Tag Archives: opera

Extraordinary Women: Linda Webb

Linda Webb is more than the Executive Director of Opera Roanoke. She is a powerhouse for the art community, encouraging support for multiple organizations in our area. From Opera Roanoke’s performances to the exhibits at the Taubman Museum (and everything in between), she is one of many who reiterates that sustaining the arts is not just about raising money. It is about making sure people realize how special they are to Roanoke.

How did your interest in the art community begin?
I grew up loving literature, music, and theatre. It spoke to my soul and I had a little bit of talent in those areas. When I was in college, I studied playwriting with Pulitzer Prize-winning Paula Vogel. After I graduated, I began working in the business side of publishing in New York, but I kept my hand in the theatre world. After ten years in New York, I moved to Roanoke to get married and made the switch to nonprofit fundraising.

I began volunteering at Mill Mountain Theatre. I was excited about what they were doing there, and when their development person left, Jere Hodgin asked me to take the spot. I found that much of what I had done in New York in ad sales was transferrable. My experience had made me fearless when it came to calling on high level people.

Photo Credit: Lillian Orlinsky
Photo Credit: Lillian Orlinsky

What led you to Opera Roanoke?
I took some time off when I had a baby. I was still on boards even though I wasn’t actually working. The first board I was asked to be on was for Opera Roanoke. They asked me to contribute the fundraising knowledge I had as a volunteer. It was a way that I could keep my hand in that world even though it wasn’t full time.

Soon after, I began working at United Way. I always tried to include friends from the art world in various things that we did.

I stepped out of the working world for a while when my mother was ill. When I began looking for a job again, the president of Opera Roanoke’s board asked me to be the Executive Director and I accepted the offer. I know just enough to be dangerous, but I know more about opera than I did a year and half ago.

What can audiences expect from Opera Roanoke in 2016?
First, it’s important that even those who don’t think they like opera come out and give it a try. If you come to an opera once, you might just be hooked. Our unofficial slogan is, “Opera Roanoke, we don’t care what you wear.” It’s fun to dress up, but not everyone does. Be comfortable, come in your jeans.

Also, if you are a student, your ticket is free. If you’re not a student, you can buy a ticket for $25 and sometimes less with Groupon. Regardless of where you are sitting, you are going to enjoy the show.

This fall, we are going to do South Pacific. It’s sad, it’s happy, and the music is unbelievable. In the spring of 2017, we will be doing Susanna by American composer Carlisle Floyd. Both of these shows have to do with prejudice and overcoming it or not overcoming it. It’s very timely when you think about all the unhappy stuff that is going on in our country right now. However, it is going to speak to your heart and your brain on a different level than when you read or see the news. That is why I say, and I’m not kidding, opera can save the world.

For more information about Linda and Opera Roanoke’s upcoming season, visit www.operaroanoke.org

Opera Roanoke Rising Stars

Enjoy phenomenal entertainment from Opera Roanoke this Thursday, May 14 and Friday, May 15! Their Comedy Tonight season will conclude with, “A Weekend in the Country,” An Apprentice Artist Showcase of Sondheim and Weill, showcasing rising stars on Waldron Stage at Center on Church. The show will begin at 7:30 pm both nights.

The “Broadway Operas” of Sondheim and Weill are among the greatest written for the American musical stage in the 20th century. Best known for The Threepenny Opera and its famous ballad, “Mack the Knife”, Kurt Weill immigrated to the United States and composed a series of great works for the stage and screen with collaborators like Ira Gershwin and Langston Hughes.

Amy.color_.Hi-ResScenes from Weill’s Street Scene and Lady In The Dark will be paired with excerpts from Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, A Little Night Music, and Assassins. Performed by Opera Roanoke’s acclaimed roster of young professional Apprentice Artists, under the leadership of Artistic Director Scott Williamson and Apprentice Co-Director Amy Cofield Williamson, “A Weekend in the Country” promises to be an evening filled with great musical comedy. One of Roanoke’s most beloved musicians, Judy Clark, accompanies the ensemble under the baton of Maestro Williamson.

A voluntary $20 donation per attendee is suggested, and reservations are strongly encouraged. Please call (540) 982-2742 to reserve your seats.   Visit www.operaroanoke.org for more information.


Gala Opera Cabaret at Opera on the James

Suor Angelica - Med Res -64Opera on the James began as the vision of volunteers to create a nonprofit opera company that would attract and involve Central Virginians in the full range of operatic arts. They provide diverse, accessible productions performed by nationally and regionally acclaimed artists that educate, inspire, and engage their audiences. Over the years they have evolved to a more professional company with an active board and a staff that includes General Director, Cecelia Schieve. On January 31, they will celebrate their 10th Anniversary with a Gala Opera Cabaret to highlight past seasons.
The luxurious gala is a decade in the making. Truly, it is a hallmark of more than their success as a company—it is evidence of connections to opera in our every day lives that many in the community did not know existed. Furthermore, it is proof that there is a growing audience waiting to be inspired and enlightened.
The gala is a representation of collaboration at its finest. “I have engaged five wonderful artists from around the country who have performed with us before,” explains Cecelia. “The event seamlessly incorporates dinner, wine, time with friends, auctions, and outstanding performances. We will surround our guests with opera that mixes styles, languages and characterizations.”
For an event this monumental, Opera on the James decided to find a special way to connect with the community to decorate the venue. They chose to ask a local school group from Heritage High School to paint their interpretation of each of the operas in the style of Toulouse-Lautrec.
Selecting Heritage for the collaboration was an easy decision in part, because the community has long admired the illustrations of art teacher, Jon Roark. “He has involved his students in service projects with the Lynchburg Historical Foundation and other non-profits and I had the pleasure of using him as an artist for one of our brochures in the past,” says Cecelia. “Because of this partnership, many of the young artists he teaches will experience the opera for the first time and it was a pleasure to involve and help educate them.”
The artwork will be on display on Thursday, January 29. For more information on the event and how to purchase tickets, visit www.operaonthejames.org.