Photos and Bios of 2015 Staff
Martina Arroyo Mark Rucker Willie Anthony Waters Laura Alley Ed Bak
James Biddlecome Paige Brigante Charles Caine Kali Carys Jen Joyce Davis
Stephen Mo Hanan Gregory Hopkins Steven Horak Noby Ishida Lisa Jablow
Joan Krueger Brad Lemons Sevrin Anne Mason Katherine Olsen Imre Palló
Joshua Rose Sadie Rucker Sergio Stefani Susan Stout Wendy Taucher
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 recent recipient of the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors, 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 and returns for Amonasro 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.
WW Laura Alley (Stage Director) enjoys a distinguished career in opera direction. She has a current repertoire of over sixty operas, which she has directed throughout the United States. Highlights include the European premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles with Jerome Sirlin in Hannover, Germany, and the American premieres of Kinkakuji and The Dreyfus Affair for New York City Opera. Among the opera companies for which she has directed much of the standard repertoire are New York City Opera, Syracuse, Kansas City, San Francisco, Austin, Cleveland, Chautauqua, Connecticut, New Orleans and El Paso. Miss Alley has taught and directed opera workshop productions at Indiana University, Louisiana State University, the Kansas City Conservatory, Temple University, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Converse College, Rutgers University, New York University and the University of Georgia. She is currently on the opera faculty of the Mannes College of Music where she teaches Acting for Singers and directed the critically-acclaimed The Magic Flute, Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi, The Marriage of Figaro, Dialogues of the Carmelites, La Traviata, Così fan tutte and Falstaff. Throughout the ten yes of Prelude to Performance she has directed Don Giovanni, The Tales of Hoffmann, Un ballo in maschera and Die Zauberflöte.
EB Ed Bak (Accompanist) 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.
James Biddlecome (Orchestra Contractor) was a member of the New York City Opera Orchestra for 42 years. He has also played with the Group for Contemporary Music, the Brooklyn Philharmonia, the Caramoor Music Festival, the US Army Field Band, the American Ballet Theater Orchestra, the Goldman Band and the New Hampshire Music Festival. Retiring in 2006 from the NYCO Orchestra, he remained as the Assistant Orchestra Librarian for several seasons While a member of the orchestra, he created the NYCO Education Department’s Opera in a Nutshell, (now known as Opera is Instrumental) a program for young instrumental musicians for which he was the director and conductor. Among the Nutshell programs he presented were Verdi’s Rigoletto, Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s La Bohème, Madama Butterfly and Tosca. He was also personnel manager for the National Grand Opera and the New York Grand Opera. For several years he appeared as a regular guest conductor of the Queens Symphonic Band. In January of 2002 Mr. Biddlecome was appointed Music Director of the North Jersey Philharmonic where he conducted a number of outstanding concerts, including popular concert opera performances of La bohemé and Carmen and several innovative Children’s Concerts.
Paige Brigante (costume assistant) is a graduate from Adelphi University with a BFA in Dance and an interest in costume design as guided by Sean Sullivan. Most recently, she has performed with Carmen Caceres Dance Action and choreographer Anthony Rosado. This will be her second year working with Prelude to Performance and would like to thank the cast and crew for their hard work and continued support.
Charles Caine (costume designer) brings his talents and experience to Prelude to Performance for this tenth anniversary season. A New Yorker by birth, he graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University and then started his illustrious career at the Metropolitan Opera, as resident costume designer. He was there for 16 seasons, being responsible for the look of each artist appearing on the stage. After leaving the Met, he designed for many other companies, including: San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago Lyric, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and Connecticut Operas. His designs can be seen on the CD of PBS-TV’s Luisa Miller starring Domingo, Milnes and Scotto. This past fall he designed Handel’s Agrippina for Operamission in NYC. He also adds lectures to his schedule, showing and telling of magic times at the Met.
Kali Carys (Stage Manager - Il barbiere di siviglia) trained in stage management and technical production at Queen’s University (BAH: Drama) and the Banff Centre (Theatre Arts Work-Study). Favourite credits include: Amore Opera’s Faust, Pirates of Penzance, Don Pasquale and Olivo e Pasquale (SM), Lions Den Theatre’s Evening Of Ives (Lighting), 2012 Atlantic Fringe Festival’s Close To You and Speaks Alone (SM), Atlantic Cirque’s Decade (ASM), Schafer Productions’ Jöb: A Cosmic Tapestry (Assistant Scenographer), Women’s Empowerment Committee’s Vagina Monologues & Re-Vulva-Lutions (SM & TD), and Queen’s Student Opera Company’s Carmen (Costumes). Upcoming: Halifax Summer Opera Workshop’s Dialogues des carmélites (Costumes & ASM), Amore Opera’s Magic Flute and Das Labyrinth.
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.”
P3 Erica Gambino (Stage Manager - La Traviata) for live theater, opera and special events. For the last three years Erica has been the stage manager for each of the six productions for The Mannes Opera. Recent credits include Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway (PA), Indianapolis Opera (SM), and The School of American Ballet (SM).
P4 As the original Gus/Growltiger in Broadway’s Cats, Stephen Mo Hanan (Stagecraft Class)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
P6 Professor Gregory Hopkins (Chorus Contractor), born in Philadelphia, received his Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University, Master's Degree from Curtis Institute of Music and Doctoral Degree from Belford University. He has won prizes in competitions including: The Verdi Prize in Busetto, Italy; Outstanding Tenor Award, Mantova, Italy; The Dealy Award and The Opera Index Grant. He has traveled throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and The Middle East, with recent performances including Orvieto Festival (Italy) and Umbria Festival (France). He serves The National Convention of Choirs and Choruses as Director of Performance Ministries; and Gospel Music Workshop of America as Vocal Consultant to the Men's Department. As an educator, he has served on the faculties of: Community College of Philadelphia; Morgan State University; Westminster Choir College and NY Seminary of the East. Currently, he is Coordinator of Vocal and Operatic Activities at Howard University. For more than quarter of a century he has been Minister of Music for Harlem's Convent Avenue Baptist Church. He is also Artistic Director for Harlem Opera Theater and Music Director for the Harlem Jubilee Singers and Cocolo Japanese Gospel Choir. He is a featured artist or more than 5 commercially released CD projects; one of which was nominated for a Grammy
P6 Steven Horak (Makeup & Wig Designer) has been on the Makeup Department Staff of the Metropolitan Opera for twenty 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.
Noby Ishida (Accompanist) is the founder and artistic director of the Satori Opera where he con-ducts the professional opera ensemble and young artist program. He was formerly the musical director of the Remarkable Theatre Brigade and conductor for the Opera Management Corporation. As a pianist, Mr. Ishida has performed in numerous halls in New York City including Merkin Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Bechstein Center, Steinway Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. He is a freelance vocal coach in New York City, working with artists who sing for major opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera Company, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and San Francisco Opera among others. He has been on the vocal coaching staffs of Temple University, University of Miami, Bennington College, New School University, the International Academy of Rome, and CUNY. Noby is thrilled to join the staff of the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance program this summer.
P7 Lisa Jablow (Subtitles Operator) 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 (Coach) was named “2004 Coach of the Year” by Classical Singer maga-zine. 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.  
BL Brad Lemons (Combat Class) served as Fight Director at the Metropolitan Opera: Fanciulla del West, Stiffelio, Simon Boccanegra, Carmen, Otello. Prelude: Così fan tutte, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Don Giovanni. Broadway: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Off-Broadway: Treasure Island, Macbeth, Evil Dead: The Musical, Hamlet, Othello. NYC: Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Wild Party, Rashomon. Regionally: White Noise, Oleanna, That Championship Season, King Lear, American Buffalo, Murder in the Cathedral.  Film: Asylum Seekers, Beyond Belief, Bust. TV: “All My Children.” He has taught at Juilliard, Mannes School of Music, Cornell University, and is currently teaching at Broadway Classroom, New York Conservatory of Dramatic Art, and Circle in the Square Theatre School.
P9 Sevrin Anne Mason (Makeup Assistant) 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.
KO Katherine Olsen (Coach) 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.
P11 Joshua Rose (Lighting & Set Designer), loves designing for the performing arts. His lighting and scenery for Opera, Theater, Dance, and Architecture have been seen all over New York and the United States, as well as Beijing, Mexico, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong, India, and Dubai. Recent opera credits include Mahler and Weber’s Die Drei Pintos and Auber’s Fra Diavolo. Love and thanks to Jim, Lulu and Hansel for all their love support and patience. Opera companies that Joshua has designed for include: I Pagliacci, Così fan tutte, and The Impressario for The Bronx Opera, The Elixir of Love for Florida Imperial Orchestra and Gianni Schicchi for Southern Methodist University’s Opera Dept.
P11 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.
SS Susan Stout (French/Libretto) has MA and PhD degrees in French from Columbia, and a career teaching, coaching and translating. For more than 15 years, she has taught French and French diction to singers, coaching French for productions of Carmen, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Faust, Werther, and La Fille du Régiment for Dicapo Opera Theatre, National Lyric Opera, One World Symphony and Prelude to Performance. This will be her 3rd year of intensive French teaching and coaching with Prelude. Private students have performed with New York City Opera, Opéra National de Lyon, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Nashville Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and Orlando Opera. In 2009, she gave a Master Class on French diction and the challenges of singing in French for the Metropolitan Opera Guild.


SS Sergio Stefani(Italian & Libretto Class) 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 been a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera, and is proud to have had among his students some members of that company.


SW Wendy Taucher (Movement Class) is a director, choreographer and author. Her production company Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater is in residence at Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City presenting monthly opera performances and summers at Featherstone Center for the Arts on Martha’s Vineyard. She has directed operas and music theater around the country, including Connecticut Opera, Eastman Opera Theater, Mississippi Opera, Nevada Opera Theater, Prelude to Performance, Nancy Milnes’ ASOP, Chelsea Opera, Victory Gardens, NYU, Northwestern Hartt School of Music, Swarthmore and University of Chicago. She collaborated with Carla Maxwell of the Jose Limon Dance Company to create The Othello Project, was the competition winner of the 15th International Festival of One-Act Plays in Arezzo, Italy for Reasons for the Beginning of Delight, received a Chicago Jeff Citation Nomination for her work on She Loves Me. She was a Teaching Artist at Lincoln Center Institute for fifteen years and has written multiple titles for the text book publisher Person Education. Currently she is the director of the World Choreography Institute and is creating three newly commissioned works: Opera Rocks--A New Family Opera, Still Point—An Environmental Amble and Song—A Dance Solo for Nora Chipaumire.