About Us


Raison d’Être Opéra’s mission is to highlight & celebrate the talents of experienced, mature performers through musical presentations and social events for audiences of all ages.
RDO envisions a future where an individual’s voice & artistry is celebrated & encouraged at every stage of their performing life.

Board of Directors

Regina Aufderheide, Treasurer

Ivy Bernhardson retired after more than 29 years as a corporate counsel and governance expert, and then ending with 13 years as a trial court judge in Henneoin County, including the last four years as chief judge. As a judge she presided over criminal, civil, mental health and family matters. She has served in nonprofit leadership positions, including as chair of the board of trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College and Fairview Southdale Hospital; 12 years as a trustee of the Bush Foundation, and a director of the Fairview Health System and the Greater Twin Cities United Way. Her corporate law experience included 22 years at General Mills leading the Corporate Secretary’s Office as well as corporate acquisitions, complex financings, securities matters, compliance and ethics. Immediately prior to taking the bench she served as the first general counsel for the Hazelden Foundation. Her passion is singing; she has been in the Minnesota Chorale for 24 years.

Ivy Bernhardson

A nationally renowned singer, actor, director and teacher, Gary Briggle has nearly fifty years of experience in the full range of music-theater genres. In an administrative capacity he has served as artistic director of Lyric Opera Cleveland, artistic associate with Seaside Music Theatre, head of the Opera department at the University of Iowa, co-chairman of the musical theater department at SPCPA, and interim artistic director of Skylark Opera Theater.

Gary Briggle, Executive Director

Soprano Deborah Carbaugh, a native of western New York, is well known as a concert soloist in the Twin Cities area. She holds a BM in Music Education and  Master of Music degree in vocal performance from State University of New York at Fredonia and she was on the faculty there for four years. Deborah has performed extensively in the western New York area, including solo appearances with Buffalo Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, and Erie Philharmonic. A Metropolitan Opera district winner, she has performed roles with numerous opera companies, among them Pittsburgh Chamber Opera, Syracuse Opera, and Artpark Opera.

Deborah is currently a member of the voice faculty at Augsburg University. She is a section leader with the Minnesota Chorale and the choir of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. She has appeared frequently as both concert and opera soloist with Minnetonka Choral Society, Rochester Symphony Orchestra, Oratorio Society, and Minneapolis Pops Orchestra.

Deb Carbaugh, Vice-Chair

An accomplished soloist, Debra Gilroy performs in operas, recitals, chamber ensembles, and orchestral concerts. She is a section leader with the Minnesota Chorale, a soloist and section leader for the First Unitarian Society of Mount Curve, a frequent guest soloist at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church, as well performing with Thursday Musical and Opera on Tap. With the Minnesota Chorale, Debra’s performances have included Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Tosca, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte,Verdi’s La Traviata, Handel’s Messiah and additional works with the Minnesota Orchestra. Ms. Gilroy serves on the voice faculty at Hamline University, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and maintains a private voice studio in Minneapolis. She earned her post-graduate certification in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota and holds an MM degree and BA degree in Music. She studied with Emma Small in Minneapolis and currently studies with international pedagogue David Jones in New York.

Debra Gilroy, Founder & Chair

Cindy Huttner

Patricia Kent has performed as soloist with many orchestras including Wooster (OH) Symphony, the Duluth Superior Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She holds a DMA from the University of Minnesota, where she won the coveted Schussler Prize. While at the U of M, she played Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, and Aminta in El re pastore. She played the mother in both The Consul with An Opera Theater and in Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Minnesota Orchestra. She is an active performer in opera, chamber music, recitals, and oratorio. Patricia is a featured artist on several recordings, including the Minnesota AIDS Quilt Songbook, “All in the Family,” a CD of songs of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn with pianist Robert Koopmann and a CD of French songs, “La Vie Intérieure,” with Roderick Phipps-Kettlewell. Patricia serves on the music faculty of Augsburg University and Macalester College and recently retired from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.

Patricia Kent

Michelle McCreery, a native of central Missouri, is visual artist/designer, and musician in the Twin Cites. She holds a BFA Cum Laude in Visual Communications from Central University in Missouri, and an MFA in Painting from the University of Minnesota. In addition, she participated twice in Art Workshops in Scotland, both in conjunction with The Glasgow School of Art, where she was a visiting artist. She was a professor of Foundation Studies in color and design at the College of Visual Arts in St Paul for 18 years. She also taught at Concordia University, St Paul Academy, and the University of Minnesota

Michelle has worked in graphic and web design for nonprofits in the Twin Cites, and is currently Director of Communications & Design at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church. She has previously served in that capacity at Gammelgarden Museum of Scandia, The Colonial Chamber Series, as board member, as well as for individual musicians, writers, and teachers.

For 25 years, she has been a member of the soprano section in Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church Choir, during which time in she has also performed flute solos and accompaniments.

Michelle McCreery, Secretary

Deborah E Richman has been singing since the age of 6. She has performed for churches, Debbie Richman is from Minneapolis, MN and is currently the Director of Education and Client Development for HealthCare Interactive, Inc.

She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Therapy and Speech Communication with a minor in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Most of her professional career has involved working with professional caregivers, persons with dementia and their care partners.

The merging of singing and this background was a very organic and natural progression. She has performed professionally in the Twin Cities for over 25 years and currently is with the MN Chorale and Woven Voices 

Debbie lives in Plymouth MN and has two cats, Stanley and Magic

Debbie Richman

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