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A New Generation of Opera

Opera180 creates intimate performances that embraces local talent and connects new and established audiences with the opera art form by advancing and reinventing new and old repertoire.

Many newcomers to opera are turned off by the length of the performances. Productions that last anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours total are a difficult time investment for people today. Opera180 performances are typically 60 to 90 minutes in length and are usually performed in casual, relaxed and interesting locations – often matching the theme of the production.

For performers, a big part of our mission is to utilize the wealth of talent available right here in the Kansas City region. This focus not only allows us to embrace local talent, but also provides an exciting outlet for these local performers to display their craft while enriching the culture of our city. For many aspiring opera performers, there is essentially no farm system to the big leagues. Our mission is to help bridge that gap.

Opera180 is reinventing opera and making it fun and accessible to a new generation of enthusiasts and performers.


The Opera180 Team


Nate Wheatley


Nate Wheatley is a Lighting Designer based in Kansas City, MO. Nate is the former Resident Assistant Lighting Designer for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He received his BA in Theatre Design from Indiana University SE and has designed lighting for Camp Ballibay for the Fine and Performing Arts, Annex Dance Company, Encore Repertory Company, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Des Moines Metro Opera, Pawtucket Players, the University of Kansas Opera, Baylor Opera, Louisiana State University Opera, Florida State University Theatre, Opera Steamboat, and Sugar Creek Symphony and Song.


Dr. Elizabeth Birger


Elizabeth Birger is a soprano based out of Kansas City. She has earned performance and education degrees in both violin and voice from Wichita State University, and an education degree from The Florida State University. Elizabeth earned her doctorate in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy from the University of Mississippi. As an active performer, Elizabeth has performed both regionally and internationally in operas, recitals, oratorios, and Broadway reviews. Elizabeth began her international performance career by taking recital concert tours through Italy and South Africa. She returns as often as she can. Along with her full performance schedule, Dr. Birger maintains a full teaching schedule at several higher-level institutions in Kansas City, while freelance directing, coaching, and maintaining a private voice studio. She has been seen around the KC area performing with Lawrence Opera Theater, Musical Theater Heritage, and Sacred Arts Chorale. Elizabeth is a founding member of Trio Forte, an operatic trio, also based out of Kansas City, regularly seen performing around the KC area, and annually at WaterFire KC.  Elizabeth is also a member of KC VITAs, a contemporary-classical ensemble committed to performing works of living composers. She is sought out regularly as a clinician, adjudicator and guest artist. 


Sadie DeSantis


Ms. DeSantis currently serves as the Production Manager and Head of the Stage Management program at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. She works as a freelance stage manager and has production experience in concerts, ballet, opera, musical theatre, outdoor production, and corporate galas. After attending the University of Pittsburgh–Johnstown where she obtained a BA in Theatre Arts and a minor in English Literature, she earned her MFA in Theatre Design and Technology (Stage Management) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has worked for numerous companies including Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Prism Theatrics, Starlight Theatre, Mountain Playhouse, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, New Theatre Restaurant, and Des Moines Metro Opera.


Michelle LaPointe


Michelle discovered opera in San Francisco at the age of 20. That year was the year of stating her independence with a move to San Francisco and her first "real" job. Opera was mesmerizing and she loved the way it "washed" over her!  Luckily the corporation for which she worked had season tickets to the San Francisco Opera and she took advantage as much as she could - her salary would never afforded her the opportunity to attend any performing arts events. Many years later she found myself working for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and as she was recently reminded, her passion at the Lyric was always to create new ways to engage young adults in this experiential art form. When Opera180° presented itself she jumped at the chance to be a part of this exciting new company.


Kim Weinberger


Kim Weinberger is the founder of Weinberger Fine Art and as a gallerist, represents emerging and museum-quality artists locally and nationwide.  She brings over twenty years of art collecting experience, and prides herself in being that critical link between artists and patrons. Her role as an art advisor is to bridge the growing need of finding fine art that works for both private and corporate clients who seek to expand or begin their collections with emerging and nationally acclaimed artists.   With Kim Weinberger's vast experience in the art world serving as a consultant for both artists and art lovers, she is able to create and encourage unique, inclusive relationships for every person who steps into the gallery.


Ben Gulley


The American tenor, Ben Gulley, has been hailed "as an outstanding tenor" (Opera News) and for being "startlingly-gifted" (San Francisco Classical Voice)." Mr. Gulley's career includes leading and feature roles in opera, solo engagements, classical and cross over concert work, film work, and musical theater engagements. The 2009 winner of the Metropolitan Opera's National Council District & Regional Competitions and a National Semi-Finalist, recent engagements for Mr. Gulley include Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Opera Idaho, Radames in Aida with Opera San Luis Obispo, Edmondo in Manon Lescaut with Chautauqua Opera and Borsa in Rigoletto with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He recently completed a 70 city national recital tour presented by Allied Concert Services, and saw the commercial release of his debut solo album of original music, In Between, and starred in MTH’s “An Evening with Cole Porter” and “Bernstein’s Broadway.” Additional concert engagements include Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Bruckner's Te Deum, Verdi's Requiem, Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad, and Britten's Serenade, as well as performances with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, The St. Joseph Symphony, and the Orlando MAYS.