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OperaDelaware is a professional non-profit opera company with a reputation for excellence in both opera and arts education. Our mission is to enrich the cultural lives of adults, families and students within the Mid-Atlantic region through meaningful arts education and the production of grand opera and intimate opera concerts, featuring established and emerging talent.
The year was 1945 when a group of local artisans gathered under the guidance of Chick Laird to present classic opera with the finest voices in Wilmington at affordable prices. Today, our patrons are geographically and culturally as diverse as ever, stretching across the East Coast while at the same time reaching deeply into our Wilmington roots. Located in the heart of Wilmington, we serve the entire metropolitan area.
We are the only professional opera company in the state and the 14th oldest in the country. We are a source of economic revitalization and a source of arts education for many schools in the area that have none. We employ nearly 250 full-and part-time local artists and staff members throughout the season and operate on an $850K annual budget.
Artists we have nurtured have performed in major houses throughout the world. We have been the recipient of major grants from national and local organizations and have received numerous awards and recognitions including the National Endowment for the Arts, Opera America, Governor’s Award for the Arts, and National Opera Associations’ Service to Children’s Opera award. We are a company that still retains the founders’ original philosophy of “Opera for Everyone.”
Brendan Cooke - General Director
Brendan Cooke was appointed General Director of Opera Delaware, America's 11th oldest opera company, in June 2012.
Cooke joined OperaDelaware from the Baltimore Concert Opera, a company he founded in 2008 in response to the collapse of the Baltimore Opera Company. Cooke and his board of directors launched this startup opera company with $700 in personal funds. Under Cooke’s leadership, Baltimore Concert Opera has experienced exponential growth since 2009, and is entering its sixth season in 2014-2015.
He holds a Master’s degree in Music from the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he was a student of the renowned bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Loyola University in New Orleans. After founding the Baltimore Concert Opera, Cooke continued his career in Arts Administration as a member of the marketing team for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where he was Group Sales Manager for the organization.
In addition to his entrepreneurial skills, Cooke brings to OperaDelaware extensive experience in front and back-office operations, fundraising, facilitation of corporate and community partnerships, education, sales, and marketing.
Brendan resides in North Wilmington with his wife Julia, their boys Gus and Rex, and their chocolate lab, Shelley.
Jason Hardy - Director of Development and Community Engagement
Jason Hardy joined OperaDelaware at Director in September 2013 after an 18 year career as a leading operatic bass with a complimentary career in outreach, education and administration. His performances on the opera, concert, and recital stage have been acclaimed by many of the world’s major publications.
He holds a Master’s degree and Artist Diploma from the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He earned a bachelor degree from Emory University in Atlanta.
Through his artistic, technical and administrative leadership, Hardy has helped build several organizations in the non-profit and for-profit sectors. Strongly dedicated to outreach and education, he has presented programs in over 300 elementary schools nationwide. He founded and directed G&S Players in collaboration with Young Audiences of Atlanta and has also led classes through the Atlanta Opera Studio and Baltimore Opera Studio outreach programs.
He was a founding member, frequent collaborator, and administrator for the Southeastern Festival of Song, an organization dedicated to entertaining and educating audiences through programs that maintained a strong foothold in classical repertoire while exploring modern trends in vocal music. He has also presented lectures, recitals, and master-classes under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation through artist-residencies in high schools and colleges throughout the country.
Hardy was a consultant for a edutainment startup, helping develop story and content ideas while designing and managing production of slideshows and videos used for boardroom presentations. He has also served as President/CEO of SP Mystery Shopping, an S-Corp which acts as a quality-control mechanism for apartment management companies and provides market analysis to establish competitive pricing strategies.
Jason resides in North Wilmington with his wife Carrie, their children Sabrina and Parker, and their dog, Goldie.
Mary Wilcosky - Marketing and Events Manager
Ms. Wilcosky has over 25 years of project and events management experience in both corporate and non-profit organizations in Washington DC and Wilmington, DE. Some of her clients have included Xerox Corporation, Verizon, FilmFest DC, YWCA, and Longwood Gardens. She holds degrees in Art History from American University and Project and Event Management from George Washington University.
Jeffery Miller - Music Director
Jeffrey Miller is a graduate of West Chester University and it was during his freshman year at WCU under the guidance of Stella Conaway that he chose to specialize in accompanying. Since that time he has performed hundreds of recitals with many of America's finest singers. He has accompanied master classes for Birgit Nilsson, Maureen Forrester, John Duke, Martina Arroyo and David Garvey.
Now in his 29th season with OperaDelaware, Mr. Miller has been principal accompanist since 1985, chorus master since 1995, and was appointed Music Director of OperaDelaware in 2010.
His life-long interest in the history of recorded sound, focusing primarily on classical vocal recordings, inspired him to take an active part in making early recordings available to the public. As Production Coordinator for the CD companies Romophone and Marston, he has participated in the release of over 100 compact discs of historic singers, including the complete recorded output of Emma Eames, Adelina Patti, Nellie Melba, and Lucrezia Bori, the latter having won the Gramophone magazine Best Historic Vocal Recording of the Year award in 1995. He continues to work closely with Ward Marston to this day, providing the public with definitive CD transfers of rare and beautiful material at a fraction of the cost of the original source discs. His own collection of historical recordings has been used as source material for the Great Recordings from the Met series.
Mr. Miller is now in his 47th year as a professional church musician, and is currently Director of Music and Organist at Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware.
Board of Directors 2013-2014
A. Richard Winchester, President
Catherine DiSabatino, Treasurer
Cynthia duPont Tobias, Vice President
Nina Worthington, Secretary
Roberts W. Brokaw III
Brendan Cooke (ex officio)
Mylene M. Pacheco
E. Andrew DiSabatino
S. Keith Duncan, Ph.D.
Harry S. Glaze
Robert Grenfell, Jr.
Dr. Robert Moyer
Linda H. O'Connor
Joseph Setting II