Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]
Oklahoma’s own senior, Dr. Barbara DeMaio, has returned to Oklahoma City after a successful singing career in Europe. As current Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Central Oklahoma, she has expanded her opera influence to being the Executive Director of the year old Painted Sky Opera company. The company recently secured residency at the Freede Theater at Oklahoma City’s downtown Civic Center Music Hall.
It seems appropriate for DeMaio to return to her opera roots in Oklahoma City where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Oklahoma City University School of Music.
“I grew up here, went to Northwest Classen high school,” says Demaio, “and I still have many, many friends here. I go to breakfast every Friday morning with my best friend from high school and my best friend from college. Their children call me “Aunt Barbara.” I love this state and this city. Although Italy will always be my second home, and I miss it every day, this is where I want to live and teach, and UCO is my dream job.”
DeMaio recalls, “The Painted Sky Opera originated in a casual conversation between co-founder Rob Glaubitz and me. We found it strange that Oklahoma City didn’t have its own professional opera company considering the popularity of opera in other regional cities and the diversity of the OKC artistic scene. We founded the company in 2015 along with co-founder Mikayah Fox.”
The Painted Sky Opera Board of Directors was formed in September 2015 with Joel Burcham as the founding president of the board.
Painted Sky Opera’s Mission is stated as “presenting innovative, inspiring opera through performance and education, featuring emerging professional artists in Central Oklahoma.”
“Our biggest challenge is to introduce opera to those who don’t know it and don’t realize how wonderful it is yet,” says DeMaio. “If we can get someone in the theatre, we are convinced that they will fall in love with this magnificent art form. The first opera I attended was at the Civic Center, many years ago; and it was Tosca. I’ve sung the role many times, and now I am thrilled that we are producing the opera and giving others the opportunity to sing this incredible music”.
The company’s first year season consisted of, La Canterina by Joseph Haydn, produced at the OKCMOA Samuel Roberts Noble Theater, then in June 2016 in collaboration with the Oklahoma Haydn Festival. It was followed by a double bill of Chabrier’s An Incomplete Education and Menotti’s The Medium in September 2016, which included a new libretto of the Chabrier comic opera written by Rob Glaubitz. Our first season ended with Verdi’s La Traviata in February 2017.
In this year’ s production of Tosca in the photo above, is Nicole Van Every, as one of the Toscas, Joel Burcham, who is one of the Cavaradossis, and Kevin Eckard, who is Sacristan.
The new season includes: Tosca, opera by Giacomo Puccini, on Oct. 6, 7 at 8pm and 8 at 2pm, in the Freede Little Theatre; Souvenir, play by Stephen Temperley about Florence Foster Jenkins Feb. 22-24, March 1-3, in the CitySpace theatre and concluding with Three Decembers, opera by Jake Heggie based on a play by Terrence McNally (Oklahoma Premiere) May 11 and 12 at 8pm, May 13 at 2pm, in the Freede Little Theatre
Tickets are on sale now, at the Civic Center Box Office. Season tickets are: $80 – one season ticket with reserved seating at all three of Painted Sky Opera’s shows – a savings of 20% off of full ticket prices; and $90 – season ticket with Gold Circle seating in the first six rows of Freede Little Theatre for Tosca and Three Decembers
Tickets available at the box office and online:
“In addition to productions, Painted Sky Opera has also made a commitment to education and outreach,” says DeMaio. “In Painted Sky Opera’s first year, we connected with more than 700 students at in-school outreach events. We also sang for retirement and hospital communities in Oklahoma City and even connected with opera lovers in Lawton. “
DeMaio’s repertoire includes all the great roles of a Puccini and Verdi soprano, performed in theatres in Italy, Swizerland, Germany and France; Tosca, Lady Macbeth, Turandot, Aida, Abigaille in Nabucco, and also Amelia in Ballo in Maschera, Elvira in Ernani, Lucrezia in I Due Foscari, Leonora in La Forza del Destino and Odabella in La Scala’s Attila directed by Riccardo Muti. She is also a noted interpreter of Norma, the Bellini heroine. Since returning to the United States she has added new shows to her repertoire; Bolcom’s Medea and Hoiby’s Bon Appetit! as well as the Witch in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel , Domina in Forum and Costanza in the play Enchanted April.
DeMaio is currently an Asst. Prof. of Voice at the University of Central Oklahoma, teaching both Opera and Musical Theatre styles, Executive Director of the American Singers’ Opera Project, Executive Director of Painted Sky Opera and a Level III Somatic Voicework© teacher. In October, 2016, she was honored to be named as a Member Laureate by Sigma Alpha Iota. Her DMA Vocal pedagogy degree at Shenandoah University included dissertation research on the effect of menopause on the elite singing voice that she has since presented in the form of workshops and presentations across the US, and also in October, 2017, at La Voce Artistica in Ravenna, Italy.