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."
As one of America’s most accomplished tenors, Mark Thomsen enjoys a busy career in the United States and abroad. For the 2002-2003 season, his engagements included performances of Ernesto in Orlando, Tamino in Cleveland, Alfredo in La Traviata in Toledo, Belmonte in Die Entführung in Kansas City and Rodolfo in La bohème in Indianapolis. During the 2001-2002 season, he added two new roles to his repertoire when he sang Lenski in Eugen Oneginwith Indianapolis Opera and Lennie in Of Mice and Men in Edmonton. He also returned to the Dallas Opera as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and to the New Orleans Opera as Faust. In May 2002 he portrayed Camp Williams in Cold Sassy Tree in Kansas City and The Tenor in Garrison Keillor’sOpera, Opera! with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In summer 2002 he was heard as Ernesto in Don Pasquale at the Crested Butte (Colorado) Festival. Mr. Thomsen has also performed throughout Europe with appearances at Teatro alla Scalla, Vienna Volksoper, Vienna Staatsoper, and Opéra de Nantes.
Lyric baritone Jeff Mattsey made his operatic debut in 1986 as Marcello in La Bohème with the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in 1997, and made his house debut in 1998 in the production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Mr. Mattsey made his European debut as Marcello in Modena, Italy, and then appeared again in La Bohème, as Schaunard, in Genoa, Beijing, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Recent engagements include Papageno in The Magic Flute with Vancouver Opera, Valentin in Faust with San Diego Opera, the title role in Eugene Onegin with the Indianapolis Opera, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro with Cleveland Opera, A Little Night Music with the Utah Opera, and the title role in Don Pasquale with Boston Lyric Opera.
A native of Ohio, Ms. Karam has been praised by audiences and critics alike. Recent reviews have described her voice as “angelic,” “sumptuous,” “gorgeous,” and “a mixture of silver and cream.” Ms. Karam has performed opera, oratorio and the musical theater repertory with Cleveland Opera, Opera Memphis, Mississippi Opera, Des Moines Opera, Opera Iowa, Lyric Opera Cleveland and Aspen Opera Theatre. Solo orchestral appearances include the Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Saginaw Bay Symphony, Canton Symphony, Cleveland Pops Orchestra and the Graz (Austria) Festival Orchestra. Ms. Karam has been a scholarship recipient to the Tanglewood Festival, the Ravinia Festival, and a soloist on the chamber music series of the Blossom Festival.
Peter Volpe has appeared to critical and popular acclaim throughout Europe and North America. For six years, he performed in Europe as principal bass in Bremen and Karlsruhe and made guest appearances in Stuttgart, Saarbrücken, Darmstadt, Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Duisburg, Trier, Braunschweig, Strasbough, Colmar, Mulhouse, and Luxembourg. Since his return to America he has appeared with the New York City Opera (title role in Don Giovanni, Sparafucile in Rigoletto and Colline in La Bohème), the Santa Fe Opera (Zúñiga in Carmen), Lyric Opera of Kansas City (Gremin in Eugene Onegin), Opera Company of Philadelphia (Colline, the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte, Alidoro in La Cenerentola). This season, he will sing Sparafucile for the Arizona Opera, Zúñiga for Kentucky Opera, and make a notable debut with the Metropolitan Opera in their new production of War and Peace. Next season, he will return to the New York City Opera to sing the title role in Don Giovanni and Sparafucile and to the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Les Troyens.
Mikolaj Zalasinski belongs to a young generation of some of the most talented Polish singers. He is the laureate in the Adam Didur vocal competition, and was named the best actor/soloist in Poland in 2002, receiving the Amber Ring for his performance of Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera. His past engagements include the title role in Nabucco with the operas of Berlin, Lodz, Porto, Belfast, and Bytom; di Luna in Il Trovatore with the operas of Lisboa, Szczecin, Bytom, Krakow, and Trapani; Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera in Sofiya, Szczecin, Stralsund; the title role in Don Giovanni in Vienna, Tokyo, Warsow, Lodz, Bytom, and Bydgoszcz; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Chicago, Prag, Bytom, Krakow, and Szczecin; Escamillo in Carmen in Chicago, Bytom, Lodz, Gdansk, Szczecin, and Sofiya; Scarpia in Tosca in Porto, Krakow, Bytom, and Sofiya; Tomsky in Queen of Spades in Lodz; the title role in Onegin in Katowice; Barnaba in Gioconda in Bytom and Krakow; the title role in Rigoletto in Bytom; Wolfram in Tannhauser in Bytom and Krakow; Germont in La Traviata in Schwedt and Abilene; Valentin in Faust in Krakow and Bytom; Silvio and Tonio inPagliacci in Bytom; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro in Vienna, Beijing, and Tokyo; Papageno in The Magic Flute in Roubaix and Krakow; Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte in Bytom.
Veteran bass Tony Dillon has appeared with leading opera companies and symphony orchestras throughout the United States. A versatile artist, his repertoire ranges from the works of Peri and Cavalli to world premieres including operas and song cycles of Coppola, Earnest, Mlyn, Fink and others. Mr. Dillon has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times as “Delightful“, “stentorian and richly textured,” well known for his interpretation of Benoit and Alcindoro in La bohème. Mr Dillon has played these roles for Seattle Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Austin Lyric Opera, Madison Opera, Amarillo Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Kentucky Opera. Recent engagements include Bartolo Il barbiere di Siviglia and Dr. P The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat with Indianapolis Opera, Benoit and Alcindoro La bohème with Tulsa Opera, the roles Older Passenger and Steward in Weinberg’s The Passenger with Florida Grand Opera, Pope Urban and Cardinal Barberini Galileo Galilei with the Des Moines Metro Opera, and Don Magnifico La Cenerentola with Orlando Opera. Upcoming engagements include Benoit and Alcindoro La bohème with Florida Grand Opera.
Other operatic roles include Dr. Grenvil La traviata, Father Trulove The Rake’s Progress, Monterone Rigoletto, the Speaker Die Zauberflöte, Luther/Crespel Les contes d’Hoffmann, and Sir Robert Cecil Gloriana all with Des Moines Metro Opera, Alidoro La Cenerentola with Tulsa Opera, Don Basilio Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Birmingham and Opera Idaho, Grandpa Moss The Tender Land and Don Alfonso Così fan tutte with Madison Opera, Bonze Madama Butterfly with the Midland Symphony Orchestra and the Sacristan TOSCA with the Rockford Symphony. He has also performed the Sacristan Tosca with Pittsburgh Opera, Don Alfonso Così fan tutte with City Opera of the Quad Cities and El Paso Opera, Crespel/Luther/Schlemil Les contes d’Hoffmann and the Old Hebrew Samson et Dalila with Cleveland Opera, the title-role Don Pasquale with Lyric Opera of San Antonio, Dr. Grenvil La traviata with Pittsburgh Opera, Grandpa Moss The Tender Land with Opera Omaha, Candy Of Mice and Men with the Washington Opera, Raimondo Lucia di Lammermoor with Mississippi Opera, Simone Gianni Schicchi with Los Angeles Opera, Zuniga Carmen with Central City Opera, The Rev. Winemiller Summer and Smoke, H.G. Wells and Guadagno in Anton Coppola’s Sacco & Vanzetti and Frank Die Fledermaus with Tampa Bay Opera, and Don Basilio in the New York City Opera National Company tour of Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Mr. Dillon has been included on recordings with Delos International and “The Voices of Ascension,” National Public Radio Gianni Schicchi with Los Angeles Opera, Of Mice and Men with the Glimmerglass Festival, Summer and Smoke with the Central City Opera Association and the Washington Opera telecast of La rondine on PBS “Live from Kennedy Center.”
Long recognized as one of the world’s leading instrumentalists, Ransom Wilson is equally esteemed as an outstanding conductor of orchestral and operatic repertoire. He is music director and principal conductor of Solisti New York Orchestra, which he founded in 1981, artistic director of the OK Mozart International Festival, and artistic director of the Mozart Festival-at-Sea on the M.S. Westerdam. Mr. Wilson has accompanied many internationally renowned artists from the podium, including Itzhak Perlman, Frederica von Stade, Nadja SalernoSonnenberg, Joshua Bell, Garrick Ohlsson, Jeffrey Kahane and Robin Sutherland. An esteemed operatic conductor, Wilson has conducted new and highly acclaimed productions of Mozart’s Magic Flute with the Tulsa and Omaha Operas and the American stage premiere of Il Re Pastore, also by Mozart, with the Glimmerglass Opera. Other operatic appearances have included re-engagements at Opera Omaha, where he conducted Beethoven’s Fidelio and the American stage premiere of Rossini’s Ermione, and at Glimmerglass where he led performances of Così fan tutte, and appearances with the Minnesota Opera to conduct Rossini’s Armida and Verdi’s Trovatore.
A. Scott Parry has garnered critical acclaim for his direction of both opera and musical theater productions across the country. He holds a bachelor’s degree in voice from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in opera stage direction from Indiana University, where he also served on faculty after graduation. Most recent and/or upcoming productions include Così fan tutte and La Bohème for Asheville Lyric Opera in Asheville, North Carolina; Songs for a New World for the New World Theatre Group in Reno, Nevada; and West Side Story and Closer Than Ever for Act One Musical Productions in Phoenix, Arizona. Scott is the resident assistant director for the Dallas Opera and is spending this summer as an assistant director and young artist stage director for the Des Moines Metro Opera.