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Opera lecturer, journalist, travel guide, and voiceover artist, Mike Bolton

M Y   S T O R Y 

My life changed in my late teens through a quartet of defining experiences: I lost my breath when I heard the Queen of the Night aria for the first time in the film Amadeus (1984); the Puccini arias in the film A Room with a View (1985) gave me goosebumps; a high school opera assembly program had me gasping for my breath again, and a Metropolitan Opera telecast of Le nozze di Figaro (1985) cemented my love of opera.

In 1987 I saw my very first live opera in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia:  Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov starring Paata Burchuladze and Mignon Dunn. Little could I imagine that 20 years later I would be speaking to audiences of 500 and more in the very same space or that over 65,000 people would hear me lecture on opera and vocal music in Philadelphia, New York, Cincinnati, and beyond.


In the interim, I went to Temple University as a vocal performance major, was a classical music buyer for Tower Records at three of their Philadelphia-area stores, and worked in radio for over a decade – currently hosting Saturday Morning classics on the air at WRTI 90.1 FM in Philadelphia. 


In 2001 I joined the staff at Opera Philadelphia managing a telemarketing campaign. I’ve worn a lot of different hats there. The bulk of my time there was spent on the exec team heading the community initiatives department. In that role, I created a wide variety of programs which you can read about here. You may be familiar with one of the 80 flash mob performances I created as part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Random Act of Culture initiative.  I recruited and managed 750 singers to perform "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah at the Macy's in Philadelphia accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia. Macy's was so excited by this event, that they asked me to repeat it at their annual corporate conference in Madison Square Garden. 

Still, the project that meant the most was Hip H’opera, an afterschool self-expression program I did with Tarana Burke and Valerie Gay at Art Sanctuary that introduced and empowered students from four Philadelphia schools through a wide variety of artistic media. This program culminated in the creation of a new opera, We Shall Not Be Moved, by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuth Joseph, with director Bill T. Jones.

I began giving lectures on opera at Opera Philadelphia and have been fortunate to have been invited to speak before a wide variety of organizations, including the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Cincinnati Opera, Curtis Institute of Music, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Philadelphia Orchestra, University of Pennsylvania, among many others. I love talking about opera and vocal music, sharing my passion for these great works, and helping audiences discover themselves in each work.

I now concentrate my time as an independent contractor as a content creator focusing on in-person and virtual lectures, program notes, podcasts, and video content. Visit this page for a list of some of my lectures and check out my portfolio to see how I might be a fit for your organization and to review samples of my work.

My husband and I live in the Philadelphia suburbs with our two dogs. We also share our lives with an intellectually and physically disabled gentleman through the LifeSharing program.  He joined us over 10 years ago and made us a family. We are wonderfully thankful and infinitely blessed that he is part of our lives. Welcoming him into our home was the best decision we've ever made. 

I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.

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