forty-minute song cycle ME: Brenda Ueland. Emily has also worked behind the scenes as an assistant director and assistant stage manager. She is also the host and producer of the Central City Opera Podcast, available at ccopodcast.org and on any podcast listening app. Emily received her Bachelor of Music in voice and flute performance from the University of Montana and a Master of Music in voice performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Margaret Siegrist

CCO Marketing Content Manager and Opera Central Producer Margaret Siegrist is a Colorado-based marketing professional, opera director and mezzo-soprano. Known for “getting the audience involved,” Margaret strives to tell timely stories and champion innovative perspectives in all areas of her career. She’s been a Central City Opera staff member since 2017 and has worked as a marketing consultant and copywriter for many other organizations including Loveland Opera Theatre, Concordia Foundation in London, the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts, University of Northern Colorado Opera Theater and College of Saint Benedict School of Music. Recent directing projects include the Rossa Crean’s new opera The Times Are Nightfall, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince and scenes from Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick. Margaret appeared as a featured soloist in a live art installation at the Denver Art Museum’s Untitled series; she performs regularly with Opera on Tap Colorado and the Central City Opera Touring Artists. Margaret earned her master’s in opera performance at University of Northern Colorado under Dr. Melissa Malde and holds bachelor’s degrees in marketing and voice performance from College of Saint Benedict.

Episode 3:

John Baril, Brian Cook, Megan Marino and Michael Mayes

Recorded August 1, 2020

This extra-special, bonus episode of Opera Central is a real, uncut conversation between Central City Opera Music Director John Baril, Orchestra Personnel Manager and Violist Brian Cook, Mezzo-Soprano Megan Marino and Baritone Michael Mayes over a couple of beers. The two couples chatted about life and art during the time of COVID outside of the historic Penrose House Complex in Central City after Meg and Mike performed in the Garden for the CCO Al Fresco series. Covering topics like how their lives have changed since the pandemic, how watering flowers and maintaining historic properties has inspired John and Brian to live in the moment, and the ways Meg and Mike envision American opera changing for the better, you’ll feel like you’re right there among the elements with these four friends.

John Baril

A most versatile conductor, John Baril has led critically acclaimed performances of symphonic and choral music, ballet, opera, operetta and musical theater. He has collaborated with such artists as conductor Stephen Lord, soprano/director Catherine Malfitano, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, director Paul Curran, the late director Colin Graham, conductor Marin Alsop, dramatic mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick and pop chanteuse Toni Tennille. For the past 20-plus seasons, he has worked closely with the apprentice and studio artists in the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program at the Central City Opera Festival, leading them in mainstage performances of Manon, Pique Dame, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, La fanciulla del West, CandideLa traviataLittle Women and Carmen. In 1996, he was Chorus Master for the Newport Classics recording of The Ballad of Baby Doe, an opera he has conducted with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. During his tenure at Yale University, where he was the Managing Coordinator and assistant to the Artistic Director, he again worked closely with developing artists in repertoire, language, style, performance traditions, and led them in performances of La cenerentola and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta as well as numerous scenes programs.

At Central City Opera, he began as production coordinator and assistant conductor in 1992, progressing to associate conductor and music administrator in 1996, and, in 2000, became resident conductor, a post created for him.

Brian Cook

Brian Cook is CCO’s Orchestra Personnel Manager and has been playing viola in the Central City Opera Orchestra for over 20 seasons. His undergraduate degree is in Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Upon graduation he moved to the east coast, where his studies continued first with Jesse Levine at Yale University, then with Burton Kaplan from the Manhattan School of Music in N.Y.C. Brian currently teaches private lessons at home and as an instrumental music coach at Arvada West High School. He also owns a business called COOK with COOK, teaching home classes. 

Megan Marino

American-Italian mezzo-soprano, Megan Marino is a genre-adventurous, “gifted actress with a strong, appealing voice graced by a rich lower register” [Opera News]. Be it on or off stage, standard fare, forgotten gem, or a work in progress, she’s driven by the glory of the art form, a deep yearning to tell meaningful stories and pure undiluted moxie.

Her recent appearances include the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival USA and Caramoor Music Festival. She has garnered awards from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, George London Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Marcello Giordani Foundation, Kurt Weill Foundation and the Oratorio Society of New York.

Michael Mayes

 American Baritone Michael Mayes stunned London audiences as Joseph de Rocher in the UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking alongside Joyce DiDonato at London’s Barbican Hall. His “searing performance” was hailed by critics as “sensational”, “a revelation”, and “of such stunning strength and complete identification”. Mayes made his European debut at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in staged performances of Dead Man Walking and has performed the role with multiple opera houses, including Washington National Opera. This season, he reprised de Rocher with The Atlanta Opera, in a critically acclaimed production costarring Jamie Barton.

Episode 2:

Emily Pulley, Jonathan Hays and Karen T. Federing

Recorded July 15, 2020

Guest host and Central City Opera Director of Production Karen T. Federing interviews Soprano Emily Pulley and Baritone Jonathan Hays on the porch of the historic Pink House in Central City. Emily and Jonathan talk about their history with Central City as young artists and principal singers, how the pandemic has affected their lives, and about volunteering to spend the lockdown helping us maintain historic properties in Central City. This interview is recorded outdoors, and you’ll hear all the ambient sounds of beautiful Central City: wind, a dog barking, bird calls, even the occasional car motor. 

Emily Pulley

Acclaimed soprano Emily Pulley’s radiant voice and electrifying acting have won her both national and international acclaim on the operatic stages. A native of Texas, Ms. Pulley received the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from Central City Opera and the Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. She is the 2006 recipient of New York City Opera’s Christopher Keene Award, recognizing an artist’s performance in new or unusual repertoire. Not settling complacency in her already established career, Pulley continues to add some of opera’s greatest roles to her repertoire, making a role début as the title role of Bizet’s Carmen and as Julie in Showboat with Central City Opera.

Jonathan Hays

American baritone Jonathan Hays performs modern and standard operatic and concert repertoire both in the US and internationally. His singing has been called “strong, lucid, direct and bang on the note” (The New York Times). Recently, Mr. Hays has been heard as Donald in Billy Budd with Central City Opera, Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore and Maximilian in Candide with Anchorage Opera, Denis Krude in Crude Capital with Beth Morrison Projects, Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in Threepenny Opera at Syracuse Opera, the Narrator in the world premiere of My Friend’s Story at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and as the protagonist in the monodrama An die fernen Geliebten at National Sawdust.

Karen T. Federing

A native New Yorker, Karen T. Federing just completed her 18th season as Director of Production with Central City Opera. She recently returned from being an Adjunct Instructor at Carnegie Mellon University, where she was teaching advanced stage management courses and advising students on productions. Karen has been stage-managing and production-managing professionally for 32 years and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and AGMA.

In New York City, Karen served as a production manager for Gotham Chamber Opera’s 2013-2014 season and in 2009. She stage-managed the Park Avenue Armory’s Tune-In Festivals in 2011 and 2012, which was the Philip Glass 75th birthday celebration and stage-managed the 2001 Robert Wilson/Philip Glass American premiere of White Raven for the Lincoln Center Festival. From 1992 to 2004 Karen was a Stage Manager with New York City Opera and stage-managed over 45 productions, from remounts to new productions to world premieres, including seven Live From Lincoln Center PBS telecasts.

Karen’s other work in Colorado includes being part of the stage management team for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and for the 2014 and 2015 Clinton Global Initiative conferences in Denver. In 2016-2017 Karen debuted as a stage manager with the Denver Center Theatre Company.

Karen has stage-managed for many regional opera companies, including Chautauqua Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Omaha and Virginia Opera. For Virginia Opera Karen stage-managed the 2018 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the 2011 world premiere song cycle Rappahannock County by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Mark Campbell. In 1993 she accompanied VOA on its 6-week South American tour of Porgy and Bess.

In addition to her production career, from 2004 to 2007 Karen worked at Opera Omaha as their Director of Institutional Giving, handling federal, state and local grants as well as acting as their de facto governmental affairs advocate and later during that period served as their Director of Artistic Administration.

Episode 1:

Will Liverman and Margaret Ozaki Graves

Recorded June 22, 2020

American Baritone Will Liverman talks with Central City Opera Education Coordinator Meg Ozaki Graves about his experiences as a Black opera singer, how he’s staying inspired during the pandemic and his thoughts on how arts organizations can move forward. Will was last seen at Central City Opera as Papageno in The Magic Flute, 2018.

Will Liverman

Called “one of the most versatile singing artists performing today” (Bachtrack), baritone Will Liverman is quickly gaining a reputation for his compelling performances, while making significant debuts at opera houses across the world. Liverman is a recipient of a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant and Sphinx Medal of Excellence.

In the 2019-20 season, Liverman returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Papageno in its holiday production of The Magic Flute, in addition to singing the role of Horemhab in the Met’s premiere of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten. He also appears as Pantalone in The Love of Three Oranges at Opera Philadelphia, as Marcello in La bohème at Seattle Opera, and as Silvio in Pagliacci at Opera Colorado and Portland Opera, in addition to performing Schubert’s Die Winterreise at The Barns at Wolf Trap Opera.

Recent engagements include Liverman’s Metropolitan Opera debut as Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly’s Marnie and appearances with Tulsa Opera as The Pilot in The Little Prince; with Opera Philadelphia, Santa Fe Opera, and Dallas Opera as Schaunard in La bohème; and with Santa Fe Opera as the Foreman at the Mill in Jenůfa.

Liverman has performed the leading role of Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Seattle Opera, Virginia Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera and Utah Opera. He originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, in addition to performing the role with English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, and at the Apollo Theater. Other recent highlights include the role of Tommy McIntyre in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Fellow Travelers for its Lyric Unlimited initiative; Papageno in The Magic Flute with Florentine Opera and Central City Opera; his role debut as Marcello in La bohème with Portland Opera; his debut with Seattle Opera as Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory; Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia and Beaumarchais in The Ghosts of Versailles with Wolf Trap Opera; Andrew Hanley in the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera; Sam in The Pirates of Penzance with Atlanta Opera; the Husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago; the Protestant Minister in Menotti’s The Last Savage with Santa Fe Opera; and Mr. Noye in Noye’s Fludde as a guest artist at Wheaton College.

Expanding into the concert repertoire, Liverman performed the title role in a concert version of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and was a featured soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, in Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, in Carmina Burana with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with the South Dakota Symphony, and at the New York Festival of Song, in addition to returning to his alma mater Wheaton College as part of the Artist Concert Series together with tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Liverman previously received a 2017 3Arts Award, a George London Award, and was recognized as a classical division Luminarts Fellow by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. In 2015, he won the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, received the Gerda Lissner Charitable Fund Award, and received a top prize from Opera Index. He was a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and additionally was a three-time first prize winner of the Chicago National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, first prize winner in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, a grand prize winner of the Bel Canto Foundation Competition, a recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and a top award winner from the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation.

Liverman concluded his tenure at the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015. He previously was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Margaret Ozaki Graves
Margaret Ozaki Graves is an active soprano, artistic collaborator and educator in the Colorado arts community and beyond. With Central City Opera, Margaret has a long history performing as a Touring Artist, and she acted as Cultural Consultant on the 2019 production of Madama Butterfly directed by Alison Moritz. She joined the staff as Education Coordinator fall of 2019.
Her cultural consulting and education engagements have included work with Japanese Arts Network (JA-NE), Denver Immersive Opera, AGMA/AGMAzine, NATS, SNATS and NOA. Recently, she advocates for inclusion, diversity, equity and access on Denver stages as a member of IDEA Stages Coalition. Margaret continues to perform regularly as an Art Song Colorado Resident Artist, Inside the Orchestra Guest Soloist, Central City Opera Touring Artist and is also a former LA Opera EduCom Teaching Artist.
As an educator, she taught at Ithaca College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Denver School of the Arts and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she earned her DMA. Raised in Golden, Margaret was a taiko drummer and Japanese chamber musician prior to her professional vocal endeavors.

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