Members

Company Members

Julia Elise Hardin

Executive Director
Mezzo-Soprano

Julia Elise Hardin

Executive Director, Mezzo-Soprano

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

Catherine O'Shaughnessy

Music Director

Catherine O'Shaughnessy

Music Director

A resident of Chicago, Illinois, Catherine O’Shaughnessy is an active orchestra and opera conductor both in the United States and abroad. In 2010, she made her international professional conducting debut as music director of the Mittelsächsisches Theater's production of Pyramus und Thisbe in Freiberg, Germany; she has also conducted the Moscow Philharmonic and the Rousse Philharmonic (Rousse, Bulgaria) in concert. Avidly committed to Chicago’s dynamic opera scene, she founded Windy City Opera and conducted its first production (La bohème) in 2015. Additionally, she just completed her first collaboration with The Floating Opera Company and 42nd Parallel as conductor and music director for Don Giovanni. Catherine, a student of William Reber at Arizona State University, holds a B.M. from the University of Michigan and a M.M. from Bowling Green State University. In addition to her musical pursuits, Catherine is passionate about the role of the arts in philosophy and society. She currently serves as co-organizer for two philosophy meet-up groups and presented a paper on the philosophy of passion at the 2013 Humanities Conference at Lincoln University, PA.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Conductor 2017
In the Penal Colony Conductor 2016

George Cederquist

Artistic Director

George Cederquist

Artistic 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

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

Alyssa Arrigo

Pianist

Alyssa Arrigo

Pianist

Alyssa Arrigo is the current artist-in-residence collaborative artist at the Chicago College of Performing Arts and a Young Artist at Chicago Opera Theater. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Moraine Valley Community College where she teaches piano and lecture classes.

A Chicago native, Alyssa is a graduate of the esteemed Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. While completing her masters degree, Alyssa worked as an opera coach and rehearsal pianist for the IU Opera Theater in shows like Albert Herring, Faust, A View From the Bridge, Candide and the world premiere of Bernard Rand's Vincent. She regularly performs with small opera companies around Chicago.

Ms. Arrigo is an avid collaborator. In 2011 she was seen with tenor Andrew Lunsford at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. She has traveled annually to Las Vegas, Nevada, to perform at the annual Food and Beverage Forum with acclaimed tenor, Carlos Montane.

A veteran of numerous summer festivals, Alyssa was has been a part of the Aspen Music Festival and School, Vladamir Feltsman's PianoSummer and made her Italian debut while playing for opera singers in Montecatini Terme, Italy as part of the Italian Operatic Experience.

Ms. Arrigo maintains a small private studio and also teaches at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

2016 Holiday House Party Pianist 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Pianist 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Pianist 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Pianist 2015
The Rape of Lucretia Pianist 2014

Katherine Bruton

Finance Director
Soprano

Katherine Bruton

Finance Director, Soprano

Soprano Katherine Bruton's clear voice and vibrant characterization bring opera and art song to life. Her nuanced musicality and virtuosic vocal fireworks have earned her the roles of Miss Silverpeal/The Impresario, Mabel/The Pirates of Penzance, Le feu (The Fire)/L'enfant et les sortileges (The Child and the Spells), and Virtù (Virtue)/L'incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea), among others. She has also appeared with Pasadena Opera, the critically-acclaimed Pacific Opera Project, and OperaUCLA, among others.

An advocate of new opera, Ms. Bruton has been a part of several operatic premieres. Recently, Ms. Bruton has performed in the Chicago premieres of contemporary one-act operas as Darling Donnis/The Final Battle for Love by Philip Thompson, Sang Kancil the Mouse Deer/The Mouse Deer and the Crocodile by Hong-Da Chin, and Wing Tip/The Rootabaga Stories by Yvonne Freckmann with Thompson Street Opera Company. She also had the privilege of creating the role of “La Saborini” in the world premiere of The Dove and The Nightingale by American composer Roger Bourland. Upcoming performances include the world premiere of Ross Crean's opera Lost Daughters as The Queen of the Night with Another Voice Collaborative in partnership with Resonanz Opera and future engagements with Thompson Street Opera Company.

Ms. Bruton also has a passion for art song, especially new art song. She has given premieres of several art songs and art song cycles, including Littles by Michelle Isaac and Personal Weather by Pin Hsing Lin. While at SongFest in Los Angeles, CA, Ms. Bruton had the privilege of working with fabulous collaborative pianists Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Margo Garrett, and Kathleen Tagg. She has also performed in concert with American composer John Musto. Her passion for art song also extends to Russian art song, which she has performed consistently since Russian baritone Vladimir Chernov introduced her to the language and repertoire during her undergraduate studies at UCLA.

Ms. Bruton is pursuing her Masters of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where she studies with soprano Judith Haddon. She also received bachelors' degrees in vocal performance and music education from UCLA, where she studied with Vladimir Chernov. She is a proud OperaWorks alumna and has also attended Songfest in Los Angeles, CA and the Summer in Payerbach Opera Intensive in Austria.

Matthan Ring Black

Multimedia Director
Baritone

Matthan Ring Black

Multimedia Director, Baritone

Matthan Ring Black, baritone, holds a Master's Degree in Opera Performance from Wichita State University and a Professional Diploma from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where he spent two years as a Young Artist with Chicago Opera Theater. Matthan has recently performed the roles of Don Alvaro and Dandini in Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims and La Cenerentola, Huy/The Doctor in the Chicago premiere of Daron Hagen's Amelia at CCPA and Roderick Usher in a new realization of Debussy's unfinished La Chute de Maison de Usher.

Matthan is also committed to classical vocal music in recital and concert. He recently performed in song recitals honoring the 50th anniversary of the death of Francis Poulenc and selections from La Traviata and A Midsummer Night's Dream to celebrate the birthdays of Verdi and Britten. Matthan is also passionate about the preservation of art song in English through nontraditional performances of songs from composers such as John Adams, Ernst Bacon, Leonard Bernstein, Jake Heggie, and Lee Hoiby.

Matthan recently made his main stage debut with Chicago Opera Theatre as Vagabond #2 in Carl Orff's Die Kluge and will be featured as an Apprentice Artist with Opera Southwest this October. Matthan will be also performing the role of Tarquinius in Candid Concert Opera's The Rape of Lucretia in November. Other performances include Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Sid (Albert Herring), Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte), L'horloge Comtoise (L'enfant et les sortileges), Henry Davis (Street Scene), and The Lord High Chancellor (Iolanthe).

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Chucho 2017
In the Penal Colony The Officer 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
The Rape of Lucretia Tarquinius 2014

Giovanna Jacques

PR Director
Mezzo-Soprano

Giovanna Jacques

PR Director, Mezzo-Soprano

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.

Brad Caleb Lee

Production Design Director

Brad Caleb Lee

Production Design Director

Brad Caleb Lee is a designer and assistant director whose collaborators, among others, include Chicago Fringe Opera, Filament Theatre, Hell In A Handbag, Pride Films & Plays, Theatre Tuscaloosa, Music Theatre Wales, ELANFrontoio, and Welsh National Opera. He co-designed the award-winning British Pavilion Make/Believe for the 2015 Prague Quadrennial and the subsequent exhibition at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Brad’s design for The Richard Burton Theatre Company’s Dogville was selected as part of World Stage Design 2017. He holds an MA w/Merit from The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and is a member of OISTAT, USITT, and SBTD.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Production Designer 2017

Jessie Lyons

Secretary
Soprano

Jessie Lyons

Secretary, Soprano

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

2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Miss Jessel* 2015

Jenny Schuler

Brand, Web & Design Director
Soprano

Jenny Schuler

Brand, Web & Design Director, Soprano

An incredibly sensitive and compelling performer, Jenny Schuler has been gaining regional acclaim for her unique, rich, full soprano voice and her captivating presence on stage. Most recently she was the recipient of 1st prize in the Heafner Williams Vocal Competition. This season she performs the title roles of Florencia en el Amazonas, Ariadne auf Naxos and Fidelio. Some of her recent roles include: Micaëla in La Tragédie de Carmen, Anaide in Il cappello di paglia di firenze, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, and Alice Ford in Falstaff.

Jenny graduated with a Masters in Voice performance from Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts and is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma with A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute.

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

Artist Liaison
Tenor

Jonathan Zeng

Artist Liaison, Tenor

Accomplished in Musical Theater, Opera, Oratorio and Concert repertoire, Jonathan Zeng has performed throughout the United States with companies such as Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Memphis, and Utah Festival Opera.

This season, Jonathan performs as soloist in the American premiere of John Joubert’s Five Songs of Incarnation and Bonaventura Somma’s Missa Pro Defunctis with the William Ferris Chorale in Chicago and on tour as Frederic in Pirates of Penzance with Cincinnati Opera Outbound. An avid proponent for arts education, Jonathan serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Preparatory Department at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and maintains a private voice studio. He has experience teaching elementary and middle school general music, middle school choir, and music directing theater productions at the high school level.

Jonathan received a BA in Music Education from Western IL University and an MM in vocal performance from the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Jonathan also writes and records his own music.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

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

Laura Smalley

Marketing & Development Intern

Laura Smalley

Marketing & Development Intern, Soprano

Soprano Laura Smalley is currently a senior at DePaul University School of Music, where she has performed with DePaul Opera Theatre in shows like The Magic Flute, Fairy Queen, L’Orfeo, Street Scene, Suor Angelica, and L'incoronazione di Poppea. She is a founding member of two Chicago-based ensembles: Micro Opera Ensemble, with whom she recently sang the role of Miss Pinkerton in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief; and The Slotted Spoon Initiative, who last year wrote and performed Sorry-Grateful: an Original Sondheim Revue. She also performs with the all-female contemporary music ensemble Noise Bias. Soprano Laura Smalley is currently a senior at DePaul University School of Music, where she has performed with DePaul Opera Theatre in shows like The Magic Flute, Fairy Queen, L’Orfeo, Street Scene, Suor Angelica, and L'incoronazione di Poppea. She is a founding member of two Chicago-based ensembles: Micro Opera Ensemble, with whom she recently sang the role of Miss Pinkerton in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief; and The Slotted Spoon Initiative, who last year wrote and performed Sorry-Grateful: an Original Sondheim Revue. She also performs with the all-female contemporary music ensemble Noise Bias.

An Iowa native, she spent the past summer as Marketing and Development intern with Des Moines Metro Opera. Currently she is the Development intern with Stage 773 in Chicago.

An Iowa native, she spent the past summer as Marketing and Development intern with Des Moines Metro Opera. Currently she is the Development intern with Stage 773 in Chicago.

Amber Treadway

Production Design Intern

Amber Treadway

Production Design Intern

Amber is a senior BFA candidate in Directing at Columbia College Chicago, where she recently wrote and directed Frogs (Remix), an original adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Frogs. Past directing credits include Mud, Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen, Dean Talbot & the Search for America (Columbia College Chicago) and Le Nozze di Figaro (OperaRox Productions.) Lucrezia is her second production with Fringe Opera, where she stage managed Turn of the Screw in 2015. Amber returns to OperaRox this summer to direct the NY premiere of Griffin Candey’s Sweets by Kate at the Stonewall Inn.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Turn of the Screw Stage Manager 2015

2016 / 2017 Season Artists

Ashley Armstrong

Mezzo-Soprano

Ashley Armstrong

Praised for her expressiveness and richly colorful tone, mezzo-soprano Ashley Armstrong is known for her musicianship as well as her scholarship. Driven by the desire to inspire in others a curiosity for more knowledge about music, she seizes every opportunity to share her vocal talents. This motivation has afforded her many unique opportunities to sing for esteemed individuals such as his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and at such celebrated locations as St. Paul’s Cathedral at Ground Zero, and Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.

Ms. Armstrong begins the 2016/2017 season as an Artist with Chicago Fringe Opera, performing in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar, an opera inspired by the journals of Isabelle Eberhardt, detailing her fantastic seven-year odyssey through the desserts of North Africa; and Ted Rorem’s Our Town, a tongue in cheek commentary on American life, based on the play by Thornton Wilder about the small fictional town of Grover’s Corners and the daily lives of its citizens. Her other engagements include Beethoven 9 with Chicago combined choirs, and a series of concerts in collaboration with Old Capitol Opera.

Ms. Armstrong made her operatic debut in 2011 as Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Art Center, and this last year, she received her Chicago premiere at CCPA where she was featured as The Wife in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Women, Suzette in Milton Granger’s Bluebeard’s Waiting Room, and Ottavia in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Other opera credits include Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Azucena in a gala presentation of Verdi’s Il trovatore. Additionally, she presented or has been featured in recitals for the Chicago College of Performing Arts, the University of Northern Iowa, and the Chicago Art Institute. In 2012 she won the senior division of the Iowa chapter of NATS student auditions and the next year she took home second place in the graduate division.

Currently a student of Allan Glassman, Ms. Armstrong received her M.M. from the Chicago College of Performing Arts in May of 2016. Before that, she graduated magna cum laude and Pi Kappa Lambda with a B.A. in Music and Theatre from the University of Northern Iowa, where she studied with Jeffrey Brich. During her time as a student she also gave world premieres of many works, including: “Could” by Pete Fernandez, Just Ann by Rebecca Burkhardt and Cynthia Goatley, Joy by John Schwabe, and Festival te Deum by David Childs.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Lucrezia 2017
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
* indicates cover

Leigh Folta

Soprano

Leigh Folta

Lyric soprano and native New Yorker Leigh Folta was recently named first place winner at the 2016 Chicago Chapter NATS competition. In 2015, she placed first in the Casa Italia Competition and was named a finalist in Chicago Opera Idol, where she sang for famed baritone Sherrill Milnes. Her roles to date include Poppea/L'incoronazione di Poppea, LPN/Bluebeard's Waiting Room, Pamina, Papagena, and 2nd Spirit/Die Zauberflöte, Anne of the Cross/Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Suor Osmina/Suor Angelica. While at the Astoria Music Festival in June 2015, the Oregon Music News reported; “…with her gorgeous expressive face and gorgeous voice, [Leigh] glowed as Pamina” (goo.gl/IiXsP4). During a 2016 Masterclass, distinguished collaborative pianist and coach Martin Katz said of Leigh’s performance, "That was the best Caro Nome I've ever heard." Leigh holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
* indicates cover

Emma Sorenson

Mezzo-Soprano

Emma Sorenson

Lyric mezzo soprano Emma Sorenson hails from Houston, Texas. Ms. Sorenson currently resides in Boston where she is an Emerging Artist for the Boston Lyric Opera. She debuted with the company as a featured artist in their Art in Bloom series at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and will appear in the ensemble of La Boheme, and as Frou Frou in their Spring production of The Merry Widow. Ms. Sorenson is an active member of the Boston Opera Collaborative, where she will be singing the role of Siebel in Gounod's Faust. This summer, Ms. Sorenson is engaged as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera . There she sang the part of a Flower in La Hija de Rappaccini by Catan, and performed as a chorus member and featured soloist in their mainstage works Jenůfa by Leoš Janáček and Die Entführung aus dem Serail by Mozart . While in Boston, she has performed several mainstage roles with The Boston Conservatory including the role of Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia by Benjamin Britten, Dritte Dame in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Zulma (and Isabella cover) in Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri, and most recently Baba the Turk in The Rake's Progress by Igor Stravinsky.

Ms. Sorenson is the recipient of the Ileana Ingraham Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in Kansas City. Previously, Ms. Sorenson also won first place for the second consecutive year in her age group in the tri-state midwest National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, and is the two-time recipient of the James Moroney Nigh Opera Scholarship. She recently graduated with a Master of Music performance degree from The Boston Conservatory under the tutelage of Dr. Rebecca Folsom.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Song from the Uproar Isabelle Eberhardt 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
* indicates cover

Diana Stoic

Soprano

Diana Stoic

Soprano Diana Stoic is a Chicago-area native who is garnering acclaim on opera and concert stages in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. For her portrayal of Cunegonde in Candide with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Stoic was described as “utterly luminous.”

Ms. Stoic is a member of the Supplementary Chorus at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She last appeared in their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in 2015. She performs with many local opera companies in the Chicago-area, most recently the First Lady in The Magic Flute with Petite Opera Productions. She is a member of the Lira Ensemble, the nation’s only professional organization specializing in Polish music.

She has sung extensively with Des Moines Metro Opera, performing mainstage roles in their productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Tosca. With DMMO she has covered leading roles including Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Alexandra in Blitzstein’s Regina.

A frequent soloist with the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Stoic has performed a program of Czech songs and arias, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, and the roles of Sandman/Dew Fairy in concert performances of Hansel and Gretel. She has also performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Musica Lumina, and Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Stoic is passionate about introducing young audiences to opera and educating them about classical music. She participated in outreach programs with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, OPERA Iowa, Opera for the Young, Chicago Opera Playhouse, and is currently a teaching artist with Chicago Opera Theatre.

She completed her Masters of Music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and received her Bachelor of Music from Simpson College (Indianola, IA). Ms. Stoic has received numerous awards from the Bel Canto Foundation and was a winner in the 2012 Opera Idol Competition.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Annunciata 2017
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
* indicates cover

Tobias Wright

Tenor

Tobias Wright

Tobias Wright is a native Kansan who is quickly establishing himself as an “immensely talented” performer, possessing a “beautiful tenor voice.” Tobias recently returned from 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. Mr. Wright was last seen in Chicago with Light Opera Works in their new production of Die Fledermaus, for which he received praise for his portrayal of Alfred. This summer he will be making his debut with Opera North as Goro in Puccini's Madama butterfly and Achille in Offenbach's La belle Hélène.

A passionate performer, Tobias has been featured in opera, concerts, and recordings throughout the United States. Winter of 2016 and fall of 2015 saw Tobias perform with Sarasota Opera as the company finished their Verdi Cycle, becoming the only company in the world to perform all of Verdi’s works in their entirety. 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 will be featured in an upcoming film by filmmaker Arlen Parsa, debuting at the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. Also scheduled for release later this year is the world premiere of Ross Crean's The Great God Pan, in which Tobias sang the role of Clarke. The Great God Pan will be released by Navona Records/Naxos of America. Tobias was also a featured soloist in the spring of 2015 with the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland.

Tobias’ stage credits in Chicago include appearances with Chicago Fringe Opera, Light Opera Works, and Northwestern University Opera Theater. Tobias has been a young artist with Sarasota Opera, The National Music Festival, Nevada Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, and Vianden International Music Festival in Luxembourg. He holds a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice from the University of Kansas. In addition to his singing credits, Tobias is a co-host of the radio show Opera Box Score, which focuses each week on the world of opera.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Lorenzo 2017
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Baritone, Jazz Trio 2015
* indicates cover

Guest Artists & Alumni

Codrut Birsan

Conductor

Codrut Birsan

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Robin Bradley

Mezzo-Soprano

Robin Bradley

Alumni

Praised for her "very colorful, interesting and beautiful instrument," Mezzo Soprano Robin Bradley has performed in venues across the nation, ranging from Carnegie Hall to Michigan's cherished Hill Auditorium to the historic Sanders Theater in Cambridge, MA. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, Robin recently participated in Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre's Young Artist Program, where she covered the title role in Carmen. Coming up, she will make her debut with Winter Opera Saint Louis as Emilia in their 2015 production of Otello. Robin has also served as a company apprentice of Flamenco Chicago, the professional company of acclaimed dancer and choreographer Rosetta Magdalen.

Robin was recently seen as Ottavia in L'Incoronazione di Poppea with the Manhattan Summer Voice Festival, Madame de la Haltière in Massenet's Cendrillon, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte with Candid Concert Opera, La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro and The Witch and Mother in Chicago Opera Playhouse's outreach production of Hansel and Gretel.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Rape of Lucretia Lucretia 2014
* indicates cover

Katy Compton

Soprano

Katy Compton

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Angela De Venuto

Soprano

Angela De Venuto

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Gabriel Di Gennaro

Bass-Baritone

Gabriel Di Gennaro

Guest Artist

Since moving to Chicago in 2011, Gabriel Di Gennaro has had the pleasure of working with many of the local, vibrant companies in and around Chicago including VOX 3 Collective, Main Street Opera, The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, /kor/ productions, Opera Ouvert, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, Music Theater Works, and Thompson Street Opera. This year, the list continues to grow with performances in Floating Opera Company’s composite opera War & Peace, Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lucrezia as Ignacio, and the titular role in Chicago Folks Operetta’s Johnny Johnson.

An avid supporter of new music, Gabriel has performed several regional, American, and world premieres on both the operatic and concert stages. Close collaboration with New York City-based composer Scott Wasserman has birthed two world premieres in a setting of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and the cycle Even for Wars, a duet of letters written between soldiers and their loved ones. Additional unique performance experiences include Golaud in a lecture recital of Pelléas et Mélisande presented by Richard Stilwell, and The Dance Master/Mars in Carl Nielsen's Maskarade, the first of many times Gabriel would be featured as both a singer and a dancer in an opera.

In 2012, the Young Singers Foundation selected Gabriel as one of 17 national recipients of their Bev Sellers Memorial Scholarship, helping to further his education at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts. In addition to Roosevelt, Gabriel is an alumnus of the University of Delaware, OperaWorks, and the College Light Opera Company with recent participation in the young artist programs of Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and Chicago Summer Opera.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Ignacio 2017
* indicates cover

Jared Esguerra

Tenor

Jared Esguerra

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

David Govertsen

Baritone

David Govertsen

Alumni

Chicago native David Govertsen recently completed his tenure as a member of the Ryan Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago where his mainstage assignments included roles in The Magic Flute, Boris Godunov, Werther and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He returned to Lyric this season to sing the Haushofmeister in Capriccio.

In addition to his work on the Lyric stage, this season Mr. Govertsen appeared as the Apparition in Macbeth with the Chicago Symphony under the baton of Maestro Riccardo Muti. Other operatic highlights of the season include featured roles in double bills at both Santa Fe Opera and Chicago Opera Theater, as well as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola with Candid Concert Opera, Zaccaria in Nabucco with da Corneto Opera, and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Main Street Opera.

Mr. Govertsen made his Carnegie Hall debut as the Herald in Otello with the Chicago Symphony conducted by Riccardo Muti. He is an alumnus of both the Santa Fe and Central City Opera apprentice programs and holds degrees from Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University and the College of DuPage.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Rape of Lucretia Collatinus 2014
* indicates cover

Nicole Hager

Soprano

Nicole Hager

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Gillian Hollis

Soprano

Gillian Hollis

Guest Artist

Gillian Hollis, soprano, studied opera and vocal performance as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland and a Master's student at Northwestern University. She has performed with many companies in the U.S. including Madison Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, Chicago Folks Operetta, and Main Street Opera. Ms. Hollis is a winner of the Classical Singer Competition, the Virginia Maier Cooper Award, and a two-time Union League Civic and Arts Competition finalist. She is currently touring with Madison-based Opera for the Young as Beauty in their operatic adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and will return next season as Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute. She is delighted to join Chicago Fringe Opera as Flora in Britten's Turn of the Screw.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
* indicates cover

Amy Hutchison

Director

Amy Hutchison

Guest Artist

Amy Hutchison directed William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge for Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Washington National Opera and Portland Opera. Hutchison’s production of William Grant Still’s epic masterwork Troubled Island for South Shore Opera Company was named Chicago’s number one classical music event of 2013 by Andrew Patner in the Chicago Sun-Times. Notable Chicago area productions include: Leo Fall’s Madame Pompadour (Chicago Folks Operetta), Dream Lovers and African Romances and Jonathan Stinson’s The March: A Civil Rights Opera Project (South Shore Opera Company); Faust (DuPage Opera Theatre), Our Town (DePaul Opera Theatre); Dido and Aeneas (Elgin Opera); The Telephone and Gallantry (Opera Moda) and Brigadoon (Music by the Lake). She collaborated with Stacey Tappan and composer Ricky Ian Gordon staging Once I Was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon, which was recorded on the Blue Griffin label. Her productions nationwide have included Il Matrimonio Segreto (Boston University); Carmen (Kansas City, Milwaukee, Columbus), Turandot (Orlando), Don Pasquale and Hansel and Gretel (Indianapolis), La Traviata (Costa Mesa), and Help, Help, the Globolinks! (Madison Opera).

She served on the directing staffs of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera. She has staged the Maurice Sendak production of Hänsel und Gretel for Opernhaus Zürich and The Juilliard School (televised for PBS: Live from Lincoln Center) as well as for the Canadian, San Diego, Indianapolis, and Baltimore opera companies.  As Associate Director, Hutchison has staged Porgy and Bess throughout the United States and globally, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, L’Opéra National de Paris, Teatro La Fenice, and opera houses in Düsseldorf, Lucca and Tokyo.

Ms. Hutchison is a member of the faculty of The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Song from the Uproar Director 2016
* indicates cover

Elyse Kakacek

Soprano

Elyse Kakacek

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Jacquelyn Kress

Mezzo-Soprano

Jacquelyn Kress

Guest Artist

Jacquelyn Kress, mezzo-soprano, is a recent graduate of the Opera Institute at Boston University. With the OI, Ms. Kress was seen as Annio (La Clemenza di Tito), Kate (Owen Wingrave), Jean (Le Portrait de Manon), Mother Marie (Dialogues of the Carmelites), and Fidalma (Il Matrimonio Segreto). She has also performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s outreach program as Tisbe in La Cenerentola. Other performances include Hansel and Gretel (Hansel), La vie parisienne (Métella), The Pirates of Penzance (Ruth),Trouble in Tahiti (Dinah), L’enfant et les sortileges (L’écureuil/La chatte), The Mikado (Katisha), Roméo et Juliette (Stephano), Cosi fan tutte (Dorabella). She has also been on the international stage: Salzburg, Austria as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, and Périgueux, France as the title role in Offenbach’s La Périchole. Ms. Kress has a BM from the University of Illinois, and a MM from Roosevelt University.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
* indicates cover

Kaileen Miller

Soprano

Kaileen Miller

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Cody Monta Jarrett

Baritone

Cody Monta Jarrett

Alumni

Cody is a recent Professional Artist graduate of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute of the University of North Carolina School of the arts, where his roles last season included Emilio in Nino Rota's Il cappello di paglia di Firenze and Escamillo in Peter Brook's La tragédie de Carmen. Last season he also made his professional stage debut with Piedmont Opera as Marullo in Verdi's Rigoletto. Other 15/16 season highlights included the role of Randolph in William Bolcom's A Wedding and the cover for the role of Marcello in La Boheme, both at the Aspen Music Festival.

This Fall, Cody will also be joining Opera Philadelphia as a chorister in their production of Puccini's Turandot.

Last summer (2015), Cody made his role debut as Marcello in Puccini's La Boheme at The Bay View Music Festival and performed the role of Mr. Gobineau in Menotti's The Medium with Chicago Summer Opera. The previous summer (2014), Cody attended the Aspen Music Festival as a New Horizon’s fellow where he covered the role of James Vane in Lowell Liebermann's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Also in 2014, Cody took the stage as Mr. Gideon March in Northwestern University's production of Mark Adamo's Little Women. He was also featured as the bass soloist in Mozart's Requiem with Prince George's Philharmonic, and as Simon in Handel's
Judas Maccabeus with Northwestern’s Baroque Music Ensemble.

Cody holds a Master's in voice from The Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University and a Bachelor's in voice from New England Conservatory of Music. When Cody isn't performing, he enjoys reading and training in crossfit.

Cody is currently freelancing in Chicago, IL where he lives with his fiancée, Brandi and two dogs: Thriller and Vibrant.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
* indicates cover

Yasuko Oura

Pianist & Coach

Yasuko Oura

Guest Artist

Yasuko Oura has received national recognition as a virtuoso collaborative pianist, with concert appearances in notable venues as Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, and Carnegie’s Weill Hall. Also known as a noted vocal coach and repetiteur, she has worked with such distinguished conductors as Harry Bicket, Jane Glover, and Christopher Larkin. Ms. Oura is the principal production pianist and coach for Florentine Opera and is also on the music staff for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Des Moines Metro Opera, and formerly for Fort Worth Opera, Madison Opera, Toledo Opera, and AIMS in Graz, Austria. Active as a recitalist, past seasons include performances with singers such as Susanne Mentzer and Susanna Phillips, as well as performances for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, the Bel Canto Foundation, WFMT, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. In addition, she is the artistic director of the NSUC Concert Series. She currently resides in Chicago, where she works with Grant Park Orchestra Chorus, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Wisconsin District. Ms. Oura has received fellowships to San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, Tanglewood Music Center, Aspen Opera Theater Center and Music Academy of the West and has performed for numerous masterclasses, including those for José Van Dam, Rudolf Piernay and Marilyn Horne’s Song Continues series. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School, where she was a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow.

Sarah Ponder

Mezzo-Soprano

Sarah Ponder

Guest Artist

Sarah Ponder, mezzo-soprano enjoys a busy career as a soloist and ensemble singer in Chicago. Hailed as “Deeply expressive” (Chicago Sun Times) and a “first-class soloist” (Chicago Classical Review), some of Sarah’s recent favorite performances include two featured solo appearances with the Grant Park Music Festival, playing the wolf in The Brothers Grimm with Lyric Opera’s Opera in the Neighborhoods production, and a rousing duet rendition of “Row, Row Your Boat” with Yo-Yo Ma at Children’s Memorial Hospital as part of her ongoing work with the Citizen Musician Initiative. Through her outreach at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sarah has also “beguilingly” (Chicago Tribune) performed several solo concerts with famed Maestro Riccardo Muti at the piano.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
* indicates cover

Zachary Vanderburg

Tenor

Zachary Vanderburg

Alumni

Tenor Zachary Vanderburg has been heralded as singing “with vocal luster, dramatic fire, and lyrical sympathy” - Augsburger Allgemeine. Performances this season include Dvorak's Stabat Mater in festivals in southern France and northern Germany; Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2 Lobgesang at the Masterworks Festival; Bach’s Quodlibet, Cantata 147, and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy as an artist-in-residence at the Baroque on Beaver Island Music Festival; appearances with Music of the Baroque, of which he is a member and teaching artist, under the direction of Jane Glover and Nicholas Kraemer; his role debut of The Visitor in Philip Glass' In the Penal Colony with Chicago Fringe Opera; and guest recitals at Roosevelt University, Ball State University, Chicago's City Winery, PianoForte Foundation and The Musical Offering.

Recently, Zachary made his Orchestra Hall debut as the tenor soloist in the North American premiere of Jacob TV's Mountaintop with the Chicago Sinfonietta, a performance he revisited in February. Comfortable in opera repertoire as well as concert and recital, past seasons have seen Zachary’s role debuts of Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème and Leander in Nielsen's Maskarade; a concert featuring Britten's Serenade for Tenor and Horn at the Baroque on Beaver Island Music Festival; a performance in the 10th annual PianoForte Foundation Schubertiade; performances with the Chicago Opera Theater in Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco and Bloch's MacBeth; European tours of Bruckner's Te Deum, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass headlining the Eutiner Festspiele, Festival Durance Luberon, Hamburg's St. Michael's Church, as well as other venues in Germany, France and Luxembourg; and appearances as a backup singer in Chicago with The Rolling Stones on their 50 & Counting tour. Zachary has been recorded for broadcast by the Bavarian Public Radio (Bayerischer Rundfunk), WFMT in Chicago, and Blue Lake Public Radio in Michigan. He is a founding member of Fourth Coast Ensemble, Chicago's premiere classical vocal quartet. Zachary has a masters from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and is currently pursuing a fellowship in vocal chamber music at the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago. He is a student of American tenors Allan Glassman and Nicholas Phan.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

In the Penal Colony The Visitor 2016
* indicates cover

Nathan Ward

Tenor

Nathan Ward

Alumni

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
* indicates cover

Aaron Wardell

Baritone

Aaron Wardell

Alumni

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

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
* indicates cover