Greg Weber Anticipates Future of Tulsa Opera

Managing Editor

GRAND PLANS: Greg Weber, who returned to Tulsa Opera in March in a new role as general director and CEO, stands in the library at Tulsa Opera’s offices at 1610 S. Boulder Ave.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

As the Tulsa Opera prepares to begin its 69th season, it welcomes back Greg Weber as general director and .

Weber was originally hired as Tulsa Opera’s managing director in October 2014; however, he left in June 2015, only to return March 1.

“My heart never left Tulsa,” he says, “but there were situations that had to be worked through.”

With his return to Tulsa Opera, Weber has brought his exuberant attitude and energy with his goal to return Tulsa Opera to the sought-after reputation it held only a few decades ago.

Weber holds 30 years of experience working with theater and opera companies throughout the world, including as San Francisco Opera’s director of production, managing director for Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York, and production and technical director at the Houston Grand Opera.

Yet, he makes clear his high respect for Tulsa Opera and its heritage.

“I have been fortunate to work for some big opera companies,” says Weber.
“However, even with these big companies, we would come to see Tulsa Opera, because some of the greatest voices have come out of Tulsa, such as Mark Delavan, Stephanie Blythe and Joyce DiDonato.

“Tulsa Opera featured these big names early in their careers. I want us to be known again as finding the greatest talent.”

As soon as Weber returned to Tulsa Opera, he set about creating the 2016-17 season of performances, the names of the operas, though, at the time of this interview, he could not yet share.

“But what I can say is with the types of performers that we are getting, we are so excited,” Weber says.

He also lets drop the season opener: “A French opera with a visual feast and a fashion excitement that hasn’t yet been seen in Tulsa,” he says. “I want Tulsa to see this kind of artistry and feel this type of show.”

The season will close with a grand Italian opera “with dynamic voices and scenery; you’ll feel as if you have walked into the San Francisco or Chicago Opera.”

In early April, Tulsa Opera held a casting call in New York City to seek out new voices; Weber was pleased with the results.

“There was a real buzz that Tulsa Opera is back and special, that we’re a national presence again,” he says. “In just six weeks, we’ve taken a huge step.”

Weber’s goal in the upcoming season is to focus on audience demand based on responses from a survey of Tulsa Opera season ticket holders that was recently conducted. The survey asked them to name their five top favorite operas.

“I asked that question because I wanted to understand the repertoire that Tulsans were familiar with,” says Weber.

What he discovered was something that he already knew but was pleased to confirm.

“We received 128 different opera suggestions,” he says. “Tulsa is a smart, artistic audience, and I think Tulsans know much more about opera than people tend to think they do.”

The survey also confirmed Weber’s knowledge of what Tulsans prize most in their operas: vocal quality.

“Tulsa audiences respond when a performer nails an aria,” Weber says. “This town knows good music, and it values strong voices.”

Updated 04-25-2016

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