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Photos and Bios of 2016 Staff
Martina Arroyo Mark Rucker Willie Anthony Waters Nobuko Amemiya Ed Bak
James Biddlecome Paige Brigante Kasey Burgess Charles Caine Ian Campbell
Steven Crawford Jen Joyce Davis Lena Haleem Stephen Mo Hanan Steven Horak
Noby Ishida Lisa Jablow Vera Junkers Joan Krueger Gina Lapinski
Abdul Latif Brad Lemons Sevrin Anne Mason Katherine Olsen Mary Pinto
Joshua Rose Sadie Rucker Sergio Stefani Hannah Spierman Carol Szwei
Peggy Thompson April Joy Vester      
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. Other 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. Also sang Amonasro and his first Dutchman in Der Fliegende Holländer in Belgium. Recent engagements include the title role of Rigoletto singing the first time with Won Whi Choi and Cecilia Lopez who are both Prelude to Performance alumni.www.markrucker.com
   
WW Maestro Willie Anthony Waters (Music Director/Conductor-La Bohème), 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 Nobuko Amemiya (Accompanist) has built a reputation as a dynamic and versatile collaborator. Equally committed to vocal and instrumental chamber music, she traveled three continents to give recitals and concerts with numerous renowned conductors and soloists such as Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon and many others. She participated in various festivals throughout the world, including Festival de Música da Figueira da Foz in Portugal, International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy, and Festival de Musique Lausanne in Switzerland. Her prizes and awards include “Vittorio Gui” in Florence, Italy, the Munich International Music Competition, Manhattan School of Music President’s Award, SongFest Faculty Scholarship Award and OperaNorth Special Recognition Award. She studied at the New England Conservatory, the University of Kansas, and Toho School of Music in Tokyo, and holds double DMA degrees in Solo Piano and Collaborative Piano Performances. She has worked at OperaNorth Company, Garden State Opera, International Institute of Vocal Arts, New England Conservatory, University of Kansas, and Aspen Music School & Festival. Ms. Amemiya currently works for the Manhattan School of Music, American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and Bronx Opera, and is an artistic director of the enCANTA Collective in NYC.
   
EB Ed Bak (Accompanist/Die Fledermaus) 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.
   
Kasey Burgess (Stage Manager - Die Fledermaus ) 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.
   
Charles Caine (costume designer), brings his talents and experience to Prelude to Performance for its twelfth season. A native New Yorker by birth and a Carnegie-Mellon graduate, he joined the Met Opera as resident costume designer, working with some of operas most distinguished luminaries such as Tyrone Gutherie, Marc Chagall,Franco Zeffirelli and Cecil Beaton. His costumes for the PBS's 'Live From Lincoln Center' production of Luisa Miller starred Domingo, Milnes and Scotto. After 16 seasons with the Met his work appeared on the stages of many companies; NYCO, Dallas, Houston, San Diego, Miami,Opera Pacific, Connecticut, Michigan Opera Theatre and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Recent work included a La Traviata with Opera Tampa and a Madama Butterfly with the new Berkshire Opera festival. He continues to offer lectures about his magical times at the Met. (ccaine123@aol.com)
   
Australia-born Ian Campbell (Stage Director - La bohème), commenced his professional opera career in 1967 as a tenor with Opera Australia. He sang a variety of roles with the Company through the opening season in the Sydney Opera House appearing in Der Rosenkavalier, TannhÄuser, Otello, The Rake’s Progress, Die Zauberflöte, Falstaff, Turandot and Un ballo in Maschera among many other operas. He has been General Director of The State Opera of South Australia, Assistant Artistic Administrator with the Metropolitan Opera, and General Director and Artistic Director of San Diego Opera. As a stage director his many past productions include Murder in the Cathedral, Don Quixote, Katya Kabanova, Tosca, Il trovatore, La bohème and Falstaff for San Diego Opera, Les contes d'Hoffmann and La bohème in South Australia and Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci for Opera Santa Barbara. He recently directed Terrence McNally’s play, Master Class, for Opera Orlando. He has given master classes around the USA and Australia including at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, San Diego State University, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Denver working with singers on staging, audition presentation and aria interpretation. He has judged many vocal competitions including the Marcello Giordani International Vocal Competition, and chaired the Metropolitan Opera Auditions at the Sydney Opera House.
   
Maestro Steven M. Crawford (Conductor-Die Fledermaus) is among the most versatile musicians on the classical scene today. He has conducted in opera companies and orchestras around the United States, has accompanied the worlds finest singers, and is in the top tier of coaches in the opera world. Maestro Crawford’s conducting engagements include performances with the Metropolitan Opera (La Bohème, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Faust and Madama Butterfly), Cincinnati Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Syracuse Opera, Kentucky Opera, Dayton Opera, Nevada Opera, Chelsea Opera and Opera Idaho. He has also conducted a number of world and NYB premieres, including A Chekhov Trilogy by Richard Wargo, Honor by Christian Mcleer, and the Mark of Cain by Matthew Harris. His positions (past and present) include principal conductor of the Greater Miami Opera, principal conductor of Land of Enchantment Opera, and principal conductor/artistic advisor of Opera Idaho. He has been engaged as conductor by the New World Symphony as well as cover to Kurt Mazur with the New York Philharmonic. An active accompanist, Maestro Crawford has performed in recital with Håkan Hagegåard, Ortrun Wenkel, Sue Patchell, Mallory Walker, and many others. He has worked extensively as a coach with Sherrill Milnes, Tom Krause, and Aprile Milo. A long-time proponent of training both singers and instrumentalists, Maestro Crawford was Music Director of Land of Enchantment Opera, and Senior coach for the Vann Vocal Institute. He has conducted at University of Illinois, Portland State University and Prelude to Performance, and in 2009 he spearheaded the training of instrumentalists for the Bel Canto institute of Firenze, IT.
   
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.”
   
P4 Lena Haleem (Assistant Administrative Director) is a fourth year Vocal Performance and Music Education major at the Ohio State University, where she studies under the tutelage of Dr. J. Robin Rice. She also acts as Stage Manager for the OSU School of Music Stage Crew and Production Team. Performances include Bach’s Es Ist Genug and Brahm’s Ach Arme Welt with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Verdi’s Requiem with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with the Ohio State University Symphony Orchestra, and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms with the Ohio State University Wind Symphony.
   
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 huffingtonpost.com.
   
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 (Assistant Conductor/Chorus master/Chorus Contractor 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.
   
P7 Vera Junkers (German Instructor), a graduate of Hunter College, holds a Ph. D. in French literature from the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. She has spent a lifetime teaching French and has been honored by the French government, named a "Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques." The same lifetime has been devoted to loving music - opera in particular. Her languages are, in alphabetical order, English, French, German, Italian, Russian..
   
JK Joan Krueger (Coach/Die Fledermaus/) 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.  
   
GP Gina Lapinski (Stage Director - La Bohème) is in her 18th year as a member of the stage directing staff of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and has directed or assisted on upwards of 60 productions for the company, including many of the Live in HD Met Opera presentations that are shown throughout the world in movie theaters. Ms. Lapinski has also directed productions for such companies as San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, L’Opéra de Montréal and the Liceu in Barcelona. She served three times as Associate Director for the acclaimed Seattle Opera Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle, conceived by Stephen Wadsworth. With Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher she has collaborated on a number of new productions including Roméo et Juliette for the Salzburger Festspiele and Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Faust in Baden Baden, Germany, and productions for the Metropolitan Opera (Otello,Les Contes d’Hoffmann and L’Elisir d’Amore.) Ms. Lapinski has extensive experience in working closely with internationally acclaimed stage directors, conductors, and singers on the level of, Sir David McVicar, Jürgen Flimm, Willy Decker, François Girard, and Robert LePage; Maestros James Levine, Fabio Luisi and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; plus Placido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Anna Netrebko, and Diana Damrau, to name a few. She appears in Susan Froemke’s documentary film The Audition, which follows singers throughout the final week of the National Council Auditions at the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Lapinski was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, and has lived in New York City since 2001.
   
AL Abdul Latif (Movement Class) is a graduate of Wesleyan University and NYU Tisch School of the Arts, an MFA graduate-scholarship recipient of the Alvin Ailey and Joffrey Ballet School and a directing fellow at the T. Schrieber Acting Studio. He has worked with The Group, Donald Byrd’s Contemporary Ballet Company, and was a member of The Works, Jennifer Muller’s Contemporary Modern Company. Latif has two Tony® Award-winning Broadway credits, including The Lion King as an ensemble cast member and Bonzai understudy directed by Julie Taymor and choreographed by Garth Fagan and an ensemble cast member and seaweed cover in Hairspray directed by Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. He is the winner of the National ACT and the SO Arts Competition. He has made appearances as a special guest speaker at The Archdioceses of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Banquet by invitation of Cardinal O'Connor and Cardinal Egan. He has been a guest performer at the Cologne, Germany, Youth Summit for Pope Benedict XVI. He has been a guest teacher at Steps on Broadway in New York City, the Fendafor Festival in Brazil, Renaissance Arts Academy and Moves Institute in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Latif was the resident recipient of Ballet Hispanico’s Institutito Coreografico in 2012. He is the co-designer and founding choreographer of The Muller Works Foundation Choreographic Residency/Legacy Project. Latif is currently conceiving The NEXT Project, launching his urban-contemporary style, and is opening his Performing Arts Firm called Abdul Latif – D2D/T.
   
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/La Bohème) 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. www.EncompassArts.com
   
P11 Mary Pinto (La Bohème Accompanist) an acclaimed accompanist and vocal coach, has had the pleasure of coaching for Metropolitan Opera star and International soprano, Deborah Voigt, as Ms. Voigt prepared the three Brunnhilde's for the Met's new production of the Ring Cycle during the 2011 and 2012 season. Mary can be seen in Wagner's Dream: The making of the Met's Ring which premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival and has since been broadcast globally as part of the HD Broadcasts and will be shown this season on American PBS channels as part of the “Great Performances” series. A student of John Wustman, the renown accompanist for Luciano Pavarotti, she has work as a rehearsal pianist for New Jersey State Opera, Dayton Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Dallas Opera and many more. She has also served as the audition pianist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions, an honor she repeated in Chicago several years later. Recently named the Vice President of Opera at Florham, where she has produced and performed. She has also coached at the Academia Lirica Internazionale d'Ischia in Italy and the Gerda Lissner Foundation. Last season, Ms. Pinto performed with Opera Noire on their Russian tour, including a recital at the US embassy in Moscow. She has given masterclasses and private coachings at the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute for the past two seasons. Mary served as harpsichordist for New Jersey State Opera's production of Il barbiere di Siviglia under Jason Tramm. Ms. Pinto is a member of the faculty at Montclair State University where she coaches for the opera department as well as giving private lessons. She maintains a busy private coaching studio in New York City.
   
P11 Joshua Rose (Lighting 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. www.joshuarosedesigns.com
   
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 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.  http://www.italianwithsergio.com

 

   
SS Hannah Spierman (Stage Manager-La Bohème) has been working with the Bronx Opera -- either on stage, backstage, or administratively (sometimes all three at once) -- on nearly every production since 2009. With BxO, her stage management credits include Rossini’s Cinderella and La gazza ladra, Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals, and Auber’s Fra Diavolo. Elsewhere, she has worked on Rigoletto for North Shore Music Festival (AD/SM), Ariadne auf Naxos and Lucia di Lammermoor for the dell'Arte Opera Ensemble (AD/SM), María de Buenos Aires for Opera Hispánica (Supertitle Operator), and Madama Butterfly for Metro Lyric Opera (Props). As a full-lyric soprano, Hannah’s performing credits include multiple roles with the Bronx Opera – Birdie Hubbard in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème, and Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, among others – as well as the title role in Gilbert & Sullivan's Princess Ida, Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Alice Ford in Falstaff with Utopia Opera; and Giorgetta in Il tabarro, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, and Mimì in La bohème with Long Island's North Shore Music Festival. Hannah has also performed regionally throughout the United States, most recently as Praskowia / Hanna Glawari (cover) in The Merry Widow with Northern Lights Music Festival in Minnesota's Iron Range; as Countess Almaviva with Opera Breve in Wichita Falls, Texas; and as Giorgetta with the Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival in the Poconos. Outside of opera, Hannah enjoys nail art, Star Trek, dachshunds, drag queens, and collaborating with her husband, BxO Managing Director Ben Spierman.

   
Carol Szwei (Arroyo/Hunter Internship, Assistant Stage Manager-Die Fledermaus) is a junior at Hunter College and will receive her Bachelor of Music degree for vocal performance in the Spring of 2016. I am a student of Susan Gonzalez. She regularly performs with Hunter College Chamber Singers and AdHoc, a New York-based group of classical singers. She performed as Miss Paige in Dan Shore’s An Embarrassing Position at the 2014 National Opera Association 60th Annual Convention with Hunter Opera Theatre. She will be making her debut at the Kaye Playhouse as Miss Pooder in Thomas Pasatieri's The Hotel Casablanca in May 2015. She works as a wedding singer for both masses and ceremonies. She also works as a Student Ambassador (tour guide) at Hunter College for prospective students and as a tour guide at Hunter's Public Policy Institute, Roosevelt House. She was an assistant at the TDF Costume Collection in 2012 and a music administration intern at Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2013 to 2014.
   
SS Peggy Thompson (Assistant Stage Manager-La Bohème/Officer Manager) is currently a student at The Ohio State University studying Arts Management with a minor in Music. After spending several years as a musician and participating in many orchestras throughout her education, she is now taking her knowledge of the classical world and expanding in to marketing and operations. With goals to become either marketing manager or stage manager for a major symphony, she hopes to bring innovative ideas to promote the new age and classical orchestra to global audiences. Previous positions has placed her within institutions such as The Columbus Symphony Orchestra and The Ohio State University Office of Advancement with most of that work being in marketing. She is currently a member of the Stage Crew team at Ohio State’s School of Music where she learns the many different aspects and necessities of running a successful performance.

   
SS April Joy Vester (Set Designer/Properties Manager) is thrilled to be working with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. She has previously designed for the Maryland Opera Studio on Menotti's The Old Maid and the Theif, Rossini's L'Occasione fa il ladro and Ravel's L'Enfant et led Sortileges. Other design credits include Troilus and Cressida, The Me Nobody Knows, Oklahoma, The Music Man and Wonderful Town. April has also had the opportunity o work in several of the theaters in the DC area including Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Signature Theatre and Studio Theatre. She is excited to be working now in New York City and with such wonderful people.