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Our mission

Opera Fayetteville is a young, vibrant opera company located in the heart of Northwest Arkansas. This talented group of musical and theatrical professionals is dedicated to featuring up-and-coming singers in high-caliber productions of contemporary, English-language operas.


Their goal is three-fold: to provide performance opportunities to talented opera singers on the verge of professional careers, to emphasize the performance of contemporary operas in English, and to bring exquisite and moving performances to current an future opera lovers of Northwest Arkansas. 


Tamara Ryan


Opera Fayetteville General Director Tamara Ryan grew up in Fayetteville—attending Butterfield Elementary School, Woodland Junior High, and Fayetteville High School. She left home to follow her artistic and academic dreams, but never forgot (or stopped talking about!) her love of her hometown. In all her travels, she never encountered a place with quite the same magical qualities as Fayetteville and—in 2011—she had what felt like an impossibly crazy idea: to produce her favorite opera in her favorite town with her favorite people. Somehow, things came together and, in January of 2012, Opera Fayetteville was born with its inaugural production of Mark Adamo’s Little Women. She would never have guessed then that seven years of bringing fresh, contemporary opera to Northwest Arkansas were ahead of her, and she can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

Cris Frisco


Pianist and conductor, Cris Frisco is a collaborative musician equally at home in the worlds of both classical and popular music.  This season, he conducts Glory Denied at Opera Birmingham; music directs A Christmas Carol at the McCarter TheaterSweeney Todd at the Oregon Cabaret Theater, and a festival of short American Operas at Opera Fayetteville; and partners singers in recital across the country. Currently in development, he is the music director for Anatomiae Occultii’s modern dance production of Sweeney Todd. Cris also prepares singers for performances at the world’s major opera companies, Broadway productions, major regional theaters, and in international concert venues.  A committed educator for the next generation of performing artists, he has served on the faculty of the Westminster Choir College, Rutgers University, and The New School for Drama.  He is the founder and artistic director of The New Voice Project and Music Director of Opera Fayetteville. His television appearances include an annual Christmas special for QVC Television.  

Board of Directors

Micaela Baranello, President

Donald G. Catanzaro

Cris Frisco

Kate Kostopoulos, Vice-President

Tom Marsan-Ryan, Treasurer

Janet Parsch

Lucas Parsch, Secretary

Christine Ryan

Danielle Ryan

Tamara Ryan

Micaela Baranello


Micaela Baranello is an assistant professor of musicology at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Her writing on opera has appeared in The New York Times, Financial Times, Opera Quarterly, the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and various places on the internet. She holds a PhD from Princeton and her first book, The Operetta Empire, will be published in 2021 by the University of California Press.

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