Meet the Artist: Katisha, Melissa Parks

Apr 4, 2012

Katisha is listed in Boise State’s Gilbert & Sullivan archive as “an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo“. There is some debate among Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts about the use of the term “elderly” in reference to casting the role of Katisha in The Mikado. During the time period of the piece, a never married woman older than 30 years might be considered a spinster and her chances of marrying and having children thought to be negligible. Oh, my, how times have changed! Thankfully, this makes the casting of the character and the comic wit and physicality required by our director much easier. Our young and lovely Katisha excels in her role and adds to the zany madness that is Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado.

In the role of Katisha, Opera Omaha is proud to present mezzo-soprano, Melissa Parks. She began performing the role of Katisha in 2002 with The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. In a January, 25, 2002 review Bruce-Michael Gelbert of Theatre Scene praised Ms. Parks’ performance. He stated, “…it was a pleasure to have in Melissa Parks a Katisha possessing a heroic operatic instrument, offering a character of mock-tragic dimensions…”. In a 2003 review in the New York Times, writer Anne Midgette referred to Ms. Parks’ “powerful voice” in her portrayal of Katisha. The photo below is from her 2010 performance of Katisha at Michigan Opera Theatre. A reviewer for The Detroiter, Nicole Rupersburg, said the following, “Parks was a comedic gale force with an equally powerful voice, demanding laughs from the audience as she commands the cast to “BOW!” in “Mi-ya Sa-ma” as easily as she demands tears in her mournful aria “Alone, and yet alive.”
Join us for The Mikado at Omaha’s beautiful Orpheum Theatre and witness the vocal power and comic prowess that the magnificent Melissa Parks brings to the role of Katisha. Contact Ticket Omaha at 402-345-0606 or Opera Omaha at 402-346-4398 for tickets. Get yours today!

Melissa Parks

The 2009-2010 season proved to be noteworthy for mezzo-soprano Melissa Parks, who made her Italian debut as Mrs. Lovett in Bologna, Modena, Lugo and Piacenza in what was the Italian premiere of SWEENEY TODD and concluded the season performing the role of Mescalina in Ligeti’s LE GRANDE MACABRE in the critically acclaimed production with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Alan Gilbert. Of her performance, The New York Post proclaimed that, “As Mescalina, Melissa Parks combined a firm mezzo-soprano with the high-camp mugging one would expect in the role.” Recent performances include a reprise of the role of Mrs. Peachum THE BEGGAR’S OPERA conducted by Lorin Maazel at his Castleton Festival, the Marquise de Birkenfeld LA FILLE DU REGIMENT with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and two role debuts with New Orleans Opera as Mistress Bentson LAKME and Mary DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER. Engagements during the 2010-2011 season included the roles of Katisha MIKADO with Michigan Opera Theatre, Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Madison Opera, Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF with Utah Opera, and Forester’s Wife and Owl THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN with the New York Philharmonic. This coming 2011-2012 season she performs the roles of Baba THE MEDIUM and Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Michigan Opera Theatre, Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with El Paso Opera, and Katisha THE MIKADO with Opera Omaha.

Recently Ms. Parks performed the roles of Zulma L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI and the Third Maid ELEKTRA with Seattle Opera, Gertrude ROMÉO ET JULIETTE with Tampa Bay Opera, Dutchess GONDOLIERS with Utah Symphony and Opera and the role of Buttercup H.M.S. PINAFORE with Opera East Texas and Nashville Opera. The previous season her roles included Queen of the Fairies IOLANTHE in a debut with Nashville Opera, Zulma L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI with Anchorage Opera, Buttercup H.M.S. PINAFORE with Syracuse Opera, and Gertrude ROMÉO ET JULIETTE with Utah Symphony and Opera and a return engagement as Ruth PIRATES OF PENZANCE. In the 2004-2005 season Ms. Parks’ engagements included Marcellina LE NOZZE DI FIGARO with Pittsburgh Opera, Dame Quickly FALSTAFF with Dicapo Opera, Cecilia March LITTLE WOMEN with Dayton Opera, Zita GIANNI SCHICCHI with Fresno Grand Opera and a return to Utah Symphony and Opera as Katisha MIKADO.

Engagements for the 2003-2004 season included a debut with Fresno Grand Opera as Marcellina LE NOZZE DE FIGARO, Erda DAS RHEINGOLD with New Orleans Opera, Third Lady DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE with Michigan Opera Theater and Buttercup H.M.S. PINAFORE with Utah Symphony and Opera.
Other engagements have included a debut with Michigan Opera Theatre as Azucena IL TROVATORE, a return to the New Orleans Opera as Mama McCourt THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, a return to Chautauqua for the Witch HANSEL UND GRETEL, a Cleveland Opera debut in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, a Virginia Opera debut as Ulrica UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, a return to El Paso as Mamma Lucia CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, Katisha THE MIKADO with Utah Festival Opera and Chautauqua, a return to Cleveland Opera as the Fairy Queen IOLANTHE, Zita GIANNI SCHICCHI with Philadelphia’s newly formed Sylvan Opera, and the Verdi Requiem with the Utah Symphony. Other engagements have included working with the Metropolitan Opera in both LA FILLE DU REGIMENT and AUFSTIEG UND FALL DER STADT MAHAGONNY.

As winner of the Fifth Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, she performed the role of Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF in a Gala Concert hosted by the tenor. She has had debuts with the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Mother Goose THE RAKE’S PROGRESS, Chautauqua Opera as Mama McCourt THE BALLAD OF BABY DOE, Opera Delaware as Mamma Lucia CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and the El Paso Opera Company as Berta IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA. She participated in the American premiere of the Polish opera STRASZNY DWOR as Madame Czecznikowa with Opera Buffalo.
While a student at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, Ms Parks sang Dryade ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, the Marquise LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT, the Principessa SUOR ANGELICA, Zita GIANNI SCHICCHI, the Witch HANSEL UND GRETEL, Mistress Quickly FALSTAFF, the Wife in Wargo’s CHEKHOV TRILOGY, Azucena IL TROVATORE and Ulrica UN BALLO IN MASCHERA.

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