Reed W. Smith, General Director of Anchorage Opera since 2014, has taken the company from insolvency to one that is debt free and an organization highly valued by the community, producing the AK premieres of 5 contemporary operas. Key to the turnaround was re-envisioning AO by focusing on the needs of the community. In 2015-16, a new model was launched of 3 mainstage productions with 1 serving a particular demographic or societal issue, designed to reach underserved communities and demonstrate the diversity of artists and the artform. The USA premiere of Missing by Marie Clements & Brian Current, which gives voice to the current epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, was postponed due to the pandemic, and will be rescheduled. The resurrection of an educational program was also a high priority, as opportunities to experience the arts are limited for AK students. In 2015, AO2Go toured rural Alaska with Aklaq & Nayak – Alaska Native Adaptation of Hansel & Gretel. Reed was part of the first OPERA America Civic Action Group in 2018 and in Feb ’20 was asked to be in a study from SMU DataArts/The Wallace Foundation of 20 high-performing arts organizations. AO was 1 of only 2 opera companies selected. “Interviews with leaders…suggest that the key to success lies in high-quality art that resonates with an organization’s community.” Previous to his engagement with AO, Reed served as CEO & GD of Tri-Cities Opera for over 13 years. He is the recipient of a Heart of the Arts award from the Broome County Arts Council and a Distinguished Service award from OPERA America. Reed is active with Anchorage East Rotary, is a Past President of the Binghamton Rotary and a Paul Harris Fellow.
Reed began his career in opera as a tenor. He has performed leading roles in; La Bohème, Cavalleria Rusticana, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Samson and Delilah, The Magic Flute, Il Tabarro, La Traviata, Carmen, Norma, The Merry Widow and Die Fledermaus. Organizations Mr. Smith appeared with include, Ithaca Opera, Mississippi Opera, Queens Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Virginia Opera, Washington Summer Opera, The Greenwich Village Orchestra, The Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra and The Rochester Philharmonic. As a young singer he received grants from the Puccini and the Shoshana Foundations. In 2000, Reed returned after seven years in Germany to assume the position of General Director of Tri-Cities Opera where he was formerly a member of the Resident Artist Training Program. Reed, his wife Judy, and their Bernese Mountain Dog, Elsa relocated to Anchorage in September 2014 to begin their positions with Anchorage Opera. They are all thrilled to be a part of this company and the vibrant arts community of Anchorage.
To contact Reed CLICK HERE
Kaylee Wagle, Director of Operations, originally of Oklahoma, is the daughter of a Music Therapist turned Music Teacher and was therefore forced into music lessons as soon as she could sit at a piano. She began as an instrumentalist and plays piano (badly), flute, piccolo, and alto saxophone. It was said, however, that she started singing before she could speak and to this day her least favorite thing in the world is being told to sing quieter. Luckily, she’s not half bad and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Oklahoma in 2011. She has performed numerous roles in both Musical Theater and Opera such as Maria in West Side Story, Laurie in Oklahoma, Sandy in Grease, Mrs. Grose in Britten’s Turn of the Screw, and Annio in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito. She has also appeared in other works with OU Opera Theater such as Delibes Lakmé and Orff’s Carmina Burana and was the soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G both with the University and at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. After moving to Alaska in 2014, she began performing with Anchorage Opera Company in choruses such as The Magic Flute and Carmen and was a soloist in The Messiah in 2015 but spends most of her time behind the scenes for AO as the Director of Operations. Without coercion, her friends have reviewed her as being “as kickass and brilliant off stage as [she is] on it.” Her favorite song to sing is Landslide by Stevie Nicks, but only when her dad accompanies her on guitar (he lets her sing as loud as she wants).
To contact Kaylee CLICK HERE
Judy Berry, Marketing & Development Director comes to Anchorage Opera from Binghamton, NY where she last served as Marketing & Development Director at Tri-Cities Opera. Integral to all community outreach & fundraising projects, she also held the positions of TCO’s Assistant Main Stage Director & Stage Director for their touring education program, Opera-Go-Round. As an educator, Ms. Berry was on the music faculty of Binghamton University (German Lyric Diction & Studio Voice) & maintained an active Private Voice Studio. As a guest artist she has performed Masterclasses & workshops in the US & Europe. Her long association with TCO began as a singer in their Resident Artist Training Program from which she launched an international career, gracing the stages of Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Edinburgh Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Los Angeles Music Center, Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Baltimore Opera, Knoxville Opera, Mississippi Opera, Virginia Opera Association, L’Opera Francais, Pittsburgh Opera Theater, Ithaca Opera Association, Berkshire Opera, Festival of Perth in Australia, Teatro de la Opera in Puerto Rico, Edmonton Opera in Canada, in the opera houses of Wuppertal, Mannheim, Leipzig, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Nürnberg, Wiesbaden, Bremen, Münster, Regensburg, Osnabrück, Mainz, Coburg, Kiel, Flensburg, Jena, Eutin, & in concert at NYC’s Lincoln Center & Carnegie Hall. She garnered top honors in major vocal competitions including Enrico Caruso Voice Competition USA, Baltimore Opera Competition, Liederkranz Foundation, New York Grand Opera, Queens Opera, New Jersey State Opera, & Loren L. Zachary Society for the Performing Arts. Ms. Berry holds a BA from Swarthmore College & a MM in Opera from Binghamton University. She has recorded on the WSW & Orfeo labels. She was awarded a 2014 Heart of the Arts Award from the Broome County Arts Council and is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation in honor of her artistic accomplishments.
To contact Judy CLICK HERE
Helen Irene Muller – Office Manager
To contact Helen CLICK HERE
Anchorage Opera acknowledges that we gather and are performing on the traditional lands of the Dena’ina Athabascans. For thousands of years the Dena’ina have been and continue to be the stewards of this land. It is with gratefulness and respect that we recognize the contributions, innovations, and contemporary perspectives of the upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina.