I’ve enjoyed listening to, singing, and playing music for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Omaha, I sang in school and church as well as the Nebraska Children’s Chorus. I attended a small liberal arts college not particularly known for its music program and in addition to traditional entry-level courses also enrolled in private piano study, the freshman chorus, and a classical music appreciation class. What I thought were extra-curricular activities all served as gateway drugs and I became hooked. My appreciation class led to music history, which led to music theory. Chorus led to private voice study, which led to studying opera and song repertoire. Opera grabbed me with its enthralling and immersive combination of music, text, theatre and visual; I found the whole to be so much greater than the sum of its parts.
Between my junior and senior years Opera Omaha granted me a summer internship. I helped them prepare for upcoming productions including that summer’s “Arts on the Green” at the Joslyn Museum, an educational program going on tour that fall to central and western Nebraska, and the next season’s world-premiere opera of Eric Hermannson’s Soul by Libby Larsen based on a short story by Willa Cather. It was this experience with Opera Omaha that inspired me to pursue a career in arts administration. My eyes were opened to the myriad of activities that happen behind the scenes to create and support art. I learned then that it takes just as much creativity to manage a successful arts organization as it does to perform on the stage.
After college I moved to Chicago and began a ten-year tenure with the city’s “second” opera company, Chicago Opera Theater. The company had just signed on a new General Director, Brian Dickie, who had been tasked with transforming the regional organization into a nationally and internationally recognized company, all while moving from a neighborhood theater to a brand new venue in downtown Chicago. It was fortuitous timing as I had the opportunity to learn from and participate in that transformation. The values I learned there guide me to this day.
I am now back in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and serve as the General Director of Opera Omaha, the company that gave me my start. I am privileged to be able to make opera my livelihood and strive to produce and support world-class art to further enrich our cultural community.
Omaha native Roger Weitz is General Director of Opera Omaha. He holds a degree in music from Carleton College where he studied voice and sang in multiple ensembles. After college Weitz began a decade-long tenure with Chicago Opera Theater under the leadership of Brian Dickie. During the last three years in Chicago he served as Chicago Opera Theater’s General Manager, having worked as the company’s Artistic Administrator for seven years prior. There he managed the planning and execution of over 30 new productions working with illustrious artists and creative teams from the U.S. and abroad. Between his posts as Artistic Administrator and General Manager of Chicago Opera Theater, Roger spent a year in Washington, DC as an Arts Management Fellow in a highly selective program at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.