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C of I music standouts establish opera production company

College of Idaho senior Zachary Buker and recent graduate Jordan Bowman ’14 share a common dream: to become opera singers and share their passion for music with the world. Together, the duo has formed Opera Elect, a new stage production company based in the Treasure Valley designed to fulfill not only their own dreams, but the dreams of other local artists.

“To be successful in life, you have to make your own success,” Bowman said. “If my end goal is eventually to have an opera company, why not start now?”

The concept of Opera Elect is twofold. First, Opera Elect seeks to provide performance opportunities to young, local artists who are just beginning their careers, which will allow them to cultivate their talents and gain the valuable experience necessary for their personal growth. Second, the company plans to produce shows that are a hybrid of traditional operas and stage musicals in an effort to increase the appeal of the genre beyond its current scope.

“When I think about Opera Elect, I think of it as opera by the people, for the people,” Bowman said. “The point is to take opera—such an old, old art—and make it into something fun and accessible, more exciting and relatable to the younger generation.”

Bowman and Buker forged the idea of forming their own company after years of performing together in the College’s choral and theatre programs, most notably Semele (2013) and The Magic Flute (2014), opera productions which Bowman directed. After Bowman graduated in May, Buker helped her secure several local performance gigs. Bowman’s creative focus and Buker’s business sense complimented each other well enough that forming Opera Elect was a natural step to take.

“We play off each other really well,” Bowman said. “Zach is really good at talking to people. You can’t imagine how much talking you have to do when you’re starting a company and trying to get the word out.”

Buker has taken the responsibility of marketing Opera Elect seriously, regularly posting on social media about the company’s first major production, a humorous and minimalistic one-act show developed by local composers and playwrights to be performed this summer. Buker has spearheaded a Kickstarter campaign to help finance the show, which he and Bowman hope to take on tour throughout the northwest after its premiere.

“It’ll be quick, it’ll be fun, and it’ll leave people wanting more,” Buker said. “That’s the idea.”

Although neither Bowman nor Buker have a business degree, they each emphasize that the liberal arts education they’ve received at the C of I has given them the confidence to pursue their vision.

“I would never done this if I hadn’t gone to the C of I, because the College has given me the tools to think of a project like this,” Buker said. “It opens up opportunities because you can see the possibilities.”

To learn more about Opera Elect—including a video and more information about the Kickstarter campaign—click here.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 12 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.