We couldn't be more thankful to EVERYONE who helped make "Opera on the River" 2019 a major success!
Opera on the River had a late start due to the weather. While we waited for the rain to pass, Mayor Ted welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming and told them we had a fifteen minute rain delay. It was too wet for our string and wind sections, so our pianists, Gretchen Perkins and Nathan Cicero did an amazing job playing and filling up the missing parts. At one point they were both playing on the same keyboard at the same time!
As the rain stopped, umbrellas were put away, and some people came out from their cars and filled up the park. We had over 600 souls brave the rain.
We had to change up our repertoire on the spot, and one-third of our music selections could not be performed due to the missing instrumental parts. We finished the concert with students from the Stillwater Area High School and members of the Valley Chamber Chorale singing with us on “One Day More” from Les Miserables.
Beforehand, we had about 70 people attend our Overture Dinner at the Water Street Inn, and we had many more people attend our After-Glow at the Crosby Hotel.
Thanks to our private donors, corporate sponsors, and foundation grants, we are in the green and are continually fundraising for next summer’s concert. Please enjoy this wonderful aerial video of the event courtesy of Greg Schulz over at "Pictures Over Stillwater"! Thank you Greg for capturing this great first event so beautifully!
Imagine this on the banks of Lowell Park!
Our company, Operatunity Theatre, hopes to launch by creating a summer music concert festival for 2019 on the banks of the scenic St. Croix River in downtown Stillwater featuring former students including, but not limited to local, homegrown talent in partnership with local artistic and business vendors with a vision to establish Stillwater as a regional music cultural center showcasing the fabulous talent this region has to offer.
Enter the enchanting world of multi-award-winning international opera singer and Stillwater native, Jack Swanson, and other special guests, for an interactive live outdoor concert of opera and musical theatre favorites at Lowell Park in Stillwater, MN. The event will take the audience on a fantastic journey throughout the ages. During the concert, members of Stillwater and the greater St. Croix Valley region, will enjoy a magical experience: they will become passengers on “the river” and explore the power of love and inspiration with the sounds of swashbuckling heroic opera arias, all the way to romantic duets, and entertaining musical theatre hits. There will be something for everyone to enjoy.
We call it
"OPERA ON THE RIVER"!
You are cordially invited to “OPERA ON THE RIVER”, our inaugural concert on Saturday, August 10 at 7 p.m. in Lowell Park, downtown Stillwater, MN. This is a free concert. This event will attract a wide and diverse audience of people from all over the region. Picnic items; blankets, chairs, food and beverages are welcome and encouraged in order to claim your space on the park lawn for an enjoyable afternoon as you wait for the concert to begin. VIP seating and other special access on the day will be provided for event sponsors. Contact us in the "Sponsor" section below to inquire about becoming a sponsor for the event.
“OPERA ON THE RIVER” comes to Lowell Park direct from Operatunity Theatre and Rouse Legacy with support from the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, the Main Street Stillwater Independent Business Alliance, the Discover Stillwater Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Amadè Music, Inc., and The Zephyr Theatre. Jack Swanson and friends will welcome local residents of the St. Croix Valley area and greater Twin Cities metro of all ages and will introduce them to a new vision for the future of annual music offerings for the region. Live local musicians, orchestra and singers alike, accompanying the headliners, will create the most meaningful, memorable atmosphere that everyone in attendance will continue to hum all year long.
Our primary goal for this summer festival project is to provide the highest quality music production in the form of a live outdoor concert for the community of Stillwater and surrounding region. We hope this project will serve as an example of our ongoing plans to enrich the supportive artistic community in the greater St. Croix Valley, advancing the arts in this region to the next level.
Our commitment to the project reflects our deep personal roots in the area. We plan to create a company that can and will build the arts in Stillwater. We envision a range of summer events in the region built in part on the model of the nationally known Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts. Given the wealth of venue locations around the Twin Cities East Metro area, with the idyllic scenery of Stillwater as home base, we feel it’s time to bring a nationally, if not internationally recognized music festival together through multiple partnerships with established performing arts companies of the region. We also hope to expand our activities beyond the summer season.
“I cannot wait to return to Stillwater this August for our concert in Lowell Park. From the very beginning of my music career, this town’s community has supported me and several of my friends in our performing endeavors and for that I am extremely grateful. My friends and I will perform several of the familiar musical theater classics and hopefully introduce you to some great music you’ve never heard before. Through Operatunity Theatre, we’re hoping that this event is only the beginning of bringing fantastic, professional music offerings to our little town of Stillwater and the greater St. Croix Valley region.” - Jack Swanson
Stillwater, Minnesota native Jack Swanson is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after young tenors in the opera world. His distinctive high lyric voice is known for singing the acrobatic arias of Rossini and the legato melodies of Donizetti.
In the 2017-2018 season, Mr. Swanson makes debuts with Glyndebourne Opera as Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, the Los Angeles Opera in the title role of Candide, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Almaviva, and his mainstage debut with the Santa Fe opera as Lindoro in L’italiana in Algeri. On the concert stage, Mr. Swanson will be heard in Bernstein on Broadway concerts with the Orchestre National de Lille and in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Choral Arts Society of Washington. Future projects include debuts with the Norwegian Opera and the Portland Opera in leading roles.
In 2016-2017, Mr. Swanson was heard as Camille in The Merry Widow with Winter Opera St. Louis, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance with OperaMemphis, Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Opera Delaware, and Albazar in Il Turco in Italia with Garsington Opera. In concert he sang Messiah with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Bruckner’s Te Deum, with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, and Mozart’s Requiem with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Other appearances included Washington Concert Opera’s 2017 gala, the Rising Stars of Opera concert series with the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and on a recital program at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.
In the 2015-2016 season, Mr. Swanson made his Des Moines Metro Opera debut singing the role of Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff and performed the role of Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Opera Fort Collins. Mr. Swanson earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Oklahoma, where he performed the roles of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore. In May of 2016 he received his Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at Rice University. While at Rice, Mr. Swanson performed the roles of Almaviva in il Barbiere di Siviglia and Eurimaco in Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria. Additional opera roles include Tonio in La Fille du Régiment and Count Belfiore in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, and two years as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Swanson spent two summers as a young artist with The Seagle Music Colony, where he performed the roles of Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd and the title role in Britten’s comedic opera Albert Herring.
Also known for his concert work, Mr. Swanson’s credits include Handel’s Messiah, Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ, Mozart’s Requiem and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Other engagements include Holiday Favorites with the Arizona Opera and Birmingham Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera’s 60th anniversary gala where Mr. Swanson performed alongside HGO’s studio artists and world-renowned mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato. Swanson made his Kennedy Center debut singing selections from Schumann’s Dichterliebe.
Mr. Swanson is the competition winner and recipient of several prestigious awards including first place in Florida Grand Opera’s Young Patroness Competition, The San Antonio Music Club Competition, The National Opera Association Competition and The Hal Leonard Art Song Competition. He twice received the Richard Tucker Memorial award from the Santa Fe Opera. He was a finalist in both Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum competition and Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Competition. Recently, Mr. Swanson was featured on National Public Radio's Young Artist in Residence program, Performance Today.
More information can be found at JackSwansonTenor.com.
Katherine Henly, Soprano
Praised for her captivating and affecting portrayals in genres ranging from opera, to musical theater, jazz, and pop throughout the United States and abroad, soprano Katherine Henly is quickly becoming known as a crossover artist to watch.
Based in New York, she has performed with LA Opera, Washington National Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Charlottesville Opera (formerly Ash Lawn Opera), Virginia Opera, in the New York Musical Theatre Festival, The New York International Fringe Festival, The O’Neill National Music Theater Conference, The Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman; and as a young artist with Utah Festival Opera and The Glimmerglass Festival.
As a soloist, Ms. Henly has performed with Utah Lyric Opera, Utah Valley Symphony Orchestra, The Ramsey Wind Symphony, Palisades Virtuosi, Worcester Symphony Orchestra, in concert at Mechanics Hall and Carnegie Hall, and as a Semi-Finalist in the 2017 American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia.
She made her off-Broadway debut as Elsa in Sheldon Harnick’s musical Dragons at The York Theatre Company, and can be heard on the studio recording with Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris.
The 2017-2018 season included her performing as a Semi-Finalist in The American Traditions Competition in Savannah, Georgia. In the fall of 2017 she performed in Linked Dance Theatre’s acclaimed and extended immersive, site-specific production of LIKE REAL PEOPLE DO, and the premiere of Season 2 of the Amazon series, THE OTHER F WORD, in which Katherine appears in episode 4.
In January she performed as Sheep #1/Corporal in Francesca Zambello’s sold out, extended LA Opera production of CANDIDE with Kelsey Grammer, Christine Ebersole, Erin Morley, and Jack Swanson. In the spring of 2018 she reprised her roles of Sheep #1/Corporal in CANDIDE, this time with the Washington National Opera at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with Denyce Graves, Alek Shrader and Emily Pogorelc.
This summer she made her role debut as Barbarina and covered Susanna in David Paul’s production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Charlottesville
Opera. Later in the season she performed as Rapunzel and covered Cinderella in Raymond Zilberberg’s production of INTO THE WOODS, also with Charlottesville Opera.
She is a graduate of Ithaca College (B.M.) and Brigham Young University (M.M.).
More information can be found at KatherineHenly.com.
Caroline Hewitt, Mezzo-Soprano
Praised for her “grease lightening coloratura” and “impressive dramatic versatility,” Caroline made her professional opera debut as Giovanna in Rigoletto with Sacramento Opera. Other operatic roles include Angelina in La Cenerentola, Isoletta in La Straniera, Lucia in La gazza ladra, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cherbuino in Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Luisa Fernanda, Meg Page in Die Lustige Weber von Windsor and Thelma in John Musto’s Later the Same Evening.
Caroline was named the first prize winner at the 2018 Lotte Lenya Competition. As a proponent of musical theater, Caroline was a featured soloist in Brevard Music Center’s Sondheim on Sondheim. Upcoming projects include a film adaptation of Kurt Weill’s Sieben Todsünden in collaboration with director Crystal Manich.
In December, Caroline and Michael Hewitt started the podcast Music & Weights. Together, they interview singers, actors, teachers, coaches, conductors and other game changers from the opera and musical theater worlds about their individual journeys in health, wellness, and music. Guests have included Lucas Meachem (Metropolitan Opera), Solomon Howard (Metropolitan Opera), Leah Crocetto (Metropolitan Opera) and Blaine Krauss (Broadway).
A California native, Caroline Hewitt grew up training at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She’s a graduate of Vanderbilt University where she studied Voice and English Literature, a recipient of the Hirsch Endowment Scholarship at University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center, and recent Tony Cuevas Award Winner at West Bay Opera’s 2018 Holt Competition.
Caroline loves dogs & will cross the street to pet one. She also enjoys stand-up comedy, cooking, & the Non-Required Reading Series.
More info can be found at MezzoCaroline.com.
Michael Hewitt, Baritone
Michael Hewitt is a baritone. He enjoys singing whatever is in front of him, but finds himself always wishing for more Bach.
Immediately following graduation from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music (MM ‘17), Michael joined the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz training program.
As an alumnus of the program, Michael has already re-appeared onstage at The Kennedy Center this past season as Baron Douphol in “La traviata” and Angelotti in “Tosca”.
Favorite past credits include Jud Fry (“Oklahoma!), King Eduardo III in the US premiere of Donizetti’s “L’assedio di Calais”, and Lt. Horstmayer (“Silent Night”) at The a Glimmerglass Festival, Diesel (“West Side Story”) with National Symphony Orchestra Pops, and Beethoven 9 with The HoustonMasterworks Symphony.
In addition to WNO, Michael received training from Music Academy of The West, Aspen Music Festival, The University of Denver, Seagle Music Colony, and The Perry-Mansfield School.
When he’s not onstage, Michael is in demand to help guys drop 30 lbs and get stronger than ever.
Connect with him on Instagram if you wanna hear more singing, talk about lifting, and see dogs at@baritonehewitt.
Thomas Glass, Baritone
American baritone Thomas Glass is a 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Winner and graduate of the Houston Grand OperaStudio, where he recently appeared as Marcello in La bohème and Alvaro in Florencia en el Amazonas. Other roles at HGO include Baron Duphol in La traviata, Fiorello and Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Officer Krupke in West Side Story.
Glass made his Des Moines Metro Opera debut summer 2019 as Marcello in La bohème. As a 2018 Filene Young Artist at Wolf Trap Opera, he appeared as Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette and performed the baritone solos in Beethoven’s 9th Syphony with the National Syphony Orchestra. He is an alumnus of the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera and was previously a Resident Artist at Minnesota Opera, where he sang Capulet in Roméo et Juliette, created the role of Gustave in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Dinner at Eight, and made his role debut as Schaunard in La bohème. Thomas was born and raised in Edina, Minnesota and recently moved back to the Twin Cities with his fiancée and his dog, Sgt. Pepper.
More information can be found at ThomasGlassBaritone.com.
Kristin Tjornehoj, Conductor
Kristin Tjornehoj holds a Ph.D. in music education and a M.M. from the University of Minnesota, and a B.M. degree in music education and performance from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.
She is active as a musician, conductor, educator and speaker, which has taken her across the U.S., Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, France, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Scotland, and Switzerland. She maintains a musical life including conducting in both professional and educational settings and is the director of the Symphony Band and St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra. Kris has been active in church music leading the choir at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church for the past 35 years, and currently serves as the Music Director at Bethel Lutheran Church in Hudson, WI.
Dedicated to the creation of new compositions, her credits of commissioned works or premiers by composers includes Joel Blahnick, Todd Coleman, Michael Colgrass, Gregory Fritze, Lars Jansson, Daniel Kallman, David Maslanka, Johan de Meij, Joanne Metcalf, Craig Naylor, David Revill, Michael J. Roy, Jared Spears, Jack Stamp, Michael Torke, Joseph Turrin, Amy Williams, Charles Young, and John Zdechlick.
A participating member in several professional scholarly, music and community organizations, she is committed to serving in leadership for boards/committees throughout the greater St. Croix Valley including ArtReach St. Croix, Hudson Hospital Foundation, Phipps Center for the Arts St. Croix Valley Foundation, and the newly founded Zephyr Theatre.
Dr. Kristin Tjornehoj is the Director of Bands and Orchestra at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she conducts the UWRF Symphony Band and teaches courses in Conducting, World Music, and Instrumental Literature. Dr. Tjornehoj leads the St. Croix Valley Community Band and the St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra and enjoys working with musicians of all ages. Kristin is also a church music director and performs on a regular basis on piano and saxophone.
An active guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator, Dr. Tjornehoj has served in these capacities throughout the United States and abroad. She served as guest conductor for the Prague Castle Spanish Hall Concert with Hradní stráže a Policie ČR (Václav Blahunek, director) in 2015 and 2017 as part of the American Spring Festival. A guest instructor in March 2017, she conducted performances in Pinto and Madridejos, Spain as part of the UNESCO International Year of the Woman. For over 20 years Dr. Tjornehoj has led academic courses and music tours internationally. In 2013, she co-founded the Three Rivers Concert Band, a group of adult musicians from Minnesota and Wisconsin, who participate in international performance tours. To date the group has traveled to Spain, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. In 2018 the ensemble performed in Switzerland, France, and Italy. 2020 will bring musicians and friends to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Kristin lives in Hudson, Wisconsin with her husband Dan, and has 3 adult children. She enjoys free time skiing and biking in northern Wisconsin.
More info can be found at KrisTjornehoj.com.
Clark Weyrauch, MC
Successful professional singer, actor, voice instructor, music educator, concert & recital producer and promoter for 20 years.
Successful professional singer, actor, voice instructor, music educator, concert & recital producer and promoter for 20 years.
Charles "Chico" Rouse, Jr.
Successful professional entertainer, musician, educator, producer and promoter with 50 years of experience in the vast entertainment world controlling finances, budgets, programs, operations and performances.