Judy Berry and her husband Reed Smith moved from Binghamton, New York to Anchorage in 2014 to take up executive positions with the Anchorage Opera. They both brought impressive careers in the industry, appearing in performances internationally as singers, and holding executive positions with Tri-Cities Opera in their hometown! Today, the Anchorage Opera is a thriving source of light for the Anchorage community, using art in the form of music and dancing to make a difference for a variety of local needs, interests, and demographics.
The Anchorage Opera is a non-profit performing arts organization with a mission. They are more than just another generic opera company, they strive to be an integral part of the fabric of our community! Over the last few years, the Opera has been building community around socially relevant operas that recognize and address local issues:
- During the 2015-16 season, the Anchorage Opera produced Maria de Buenos Aries, a tango opera with an entirely Latino cast! The Opera partnered with tango clubs and worked with Telemundo to present shows in Spanish.
- In 2016-17, the Opera partnered with the Alaska Veterans Museum and other Veterans organizations to bring Glory Denied, featuring an Alaska veteran’s story at every seat and presenting a free show for Alaska veterans and their families on Valentine’s Day!
- Last season, the Opera produced As One, the story of a transgender journey. Identity, the Transgender Leadership Council, the Mayor’s Office, and many more organizations around town partnered with the Opera on this performance, which included an opportunity for discussion after each show!
This season, the Anchorage Opera brings An American Dream, the story of the mistreatment and internment of a Japanese family during WWII. Few may know that Anchorage itself held a Japanese internment camp at the time, and that there were six internment camps in Southeast Alaska where Alaska Native inhabitants of the islands invaded by the Japanese were sent. The Opera will shed light on these harsh realities in their performances in February.
In addition to their scheduled productions, the Anchorage Opera puts on what they call “FLASH MOBperas, opera when & where you least expect it!” These operas are performed around town, including in the Anchorage schools where performers are disguised as food workers. The Opera also produces a traveling performance through it’s educational program AO2Go called Aklaq & Nayak, an Alaska Native adaptation of the children’s opera Hansel & Gretel. The AO2Go program tours in schools across Alaska, focusing on the schools that have the most need, including many Title I schools.
The Anchorage Opera is Nationally recognized by OPERA America, selected to participate in an initiative designed to increase opera’s capacity to strengthen communities and work collaboratively with other organizations to address civic priorities. The Opera’s motto is “Enrich, Inspire, Educate, Collaborate, Build Community, one NOTE at a time!” This season’s theme is “Through the Eyes of Women,” including an all-women production team, stage directors, lighting, and set designers. Learn more at anchorageopera.org.