Opera Bites 2020 Bios

Creative Team

Tianhui Ng: Music Director & Conductor

Tianhui Ng is Music Director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony, the Victory Players, a contemporary music ensemble supported by the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, and resident conductor of the Boston New Music Initiative. An advocate of new music, he has assisted in and premiered new works by Pulitzer and Rome Prize winners Curt Cacioppo, Aaron Jay Kernis, David Sanford, and Joan Tower among many others. Since his first opera, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at age 20, he has conducted many new works including unusual firsts like the first Nigerian opera in Yoruba, Irin Ajo in 2018. His passion for inter-disciplinary and intercultural music making has led to a rich array of work for ballet, film, theatre, installation art, modern dance, animation, sculpture and even sand painting, in a career that spans Europe, Asia and North America. In 2020, he looks forward to the culmination of a three-year commissioning project, El Puerto Rico, celebrating the musical heritage of Puerto Rico, a collaboration with White Snake Projects on Elena Ruehr's Cosmic Cowboy, and the restoration of Thomas de Hartmann's Piano Concerto.   

Patricia-Maria Weinmann: Co-Artistic Director & Stage Director

Patricia-Maria Weinmann has worked with many national opera companies and festivals including Utah Opera, Opera on the James, Syracuse Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Seagle Music Colony, Boston Lyric Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Boston, Ashlawn Opera Festival, the American Opera Project, Opera Providence, and Mississippi Grand Opera.  She has collaborated on a number of premier performances including Daniel Pinkham’s The Cask of Amontillado, the staged orchestral premier of Scott Wheeler’s The Construction of Boston and Wheeler’s Democracy as a work-in-progress for the American Opera Project in New York.  Recent directing engagements have included Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, Hansel and Gretel, Cosi fan tutte, The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, Cole!, Cenerentola, Carmina Burana, L’elisir d’amore, Sweeney Todd, Don Pasquale and Faust and Marguerite (BOC). Over the past 20 years, Weinmann served on the faculties of both Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music.  As a guest director and coach for Utah Opera’s Young Artist Program and a faculty member of American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, she continues to train some of the most promising young singers in the United States and abroad. 

Greg Smucker: Co-Artistic Director & Stage Director

Greg Smucker is a director and teacher of theater and opera. He studied with the late Wesley Balk, a noted pioneer in the field of singer-actor training. Greg was co-founder and artistic director of 15 HEAD, a critically acclaimed experimental theater company in Minneapolis and served as managing director of Theatre for Young America in Kansas City, a professional theater for children. Greg served for seven years on the faculty of the Opera Studies Department at New England Conservatory of Music and is currently a faculty member of the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.  As a freelance director, Greg has directed productions and workshops for theaters and opera companies in Boston and the Twin Cities.

Ingrid Oslund: Assistant Director

Ingrid Oslund (She/Her/Hers) is a queer, feminist theater maker with the goal of creating bold, innovative experiences that excite and challenge audiences. She is a proud member of Director’s Lab Lincoln Center and the Stage Director and Choreographer’s Foundation Observership Class of 2018-2019. She has worked with Boston Opera Collaborative for 4 years as assistant director (Faust et Margurite), stage director (Misfortune, Always) choreographer (La Rondine) and Fight/Intimacy Designer (Don Giovanni). Her upcoming directing work includes 2 pieces in Opera Bites 2020, Grindr, the Opera and a new musical Dancing Princesses; A Riot Grrrl Fairy Tale.

Gretchen Werda: Stage Director

Gretchen Werda joins BOC to direct in Opera Bites, after working as assistant director on The Scarlet Ibis (2019). Gretchen holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from New England Conservatory. Her stage directing credits from NEC Graduate Opera include scenes from Don Giovanni (2017), Carmen (2018), Don Pasquale (2018), and Susannah (2018) and her Assistant Director credits include Later the Same Evening (2018), and La finta giardiniera (2017). Gretchen also directed in Hartford Opera Theater's New In November Festival and worked as Apprentice Director on Die Zauberflöte (2017 and 2018) with Berlin Opera Academy. She manages the Berklee Performance Center at Berklee College of Music.

Jean Anderson Collier: Music Director

Dr. Jean Anderson Collier is a nationally-known vocal coach and pianist.  She is the principal opera coach at Boston Conservatory, and also coaches recital repertoire and teaches courses in opera.  She teaches diction and art song courses at New England Conservatory of Music.  She is active as musical advisor and coach for the Boston Opera Collaborative, and is the organist and choir director at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Scituate, MA.  She has been a coach at Berklee School of Music’s Summer Opera Intensive in Valencia, Spain and at Northern Arizona University’s summer opera program in Fidenza, Italy.  She often performs recitals across the United States and in Europe.

Patricia Au: Music Director

Widely known for her vivacious playing, Canadian collaborative pianist Patricia Au leads an active performing and coaching career. In the past several years, she has toured throughout North America and Europe performing opera and art songs. Currently based in Boston, she is part of the coaching staff at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and New England Conservatory where she earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts specializing in Collaborative Piano. As a Resident Teaching Artist for Boston Lyric Opera, Patricia has a passion introducing young people to opera as a story telling art. Her doctoral thesis, “A New Edition of the Piano-Vocal Score of Jake Heggie’s To Hell and Back” is available through Bent Pen Music Inc. For more information: www.patriciaau.com / @au_patricia

Brian Moll: Music Director

Brian Moll is on the faculty of the Longy School of Music of Bard College, where for the last twenty years, he served as Chair of the Collaborative Piano Department and led both the Piano and Voice Departments. He is also on the faculty of Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the New England Conservatory of Music. He has performed and presented master classes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Bulgaria, France, Mexico and has been on the faculties of the Lied Austria Program in Austria and the Dramatic Voices Program in Berlin. As a keyboardist, Brian Moll has worked with Emmanuel Music, Boston Baroque, the Handel & Haydn Chorus and Orchestra, and the New Hampshire Music Festival He has also served as Assistant Conductor for productions by Boston Lyric Opera, Opera North and Boston Midsummer Opera. A sought-after recitalist, and has appeared with singers Barbara Kilduff, Sheri Greenawald, Jesse Blumberg, Wolfgang Brendel, Sir Thomas Allen, Kevin Deas, Chelsea Basler, Kelly Kaduce, Mara Bonde, and Sandra Piques Eddy.

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Composers & Librettists/Playwrights

 

Cast

Ellen Abrams: Librettist

Intentions, semi-finalist with the O’Neill Playwrights Conference and New American Voices Reading Series. Hamlet Investigations, Inc., first-place winner in True Acting Institute’s Best Ten-Minute Plays 2019 competition, published by Smith and Kraus. Roosevelt House (NYC), Franklin Roosevelt National Historic Site (Hyde Park, NY), and Emerging Artists Theatre (E.A.T., NYC): Eleanor and Alice: Conversation Between Two Remarkable Roosevelts (readings); E.A.T.: Hamlet Investigations, Inc., Handsome (reading), The Ransom of Rona (reading), Relations, On the Couch (reading); Rhino Theatre: Eulogy(s); Secret Theatre and Manhattan Rep: Metonym or the Almost Completely False Story Behind the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus. 

Carlos Carrillo: Composer

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, composer Carlos R. Carrillo holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale University (MM) and the University of Pennsylvania (PhD). Mr. Carrillo is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bearns Prize, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP awards. He has been commissioned by Music and the Anthology for the Da Capo Chamber Players, the New York Youth Symphony, Concert Artists Guild and the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association. 

Ronan Colfer: Librettist

Having completed three years of actor training in Ireland, Ronan Colfer then went on to New York City to continue his study and exploration of the theater. He returned to Europe in 2015 and took part in a devised show in Barcelona in a project involving both Irish and Catalan actors and directors. He then returned to New York in 2016 to train at the renowned HB Studios and during that time wrote and performed in two short plays at the New York Theatre festival, one of which, The Trapped Language of Love, won best short play. He completed his studies at HB Studios in 2018 and has been working on both theater and film projects since, including a leading role in the feature film Whelm set for release later this year

John Greer: Composer

John Greer is an active accompanist, vocal coach, arranger,  composer and conductor and is heard in these capacities throughout Canada and abroad, in recital and on various CBC broadcasts. Mr. Greer has served as Music Director, coach or conductor for prominent performing and educational institutions such as: the University of Toronto opera division, Victoria’s Opera Piccola,  Ottawa’s Opera Lyra, The Banff School of Fine Arts, the Toronto Gilbert &  Sullivan Society, Mirvish Productions (Canada), Opera (Hamilton) Ontario, the Canadian Opera Company, Eastman Opera Theatre, the Opera Studio at the University of Maryland, the New England Conservatory, the Janiec Opera Workshop at the Brevard Music Center, Glimmerglass Opera, Chautauqua Opera and the University of Kentucky.  He currently works at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Greer’s compositions include ten song cycles written for Canadian singers such as Catherine Robbin, Kevin McMillan, Mark Dubois, Tracy Dahl, Monica Whicher, and Adrianne Pieczonka and numerous works based on Canadian folk song.  He has written two operas for the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, The Snow Queen based on the Hans Christian Anderson tale with a libretto by Jeremy James Taylor of Britain’s National Youth Music Theatre, and an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale The Star-Child  with librettist Ned Dickens and a revision and orchestration of the 1889 Canadian operetta Leo the Royal Cadet  by O. F. Telgmann, commissioned by Toronto Operetta Theatre.  

Eva Kendrick: Composer

Eva Kendrick is a Boston-area composer, vocalist, music director and vocal/music theory instructor. Awards include the Judith Lang Zaimont Prize from the International Alliance of Women in Music, ASCAPLU$ awards, The American Prize for Opera/Theatre and grants from the American Composers Forum and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Dramatic works include Emily, a one act opera, five short operas and two musicals. Other opera collaborators include the Thompson St. Opera Company (Louisville, KY), Gateway Opera (St. Louis, MO), and One Ounce Opera (Austin, TX). She holds a Masters of Music in Composition with Distinction from the Longy School of Music. www.evakendrick.com.

Rich Orloff: Librettist

Rich Orloff is the author of 18 full-length plays, mostly comedies and mostly award-winning.  The New York Times called his comedy BIG BOYS "rip-roaringly funny" and named FUNNY AS A CRUTCH a Critic's Pick.  Rich’s 80 short plays have received over 1900 productions on six continents (and a staged reading in Antarctica).  His short comedies have been published seven times in the annual Best American Short Plays anthology, more than any other contemporary playwright.  His comedy ROMANTIC FOOLS has had over 100 productions on four continents, including two productions in Madrid, where they’re apparently no better at romance than we are.  www.richorloff.com

Beth Ratay: Composer

Beth Ratay has been composing for over 25 years. She has had works performed around the world by many different types of ensembles including Earplay, West Edge Opera, Hartford Opera Theater, Coalescence Percussion Duo, and the Cambridge Chamber Singers. Her works have been featured at the April in Santa Cruz Contemporary Music Festival and the Society of Composers National Conference. Dr. Ratay received her Doctor of Musical Arts in World Music Composition from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Bunker Hill Community College and lives with her amazing family including one husband, two sons, and one cat in Somerville.

Sylvia Reed: Librettist

Sylvia Reed, of Palmetto, Florida, has written several full-length and 10-minute plays. American Flag is based on her 10-minute play of the same name. It was inspired by the rhetoric and run-up to the Iraq War, and was initially produced in Sarasota, FL, by Theatre Odyssey. Her full-length play, The Ones That Flutter was part of the 2008 Summer Play Festival in New York City at the Public Theater. It was produced at Theatre503 in London in 2009.  Sylvia has been awarded two Florida Individual Artist Grants in playwriting.

Jonathan Shin: Composer

Jonathan Shin isn’t sure if he’s a composer-pianist or pianist-composer; some nights he even masquerades as a guitarist and belts the Beatles at his forgiving friends. In his un-free time he can be found working on his commissions – which this year include an orchestral work celebrating Singapore’s Bicentennial, and incidental music for a children’s play – or performing recitals with unusual themes (his latest recital solely featured composers who suffered from syphilis).
 

He is a founding member of the Lorong Boys, an instrumental quintet who are equally comfortable performing Vivaldi as they are grooving to a Charlie Parker tune. At its core, the quintet believes in, and aims to provide democratic, universal access to classical music.

Marisa Smith: Librettist

Marisa’s full-length plays include: Venus Rising: Northern Stage, VT, Sex and Other Disturbances (Edgerton winner/ Portland Stage Company, Saving Kitty (Eliot Norton award for Jennifer Coolidge Best Actress, Clauder winner) Mad Love, (O’Neill semi-finalist, Clauder winner/Kilroy List). Radio Play: The Defenestrator, produced by Wondery. Marisa’s many 10-Minute plays have been produced in BTM, Barrington Stage, New Jersey Repertory and in many other theaters around the country and include Heideman finalist Total Expression. Film: Second Wind, dir. Andrew Silver. Musical: “Americanization” of Fat Friends by Kay Mellor, music by Nick Lloyd Webber .

www.marisasmithplaywright.com

Omar Surillo: Composer

Omar Surillo, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an award-winning composer, producer/engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Dallas, TX. His music has been performed by the Victory Players, Greenwood String Quintet, and the Yale Philharmonia. This past summer, his piece “Isla Verde” premiered at the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, as part of their concert series “El Puerto Rico” - celebrating Puerto Rican Heritage in Holyoke, MA. He currently serves as music faculty at Richland College, where he teaches composition, all levels of music theory and ear training, recording arts courses, and American Music (History of Jazz and Rock). Surillo holds degrees from Yale University and Stetson University.

Katie Thayer: Librettist

Katie Thayer is an actor, improviser, and playwright from Orlando, Florida. She has her BFA in Theatre from the University of Central Florida, and is a member of Playwrights' Round Table. She specializes in 10 minute plays, and has had several plays produced locally, as well many productions of "Graceland" around the country. Katie also tours her award-winning one woman show "Beneath the Bikini" a cabaret about body image, which she has taken to different cities in the US as well as Canada.

Sheri Wilner: Librettist

Sheri Wilner’s plays include Kingdom City, Relative Strangers, Bake Off and Father Joy and have been presented at the La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference and many others. Her plays have been published in more than a dozen anthologies, which has led to over four hundred productions of her plays worldwide.  Also an established playwriting teacher, she currently teaches playwriting at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and for the Dramatists Guild Institute. Born and raised in Brockton, she now lives in NYC.

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Cast

 

Marsé Alaundra (Interviewer)

Marsé Alaundra is a vibrant soprano based in Boston who is enjoying a blossoming and varied singing career. She is currently working towards her MM in Opera Performance at Longy School of Music, where she studies with Carol Mastrodomenico. Recent productions include chorus in Gluck’s Paride ed Elena, and featured soloist in Elvis Costello’s Juliet Letters with Longy School of Music. This spring, Marsé Alaundra will perform the role of Belinda in Longy School of Music’s production of Dido and Aeneas, as well as debut with Boston Opera Collaborative, where she will take part in the world premiere of Total Spiritual by Beth Raytay.                  

Megan Bisceglia (Colleen)

Soprano Megan Bisceglia most recently premiered the role of Cobweb in Scott Wheeler's new opera Midsummer (BOC Opera Bites) and covered the role of La Fée for The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble's production of Cendrillon by Pauline Viardot-Garcia. This spring, she will perform I Grow to be My Grandmother, a solo concert and multi-media collaboration with her sister exploring the connection between art and memory. Other recent performances include: soprano soloist with the Boston Civic Symphony for their Holiday Pops concert; soprano soloist with dancer Kurt Douglas, for José Limón's solo dance work Etude; and Parpignol in MetroWest Opera’s regional premiere of La Femme Bohème. Megan Bisceglia received her MM from the Longy School of Music in 2010 where she studied with Jayne West. Ms. Bisceglia continues to study with Jayne West.

Kristen Buabin (Aphrodite)

Soprano Kristen Buabin is ecstatic to make her début with Boston Opera Collaborative. She is known for her rich, warm tone and sparkling coloratura. Past credits include Paride with the Longy Opera Theatre, and Mimi and Donna Anna with Opera Scenes: Opera shorts in Dallas, Texas. Since relocating to Boston she has performed with MassOpera, Cambridge Public Library, and Grace Episcopal Church in Newton. Kristen completed her MM in Vocal Performance in the Fall of 2019 and is a current student of Carol Mastrodomenico. Her passions include social and racial justice, iced coffee, and cats.

Sarah Joyce Cooper (Grace)