#PeopleOfWilmDE: Kerriann Otaño

Kerriann Otaño is the Vice President of Engagement at OperaDelaware and is this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE! Read her story below. 

“I was a professional opera singer for 10 years, performing across the country, and it was an incredible experience! I got to travel, I lived in Italy, and I met my husband. I also struggled a lot with debilitating mental health issues, particularly towards the end of my singing career, when I was working at the most famous opera houses in the country. Advocating for mental healthcare for artists became a core mission for me when I decided to transition into the administrative side of the business. As I found my footing in arts administration, I discovered how much I love connecting with new audiences, demystifying opera, and bringing existing audiences closer. I love engaging with singers and giving them the tools they need to create meaningful art. I love nurturing curiosity in young people and welcoming them to experience the arts. It feels like my career as an artist was leading me right here to Wilmington, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Three interesting facts about me are:

1.  I sang opera professionally for 10 years and performed for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
2. My husband is ALSO a professional opera singer (tenor Dane Suarez!) and we met at Sarasota Opera in 2013. We are born a day apart – he is one day older!
3. We have two extremely snuggly pups, a puggle named Frankie and a chiweenie named Chalupa.

I may be biased, but an OperaDelaware Opening Night is my favorite event in Wilmington! The OperaDelaware Opening Night Microgala is a NEW biannual tradition that allows us to connect and celebrate with our audience before experiencing some truly STELLAR storytelling on the mainstage at The Grand Opera House. Get your tickets early and enjoy champagne, blackjack, poker, and take part in a professionally shot red carpet runway photoshoot. I love this event because it allows us to come together with partner organizations like Swigg, Bachetti Bros, and Casino Nights Live to pregame the evening’s performance with OperaDelaware and make unforgettable memories around the arts. We can’t wait to share it with you again this fall!

I like to start my weekends in Wilmington with a walk to Brew Haha in Trolley Square for a chai latte (occasionally with two shots of espresso if I’m feeling it). I devour their breakfast sandwich on a cheddar and chive biscuit, which is absolutely divine. I like to walk along The Riverfront with my husband and our pups and maybe stop at Taco Grande for a snack. In an ideal itinerary, I’d save time in my afternoon for a massage or facial at Currie Hair, Skin & Nails. I’d head home and get glammed up before meeting up with friends at The Chancery Market for cocktails & mocktails. Then, because I absolutely LOVE going to live theater, we’d catch a performance at The Grand Opera House or The Playhouse, before wrapping up the night at The Quoin Hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge!

My husband and I are currently looking to buy our very first home in Wilmington! I was hooked on Delaware almost as soon as I arrived. Thanks to Leadership Delaware, The Connect, Delaware Young Professionals Network, and the local Rotary Clubs, I was able to meet so many passionate, creative, dedicated Delawareans with diverse skills and backgrounds. The network of friends that I’ve made in the arts, through First State Ballet Theatre, Delaware Shakespeare, and Delaware Theatre Company, holds such a special place in my heart. I want to tell EVERYONE in Delaware that you don’t need to leave the state to find incredible art. I love living here and dedicating myself to nurturing curiosity and welcoming people to experience opera! Brendan Cooke, OperaDelaware General Director, really took a chance on me when we created my position together. I’m the Vice President of Engagement. That means I engage with audiences, students, artists, press, funders, and supporters. It also means that I get to explore Wilmington. I get to make new connections, collaborate with small business owners, nonprofit champions, and CEOs of major corporations. Falling in love with Delaware is about falling in love with the people, and I am well on my way.

Following the isolation of the pandemic, I really hope the next 5-10 years creates an artistic renaissance in Delaware. I hope folks realize that experiencing art as a community improves the quality of life. Theater, arts, ballet, opera, and more are all right here in your backyard, and we should all get out from behind our computer screens and experience beautiful things together.

My advice to Wilmingtonians is this: There is SO MUCH HAPPENING in Delaware! Find networking groups like The Connect or DYPN and get involved. Volunteer for service organizations and make new friends. The more connected you are to this community, the more you’ll get to experience AND accomplish!”

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To nominate next week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE, email us at info@wilmtoday.com. Read more #PeopleOfWilmDE posts here. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, and TikTok.

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