Staff and Faculty 2012
Martina Arroyo Mark Rucker Willie Anthony Waters Ed Bak Charles Caine
Daniela Candillari Kay Walker Castaldo Jen Joyce Davis Nicholas Fox Ian Paul Guzzone
Stephen Mo Hanan Peter Harrison Laura Hirschberg Steven Horak Lisa Jablow
Joan Krueger Matthew Lata Shayna Leahy Brad Lemons Sevrin Anne Mason
Katherine Olsen Kwame Ocran Traci Klainer Polimeni Ellen Rievman Sadie Rucker
Sergio Stefani Steven White      
MA 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.
P1 Mark Rucker, Administrative Director, first sang Renato in Un ballo in maschera with Luciano Pavarotti. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida and returned as Don Carlo in La forza del destino, Rigoletto and Tonio in I Pagliacci. His Italian debut was Rigoletto in Bologna and he returned to Italy for such roles as Macbeth and Nabucco. Recent appearances have included Stankar in Stiffelio at Wiener Staatsoper, Macbeth and Rigoletto for Opera Liege, Nabucco for the Savonlinna Festival and Amonasro for Arena di Verona. His Carnegie Hall debut was Don Carlo in La forza del destino, Antonio in Linda di Chamonix at the Concertgebow and Il trovatore with New Orleans Opera. Recent engagements include the title role in his first Der Fliegende Holländer in Belgium.
WW Maestro Willie Anthony Waters, Music Director, is the former General and Artistic Director of Connecticut Opera. He conducted numerous noteworthy productions for the company, including the Arena production of Aïda in 1991, Otello, Porgy and Bess and Salome. He has been a guest conductor for numerous American and European opera companies and symphony orchestras, and for several in South Africa. In 2002, Maestro Waters debuted at New York City Opera, and in 2008, he made his debut at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford. Recent engagements include Carmen for Florida Grand Opera, Tosca for Opera Memphis, and Die Fledermaus for Opera Hamilton (Ontario), University of Connecticut and Northwestern University.
EB Ed 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, Lanaudière Festival, Monnaie, Kolarac Hall, and Teatro Colón. He is in high demand as a 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.
CC Charles Caine, costume designer, brings his talents and experience to the Prelude to Performance program for our eighth season. A Carnegie Mellon graduate, he started his illustrious career at the Metropolitan Opera as resident costume designer, and remained for sixteen seasons, with responsibility for the look of every artist appearing onstage. After the Met, he designed for many other companies, including Canadian Opera, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago Lyric, Washington, Philadelphia, Opera Pacific, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York City Opera, Berkshire Opera, and Connecticut Opera. His designs appeared on the acclaimed PBS-TV production of Luisa Miller, starring Domingo, Milnes and Scotto. He now adds lectures to his busy schedule.
DC Daniela Candillari has worked as pianist, chorus master and assistant conductor in Europe, North America, and Asia. As a pianist and vocal coach she has collaborated with such artists as Carol Vaness, Martina Arroyo and Håkan Hagegård. She was the first musician from Slovenia to win a Fulbright Scholarship and a TED Fellowship. She received her Bachelor of Music and Masters Degree in Piano Performance from the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz, Austria, a Masters in Jazz studies from Indiana University School of Music, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Music in Vienna. She has been working as chorus master and assistant conductor at the Slovenian National Opera in Maribor, and since January 2012 has been assistant to the Artistic Director of the same opera house.
P2 A director of opera and theater, Kay Walker Castaldo has many new, original productions to her credit in prestigious companies worldwide, including Teatro Colón, Florida Grand Opera, and L’Opéra de Montréal. Her numerous guest directing engagements have included New York City Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, and Indianapolis Opera. Coming up are Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci at Arizona Opera and A Water Bird Talk at Indianapolis Opera. She directed Les Pêcheurs de Perles in her Seattle Opera and Opera Cleveland debuts, Rigoletto in her Austin Lyric Opera debut, La Traviata at Opera Carolina, Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Der Fliegende Holländer with Mobile Opera.
JD Jen Joyce Davis (Photographer) “I grew up a military kid, we were always moving around.  My Dad "the great explorer" as I like to call him gave me my first camera when I was 9, and I began my own explorations through a viewfinder. Now 33, and living in NYC, a hobby in youth has now turned into a profession as an adult. To capture and moment of time in a single frame, and to successfully convey what I was seeing and feeling at the time is my biggest challenge. Photographing the Opera brings me these challenges every second. I love being able to get close and into the singers world as they perform, I am shadow in the darkness of a theater, feeling the rage of gentlemen dueling over a lady love, the sadness of lost love, the evil of a hated tyrant,  and the humor of a jester.  The moments are never ending.”
NF Nicholas Fox is a New York-based conductor, pianist and coach. This is his third summer with Prelude to Performance, where in 2011, he conducted the performances of “La Rondine.” He is currently interim chorus master at New York City Opera.
P3 Ian Paul Guzzone (Property Manager) is an MFA Scenic Design candidate at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Ian was formerly the resident Props Master at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA. Recent credits include: Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare and Company, set design); Rent (Temple University, assistant set design), and Thirst: A Spell For Christabel (First Light Theatre Group NYC, props master). Ian is returning to Prelude to Performance after he work on their productions of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Rita and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in 2010.
P4 As the original Gus/Growltiger in Broadway’s Cats, Stephen Mo Hanan received a Tony nomination and subsequently published his rehearsal journal, A Cat’s Diary. He was co-author and star of Jolson & Company, at the York Theatre, off-Broadway’s Century Center, and Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse. He has sung Gustavo in Un Ballo in Maschera at the Amato Opera, and is author of Scarpia’s Kiss, a novel about the opera world. He has performed in venues as varied as Town Hall, Michael Feinstein’s, the Museum of the City of New York, and the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral.  His blog posts are archived at
P5 Peter Harrison’s opera design credits include the NY premiere of Adamo’s Little Women for NY City Opera (also performed in Tokyo and Nagoya when NYCO was a U.S. Cultural Ambassador to the 2005 World Expo). He also designed the world premiere of Bongani Ndodana-Breen’s Winnie in Pretoria, and the world premieres of Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts for Juilliard Opera and Anthony Davis' Wakonda's Dream for Opera Omaha. He has designed for Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Nordfjord (Norway), Florida Grand Opera and others. He has worked with Manhattan Theatre Club and with many Off-Broadway musicals, and designed both John Leguizamo’s Mambo Mouth for HBO and Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead for PBS. He has been nominated for the American Theatre Wing Design.
LH Laura Hirschberg is a NYC-based director/playwright/stage manager. She is proud to be back at Prelude to Performance for a third year, having previously stage managed Die Zauberflöte and Don Giovanni. Other stage management credits include: Magic & Mayhem (WorkShop Theater), Miss Kim (45th Street Theater), R U Nobody 2? (New Georges), In the Summer Pavilion (Living Theatre), Are You There, Zeus? It’s Me, Electra (Looking Glass Theatre, Bleecker Street Theater), Abby & June (The Tank), Orestes 2.0 (BoCoCa Arts Festival), and many others.<
P6 Steven Horak has been on the Makeup Department Staff of the Metropolitan Opera for eighteen 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.
P7 Lisa Jablow is a singer and conductor based in Vermont and NYC. For 10 years she was a company member of NYCO, where she is currently on the supertitle staff. A two-time alumna of the Darmstadt Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik and the director of her solo company “microscOPERA,” she will be creating the title role in the world premiere of Dennis Báthory-Kitsz’s monodrama Erzsébet next October. Currently she is the Assistant Conductor and Chorus Director of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra and the Music Director of the Vermont Symphonic Winds.
JK 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.
HD Matthew Lata is the Director of Opera at Florida State University. One of America’s most respected directors of opera, he has directed more than one hundred productions with leading opera companies throughout North America, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Aida, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni), The Washington Opera (Don Giovanni), Florida Grand Opera (Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, La Forza del Destino, Otello, Il Trovatore), Anchorage Opera (Gianni Schicchi), Baltimore Opera (Carmen). He also directed the world premiere of Anton Coppola’s Sacco and Vanzetti to international acclaim for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The current season includes productions with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (The Magic Flute), New Orleans Opera (Un Ballo in Maschera), and Opera Grand Rapids (La Bohème).
SL Shayna Leahy is pleased to be returning to the Prelude to Performance program for the fourth year. She has worked as an Assistant Administrator, Assistant Director and Stage Manager for the program previously, and was the recipient of the David Farrar Internship for Stage Direction in 2008.  This season, she directed Il Trovatore for the Wichita Grand Opera, and will be returning there next season for her first Otello. Additional past productions Ms. Leahy has directed for WGO include Madama Butterfly and Aida. During the academic year, she is the Director of Vocal Music & Theory at Highland Community College, and was recently music director of the production of Once on This Island, granted national recognition by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Sevrin Anne Mason began working as a make-up artist to supplement her acting career and continues to pursue both. Past favorite productions include Dialogues of the Carmelites, Così fan tutte, and Falstaff with Mannes College The New School for Music; Ivona, Princess of Burgundia with Williamstown Theater; and Manon Lescaut and Thérèse Raquin with Dicapo Opera Theatre. Sevrin graduated from Boston University’s BFA program and played Mercy Lewis in The Crucible on Broadway in a production starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.
Katherine 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. Career highlights include staff positions at the Juilliard School of Music, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème on Broadway. Six years ago she founded Encompass Arts artist management. Kathy represents Marcello Giordani, Cheryl Studer, Harolyn Blackwell, Wolfgang Brendel, Lisa Vroman, John Cullum, and Anthony Laciura, among many others.
Kwame Ocran is a First Year Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, studying Politics, Philosophy and Society in his Junior Year at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. As a student, Kwame has invested his time in studying the acceptance and recognition of marginalized communities in society. Aside from his studies, Kwame is a serial admirer of the world of Opera and is thrilled to work with the Martina Arroyo Foundation this summer. Kwame intends to complete his undergraduate degree and pursue a graduate level degree in Philosophy and Humanitarian Law.
Traci Klainer Polimeni, lighting designer. Opera credits include: L’Italiana in Londra Zemire und Azor Il Matrimonio Segreto, all directed by Albert Sherman; Talk Opera, directed by Dona Vaughn; and Paris and Oenone, directed by Gordon Ostrowski. NY theater credits include: The Asphalt Kiss (59E59, Drama Desk nomination); the Broadway production of Prune Danish starring Jackie Mason (Royale Theatre); Four (MTC, Lucille Lortel nomination); and One Ride> (Queens Theatre in the Park). Traci is also a partner in the design firm Luce Group, which specializes in architectural, exhibit and event lighting design. Luce’s current projects include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
Ellen Rievman, Libretto Classhas a performing career at the Metropolitan Opera spanning 25 years. Since leaving the Met she has worked with singers to coach the drama, explore the text, and combine these skills with stagecraft. 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 was a founding faculty of Prelude. She has been featured in articles in Opera News and Classical Singer Magazine andhas presented  Master Classes for, among others, Santa Fe Opera, Sarasota Opera, Metropolitan Opera Guild, Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School and Mannes College of Music. In 2007 she directed  Cosi’ Fan Tutte for Prelude to Performance.
Sadie Rucker (Publicity) holds a Master of Music Education degree from Drake University with emphasis on voice and piano. She is the personal coach and accompanist for her husband, baritone Mark Rucker in recital around the US. She has been in charge of publicity for Prelude to Performance since its inception. She is also mother to Mary Carolyn Delaney who is a lawyer in Wisconsin and Michael Delaney who is an artist living in New York.
Sergio Stefani was born in Bologna, Italy and grew up in Rome, where he studied Liberal Arts at the 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 to learn 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 for opera singers. Sergio has enjoyed being a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera, and is proud to have had among his students some members of that company.
Steven White is one of North America’s premier conductors of both operatic and symphonic repertoire. In 2010 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting La Traviata, starring Angela Gheorghiu. He returns to the Met this year to conduct Natalie Dessay and Dmitri Hvorostovsky in performances of La Traviata. Since 2009 Maestro White has been involved with Met productions of Don Carlo, Billy Budd, La Sonnambula and many others. Other engagements for 2012 include La Traviata at New York City Opera, Aida and Lucia di Lammermoor at Arizona Opera, La Bohème with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Der Fliegende Holländer with Opera Roanoke and the Strauss Four Last Songs with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the Naples Philharmonic.