As long-time Educational Programs Director Roma Olvera prepares to move on to other opportunities, we asked her about some favorite OP moments:

How did you come to be a part of the OP team?

I originally joined the Advisory Council to advise on education. When our first administrative assistant left for New York, the job became available and evolved into a wonderful opportunity to grow our outreach programs and make connections for many communities to contemporary opera. I so enjoy discussing our repertoire choices and production elements to all who will listen.

Roma Olvera Opera Parallele Educational Programs Director Academy of Sciences

Roma with students at Academy of Sciences

Tell us about your new position; it sounds right up your alley!
I will be the Music Director at the Woodland School in Portola Valley. I will be creating and implementing integrative arts curriculum for preschool through middle school students. Teaching is a great joy for me and I can’t wait to use all of my work in the community with Opera Parallèle to create new aficionados of contemporary opera.

Which opera character best describes you?
I studied with Brian and Nico
le and Patrice Maginnis at UC Santa Cruz a few decades ago. There I learned what it meant to invest myself in great storytelling. Now I feel like each operatic saga OP has chosen to mount has become a part of me in the form of a tiny evolution. I know about the Spanish Civil War, the ivory trade, and boxing; also lighthouse maintenance, human trafficking, and air traffic control! Opera can be silly and dramatic but done right, it’s deeply felt and vital. One of the greatest gifts OP has given me is the chance to help create and write librettos for our children’s operas. Maria, Grace, Xochitl, and Harriet came from great original stories that needed to be told OP-style. Each time I think about the experience of bringing characters to life I remember the journey and the transformation. I am OP and OP is me. That sentiment feels universal after this spectacular tenure.

What’s your favorite OP onstage moment?

It is too difficult to choose a favorite onstage moment but hearing Anya remember her name at the end of Anya17 will still make me cry when I retell the moment. Karen Slack alone with Marcus Shelby in Champion was transformative, and that mating dance from the chorus in Les mamelles des Tirésias will always make me smile. Now that I’ve thought of those, I want to add so many more. What a thrill to see our shows.

What’s your favorite OP offstage moment?

To be completely honest, there are not many jobs where drinking champagne with your co-workers is a very regular occurrence. This job was challenging, creative, amusing, and made up of incredibly true and meaningful friendships. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it all.