Soprano Helen Todd is known for her intense portrayals of tragic characters. Recently, Helen performed the role of Turandot with Hong Kong’s Musica Viva after successfully debuting the role with Minnesota Opera in the new Renaud Doucet and Andre Barbe production. She also stretched her vocal and acting abilities when she was asked to portray Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard with Mercury Theatre Company in Cleveland for ten performances. These new roles fit nicely in her new repertoire in the spinto and dramatic soprano realm. She also covered the role of Turandot with Pittsburgh Opera and performed Turandot first with DuPage Opera Theatre in Chicago. She also added Cio-Cio San from Madama Butterfly to her roles, having performed it with Sugar Creek Opera under the baton of Joseph Mechavich and in concert with Wooster Symphony.
Ms. Todd began her career in the lyric coloratura repertoire and began to achieve national recognition with her portrayal of Violetta in La Traviata with Minnesota Opera (the English National Opera / Jonathan Miller production). Also with Minnesota Opera, under the baton of Maestro Richard Bonynge, Ms. Todd has appeared as the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte.
Ms. Todd debuted with Canadian Opera Company in the Canadian premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale as Aunt Lydia by composer Poul Ruders. This debut occurred after the acclaimed North American premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale at Minnesota Opera where Ms. Todd debuted the role of Aunt Lydia as well. Also at Minnesota Opera, Ms. Todd debuted the role of Madame Mao in Nixon in China. Other notable engagements include Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte with New York City Opera, Cleveland Opera, Arizona Opera, Tulsa Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera North, and the Colorado Opera Festival; Gilda in Rigoletto with Calgary Opera (her Canadian debut), Annapolis Opera, and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre; Fiordiligi in Cosí Fan Tutte with Arizona Opera, Nedda in Pagliacci with Sugar Creek Opera and the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Illinois and Gold Coast Opera.
A lover of 20th century music, Ms. Todd also performed the role of Curley’s Wife in Of Mice and Men with Cleveland Opera (conducted by Anton Coppola) and Arizona Opera, Marie in the North American premiere of Gurlitt’s Wozzeck with California’s Long Beach Opera, the role of Susannah with Opera North and Alexandra in Regina with Baltimore Opera. Other engagements throughout her career include: Violetta in La Traviata with Asheville Lyric Opera, Fiorilla in Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia with Cleveland Opera; Violetta in La Traviata with New Jersey’s Bohème Opera Company; Mimi in La Bohème with Asheville Lyric Opera and the Wildwood Festival of Music and the Arts; Marguérite in Faust with Mississippi Opera; Juliette in Roméo et Juliette with Shreveport Opera; Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Connecticut Opera, Abilene Opera and Wildwood Festival of Music and the Arts; Musetta in La Bohème with Indianapolis Opera; Pamina in The Magic Flute, Despina in Cosí fan Tutte, and Anne Edgerman in A Little Night Music with the Wildwood Festival of Music and the Arts. Other lighter operetta performances include Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with Mobile Opera; Julie Jordan in Carousel with Opera Illinois, Wanda in a semi-staged production of The Grand Duchess of Geraldstein with the OK Mozart Festival and Clorinda in a semi-staged production of La Cenerentola with the OK Mozart Festival (conducted by Ransom Wilson).
Ms. Todd is also an opera producer and founder of the Sugar Creek Opera which is entering it’s 14th season and is a member of Opera America. Occasional past performances at Sugar Creek include Juliette in Romeo & Juliette, Violetta in La Traviata and Mimi in La Bohème.
Concert highlights have included Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Springfield Symphony, Carmina Burana with Peoria Symphony, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Detroit Oratorio Society; Darius Milhaud’s Chanson De Ronsard with Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music Concert Orchestra; Carmina Burana with the Elmhurst Symphony; and A Night at the Opera with the Colorado Symphony.
Helen Todd received her operatic training as a young artist with the Pittsburgh Opera Center at Duquesne where she performed the roles of Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore and Serviglia in La Clemenza di Tito. She received her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance at DePaul University, and her Master of Music in Voice Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of the Patricia Berlin; performance highlights in Cincinnati included Cunegonde in Candide.
Numerous awards have included first place in the Houston Opera Studio Eleanor McCullom Auditions, first place in the Corbett / Treigle Opera Scholarship Competition, and first place in the Bel Canto Competition. Ms. Todd was a regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition and a winner of the Liederkranz Foundation Awards in New York City.
Pioneer Press"In the title role of Lucia, the heroine who is driven to violent insanity by tragic circumstances, soprano Helen Todd sang the 'Mad Scene' with thrilling dynamic range, ravishing ornamentation, perfect intonation, even in chromatic scales, and terrifying emotional intensity."
The New York Times"The striking exception is the role of the maniacal Aunt Lydia (the soprano Helen Todd), whose jagged coloratura flights make her seem a sci-fi cousin of Mozart's avenging Queen of the Night."
One reviewer described Mr. Chellis as “a tenor of considerable softness and beauty of tone with a surprising reserve of power.” The Washington Post wrote “A mellow tenor voice floated out from the stage:’Comfort Ye, Comfort Ye My People’, and you could feel the audience doing just that.” Mr. Chellis is regular performer with New York City Opera in such roles as Tamino in The Magic Flute, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado and Cascada in The Merry Widow in the Live from Lincoln Center telecast on PBS. International credits include the role of the Duke in Rigoletto with Teatro Colon de Bogota (Colombia), Ernesto inDon Pasquale with Calgary Opera and Edmonton Opera and Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Opera de Quebec. Mr. Chellis has also performed Pedrillo in Washington Opera and Andres in Wozzeck at Dallas Opera.
Opera News described mezzo soprano Kathryn Cowdrick as “an artist who infused every scene with her singing, dazzling fioratura, and her sexy, warm, comedienne personality”.
Kathryn Cowdrick recently celebrated her 40th year as a performer. Trained as a speech pathologist, she began her career at the Juilliard Opera Center and as an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera. Well known for her performances of Rossini heroines she made her European debut at the Netherlands Opera and went on to sing with companies that include Washington, Scottish Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Koln, Wexford Ireland, Vancouver, Chautauqua and Saratoga. Recordings include the Grammy award winning ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA from the Spoleto Festival and JENUFA live from Carnegie Hall. She is a Professor of Voice at the Eastman School of Music.
She has performed with the San Francisco Opera, Scottish Opera; Vancouver Opera; Cologne Opera; L’Opera de Marseilles; Washington National Opera; the National Arts Center; and New York City Opera.
Ms. Cowdrick is a member of the Eastman School of Music voice faculty and has taught at the Seagle Colony and the Taos Opera Institute.
Virginia Star Ledger“There are remarkable performances – mezzo Kathryn Cowdrick as the ingénue Rosina is a wonder. She revealed a remarkable ease with the coloratura, impeccable comic timing and a stage presence of undeniable warmth. Cowdrick accomplished all her tasks with panache and about a hundred or so slightly different, rapidly changing facial expressions. Her tepid strained smile at Bartolo’s kiss was perfection.”
The New York TImes“Kathryn Cowdrick as the Foreign Singer and David Evitts brought both vocal agility and a fine sense of comic physicality to their roles.”
Daily News“Kathryn Cowdrick’s Despina stole the show. Witty, wise, impertinent and with enough stage presence to threaten the ego of any actress and singer worth her salt, she made the most of her comic character. The arias were impudent and wise, sung with tongue in cheek aplomb..”
Acclaimed for her “rich and sonorous sound” (Pravo Newspaper, Czech Republic), mezzo-soprano Jane Dutton is in demand for operatic and concert engagements internationally. Regularly engaged by the Metropolitan Opera, during her sixth season on the roster, Miss Dutton performed as Jordan Baker in John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, which was conducted by James Levine. Her performances in past seasons have ranged from Stephano in Roméo et Julietteconducted by Bertrand de Billy, to Mrs. Gleaton in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Carlisle Floyd’sSusannah, conducted by James Conlon. She was also responsible for roles in Ariadne auf naxos, Lulu,Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto and in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. She recently added the Composer in Ariadne auf naxos to her repertoire in her first engagement at the San Francisco Opera and was reengaged for Sonjetka in Johannes Schaaf’s acclaimed production of Shostakovitch’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk, conducted by Donald Runnicles. She made her debut at the Tokyo Opera Nomori in Robert Carsen’s production of Elektra, with performances conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
Robert Garner has performed Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette with Opera Carolina, Connecticut Opera, and Natchez Opera Festival. Mr. Garner recently stepped in at the last minute to perform the role of Ford in Opera Southwest’s production ofFalstaff. He has also performed at Opera Colorado, New York City Opera, and L’Opera Francais de New York. He is a past winner of the Friedrich Schorr Memorial Prize.
A native of Danville, Illinois, Justin Vickers was praised by the Washington Post for his “emotionally charged delivery” in his portrayal of the title role of Idomeneo at Wolf Trap Opera. Mr. Vickers has also performed the Ballad Singer in Of Mice and Men with Washington Opera and the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier with Minnesota Opera. Outside the US, Mr. Vickers has performed with Festival de Mallorca and the Festival Internacional de Moia de Bages in Barcelona. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and the University of Kentucky.
One of the most versatile basses in American opera theatre, Matthew Lau is known for wide variety of roles ranging from the serious operas of Verdi, Wagner, and Gounod, to his comedic roles in the music of Rossini and Mozart. Matthew has sung the title role in Don Pasquale and Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment; Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino, Mustafà in L’Italiana in Algeri, Ramfis in Aïda, and Osmin in Die Enführung aus dem Serail among others. Mr. Lau has also performed the role of Dr. Bartolo in Sugar Creek’s production of The Barber of Seville — a role he’s performed with Minnesota Opera, Kentucky Opera and Lake George Opera. He’s brought many other roles to life at these and other opera companies across the US including: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Boston Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Washington Concert Opera, Arizona Opera, Sarasota Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, New Jersey Opera, Atlanta Opera, Des Moines, Metro Opera, Opera North, Seattle Opera and Opera Pacific. Mr. Lau recently took on the role of Dr. Bartolo with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the role of Rev. Baines in Elmer Gantry with the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee.
Opera News“...and of all the principals bass Matthew Lau gave the most pleasure vocally...”
The Boston Globe“Matthew Lau....has a really good voice, terrific sense of text, great comic timing...”
Journal Sentinel“Lau hit just the right notes of befuddlement, affection, duplicity, lust, wounded pride and officiousness, and he didn't hit them with a hammer.”
The Star-Ledger“Matthew Lau commands a bass-baritone of unusual warmth and suppleness...Lau pours out his sound like a fine claret.”
Bass-baritone Ronald Hedlund has had a 30-year distinguished career in opera and classical music. He was a regular member of the Metropolitan Opera National Touring Company where he performed both the Figaro and the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Sharpless in Madame Butterfly, Colline in La boheme, Ford in Falstaff, and Germont in La Traviata. He also appeared as Escamillo in Carmen with Seattle Opera, Rev. Blitch in Susannah with Houston Grand Opera, Osmin in Abduction from the Seraglio with Washington Opera (D.C.), Scarpia in Tosca with Miami Opera, the title role in Macbeth with Chicago Lyric Opera, and the title role inFalstaff with Boston Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Michigan Opera Theatre. Mr. Hedlund has played opposite such operatic luminaries as Joan Sutherland, Renato Scotto, Jerry Hadley, Erie Mills, Anna Moffo, and Alfredo Kraus. Mr. Hedlund has performed the role of Capulet with Dallas Opera.
George Washington III is a native of Kankakee, Ill., and is a longtime member of the Opera Carolina Chorus in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has has appeared as the Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly), Dr. Grenvil (La traviata) , Dr. Lomax (Cold Sassy Tree), Elder Ott (Susannah), and Balthazar (Amahl & the Night Visitors) as a house artist for Opera Carolina. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Antony Walker stole our hearts last summer when he conductedRoméo et Juliette. He returns this summer not only conducting La Cenerentola, but also conducting Sugar Creek’s first symphony concert, which features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Mr. Walker is a frequent guest conductor for Minnesota Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Cincinnati Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera Center, among others. This season, Antony made his New York City Opera debut conducting a new production of Orlando by Handel. Mr. Walker, originally from Australia, returns home often to conduct at Opera Australia and Pinchgut Opera.
Ms. Lapinski is a regular member of the directing staff at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She has directed The Turn of the Screw for L’Opéra de Montréal, the Emilio Sagie production of Don Carlos at San Francisco Opera, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah with Palm Beach Opera, and her new production of The Magic Flute with Opera Festival of New Jersey. Recently, Ms. Lapinski also co-directed a new production of Das Rheingold in Santiago de Chile.
Having designed nearly 200 productions of operas, plays, and musicals, Mr. Wong has more than 25 years of experience as a scene designer for sets and costumes. His original productions have been seen at Seattle Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Edmonton Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and Fort Worth Opera, among countless others. His production of The Consul was aired on PBS as part of the “Great Performances” series. Mr. Wong also designed environmental and commercial installations for art galleries for the 1992 Anchorage Winter Olympics Organizing Committee. Mr. Wong is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale College.