Meet The Cast
Barrett Cobb (Dryade) This is Barrett Cobb's fourth role with BRO. She also appeared as Luna Sylum in Stoderl's A.F.R.A.I.D., Mamma Lucia in Cavelleria Rusticana, and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro. Other roles she has performed include Azucena (Il Trovatore), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Enrichetta (I Puritani), Marthe (Faust), and Mrs. Trapes (Beggar's Opera). In oratorio she has appeared as soloist with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the National Chorale, The Sine Nomine Singers, the AIMS Orchestra, and the Orchester Landesteater Dessau. Bernard Holland described her singing in the New York Times as "deeply moved and moving."
As a painter, Ms Cobb has had three one-woman shows in Manhattan and has participated in group shows at the Broome Street Gallery and the juried watercolor show at the Church of the Covenant, in which she was twice an award recipient. Last May she created the projections for BRO's production of Orfeo ed Euridice.
Ms. Cobb began her musical career as a flutist. She has served as principal with numerous orchestras and has performed extensively as both a concerto and chamber music soloist. She is currently a music critic for the New York Concert Review. She holds a Mus.B. degree from Oberlin and a M.M.A. from Yale.
Vera Finkemeier (Dryade) Mezzo-Soprano from Hamburg, Germany has performed from the concert, song and operatic repertoire in her native land, in Frascati, Italy and in Boston, Massachusetts before moving to New York City several years ago. The role of "Dryade" marks her first feature role with Brooklyn Repertory Opera but by no means her first foray into the world of Richard Strauss. Ms. Finkemeier continues to build her repertoire with the works of other German, Italian and French operatic masters. Presently, she studies with Soprano Helaine Relles and is focused on perfecting her vocal technique. A resident of Brooklyn, Ms. Finkemeier lives with the two loves of her life - her husband Markus and her dog, Janie.
Jay Gould - Baritone - (Music Master) has a career in opera, oratorio and musical theater. He has appeared as a soloist in Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City and other major concert venues, in performances of Handel's MESSIAH and the St. John's and St. Matthew's Passions of Bach, the Requiems of Faure, Mozart and Brahms, and Orff's CARMINA BURANA. He has performed as soloist with the Masterwork Chorus, Long Island Choral Society and the Taghkanic Chorale. He has also appeared as bass soloist in Beethoven's 9TH SYMPHONY in Carnegie Hall. He sang the title role in FALSTAFF with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. He sang the role of Fafner in Wagner's DAS RHEINGOLD with the Wagner Theater Project conducted by David Gilbert, and appeared as the Music Master in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS with the same company, a role which he reprises in this production. He played the title role in GIANNI SCHICCHI with Empire Opera. His first appearance with BRO was as Rocco in FIDELIO, followed by Alfio in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, Bartolo in MARRIAGE OF FIGARO and Renato in A MASKED BALL.
David Hicks (Brighella) has performed in many Opera's and Musicals both Off-Broadway and regionally. Some credit's include Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola at the Kennedy Center, King Kaspar in Amahl...the Night Visitors with the Brown Bag Opera, Prince Karl Franz in The Student Prince at Media Theatre, Tonio in The Daughter of the Regiment with the San Francisco Opera Guild's Opera a La Carte, Lumiere in Disney's Beauty and the Beast at La Comedia Theatre, Mr Snow in Carousel at the Long Theatre, as well as the westcoast premier of Strawberry Fields where he played the Student at the Irene Ryan Theatre, and many others. He would like to thank friends and family for there generosity, love, and support.
Scott Andrew Hutchins (Lakai) earned his Master's Degree in Cinema Studies from the College of Staten Island in 2005. Previously, he appeared as Silvano in Un Ballo in Maschera, Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro, the Second Prisoner in Fidelio, in the choruses of Cavalleria Rusticana and Orpheus and Eurydice, and crewed Hansel & Gretel, all with the BRO. He was chorus and cover for Dr. Grenvil in the Bronx Opera's La Traviata in 2004. He has also sung the Brahms Requiem with Collegium Westchester, is involved in his church choir, Voices in Unity, and has been heard singing at the Algonquin Hotel. He has written three stage plays, five screenplays, and a novel, as well as reviews for Film Score Monthly, and has begun work on an opera of his own. He has also produced documentary material for PBS and taught English composition at Boricua College in Williamsburg. In theatre, he has directed such plays as Alice Gerstenberg's Overtones and David Williamson's Emerald City. Watch for upcoming readings of his play, Misused Minds: Curse of the Educated Youth. His voice teacher is David Friedman.
Kathleen Keske (Prima Donna/Ariadne) A native of Chicago, Ms. Keske has sung with opera companies and symphony orchestras over wide areas of the United States and abroad. Her operatic appearances include such leading roles as Bruennhhilde (Siegfried and Goetterdaemerung), Sieglinde (Die Walkuere), Elsa (Lohengrin), Freia (Rheingold), Ariadne, Desdemona (Otello), Reizia (Oberon), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Cosi Fan Tutte) and Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus). In the realm of oratorio, Ms. Keske has been the soprano soloist in Handel's "Messiah", Bach's "B Minor Mass" and "Magnificat in D", Faure's "Requiem", Hayden's "Creation" and "Lord Nelson Mass", Mendelssohn's "Elijah", Mozart's "Mass in C Minor and "Requiem", and Vivaldi's "Gloria". Kathleen's previous appearances with BRO include Senza Bliss (A.F.R.A.I.D.), Leonore (Fidelio), Santuzza (Cavalleria), Gertrude (Hansel & Gretel), The Countess (Figaro), and Amelia (Ballo). Ms. Keske resides in New York City, was a semi-finalist in The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a finalist in the Liederkranz Foundation Competition. Kathleen thanks this wonderful cast and orchestra for their many talents and dedication; and sends thanks to her mother, who was an incredible source of inspiration and support.
Francesco Lecce-Chong (Conductor) makes his principle opera conducting debut with the Brooklyn Repertory Opera on Ariadne auf Naxos. He currently studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with renowned pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller as a recipient of the Martin and Sarah Taylor Fellowship. Growing up in Colorado, Mr. Lecce-Chong began his conducting work at age 16, serving as assistant conductor of the Boulder Youth Symphony for three years. In New York, he conducted the Mannes Repertory Orchestra and served as assistant conductor of the Mannes Opera. He graduated from the Mannes College of Music in 2009 with honors in both piano and orchestral conducting. Last season (2008-09), Mr. Lecce-Chong worked as assistant conductor for Gotham Chamber Opera and appeared as a guest conductor with the Mannes Orchestra at Symphony Space. Over the summer, he spent six weeks in Siena, Italy at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, conducting the Sophia Festival Orchestra in rehearsal and performance. His conducting teachers and mentors have included Celia Paige Vickery, David Hayes, Joseph Colaneri, and Gianluigi Gelmetti. Mr. Lecce-Chong is also an active pianist and composer. He will make his Lincoln Center debut next spring as soloist with the Mannes Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall.
Francis Liska (Tenor/Bacchus & Major Domo) Started his career in musical theater at 15 years old as Artful Dodger in OLIVER! After graduating from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC on Scholarship, he performed in musical theater while studying voice for his new love; opera. Moving to California, he performed in many plays & Gilbert & Sullivan operettas in the comedy lead roles. He studied with the La Scala Mezzo-Soprano, Gloria Lane in Los Angeles. When he returned to New York, he continued his studies with noted voice teacher, Sam Sakarian. Among the roles he has performed are; Siegmund, Lohengrin, both Siegfrieds, Calaf, Roland in ESCLARMONDE, Radames, and with BRO: Floristan, Turiddu, the narrator in PETER & THE WOLF, the Witch in HANSEL & GRETEL, & Riccardo in BALLO IN MASCHERA. He has been tenor soloist in the oratorios THE MESSIAH, ELIJAH, and ST PAULUS. He has sung with Fullerton Civic Opera and Glendale Opera in California. Trinity Church Concert Series, West Side Opera, Magic Circle Opera, La Serenata, Music Friends of Westchester, St Cecelia Chamber Consort as well as being tenor soloist for several churches in New York. He is very happy to be returning to BRO with such an excellent group of artists
Clayton Okaly (Harlequin) Originally from Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, baritone Clayton Okaly graduated magna cum laude (with distinction) from the University of Delaware with a BM in Voice Performance in 2006, and received his MM in Performance/Pedagogy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2008. He recently returned from a summer in France, singing the role of Oreste in La Belle Helene with L'Opera du Perigord, in conjunction with the Franco-American Vocal Academy. Other credits include Papageno in The Magic Flute, Parson in Cunning Little Vixen, Chino in West Side Story, soloist for Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage and Mozart's Requiem. Mr. Okaly has received numerous awards such as Delaware Contest for Young Musicians (Lillian Ballick Memorial Award), placed first in NATS Eastern Region Auditions, and was runner-up for the West Central Region of NATS' Artist Award Competition. In addition to performing, he has also presented at various conferences for the College Music Society, most recently at their 52nd National Conference in Portland, Oregon. Clayton is ecstatic to participate in his first production with Brooklyn Repertory Opera!
Francisco Perez-Abreu (The Music Master) A native of Havana, Cuba, Francisco is making his Brooklyn Repertory Opera debut in this production of Ariadne auf Naxos. Elsewhere he has performed most of the major baritone roles in the standard French and Italian operatic repertory, with companies including the Amato Opera, the Bronx Opera and the Long Island Opera. Off the beaten path, he sang the baritone lead in the U.S. premiere of Antonio Carlos Gomes Fosca, with the Amato Opera, and the Captain of the Guards in the Bronx Opera production of Carl Nielsen's Maskarade. His voice teacher is Abe Polakoff.
Lauren Phillips (Zerbinetta) is quickly gaining prominence as an interpreter of classical and musical theater repertoire. She spent the 2008-2009 season living in Israel, where she toured the country in productions of Oklahoma! (Ado Annie), 1776 (Martha), and The Yeomen of the Guard (Kate). The Jerusalem Post lauded her performance in Oklahoma! as being "entertaingly funny," noting that "the real strength of the production is in the lead actors, who are one and all superb." Ms. Phillips is in her second year of studies at Hebrew Union College's School of Sacred Music and currently serves as student cantor for Port Jewish Center on Long Island. She also holds an MM in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory and a BA in Music with a minor in Communications from Tufts University. While at Tufts, Ms. Phillips won the prestigious Concerto Competition and was selected as the National Anthem soloist for the 2004 commencement exercises. Recent concert appearances have included a solo recital at Manhattan's 92nd Street Y, the soprano solos in the Gilbert & Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island's touring revue show, and the soprano solos in Handel's Messiah with the Long Island Choral Society. Favorite stage credits include the title role in Princess Ida, Lucy in The Threepenny Opera, Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, and Mrs. Nordstrom in A Little Night Music. For more information, please visit www.laurenphillipssoprano.com.
Dominique Rosoff, (Lakai & Truffaldino) bass, grew up in New York City and moved to Maine to go to school and now splits his time between the two. Before its closing, he had been singing with the Amato Opera for two seasons where he performed the role of Colline, Alcindoro and Benoit in La Boheme, Dr. Bartolo and Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro, St. Brioche in The Merry Widow and Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata. Other roles in New York and around New England include Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia, Tom in un Ballo in Maschera, Don Pippo in L'oca del Cairo, Mayor in Dr. Miracle, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Sarastro, Speaker and Second Armored Man in several productions of The Magic Flute, and King Balthazar in numerous productions of Amahl and the Night visitors among others. He won first place in the 2005 Boston NATS advanced avocational division and has performed as bass soloist in Mozart's Requiem, Misa Brevis, Regina Coeli, and Beethoven's Choral Fantasia, Bach's Christmas Cantata and Handel's Messiah. This is Dominique?s second production with Brooklyn Repertory Opera.
Marissa Tarangelo (Composer) is thrilled to be singing with Brooklyn Repertory Opera once again. This past spring she made her Carnegie Hall debut with New York Lyric Opera's production of Romeo et Juliette. She currently holds a BM degree from The Hartt School of Music and her MM from Brooklyn College Conservatory. Previous roles include Hansel in "Hansel and Gretel", Dorabella in "Cosi fan Tutte", Mercedes in "Carmen", Octavian in "Der Rosenkavalier", Mother Marie in "Les dialogues des Carmelites", The Child in "Les Enfants et les Sortileges" and The Spirit in "Dido and Aneas". While at The Hartt School of Music, she was selected to sing in the opera chorus of Connecticut Concert Opera, Berkshire Opera Companny and Connecticut Opera. She currently studies with Mark Schnaible and coaches with Ji Lee. Ms. Tarangelo would like to thank her loving family and friends for their continued support. This is for you!
Leslie Tay (Dance Master) is a Singaporean character tenor who has performed in opera, oratorio, musical theater, choral, pop acappella and theater. His operatic roles include Monostatos, Beppe, Goro, Tanzmeister, Brighella, Don Basilio, Alfred, King Kaspar and Adalgiso. He recently made his Carnegie Weill Recital Hall debut as Guillot in Manon with New York Lyric Opera. He has sung with Dicapo Opera, Bronx Opera, Brooklyn Repertory Opera, American Opera Projects, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Opera Manhattan and Singapore Lyric Opera. He has created lead roles in original musicals by Singaporean playwright, Stella Kon and performed Banquo in Shakespeare's Macbeth with Singapore Repertory Theatre. Leslie holds a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where he was in the studio of Arthur Levy. His undergraduate degree is in English Literature from the National University of Singapore. Leslie is currently a Resident Artist with Dicapo Opera and will be a featured artist with Opera Singers Initiative in 2010. Upcoming performances include Oronte (Alcina) with New York Opera Forum and First Sailor (Dido and Aeneas) with Opera Manhattan. Visit him at www.leslietay.net.
Shawn Thuris (Tenor/Bacchus) brings a spectrum of vocal colors and experience in seven languages to his work on the recital platform, before an orchestra and on the operatic stage.
This season he will premiere a song cycle by Sharon Farber with Pacific Serenades at UCLA, and will sing his first Don Jose in "Carmen" with New York Opera Forum.
Roles he has portrayed include Siegmund in "Die Walkure", Radames in "Aida ", Mario in "Tosca", Luigi in "Il tabarro", and Hoffmann in "Les Contes d'Hoffmann." He has sung at Orange County Performing Arts Center, Redlands Bowl Festival, UNLV, and the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center.
Mr. Thuris trained as a baritone at Pomona College, then made the switch to tenor at Santa Monica College, where he performed an orchestral recital of scenes from "Die Meistersinger", "Otello", "Siegfried", and "Tristan und Isolde".
Mr. Thuris has given many recitals of art song repertoire with pianists such as Kirill Gliadkovsky, Robert Edward Thies, and Steven Vanhauwaert. He has been a soloist in oratorios of Bach, Handel, Lloyd Webber and Mozart and has presented masterclasses at East Central University of Oklahoma.
Mr. Thuris lives in New York with mezzo-soprano Monica Hershenson.
Kannan Vasudevan, (Dance Master) a Pittsburgh native, has performed Monostatos in The Magic Flute and Tonik in Smetana's Two Widows, both with Bronx Opera, and Alfred in Britten's The Little Sweep with the Cantata Singers. On the concert stage, he has sung the Evangelist in Bach's Christmas Oratorio and the tenor solos in the Mass in B Minor and Lord Nelson Mass with the Choral Symphony Society. As a soloist he has also performed works by Schutz and Bach with the Cantata Singers, and works by Charpentier with the Chur Regional Provence. Kannan was a winner of the Wesleyan University Concerto Competition and has studied at the Aspen and Bowdoin Summer Music Festivals. He has degrees in foreign languages and education from Wesleyan University and the University of Virginia. Upcoming engagements include the First Elder in Handel's Susanna with the New York Metamorphoses Orchestra and the Young Man in Cui's Feast in Time of Plague with Metropolis Opera Project.
Alexander Weaver (Brighella & Major Domo) With a voice that has been called "powerful," "stirring," and "clarion," Alexander Weaver has established himself as an exciting new presence on the operatic stage. A resident of Brooklyn, NY, Mr. Weaver has brought his unique blend of exciting vocal artistry and compelling characterization to stages in California, Texas, New York, Chicago, and his home state of Iowa. He has recently appeared in several roles as a studio artist for Chautauqua Opera, and has also appeared in Opera Fresca's (CA) production of I Pagliacci. Previously, Mr. Weaver has appeared for Cedar Rapids (IA) Opera, Amarillo (TX) Opera, Riverside (NY) Opera, and Tulsa (OK) Opera. He also is an avid participant in Opera On Tap (NY)'s monthly concert series. Mr. Weaver is a graduate of Texas Tech University.
Wilma Wever (Primadonna/Ariadne) appeared in the world premiere in the eponymous role of Jocasta by Ruth Schonthal at Voice & Vision Theatre in New York City. The New York Times called her performance "attractive and engaging". She debuted with Encompass Opera as the Marchesa in Henze's The End of A World and sang Ms. Edison in a reading of Tesla, an opera by Kievman for VOX, a presen tation of new works by New York City Opera. She appeared as Leonore in Fidelio with Brooklyn Repertory Opera and as Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore with Espresso Opera also in NYC. As a winner of the Hunter Concerto Competition she perf ormed the C-minor Mass by Mozart with the Hunter Symphony in 2008. Ms. Wever has performed numerous recitals in distinguished venues such as the We ill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Holland. The Music Connoisseur called her a performer with "savvy and grit". The song cycle For Three Sundays by Kevin Beavers was commissioned by her for a project "Round Trip Amsterdam-New York" for which she received a grant from the Netherland-America Foundation, the Amsterdam Art Foundation, as well as a grant from CitiBank .
Judith Wernsing (Najade) studied voice at University of Oregon, where she became the go-to soprano for student composers, performing numerous new songs and originating roles in three operas. She was a soloist in Bernstein's MASS in Eugene, OR, and was a member of the Eugene Opera chorus for several years. Musical and theater experience include the roles of Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music and Lily Agnes in Artichoke. She is happy to appear with BRO in the role of Naiad.
Amanda White (Zerbinetta) is a coloratura soprano based in Manhattan. Some of her recent roles include Marie in La Fille du Regiment with Champagne and Candlelight Opera di Camera, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica with Trinity Opera, Adele in Die Fledermaus and Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor with American Landmark Festivals, and Serpina in La Serva Padrona, Nedda in Pagliacci, and Bastienne in Bastien und Bastienne with Capitol Opera Harrisburg. A frequent interpreter of the Gilbert and Sullivan heroines, she has sung both Mabel and Kate in The Pirates of Penzance, Rose Maybud in Ruddigore, Aline in The Sorcerer, and both Gianetta and Casilda in The Gondoliers. An extremely versatile singer, White sings in the choir of the Church of the Holy Apostles under the direction of David Hurd, and has recorded and toured as a singer-songwriter. She is also a columnist for Classical Singer Magazine. www.notjustanotherprettyvoice.com
Jason Wirth (Assistant Conductor) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and began training as a pianist at the age of four. He made his debut at six, and went on to solo with numerous orchestras, including the Moscow Philharmonic and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He received his Bachelor's from Mannes the New School for Music in New York City, and also attended the Yale School of Music. His piano teachers include Alexander Braginsky, Pavlina Dokovska, and Boris Berman. He has extensive experience in chamber music and vocal accompaniment, having performed in festivals and at venues around the world.
Brett Wynkoop (Executive Director) - Before starting on the path of computer consulting with Wynn Data Limited, www.wynn.com, he was part of the the New York Renaissance Festival, ran lights and video at Chippendales & took a turn at screen acting in "The Squeeze", 1987 (Michael Keaton). He was Technical Director for the world premier of A.F.R.A.I.D, where he made his musical debut by playing the first note of the opera on computer generated bells. He is pleased to be working with such a wonderful group of artists.
Alison Zwecker (Echo), originally from Connecticut, is thrilled to be singing with BRO for her third production. She previously joined the cast of Un Ballo in Maschera and Orfeo ed Euridice for the 2008 - 2009 season, and sang in their "Singspiration" concert in the spring. Alison has studied privately at the Hartt School in Hartford, CT and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where she performed with the University of Rochester jazz band and trio. Recent past performances include Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera for Humanity and La Boheme with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Alison was also a guest soloist with the Brighton Symphony Orchestra. She is a grateful student of the wonderful Alissa Grimaldi and would like to thank Christina Gill for her continued support.