Opera180 Announces Appointment of Artistic Director

Opera180 Announces Appointment of Artistic Director

Executive Director Nate Wheatley today announced the appointment of the Company's Artistic Director, Dr. Elizabeth Birger.

About the appointment, Wheatley stated, "This is an exciting time for Opera180 as we welcome such a talented, energetic, and bright member to our team. As we sought out an Artistic Director for the company, Elizabeth quickly emerged as the obvious choice.

Congruent to Opera180's mission, the Company sought a Kansas City Metro resident to fill the post of Artistic Director. Dr. Elizabeth Birger quickly became a key resource leading up to, during, and after her performance in our production of Bon Operatit. Elizabeth's work is diverse stretching from vocal performance to coaching and instrumental performance. Elizabeth is an incredible boon for our organization."

Regarding her appointment, Dr. Elizabeth Birger said, "My kaizen-driven vision for Opera180 will ignite fresh perspective and innovation into the creation of a new chapter in local opera."

Elizabeth Birger has been appointed to the position of Artistic Director. Birger will work closely with Wheatley to continue cultivating and curating a new vision for opera in Kansas City. Birger is a voice teacher, opera singer, and life-long student of all things creative. Her path as a musician was formed early in her childhood under the direction of her mother, a music educator of more than 60 years. As a young and disciplined student of piano and violin, her talents quickly grew to define her identity and interlaced her passions of studying, teaching, and performing music. Growing up in a bilingual European home, where Russian was spoken and the arts were admired, revered, studied, and appreciated, created the foundational knowledge which eventually inspired her doctoral treatise.

Birger earned two Bachelor degrees in music education from Wichita State University, majoring in violin and voice immediately followed by her master's

degree in music education from Florida State University, and her Doctorate of Arts in Music from the University of Mississippi. During her doctoral work in performance and pedagogy, Elizabeth interned with leading otolaryngologist, Dr. Neal Beckford, in Memphis. There, she was provided the opportunity to work closely with patients, observe various outpatient procedures, study post- operative care, and consult patients undergoing treatment for various vocal concerns. This hands-on connection and background in health has guided Dr. Birger's approach to singing and has molded her teaching style. The pedagogical information acquired during her three-year internship, and her fundamental linguistic talent propelled Dr. Birger's doctoral treatise, A Pedagogical Approach to the Incorporation of Level-Appropriate Russian Literature into the Collegiate Vocal Studio.

Throughout her education Dr. Birger studied with some of the most renowned educators and masters in their field, including Dr. Clifford Madsen, Ms. Rebecca Copley, and Dr. George Gibson.

Upon returning to Kansas City, Elizabeth explored local performance opportunities, voice over work, and launched her debut on the musical theater stage. A current AEA candidate, she has performed with Musical Theater Heritage in their recent productions of My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, and Wouldn't It Be Loverly. In opera, Elizabeth's roles include Madame Lidoine (Le dialogue desCarmélites), The Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier), Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Lady Billows (Albert Herring), Augusta Tabor (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), and Madame Popmpous (Too Many Sopranos). Her most recent portrayal as Paula Deen in Jennifer Jolley's Krispy Kremes and Butter Queenswith Opera 180 drew praise for the company's premier season. Elizabeth's local involvement is wide-reaching and diverse and includes Lawrence Opera Theater, American Opera Studio, Sacred Arts Ensemble, Yachad, and KC VITAs: A New Music Ensemble. Elizabeth is also a founding member and principal performer in the Kansas City based operatic ensemble, Trio Forte, who has been a principal headliner at WaterFire KC for the past six years. As a performing artist, Elizabeth's path has taken and continues to take her around the globe for various opportunities, which includes the competition circuit, extensive tours with operas, musical theater revues, and solo concerts throughout the United States, Europe, and South Africa.

Although her performance career is extensive and ongoing, Elizabeth has also had the opportunity to work behind the scenes with numerous productions. Her roles as musical director for school musical theater productions and assistant

director for touring productions provide additional educational and leadership outlets. She has background knowledge and training in areas of set design and construction, wig and make-up design, and prop design. Elizabeth acquired many of the skills necessary to execute these diverse positions while working as a personal organizer for Kansas City based non-profit organizations, regional law firms, and local small business owners.

Dr. Birger has taught music, both instrumental and vocal, in the public and private sectors of formal education. She is on faculty at Missouri Western State University, Kansas City Kansas Community College, along with maintaining a private voice studio. She served on the board of KC VITAs for three years and is sought out regularly as a clinician for clinics, forums, and workshops on topics including vocal health, poetry analysis, and vocal technique. She continues to adjudicate regional competitions and collegiate scholarship hearings. Her students have gone on to tour with major production companies, perform on cruise lines, and venues worldwide. She has been nominated for the book Who's Who in Music Education.

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