Skylark Opera Theatre is led by professional arts management team, Bob Neu, as Artistic Director and Heather Brands, Managing Director. The duo bring decades of experience in the arts and entertainment world to the organization. They are joined by a skilled Board of Diretors who are committed to providing audiences with exceptional performances and ensure the Skylark mission continues.
- Robert Neu, Artistic Director
- Heather Brands, Managing Director
- Vera Mariner, Communications Manager
BOARD of DIRECTORS
- Ann Spencer, President
- Carrie Wasley, Vice President
- Jack Neveaux - Finance/Artistic Committee
- Noel Schenker - Marketing/Development
- David Bach - Development/Finance
- Erin Duffy - Marketing/Fundraising
Skylark Opera Theatre is pleased to announce a thrilling return to the Twin Cities. Renewed and refreshed, after taking a brief hiatus last season, the 35+ year old arts organization is set to offer traditional and new repertoire with a modernized twist in cutting edge and site specific venues.
At the helm is newly appointed Skylark Opera Theatre Artistic Director ROBERT NEU, who brings a rich experience and bold artistic vision to Skylark. “Not only does Bob bring us extensive directing and production experience,” said Ann Spencer of Skylark’s Board of Directors, “but he has also spent his career with nonprofit performing arts organizations and therefore brings a wealth of knowledge. He has always been a passionate advocate for Skylark Opera and has long been a member of our extended family.” “It's a great honor to have the opportunity to now lead this organization and help it realize its full potential.”, said Neu. “ I strongly believe that Skylark Opera Theatre's legacy and future are an important part of Twin Cities arts offerings. I am thrilled to be a part of Skylark Opera Theatre as we look towards its future. As Artistic Director, I am wholly committed to great storytelling with music based on my equal love for opera and the theatre.” Neu’s focus will bring fresh viewpoints to the traditional opera and music theatre repertoire while also offering relevant new work to advance the art forms into the modern day.
Skylark Opera was founded in 1980 as Opera St. Paul, becoming North Star Opera in 1986, and has become known for presenting critically acclaimed operas, operettas and musicals in imaginative stagings. It has largely been devoted to showcasing the very best of local talent, including Bradley Greenwald, Christina Baldwin, Jennifer Baldwin Peden and Gary Briggle, as well as bringing to Twin Cities audiences up-and-coming young singers with national and international careers such as Gabriel Preisser, Cecilia Violetta Lopez and Won Whi Choi.
Robert Neu is well-known to Skylark Opera audiences, having directed nine productions for the company in the past nine years. These have included Naughty Marietta, The Merry Widow, On the Town, Wonderful Town, The Fantasticks, Candide and last season’s Putting it Together. His production of Don Pasquale for Skylark was hailed as “a perfect opera production” and “a delight from beginning to end” by local newspaper critics. His production of The Fantasticks was judged “the most well-crafted production that Skylark has offered” and “an unqualified success” by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In addition, Neu is well-known to Twin Cities theater and opera audiences, having mounted numerous productions for Minnesota Orchestra, Bloomington Civic Theater, Chameleon Theater, Phipps Center for the Arts, Lyric Opera of the North and Minneapolis Fringe Festival. Also active nationally with more than 90 productions to his credit, Neu has most recently directed The Music Man and Tosca for Colorado Symphony, Florencia en el Amazonas for Emerald City Opera, The Marriage of Figaro for Bellevue Opera, and St. Matthew Passion for Central City Opera.
Please join us in welcoming him aboard!
With over 20 years experience in business management, Heather has held leadership positions with both Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations. Her area of expertise includes strategic planning, program development and general operations. She joins Skylark with a rich background in marketing and development deliverables including brand management, communications/social media, grant management and fundraising. Heather has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and serves as an advisor and consultant to other non-profits across the state of Minnesota.
Ann Morelli Spencer, President and Development Chair, fell in love with music when she received her first record player at the age of three. Skylark has been her passion since she joined the Board in 1984. In addition to her involvement with Skylark, she is a past member of the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council board, serving both as President. She was also a member of the research committee that prepared the 2015 Creative Minnesota report detailing the health and impact of the state’s nonprofit arts sector. An attorney by profession, she has written Skylark’s grants in recent years, helping the company secure funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Target Foundation, the St. Paul Cultural STAR Program, and the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts, among others. One of her favorite Skylark activities is preparing and presenting the pre-show talks before each performance.
For 10 years out of college and after graduate school, Jack held various “roles” as a set and lighting designer, scene technician and technical director at places such as the Minnesota Opera, Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Cabrillo College and the University of California, Santa Cruz theatre program. More recently, Jack has directed several local community theatre productions: “Of Mice and Men,” “Music Man,” “Death of a Salesman” and “Cheaper By the Dozen”, “Private Lives”, “Dial M for Murder”, and “Tuesdays with Morrie”; and has played in numerous productions including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cinderella,” “Sound of Music,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Honk!,” “8” the play, “The Uninvited Guest”, “Into the Woods” and “Man of La Mancha” while also contributing to the design and technical aspects of many of those shows. Jack is currently a board member with 4 Community Theatre, Chain Reaction Theatre Project, and has served on the boards for many community projects, the arts and youth activities.
Jack is currently a college professor in the Twin Cities, teaching business law at graduate and undergraduate levels in several academic programs. He is also an attorney in private practice in Wayzata, with 30 years of experience actively representing clients in business and personal matters focusing on corporate and transactional issues, including drafting and reviewing a wide variety of documents such as entity formation and governing documents, purchase, construction, manufacturing, distribution, consulting, IP and finance contracts. As a trial lawyer, Jack advocates for clients in a variety of adversary matters – through negotiation, litigation and ADR, in state and federal courts.
David brings extensive experience working with arts, education, environmental and social service nonprofits as well as corporations, foundations and government. He serves as the Interim Director of Development at CommonBond Communities and brings tremendous strengths in fundraising and program development to Skylark.
Skylark thanks its many patrons who have generously made supporting donations and also the organizations who have provided grants, including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Target Foundation, the Twin Cities Opera Guild, and the Harlan Boss Foundation for the Arts.
This activity funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.