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The 40-plus offerings provided each term by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNL are a direct reflection of the interests of its roughly 1,600 members.

And while members enjoy a variety of options ranging from health and literature to science and politics, the study of the arts has always played a big part in the OLLI curriculum.

From digital photography to lessons on playing the ukulele, and from studying the opera to member discounts on a myriad of live stage productions throughout Lincoln, OLLI members are treated to an arts scene that is rich in culture and teeming with talent.

Arts focus strong

“The arts scene has always been strong in what OLLI has been able to offer its members,” said Dr. Dee Aguilar, coordinator of OLLI at UNL. “We enjoy partnerships with a number of arts and entertainment venues throughout the community. The partnerships allow our members to enjoy some enriching experiences and membership discounts at many performances.”

Aguilar said members enjoy the benefits of OLLI partnerships with venues and programs such as the Nebraska Repertory Theater, Abendmusik, the Arts for the Soul concert series, Lincoln Community Playhouse, and the TADA Theatre.

OLLI members can even hone their singing and acting skills while experiencing the thrill of performing on stage through the Radio Active Players’ performances at the Lincoln Community Playhouse, where performances of “Singing in the Rain” are planned in the spring.

Met Opera

Never been to the opera? OLLI members are discovering that an evening at the opera can be a gripping, moving art form.

One of the arts courses scheduled during OLLI’s next term is “The Magic of the Metropolitan Opera,” which gives members a chance to learn the stories behind three Met operas before going to see the live HD broadcasts at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.

The classroom session preceding each Ross Film Theater broadcast is planned from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on a Wednesday at Union College, with the broadcasts scheduled the following weekend. Lincoln actress and former local TV personality Leta Powell Drake said she coordinated the series 10 years ago in an effort to better understand opera.

“Quite frankly, I didn’t like opera and I wondered why,” mused Powell Drake, an active OLLI member. “So many operas are sung in a foreign tongue and are difficult to understand.”

She approached mezzo-soprano Ariel Bybee with a proposal to hold a class that preceded each theater presentation. Marina Fabrikant, professor of Piano and Music Theory at Union College, is currently the fourth volunteer instructor in the series’ 10-year history.

Other arts-related classes planned during OLLI’s upcoming term include: “Learn the Ukulele”; “Michelangelo: Part III”; “Playwriting and the Play”; “Freeing the Artist Inside Me: Beginning Sketching and Drawing”; “From Monet to Van Gogh: A History of Impressionism”; and “Chatting About Dance: Discussions about Performance Dance and History.”

A great investment

OLLI currently offers a mid-year membership for $50, valid through July 31. It includes OLLI catalogs mailed to your home, interest groups, some free programs and discounts from OLLI partners.

Joe Seewald, an OLLI Advisory Council member and former chair of its Membership Committee, said the 1,600-member OLLI organization had roughly 1,000 members when he joined four years ago.

“There’s a lot of talented people, including current and retired teachers and professors who volunteer their time to allow us to make OLLI very affordable,” he said.

For more details about OLLI and to preview what’s in store during the coming term, plan to attend an OLLI Open House from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 14) at the Marriott Cornhusker Hotel, 333 S. 13th St., where you’ll enjoy free refreshments and an opportunity to chat with instructors.

More details are also at or by calling (402) 472-6265.


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