Staff and Faculty 2009
Martina Arroyo Mark Rucker Willie Anthony Waters Brian Barnett Mihaela Bogdan Charles Caine
Ray Calderon Michael Ehrman Steven Horak Joan Krueger Anthony Laciura Shayna Leahy
Brad Lemons Kathy Olsen Scott Rednour Ellen Rievman Sergio Stefani Gerald Steichen
Rosemary Taveras          
 
 
Martina Arroyo, Artistic Director. For many years, Martina Arroyo's name has been synonymous with music making of the highest order. She has performed at New York's Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, London's Covent Garden, Milan's La Scala, the Vienna State Opera and the Buenos Aires Teatro Colon, and in the concert halls of Salzburg, Berlin, Rome, Paris and New York. She was appointed by President Ford as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts, where she served for six years. Ms. Arroyo is a trustee emerita of the Hunter College Foundation, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera Guild. She is a recipient of the 2009 Opera News Award and 2010 NEA Opera Award. Her teaching credentials include Indiana University in Bloomington, University of California Los Angeles, Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Ms. Arroyo was the first recipient of the Americans for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Other organizations that have honored her include The Chester Ludgin Foundation, Orpheus Orchestra, Opera Noire, The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, and most recently the Gerda Lissner Foundation. She was also inducted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has delighted television and radio audiences with appearances on "The Odd Couple" and over 20 appearances on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson; she is a frequent guest and host on the "Singers' Roundtable," the intermission feature of live radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera.
   
Molly Johnson, Administrative Director is Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Opera and Music Theatre at The University of Texas at Tyler. Performing credits include roles with Opera East Texas, Baton Rouge Opera, Asheville (NC) Lyric Opera, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Music Theatre of Wichita and Nebraska Theatre Caravan in addition to frequent concert, recital, and oratorio appearances. Directing credits include Rodger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The Old Maid and the Thief, Hänsel und Gretel, Howland & Dickstein’s Little Women, and Godspell. Together, she and her husband maintain an active private voice studio and have released two recordings of sacred solo and duet music. She holds the BM degree from Oklahoma City University and the MM and DMA degrees from Louisiana State University.
   
Maestro Willie Anthony Waters, Music Director, is formerly Artistic Director of Connecticut Opera, and Artistic Director of Houston Ebony Opera. He has conducted numerous productions for Connecticut Opera including Aida, Otello and Porgy and Bess. He has been a guest conductor for numerous American and European opera companies and symphony orchestras, including several in South Africa. In 2002 he debuted at NYCOpera conducting Rigoletto, and returned in 2003 for Floyd’s Of Mice and Men. He has conducted recordings with opera greats Simon Estes and Shirley Verrett, and two gala concerts with renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. In 2005, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford. He is a frequent guest panelist on the quiz of the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. In July, 2008, he made his debut at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, conducting the Cape Town Opera production of Porgy and Bess.
   
Laura Alley enjoys a distinguished career in opera direction. She has a current repertoire of over fifty operas, which she has directed throughout the United States. Highlights include the European premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles in Hanover, Germany, and the American premieres of Kinkakuji and The Dreyfus Affair for the New York City Opera. Among the opera companies for which she has directed much of the standard repertoire are NYCOpera, Syracuse, Kansas City, San Francisco, Austin, Cleveland, El Paso, Chautauqua and Connecticut Opera and most recently The Marriage of Figaro for the New Orleans Opera. Miss Alley has taught and directed opera workshop productions at Louisiana State University, the Kansas City Conservatory, Temple University, Rutgers University and New York University. She is currently associated with the Mannes College of Music.
   
Edward Bak is an accomplished and internationally respected pianist and vocal coach, with credits in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia. He has performed widely in such venues as the Philips Collection, Tanglewood Festival, Lanaudiere Festival, Monnaie, Kolarac Hall, and Teatro Colón. He is in high demand as vocal coach and collaborative pianist. He has expertise in French, German, and Russian, as well as Italian and Spanish. He is currently on the faculty of The Ohio State University School of Music, and previously held faculty positions at the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory and the Peabody Institute Preparatory. He has given master classes at the Escuela Moderna in Santiago and the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón. He has been a visiting professor of piano in Seoul, South Korea.
   
Brian Barnett is delighted to be returning to Prelude to Performance after his prior work on La bohème, Die Fledermaus, Le nozze di Figaro, and Un ballo in maschera. He has previously lit The Play of Daniel, a medieval opera at The Cloisters; Prudence, world premiere at Connecticut Repertory Theatre; Crazy for You at Maine State Music Theatre; Babes in Arms at Seven Angels Theatre; Dying City at The Barrow Group Theatre; The Meaning of Life…, NYC Premiere; Orange, NYC Premiere; Albany Berkshire Ballet’s Nutcracker Tour, 2006-present. He frequently works as Associate Lighting Designer to Jeff Davis in such companies as Palm Beach Opera, Mannes Opera, NYC, Indianapolis Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, the Manhattan School of Music, and Berkshire Opera. www.bwbstudio.org.
   
Joseph Bascetta has directed throughtout the United States and Canada. International career hightlights include Pula Opera Festival in Croatia: Tapei Music Festival at the National Theatre in Tapei Taiwan; Festival do Opera in Tenerife, Spain. Kim Chaikyung Opera, Seoul, Korea; Astra Theatre. Malta' International Opera House, Shanghai China; and Singapore Lyric Theatre. Mr Bascetta is Artistic Director of Fresno Greand opera, where this season he directed Porgy and Bess and Madama Butterfly. Most recently he directed La Boheme for Opera Columbus; La traviata for Mobile Opera, La Boheme for Tampa Opera (televised on PBSin Florida), and La traviata for Opera Lyra Ottawa.
   
Charles Caine costume designer, brings his talents and experience to our program for our fifth season. After 16 seasons as resident costume designer at the Metropolitan Opera, he designed for many other opera companies, including Canadian Opera, Montreal Opera, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago Lyric, Washington Opera, Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and NYCO. His designs have appeared in the acclaimed PBS-TV production of Luisa Miller starring Domingo, Milnes and Scotto. He is also now presenting lectures recalling the glories from the Golden Days backstage at the Met.
   
Carol Crawford has served as Artisitc and General DIrector of Tulsa Opea. Durinmg her tenure the repertoire included Oklahoma premieres of 20th-century and American operas such as Robert Ward's The Crucible, Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites and Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen. She inaugurated the Tulsa Youth Opera program. She has served as a panelist for several arts organizations. She has held positions as Music Director of Wester Opera Theatre, Texas Opera Theatre, Assoc. MD of the Verginia Opera, and Assoc. Conductor of the Memphis Symphony. She has guest conducted with opera companies and orvchestra thought the US and Europe. She studied with Bernstein, Solti, Otto-Werner Mueller, Goldovsky, and Caplan. Bernstein invited her to assist in the La Scala premiere of Quiet Place/ Trouble in Tahiti. She hols a DMA from Yale University.
   
Steven Horak, Makeup and Wig Designer, has been on the Makeup Department Staff of the Metropolitan Opera for fourteen seasons following twelve seasons as a wigmaker and makeup artist at the San Francisco Opera.  Prior to joining the MET, his many years as a journeyman included seasons as Wig and Makeup Designer for Michigan Opera Theatre, Chicago Opera Theatre, the Lake George Opera Festival, and as a wig and makeup artist for the opera companies of Philadelphia, Miami, and St. Louis.  He is currently also principal wig designer and constructor for Studio E.I.S., a Brooklyn-based company which furnishes realistic human figures to museums across North America.  These include the new Education Center at the Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia which features forensically age-regressed figures of George Washington.
   
Joan Krueger was named “2004 Coach of the Year” by Classical Singer magazine. She has accompanied Cecilia Bartoli, Sumi Jo, and Vinson Cole at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, was seen with Carol Vaness on A&E’s Breakfast With The Arts, has performed collaborative recitals in Avery Fisher Hall, The Met Museum of Art, The United Nations, and many other venues across the U.S. She was an Assistant Conductor for the Sarasota Opera, Music Director for NYU’s Opera Workshop, and a coach for Intermezzo Opera Festival. Currently, she is on the faculty of SUNY Purchase and the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute. She is the pianist for the Jensen and the Chester Ludgin Verdi Baritone competitions and was a judge for the Classical Singer vocal competition. She maintains an active coaching studio in NY.  
   
Anthony Laciura was born and educated in New Orleans. He has been enjoying himself since the age of 12, singing the cameo role of the newsboy in a rare staging of Charpentier’s opera Louise. Following his music and academic studies at Loyola and Tulane Universities, the former general director of the New Orleans Opera assigned him several difficult featured roles, among them Goro in Madama Butterfly, Monostatos in Die Zauberflote, Incredibile in Andrea Chenier and Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro. These roles Laciura would ultimately sing at the Met, along with some of his other favorites, such as the four servants in Les Contes d’Hoffman. Recordings and video productions have only added to the tenor’s international reputation. The Washington Post calls him, “one of the outstanding character tenors of our time.” Anthony Laciura stars in the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, directed by Martin Scorsese.
   
Shayna Leahy the recipient of the 2008 Dr. David Farrar Assistant Stage Director Grant for Prelude to Performance®, is returning for her second season. She recently directed Aida for the Wichita Grand Opera in February and will be returning for a production of Carmen in 2010. She has directed Hansel and Gretel for Opera Kansas, and works as both music director and stage director for the Hiawatha Area Arts and Theatre Society and Theater Atchison in NE Kansas. Ms. Leahy is the Director of Vocal Music & Theory at Highland Community College. She received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Wichita State University.
   
Brad Lemons has served as Fight Director on Random Violence at the Brooklyn Lyceum, productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream for Circle in the Square Theatre School and REV Theatre Co., Witch of Edmonton also for REV Theatre Company, as well as a series of student films at the New York Film Academy, working in tandem with emerging young film directors. He was Assistant to B.H. Barry on Broadway's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His work as a fight performer has been seen in Carmen and Otello at the Metropolitan Opera and on “All My Children” at ABC. He has taught for Circle in the Square, the New York Film Academy, Showtix: Behind the Scenes Broadway and Southern Connecticut State University. He is resident fight director for REV Theatre Company. www.thefightguys.com
   
Robert Lyall is the General and Artistic Director of the New Orleans Opera Assoc. and has also served as the AD of Opera Grand Rapids. He has received frequent recognition for artistic achievement with these companies and others. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 with the New England Symphony. European appearances include Giselle for Italy's Arena di Verona and Nabucco with the Bulgarian State Opera's tour of the Netherlands. His Russian debut with the Rostov State Musical Theatre with Madama Butterfly was nominated for Russia's leading arts award, "The Golden Mask". He will return for the RSM Theatre's Anniversary celebrations and the following season for the Russian premiere of Thomas Pasatieri's opera The Seagull. He has arranged the English­ language musical score created by Pasatieri and librettist Elmsley to accomodate the original Russian ofChekov's celebrated play.
   
Kathy Olsen is one of the most famous and sought-after opera coach/accompanists in the world today. Throughout her professional career she has been involved with every aspect of singer development and career counseling. With the creation of Encompass Arts, Ms. Olsen embarks upon the logical next step in her career path. Her opera credits include positions at many companies in both the United States and Europe including, but not limited to: Knoxville Opera, Orlando Opera, Tulsa Opera, Virginia Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Opera Air Festival in Gars, Austria. She is currently on the advisory board of the Singer’s Development Foundation, and Musical Director of the Vero Beach Opera Company.
   
Christian Poggioni (Assistant Director and Props Manager) is an Italian actor and director with an acting degree from the Scuola del Piccolo Teatro di Milano. He is also a summa cum laude graduate of the Univer­ sita degli Studi di Milano and attended a summer session at the USC School of Cinema and Television. His acting career began at the Piccolo di Milano and continued in the main Italian theatres with plays in Germany, France, Spain and Greece, and acted in Italian television series. In addition to his performing career, he teaches acting courses at the Universita Cattolica di Milano, Swiss Steiner School and the Laboratorio di Teatro "G. Mauri".
   
Ellen Rievman, (Libretto Class) has had a performing career as a member of the Metropolitan Opera spanning nearly three decades. Since leaving the Met in 1995, she has worked with singers to coach the drama, explore the text, and incorporate these skills with gesture, movement, stagecraft, and physical eloquence. She is a Senior Associate at The TAI Group working with business clients internationally, is a core consultant of New Triad for the Collaborative Arts, and is on the faculty of Prelude to Performance. She has been featured in articles in Opera News and Classical Singer Magazine and has directed and presented Master Classes for, among others, Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Opera, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Mannes College of Music. In 2007 she directed Cosi fan tutte for Prelude.
   
Born in Toulouse, France, Audrey Saint-Gil (Chorus Master) attended the Conservatoire National de Musique de Toulouse. She received a PhD in from the Universite de Toulouse. She made her professional debut coaching Les contes d'Hoffmann, La belle Helene, and Barbe-Bleue at Le eatre de Castres in France. She has worked as a pianist and vocal coach for several famous French opera houses such as the Theatre du Capitole in Toulouse and the Theatre du Chiitelet in Paris. She began her international career in the Konzerthaus in Vienna, with a production of Barbe-Bleue. She was appointed Vocal Coach of the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot. She worked as a French vocal coach at Detroit Opera House on Di Chiera's new opera, Cyrano. Future engagements include II trovatore in New York and Don Giovanni in New Hampshire.
   
Damien Sneed, (Orchestra Contractor) a sought after pianist, organist, vocal coach, conductor, composer, arranger, lecturer and producer is a native of Augusta, Georgia. Darnien is a professor of music at The Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York, accompanist at The Juilliard School and serves as the Music Director of the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York with over 24,000 mem­ Damien's conducting debut took place April 10- 12, 2008 at Jazz at Lincoln Center where he conducted the world premiere of Wynton Marsalis' Mass for the entire Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and a 150-voice choir. These performances aired on NBC, LIVE on XM Satellite Radio internationally and on WBGO in the New York City area. He is currently working as an arranger, composer and conductor on a Broadway musical.
   
Sergio Stefani was born in Bologna, Italy and grew up in Rome, where he studied Liberal Arts at Liceo “Pilo Albertelli” and Law at the University of Rome, before coming to the United States. About twenty years ago, he devised a unique approach for teaching his native language - the opportunity of learning at one’s own pace - a teaching program that must be the student’s learning program - individual lessons to cover grammar or special individual needs - conversation classes to hone one’s skills - diction and role interpretation to opera singers. Sergio has enjoyed being a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera and he is proud to have had, among his students, some members of that company.
   
Warren George Wilson has pursued a multi-faceted career as conductor, pedagogue, vocal coach and vocal chamber music partner on the international stage. He has been the recipient of many important awards among which are grants from the Hattie M. Strong Foundation, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation, the National Association of Negro Musicians and a John Hay Whitney Fellowship. For nine years he was the Music Director of the Opera Theatre at Boston University. His conducting activities have taken him from the world of opera at Wolf Trap to the Academia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and a debut with the Moscow Philharmonic in Moscow. In acknowledgement of his extensive artistic capabilities, he has been privileged to perform at state dinners at the White House for the Italian Premier and the Japanese Prime Minister.