Welcome to Opéra Louisiane, the Capital City’s Opera Company, where our singers are world class, our performances are breathtaking, and our supporters are incredible! Join us for one of our passionate performances and you’ll see why so many people love opera. It will move you to tears, make your heart beat fast, and bring you to your feet. There’s nothing quite so powerful as hearing singers use their voices to the greatest capacity. No microphone necessary, no auto tune, just the pure, human voice, unamplified.
As a singer, keeping opera alive is important to me, and Opéra Louisiane allows me to play a role in that mission. I grew up in a small town in central Virginia. I listened primarily to country music growing up, and my grandmother taught me to play the piano. Like most children, I hated to practice! In sixth grade, Virginia Opera’s educational program came to our school. The group performed opera favorites and changed characters by pulling hats out of a box. I sat mesmerized by what I heard and saw. I was hooked. It would take me another ten years or so to really find the courage to pursue my operatic dream, but there is no doubt that those singers planted the seed. This is why I am so passionate about Opéra Louisiane and especially about our Young People’s Opera Program. It is a crucial tool for expanding the minds of our school children.
There are so many wonderful things that I would like to share about Opéra Louisiane, but here are the important historical highlights. This company is the result of a true visionary and some very hard workers. Our Founder and Past General and Artistic Director of Opéra Louisiane, Robert Grayson had the vision for professional opera in Baton Rouge. Co-founder Amanda Vincent recognized the need for an educational program and worked hand in hand with Mayor-President Kip Holden to create the Young People’s Opera Program. Since 2008, we have provided free opera and educational tools to over 35,000 students! Opera provides employment for musicians, designers, directors as well over 25 theatre professionals each year. Thanks to Russ and Melanie Chapman, Opéra Louisiane has an Endowment, started with their gift in 2016. As with all non-profits, Opéra Louisiane relies heavily on a board of directors; volunteers who oversee the operation of the company and fundraise the funds it requires to produce professional opera. The following individuals have served as Board Chair: Carole Marshall, Sue Rainer, Ken Nelson, Todd Schexnayder, Russ Chapman, Susan Leake and most recently, Monique Scott Spaulding. Our current board chair is Sean Matassa, a singer, dedicated board member and businessman.
I am so fortunate to work with the incredibly talented Michael Borowitz, our Artistic Director and Conductor. Michael brings a level of professionalism to Opéra Louisiane that is unsurpassed. His knowledge and experience allows us to attract top level singers, build an outstanding orchestra, and present varied productions such as a two hour adaptation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle and a full scale production of Bizet’s Carmen. Michael is truly a gift to this city!
Give opera a try. Put aside those stereotypes and experience for yourself the passion of the human voice. Join us!
Leanne P. Clement, DMA
General Director, Opéra Louisiane
Dr. Leanne Clement is a graduate of The School of Music at Louisiana State University, where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in vocal performance. While at LSU she was awarded the School of Music Foundation Scholarship, the Mrs. Dorothy Halphen Kolb Scholarship from the Baton Rouge Opera Guild, and was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the music honor society. She also was co-founder of the LOOP or LSU Opera Outreach Program that provided performances to local elementary schools.
Prior to moving to Louisiana, Leanne received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. As a mezzo-soprano, Leanne performs the dramatic character roles of Verdi and Wagner. During her tenure at Opéra Louisiane, Leanne has performed the roles of Erda in Michael Borowitz’s reduction of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Martha in Faust and as a soloist in the 10th Anniversary Gala. She has also directed performances of L’elisir d’amore, Falstaff, and The Ring.
Leanne began work with Opéra Louisiane in the fall of 2008, was promoted to Director of Development in 2009 and hired as General Director in 2011, where she remains today. During her time with Opéra Louisiane, the company has quadrupled in size and has remained debt free. Leanne is thrilled to work with an incredible staff and board of directors promoting opera in South Louisiana!
Conductor and pianist Michael Borowitz has served as Music Director for Opéra Louisiane since the 2012-13 season. Borowitz is also Music Director of LSU Opera. For nine years he was Artistic Director of Nevada Opera, and for five seasons he was Music Director for Ohio Light Opera. Borowitz has been a guest conductor for Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Delaware, Baltimore Concert Opera, Pensacola Opera, AVA Ballet, Eastman School of Music, Opera Idaho, Opera Southwest, Rimrock Opera, Opera Columbus, The Reno Philharmonic and the LSU Symphony Orchestra, as well as assistant conductor with The Metropolitan Opera, Indianapolis Opera and Cleveland Opera. His current recordings (all on the Albany label) include Offenbach’s Bluebeard, Kern’s The Cabaret Girl, Herbert’s Mlle. Modiste (also released on DVD by Operetta Archives), and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore and Patience.
Dr. Sinella Aghasi is an arts administrator, educator, and a violinist. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University, Master of Music from San Francisco State University, and Bachelor of music education and violin performance from California State University Stanislaus.
As an arts advocate, Dr. Aghasi is committed to making Classical music relevant and accessible and bringing it to a diverse community. In her role as Associate Director of Opéra Louisiane, she is proud to take part in bringing professional opera to Baton Rouge and opening a door for thousands of students to experience an opera for the first time in their lives.
As an active performer, Dr. Aghasi plays with several local orchestras, such as Opéra Louisiane, Baton Rouge Symphony, Acadiana Symphony, Rapides Symphony, Lake Charles Symphony, and Gulf Coast Symphony. In addition to her love for performance, Dr. Aghasi’s passion for music education has never stopped growing. She has been a teaching artist at San Francisco Symphony’s Education Department, Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and Kids’ Orchestra.
Michelle Nguyen is a graduate of LSU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art. She has worked with Opéra Louisiane since February 2018. At Opéra Louisiane she manages the website, creates Facebook posts, email blasts, newsletters, and much of the graphic design that you see online and at Opéra Louisiane events.
She previously worked with Country Day School as a teacher. In 2016-2017, she was employed with LASM as a Tour Guide & Floater. During her college education she worked at Hill Memorial Library as a student worker. She scanned/edited documents for the Free People of Color Project and assisted in microfilm for local newspapers. Today she continues to practice photography, graphic design, and animation.
Sean Matassa – Chair – Financial Advisor, Edward Jones
Bettsie Baker Miller – Chair-Elect – Owner, BBM Consulting; Community Volunteer; BREC Commissioner
Alex Tucker – Treasurer and Finance Chair – Faulk & Winkler, CPA
Dr. Ed Green – Secretary – Chemist, ExxonMobil, retired
Monique Scott-Spaulding – Immediate Past Chair – Jani-King
Opéra Louisiane presents high quality, professional operatic performances, showcasing internationally acclaimed talent for:
- Culturally enriching our community
- Educating our school children
- Providing professional performance opportunities for Louisiana artists.