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."
With New York City Opera, Stephanie has performed in A Little Night Music, Rigoletto, and La Traviata. On her performance in Don Giovanni at Opera Pacific, ClassicalVoice.org wrote that Ms. Woodling “portrayed Elvira with a creamy, incisive voice that was both exciting (in ‘Mi tradí’) and moving.”
Now in her third season with Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf, Germany, this season she sings Hänsel, Die zweite Dame, Siébel, and Annio. Last season she sang the roles of Dorabella, Wellgunde (Das Rheingold), Tessa (The Gondoliers), and Antonia (Tiefland) and debuted with the company in 2004 as Die zweite Magd in its new production of Elektra.
Previously a young artist with Opera Pacific, she appeared in a number of roles, most notably Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, which critics described as providing “an intellectual burst of animation into the proceedings, giving a charming, brash, and thorough reading.” Other Opera Pacific credits include Meg in Little Women, Flora, Mercedes in Carmen, Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking, and Die zweite Dame in The Magic Flute. Recent operatic debuts include Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Stephano in Roméo et Juliette, OK Mozart Festival as Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, and Mrs. Segstrom in Los Angeles Opera’s production of A Little Night Music, and with Caramoor as Flora.
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.
Gaétan Laperrière is described as “a revelation…a great baritone voice and an actor of perfect naturalness” by La Presse of Montréal. He has established himself as one of Canada’s greatest classical artists and a regular favorite at the Canadian Opera Company. He has performed the role of Germont in La traviata with Opéra de Nice, San Francisco Opera, Opera Carolina, Florida Grand Opera, and a Jonathan Miller production at Minnesota Opera, and he also made his New York City Opera debut in this role in Nicholas Muni’s controversial staging of La traviata.
He recently added the title role of Rigoletto and Scarpia in Tosca with acclaimed performances worldwide. The Boston Globe hailed him as an “idealistic Rodrigo,” adding that he was “outstanding for nobility of tone, line and characterization.”
Mr. Laperrière is equally popular in France. He appeared at the Opéra de Paris Bastille in Les dialogues des Carmélites and as Renato in Un ballo in maschera, a role he also performed at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. His Opéra de Marseille debut was in the role of Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. At the Spoleto Festival (Italy), Mr. Laperrière performed Le Directeur in Les Mamelles de Tirésias.
With many noted performances in the United States, the baritone has appeared in leading roles with San Francisco Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Washington Opera as Sharpless, Marcello in La bohème, and Athanael in Thais; Houston Grand Opera as Sharpless and Marcello; Baltimore Opera as Zurga in Les Pêcheurs de Perles; and Santa Fe Opera as Marcello. The baritone made his Carnegie Hall debut as Valdeburgo in a concert performance of Bellini’s La straniera with the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Mr. Levine is a recent graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, where he received his bachelor’s of music degree in voice performance and also a bachelor’s of arts in German studies from Oberlin College. Levine performed often there, including most recently as Laurie in Little Women, Andy in Lost Highway, and Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore. Recently, he also appeared at Aspen Opera Theater and the Chautauqua Voice Institution in New York, where he performed Schumann’s Dichterliebe. While studying at Oberlin in 2003, Levine performed the role of Pinellino in Gianni Schicchi at the Teatro Colon/Oberlin Opera Program. In 2004, he was a member of the Salzburger Sommerakademie Mozarteum.
Christopher Hutton recently performed the title role in Gianni Schicchi with Lyric Opera Theater at Arizona State University, and Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto with Arizona Opera. Christopher also performed the role of Baron Douphol in Verdi’s La Traviata with Sugar Creek Symphony & Song, and also with Akron Symphony’s concert version of La Traviata. He recently made his debut as Donner in Opera Theater Pittsburgh’s production of Das Rhinegold by Jonathan Dove. Other recent productions include Schaunard in La Bohème with Salt Marsh Opera, Alidoro in La Cenerentola and the Old American Songs by Aaron Copland with Sugar Creek Symphony & Song. Mr. Hutton has been engaged byBoston Lyric Opera for the roles of Zaretski in Eugene Onegin; the Businessman, Baobab, and Hunter in Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince; Ali in L’Italiana in Algeri; Marullo in Rigoletto and Sciarrone in Tosca. 2004 also marked his debut with Opera Theater Saint Louis playing Dancairo in Carmen and covering the role of Richard Nixon in Nixon in China. Memorable roles include Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Asheville Lyric Opera, Marullo in Rigoletto and Curio in Giulio Cesare with Cleveland Opera, Schaunard in La Bohème and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with Annapolis Opera, Schaunard in La Bohème with Opera North (New Hampshire) and with the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Sulpice in The Daughter of the Regiment with Lyric Opera Cleveland, and Tarquinio in Resphigi’s opera Lucrezia with Opera Theater Lucca, Italy.
Mr. Culpepper is a masters of music candidate in voice performance at the University of Illinois and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Quincy University. At UI, Brad has appeared with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, the New Music Ensemble, and Sinfonia da Camera. In the summer of 2003, he was invited to attend the Austrian American Mozart Academy in Salzburg, Austria, where he performed the roles of the Sprecher and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and the role of Buff in Der Schauspieldirecktor. While in Quincy, Brad appeared with the Muddy River Opera Company performing roles in Gianni Schicchi, Jekyl & Hyde, Carmen, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rigoletto, La traviata, and Toy Shop.
Since conducting major works at the Metropolitan Opera, Kirov Opera, and with L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conductor John Keenan is in demand by many prestigious orchestras and opera companies around the world. Known for a varied and extensive repertoire, he has especially excelled as an important conductor in the works of Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, and Mozart. Most recently he conducted Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Metropolitan Opera to great acclaim, and is the only American to have conducted Wagner at the famed Kirov Opera.
He made his Metropolitan Opera debut at 26 years old, conducting Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and became one of the youngest to conduct there. The production, directed by Franco Zeffi relli, had a cast that included Thomas Hampson, Karita Mattila, Paul Plishka and Cheryl Studer. He was immediately reengaged to conduct Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Dawn Upshaw, Thomas Hampson, and Ferrucio Furlanetto.
Maestro Keenan spends each summer in Bayreuth, Germany, at Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival. He will be fl ying to Watseka from Germany this summer for Sugar Creek Symphony & Song’s production of La traviata.
After making an acclaimed debut conducting Verdi’s Aïda at the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia, he was invited to return to conduct Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and a gala production of Verdi’s Otello. He has also conducted Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with the New Zealand Symphony, La bohème for Santa Fe Opera, Falstaff at Spoleto Festival USA, L’elisir d’amore with Washington and Los Angeles Operas, Carmen and Così fan tutte with Vancouver Opera, and Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte for the Wolf Trap Festival. A frequent guest conductor with Minnesota Opera, he made his debut there conducting La traviata and returned to conduct Tosca, Otello, Norma, Rigoletto, and Carmen.
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.