Sep 26, 30, Oct 2, 7, 10, 14, 16, 21, 23, 24, 2015

Chicago Fringe Opera opens its second season with an opera experience like you’ve never imagined. Benjamin Britten’s ghostly chamber opera ‘The Turn of the Screw’ is presented as an immersive guided tour of the famous Berger Park mansion, transformed into a haunted house. Audience members journey through the rooms of the house as the opera unfolds. Join us for this unusual setting of Henry James’s haunting story of terror and mystery.

Cast

*Alternate Cast Performing October 2, 10 & 23

Governess

Katy Compton

Katy Compton

Governess

Katy Compton, a native of Waxahachie, Texas, has been praised for her “clear and attractive soprano,” and has established herself as a warm, accessible, and thoughtful performer. This winter, she looks forward to singing in concerts with CHAI Collaborative Ensemble and Chicago Fringe Opera. Katy’s recent performance highlights include playing the Governess in The Turn of the Screw with Chicago Fringe Opera, touring with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s outreach program, Opera in the Neighborhoods, as Dortchen in The Brothers Grimm, and singing with the Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus in last season’s production of Tannhäuser. Katy was a semi-finalist in last year’s Classical Singer Competition, is a proud member of Vox 3 Collective, and is an accomplished chorister, singing frequently with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Grant Park Chorus. She received her M.M. in Voice Performance from Florida State University, and lives in Chicago with her husband.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Governess 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014

Quint/Prologue

Scott Brunscheen

Scott Brunscheen

Quint/Prologue

Described as having a “clear, secure, lyric tenor voice” that is “bold and assertive,” Scott Brunscheen is establishing himself as a unique voice in classical music.

For the 2013-14 season, Scott joined Madison Opera as a studio artist, during which he performed as Spoletta in Tosca, the solo inmate in Dead Man Walking, and the understudy for Tonio in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment. Additionally, Scott travelled to Germany and Tunisia to participate with the Bachakademie Stuttgart as a soloist under the direction of Hans-Christoph Rademann. He also returned to Chicago to sing Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Candid Concert Opera (now Chicago Fringe Opera). For the summer season, he sang with the Caramoor Bel Canto Festival as a soloist in Donizetti’s Miserere and ensemble member.

During previous seasons, Mr. Brunscheen performed Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Belmonte (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola), and covered Roderick in Philip Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher, First Priest (Die Zauberflöte), Aronne in (Mose in Egitto), Delfa in Cavalli’s Giasone, and Tobias Ragg (Sweeney Todd).

Future performances include Wilhem Grimm in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s outreach and community performances of The Brothers Grimm, Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia with Chicago Fringe Opera, and a return to Bachakademie Stuttgart.

Scott has been a young artist with Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Caramoor Bel Canto Festival, and Opera New Jersey. His completed his undergraduate studies at University of Utah and received his graduate degree from Roosevelt University. He currently lives in Chicago with his husband.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Quint/Prologue 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
Far Off Light Soloist 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
The Rape of Lucretia Male Chorus 2014

Flora

Elyse Kakacek

Elyse Kakacek

Flora

Elyse Kakacek has been acclaimed by Chicago critics as “a young singer with vocal heft” with a “sparkling soprano voice” and “pleasing ability to navigate the stage”. She has been seen in various stage roles including Nedda, Susanna, Pamina, Frasquita, Clorinda, Adele and Ida in Die Fledermaus, Despina, Gretel, Zerlina, Papagena, Yumyum and Peep-Bo in The Mikado, and Sieglinde Lessing in Music in the Air. She also was in the cast of Spirit of the Dance in Niagara Falls as a featured soloist for Spirit Productions.

She has performed with The Cobalt Opera, Candid Concert Opera, Music by the Lake, Petite Opera Productions, American Chamber Opera Company, The Gilbert and Sullivan Company of Chicago, The Savoyaires and the DePaul Opera Theatre. She made her musical theatre debut at age seventeen as Dari in a middle-eastern pop-opera Sitaram with Lookingglass Theatre.

Her next adventure will be portraying the role of Despina in The Floating Opera Company’s inaugural production of Cosi fan tutte in the fall. Miss Kakacek will also be singing the role of Alice with Chicago Opera Playhouse during their 2014-2015 season production of Alice in Wonderland by Adam Busch. On the concert stage, she has appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy at the International Beethoven Festival in Chicago, Mendelssohn’s Elijah (The Youth), and in Schubert’s Mass in G. Elyse was a Finalist in both Chicago’s Opera Idol Competition and in the Opera Professional division for The American Prize: Virginia Schorr Memorial Award in 2013.

Miss Kakacek is honored to be a member of the Black Box Acting Studio family where she has completed four levels of study in the Sanford Meisner Method. She has participated in several summer training programs including Chicago Summer Opera, Operaworks, The Amalfi Coast Music Festival and the Opera Training Institute of Chicago. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from DePaul University and currently studies voice with Winifred Faix Brown in Chicago.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Flora 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
The Rape of Lucretia Lucia 2014

Miles

Jonathan Zeng

Jonathan Zeng

Miles

Lauded for his versatility as a performer and accomplished in Musical Theater, Opera, Oratorio and Concert repertoire, “excellent tenor” Jonathan Zeng has performed throughout the United States with companies such as Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Memphis, Utah Festival Opera, and the Princeton Festival. With a voice described as “impeccable”, Jonathan is based in Chicago where he has appeared as soloist with The William Ferris Chorale in the American premiere of Joubert’s Five Songs of Incarnation and Somma’s Missa Pro Defunctis. You may also have seen him singing with the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, in Folks Operetta productions Johnny Johnson or The Csardas Princess, or in Chicago Fringe Opera productions Trouble In Tahiti, Turn of the Screw, and Song From the Uproar. Roles elsewhere range from Goro in Madama Butterfly & Beppe in I Pagliacci to Prince Charming in Cinderella & Frederic in Pirates of Penzance.

Jonathan served as an adjunct faculty member in the Preparatory Department at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and has maintained a private voice studio for more than a decade. Jonathan received a BA in Music Education from the School of Music at Western IL University and an MM in vocal performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM)

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Long Christmas Dinner Charles 2018
The Great God Pan Clarke and Meyrick Cover 2018
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
The Turn of the Screw Miles 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Tenor, Jazz Trio 2015

Miss Jessel

Angela De Venuto

Angela De Venuto

Miss Jessel

Chicago native Angela De Venuto’s vibrant soprano and magnetic stage presence has brought her to perform such roles as Adele (Die Fledermaus), the title role of Angélique (Ibert), Emily Webb (Our Town), Fiametta (The Gondoliers), and Peep-Bo (The Mikado) with DePaul Opera Theatre, and Lady Saphir (Patience) with Savoyaires.

Recently, Angela has performed self-produced recitals: An Evening of Art Song, and Sending Our Love (a benefit recital for Illinois tornado victims). She also performed scenes as Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) with the Northwest Chicago Symphony and scenes as Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro) at Northwestern University, was soprano soloist for Vivaldi’s Gloria, and covered the role of Musetta (La bohéme) with Kor Productions. She occasionally performs throughout the country as soprano soloist with composer and pianist Eric Genuis in venues ranging from concert halls to maximum-security prisons.

In concert, Angela has performed works from Vivaldi, Handel, and Monteverdi to respected American composers such as John Cage and Thomas Pasatieri. A prolific recitalist, Angela has performed composers such as Respighi, Chausson, Dowland, Barber, Libby Larsen, and Previn. In 2013, Angela was the winner of the Raimondi Scholarship and in 2012, the LiPuma Scholarship in the Casa Italia Vocal Competitions. Angela trained in the Advanced Artist Program with OperaWorks during the summer of 2014 and received her B.M. in Vocal Performance from DePaul University.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Miss Jessel 2015

Mrs. Grose

Giovanna Jacques

Giovanna Jacques

Mrs. Grose

Mezzo-Soprano Giovanna Manilla Jacques has been actively involved in the Chicago opera scene. She has appeared in several of DePaul Opera Theater productions, portraying such roles as Bianca in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia, Mrs Peachum ThreePenny Opera, Florence Pike in Britten’s Albert Herring, The Duchess in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers and the witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. She will next be heard singing the role of Mrs. Grose in the Chicago Fringe Opera’s production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.

She is the head of Development for the Chicago Fringe Opera and is also a founding member of the Chicago women’s ensemble Caritas, as well as a yearly participant in the PianoForte association’s Schubertiade. A native French speaker, she also served as the French language coach for CUBE’s production of La Tragédie de Carmen. She just returned from Los Angeles, where she was a part of the OperaWorks Emerging Artists Program. Though she was born and spent her childhood in San Francisco, Ms. Jacques spent her formative years in the South of France where she studied at the Conservatoire National de Toulon. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from DePaul University.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Mrs. Grose 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
The Rape of Lucretia Bianca 2014

Governess*

Kaileen Miller

Kaileen Miller

Governess*

Soprano Kaileen Miller is an up-and-coming singer in the Chicago area, performing regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She recently particpated in the Emerging Artist Program with Virginia Opera, singing the role of the High Priestess in Aida and covering the role of Eurydice in Philip Glass’ Orphée. She spent two summers at Central City Opera as an Apprentice Artist, most recently singing Nella in Gianni Schicchi and a cover performance of Oriana in Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula. Additionally, she was hailed with rave reviews in her appearance as Donna Anna in Berkeley Opera’s Don Giovanni, declaring her portrayal as “a clear audience favorite…she sang with fervent feeling.” Previously based in San Francisco, Ms. Miller has sung many other operatic roles in the Bay Area including: the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Micaëla in Carmen, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She completed her Master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook. Ms. Miller has worked with such luminaries as Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Thomas Hampson, Christine Brandes, Helmuth Rilling, and Nicola Luisotti. She has won numerous competitions and awards, including third place in the Western Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, fourth place in the East Bay Opera League Scholarship Competition, and an Encouragement Award in the District Met Auditions in San Francisco.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Governess* 2015

Quint/Prologue*

Nathan Ward

Nathan Ward

Quint/Prologue*

Missourian Nathan Ward comes from an eclectic musical background, drawing on study of piano, cello, and composition to inform his singing. Currently pursuing a master’s degree from Northwestern University under Karen Brunssen, where he has recently performed as Howard Boucher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and Richard Dauntless in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, Nathan has also recently collaborated as a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, Kile Smith’s Vespers with the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble, and Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings.

Before graduating from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in voice performance, he performed in Show-Me Opera’s productions of Cosí fan tutte, (Ferrando) La Cenerentola (Don Ramiro), and The Merry Widow, (Saint-Brioche), and became a recurring soloist with the Mizzou New Music Ensemble and the Bach Collegium Choir. Influential teachers include Ann Harrell and Braeden Harris.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Turn of the Screw Quint/Prologue* 2015

Miles*

Jared Esguerra

Jared Esguerra

Miles*

A Chicago native, Jared received his B.M. from DePaul University in 2012 where he studied with Christopher Lorimer. There, he was cast in a number of leading roles such as Gabriel Von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and Luiz in The Gondoliers through DePaul Opera Theater. He recently was an apprentice artist at Sarasota Opera for their 2014 winter season.

Currently, he studies with Julia Faulker while being a chorister for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and for the Chicago Symphony Chorus.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

2016 Holiday House Party Solois 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Miles* 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014

Miss Jessel*

Jessie Lyons

Jessie Lyons

Miss Jessel*

Lyric soprano Jessie Lyons is one of the most promising performers of opera’s new generation. The Iowa native has been enthusiastically received by audiences in numerous productions in Italy and throughout the United States.

Jessie has been described as “an amazingly talented young lyric soprano [with] a unique voice that is strong and warm throughout her range,” and her “poise and natural stage presence put her at the top of the list among her current peers.”
(Matthew Chellis, international performing artist).

Of one performance, Stage West Des Moines director Paul Dieke said, “Jessie has an exciting voice, brilliant and powerful, with secure, well-developed high tones. She was musically accurate and approached her roles with sensitivity and expressiveness. Dramatically, she was superb. Her anger/fight scene was mesmerizing.”

Jessie has performed numerous roles with various opera companies. Among her finest achievements to date are her performances of Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème, La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with La Musica Lirica in Italy. She has also performed as Alice Ford in Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Luther College, and Mimi in American Chamber Opera’s production of La bohème. In addition, she has sung with the Taos Opera Institute in Taos, New Mexico. Following that, Jessie performed with the Des Moines Metropolitan Opera in their 40th anniversary season, singing in Puccini’s La Rondine and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and scenes from Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, Mozart’s Cosí Fan Tutte, and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

Jessie holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Luther College and a Master’s Degree from Roosevelt University’s “Chicago College of Performing Arts.” After finishing her Master’s Degree, Jessie spent a summer in New York City participating in the Manhattan School of Music Summer Festival.

Most recently, Jessie took part in Madison Opera’s 2013-14 resident artist program in Madison, Wisconsin, where she covered the title role in Puccini’s Tosca and sang Sister Catherine (and covered Sister Rose) in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Long Christmas Dinner Lucia/Lucia II 2018
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Miss Jessel* 2015

Mrs. Grose*

Nicole Hager

Nicole Hager

Mrs. Grose*

Nicole Elizabeth Hager, soprano, a native of Bettendorf, Iowa, is know for her full dramatic voice and her comedic abilities on stage. Recent roles include Djameleh in the American premier of The Rose of Stambul​ (Leo Fall) with the Chicago Folks Operetta, Sarah Good in The Crucible, Arminy in Carousel, Ida in Die Fledermaus, and Margo in The Merry Widow as well as countless other chorus and opera scene appearances. ​Nicole received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa where she studied with Dr. Virginia Croskery and Dr. Robert Larsen. She holds a Masters of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where shes studied with Christine Flasch and Matthew Chellis.​​

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Turn of the Screw Mrs Grose* 2015

Artistic Team

Artistic Director

Codrut Birsan

Artistic Director

Born in Brasov, Romania, Codrut Birsan began piano lessons at age 6 and at 17 accompanied for Opera Brasov. A former singer, Birsan studied at the Bucharest Conservatory and as a young musician he received instruction from Prof. Georgeta Stoleriu. In 2005, Birsan moved to the United States and obtained his Master of Music after receiving a scholarship from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Here Birsan began collaborations as an accompanist to singers and instrumentalists. Later, as an accompanist at the University of Wisconsin, Birsan began conducting larger instrumental ensembles and coached a wider range of singers, primarily focusing on opera, style, and performance practice. These collaborations would later become the catalyst and framework from which he would build Candid Concert Opera.

Birsan is a regular collaborator with Lyric Opera of Chicago and has served as music director for Opera in the Neighborhoods, Lyric’s vibrant outreach which brings opera productions to suburban and city schools. Recently, Birsan also accompanied a masterclass taught by renowned soprano, Renee Fleming. He has worn a number of professional hats and his musical credits include accompanist and opera coach with the San Francisco Lyric Opera, Livermoore Opera, Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute (BASOTI), and with the Opera Academy of California.

Also a capable and respected composer, in 2010 Birsan composed a portion of the score to “The World According to Ion B,” an acclaimed documentary originally premiering on HBO which later received an International Emmy Award.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Pianist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Conductor / Pianist 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Pianist 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Conductor 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Pianist 2014
The Rape of Lucretia Conductor 2014
Production & Stage Director

George Cederquist

Production & Stage Director

George has directed new productions and opera scenes with Chicago Fringe Opera (where he is the Artistic Director), Pittsburgh Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Main Street Opera, Chicago Summer Opera, North Park University, Roosevelt University, and the Bay View Music Festival.

In September 2015, George launched ‘Opera Box Score’, America’s only weekly talk radio show about opera, broadcast live on WNUR Chicago.

One of ten Americans to receive the 2011-12 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, George served as a Regieassistent at the Staatstheater Darmstadt during his fellowship in Germany.

George’s training includes an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University, a BA in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University, and a Directing Fellowship at Wolf Trap Opera, as well as participating in the Resident Artist Program at Pittsburgh Opera and in the Merola Opera Program.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Great God Pan Director 2018
Lucrezia Director 2017
In the Penal Colony Director 2016
The Turn of the Screw Director 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Director 2015
The Rape of Lucretia Director 2014