Baltimore Concert Opera is a community.
Our staff, board of directors, and family of volunteers can't wait to meet you. Here is some background information and a picture of each of us -- that way you can be sure to pick us out in the crowd and come say "hello" at the next performance. See you at the opera!
Artistic Director Brendan Cooke, a self proclaimed “recovering singer,” founded BCO in 2009 with the help of many friends. Brendan was appointed General Director of Opera Delaware in June 2012. Brendan holds a Master of Music Degree from the prestigious Peabody Conservatory, where he was a student of the renowned bass-baritone John Shirley-Quirk. Brendan has sung over thirty operatic roles, ranging from Bottom in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the title role in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Colline in La Bohème, and Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, to name a few. In the mid-Atlantic region, Brendan performed numerous roles with the Baltimore Opera (Crespel in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Alessio in La Sonnambula, Dancairo in Carmen) as well as with Opera Vivente, Opera AACC, the Young Victorian Theatre, and most recently with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as bass soloist in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella under the baton of Marin Alsop. Brendan has performed with opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States, including Sarasota Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera North, Center City Opera, Opera Southwest, Portland Opera Repertory Theater, New Orleans Opera, the Louisiana Philharmonic, and the Connecticut Master Chorale.
Julia Cooke was named Executive Director of Baltimore Concert Opera in 2012, after having been a founding member of the board. Prior to her career as an opera executive, Julia maintained active performing and teaching careers. She performed many leading soprano roles, in Faust, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Falstaff, and Dialogues of the Carmelites among others. Companies included Baltimore Opera, Sarasota Opera, and L’Opera Piccola. On the concert stage, Ms. Cooke made her Avery Fisher Hall debut in 2009 as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana, other highlights included appearances with Anchorage Symphony, Maryland Symphony, York Symphony, Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra, and Long Bay Symphony. Honors included being a District Winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards, and Regional Winner of the MacAllister Awards. Ms. Cooke holds a Master of Music degree in opera from Indiana University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and psychology from the University of Rochester. Julia was an adjunct professor of voice at Towson University and Morgan State University, in addition to her several years of teaching young people with the Chicago Children’s Choir, and Maryland State Boychoir.
Courtney Kalbacker has held the position of Managing Director since 2016 (previously, she served on the BCO since 2014). Deeply devoted to the community engagement and arts administration, she recently completed a Certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies. Through a decade of work on and off the operatic stage, she has enjoyed directing and production positions with UrbanArias, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Peabody Opera (Peabody Institute), Michigan Opera Theatre, Live Arts Maryland, Silver Finch Arts Collective, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Oklahoma City University among others. Kalbacker is currently on the faculty of Towson University, directing their opera workshop program, Music for the Stage.
As a passionate educator and advocate for developing singer-actors, Kalbacker originated and taught the Acting for Singers curriculum for Boston University Tanglewood Institute for five seasons and instructs the acting and improvisation classes at Lyric Opera Baltimore’s Opera Kids Camp. She also created and instructs the children's assembly program: What Is Opera? A Team! She holds a Master of Music degree in Opera Performance from Oklahoma City University and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Boston University. More info at www.CourtneyKalbacker.com.
Our Board of Directors
Heather Kniotek DeSimone