About Our Cast And Creative Team
JOHN BARTENSTEIN, Lighting Designer, Havana Nights, La Bohème
John Bartenstein returns to Opera North at Blow-Me-Down Farm for another season. His career design highlights include Les Miserables and Evita with Lauren Kennedy; Oliver! and Miss Saigon with Kevin Gray; Steel Magnolias with Tony Award winner Beth Leavel; Cabaret with Deborah Gibson, The King and I with Golden Globe winner and Tony-nominated Lou Diamond Phillips, Fiddler on the Roof with Tony-nominate Paul Sorvino, Driving Miss Daisy with Sandy Duncan; The Full Monty with Emmy winner Sally Struthers, Jekyll and Hyde with Sebastian Bach; The Producers with Bill Burns; and Sweeny Todd with Tony-winner Norm Lewis.
JEFFREY BERUAN, La Bohème (Alcindoro/Benoit)
Jeffrey Beruan is an important artist who possesses a rich, sonorous, and striking voice that moves with elegance and agility. His singing has been described as “intensely dramatic,” “melodious,” and “powerful.” An excellent actor, the young bass has received acclaim for bringing dramatic life to the smallest roles. Recent highlights for him include Sarastro (The Magic Flute) and Zuniga (Carmen) for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, a role debut as George Benton, the Prison Warden in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking for Madison Opera, Ferrando (Il Trovatore), the King (Aida) and Don Fernando (Fidelio) for Sarasota Opera, Sparafucile (Rigoletto) at Caramoor International Music Festival, Sarastro for Opera Saratoga, and the Bonze (Madama Butterfly) for Florida Grand Opera. As a Young Artist with Opera North in 2004, he sang Snug (Midsummer Night’s Dream). He last appearance with Opera North was in the 2019 production of All is Calm – The Christmas Truce of 1914.
HELENA BINDER, Director, La Bohème
Helena Binder is delighted to return to Opera North having directed Macbeth in 2019 and La Cenerentola in 2011. Nationally acclaimed, Helena's imaginative productions have been seen at many of the finest companies in the United States including New York City Opera, Dallas, Minnesota, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Palm Beach, Portland, Anchorage and Shreveport Opera, Opera Idaho, Saratoga, Omaha, Chattanooga, Toledo, Syracuse, Roanoke, and Wolf Trap Opera among others. Of her L’italiana in Algieri, named one of the top ten classical performances of 2015, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said, “In an evening of captivating performances, she steals the show.” A choreographer as well, Ms. Binder has collaborated with directors Frank Corsaro, Simon Callow and Christopher Alden for New York City Opera, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Glimmerglass Opera and for over thirty years she directed the Legislative Correspondents Association Show at the New York State capitol, the oldest political satire revue in the country. For her distinguished career in the arts, Helena Binder was named a Union Notable by her alma mater Union College, where she earned her B.A. She holds a Master of Arts from New York University and studied acting at Circle in the Square. She has performed in regional theatre in the United States and abroad in roles ranging from Peter Pan to Shakespeare’s Juliet, and was a member of the band Blotto, that recorded the hit I Wanna Be A Lifeguard. A sought-after acting teacher and coach, Ms. Binder has been on the faculty of Union College, Boston University, and the New England Conservatory, as well as a guest teacher at Dartmouth College. www.helenabinder.com
ANGEL BLUE, Guest Masterclass Artist
Angel Blue has emerged in recent seasons as one of the most important sopranos before the public today. On September 23, 2019, she opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019/2020 season as Bess in a new production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. These performances followed her internationally praised French Opera debut and role debut as Floria Tosca at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in July of 2019. She has also been praised for performances in many other theaters, such as the Vienna State Opera, Semperoper Dresden, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Theater an der Wien, Oper Frankfurt, and San Diego Opera. In the current season, Ms. Blue will appear in concert at the Carmel Bach Festival and in galas in St. Petersburg and Santa Fe.
Puccini’s La Bohème has played an especially prominent role in the development of Angel Blue’s career. She made her United States operatic debut as Musetta at the Los Angeles Opera in 2007 while a member of the company’s Young Artist Program and subsequently made her debut at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in the same role. As Mimi, she has won special international acclaim. Ms. Blue first sang the role at the English National Opera in London in 2014 and has since sung Mimi for her debuts at the Palau de Les Arts in Valencia in 2015, at the Vienna State Opera in 2016, and with the Canadian Opera Company in 2019. Mimi was also the role of her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2017. In Germany, she has already been heard as Mimi at the Semperoper Dresden. Other recent operatic engagements have included her debuts as Liu in Turandot at the San Diego Opera in 2018, as Marguerite in Faust at the Portland Opera in 2018 and as Bess in Porgy and Bess in Seattle in the same year. She debuted in Baden Baden as Elena in Mefistofele in 2016 and sang her first Violetta in La Traviata at the Seattle Opera in 2017, a role she also sang in the 2018/19 season for her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and her return to the Teatro alla Scala. In the 2019/2020 season, Ms. Blue made her debut at the Hamburg State Opera as Mimi. She also became the first African American to receive the Beverly Sills Award from the Metropolitan Opera in 2020.
CAROLE J. BUFFORD, Music of the Knights
Carole J. Bufford has become one of the most sought-after young performers in the New York cabaret and jazz scene. Her recent shows, “speak easy,” (featuring the Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks) and “Body & Soul” earned her rave reviews across the board, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Carole is the recipient of a Nightlife, Bistro and BroadwayWorld Award for Outstanding Vocalist. She has traveled all over the US (The Colony’s Royal Room- Palm Beach; Venetian Room- Dallas; Cabaret 313- Detroit; Broadway By The Bay- San Mateo; Upright Cabaret- L.A.) and recently made her London debut to great critical acclaim. Recently, Carole was featured in Michael Feinstein’s Great American Songbook series at Jazz @ Lincoln Center. She has been spotlighted in numerous “Broadway By The Year” concerts, both at The Town Hall and in California. Carole recently starred in Scott Siegel’s “11 O’Clock Numbers at 11 O’Clock” at Feinstein’s at The Loew’s Regency along with Christina Bianco and Scott Coulter. The show played every Thursday and enjoyed an eight-month run, one of the longest in Feinstein’s history.
Louis Burkot, Artistic Director
Louis Burkot studied conducting at the Yale School of Music, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Houston Grand Opera, and served as Music Director of Opera New England. He was appointed Artistic Director of Opera North in 1987, and has conducted more than 35 productions for the company. He is also Director Emeritus of the Dartmouth College Glee Club and Senior Lecturer in the Dartmouth College Department of Music. In addition, he gives master classes in Vocal Repertoire to music schools and conservatories throughout the United States. He is the recipient of the Dartmouth’s Distinguished Lecturer Award in 2000. Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe praised his conducting as “first-rate, capable and stylish,” and Opera News magazine notes his conducting “sparkles with verve and sensitivity to the needs of singers.”
SYDNEY BURTON, Extraordinary Women (Attendant)
Sydney Burton is a rising junior at Dartmouth College majoring in Cognitive Science with a minor in Geography. Sydney has been singing and performing since she was 4 years old and is very excited to be working with Opera North this summer. Good luck to the cast and crew, you are all “extraordinary”!
TONY CISEK, Scenic Designer, La Bohème
Tony Cisek returns to Opera North this season, having recently served as scenic designer for Opera North’s acclaimed 2019 production of Macbeth. Tony has designed for companies across the US including Roundabout Theatre, Arena Stage, Guthrie Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Denver Center, Ford’s Theatre, South Coast Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Portland Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Centerstage (Baltimore), Indiana Rep, Syracuse Stage, New York Theatre Workshop, Cleveland Play House, Folger Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Studio Theatre, and Berkshire Theatre Festival. For his work as a scenic designer, he received four Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, five Drammy Awards in Portland, three Barrymore Award nominations in Philadelphia, as well as numerous other citations for outstanding design. He was the principal theatre consultant for the Atlas Performing Arts Center, completed in Northeast Washington, DC in 2006. He holds an MFA in Design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
ASHTON MICHAEL COREY, Music of the Knights
Ashton is a resident of New York City and a proud member of AEA and IATSE. He has been seen in Musicals, Readings, Concerts, and Plays all over the United States, most notably the second National Tour of the Tony Award Winning musical "A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder." Recently Ashton has been seen in the hit musical "Once" at TheatreSquared as well as Off Broadway in "Pip's Island." Ashton has also worked as sound designer and audio engineer for the Off Broadway productions of "Medicine The Musical" and "The Vanity" in addition to mixing the Off Broadway revival of "Tick, Tick... BOOM!."
JAN DAMM, Havana Nights
Jan ("Yahn") Damm has been touring in the U.S. and internationally as a circus artist for 15 years. Originally from Maine, he learned to juggle at age 10 and was active in theater throughout school. Since graduating Bard College, he has worked street corners, big-top tents, theaters and opera houses, rural schoolyards, and on screen. He specializes in clown, juggling, acrobatics, balancing and eccentric skills. Jan enjoys collaboration and creating original work but is also at home in classic spectacles inspired by the greats of vaudeville and circus. He has toured with 'Clowns Without Borders' to Haiti, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Greece. Other career highlights are appearances aboard Celebrity Cruises, Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk, and Big Apple Circus' 40th Anniversary Tour. He lives in Brattleboro, Vermont with his partner Ariele Ebacher and their two children. He previously appeared with Opera North in Hoedown at Blow-Me-Down (2019).
ANTOINETTE DIPIETROPOLO, Choreographer, Havana Nights
Choreographer for the National Tour of Fame; Director/Choreographer for the National Tour of VeggieTales; Choreographer/Associate Director Big Apple Circus 2014, 2015, 2017; Director/Choreographer for Mamma Mia, Nunsense and Choreographer for Grease, The Full Monty, Miracle on 34th St, The Producers, A Christmas Story, Music Man, Evita, South Pacific, and Hairspray for the John W. Engeman Theater; Director/Choreographer National Tour Holiday Cirque Musica Arena Tour; Re-staging Director/Choreographer for the international tour of Scooby Doo Live; Associate Director/Restaging Choreographer for the National Tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Director/Choreographer Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar and Annie at Fort Salem Theatre; Choreographer Annie at the Muny in St. Louis; Director/Choreographer Ragtime at Lyric; Ragtime at North Carolina Theatre; Choreographer for Candide starring George Hearn and Rita Moreno.
KYLE DRIGGS, Havana Nights
For the past three years, Kyle Driggs has been exploring the spectrums and ideology of contemporary circus. Specializing in a unique fusion of juggling, movement, object manipulation, and theatrical persona, he strives for the convergence of modern aesthetic and high technical skill. Upon graduating from one of the world’s premier circus schools (Ecole Nationale de Cirque de Montreal) Kyle rapidly began to receive international acclaim for his talent. His experience ranges from smaller, cross-genre, experimental productions to collaborations with larger, world-class circus companies including Cirque Du Soleil’s “Paramour” on Broadway in New York City. He returns to Opera North, having previously been featured in Singers and Swingers (2018).
ALEX GETLIN, Music of the Knights
Alex Getlin is a New York-based singer and actress. Most recently she made her Carnegie Hall debut with Michael Feinstein in “Hooray for Hollywood,” as part of his Standard Time series. A native New Yorker, she has spent the 2019 performing around the country in concert tributes to Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Andrew Lloyd Webber with Spot-On Entertainment. She has appeared Off-Broadway in the company of Anything Can Happen in the Theatre – The Songs of Maury Yeston, after being hand-picked by Yeston to interpret his music. In June 2017, Getlin made her symphonic debut with the Pasadena Pops under the baton of Michael Feinstein in Broadway: The Golden Age where she starred alongside Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. In 2016, after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in theater, Getlin was a featured soloist in Broadway Rising Stars at Town Hall. She made her professional singing debut at 17, in a solo cabaret show at The Regency Hotel in New York, presented by Mr. Feinstein. The New York Times called her “a confident, engaging young singer with a big voice,” and Broadway World hailed her as “a new and rare talent on the entertainment scene.”
ARIELE EBACHER, Havana Nights
Ariele Ebacher came to circus at the age of 21 from the worlds of dance and theatre. She learned the art of wire dancing while on tour with Circus Smirkus, and then moved to Chicago to work for The Midnight Circus. She has traveled the world working in traditional, theatrical, and contemporary circus, working with Midnight Circus, The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Zoppe Circus, NoFit State Circus, Circus Flora, Flynn Creek Circus, Cirque Mechanics, and most recently Big Apple Circus. In addition to her work as a performing circus artist, Ariele has coached tightwire and other circus skills in circus schools around the country and has coached both the camp and tour at Circus Smirkus. In Chicago she taught young people at Circesteem and adults at Aloft Circus Arts. She has also taught workshops at the San Francisco Circus Center, Madison Circus Guild, and at the New England Center for Circus Arts. She returns to Opera North this season, having been featured in Hoedown at Blow-Me-Down (2019).
LEAH FINN, Extraordinary Women
Leah Finn, mezzo-soprano, is a recent graduate of James Madison University with a major in Vocal Performance and Music Theater. She has been studying classical voice for 8 years and is excited to pursue her Master's of Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music this fall.
Evans Haile, General Director
Evans Haile has more than twenty-five years of experience as a producer and artistic director. Along with Opera North, he is also the Executive Director of the award-winning York Theatre Company in NYC, recent recipient of the Outer Critics Circle Award recognizing 50 years of producing and developing new musicals and classic revivals. His career includes 15 years helming the Cape Playhouse (America’s oldest professional summer theater) and reopening and creating the new infrastructure of the North Shore Music Theater. In New York, Evans has produced at Lincoln Center, the historic Town Hall, and off-Broadway. He was producer and host of NPR’s “Toast of the Town… A Song for…” series and is the leader of the Gainesville (Florida) Orchestra, among many other artistic endeavors. His international career includes conducting major orchestras in Russia (Moscow Philharmonic), Western Europe, and Australia. He has worked with major orchestras and opera companies in the US including the Boston Pops, the Florida Grand Opera, the Seattle Opera, the Sarasota and Florida Orchestras, and the Milwaukee Symphony, among others.
SHEREEN HICKMAN, Havana Nights
Shereen Hickman is best known as a creator/lead clown for the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil. Starring as Ginger in Zumanity in Las Vegas, then going on to Broadway to create the leading female role of Margaret in Banana Shpeel (directed by David Shiner) and then touring under the Big Top as Deeda in Amaluna (with Tony-award winning director Diane Paulus). Shereen is bi-coastal, collaborating with established comedy artists, performing in live theatrical events, coaching up-and-comers, and creating her own original works both in New York City and Los Angeles. NYC highlights include becoming the first female company member of Parallel Exit, the Drama Desk nominated, award winning physical theatre company. Audience favorites include The Evil Step-Monster Louisa in The Final Reel and the erratic real estate mogul Libby T. Grump in I ❤ Bob. Shereen also created the principal role of Judy in Lyra at 54 Below (housed in the iconic Studio 54) and The Triad. She also enjoys a consistent and diverse career in voiceovers with over 65 voice acting credits including eleven unique cartoon animals for Pet Vet, bloodletting screams for Pepsi-Cola, and world-famous cows Mabel and Sadie in the “Happy Cow/Real Cheese Comes from California” commercial campaign.
JOEL JESKE, Havana Nights
Joel Jeske is an actor, artist, writer, and clown. He created and starred in the 38th and 40th productions of New York’s Big Apple Circus entitled The Grand Tour and the Big Apple Circus’s 40th Anniversary. Joel is the associate artistic director of the physical theatre company Parallel Exit. He created and starred in Parallel Exit’s Off-Broadway hits This Way That Way, Cut To The Chase, Room 17B, Exit! Stage Left!, and Everybody Gets Cake; and was nominated for the Drama Desk award in 2008, 2010, 2015. As a clown, Joel toured and created clown acts for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Cirque Du Soleil, and hosted The Big Apple Circus 2006-07 production of Step Right Up. Internationally, Joel starred at the GOP Variete with his variety creation: EXIT!, co-starred with comedian Peter Shub at the Apollo Variete/Dusseldorf, and headlined Festival Der Traume in Innsbruck, Austria, and the COS Festival in Reus, Spain. Joel was most recently seen live in New York in his one man show, The Artist Will Be With You In A Moment, combining physical comedy with the world of modern art. Over the course of the pandemic, Joel took to the internet as clown doctor Dr. Yadontsay performing “Comedy on Call” virtual visits for pediatric cancer patients for the non-profit organization Healthy Humor. Check him out at www.joeljeske.com.
CAT LAWLESS, Wig Designer, La Bohéme
Cat is a Brooklyn based hairstylist and barber. During undergrad at Wagner College, she spent her summers working in opera festivals (Glimmerglass Festival, Central City Opera) where she really fine tuned her skills. Upon graduating she worked for Hartford Stage Company before moving back to NYC. She made Broadway wigs (i.e. Newsies, Motown, Sideshow etc), worked for The Rockettes, Associate and Assistant Designed in theaters and Operas around the country such as Sarasota Opera, The Wilma, Steppenwolf, Eastman School of Music, The Signature, The Atlantic, and many more. She built and associate designed two national tours (42nd Street and Wizard of Oz), worked as an adjunct professor, worked on Broadway (Les Miserables, Disney’s Aladdin) and most recently worked as a personal hairstylist on NBC’s hit show The Blacklist for seasons 6 through 8.
MARK LONERGAN, Director, Havana Nights
Mark Lonergan is a New York-based director/creator, and the Artistic Director of Parallel Exit, a three-time Drama Desk Award nominee for Unique Theatrical Experience. With Parallel Exit, he has created many original and award-winning works of physical theatre. Mark’s work has been seen in theatres and festivals in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. In New York City, he has presented work at Lincoln Center, The New Victory Theater, 59E59 Theaters, Symphony Space, and the Guggenheim Museum. He recently directed the circus/variety production EXIT which toured Germany. Mark was the Guest Director for three productions of The Big Apple Circus, each a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Mark was the Physical Comedy Consultant for Tony winner Christian Borle in the City Center Encores production of Me and My Girl. He is also the Creative Director for Vermont’s celebrated Circus Smirkus.
COREY LOVELACE, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, La Bohème (Mimi)
Soprano, Corey Raquel Lovelace hails from Chicago, but has happily made the South her new home. Mrs. Lovelace made her debut with Opera Carolina in the role of Musetta at the beginning of the 2020 season. Mrs. Lovelace had the pleasure of serving as a young artist with Opera Delaware and preparing the role of Drusilla for the then cancelled, due to Covid, production of L’incoronazione di Poppea. Recent seasons include performances of Cendrillon in La Cendrillon, Mimì in La Bohème, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. As a featured soloist, she had the pleasure of performing in China with the iSING! International Festival during the summer of 2019. Mrs. Lovelace received the First Place Award from the Opera Guild of Charlotte’s 2018 Opera Competition. She looks forward to sharing the gift of music with audiences again soon!
KELLY MARTIN, Lighting Designer, Extraordinary Women
Kelly Martin is a lighting designer and associate based in New York. He is thrilled to return to Opera North after lighting the 2018 production of Scalia/Ginsburg. Mr. Martin is the lighting supervisor for New York Theatre Ballet, and Ain Gordon’s Radicals in Miniature, and 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous. He has lit numerous performances in Boston at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston Early Music Festival, MIT Theatre Arts, and Suffolk University Theatre Arts.
SAM MATHIS, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, La Bohème (Rodolfo)
Sam Mathis, tenor, is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He recently received a Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from Indiana University, where he was under the instruction of Carol Vaness. While attending Indiana University, Sam performed the roles of Rodolfo in La Bohème, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, and was a featured soloist in other ensembles within the Jacobs’ School of Music. Sam has also performed the roles of Don José in La Tragedie de Carmen and Carlson in Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. This is Sam’s first summer with Opera North.
CAITLIN MCGRAIL, Extraordinary Women (Sorceress)
Caitlin is a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, where she double majored in Economics and Music. Before Dartmouth, she was a finalist in the New York Lyric Opera National Competition and performed with festivals in Italy. At Dartmouth, she sang with the Glee Club and studied voice under Louis Burkot. As a Music major, she completed a thesis that focused on her performance Schumann’s song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben, for which she received High Honors. Over her sophomore summer, she performed with Opera North in their production of Les contes d’Hoffmann. In August 2020, she returned to Opera North as the Third Lady in Magic Flute and is thrilled to return this season.
ANDREA MURILLO, Havana Nights
Andrea Murillo is a classically trained performer whose style has been widely influenced by her work with modernist dance and contemporary theatre heavyweights. Andrea’s career in dance began at Miami’s innovative New World School of the Arts. Shortly thereafter, she began touring with the Martha Graham Dance Company where she performed in solo roles in the acclaimed works of Lamentation (1930), Serenata Morsica (1916), Embattled Garden (1958), and Steps in the Street (1936). Her expressive, character-forward experiences with the company lent themselves organically to her subsequent work, highlights of which include Lady Macbeth in New York’s Sleep No More (2012) and productions of Le Baccanti and Promote with Sicily’s Instituto Nazionale Dramma Antico. These works have continued to impel her investigation of dramatic movement, immersive theatre, and their vehicles of expression, notably film and circus. Andrea is a has been a Master Interdisciplinary Arts Teacher with the National Young Arts Foundation and is a certified Gyrotonic Expansion System Teacher. She is the co-founder of 3AM Theatre, a multidisciplinary company based out of New York City, and is currently attending the Terry Knickerbocker Two Year Acting Program. She returns to Opera North for a second season, having been featured in Singers and Swingers (2018).
ANDREW THOMAS PARDINI, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, La Bohème (Schaunard)
Extolled by The Baltimore Sun for his “robust work” and DC Metro Theater Arts for “a heart-stopping, high voltage bass-baritone voice,” Andrew Thomas Pardini continues to win audiences with his vibrant tone and thrilling character portrayals. Engagements during the 2020-2021 season included Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Peter (cover) in Hansel and Gretel, and Dancaïre and Escamillo (cover) in Carmen with Opera Orlando, in addition to serving as a 2020-2021 Opera Orlando Studio Artist, as well as company debut with Gulfshore Opera as Schaunard. During the 2019-2020 season, he sang Nils Krogstad at Voice Afire Opera-Cabaret in the world premiere of Raymond Luedeke’s A Doll’s House, debuted as Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park at Opera Modesto, the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance at Winter Opera Saint Louis, and Silvio in Pagliacci at Salt Marsh Opera. A native of Modesto, California, Pardini is based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. For more information, please visit www.andrewthomaspardini.com.
ARIANNA RODRIGUEZ, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, Extraordinary Women (Poppea), La Bohème (Musetta)
Soprano Arianna Rodriguez resides in Tampa, Florida. She holds a Bachelor of Music from George Mason University and a Master of Music degree from The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. She has appeared in the role of Krysia in Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness: Two Remain, as Lauretta in Gianni Schicci, as Musetta in La Bohème, and as a Street Singer in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. Arianna is very pleased to be making her debut with Opera North this summer. She is presently a student of Elizabeth Daniels.
ZARAY RODRIGUEZ, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, Extraordinary Women (Orfeo)
Award-winning mezzo-soprano Zaray Rodriguez has been hailed for her “dusky timbre” and performances “so impassioned one could believe it” (Classical South Florida Review) and for her “steadfast vocal production [that] entrance[s]” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). Role Highlights include the title role in Carmen, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, among others. Ms. Rodriguez is a previous district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Georgia (2018) and Connecticut (2017). In 2017, she was a recipient of the Career Bridges Grant. She has also been a previous winner of the National Society of Arts and Letters Dorothy Lincoln-Smith National Competition (2016, 2017), and Connecticut Alliance of Music Heida Hermanns International Vocal Competition (2016). A graduate of the Opera Institute of Boston University, she holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Ms. Rodriguez currently lives in the Boston Metro Area and is currently represented by Encompass Arts LLC.
ELIZABETH SARIAN, 2021 Resident Artist, Extraordinary Women (Dido)
Praised for her “chocolatey timbre” and “excellent dramatic timing,” (Schmopera) mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Sarian is gaining recognition as a vibrant, emerging artist. Elizabeth is an alumna of the Atlanta Opera Studio, the Santa Fe Apprentice Singer Program, the Central City Opera Bonfils-Stanton Artist Training Program and looks forward to joining Opera North this summer. Ms. Sarian’s 2019-2020 season saw her return to the The Atlanta Opera Studio with performances as Tisbe in La Cenerentola and the Page of Herodias in Salome. Elizabeth also was scheduled to perform as Kate Pinkerton (and cover Suzuki) in Madama Butterfly, a production cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other recent credits include Pastuchnya (cover) in Jenufa at the Santa Fe Opera, Flora in La traviata and Sister Lillianne in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with The Atlanta Opera. Elizabeth has been awarded two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and holds a Graduate Performance Diploma and Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
AMANDA SIMMS, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, Extraordinary Women (Cleopatra)
Amanda Simms, soprano, is considered as “an extraordinary performer with much promise.” With a Master of Music from Montclair State University, she boasts a wide repertoire from baroque to the 21st century. She has performed the role of Lucia (Rape of Lucretia) and Asteria (Tamerlano) and was set to perform Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) in the summer of 2020. In 2021, Amanda won second place in the International Charleston Music Competition and the NATS Eastern Regional Division. Previously a semi-finalist in the Orpheus Competition, and won second place in the Advanced College Division of the NATS New York City Chapter, among others.
ALAN MICHAEL SMITH, Costume Designer, La Bohème
Mr. Smith has worked as a freelance Costume Designer on Broadway and for various regional theaters in and around New York. As a member of the Theatrical Wardrobe Union, Alan has been associated with over 15 Broadway shows in the last 30 years. He had the pleasure of being the Resident Costume Designer for 8 years at Opera Saratoga and currently for 6 years at First Coast Opera. Mr. Smith is also the Resident Costume Designer at Wagner College for the past 15 years.
MATTHEW SOIBELMAN, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, La Bohème (Colline)
Bass Matthew Soibelman, from Los Angeles, California, is a Graduate Diploma in Vocal Arts student at the Juilliard School, where he studies under Darrell Babidge. He was most recently a Bailey Apprentice Artist with Palm Beach Opera for their 2019-2020 season, covering Zaretsky and study-covering Gremin in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, as well as study-covering Bartolo in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and performing the role in their shortened Children’s Performance. He received his bachelor’s degree from California State University of Northridge.
He can also be heard on the major motion picture soundtracks of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Transformers: The Last Knight.
JUSTIN TALKINGTON, Music of the Knights
Justin is a New York City based actor, singer, dancer, and educator. A rural Indiana transplant, Justin began performing regularly in NYC after being selected to perform in the 2013 Broadway's Rising Stars concert at Town Hall under the direction of Scott Coulter. A proud member of Actor's Equity Association, some favorite professional credits include the regional tour of "Annie Get Your Gun" (Frank Butler) under the direction of Judy Norton, National Tour of "Junie B. Jones" (Mr. Scary), "Funny Girl" (Eddie Ryan), "Into the Woods" (Cinderella's Prince), and the role of Candide at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's "One Hand, One Heart" tribute concert to Leonard Bernstein. Justin has toured nationally with five-time Grammy nominated singer and archivist Michael Feinstein and performs regularly at Feinstein's/ 54 Below, Metropolitan Room, Town Hall, and Laurie Beechman Theatre. Justin's symphonic concert work includes performances with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Gainesville Orchestra, Signature Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and Purdue Philharmonic Orchestra. Working professionally with younger generations for over ten years, Justin is still exploring his love of teaching the arts, personal training, and wellness coaching in New York City and across the country. In addition to working as a guest Choreographer and Associate Director in Musical Theatre at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Traverse City, Michigan, Justin is the National Head of Performing Arts for Fusion Academy's sixty-five campuses across the United States.
JAKE SURZYN, 2021 Resident Artist, Havana Nights, La Bohème (Marcello)
Jake Surzyn is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he performed Schaunard in La bohème, Melisso in Alcina, and Cacambo/Don Issachar in Candide. Born and raised in Michigan, Jake has worked with companies such as Detroit’s Opera MODO, Plymouth’s Main Street Opera Theatre, and Ann Arbor’s Arbor Opera Theatre. With these companies he has performed as Marquis de la Force (Dialogues des Carmélites), Doctor Gregg (Gallantry), Jupiter (Orphée aux enfers), Crespel (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Dandini (La Cenerentola), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), King Melchior (Amahl and the Night Visitors), and Pirate King (Pirates of Penzance). A pioneer of virtual opera, Jake covered the role of Guglielmo in Opera NexGen’s inaugural performance of Così fan tutte. In March of 2020, Jake made his debut with First Coast Opera where he sang the role of The Pilot in Portman’s The Little Prince. Jake has been a Young and Apprentice Artist with Charlottesville Opera where he covered the roles of Marcello, Beast, Lancelot, and Escamillo. An avid performer of oratorio, Jake has sung as the soloist in concerts ranging from the Baroque to the Contemporary. Such works include J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion, Haydn’s The Creation, Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem, and Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion.
NORA WINSLER, Director, Extraordinary Women
Nora Winsler is a director of theater and opera based in New York City. Movement and physicality are frequently at the core of her work, drawing from her experience as a choreographer. Nora graduated from James Madison University’s School of Music, where she choreographed and directed productions in the School of Music and the School of Theater and Dance. Since moving to NYC, Nora has worked as a director and movement director on exciting new works and reimagined classics. A Resident Artist with Opera North in 2019, where she served as assistant director for Pirates of Penzance, Ms. Winsler returned to the Opera North in December 2019 to direct All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914. Additional credits include serving as assistant director for Opera Columbus’ The Barber of Seville, and assistant director for JMU’s productions of Dead Man Walking, Cosi fan tutte, and The Mikado.
NORIKO YASUDA, Assistant Conductor and Principal Coach
Noriko Yasuda began her career in Osaka, Japan as an accompanist with the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and Osaka College of Music Opera House. In that capacity she worked with Seiji Ozawa, Toru Takemitsu, Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, and Alfred Kraus, among others. Since she moved to the U.S. in 1993, she has worked with Grant Llewellyn, Harry Christophers, John Nelson, Stephen Lord, John Finney, Jeffrey Rink, F. John Adams, Martin Pearlman, and Louis Burkot. She has been invited as a guest accompanist for master classes with Jose Van Dam, Mignon Dunn, Jerry Hadley, Shirley Verret, Joseph Colaneri, Betty Buckley, Sharon Daniels, Donna Roll, and Louise Toppin. An active vocal coach and accompanist in the Boston area, she has worked with Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Baroque, Handel and Haydn Society, Chorus Pro Musica, New England String Ensemble, La Donna Musicale, Longy Opera Workshop, and Boston University Opera Program. Her credits as opera continuo are Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte, L’Elisir D’Amore, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola , Orontea, Alcina, Xerxes, and Dido and Aeneas.