POP is growing up with new ED, new HQ (and possibly more acronyms to come!)

With a new brick-and-mortar headquarters and multiple announcements sent out over the last couple of months, it’s clear that Pacific Opera Project is no longer a little “garage” opera company (if they ever were…).

The ultra-hip vibe and innovative productions have been buzz-building for many years now, and it’s exciting to see this organization grow in ways that seem likely to not only expand POP’s possibilities, but also (hopefully) build a sustainable future. This announcement of a new Executive Director is quite welcome for those us who have been watching SoCal arts over time. Their new chief, Katherine Powers, is not only an experienced and talented singer herself, but she has served in arts administration and education in a variety of environments, and will bring valuable experience to the role. We wish you all the best, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for POP!

The press release follows below.



Los Angeles, CA (March 29, 2023) — Arts leader Katherine Powers has been named Executive Director of Pacific Opera Project (POP), the award-winning LA-based opera company known for its innovative productions. Katherine joins POP after serving for seven years as founding Director of Vocal Arts at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley where she oversaw all conservatory operations including strategic planning, curriculum design, oversight of faculty and staff, event production, and fiscal management while forging community partnerships throughout LA. 

I’ve been performing with POP since its second season and have watched them grow from an irreverent start-up to a genuine culture-maker in Los Angeles,” Katherine said. “POP puts its mission into practice every season with its unique mix of ransacked classics, rediscovered gems, and provocative new works, in addition to its robust and expanding educational programs. I’m thrilled to play a larger role in POP’s next chapter and to support this company, which I love dearly, in its continued artistic growth and cultural impact.”

Katherine joins POP’s team working alongside co-founder and Artistic Director Josh Shaw. As Executive Director of POP, Katherine will oversee operations as POP moves to its new headquarters in Highland Park, The POPera Shop. The space will function as a multi-purpose facility housing office space, storage space, a rehearsal hall, audition space, and more. Plans are already in place for after school programming and summer kids camps, as well as small performances. POP aspires for the building to become a hub for the Los Angeles arts community, hosting rehearsals, recording sessions, and meetings for other organizations and ensembles.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have Katherine join the POP team,” Artistic Director Josh Shaw said. “She knows our brand, our culture, and our mission from the inside out and she’s one of the few people I know who can just get things done, whatever the circumstance. I look forward to working with her to take POP into our next chapter of growth, as we continue to be one of the most exciting and innovative companies in the country.” 

In addition to her role at Vocal Arts at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel, Katherine’s professional experience includes teaching voice at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Occidental College, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, California State University Los Angeles, and for the YoungArts Foundation. An operatic soprano, she has performed with several notable companies, including LA Opera, POP, and Union Avenue Opera.

About Katherine Powers

Katherine Powers, newly appointed Executive Director of Pacific Opera Project, most recently served as the founding Director of Vocal Arts at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley, a non-profit charter school for the arts dedicated to providing a creative, challenging and nurturing environment to a diverse student body passionate about the arts. In her capacity as Vocal Arts Director, Katherine was responsible for overseeing all conservatory operations, including strategic planning, curriculum design, oversight of faculty and staff, event production, and fiscal management. In her six years as director, she forged a number of community partnerships with premier musical organizations including LA Opera, The Music Center, LA Master Chorale, Muse/ique, Descanso Gardens, The Huntington Library, Seraphic Fire, Citrus Singers, UCLA Chamber Singers, and Pacific Opera Project. She also created an annual master artist series, engaging such notable artists as Angel Blue, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Eric Whitacre, Moira Smiley, and Grant Gershon.

In addition to her arts leadership, Katherine was a seven-year member of the Voice Faculty at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and has also taught voice at Occidental College, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, California State University Los Angeles, and for the YoungArts Foundation.

An operatic soprano, she made her LA Opera debut in 2015 in the Grammy Award-winning production of The Ghosts of Versailles. Notable roles include Frasquita in Carmen at the Ford Amphitheater with Pacific Opera Project, Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire with Union Avenue Opera, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Musetta in La Bohème, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (all with Pacific Opera Project), Alice in Falstaff, Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and the title role in The Merry Widow. Committed to opera outreach, she has been a teaching artist for Long Beach Opera and with LA Opera Connects since 2011, for whom she created and hosted the eight-part Shakespeare Sings web series.

She received her Associate’s Degree in Theater from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, her B.A. in Music from UCLA, and her M.M. in Vocal Performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

About Pacific Opera Project

Founded in 2011, Los Angeles’s Pacific Opera Project (POP) is dedicated to providing quality opera that is accessible, affordable, and entertaining in order to build a broader audience for the art form. LA Magazine writes “If you think you hate opera, you’ve probably never seen a Pacific Opera Project show.” POP’s regularly sold out performances take place in a wide variety of venues, from outdoors, to small clubs, big amphitheaters, and warehouses. LA Weeklynamed POP the “Best Opera Company in Los Angeles” in 2018, writing “making opera cool, affordable, accessible and enticing to young audiences is easier said than done. It’s also something every opera company in the country is trying desperately to do… [Pacific Opera Project] is not trying desperately to be hip. It just is.” In 2020, POP was awarded The American Prize in Opera Performance.

POP has presented more than 40 innovative new productions to date, including revolutionary drive-in productions of COVID fan tutte and the US staged premieres of two Gluck operas in November 2020, about which Opera Magazine wrote “Despite this plague year of postponements, POP has refused to bow to the pandemic or its restrictions…There is surely no opera company in this Covid-ravaged country with a better average for 2020.” Other critically acclaimed productions include Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio set as an episode of Star Trek; a “fan-tastic” (LA Daily News) Harajuku-themed Mikado; a Dick Tracy Don Giovanni; a Magic Flute inspired by 1990s video games, called “one of the freshest takes on Mozart’s 1791 classic I have come across” (Operawire); and many more. POP’s signature take on Puccini’s La bohème, “AKA The Hipsters,” set in modern day Los Angeles, has become a holiday tradition, returning year after year to sold-out audiences and called “riotous” (LA Weekly) and “an undeniably fun night at the theater that should not be missed” (Stage Raw). POP gave the world premiere of Brooke deRosa’s The Monkey’s Paw in 2017.

POP has been dedicated to reaching young audiences with performance and education since its inception, regularly performing for school-aged groups in family-friendly productions, including having a presence in 15 Title 1 schools. POP also partners with Bob Baker Marionette Theater, local YMCAs, and the Burbank Boys and Girls Club. During the COVID-19 pandemic, POP created interactive Education Packs appropriate for kindergarten to eighth grade students to accompany videos of POP’s productions of The Magic Flute and Madama Butterfly

In 2019, POP presented its most ambitious project to date: the first ever true-to-story bilingual Madama Butterfly performed in LA’s Little Tokyo. A co-production with Houston’s Opera in the Heights, the production featured a new libretto written by POP’s Founding Artistic Director Josh Shaw and Opera in the Heights Artistic Director Eiki Isomura, presenting Puccini’s story as if it actually happened and attempting to answer the question: “How would Butterfly and Pinkerton communicate?” All Japanese roles were sung in Japanese by Japanese-American artists and all American roles were sung in English. San Francisco Classical Voice described the production as “on a visual scale beyond anything it has taken on before – a sumptuously costumed, fully staged, bilingual co-production… Pacific Opera Project deserves a great deal of credit for making this concept into a reality… innovative, creative, and immensely successful.”

POP presented the 2018 West Coast premiere of Giacomo Rossini’s rarely performed 1816 opera, La gazzetta “The Newspaper.” The first performances in the US were given in Boston at the New England Conservatory in 2013, and POP’s production was only the second in North America. Opera Today raved about the premiere, writing “Director Josh Shaw has invested the proceedings with enough good comic ideas for at least three productions. Shaw has set the show in 1960’s Paris, with eye-popping set elements and brilliant uses of color which add to the manic feel… Mr. Shaw has fashioned a take-no-prisoners approach to the staging, which was rife with clever touches… Pacific Opera Project has evidently hit on a winning formula for a night out, serving up food, drink and an operatic discovery in equal measure.”

Learn more at www.pacificoperaproject.com.

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