General Director's Welcome
Give opera a try!
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
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.
Opéra Louisiane will be a regionally recognized, financially viable, professional opera company showcasing internationally acclaimed talent and providing career opportunities for Louisiana artists.
Opéra Louisiane holds itself accountable to the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professionalism.
Dr. Leanne Clement is the General Director of Opéra Louisiane, a position she has held since 2011. During her time as General Director, the company’s budget has quintupled and the company remains debt free. Leanne began work with Opéra Louisiane in the fall of 2008, was promoted to Director of Development in 2009 before becoming General Director in 2011. She is a graduate of The School of Music at Louisiana State University, where she received her Doctorate of Musical Arts as well as her 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. 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’s roles include Azucena in Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Florence Pike in Britten’s Albert Herring, both with Opera North, the Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, with Opera in the Ozarks and Opéra Louisiane, the title role in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with LSU Opera, The Old Prioress in Dialogues of the Carmelites, also with LSU Opera and the Mother in Hansel and Gretel with Opéra Louisiane. She also sang Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana with Pensacola Opera. She’s performed the role of Erda in Opéra Louisiane’s reduction of Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Martha in Faust. In 2017 she was seen with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra as the alto soloist in Mendolhsson’s Elijah.
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. Larry Heard is a newcomer to the Opéra Louisiane staff, and he is looking forward to contributing to the company as the Education Director. Larry holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Tuba Performance and a Master of Music degree in Music Education from Louisiana State University. He also earned his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southeastern Louisiana University.
Since 2017, Larry has worked with Baton Rouge based music education organization, Kids’ Orchestra, and holds the position of Program Manager and Instrument Inventory Manager. He has previously taught in the public school system as the Assistant Director of Bands for Fontainebleau High School and plays regularly as a member of the Northshore Orchestra and Northshore Brass. He also works as a freelance musician on piano. Larry and his family have long enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the Opéra Louisiane organization and he is thrilled to step into this new role. He currently lives in Baton Rouge with his wife and two sons.
Shannon LaBiche joined Opéra Louisiane as Office Manager in July 2021. Shannon manages the business office, donor relations, box office, and more. She has a sparkling personality and is happy to help with ticket sales, donations and any other questions you may have.
Shannon started her office career in 2006 at Gerry Lane Chevrolet as an administrative assistant. She worked at Independent Roofing for 3 years as Administrative Assistant and Office Manager for an additional 4 years. From 2015 to 2018 Shannon took a break from the daily full-time job and spent that time as a stay at home mom to her two children and creating custom cakes part time in her home bakery. She then joined A.C. Lewis Management in 2018 as Office Manager for 3 years.
Michelle Nguyen is a graduate of LSU with a Bachelor in Digital Art. She has been a member with Opéra Louisiane since February 2018. At Opéra Louisiane she manages the website, creates Facebook posts, email blasts, newsletters, photography, videos 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 2018. 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 then assisted in microfilm for local newspapers. Today she continues to practice photography, graphic design, and drawing.
Board of Directors
Bettsie Baker Miller – Chair – Owner, BBM Consulting; Community Volunteer; BREC Commissioner
David Kelly – Chair-Elect and Governance Chair – Attorney, Partner, Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, LLP
Alex Tucker – Treasurer and Finance Chair – Faulk & Winkler, CPA
John Jackson – Secretary – Jackson Land Company
Sean Matassa – Immediate Past Chair – Financial Advisor, Edward Jones
Opéra Louisiane was founded by Robert Grayson and Amanda Martin Vincent in March of 2007 with a few simple goals in mind: to produce opera performances of the highest level in Louisiana’s capital city, to offer a Young People’s opera free to school children every year, to utilize the great musical and artistic talent of Louisiana singers alongside professional musicians with international acclaim. Shortly after its inception, Opéra Louisiane and LPB produced the Opéra Louisiane Gala concert featuring international opera stars at the Baton Rouge River Center. In the fall of 2008 Opéra Louisiane, through a generous grant from Mayor Kip Holden and the City Parish of East Baton Rouge and other significant sponsors including the Pennington Foundation, The Arts Council of Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, produced its first Young People’s Opera, Mozart’s The Magic Flute. These productions remain successful, allowing over 37,000 Baton Rouge area 4th , 5th and 6th graders to see a fully staged opera over the past seven years. Opéra Louisiane, through its Young People’s Opera Program and outreach events, endeavors to help fulfill the need for music programs in schools that have been cut due to budget constraints. Along with our focus on education, Opéra Louisiane strives to offer performances of the highest quality featuring professional artists from Louisiana and beyond. In 2013, Opéra Louisiane offered a full production of Elixir of Love at the Baton Rouge River Center, complete with an international cast of singers, Opéra Lousiane’s Community Chorus, a full orchestra, grand sets and colorful costumes. The performance of Elixir marked the first time in over a decade that Baton Rouge has seen a professional opera production of this magnitude in our own city. In 2015, grand opera returned to Baton Rouge with Madama Butterfly at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre. In 2019, Opéra Louisiane presented two sold out performances of Carmen at the Manship Theater at Shaw Center for the Arts and instituted the High School Opera Initiative, aimed at providing access to opera to students from economically disadvantaged communities. The Lunch with Leanne series, established in 2013, gives audience members the opportunity to experience a concert in an intimate setting and meet the artist afterwards. Opéra Louisiane presents two major fundraisers each year, the Opéra Summer Soirée in August and Sing and Swing, a celebrity karaoke competition. Over the past twelve years, Opéra Louisiane has hired over 320 local musicians, provided work for more than 100 Louisiana theater professionals, brought 36 opera stars with international reputations to Baton Rouge, and sold over 25,000 tickets. As the Capital City’s Opera Company Opéra Louisiane is educating, entertaining and employing. Since 2011, Opéra Louisiane’s budget has quadrupled and the company remains a debt free organization.