About Western Plains Opera

About 2

Our Story

Western Plains Opera brings a singular focus to the North Dakota region by building on established opera traditions that began with "The Student Prince" in 1976.

We are a small opera company with a growing reputation for outstanding performances. We proudly provide an air of distinction for Minot's artistic community, offering several important musical events annually. The fully-staged Fall production in the elegant Ann Nicole Nelson Hall serves as our centerpiece.

We engage professional principal singers, nationally acclaimed conductors, and innovative stage directors. The remaining cast, chorus, and orchestra participants are selected among Minot State University students, Minot State University Faculty, and surrounding community members.

Furthermore, we are the sponsoring organization for the musicals and concerts of the Western Plains Children's Chorus.
Support the Western Plains Opera

Our Mission

Western Plains Opera Company's mission as an organization is to blend the best of professional, community, and Minot State University resources to produce outstanding opera in the north central plains and to foster in local youths the love of good singing and good singing practices.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Deborah Dyste
Vice President
Kenneth Bowles
Elizabeth Eckert

Board Members

Efraín Amaya
Erik Anderson
DeVera Bowles
Kenneth Bowles
Jennifer Brenna
Ann Cadwalader
Deborah Dyste
Emerson Eads
Elizabeth Eckert
Eric Furuseth
Danette Krumwiede
Richard Hagar
Jane Hirst
Heidi Klouse
Cheryl Nilsen
Janet Parton
David Rolandson
Steven Shirley
Paula Simonson 

Current Staff

General Co-Directors
Efraín Amaya & DeVera Bowles
Children's Choir Admin
Janet Parton
Business Manager
Janet Parton
WP Youth Ensemble Director
Alyssa Beyer
WP Children's Choir Director
Lindsay Kerzmann
WP Youth Junior Choir Director
Angela Schnaible
General Directory History

Our History

Following Wayne Nelson's many years as executive director, Julianne Wallin filled the role for a decade, 1984-94. Her tenure was book-ended by successful productions of Johann Strauss's "Die Fledermaus."

Dr. Ken Bowles took over as general director in the autumn of 1994 and served as executive director until just recently (2015). He worked hard to keep the group's tradition vibrantly alive and reminded us always to seek the goal of ever greater achievement. He remains an active member of the board after handing the position over to Dr. Mark McQuade.

Dr. Mark McQuade served as the General Director of the Western Plains Opera Company for two years (2015-2017). He infused great traditions of the past with new vision and energy. McQuade brought nearly 20 years of experience as a performer and director of opera.

Currently, Western Plains Opera Company relies on two Co-General Directors, Maestro Efraín Amaya and Dr. DeVera Bowles.

Maestro Efraín Amaya &
Dr. DeVera Bowles

General Co-Directors
2022 Die Fledermmaus
2021 No Production – (Canceled due to COVID)
2020 Hansel & Gretel
2019 Into the Woods
​2018 Barber of Seville​
​2018 The King and I
2017 Orpheus in the Underworld

Dr. Mark McQuade

General Director
2017 Fiddler on the Roof 
2016 ​Rigoletto 
2016 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
2015 The Magic Flute

Dr. Ken Bowles

General Director
2014 Carmen
2013 Marriage of Figaro
2012 Pagliacci and Gianni Schicci
2011 No Production – (Canceled in deference to flooding)
2010 La Traviata
2009 The Bartered Bride
2008 Die Fledermaus
2007 The Mikado
2006 Philip Marshall
2005 La Boheme
2004 The Merry Widow
2003 Don Pasquale
2002 Marriage of Figaro
2001 Orpheus in the Underworld
2001 Man of La Mancha
2000 Don Giovanni
1999 Cavelleria Rusticana
1999 The Impressario
1998 The Elixir of Love
1997 Carmen
1996 La Traviata
1995 Amahl and the Night Visitors
1995 Hansel and Gretel

Julie Walin

General Director
Die Fledermaus 1994
Gianni Schicci 1993
La Boheme 1993
The Merry Widow 1992
The Magic Flute 1991
Barber of Seville 1990
Madame Butterfly 1989
The Old Maid and the Thief 1988
Don Pasquale 1988
Amahl and the Night Visitors 1987
Song of Norway 1987
Carmen 1987
La Traviata 1986
Marriage of Figaro 1985
Die Fledermaus 1984

Wayne Nelson

General Director
1983 La Boheme
1982 Don Giovanni
1981 Don Pasquale
1980 Tosca
1979 Marriage of Figaro
1978 Barber of Seville
1977 Cosi Fan Tutti
1976 Student Prince
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