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Opera Memphis Announces New Hire and Promotion

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Marissa Manthongkham, D.M.A. joins the staff as the Development Operations Manager. Bethania Baray has been appointed Director of Education and Civic Programs.

Opera Memphis Announces New Hire and Promotion

The pandemic has not halted Opera Memphis's forward momentum as the company continues to expand its reach in the community with the addition and promotion of two impressive women of color. Marissa Manthongkham, D.M.A. joins the staff at Opera Memphis as the Development Operations Manager. Bethania Baray, who was previously the McCleave Fellow in Directing, has been appointed Director of Education and Civic Programs. Supporters of Opera Memphis will recognize Jason Hardy, who held the position of Chief Advancement Officer at Opera Memphis for the last four years. He has recently joined Knoxville Opera as their Executive Director, but he will temporarily remain with Opera Memphis as a Strategic Advisor. After a national search, Opera Memphis selected Dr. Marissa Manthongkham, a Memphis native who returned to her hometown after earning a Doctor in Musical Arts from Michigan State University. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a Master of Music from Baylor University. Dr. Manthongkham also serves as Director of Operations and Educational Programming for PRIZM Ensemble in Memphis and remains active as a performing clarinet artist and educator.

Bethania Baray was a Vocal Instructor and the Director of Opera at Arkansas State University before joining Opera Memphis as the second recipient of the McCleave Directing Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind program designed to identify and nurture emerging directors and conductors of color in the opera field. Ms. Baray has hosted a bilingual children's opera show called "Mijo Milan" which features her toddler, Milan, as they explore the world of opera through the eyes of children. Comfortable on stage and behind the scenes, Ms. Baray has designed and facilitated new community programs, including new partnerships with HBCUs, local Latinx organizations, and the Stax Music Academy. Her work with Stax garnered well-earned praise when a student from her inaugural class, Caleb Thompson, was contracted by the Metropolitan Opera for the opening show of their 2021-2022 season, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones."

"I look forward to serving Memphis by cultivating long-lasting relationships with local organizations and communities." says Ms. Baray, "While maintaining our existing educational programs like our Summer Conservatory and Spring Elementary Tour, I hope to develop new educational and civic programs." These will include family programming, a children's chorus for appropriate operas, Spanish language materials, the Opera Teens program, and the expansion of the partnership with Stax Music Academy to increase the presence and class offerings provided by Opera Memphis.


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