Voices in the Dark

An Evening of Jazz and Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti

March 13, 14, 19, 20, & 21, 2015

Join Chicago Fringe Opera for an evening of jazz coupled with Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. This casual soiree will begin and end with a jazz sets featuring vocal and instrumental standards. Cocktails and mingling are encouraged.

Written in 1951, Trouble in Tahiti examines the souring relationship between a suburban American couple as they struggle to achieve the American dream, only to realize that their quest for possessions is no substitute for a deep personal connection.

PDF Program


Aaron Wardell


Aaron Wardell

Aaron Wardell has been praised for his attractive, versatile baritone and is a sought-after performer in both opera and concert. He recently sang Yamadori in the Castleton Festival’s production of Madama Butterfly, where he was called a “young, handsome hunk” by the Washington Post. He has appeared with Opera Tampa, Dayton Opera, Elgin Opera, Chamber Opera Chicago, Central City Opera and internationally at Teatro National de Sucre in numerous roles including Dancaïro (Carmen), Marcello (La Bohème), Marco (Gianni Schicchi) and the title role in Don Giovanni.

Equally at home on the concert stage, his oratorio credits include Adam in Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Requiem, and both Bach Passions.

Aaron holds a Bachelor of Music from Western Michigan University, and earned a Master of Music in vocal performance and an Artist Diploma in opera from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Great God Pan Raymond 2018
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Sam 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
The Rape of Lucretia Junius 2014

Julia Elise Hardin


Julia Elise Hardin

Julia Elise Hardin, a native of Lawrence, KS, has been touted as a “powerful” and “expressive” singer drawing from her extensive acting background. She is a founding company ensemble member of Chicago Fringe Opera, and was previously Co-Company Manager and Manager of Finance (2014-2015).

As a singer, Ms. Hardin has performed principal and featured roles as a coloratura mezzo-soprano with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Opera in the Neighborhoods, Chicago Opera Theater, the Castleton Festival (founded by the late Maestro Lorin Maazel), Florentine Opera, Central City Opera, the Fondazione Lirico in Bari, Italy, and more. Orchestral engagements have included regional performances with the Milwaukee Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Rockford and Ft. Wayne Symphonies. Ms. Hardin garners accolades and awards from foundations such as NATSAA, Neue Stimmen, Chicago Union League, Bel Canto Foundation and the Friends of Austria. Julia performs regularly with Chicago groups Music of the Baroque, Aestas Consort and William Ferris Chorale. In 2011, she joined in celebrating the Grammy wins of Florentine Opera’s recording of Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry from the Naxos label, on which she is featured as Mrs. Baines.

In addition to her Executive Directorship with Chicago Fringe Opera, Hardin has worked the head of Development and Engagement and Fest Manager for Twickenham Fest, a chamber music festival located in Huntsville, AL.

Beginning with a career primarily based in theater and acting, Julia Elise Hardin followed with strict vocal training at Northwestern University. She continues study with Julia Faulkner. Hardin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a master’s from Northwestern University. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Dinah 2015
Far Off Light Soloist 2015

Jenny Schuler

1st Trio Member

Jenny Schuler

Soprano Jenny Schuler has earned praise in recent seasons for her powerful vocalism and compelling stage artistry. In February 2018 she joins Indiana University as a guest artist in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos. In 2017, she debuted the title roles of Ariadne auf Naxos and Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, both with the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, and covered the role of Leonore in the Princeton Festival’s production of Fidelio. Additional roles in her repertoire have included Micaëla in La tragédie de Carmen, Anaide in Nino Rota’s Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, and Alice Ford in Falstaff.

Ms. Schuler has recently placed as a finalist in the Marcello Giordani International Voice Competition and as the first prize recipient in the Heafner–Williams Vocal Competition. Ms. Schuler is currently represented by Couret & Werner Artist Management, she earned her Artist Diploma from the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, her Master of Music from Chicago College of Performing Arts, and a double Bachelor of Arts in Music and Graphic Design from Trinity Christian College.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Girl, Jazz Trio 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
The Rape of Lucretia Female Chorus 2014

Jonathan Zeng

2nd Trio Member

Jonathan Zeng

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 and has appeared as soloist with The William Ferris Chorale in the American premiere of John Joubert’s Five Songs of Incarnation and Bonaventura Somma’s Missa Pro Defunctis. You may also have seen him singing with the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, performing in Chicago Fringe Opera productions Trouble In Tahiti, Turn of the Screw, and Song From the Uproar, or as part of Chicago Folks Operetta’s Johnny Johnson. Jonathan is thrilled to produce a new cabaret concert series, Songs That Speak, at the Chopin Theatre in Chicago.

An avid proponent for arts education and vocal instruction, Jonathan has 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).

Jonathan also writes and records his own music.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

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

Tobias Wright

3rd Trio Member

Tobias Wright

Tobias Wright is a tenor and native Kansan who was most recently seen in the world premiere of Rootabaga Country as Gimme the Ax with Sarasota Opera. Summer of 2017 saw Tobias make his Opera North debut as Goro in Madama Butterfly and Ajax I in Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène.In the spring of 2017 Tobias performed the role of Lorenzo in William Bolcom’s Lucrezia with Chicago Fringe Opera. Early 2017 saw Tobias with Sarasota Opera, where he made his debut as Un Giovanetto in Italo Montemezzi’s rarely performed L’amore dei tre Re. At the conclusion of the season he was awarded the Scheininger-Reznick Apprentice Scholarship for an Outstanding Apprentice Artist. In December of 2016, Mr. Wright was seen in Chicago with Light Opera Works as Alfred in their new production of Die Fledermaus. Summer of 2017 saw the release of the world premiere of Ross Crean’s The Great God Pan, in which Tobias sang the role of Clarke. The Great God Pan was released by Navona Records/Naxos of America.

In the fall of 2015 Tobias sang the role of Juan in the world premiere of Eustasio Rosales’ Andina at the historic Athenauem Theater in Chicago. The performance and production were featured in the documentary film The Way to Andina, premiering at the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival in the Spring of 2017.

Tobias holds a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice from the University of Kansas.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Great God Pan Clarke 2018
Lucrezia Lorenzo 2017
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Baritone, Jazz Trio 2015

Codrut Birsan


Codrut Birsan

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
An Evening of Hymns 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

George Cederquist


George Cederquist

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

Critical Acclaim

“This is not an airbrushed show. These are raw performances by a young and daring company. This show is perfect for the new-comer to opera. ”

Chicago Stage Standard | Read the Review

“Chicago Fringe Opera immediately weaves a spell with low lighting and sultry jazz music...”

New City Stage | Read the Review


The Chopin Theatre

1543 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60642