On April 29, 2016, our community will come together for the Wichita Art Day of Giving (ArtDOG). It’s 24 hours of unprecedented nonprofit giving—and it’s your chance to make a real difference, right here in Wichita. Last year during ArtDOG, $1.17 million was donated!

If you care about powerful storytelling through opera by local Kansas musicians, then please show your support through ArtDOG on April 29 by donating online at the ArtDog website.

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Beneath Suspicion

Who would suspect a slave in Jefferson Davis' own house to be the most effective spy in the Civil War? Hear the true story of how two woman risked their lives to help the Union win the war. This opera, Beneath Suspicion, is the 1st place winner of the Zepick Modern Opera Competition help by Opera Kansas.

Friday, April 29, 2016
2 Performances - 7:00 PM & 8:00 P.M.
At Oeno in Old Town
This event is free

This event is sponsored in part by generous donation by Dr. Lyle Zepick and Debi Johnson Zepick.

One Act Opera Composition Winners

We are proud to announce the winners of our 30th anniversary One Act Opera Composition Competition.

First Prize

"Beneath Suspicion" by Jesse Ayres tells of the heroism of two Civil war women spies.

Second Prize

"Paper or Plastic" by Charles Turner this “eco-opera” raises the question, paper or plastic?

Third Prize

"Edison Invents" by Robert Cohen dramatizes the life of Thomas Edison, whose inventions literally changed the everyday life of people around the world.

We would like to thank the competition's sponsors Dr. Lyle Zepick and Mrs. Debi Zepick for the generosity and the composers who submitted many fine works.

Contact us

Artistic Director
Dr. Paul Brodene Smith
P.O. Box 8811
Wichita KS 67208
E: operakansas@gmail.com
P: 316-218-8795

Opera Kansas’ 2015-2016 educational initiatives

Elementary School

Traveling the Underground Railroad (January/February 2016)

This outreach program is designed for the elementary school. It specifically targets Back History Month curriculum. The multidisciplinary presentation targets core standards in History, Civics/Government, Geography and Music through the introduction of the Underground Railroad. The presentation includes a portion of a one act opera about Harriet Tubman. The runaway slaves are to be sung by a children’s choir. Your music teacher will choose students to take part in the production. Dr. Smith will visit your school holding workshops that help prepare your children for the performance. Opera Kansas will provide learning activities that support the live presentation. There are three separate forms of assessment from which the classroom teacher may chose. Cost $350 included workshop fee (Scholarships are available).

Elementary and Middle

Two Patriots; and three moments that led to our Liberty

This new Ballad Opera based on the Revolutionary Era of Colonial America. In addition to the 25-30 minute live performance, Opera Kansas’ will visit your school to conduct workshops helping prepare your choir to take part in this Multidisciplinary Educational Initiative. The initiative will touch upon aspect of History, Civics, Geography, Science, as well as music aesthetics and history. Opera Kansas will provide instructional materials to supplement the performance experience. This presentation can be easily incorporated into elementary social studies and music curriculum. This educational initiative is suitable for 3rd to 8th grade. Cost $250 including workshop fee (Scholarships are available).

Middle and High School 

Dr. Miracle

For those schools who wish simply to have a fun expedition into the world of opera. This hilarious one-act opera about a young man’s quest to marry his true love. He must disguise himself as a dietician who makes a “poison” omelet, and as a doctor who saves his sweetheart’s father. This is all for the sake of true love. The performance is suitable for all ages. This production is an adaptation of a Charles Lerocq’s Dr. Miracle. Opera Kansas will provided a study guide to prepare the student for the performance on request. Cost $300 (Scholarships are available).

Opera 101

Opera 101: an introduction into the world of opera. This informative and interactive presentation will include excerpts from the Baroque era to Twentieth Century. Each musical excerpt will include definitions of terms and an introduction into music aesthetics and history. The audience will be engaged though open dialogue with the performers. The presentation is structured but not scripted allowing the presentation to flow with the age and knowledge level of the audience. Opera 101 is appropriate for grades 6-12. Cost $300 (Scholarships are available).

High School 

Romeo and Juliet: Literature and Dramatic Analysis

The multidisciplinary presentation will present Opera through core curriculum. The presentation is designed not to merely entertain but to engage freshman literature, music and drama classes separately or simultaneously. Our presentation will begin with a historical look into the plot and famous families, moving on to compare aspects of the original play to Gounod’s opera (Romeo et Juliette) to Bernstein’s Musical (West Side Story).

Several portions of the works will be presented although the majority will of the presentation will revolve around Act 1 Scene 5. We ask for two students from each hosting High School to prepare and present that scene from the original play. We will use that performance to compare to Gounod’s corresponding duet, performed by Opera Kansas emerging artists and the “dance off scene” from West Side Story. All these scenes represent the first meeting of the ill-fated lovers.

The program presents and discusses historical perspective, alterations to the original play, how the text was set to music, and how the music enhances the text. By request the Artistic Director will hold a workshop with the student who will perform. Cost $200 (Scholarships are available).

Senior Outreach

Dr. Miracle

For those schools who wish simply to have a fun expedition into the world of opera. This hilarious one-act opera about a young man’s quest to marry his true love. He must disguise himself as a dietician who makes a “poison” omelet, and as a doctor who saves his sweetheart’s father. This is all for the sake of true love. The performance is suitable for all ages. This production is an adaptation of a Charles Lerocq’s Dr. Miracle. Cost $300 (Scholarships are available).

Bite-sized opera

A kiss at the Door

The young attorney Robin and his wife Fanny have opened a law practice. As of yet they have no clients. Then luck strikes twice. They both get clients on the same day. A married couple, with unusual issues are looking to separate. Who should they take as a client, the one has paid the retainer or the other, who has not? The fun begins with the debate and ends happily with “A Kiss at the Door”

This quirky 15 minute opera is a great gateway into the world of opera. The production is suitable for the entire family, parties or luncheons. Cost $200.

About Us


In 1985 eighteen individuals met to form a group interested in promoting quality opera performance in Wichita and beyond. This group soon became Opera Kansas. These individuals were dedicated to bringing opera performances to the state and educating Kansans to this great art form, recognizing that with knowledge, follows appreciation. Opera Kansas was incorporated in December 1985 as a 501 (C)(3).

During the early years, the group sponsored out-of-town trips to enjoy live opera performances, offered opera appreciation classes and presented film festivals that included Aida, Turandot, and La Forza del Destino.

In 1989, Opera Kansas produced its first opera. It staged the one-act opera, An Evening with Amadeus, as an official River Festival event. The production was so well received that for the next ten years, one-act operas were presented annually at the River Festival.

Some of the operas presented were Arabian Nights at the Opera, Gianni Schicihi, The Old Maid and the Thief, The Telephone, Gallantry, The Jumping Frog of County, and The Marriage Contract.

Over the past three decades, the company has brought many national and international opera performers to Wichita audiences. Some of these artists include Joyce DiDinato, Samuel Ramey, Nicholas Saverine, Charlene Ayers, Brian Frutiger, Michael Nansel and a host of other high quality performers that reflect the organizations' mission.

Throughout its history, well-known leaders of Wichita have led Opera Kansas. Foremost was Burton Pell who served as president and producer for many years. Other community leaders have been Willard and Jean Garvey, Mary Koch, Dan and Shoko Severt, Harald Boschmann, Delmar Klocke, Al Buck, Van and Virginia Fiser, Dr. Walter Myers, Dr. George and Mary Jane Gibson, Dr. Jerold and Diane Leisy, and Sherri Pilgreen.

Opera Kansas Today

Today, Opera Kansas produces a series of modern and rarely performed operas throughout the state. Additionally, the opera company works with the K-12 school system to create music educational programs that fit with in the core history and literature curriculum. Opera Kansas is also committed to making opera accessible by taking performances into the community, singing in retirement homes, parks and public places in downtown Wichita.

In 2014 the company staged an opera, Comedy On The Bridge, outdoors in College Hill Park that was free and open to the public. They hosted an Oktoberfest Liederabend showcasing traditional German vocal art songs and are performing a number of short concerts as part of Wichita's Final Fridays.

Opera Kansas first staged the Christmas tale of Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1991 and has done so almost every year since. This is an opera about the three wise men who are searching for the Christ child, but change the life of a poor shepherd boy along the way. It has become an annual community favorite to kick off the holiday season. This year, the show performed to a nearly sold out crowd at Century II's Mary Jane Teall Theater with great reviews.

Opera Kansas is also committed to music education in schools across the state. Short opera programs on topics such as Opera 101 and Romeo and Juliette have been performed for K-12 students and in 2015 Opera Kansas will add a show Traveling the Underground Railroad with ten performances scheduled this February. Our artistic director works closely with teachers to develop programs that bring to life subjects that students study in the classroom.

2015 holds the launch of a new program bringing opera into retirement communities. With the goal of bringing the power of opera to audiences in a non-traditional venue, Opera Kansas is scheduled to perform a short opera, Dr. Miracle, at eight senior living facilities in January.

Opera Kansas will return to Wichita's Riverfest this summer with The Island of Tulipatan. The production will mark a return to the summer festival where thousands of Kansans will be able to enjoy a modern opera based on local Kansas history.

After thirty years, Opera Kansas is still committed to bringing the power of high quality opera to people living in a modern world. The opera company is grateful for support from patrons and audiences across Kansas.

Our values

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Professionalism
  • Progressive thinking
  • Ethical Practices
  • Our people are our ultimate asset

Our mission

The mission of Opera Kansas is to present engaging accessible productions and educational initiatives to enrich audiences by:

  1. Providing innovative works of one act and chamber operas at affordable prices.
  2. Providing a stage for new and rarely performed operas and vocal works.
  3. Providing a focused partnership that meets the state's K-12 school curriculum.
  4. Providing emerging professional singers the opportunity to cultivate their art through the practice of performance in a respectful professional environment.
  5. Maintaining a fiscally responsible opera company of artistic excellence.
  6. Providing intimate performances by taking opera into the community.

Current Board Members

Artistic Director




Vice President






Board of Directors







*Past Presidents


Please send a headshot and resume to Artistic Director Dr. Paul Brodene Smith.

All materials can be mailed to:

Dr. Paul Brodene Smith
P.O. Box 8811
Wichita KS 67208

If you have any questions, please contact us by e-mail at operakansas@gmail.com or by phone at
(316) 218-8795.

"This Opera Kansas initiative was supported in part by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commision, which receives support from from the National Endowment of the Arts."