Classic opera coming to Willa Cather’s hometown, featuring Red Cloud native

By: - August 22, 2023 11:26 am
Red Cloud Opera House

An opera on Sept. 1 will help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of the historic Red Cloud Opera House. (Courtesy of the National Willa Cather Center)

LINCOLN — Red Cloud native and opera singer Sarah Arneson will return to her hometown on Sept. 1 to perform a selection of classic arias and pieces referenced in the works of author Willa Cather.

The performance will mark the 20th anniversary of the restoration of the Red Cloud Opera House, a project spearheaded by the National Willa Cather Center.

Sarah Arneson
Sarah Arneson (Courtesy of the National Willa Cather Center)

Arneson, a coloratura soprano, will be accompanied by Boston-based violinist Anne Hooper Webb.

Cather, a Pulitzer Prize winning author best known for “My Antonia” and “O Pioneers,” first attended an opera at age 15, and in her writings, she mentioned operas 47 times, according to a press release from the Willa Cather center.

Tickets for the Sept. 1 performance are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the concert. They can be purchased at the Cather center in Red Cloud or online at

In addition, on Sept. 14, author David McKay Powell will discuss his book “Cather and Opera” at Cather center’s free Virtual Author Series.

Powell wrote, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a frontier town in possession of the basic needs of survival must be in want of an opera house.”


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.