Painted Sky Opera: Sharing Song in Oklahoma City - 405 Magazine

Painted Sky Opera: Sharing Song in Oklahoma City

Though opera has been an art form for more than 400 years, Painted Sky Opera continues to find ways to connect all ages to the joy of classical music in a current and charismatic way.

Painted Sky Opera's Turn of the Screw performace. Photo by Michael Anderson.

Oklahoma has been producing star-quality singers for decades — but for classically trained vocalists who long to sing on an opera stage, there was not an option in Oklahoma City to pursue those dreams. That is, until UCO music faculty members, Rob Glaubitz and Barbara DeMaio, began Painted Sky Opera in 2015. 

“We were the largest city in America without a professional opera company,” Glaubitz said. “The more Barbara DeMaio and I thought about it, the more we realized how much the city needs it. Painted Sky fills a void in the arts landscape of Oklahoma City.”

Painted Sky Opera’s “As One” performance. Photo by Wendy Mutz.

Glaubitz and DeMaio quickly enlisted Becky McGuigan, a costume designer, as part of their team and founded Painted Sky Opera. This company is a professional step after college, featuring both local talent and singers from across the nation. And now in its eighth season, Painted Sky has become a staple in the arts community.  

Performing in the newly renovated Little Theatre at the Civic Center, Painted Sky provides a unique, intimate experience to see what are traditionally large operas. “People always ask us, ‘If this is in a foreign language, how am I going to understand it?’” Glaubitz said. “Operas in America are projected with supertitles in English, so there is never a question on whether you can follow the plot. You will understand the story.”  

Painted Sky Opera’s “Glory Denied” performance. Photo by Wendy Mutz.

And while it may be easy to think of opera as a stuffy, stagnant art form, Painted Sky shines a light on how American opera is a vital part of current classical music. Glaubitz noted, “We are big proponents of the American opera. There are dozens of American operas written every year that tell the stories of our communities and culture.”

But there is also room for the classics. This season begins June 20-23 with The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner, the supernatural tale of a sea captain condemned by the devil to stay at sea for eternity. Every seven years, the captain may return to shore with the chance to break the curse if he can find a true love. 

Painted Sky Opera’s “La Traviata” performance. Photo by Wendy Mutz.

July 25-28, Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti will take the stage. This is classic story of a forbidden romance, with drama and conflict brought to life with an incredible vocal score. 

The season closes September 26-29 with American opera Lizzie Borden by Jack Beeson. This thrilling true-crime story chronicles the life and crime of perhaps the most infamous suspected murderer in American history. 

Painted Sky Opera’s “As One” performance. Photo by Wendy Mutz.

In addition to producing a fully staged operas complete with costumes and a live orchestra, Painted Sky has a second element of its dual mission: to educate the community on opera. In the first two weeks of July, a touring production called The Bartered Banana will be a part of the Metro Library’s Neighborhood Arts Series. This adaptation of The Bartered Bride is intended to expose children to opera in a palatable way, but is also a good bet to be enjoyed by all. 

In fact, during the school year, Painted Sky has a variety of educational endeavors. “We do an opera workshop called Opera 101 which connects kids to opera for the first time,” Glaubitiz said. Painted Sky partners with alternative schools providing a week-long intensive for students who are deemed at-risk. “We help them create their own work on a topic they have chosen, which gets them in touch with their emotions in a different way.” For middle and high school students interested in opera, there is a monthly “Science of Singing” show at Science Museum Oklahoma

For more information on Painted Sky or to purchase tickets to its upcoming performances, visit

Interested in more performance venue local gems? Check out this story on Guthrie’s Pollard Theatre.