Event Published: 17 Apr 2021

Backstage Brunch: Event Hub

A virtual salon and fundraiser in support of OPERA America’s Mentorship Program for Women Administrators

Saturday, April 17, 2021
Main Event: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET
Networking Hangouts: 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET (optional)

Try a favorite brunch recipe from the chairs and staff.

Who's Coming

For technical assistance, contact us at 646.699.5248 or Membership@operaamerica.org.


Backstage Brunch Recording

Event Program

Mitra Sadeghpour
(Protégé 2018)
Education Director, Minnesota Opera

Stacy C. Brightman (Mentor 2018)
Vice President, LA Opera Connects



Laura Lee Everett
Chief Programs Officer, OPERA America
Co-Chair, OA's Women's Opera Network

Greetings from the Regional Chairs
View list of regional chairs


Featured Interview

Karen Slack
Soprano and Advocate
Artistic Advisor, Portland Opera
Creator and Host, Kiki Konversations

Rebekah Diaz
(Protégé 2019)
Manager of Community Engagement and IDEA Initiatives, Pittsburgh Opera


Performance I

Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Composer

"Scene III: Solitary Confinement" from we the innumerable
View synopsis and excerpt text

Corrine Byrne, soprano
Golnar Shahyar, vocalist
Dmitry Glivinskiy, piano
Shadi Ghaheri, choreographer and dancer

Libretto by Lisa Flanagan
Created by Harris Doran and Shadi Ghaheri
Produced by Center for Contemporary Opera
Editing by Harris Doran
Cinematography by Lauren Buscemi

Developed with support from an OPERA America Opera Grants for Female Composers: Discovery Grant.


Keynote Presentation

Anne Midgette
Former Chief Classical Music Critic, The Washington Post


Performance II

Justine F. Chen, Composer

"Childless" from Seven Sisters
View synopsis and excerpt text

Nina Yoshida Nelsen, mezzo-soprano
Timothy Accurso, piano

Libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann
Dramaturgy by Cori Ellison

Developed with support from an OPERA America Opera Grants for Female Composers: Discovery Grant.


Networking Hangouts

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET (Optional)
You will be invited to choose from four breakout rooms with the featured guests to ask questions and converse with fellow attendees.

  1. Karen Slack
  2. Justine F. Chen, Niloufar Nourbakhsh
  3. Anne Midgette
  4. Stacy Brightman, Rebekah Diaz, Mitra Sadeghpour

Regional Event Chairs

  • Sue Bienkowski, Long Beach Chair
  • Astrid Baumgardner, Past Chair (New York City)
  • Michele Fabrizi, Pittsburgh Chair
  • Margee Filstrup, Tulsa Chair
  • Carol Henry, Los Angeles Chair
  • Laura Kaminsky, Past Chair (New York City)
  • Sue Marineau, Santa Fe Chair
  • Jeri Sedlar, Past Chair (Sarasota)
  • Jill Steinberg, Past Chair (New York City)
  • Rhonda Sweeney, Houston Chair
  • Shoshana Tancer, Phoenix Chair
  • Elisabeth Waltz, Austin Chair

About the Featured Guests

About the Featured Performances

About the Emcees & Interviewer

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors

Confidante - $5,000

Roma Wittcoff

Counselor - $1,000

Susan Bienkowski
Margee Filstrup
Sara S. Morgan
John Nesholm
Sarah Billinghurst Solomon
Jill Steinberg

Coach - $500

Nancy Barton
Lisa Bury
Carol Domina
Betty Eveillard
Joan Faber
Robert W. Garrett
Kathleen Kelly
Susan Marineau
Julia Noulin-Mérat
Susan Roberts
Shoshana Tancer
W. Elisabeth Juen Waltz

Companion - $250

Astrid Baumgardner
Eden Bishop
Anne-Marie Blancquaert-Bruyninckx
Renee Cavalovitch
Susan Esco Chandler
Karin Eames
Kim Eberlein
Michele Fabrizi
Nicole Freber
Catherine French
Jeanne Goffi-Fynn
Julie Grady Heard
Carol Henry
Corey Kinger
Karen Kubin
Sally Kurnick
David Lind
Lynn Loacker
Andrea Miller
Lee Anne Myslewski
Gloria Portela
Roberta Ramo
Marc A. Scorca
Jeri Sedlar
Rhonda Sweeney
Carole Yaley

Empowering Women in Opera

OPERA America’s Mentorship Program for Women Administrators promotes the advancement of women into leadership positions across the field. Established in 2018 with support from the inaugural Backstage Brunch, the program responded to an unfortunate reality: Women are underrepresented in opera’s top positions, especially in larger companies.

The Mentorship Program pairs the field’s most promising women professionals with accomplished opera leaders who can support these protégés in achieving their career goals. Overseen by the Women’s Opera Network, an action group of opera stakeholders dedicated to advancing gender parity, each protégé-mentor pair works together over twelve months, with an orientation meeting at the mentor’s home company and coaching throughout the year. Mentors guide protégés in identifying and overcoming barriers to their achievement.

The 2021 Backstage Brunch will support the next cohort of protégé-mentor pairs, while highlighting stories of female empowerment and advocacy by leading women in opera.


Favorite Brunch Recipes