|music by Ambroise Thomas|
|libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier|
|after the play by William Shakespeare|
|world premiere at the Opéra, Paris|
|March 9, 1868|
|March 2, 5, 7, 9 and 10, 2013|
|Ordway, Saint Paul|
|sung in French with English captions|
|stage director||Thaddeus Strassberger|
|set designer||Thaddeus Strassberger|
|costume designer||Mary Traylor|
|lighting designer||Mark McCullough|
|Hamlet, Prince of Denmark||Brian Mulligan|
|Ophélie, Polonius' daugher||Marie-Eve Munger|
|King Claudius, Hamlet's uncle||Wayne Tigges|
|Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother||Katharine Goeldner|
|Laërte, Polonius' son||Jason Slayden|
|Ghost of Hamlet's father||Seth Keeton
|Polonius, the Lord Chamberlain||Alex Ritchie|
|Horatio, Hamlet's friend||Rodolfo Nieto
|Marcellus, an officer||John Robert Lindsey|
|Two gravediggers||Matthew Opitz, Jeffrey Hill
|Elsinore Castle, Denmark|
Christopher Franklin (conductor)
Since having started his career in Italy, Christopher Franklin has conducted at several of the major Italian opera houses and festivals including the Teatro Regio di Torino, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, the Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, the Teatro Massimo di Palermo, the Teatro Verdi di Trieste, the Teatro Piccolo alla Scala di Milano, the Teatro Comunale di Treviso, Teatro Verdi di Salerno, Teatro Pergolesi di Jesi, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro and the Spontini Festival in Jesi, among others.
Equally at home on the concert stage, he has conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic of Russia, a German tour with the Münchner Symphoniker, SWR Orchester in Germany, Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Firenze, Orchestre de la Monnaie in Bruxelles, Orchestra de Comunitat di Valencia, Orchestra de la Navarra (Spain), Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen, Orchestra Verdi di Milan, Orchestra della Toscana, Orchestra Filarmonica dell'Arena di Verona, Orchestra '900 of the Teatro Regio di Torino, Orchestra Toscanini of Parma, Orchestra da Camera di Padova, I Pomeriggi Musicali of Milano, Accademia della Scala di Milano, and he has collaborated with several world class solosits including Salvatore Accardo, Boris Belkin, Misha Maisky, Natalia Gutman, among others.
The 2012–2013 season sees his return to the Minnesota Opera for the world premiere of Doubt by composer Douglas J. Cuomo, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play and also for the company premiere of Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet in a production by Thaddeus Strassberger. In spring 2013, Mr. Franklin will join tenor Juan Diego Flórez for a concert tour and make his debut in concerts with the Philharmonique de Monte Carlo. He also will conduct Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor in Italy.
Last season he conducted Così fan tutte at Minnesota Opera and Teatro Regio in Torino, concerts with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Death in Venice at the Opera de Belles Artes in Mexico City, symphonic concerts with the Filarmonica '900 of the Teatro Regio, U.S. concerts with tenor Juan Diego Flórez, a new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia in Lima, Peru with Juan Diego Flórez, Ruggero Raimondi, Alfonso Antoniozz, and an Italian concert tour with the Orchestra da Camera di Padova e del Veneto. Recent productions include La Cenerentola at Minnesota Opera, L'elisir d'amore at Teatro Carlo Felice, the opening concerts of the Como Festival, Chabrier's Une éducation manquée and Rossini's La cambiale di matrimonio at the Wexford Festival, a new production of Sweeney Todd at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, The Merry Widow at both the Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and Carlo Felice di Genova and symphonic concerts with the the Filarmonica Toscanini in Parma and the Swiss Radio Symphony Orchestra in Lugano. Other notable opera productions include Billy Budd at the Teatro Regio di Torino; a new production of Attila in Lima, Peru, with Ildar Adbrazakov and Dimitra Theodossiou; Rossini's Le comte Ory at the National Opera of Greece in Athens; the Rossini Festival in Wildbad, Germany, where he conducted L'amour coniugale by Johann Simon Mayr (recently released on the Naxos label); and Rossini's La cambiale di matrimonio and La gazzetta (both recently released on the Naxos label).
Christopher Franklin has established over the years a collaboration with famed tenor Juan Diego Flórez and has appeared at with him at the following venues: Konzerthaus Wien, Herkulessaal München, Alte Oper (Frankfurt), Philharmonie Köln, Théâtre Champs-Élysées (Paris), Musikhalle (Hamburg), Festspielhaus (Baden-Baden), Konzerthaus (Dortmund), Cadogan Hall (London), Palau des Arts (Valencia), Carnival Center (Miami), International House of Music (Moscow), Dvorak Hall (Prague) and is scheduled for several upcoming tours (Germany, Austria, Spain, France, the United States and South America).
An active advocate of contemporary music, Mr. Franklin has conducted the works of several contemporary composers: in Italy the Clarinet Concerto, the opera La lupa and ballet Dylan Dog by Italian composer Marco Tutino, the Italian premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Jackie O, symphonic works by Australian composers Ross Edwards (Symphony No. 3) and Marcus Lentz (Ngangkar), and for the past two years the International Composition Competition Alfredo Casella in Siena with the Orchestra della Toscana.
Winner of the Gino Marinuzzi International Conducting Competition, he worked as an assistant to Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, La Fenice (Venice) and the Münchner Philharmoniker, among others. As winner of the conducting competition Toti dal Monte-La Bottega in Treviso, Franklin was named resident conductor and assistant to Peter Maag at the Teatro Comunale di Treviso. He also attended the conducting class of Maestro Gelmetti at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, where he was awarded the prestigious Franco Ferrara Prize.
He began studying the violin at the age of six in his hometown of Pittsburgh. After completing a B.A. in violin and German literature at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, he earned his M.M. in conducting at the University of Illinois and his D.M.A. at the Peabody Conservatory with Frederik Prausnitz. He was awarded a scholarship to study at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he worked with Seiji Ozawa, Robert Spano and Gustav Meier, and subsequently, a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Musikhochschule in Saarbrücken. He began his conducting studies with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Hancock, USA. Christopher lives in Lucca, Italy.
Katharine Goeldner (Gertrude)
The New York Times has praised her voice as “excitingly radiant and agile.” Newsdayapplauded her “liquid plangent tones ... crystal-clear diction and contained, but simmering, intensity.” With an elegant combination of warm, rich vocal tone and assured artistry, Katharine Goeldner has established an international reputation as one of today’s finest mezzo-sopranos.
This season, Katharine made her role debut as Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde in Salzburg and premiered Giel Vleggaar’s The Trees of Paradise at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. In the 2011–2012 season, she made a sensation substituting at the last minute as Jane Seymour in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Anna Bolena, opposite Anna Netrebko and Angela Meade alternating in the title role. In addition, she appeared as Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice with Arizona Opera and made her Covent Garden debut singing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Royal Ballet. Her many roles at the Metropolitan Opera have included the Schoolboy in Lulu – the role of her company debut, Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Ascanio (Benvenuto Cellini), Nicklausse (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) and the Page in Salome. Other recent performances include the title role ofCarmen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera and Madison Opera; Erika in Vanessa with the RSO (Vienna) and the New York City Opera; Countess Geschwitz inLulu in Graz and Toulouse; Herodias in Salome in her home state of Iowa for Iowa Public Television/Cedar Rapids Opera Theater; Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Florida Grand Opera; Fenena in Nabucco in Dallas, Bilbao and Antwerp; Dorabella in Così fan tutte with the Santa Fe Opera; and her signature role of the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos in Salzburg, Oviedo, Toulouse, Lyon and Paris. Upcoming performances include a return to the role of Jane Seymour for her debut with Welsh National Opera, a concert of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the Salzburg Orchester Solisten and a recording of Louis Spohr’s Die Letzten Dinge with the Mozarteum Orchestra, led by Ivor Bolton.
Katharine has performed in concert with the Vienna Radio Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony, the Bruckner Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchestra, the American Symphony, at Carnegie Hall with the New York Choral Society, Orchestre Philharmonie de Radio France, the Basel Sinfonietta and Orchestra Iowa, under the batons of such distinguished conductors as Georges Prêtre, Sir Charles Mackerras, Hans Graf, Ivor Bolton, Dennis Russell Davies, Michael Schønwandt, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Adam Fischer, George Manahan and Bertrand de Billy. She has presented recitals for the National Symphony Orchestra’s Mozart Festival at the Kennedy Center, the Salzburg Mozart Festival, Vienna’s Festival Ravel, the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, Drake University, Florida International University and the University of Iowa. Together with flutist Amy Morris and pianist Michael Heaston, Katharine founded the chamber trio The Prairie Song Project, to promote the works of Midwester artists, writers and musicians. They have commissioned two new works, Peter Ash’s Paradox and Rory Boyle’s A Handful of Leaves, which they have performed in recitals in Texas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, the United Kingdom and in Minneapolis. Their compact disc will appear in 2013.
Katharine Goeldner’s recordings include Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann with the Bilbao Opera, K.A. Hartmann’s Erste Sinfonie: Versuch eines Requiems, Beethoven’sSymphony No. 9 with the Vienna Symphony, led by Georges Prêtre and Schumann’sParadies und Peri with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra.
A native of Sigourney, Iowa, Ms. Goeldner received a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Iowa and a Magister Diplom in German Lieder from Salzburg’s Mozarteum University. She lives with her husband and daughter in Salzburg, Austria.
Jeffrey Hill (Second Gravedigger)
Tenor Jeffrey Hill, according to the press is “a born entertainer” (L.A. Times), “a force to be reckoned with, [a voice] that sounds effortless but absolutely commands the listener’s attention,” (Oberlin Review) and “authoritative” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). He has been a Young Artist with several of the most prestigious summer festivals, most recently the Tanglewood Music Center in 2012 and Chautauqua Opera in 2011. In the summers of 2009 and 2010 he was a Gerdine Young Artist at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and a Fellow at the Music Academy of the West. In 2009 he was named winner of the Marilyn Horne Foundation competition and made his New York City recital debut in spring 2010. In 2011, Jeffrey sang three performances at Carnegie Hall. In January, he made his debut in recital with Warren Jones, and in March, he was featured as Sultan Soliman in Mozart’s Zaïde at Zankel Hall with the Academy, Ensmble ACJW. In April, he performed for the Dawn Upshaw and Donnacha Dennehy Professional Training Workshop, premiering new works with “an appealing freshness.” (The New York Times). This summer at Tanglewood, Jeffrey will be starring as the Mad Woman in acclaimed choreographer/director Mark Morris’ production of Britten’s Curlew River.
Jeffrey graduated from both Bard Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program with a master's in Vocal Arts and Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance and a Master of Music in Opera Theatre.
Seth Keeton (Ghost of Hamlet's Father)
Bass-baritone, Seth Keeton’s performances have been described by The New York Times as “driven” and “emotionally pointed.” He has performed roles on the stages of Minnesota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Central City Opera, Arizona Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Opera Omaha, Chautauqua Opera and Theater Bremen in Germany.
A passionate recitalist and oratorio performer, Mr. Keeton has been seen in concert as the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem, Bach’s Magnificat and St. Matthew Passion, Haydn’s Creation and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols. He has recently sung the Fauré Requiem and Bach’s St. John Passion, and he frequently appears with the Rochester Aria Group and the St. Catherine Choral Society. This season, he will perform Bach’s cantata, “Ich habe genug,” with the Minnesota Bach Ensemble. In 2006, he was a national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has received awards from the Sullivan Foundation and the Eleanor McCollum Competition.
Mr. Keeton received his Bachelor of Music from Illinois Wesleyan University, his Master of Music from Indiana University, and his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from the University of Minnesota. Mr. Keeton served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Voice at St. Olaf college during the 2012–2013 academic year.
John Robert Lindsey (Marcellus)
Colorado native tenor John Robert Lindsey is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he earned his Master of Music in vocal performance under the tutelage of Julie Simson. Past engagements include the Tenor Soloist in Handel’sMessiah, Sam Polk in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, the Stage Manager in Ned Rorem’sOur Town and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. Mr. Lindsey was met with numerous successes in competitions recently. He was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the past two years, as well as taking third place in 2010 and first place in 2011 at the prestigious Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition.
For Minnesota Opera’s 2011–2012 season, Mr. Lindsey appeared as Jonathan Dale inSilent Night, Schmidt in Werther, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor and Goro in Madame Butterfly. He also sang a concert of Carmen highlights with the Mankato Symphony. This season he sings Ismaele in Nabucco, Hervey in Anna Bolena, Marcellus in Hamlet and Pang in Turandot. Next season he returns as Edmondo in Manon Lescaut, Count Elemer in Arabella and Marvin Heeno in The Dream of Valentino.
Mark McCullough (lighting designer)
Mark McCullough maintains a highly successful career with opera and theater companies in the United States and abroad. He has lit productions for the Bolshoi Theatre (The Tales of Hoffmann); the Metropolitan Opera (Le nozze di Figaro); the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing (The Tales of Hoffmann); La Scala (Cyrano de Bergerac); Madrid’s Teatro Real (Luisa Miller); Strasbourg's Opéra National du Rhin (The Beggar's Opera); The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (The Queen of Spades); Opera North (Eugene Onegin); The Dallas Opera (Tobias Picker’sThérèse Raquin/world premiere) as well as numerous productions with Boston Lyric Opera, Washington National Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera and San Francisco Opera including the full Ring Cycle directed by Francesca Zambello. Among his successes in theater have been the Broadway productions of Jesus Christ Superstar (revival); the Roundabout Theatre Company’sAfter Ms. Julie and Manhattan Theatre Club’s The American Plan. McCullough's work has also been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theater companies nationwide including the Shakespeare Theatre; Court Theatre; La Jolla Playhouse; Mark Taper Forum; Long Wharf; Hartford Stage; The Old Globe; Oregon Shakespeare Theatre; The Guthrie Theater; Steppenwolf and Center Stage. His international theater credits include the West End production of Whistle Down the Wind (Aldwych Theatre, London); and the international productions of the musical Rebecca in St. Gallen Switzerland and the Palladium in Stuttgart, Germany; the UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar; and numerous productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Gate Theatre. Upcoming engagements include La forza del destino and Show Boat at the Washington National Opera and The Flying Dutchman and a double bill: Passions and Stabat mater at the Glimmerglass Festival. The American designer is an alumnus of the North Carolina School of the Arts and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama.
Brian Mulligan (Hamlet)
American baritone Brian Mulligan is the 2006 winner of the International Hans Gabor Belvedere Vocal Competition, only the third American in the competition’s history to win this coveted prize. He has been praised by Opera News for his “velvety, evenly and effortlessly produced baritone and nuance-rich phrasing” and by Opera Now for his “commanding presence [and] booming sound.”
In the 2012–2013 season, Brian Mulligan will return to San Francisco Opera as the King’s Herald in Lohengrin conducted by Nicola Luisotti, Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Father in Hansel and Gretel, a debut with the Canadian Opera Company as Enrico inLucia di Lammermoor conducted by Stephen Lord, the title role of Hamlet with Minnesota Opera and appear with the Aspen Music Festival as Balstrode in Peter Grimes, conducted by Robert Spano. Symphonic highlights include a debut with the Baltimore Symphony in Carmina burana, conducted by Marin Aslop and with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Brahms’ Requiem, the West Coast premiere of Lieberson’sThe World in Flower, conducted by Grant Gershon and Handel’s Messiah with the Houston Symphony.
The 2011–2012 season saw Brian Mulligan return to the Metropolitan Opera as Valentin in a new production of Gounod’s Faust, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He also returned to San Francisco Opera for a role debut in the title role in John Adams’ Nixon in China. Mr. Mulligan made his debut with the Washington National Opera as Enrico in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a production by David Alden for which he received rave reviews in London, conducted by Philippe Auguin. He also debuted with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in this same role in a new production by Catherine Malfitano. Brian Mulligan’s orchestral engagements included a debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, singing Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 under Gustavo Dudamel. In addition to performances at the Hollywood Bowl, the orchestra also traveled to Caracas, Venezuela for additional performances and a live, HD Telecast of the concert, which will be seen in 450 movie theatres around North America. Mr. Mulligan also returned to the Phoenix Symphony with Michael Christie to perform Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn and joined the George London Foundation for a recital with soprano Lisette Oropesa and pianist Ken Noda.
Operatic highlights of recent seasons included Mr. Mulligan’s return to San Francisco Opera as Valentin in Faust, Albert in Werther, Ragueneau in Cyrano de Bergerac and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, a return to English National Opera as Enrico in the celebrated David Alden production, following his debut there as Sharpless in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madama Butterfly. Other highlights included a return to Los Angeles Opera as Prometheus in a new production of Walter Braunfels’s Die Vögel as well as Melot in that company’s Tristan und Isolde, both conducted by Mo. Conlon; Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia and a Kinderstimmen in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Metropolitan Opera; Ford in Falstaff with Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival, conducted by Seiji Ozawa; Jake Wallace in La fanciulla del West, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figarowith Harry Bicket and Masetto in Don Giovanni with New York City Opera; the title role in Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Malatesta in Don Pasquale and Sharpless at Palm Beach Opera; Silvio in I pagliacci with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra in New Zealand; Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles at Opera Colorado; a debut with San Diego Opera as Valentin in Faust; Lescaut in Manon Lescautat New Orleans Opera; Tarquinius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Central City Opera; Prometheus in Die Vögel with Julius Rudel and Capulet in Roméo et Juliette at the Spoleto USA Festival.
Puccini’s La bohème has served as a calling card work for Brian Mulligan where he has performed the roles of Marcello at San Francisco Opera (under the baton of Nicola Luisotti), Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera and Wolf Trap Opera and Schaunard, at Los Angeles Opera and New York City Opera.
On the concert stage, recent seasons included a Chicago Symphony debut in the world premiere performances of Songs for Adam, a cycle of meditations on Adam and Eve by composer James Primosch and poet Susan Stewart. These performances were conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Other highlights include Handel’s Judas Maccabæus with Mo. Conlon and members of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, a debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony; concert versions of Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Ravinia Festival under the baton of Mo. Conlon, where he also performed Mahler’sDas klagende Lied, Mendelssohn’s Paulus with the Houston Symphony and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Phoenix Symphony under Michael Christie. With the American Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Mulligan was seen in the role of Titus in Magnard’s rarely performed Bérénice at Carnegie Hall.
A graduate of the Juilliard School, Mr. Mulligan has also been awarded a Richard Tucker Career Grant and a Sara Tucker Study Grant and the George London Prize and holds dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland.
Marie-Eve Munger (Ophélie)
Recent winner of the First Prize in Opera at the International Voice Competition in Marmande, Canadian coloratura soprano Marie-Eve Munger has been hailed for her crystalline timbre, soaring range, and as “graceful and virtuosic” by The New York Times.
Upcoming engagement include Ophélie in Hamlet with Minnesota Opera, Vierte Magde in Elektra at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, the company for which she will also be the Fire/Nightingale in L’enfant et les sortilèges on tour in Morocco, and Eritea with Gotham Chamber Opera in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo. Greatly noticed at the world premiere, she will also return as the coloratura in the new opera The Second Woman at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris and on tour in Europe.
Engagements for the 2011–2012 season included a return to the Opéra-Théâtre de Metz as Nannetta in Falstaff, Ilia in Idomeneo with the Florentine Opera, Gilda in Rigoletto with Saratoga Opera, Mozart’s Il sogno di Scipione with Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City, the Québec Opera Gala, along with numerous recitals and recordings in Canada and United States. She mades her house debut at the Kennedy Center in Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor and presented a solo recital at Trinity Wall Street’s Concerts at One.
Marie-Eve Munger made her company debut with the Opéra-Théâtre de Metz in France with the role of Ophélie in Thomas’ Hamlet, participated in the world premiere ofPastorale at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2009 and triumphed as the lead in Villa Lobos’ Magdalena when she returned in 2010. Recent engagements include lead roles with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Opéra de Tours, Charlotte Symphony, Glimmerglass Opera (YAAP), Saguenay Orchestra, Banff Centre for the Arts, McGill Chamber Orchestra, McGill University Orchestra and Choirs, Société d’art lyrique du Royaume, Opera McGill, Mondial Choral Festival, to name a few.
Awarded the Wirth Scholarship, Ms. Munger earned the degree of Master of Music in performance at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal in 2007. Marie-Eve Munger thanks the Fondation des Jeunesses Musicales du Canada for their support.
Rodolfo Nieto (Horatio)
Hamlet marks bass-baritone Rodolfo Nieto’s third return to the Minnesota Opera stage since completing his two-year stint as one of the Opera’s Resident Artists. Last season, he performed the roles of Johann in Werther and the Scottish Soldier in the world premiere of Silent Night. Mr. Nieto’s roles during his seasons as a Resident Artist included the Third Inquisitor and Spanish Captain in Casanova’s Homecoming, the Friend of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux, Colline in La bohème, the First Guard inSalome and, most notably, Joseph in Wuthering Heights.
Last year, Mr. Nieto performed the role of Valton in I puritani with Minnesota Concert Opera, and was the bass soloist in the Messiah with Manhattan Concert Productions at Avery Fisher Hall. Other appearances include Escamillo in Carmen (2012) with Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (2011) with the Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte (2009) with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater.
Matthew Opitz (First Gravedigger)
A native of Arizona, baritone Matthew Opitz recently graduated from Indiana University’s Jacob’s School of Music with a master’s degree in voice, where he studied with renowned baritone Timothy Noble. Matthew was invited back to IU Opera Theater to sing the tragic hero Eddie Carbone as a guest artist in its recent production of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge. His other IU Opera credits include Professor Bhaer in Little Women, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, the Priest in The Light in the Piazzaand the devil Farfarello in The Love for Three Oranges. At Indiana University, he also has appeared as a soloist in Szymanowski's Stabat mater and Britten's Cantata Misericordium, as well as soloist in the premiere of the new multidisciplinary production of Don Freund’s Passion with Tropes.
Mr. Opitz completed his undergraduate program in vocal performance at Northern Arizona University, where he studied under the care of Dr. Ricardo Pereira. His roles with NAU Opera included Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Count Carl-Magnus Malcom in A Little Night Music, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus. In 2008, he was a district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and that summer, he sang Sharpless in scenes from Madama Butterfly as well as Marcello in scenes from La bohème with Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff in Fidenza program. The baritone is also a past participant of the Brevard Music Center, where he sang the roles of James and the Crook in Candide. Most recently, he appeared as the Imperial Commissioner in Madame Butterfly for Arizona Opera this past January and will participate in the Marcello Giordiani Young Artist Program this summer. In his first season as a Minnesota Opera Resident Artist, Mr. Opitz sings the first gravedigger in Hamlet and Ping in Turandot.
Alex Ritchie (Polonius)
Baritone Alex Ritchie recently graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he received his Master of Music in vocal performance studying under Raymond Feener. His performance credits with UMKC include Leporello in Don Giovanni, Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro and Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen.
In 2011, Mr. Ritchie was a young artist at Seagle Music Colony, performing the roles of Crespel in Les contes d’Hoffmann and the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance. He joined the Minnesota Opera chorus earlier this season during Nabucco and Anna Bolena. Later this year, he will portray the Pooh-bah in Skylark Opera’s production of The Mikado.
Mr. Ritchie is a native of Arkansas, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in music from Harding University while studying under Arthur Shearin. His undergraduate credits include Papageno in scenes from Die Zauberflöte, the title role in Scrooge and the baritone soloist in Fauré’s Requiem.
Jason Slayden (Laërte)
Winner of a 2012–2013 Sullivan Career Grant, rising tenor Jason Slayden has been celebrated for the warmth and beauty of his voice, as well as demonstrating “considerable subtly as an actor.”
This fall marked Jason’s international debut, which attracted much critical acclaim. As Rodolfo in Vancouver Opera’s La bohème, critics praised him as a “heartfelt, note-perfect tenor,” and said, “His ‘Che gelida manina’ was refreshingly realistic, … and was dramatically as well as musically interesting.” Later this season, Jason debuts with Minnesota Opera in Thomas’s Hamlet as Laürte, and returns to Des Moines Metro Opera to premier his first Roméo in Roméo et Juliette. He was a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera last summer, where he performed Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, a recital with pianist Steven Blier and as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9with the National Symphony Orchestra. Future engagements include Rodolfo in La bohème with Arizona Opera.
Mr. Slayden joined the Seattle Opera as a Young Artist for the 2011–2012 season, where he made his mainstage debut as Uldino in Verdi’s Attila. In the Young Artist program, he sang the title role in Massenet’s Werther and Ernesto in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. In 2011, Jason won the Gerda Lissner Foundation First Prize, a George London Foundation encouragement award, and was a Metropolitan Opera National Council semi-finalist. The same year, Mr. Slayden returned to the Santa Fe Opera as a principal artist to sing the role of Andres in Berg’s Wozzeck and, at the very last minute, stepped in to sing two performances of La bohème as Rodolfo. He was an apprentice artist at Santa Fe in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, where he was awarded the Donald Gramm Memorial Award and the Richard Tucker Memorial Award for apprentices.
In concert, Jason has performed as a soloist with the Dayton Philharmonic in Rossini’sStabat Mater, with Seattle Youth Symphony in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, with Utah Symphony Orchestra in Roméo et Juliette by Hector Berlioz, with Concert: Nova in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and with Musica Sacra Cincinnati in the Gounod Messe Solennelle de Saint-Cecile.
Thaddeus Strassberger (stage director)
Thaddeus Strassberger is “a young American director who manages to straddle the sometimes very different worlds of European and United States opera production seamlessly. Strassberger’s productions are fresh and thoughtful, and he often presents us with modern parallels without being contrived,” writes Opera Nowmagazine. His career as a director and scenic designer for opera in Europe and North America was launched when he was awarded the prestigious European Opera Prize in 2005 for his production of La Cenerentola (Opera Ireland/Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden). Strassberger’s recent and upcoming engagements include debuts with the Los Angeles Opera, Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Theater an der Wien (Vienna), Opera Philadelphia, Minnesota Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (London).
Following the success of his production of Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet for the Washington National Opera conducted by Plácido Domingo and Patrick Fournillier, he returned to the Kennedy Center in 2012 to direct and design the scenery for Verdi’sNabucco, which is a coproduction with the Minnesota Opera and Opera Philadelphia. In September 2012, he debuted with the Los Angles Opera with a new production of Verdi’s rare and engaging I due Foscari, with Plácido Domingo making his role debut as Francesco Foscari and James Conlon conducting.
His new productions of Le nozze di Figaro and The Rape of Lucretia (Norwegian National Opera) were highly praised by both critics and the public and are scheduled for revivals in the coming seasons due to popular demand. His production of the rarely heard Rossini’s La gazzetta (Rossini in Wildbad Festival, Germany) garnered nominations for both Best Production and Best Direction from Opernwelt Magazine in 2008. Following his critically acclaimed new production of Meyerbeer’s grand opera Les Huguenots at the Bard Summerscape, the first staged production in New York in nearly a century, he returned to create the first American staged production of Franz Schreker’s masterpiece Der ferne Klang in summer 2010. He returned again in 2012 to direct the North American staged premiere of Chabrier’s opera-comique Le roi malgré lui which is a coproduction with Wexford Festival Opera in Ireland, and will stage the U.S. premiere of Taneyev's monumental The Oresteia this year.
Other highlights include La fanciulla del West (Tiroler Landestheater, Innsbruck), Aida(Lyric Opera of Kansas City), Orfeo ed Euridice and Turandot (Theater Augsburg), La traviata and Die Zauberflöte (Arizona Opera), La fanciulla del West (L’Opéra de Montréal) and Ariadne auf Naxos (Wolftrap Opera). Strassberger earned his degree in Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City and further studies were supported by a Fulbright Fellowship to complete the Corso di Specializzazione per Scenografi Realizzatori at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2001.
Wayne Tigges (Claudius)
Lauded by the Chicago Sun-Times for his “rich, dark tone and beautiful legato,” Wayne Tigges returns to the role of Leporello with Pittsburgh Opera in the 2012–2013 season. He also makes a number of debuts singing his first performances of Faraone in Mosè in Egitto with New York City Opera, Claudius in Hamlet with Minnesota Opera and Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring at the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse. In the summer, he returns to Santa Fe Opera for Douglas in La donna del lago and to San Francisco Opera as Joe St. George in the world premiere of Dolores Claiborne. Last season, he returned to San Francisco Opera as Sam and Ted in the world premiere of Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier, Ariodate in Xerxes and Zuniga in Carmen. He also sang his first performances of Blitch in Susannah with Florentine Opera and returned to both Opera Colorado for Ferrando in Il trovatore and Santa Fe Opera for Nourabad in Les pêcheur de perles. Additionally, he joined the Arizona Music Festival for Verdi’s Requiem.
Mary Traylor (costume designer)
Mary Traylor has been designing for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for several years. Her designs include La Cenerentola (also at Austin Lyric Opera and Sarasota Opera),John Brown’s Body, Aida, Giulio Cesare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute, as well as Hamlet (also at Washington National Opera and Minnesota Opera). As resident designer for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, she has costumed their productions for the past 22 years. Over the past ten years she has costumed television stars such as Don Knotts, Marion Ross and Loretta Haley Mills, among many others for the New Theatre in Overland Park Kansas.