Arts and Culture / Magazine Feature

Opera Web site plays to younger crowd

DU students who love opera

From left to right, Melissa Wimbish, DU grad student Erica Papillion-Posey and Christie Connolley are the founders of

In cartoons, movies and TV shows, opera is often portrayed as the ultimate in stuffy, boring entertainment: blue-haired ladies and their blueblood husbands perched in a booth, watching overweight singers over-emoting in various foreign languages.

But opera can be a lot of fun, too, says singer Erica Papillion-Posey — who is pursuing her master’s in music at DU’s Lamont School of Music — and her friends Melissa Wimbish and Christie Connolley.

For proof, check out, a Web site the three former Metropolitan State College of Denver classmates launched at the beginning of 2010. Featuring news stories, reviews, fashion tips for auditionees, a “musical term of the week” feature and columns with titles like “Why do other musicians hate singers so much?,” the site reads more like a blog for young music geeks between the ages of 20 and 35 than a brainy dissection of music and lyrics.

“We decided to take a nationwide focus on opera and classical music — news, reviews — and really make it fun and accessible and aimed at an age demographic that doesn’t normally have a resource like this,” Connolley says. “There are people like us who are in this age range who have these interests, so we wanted to have something that speaks to them.”

In addition to Connolley, Wimbish and Papillion-Posey, the site boasts an impressive roster of guest writers, including award-winning singer Andrew Lunsford, who wrote a piece about his transition from selling granite countertops to singing opera, and A. Scott Perry, a stage director with New York City Opera. A recent post from D.J. Close, a 22-year-old political science major taking his first voice class at DU, exemplifies the youthful demographic the founders are trying to reach.

“It creates a voice for this group of people that’s not typically recognized in other blogs,” Wimbish says. “You get a student who’s just getting out of undergrad or a student that just started singing classical music or a director that is up-and-coming and starting to be well-known in the field. You get a totally different perspective than you would on [other opera] sites.”

This spring, Operagasm plans to start listing auditions and competitions around the country — a service currently available to singers only through pay sites. It’s all part of the site’s mission to become a resource for younger singers who may not be as plugged into the scene as their more seasoned counterparts.

“A lot of times there are little things that fall through the cracks that they don’t necessarily get in the classroom or nobody says to them directly,” Papillion-Posey says. “We want to be that voice for them to move them forward and move them through the process of becoming an opera singer.”

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