Mike Winkelman is a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Ida Belle Young Scholar at Auburn University Montgomery and has also been named an Outstanding Alumni of the University of North Texas.  As a freelance designer, Mike has designed the scenery and/or lighting for such esteemed companies as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Barter Theatre (Abingdon, VA), Belhaven University (Jackson, MS),  Blowing Rock Stage Co. (Blowing Rock, NC), the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina (Hilton Head, SC), the Eclipse Theatre (Chicago, IL), Candlewood International, the Texas Shakespeare Festival, the Temple Theatre (Sanford, NC), Mill Mountain Theatre (Roanoke, VA), the Springer Opera House (Columbus, GA), West Virginia Public Theatre, Dallas Repertory Theatre, the Alabama Dance Theatre, and the Montgomery Ballet.  He has also won 2 Lois Garren Awards and several Kennedy Center/ACTF Awards for Design Excellence and has been nominated for Chicago's "Jeff" Award.  Mr. Winkelman is also the owner/operator of First Tech, L.L.C., and, along with his wife Val, is the proud parent of two daughters, Emily and Courtney.


Experience Mike's work in our upcoming production of Marais' Ariane et Bachus


What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?  

When I was in the 4th grade, in the Winter of 1971, my music teacher had to go to see the principal and left me in charge of the record player.  The class all wanted to hear “Joy to the World,” so I put on the album fully expecting to hear the Christmas classic. Instead, my ears discovered what my mind had not, that there was an entire universe out there that my parents had kept hidden away from me as I learned of a bullfrog named Jeremiah, and his tasty wine.

What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?

Facing limits.

Who inspires you?


Do you have a favorite opera?  


What are you reading?  

Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton

Who are your favorite 17th- and 18th-century composers?  

Bach. I know--not original--but I love his approach to music and his humor.

If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?  

Right now, the answer is “Hamilton, an American Musical,” but that changes.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making art?  


What is the first thing you think about in the morning?  

Who won the Rangers game last night.

Do you have any heroes/heroines?

Many. Those who sacrifice themselves for the betterment of others are ALL my heroes/heroines.

If you had not entered into your current career what do you think you would have done instead?  

Worked in Radio/TV news dept.