Karen Brooks | Founder

Karen has spent the last thirty years as an active freelance bassoonist, contrabassoonist and teacher. Currently, Karen is a member of the Duluth-Superior Symphony and is on the faculties of the St. Paul Conservatory of Music and the Mt. Olivet School of Music. Karen has also performed on numerous occasions with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and the Florida Orchestra, among others. She is most at home in the opera orchestra pit where she has performed with Sarasota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Utah Festival Opera and Ash Lawn Opera. She has performed chamber music with Music St. Croix in Stillwater, MN and with Alpha Omega Ensemble in New York City. As a bassoon teacher, she has given master classes at Gustavus Adolphus College and at Edina High School.

Karen took a hiatus from the rigors of musical life to attend law school. Her article on stalking laws was published by the Hamline Journal of Law and Public Policy and won Minnesota Women Lawyers 1993 Equal Justice Award. She clerked in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and for a Washington County Judge before entering private practice.

As a member of the Ash Lawn Opera Company, Karen gained first-hand knowledge of the workings of a small opera company. She learned about the audition process from singers and about other aspects of a summer opera festival such as scheduling, staging and weather emergencies from her four years in the company. She also learned about other approaches to opera operations during her participation in three other larger opera companies.


Crystal Manich | Artistic Director

Crystal Manich is an international director whose work has been seen across the United States, Argentina, and Australia. From opera to musicals, plays, and short films, she creates a diverse body of work year after year. She holds a BFA in Drama and a Masters in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University.


Brian DeMaris | Music Director

Brian has served as Music Director with Mill City Summer Opera since its founding season in 2012. He has also worked with New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Syracuse Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theater, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, Anchorage Opera, Music Saint Croix and the Israel Chamber Orchestra. Having served as Director of Opera and Musical Theatre at Ithaca College since 2008, in 2015 he joined the faculty of Arizona State University as Artistic Director of the Lyric Opera Theatre program, and currently serves as Artist-Faculty at the Aspen Music Festival.

A frequent performer and advocate of contemporary music, Brian has conducted the Middle Eastern premiere of Mark Adamo's Little Women with the Israel Chamber Orchestra and the world premiere of Stefan Weisman's Darkling with American Opera Projects at the Classical Stage Company with additional performances in Gniezno, Poland, at Frei Universität in Berlin, Germany, the New York City Opera VOX Festival and the United Nations. He also led the world premiere recording of Darkling, released on Albany Records in 2011. Brian was also involved with the professional American premiere of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Mines of Sulphur at Glimmerglass Opera, which was broadcast on NPR and BBC, released on the Chandos label, and nominated for a Grammy Award, as well as the world premieres of Peter Ash's The Golden Ticket and John Corigliano's revised version of The Ghosts of Versailles at Opera Theater of Saint Louis, for which he provided assistance with the preparation of the published piano-vocal score through G. Schirmer. 



Karen Brooks



Genna Carlson

Account Director, Catapult Marketing


Ellen Doll

President & Founder at Support the Courts Foundation


Kingston Fletcher

Retired Executive, Proctor & Gamble


Michele Grindal

Community Leader


Therese Hovard

Community Leader


Heather Johnson

Mezzo Soprano, Metropolitan Opera


Jodi Mooney

Community Leader


 Rachael Scherer

 Vice President of Global Strategy, Cardiac Rhythm & Heart Failure, Medtronic Inc.

Merete Wells

Digital Media Director, Target


LAra Bolton

Head of Music


Cory Johnson

Development Director


Laini Devin

Education Program Director


Janine Ernsting

Company Manager


Robin Gillette

Fundraiser & Organizational Growth Strategist


Cleary Consulting