McPherson Opera House to host Opera Academy of the Midwest with $75K state grant

By Nick Gosnell
January 26, 2015

McPherson Opera House Executive Director John Holecek came to the McPherson City Commission meeting on Monday to announce the awarding of a $75,000 grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission to the McPherson Convention and Visitors Bureau to support the establishment of the Opera Academy of the Midwest.

Holecek said, "Twenty one students will be, they're actually being interviewed and vetted right now, will come to McPherson. They will be hosted by Central Christian College. They will practice daily at the Opera House or, as need might be, on the campus of Central Christian College. And, it's not just students folks, it's professionals. It's those who will have the lead in the whole WGO (Wichita Grand Opera) upcoming season."

The Academy begins in McPherson on June 29 and returns, full circle, to the McPherson Opera House on October 10 for Wichita Grand Opera's production of Offenbach's The Grand Duchess, the final performance of WGO's season. Wichita Grand Opera will also perform in Wichita, Salina and Overland Park.

The McPherson phase of the Opera Academy of the Midwest will run from June 29 through August 4. The purpose of this phase is to prepare for the entire upcoming Wichita Grand Opera Season.

The audition process for the participants has already begun, with final auditions in April. Those selected for the 32 slots will be placed in three categories: Academy Fellows will be highly trained, talented singers with some professional experience and experience in other Young Artist programs, ready to perform secondary roles and cover principal roles; Academy Apprentices will be talented singers with college performance experience, prepared to cover secondary roles; while Studio Artists will be talented singers with great potential, but who are still in need of additional training.

Mayor Tom Brown said, "The city is grateful for the grant, but the credit goes to Parvan Bakardiev and Margaret Pent of the Wichita Grand Opera. They are the brains and engine behind the project."

Bakardiev selected McPherson as the home of the Academy not only because of the Opera House. "Every time I visit, McPherson impresses me. The people are open and positive. The city has an energizing dynamic about it. The hope, of course, is that the Academy will be a yearly event, always growing, always getting better."