About the Opera Lady

Barbara Mortensen “The Opera Lady”

My life long love affair with opera began before there were subtitles, before I was able to even understand what the singers were singing about. I can’t tell you how many operas I listened to only being able to enjoy the great music I was hearing.

 When I first saw an opera at age 5, lucky me, it was at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. I loved everything I saw on stage and from that moment on, I was really hooked and have attended live opera in every country I have ever visited or in which I have lived.

The first year of the Met’s live HD transmissions, I traveled to the Los Angeles area to see these incredible productions and started to find out what I would need to do to make sure that it would become available in my local community (I presently live in the greater Palm Springs area.)

After almost a year of investigation, explaining who I was, and that I did not represent any organization, but that I knew that there would be a viable audience for these in my area, I was given the opportunity to present an encore production of The Barber of Seville that had been recently shown live in HD. I was told that if I could sell out the production, there might be some interest in talking with me.

Well, sell it out we did! And as they say, the rest is history. We got the transmissions and so far for the last 7 years, we sold out every transmission and encore performances, added additional auditoriums. For those people who keep statistics we are now in the “high profile” groups.

One of my major concerns was to make sure that students in our area would have the opportunity to see these great productions. I strongly believe that if we don’t expose our young people to the opera and other music and arts programs, these programs won’t exist when they grow up.

I started to raise money so that I could buy tickets for our kids to see these live from the Met HD transmissions free. My hand is always outstretched to receive these donations and my efforts have been extremely rewarding. To date I have raised enough money from very generous Met Opera Live patrons to enable more than 4000 children from our local schools systems and after school programs (including our farm labor community) to see these performances free of charge.

I became “The Opera Lady” because of these kids. When these kids recognize me at other venues and even at the supermarket they usually point their fingers at me and say “you’re the Opera Lady aren’t you?”

Although I am supposed to be “retired”, most of my free time is spent raising money so that more and more young people can see these incredible productions. Want to make a donation? Click here.

I work closely with the Met, their media sponsors and our local presenting theaters to ensure that the opera experience is positive for our ever growing audience.

I have an ever growing group of people worldwide with whom I communicate via email to inform them not only of upcoming live or encore productions and how to buy tickets, but informing them of other musical productions and events even in their local area that they may be interested in attending.

Personally, my circle of friends has increased dramatically and my life has certainly been enriched because of this wonderful new way of looking at opera. I have received many honors because of my efforts to bring grand opera to our community. I am proudest of “the Shiny Apple” award given to me by one of our School Boards, the 2010 Distinguished Woman of the Arts award I received from the National League of American Pen Women and the prestigious DAR community services award for 2012 . And, I am most proud when I get questions and referrals from other areas in the country asking for information on how to start a program of their own.

Many people ask me who pays me to do all the work involved? My answer is – and I think it is important for all of you reading this to know – that I do not get paid by anyone. This has truly been a labor of love for me and it is certainly proof positive of the belief I have held for all of my life: If you have an idea you believe has merit, and you do your homework, you will reach your goal. Don’t pay attention to the people who say your goal is impossible to reach for. If you believe those people, you will not succeed. Believe in yourself!

Barbara Mortensen

To contact Barbara, email info@theoperalady.org