New Orleans Opera Video Series News

Hello opera fans.

Let’s get to know each other a little better!

Last month we announced that Clare Burovac joined New Orleans Opera as the General Director – Designate. Now, we’d like to take this opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better.

Enjoy the video above while you learn about Clare. Then help us get to know you by participating in a new survey. It’s not a long survey – it should only take you about 3 – 5 minutes to complete. But take your time if you have more than 5 minutes worth to say! We want to hear it all.


Kenya Lawrence Jackson

Kenya Lawrence Jackson currently serves as the Director of Music and Worship at St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Mandeville, LA where her duties include coordinating a large and diverse music program. She conducts the much anticipated, Christmas on the Northshore concerts, showcasing the talents of the 100-voice St. Timothy Choir and the Northshore Orchestra, an ensemble of over 40 local musicians. Additionally, she created, produces and directs the annual Of Thee I Sing patriotic celebration each Memorial Day weekend.  

Kenya is also the newly appointed Director of the Northlake Performing Arts Society, an auditioned community choir whose purpose is to enhance and enrich the cultural life on the Northshore by using choral music as a catalyst to embrace and promote other art forms. 

Kenya also enjoys performing and is currently the Principal Soprano with New Orleans based opera company Opera Créole. She was last seen as Mother Juliette Gaudin in the award-winning original production of Les Lions de le Reconstruction. She also sang the title role in the award-nominated production of Treemonisha and also helped make Opera Créole history in the title role of Flamenca in the award-winning La Flamenca

Kenya has also produced many children’s theater productions, including Seussical the Musical, Alice in Wonderland, and Godspell Jr, in addition to several original productions. 

A native of Hammond, LA., Ms. Jackson, holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Southeastern Louisiana University, where she was recognized with the James Wilcox Award for Outstanding senior.  She currently studies with LSU Professor, Dr. Lorraine Sims.


Valerie Anne Jones Francis

Valerie Anne Jones Francis is a native of New Orleans and a proud product of the New Orleans Public School System. She is a 1979 graduate of McDonogh #35 where she studied under the capable tutelage of Mrs. Patricia Sallier Seals. She holds the B.A., M.M., and D.M.A. in Vocal Music Education/Performance from Dillard University, (Dr. S. Carver Davenport), the University of New Orleans, (Dr. Raquel Cortina) and the University of Oklahoma, (the late Dr. Thomas Devore Carey), respectively. She also attended American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She was one of the first recipients of the Carol Brice Carey Scholarship. 

In 1994, she represented the Gulf Coast Region for the National Council Auditions at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York. Roles to her credit include, Aida, Bess, Serena, Magda, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Musetta, Madame Euterpova, Madama Butterfly, Micaela, Carmen and Marschillin with the University of New Orleans Opera Theater, Cimarron Circuit Opera Company, Shreveport Opera and New York Opera Studio. She made her debut with New Orleans Opera as the Strawberry Woman and Soprano I Prayer Soloist, in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in October 2010 and returned as Inez in Il Trovatore in April 2011.  In 2013, she sang the role of Leonie in a premiere concert performance of a newly commissioned opera, entitled, Freedom Ride, by Dan Shore. She has also appeared as guest soloist with the Dallas Symphony, American Institute of Musical Studies, the Louisiana Philharmonic and Jefferson Performing Arts Society Orchestras. With Opera Creole she performed the roles of Piquita (Flamenca) by Charles Lucien Lambert, Treemonisha (Treemonisha) by Scott Joplin and Trolla (Thelma), by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Dr. Francis continues to present concerts with Dr. Wilfred Delphin, some of which have included Benefit Concerts for AIDS Relief in Zambia in Carbondale, Illinois and Sundays at Three Afternoon Recitals Series, in Memory of Alpha Brawner Floyd at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library in Memphis, Tennessee, Trinity Artist Series, MOJA, and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals. 

Dr. Francis has also represented the United States as one of three judges for the X, XVI, and XVII Concurso Internacional Canto Lirico, an international vocal competition in Trujillo, Peru, where she presented master classes and recitals and served as Presidente de los Jueces in 2012 and 2015. One very proud moment during her time in Trujillo last year was that her 17-year-old daughter, Imani Sarai Francis, shared the stage in concert for an international audience. Her international travels in 2015 also included San Jose and Terrialbo, Costa Rica.

Dr. Francis and Dr. Delphin have also presented and premiered original and arranged vocal works by local artists/composers of New Orleans to include the works of Roger Dickerson, Ellis Marsalis and Moses Hogan. 

As musical director of “Voices of Purpose”, she premiered “Water Too High Bones too Low” by Hannibal Lokumbe. In 2013, Dr. Francis performed Camille Nickerson’s Creole lullaby, entitled Fais Do Do, orchestrated by Hale Smith with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; she was honored to serve as guest soloist for the swearing in ceremony of Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, the Lawyers for Civil Rights Under the Law, 50th Anniversary of Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award Dinner, in 2013 and the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL, 2015. She has also shared her talent as guest soloist for Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Marian Wright Edelman, Jessie Jackson, “Daddy” King, Dick Gregory, and other notable historic figures.

Dr. Francis also sings annually as guest soloist for the National Baptist Convention of America and various church denominations throughout our city and nation. She has presented concerts with New Orleans greats to include E. Dwight Franklin, Rev. Thomas Brown, Timothy Ray, Warren Williams, the late Moses G. Hogan, Albinas Prizgintas and others. Dr. Francis is also a member of One-A-Chord Gospel Ensemble under the direction of Mrs. Betty Winn.

Dr. Francis also serves as Executive Artistic Director of “The Patriotic Project Statewide Youth Chorus”, an interactive, music empowerment program providing youth an opportunity to be exposed to several forms of creative arts. This program also allows children from various backgrounds to come together, transcending race, economic, and cultural differences to form a diverse group of singers and performers who have volunteered their voices and hearts to show the strength and beauty of unity in a patriotic project to remind America that we are ALL Americans!

Dr. Francis currently serves as Assistant Professor of Vocal Music Education at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA, Executive Artistic Director of Opera Programs, Founder and Executive Artistic Director for the Celebration of the Negro Spiritual Concert Series and Nicholls State University Gospel Choir. She currently serves as Minister of Music at her home church, Free Mission Baptist Church, where her father, Reverend Johnny Jones, Jr. serves as pastor.

Dr. Francis continues to perform locally, nationally and internationally.

Her favorite bible verse is: I CAN Do all things through Jesus Christ that strengthens me. Philippians 4:13


Her Life goal is to live so that the Lord can use me!


Frank Convit

Frank Convit described as singing with the “poignant power of a seasoned soloist” (Richard Balthazar Blog), has been captivating audiences with his rich timbre and ringing high notes. In March of 2020, Frank made his Midwest debut with Heartland Opera Theatre as Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Earlier that year, Frank also made his New Orleans Opera debut as Loreé a wounded soldier in Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans). He regularly performs in the New Orleans Opera touring show Little Red Riding Hood as the Big Bad Wolf. In 2019, Frank performed as Pandolfe in the Loyola Opera Theater production of Massenet’s Cendrillon. Before that, Frank performed as Raphael/Adam in Haydn’s Creation with Tulane Choir and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the baritone soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Cornish-American Song Institute and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with the Consortium Novum Orchestra. In 2018, Frank performed as Pablo Picasso in Tom Cipullo’s Afterlife with the Loyola Opera Theater for the National Opera Association Convention in January, and the Jailor and Marquis de la Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites with Loyola Opera Theater in March. In 2017, Frank performed as the baritone soloist for Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte in Toronto, CA with the Toronto Summer Opera. Prior to his performance in Canada, he performed as the baritone soloist in The Letter Quintet from Sweeney Todd with New Orleans Opera.

Frank earned his Master of Music Performance Degree from Loyola where he studied voice with mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee in 2019. Frank earned his Bachelor’s Degree of Music from Loyola University New Orleans in 2015. In 2016, he performed as Sid from Albert Herring and Morales from Carmen with Spotlight on Opera in Texas. Frank performed in multiple recitals with the Cornish-American Song Institute in 2015 and 2018 at St. Anne’s College at the University of Oxford and the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society. Frank is an active member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus under the expertise of Carol Rausch. He is a regular at Opera On Tap and can also be heard as section leader and soloist at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church.


Opera Season Postponed

To our New Orleans Opera family,  

As eager as we are to see you again and enjoy live opera together, we must proceed with everyone’s well-being and safety as the topmost priority. The current climb in COVID-19 cases across the state has caused us to re-evaluate our aspiration of opening our season in the fall. We have made the difficult decision to postpone the 2020-2021 season’s start until January 2021 – a three-month delay. 

The opera’s promoted repertory for next season is still the same, although the dates have changed to accommodate a slightly compressed schedule.

Here are the new performance dates:

Beethoven’s FIDELIO – Friday, January 15 and Saturday, January 16, 2021

Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE – Friday, March 19 and Sunday, March 21, 2021

Gershwin’s PORGY & BESS – Friday, April 30, 2021 and Sunday, May 2, 2021

Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY – Friday, May 21 and Sunday, May 23, 2021  

Please know if you have already purchased a season subscription, your tickets will transfer.

If you have a conflict with the new dates, please call the Box Office at (504) 529-3000 or email We have also extended our Early-Bird pricing through November 1, 2020.

Our intention at this time is to mount each production at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts (previously FIDELIO was to be performed at the Orpheum Theater). This is, of course, contingent upon any further decisions by the Mayor and the Governor and we are constantly monitoring this situation.   

On behalf of our Board and staff, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through this challenging time together. We will continue to update you with any new changes as they occur.

Very best wishes,

Robert Lyall, General and Artistic Director

Clare Burovac, General Director – Designate

Education News

Donald W. Wood, Sr. Vocal Competition is going VIRTUAL


All submissions will be judged with winners announced on Saturday, October 24, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Presented by the New Orleans Opera Association in collaboration with Loyola University New Orleans, Tulane University and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

How to participate in the Virtual 2020 Wood Competition:

  • Download and read the Guidelines and Application instructions below.
  • The Application is a fillable PDF and once you download and complete it, click the Submit button at the bottom of the form.
  • If you are unable to complete the submission process, contact the Wood Competition Director Debby Wood at (504) 931-3608 or email
  • Please note, the deadline to participate is midnight, September 8, 2020.



Click here to download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

About the Competition

The Wood Competition is in its sixth year as a significant young artist entry vehicle into the professional realm of singing.  Past participants have enjoyed regional, national and international celebrity as young artist professionals. The competition is a collaborative effort between the New Orleans Opera Association, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Tulane University, and Loyola University New Orleans.

All local and regional voice teachers are invited to enter their students for this contest, and the deadline for 2020 is midnight September 8, 2020. Two first-place winners (male and female) will be awarded $1,000 each; two second-place winners (male and female) will receive $500 each. Please download the guidelines and competition application above to share with others.

Created by New Orleans Opera board member, Debby Hirsch Wood in honor of her late husband Donald W. Wood Sr., the Wood family has granted funding for the competition to continue in perpetuity in his name. Donald Wood Sr. loved opera and was supportive of NOOA’s educational endeavors.

The 2020 Judges

Frank Convit

Frank Convit, described as singing with the “poignant power of a seasoned soloist” (Richard Balthazar Blog), has been captivating audiences with his rich timbre and ringing high notes.

Valerie Anne Jones Francis

Valerie Anne Jones Francis is a native of New Orleans and a proud product of the New Orleans Public School System. She is a 1979 graduate of McDonogh #35 where she studied under the capable tutelage of Mrs. Patricia Sallier Seals.

Kenya Lawrence Jackson

Kenya Lawrence Jackson currently serves as the Director of Music and Worship at St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Mandeville, LA where her duties include coordinating a large and diverse music program.

Previous Winners

View the list of the competition winners by year here.

Do you have questions?

Contact Debby Wood, Wood Competition Director (504) 931-3608 or
Dr. William Mouat, Education Director (504) 267-9535 at email:


Clare Burovac named General Director-Designate

Dwayne Littauer, President of New Orleans Opera, today announced the appointment of Clare Burovac as the Company’s next General Director, effective September 15, 2020. Ms. Burovac will serve as General Director-Designate immediately. She succeeds Robert Lyall, who will step down as General Director of New Orleans Opera in September and will serve as Artistic Director for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

Clare Burovac comes to New Orleans from Portland, Oregon, where for the past eleven years she served as Director of Artistic Operations for Portland Opera. Professionally trained as a violinist, she began her career in opera as a stage manager and was awarded a prestigious fellowship in opera production by OPERA America, the national association for opera. She served on the production team at the Seattle Opera and moved into the position of Production Stage Manager there before joining the Portland Opera.

In announcing the appointment, Mr. Littauer said, “We are delighted to welcome Clare Burovac to New Orleans Opera. A proven leader and advocate for opera, Clare combines broad experience in producing opera with a passion for developing young artists and connecting audiences with opera. She will be a major asset to our Company and the New Orleans community.”

Clare Burovac said, “I am thrilled to be invited to be the next General Director of New Orleans Opera. The rich history of this Company is really the history of opera in America for three centuries. The opportunity to honor and advance this great tradition is both exhilarating and awe-inspiring.”

Mr. Littauer praised Maestro Lyall for his 23 years of service leading the New Orleans Opera through some of its most difficult times and for consistently presenting outstanding productions to the community. He also thanked Dr. Ranney Mize, Chair of the Transition Committee that undertook a national search for the Company’s next leader. Dr. Mize expressed his gratitude to the 11-member committee for their work over the past six months. “The Transition Committee set out to find the best possible leader to continue the long and rich tradition of opera in New Orleans while expanding our commitment to the community. Clare Burovac brings these skills to our Company and our city. We are delighted to welcome her.”

During her tenure at Portland Opera, Ms. Burovac oversaw all artistic planning and education and community engagement programs, including the Company’s new ‘Opera a la Cart’ initiative, which brought free outdoor performances to all corners of the Portland metro area. Under her leadership, the Company produced two world-premiere recordings, expanded access to opera in the schools, and produced the Company’s first bilingual opera, a Spanish/English production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for Portland Opera To Go, which traveled throughout Oregon and neighboring states. As the director of the Portland Opera Resident Artist Program, Ms. Burovac developed the program into one of the most competitive in the United States.

A frequent judge of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Clare Burovac is a member of the steering committee of the Women’s Opera Network for OPERA America and served as a mentor for the inaugural year of its Mentorship Program.

When she takes the helm as General Director, Clare Burovac will fill a position that was held by Robert Lyall for the past 23 years. Maestro Lyall said, “I am very happy to welcome Clare Burovac as the next General Director of New Orleans Opera. I know the community will support her work enthusiastically and generously as they did for me, and I wish her great success.”

Marc Scorca, President and CEO of Opera America, was also enthusiastic, saying “When Clare Burovac was selected to participate in OPERA America’s Fellowship Program early in her career, we knew she would progress to a top position in the field. We are delighted to learn of her appointment as New Orleans Opera’s next general director and know the company will be well-served by her deep knowledge of opera, production expertise, and national stature.”

Ms. Burovac will immediately be named General Director-designate. Her tenure as the first woman to be General Director in New Orleans Opera history begins in mid-September when she and her husband, stage director Christopher Mattaliano, make New Orleans their new home.


Brava Taylor! Bravi Community Works kiddos!

Through COVID we are still teaching opera summer camp at the Community Works virtual program, and check out our other ongoing activities, including Balcony Ballads!

Pictured above is Taylor Ott, our remarkable teaching artist and valued NOOA education associate since early 2019. The gallery below features a couple of snap shots of the online camp.

Thank you Community Works!


The Results are in!

Audience Survey results delivered.

JULY 7, 2020

The New Orleans Opera and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned a survey last month from Market Dynamic Research Group. The primary objective of the research was to measure consumers’ comfort levels attending cultural events as well as their preferences for nontraditional events.

The general public and local arts organizations were invited to participate through announcements on WWNO, email blasts and social media. The respondents were classified as Opera Members, LPO Members and General Public.

Below is a sample finding, click the link above to see the entire report.

Thank you to everyone that participated and to MDRG and WWNO!

Audience Survey

June 10, 2020

The New Orleans Opera and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra are working with Market Dynamic Research Group (MDRG, Inc.) to gain insights into how you, and all supporters of the arts in New Orleans, are feeling about attending live performances.

Our missions are currently achieved through public events and we will be following all of the guidelines and restrictions put forth by our local government. Your participation will help us move forward with any alternative planning necessary to met these guidelines and restrictions.

If you are on our email lists, you should have received (or will soon!) an invitation to participate. Please take this opportunity to be a guiding voice.

The email invitation is from Haley Kiernan at MDRG, Inc. OR you can click the button below to participate right now.

The survey closes on June 22, 2020 and once the analysis is completed the findings will be shared publicly for all arts organizations and others to use as needed. If you think others in your circle would like to participate, please share the link. Thank you!


New Orleans Opera Face Masks

We love our new face masks and can’t wait to see you wearing them around town!

They are currently available in Large, Extra Large and Child sizes for $15.00 each.

There are limited quantities of each design so if your favorite one is out of stock, let us know which one you like best and we’ll order more!

Our face masks are NOT medical grade masks (which are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an infection preventative measure, i.e. grade FFP2/N95). So please DO NOT purchase this face masks with the false understanding they will prevent infection from Coronavirus. They are more about protecting others to reduce spread. Due to the personal hygiene nature of the product, your custom face masks are non-returnable. Thank you for supporting NOOA and for sharing your love of opera!