Customer service is the cornerstone of success when it comes to any business, especially the arts. Whether it’s answering your questions over the phone, managing her duties at the Central City Opera (CCO) office, or keeping the Opera House gift shop in order, Wanda Larson always strives for excellence as Central City Opera’s Office Administrator & CCO Boutique Manager/Buyer! Because of her dedication to our organization, Wanda was awarded the 2012 Belle Award, an honor that is bestowed by the CCO Guild to someone who has gone above and beyond in their service. Today, we discuss her 22 years at the Central City Opera and all of the great memories she has had.
What do you do in your role at Central City Opera?
I have been working at CCO in customer care since January of 2000. My primary role is in Office Administration, where I field incoming calls and walk-ins, process mail and deliveries, and support all office administrative functions within the organization. I also provide support to the CCO Board of Directors and the Box Office.
Additionally, I manage the Boutique/Gift Shop in the Teller House in Central City during the summer and at special events during the year. The Boutique has been a labor of love for me. We have wonderful vendors that understand our special needs and I work with marketing, our graphic designer and clothing vendors to order our promotional items and memorabilia for the summer Festival. Working with a new intern every summer and having Suzanne, my amazing assistant, is always great. She is so knowable about Gilpin County and has the best historical costumes!
I am a people person. I have the pleasure of working with our Board, the CCO Guild, staff, and patrons and I field a variety of questions regarding CCO history, former artists and productions.
Tell us a bit about your life, education and career before Central City Opera (CCO).
I grew up in what is now referred to as the West Highlands neighborhood of Denver where I went to North High School and business school. I also grew up visiting Central City so when people ask about the rock shop or candy store on Main Street I know what they are talking about.
I have worked in an office setting, in accounting positions, at for-profit companies and two large wholesale manufacturing companies, each one with an emphasis on customer service.
How did you make your way to working for Central City Opera?
I answered an ad in the newspaper! I enjoy classical music and Colorado history so when I came for my interview and walked around Central City I felt like I was at home.
I love what CCO produces. The talent is amazing and our Opera House and buildings are wonderful.
Tell us about your world outside your position at CCO.
I am married with two children and four grandchildren (well five if you count my grand dog). My granddaughter Alix is graduating from Hillsong College in May and getting married in June.
Wanda’s granddaughter Alix in 2006 at The Ballad of Baby Doe Family Matinee
What does Central City Opera mean to you?
Central City Opera is special. My first time in the Opera House was during winter, and I had goosebumps from the cold, but also because of its beauty. My next time was for a performance of La Traviata and I had goosebumps again from the amazing production and being in the Opera House. I have loved every production I have seen in our beautiful house.
Managing the Boutique in the Teller House is so interesting because I get to meet the artists, directors, conductors and all of our wonderful patrons as well as visitors who come into the shop wanting to know about the buildings and history. It’s always great meeting and visiting with incredible people including the late John Moriarty. He was so amazing. Even after he retired I could call him and chat about past artists and shows. He always wanted a program and wanted to know which of the young artists received awards at the end of the summer.
I have learned and participated in so many things in my time at CCO. Learning from Deb Morrow and Deb Hruby, listening to Pat and John Baril talk about shows and artists, participating at the Performing Arts Convention, the Baby Doe 50th Anniversary reunion party and seminars, meeting my friend Phebe Berkowitz Tanners, Dave with Gilpin County History and more. There have been so many great memories!
Wanda in 2012 with other receipients of the CCO Guild’s Belle Award