Music by Leonard Bernstein Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Book by Arthur Laurents
"The radioactive fallout from West Side Story must still be descending on Broadway this morning.”
That was the New York Daily News headline after the explosive 1957 premiere of the show that would change the face of musicals forever.
The magic still happens when Tony meets Maria—a boy and a girl who fall madly in love in spite of being trapped in the hate and danger of their rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. Here is a modern-day Romeo and Juliet—a story of ecstasy, anguish, and wildness, featuring immortal songs including “Maria,” “America,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Cool,” “Somewhere,” “A Boy Like That,” and more.
The IU Jacobs School proudly presents a new production of this “thrilling fusion of dance, drama and song.” - The New York Times
In English with titles • New production
Apr. 6, 7, 13, 14 Musical Arts Center 7:30 PM
Apr. 8 Musical Arts Center 2 PM
Explore our IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater archive.
The action takes place on the west side of New York City during the last days of summer.
Prologue: The months before 5:00 p.m...........The Street 5:30 p.m...........A Back Yard 6:00 p.m...........A Bridal Shop 10:00 p.m...........The Gym 11:00 p.m...........A Back Alley Midnight ..........The Drugstore
The Next Day
5:30 p.m...........The Bridal Shop 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.......The Neighborhood 9:00 p.m...........Under the Highway
The entire action takes place in two days, but within this brief period of time, all the bitterness, savagery, hate, and turbulence in the lives of young people of the city street are uncovered.Despite all of this ugliness, there are also flashes of beauty, love, and hope that sometimes, however fleetingly, touch them.
The Jets are a gang of American teenage boys determined not only to check but to destroy the growing Puerto Rican influence on their block. Riff, the leader of the Jets, speaks in Jet Song in no uncertain terms of this determination.They are opposed by a Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, led by Bernardo. Riff gets the support of Tony, who was the founder and the leader of the Jets before turning over the job to Riff.Both gangs meet at a dance in the neighborhood gym, where in song, Dance at the Gym, and in choreography, their violent hostility toward each other is reflected.At the dance, Tony meets the lovely Maria, who has just arrived from Puerto Rico to marry Chino.Tony and Maria fall desperately in love at first sight. They pledge their eternal love for one another on the tenement fire escape in the timeless ballad Tonight. The young couple plans to meet the next day in the bridal shop where Maria works.
Meanwhile, the two gangs leave for a nearby drugstore to name the place, time, and weapons for a big rumble that will ultimately decide which gang will rule the neighborhood. Through Tony’s intervention, an agreement is reached to have a boy represent each of the two gangs and have them fight it out to a finish the following day. Having learned his sister is interested in Tony, Bernardo comes to him with dire threats.This inspires a fight, which develops into a giant rumble between the two gangs. Riff is killed.Blinded by anger and bitterness at the death of his friend, Tony murders Bernardo with Riff’s knife. And this, in turn, inspires Chino, Maria’s intended husband, to shoot and kill Tony.
“West Side Story: Tragedy, Musical Comedy, Dance, and Opera”
by Bret McCandless Ph.D. Student in Musicology
From the very beginning of his career, Leonard Bernstein was fascinated with the creation of truly American art, an art that mixed elements of popular entertainment with artistic sophistication. After the successes of the Jeremiah symphony (1944), his ballet Fancy Free (1944) and its transformation into the hit musical On the Town (1945), and his appointment as assistant conductor of the New York City Philharmonic and music director of the New York City Symphony, Bernstein reflected in 1948:
One thing I have already discerned. I have a basic interest in theater music....I rather glow with pride at this discovery, rather than feel vulnerable, since I count such masters as Mozart, Weber, and Strauss (and even Bach!) as similarly disposed. Where it will lead I cannot tell, but if I can write one real, moving American opera that any American can understand (and one that is, notwithstanding, a serious musical work), I shall be a happy man.
The next year, Bernstein was approached by director and choreographer Jerome Robbins with the idea of adapting Romeo and Juliet as a musical. This idea would occupy Bernstein, Robbins, and librettist Arthur Laurents for the next eight years (Stephen Sondheim would join as the lyricist much later) as they struggled to tell what Bernstein called “a tragic story in musical-comedy terms, using only musical-comedy techniques, never falling into the ‘operatic’ trap.” The resulting West Side Story, presented on Broadway in 1957, represents Bernstein’s closest success in achieving a serious, moving, accessible, and wildly popular piece of musical theater along the lines that he envisioned.
Following the original Romeo and Juliet plot, West Side Story features two star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, who are connected to two rival gangs, the Sharks (made up of “so-called ‘Americans’”) and the Jets (made up of Puerto Rican immigrants) in 1950s New York City. Unlike many adaptations of the story over the centuries, the creators always intended to keep the tragic finale and perhaps improved on the tragic nature of the story, as racial prejudice, and not mere chance, sets the finale in motion. The musical was originally conceived as East Side Story, featuring Jewish and Catholic gangs, then updated to reflect the most recent sources of gang conflict. Bernstein marked his working copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “An out and out plea for racial tolerance,” a cause that Bernstein championed throughout his life and that is reflected in Maria’s culminating speech. At the same time, as Stephen Sondheim remarked, “For most people, West Side Story is about racial prejudice and urban violence, but what it’s really about is theater: musical theater, to be more precise. It’s about the blending of book, music, lyrics and, most important, dance into the seamless telling of a story.”
Despite Bernstein’s (and particularly his collaborators’) desire to avoid the “operatic” in their presentation of the tragedy, West Side Story has been praised as having one of the most sophisticated scores of any Broadway musical. From the very opening “Prologue,” with its uncertain key, layers of aggressive dissonance, constant motivic development, and rhythmic drive paired with unexpected irregularities, this score is something different, mixing new ideas with elements familiar from earlier musicals. The score includes atonal and bitonal numbers, multiple instances of cross-rhythms, a 12-tone fugue in “Cool,” and a highly contrapuntal Act I quintet, but also (biting) comedy numbers, traditional love ballads, a dream ballet, and a song that Bernstein called “a driving 2/4 in the great tradition” for Tony, all markers of Broadway. The story itself is told in part through danceand music, which are the primary devices used at some of the most important moments in the show: the “Prologue,” Tony and Maria’s meeting at the “Dance at the Gym,” “The Rumble,” the dream ballet, and Anita’s confrontation with the Jets. The change to a Puerto Rican gang and contemporary setting also inspired Bernstein to include tinges of (then very popular) Latin American music, as seen in the many Latin dances of the Paso doble (“Promenade”), “Mambo,” “Cha-cha” (Tony and Maria’s meeting), Seis and Huapango (“America”), Tango (“Maria”), and Cachucha (“I Feel Pretty”).
Alongside its sophistication and diversity, West Side Story bears the marks of being a musical conceived for the commercial theater in its construction through collaboration and experimentation. This can be seen in the great shuffling of numbers in West Side Story, including (in order), “America,” which used a tune and musical sections from Bernstein’s unproduced ballet Conch Town; “One Hand, One Heart,” which was originally written for the Balcony Scene; “Somewhere,” which was composed as a popular song fully a decade before West Side Story premiered; and “Gee, Officer Krupke,” a discarded song from Bernstein’s operetta Candide. (The trading went both ways: “Oh Happy We” from Candide was originally written for the bridal shop scene in West Side Story). This does not denigrate the “fit” of any of these songs for their dramatic situations, but brings some sobering reality to the praise for the motivic unity of Bernstein’s score and reveals the economic necessity of recycling what is at hand in creating a complex work at the break-neck speed of the commercial theater. The famous tritones that pervade the motivic material in the score were discovered by Sondheim (to Bernstein’s surprise) only after the completion of the score, yet their presence and extensive dissonance effectively demonstrate the tension at the heart of this tragic story.
The radical departure from some Broadway norms and the gravity of the subject matter have marked West Side Story as something special in the musical theater repertoire. Because of these differences, the original production had a mixed reception, with raves from critics, but also sizeable walkouts from audience members. West Side Story was overlooked at the Tony Awards for the charm, nostalgia, and star cast of The Music Man, though it received a lengthy Broadway run and immediate acclaim in London (after a stop at the Manchester Opera House). It entered mainstream American consciousness only with the release of the 1961 film, which garnered 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Today, West Side Story has come to represent the best of what American musical theater can offer, with multiple commercial runs on Broadway and a solid position in the repertoire of opera houses around the world.
Conductor David Neely maintains a lively career in concert and opera alongside an active teaching schedule. As music director and principal conductor of Des Moines Metro Opera, he has elevated the 45-year old company’s musical profile with acclaimed performances of a broad range of repertoire, such as Falstaff, Elektra, Peter Grimes, Dead Man Walking, Jenufa, Macbeth, Don Giovanni, and La Fanciulla del West since his appointment in 2012.Neely’s recent performances of Britten’s epic masterwork Billy Budd and Puccini’s Turandot were recently praised in the Chicago Tribune and OperaNews, and his televised Manon for Iowa Public Television received a 2017 Emmy Award. Neely is a frequent guest with Sarasota Opera, having led 10 productions there since 2006, and has regularly been seen at the Jacobs School since 2013. Alongside opera, he has conducted numerous musical theater productions, including Broadway’s Chicago in Munich and Basel. He has led concerts with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Bochumer Symphoniker, Dortmunder Philharmoniker, Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg, Roosevelt University Orchestra, and Jacobs School orchestras. He has performed in numerous European opera houses, including Bonn, Dortmund, Halle, Saarbrücken, and St.Gallen, and the Eutiner Festspiele.Neely headed Orchestral Studies and Conducting at the University of Kansas for nine years, where he brought distinction and greater visibility to the program.In 2016, the Kansas Federation of Music Clubs named him Kansas Artist-Educator of the Year. He was previously music director of the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas at Austin as well as its interim director of orchestral activities. Neely is currently a visiting associate professor of music (orchestral conducting) at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.Recent performances include Tiefland with Sarasota Opera as well as It’s a Wonderful Life and multiple concerts at the Jacobs School. Upcoming productions include Falstaff with Intermountain Opera in Bozeman and Rusalka and Flight in Des Moines.
Michael Shell’s “visionary” and “masterful storytelling” (Opera News) is steadily leading him to be one of the most sought-after directors in the United States. His “thoughtful and detailed score study” (Opera Today) is shown in character development and relationships onstage as well as the complete visual world he creates. He has directed productions for Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Omaha, Opera San Jose, Opera Tampa, Opera North, Virginia Opera, and Santa Fe Opera. He made his international directing debut at the Wexford Festival Opera in 2010 with Winners by Richard Wargo and returned the next fall to direct Double Trouble – Trouble in Tahiti & The Telephone. He has written and directed three cabarets, including All About Love and The Glamorous Life – A group therapy session for Opera Singers, both for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Shell’s recent engagements include his critically acclaimed new production of The Barber of Seville at Opera Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Omaha, and Virginia Opera, a new production of Silent Night for Opera San Jose, and a new production of A Little Night Music for Piedmont Opera. Other career highlights include Joshua’s Boots and Così fan tutte with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Golden Ticket with Atlanta Opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio with Pittsburgh Opera, The Magic Flute with Virginia Opera, and Fidelio with Opera Omaha. He recently made his Houston Grand Opera debut as associate director on Giulio Cesare.Shell has been a guest faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Florida State University, and Webster University, St. Louis. He has been guest director at the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute and Oklahoma University, and is a frequent guest director at Indiana University. He was a recipient of the Charles MacKay Career Development Fund and the winner of the Best Director/Best Opera Wilde Award for Giulio Cesare at Michigan Opera Theater. Upcoming engagements include The Barber of Seville with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Silent Night with Arizona Opera, The Abduction from the Sergalio with Opera San Jose, and Hansel and Gretel with IU Opera Theater.
Steven C. Kemp is a set designer for theater, opera, and events. His previous IU Opera Theater designs have included The Music Man, Madama Butterfly, Oklahoma, and Dead Man Walking.Additional opera designs include the American premiere of Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella, the west coast premieres of Silent Night and Anna Karenina; Tiefland, The Flying Dutchman, Tosca, Suor Angelica, Abduction from the Seraglio, Idomeneo, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, Faust, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Elixir of Love, The Italian Girl in Algiers, Le Portrait de Manon, Orpheus in the Underworld, A Streetcar Named Desire, Figaro 90210, Independence Eve, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, and Falstaff (which was a finalist for the World Stage Design 2017 Exhibition in Taiwan). His designs have been seen at Opera San Jose, Hawaii Opera Theater, Sarasota Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Merola Opera program, Kentucky Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Fresno Opera, Townsend Opera, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has designed more than 50 productions Off-Broadway in New York City, including the Keen Company revivals of the musicals Tick, Tick ... Boom!, John and Jen, and Marry Me A Little. Regional and international work includes designs for Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, the brand new musical Shout, Sister, Shout! at Pasadena Playhouse, Asolo Repertory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Bucks County Playhouse, Antaeus Theater Company, Royal George Theater, Gulfshore Playhouse, and the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj. Additionally, he has designed numerous national tours, including the current PJ Masks Live! and A Taste of Things to Come.As an associate designer, he worked for the Metropolitan Opera, English National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, Minnesota Opera, San Diego Opera, and 10 Broadway productions, including Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar, and the Tony Award-winning best musical Memphis.
Linda Pisano designs for theater, dance, musical theater, ballet, and opera throughout the United States; her ballet designs have toured the U.K. and Canada. An award-winning designer, she is the only U.S.costume designer to have her work selected for the World Stage Design 2017 exhibition, in Taipei. Her work has been featured in the Prague Quadrennial world exhibition, and she is a four-time winner of the National Stage Expo for performance design and a four-time recipient of the Peggy Ezekiel Award for Excellence in Design. Her work was selected from top designers in the United States to be featured in a world design exhibition with the Bakhrushin Museum in Moscow (2015) and the China Institute of Stage Design in Beijing (2016). As professor of costume design at Indiana University, she also directs the IU Theatre and Drama study abroad program in London, is the head of the Design & Technology Area, and is co-author of the recent book The Art and Practice of Costume Design. Pisano designs professionally with many companies throughout the United States. Some of her most recent work includes L’Étoile, Miranda, Anne Frank, Salome (with Patricia Racette), To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night, Sense & Sensibility, Chicago, Madama Butterfly, Dead Man Walking, A Little Night Music, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and the opera Akhnaten. Next season, Pisano will design Mass and Giulio Cesare for IU Opera Theater. She serves on the board of directors of the United States Institute for Theater Technology and is a member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.
Mitchell Ost is the lighting supervisor for the Jacobs School of Music.Recent productions with IU include Ariadne auf Naxos, America Dances, Dances for Two, and The Nutcracker. He recently relocated to Bloomington after living in New York City, where he was the lighting designer at Joe’s Pub, the cabaret space at the Public Theater. In addition to his work in the New York opera, theater, and dance world, he has been fortunate to travel the globe designing lighting and scenery on several continents. He is currently the resident scenic and lighting designer for M Ensemble Company in Miami, Florida.
Sasha Janes is visiting lecturer in ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. Janes has danced professionally with West Australian Ballet, Australian Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, and Dayton Ballet, performing principal roles in works by Jiří Kylián, George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Marius Petipa, Septime Webre, Anthony Tudor, Dwight Rhoden, Alonzo King, Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, and many others. He has choreographed several ballets for Charlotte Ballet, including Carmen, Dangerous Liaisons, We Danced Through Life, Last Lost Chance, Shelter, At First Sight, Loss, The Four Seasons, The Red Dress, Utopia, Playground Teasers, The Seed and the Soil, Chaconne, Queen, Sketches from Grace, and Rhapsodic Dances, which was performed as part of the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America series in June 2013. The Washington Post called Janes “a choreographer to watch.” He was a participant in New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute and has been a guest choreographer for Richmond Ballet’s New Works Festival.
Walter Huff is associate professor of choral conducting and faculty director of opera choruses at the Jacobs School of Music. He served as chorus master for the Atlanta Opera for more than two decades, leading the renowned ensemble in more than 125 productions, with critical acclaim in the United States and abroad. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Master of Music degree from Peabody Conservatory (Johns Hopkins). He studied piano with Sarah Martin, Peter Takács, and Lillian Freundlich, and voice with Flore Wend.After serving as a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center, he received Tanglewood’s C. D. Jackson Master Award for Excellence. Huff served as coach with the Peabody Opera Theatre and Washington Opera, and has been musical director for The Atlanta Opera Studio, Georgia State University Opera, and Actor’s Express (Atlanta). He also has worked as chorus master with San Diego Opera. He served on the faculty at Georgia State University for four years as assistant professor, guest lecturer, and conductor for the Georgia State University Choral Society. He has served as chorus master for IU Opera Theater productions of The Merry Widow, Akhnaten, Le Nozze di Figaro, Lady Thi Kính, H.M.S. Pinafore, La Traviata, The Italian Girl in Algiers, La Bohème, The Last Savage, South Pacific, Die Zauberflöte, The Barber of Seville, Dead Man Walking, Die Fledermaus, Carmen, Oklahoma!, The Daughter of the Regiment, Florencia en el Amazonas, Madama Butterfly, Peter Grimes, The Music Man, Don Giovanni, L’Étoile, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Lucia di Lammermoor. In the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2017, Huff served as choral instructor and conductor for IU’s Sacred Music Intensive.In addition, he maintains a busy vocal coaching studio in Atlanta. In the summer of 2016, he conducted Arthur Honegger’s King David for the Jacobs Summer Music series with the Summer Chorus and Orchestra.
Matt Herndon is an advanced actor combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), a Bloomington native, and IU Theater alum. His previous productions with IU Opera and Ballet Theater include Lucia di Lammermoor, Peter Grimes, Oklahoma!, Carmen, Così fan tutte, and Dead Man Walking.Some of his other favorite credits include Billy Witch, She Kills Monsters, and Mad Gravity for the Bloomington Playwrights Project; Spring Awakening, king oedipus, Macbeth, Oleanna, and The Rimers of Eldritch for Ivy Tech Theater; and The Lieutenant of Inishmore for University Players. Herndon has served on staff for multiple SAFD regional stage combat workshops, and more of his work can be seen in Ivy Tech’s current production of Naomi Iizuka’s Anon(ymous), a modern retelling of The Odyssey told through the lens of refugees.
Kimberly Carballo is coordinating opera coach for the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater and a faculty member in the Department of Chamber Music and Collaborative Piano. She is also an active international performer and educator. Carballo has previously worked as the mainstage and young artists program coach for the Compañía Lírica Nacional de Costa Rica, and music theory instructor and vocal coach at the Conservatorio Musical de Alajuela, the Escuela de Artes Musicales de la Universidad de Costa Rica, and the Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica. In addition to her duties at the Jacobs School, she maintains a private studio as a freelance coach, collaborator, and piano teacher. She is founder and director of Reimagining Opera for Kids (ROK), a music community engagement and education program based in Bloomington, Indiana. Carballo also forms part of the inaugural and ongoing team for Tunaweza Kimuziki (Through Music All is Possible), a project promoting exchange among music educators, scholars, and performers in Kenya and the United States. (Photo by Synthia Steiman)
Daniela Siena brings many years of experience in teaching Italian diction and language to singers. She was introduced to operatic diction by Boris Goldovsky, who was seeking a native speaker without teaching experience to work with singers according to his own pedagogical principles. Siena went on to teach in a number of operatic settings (among them, the Curtis Institute of Music, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Seattle Opera). Over the years, she worked with a number of well-known singers, including Samuel Ramey, Justino Díaz, Carol Vaness, Wolfgang Brendel, June Anderson, Gianna Rolandi, and Jerry Hadley. The conductors, coaches, and stage directors with whom she has worked include Otto Guth, Max Rudolf, Edoardo Müller, David Effron, Arthur Fagen, Anthony Pappano, Anthony Manoli, Terry Lusk, Dino Yannopoulos, Tito Capobianco, Andrei Șerban, John Cox, and John Copley. At New York City Opera, Siena worked closely with Beverly Sills—as her executive assistant, as a diction coach, and as the creator of English supertitles for a dozen operas. More recently, she worked for two years as a coach for the Young Artists Program of the Los Angeles Opera and, for the past six years, she has taught in Dolora Zajick’s summer Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. Born in Florence, Italy, to an Italian mother and a Russian émigré father, Siena arrived in the United States at age seven. She received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and, in her twenties, worked for two years in Italy as secretary to the president of the Olivetti Company. Many years later, she continued her education, earned a master’s degree, and became licensed as a psychotherapist by the state of California, where she practiced for 15 years.The mother of two grown children, she moved to Bloomington to be near her son, who lives here with his wife and two young daughters.
After graduating from the Jacobs School of Music with an associate’s degree in audio technology, Aaron Beck toured the United States with multiple Broadway National Tours, including Jolson the Musical, The Buddy Holly Story, Mamma Mia, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and both touring companies of Disney’s The Lion King. After 10 years of touring, Beck moved to Las Vegas, where he has worked on productions of The Beatles Love, Viva Elvis, and Michael Jackson One for Cirque du Soleil. He has also designed systems for various musicals and worship facilities. In addition, he is an audio systems designer for such groups as The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, Avon High School, and Foothill High School. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife, two children, and their two boxers.
Olivia LaBarge is an Indianapolis native in her third year of undergraduate studies, pursuing a degree in voice and musical theater under the tutelage of Alice Hopper. In December, LaBarge performed the role of Wendy in Cardinal Stage Company’s Peter Pan. She has been seen on the MAC stage as a River City Teen in IU Opera Theater’s most recent production of The Music Man. She was a member of the IU Singing Hoosiers from 2015 to 2017. She will spend this summer working as an ensemble member and covering the roles of Cinderella from Into The Woods, Lily from The Secret Garden, and Sophie from Amazing Grace for Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre in Logan, Utah. This is her debut role with IU Opera Theater.
Soprano Shayleen Norat, from Coamo, Puerto Rico, is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. Norat earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in music from the University of Puerto Rico and complemented her studies at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. Previous roles include Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Ludmila in The Bartered Bride, La Suora Infermiera in Suor Angelica, Une pastourelle in L’enfant et lessortilèges, and Rosaura in Los Gavilanes. She has also performed leading roles in opera workshop scenes, including Manon, Le Nozze di Figaro, I Pagliacci, and La Bohème, and will be seen this month as Juliette in scenes from Roméo et Juliette in the Carol Vaness Opera Workshop.Norat is an alumna of the Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival and the Miami Summer Music Festival. The role of Maria marks her solo debut with IU Opera Theater.
Korean-American tenor Bradley Bickhardt is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance. A native of Columbia, New Jersey, his previous IU Opera credits include Goro (Madama Butterfly) and Hérisson (L’Étoile). He has also appeared in the ensembles of The Italian Girl in Algiers, The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Carmen, The Daughter of the Regiment, and Peter Grimes. He was most recently seen as a participant in the Lawrence Brownlee master class as part of the Five Friends Master Class series. In 2016, Bickhardt was an apprentice artist with Charlottesville Opera. This summer, he will portray Njegus (The Merry Widow) with Opera Saratoga, where he will be a studio artist. Bickhardt is currently the tenor section leader for St.Charles Borromeo Church and a student of Andreas Poulimenos.
Benjamin Seiwert is a second-year graduate student in pursuit of an M.M. in voice under the tutelage of Timothy Noble. He earned his B.M. in voice from the Jacobs School of Music in 2012. He has appeared several times with IU Opera Theater, including as Harry Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life), Harold Hill (The Music Man), Yamadori (Madama Butterfly), Dancairo (Carmen), Motorcycle Cop (Dead Man Walking), and The Painter (The Last Savage), as well as in 10 different opera choruses. Seiwert has appeared with the student-led University Gilbert & Sullivan Society as Grosvenor (Patience), Robin Oakapple (Ruddigore), Samuel (The Pirates of Penzance), and Lord Tolloler (Iolanthe) and has appeared with New Voices Opera, a local student created company, as Charles (Swan’s Love). He is also involved with his local community theater, Mill Race Theater Company in Columbus, Indiana, where he has appeared as Joseph (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Bill Sykes (Oliver), Augustus Gloop (Willy Wonka), and Albert (The Wind in the Willows). This summer, Seiwert will perform the role of John Newton in Utah Festival Opera’s production of Amazing Grace.
Hannah Benson is a 25-year-old classically trained mezzo-soprano from Nebraska. She completed her undergraduate studies with Sarah Holman at Wheaton College Conservatory before coming to the Jacobs School of Music, where she studies with Timothy Noble. She has portrayed characters such as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Ruth in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, Ma in Aaron Copland’s The Tenderland, and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn in Meredith Willson’s The Music Man. She has also sung in the choruses of Dead Man Walking and Oklahoma!, and in the Indiana University Singers. Apart from her vocal training, Benson has also trained lightly in dance—jazz, tap, and ballet—and is classically trained in cello and tenor saxophone. After completing her upcoming master’s recital and degree at Jacobs, she plans to move to the Chicago area to pursue her vocal and theatrical career.
Greek mezzo-soprano Marianthi Hatzis is originally from the suburbs of Chicago. She is a graduate assistant at the Jacobs School of Music, where she is pursuing a Performer Diploma in Voice under the tutelage of Patricia Stiles. Hatzis also earned her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Jacobs. As an undergrad, she performed the roles of Zulma in The Italian Girl in Algiers, Liat in South Pacific, and Mercédès in Carmen. Additional operatic credits include Second Woman and Dido (cover) in Dido and Aeneas with Lefkas Music in Lefkada, Greece, and the title mezzo-soprano role in Kimberly Osberg’s opera Thump with New Voices Opera. Hatzis has also performed scenes as Poppea in L’incoronazione di Poppea and Giannetta in The Elixir of Love with the Jacobs Summer Opera Workshop. In summer 2016, she was a young artist at SongFest in Los Angeles, where she sang in master classes presented by Margo Garrett, Martin Katz, Alan Smith, and composers Jake Heggie and Libby Larsen. Hatzis has received numerous awards and honors, including first place in the 2015 Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Competition and the 2016 Opera Guild of Dayton Tristate College Vocal Competition, semi-finalist in both the 2017 Bel Canto Foundation Opera Contest and 2017 New York Lyric Opera Theatre National Vocal Competition, and finalist in the Greek Women’s University Club Music Competition.
Bass-baritone Joey LaPlant, an Indianapolis native, is pursuing a voice performance degree with an outside field in musical theater under the tutelage of Brian Horne. LaPlant was most recently seen with IU Opera Theater as Masetto in Don Giovanni and with the IU Theatre Department as Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Also with IU Opera, he has been a chorus member in Heggie’s It’s A Wonderful Life, a featured dancer and chorus member in Willson’s The Music Man, and a featured dancer and soloist in Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas. This summer, LaPlant is looking forward to performing at the Utah Festival Opera, where he will cover Basilio in The Barber of Seville and play the roles of Major Holmes in The Secret Garden and Briggs in Amazing Grace.
Zachary Smith, a native of Santa Fe, Texas, is currently pursuing an M.M. under the tutelage of Brian Gill. Previously on the MAC stage, he has performed Tommy in The Music Man and has been a member of the choruses for Florencia en el Amazonas and L’Étoile. At IU, he has also performed the roles of Ramiro in L’heure Espagnol and Betto in Gianni Schicchi under the direction of Carol Vaness. Through New Voices Opera and the New Music Ensemble he premiered the roles of Dr. Anselo in In Memoriam and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, respectively. In the fall, he will begin his doctoral studies at Jacobs.
Tenor Carl Rosenthal is a first-year master’s student in voice performance studying with Andreas Poulimenos. He has appeared on the IU Opera Theater stage as Mr. Martini in It’s a Wonderful Life! and in the chorus of Lucia di Lammermoor. Other IU performances include Gonzalve in L’heure Espagnole with the Carol Vaness Opera Workshop and upcoming scenes from Romeo et Juliette (Romeo), Maria Stuarda (Leicester), and Dialogues des Carmelites (Chevalier de la Force). This summer, he will travel to the Czech Republic to perform Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with the Prague Summer Nights festival. Originally from Arlington, Virginia, Rosenthal earned a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and worked as a mathematics teacher in New York City before coming to Jacobs.
Bass-baritone Quinn Galyan studies voice performance with Brian Horne at the Jacobs School of Music, while also working on an outside field in telecommunications. This is Galyan’s fifth role with IU Opera Theater, where he also performed as Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, Siroco in L’Étoile, Charlie Cowell in The Music Man, and Hortensius in The Daughter of the Regiment. Additionally, he has had solos in Dead Man Walking and South Pacific, along with chorus work in Peter Grimes, H.M.S. Pinafore, La Bohème, and Carmen. He performed in IU’s Symphonic Choir, University Chorale, and King David with IU’s summer choir conducted by Walter Huff.Outside of Jacobs, Galyan has performed as the bass of the Cockney Quartet in My Fair Lady with Cardinal Stage Company in Annie, Big River, and The Wizard of Oz. Other roles include J.B. Biggley in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, King Sextimus in Once Upon a Mattress, Doc in West Side Story, Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof, Marshall Blackstone in Babes in Arms, and Archie Beaton in Brigadoon.
Hailing from La Crosse, Wisconsin, Joseph Madary is a first-year master’s student studying under the guidance of Brian Horne. Officer Krupke marks his IU Opera Theater role debut. Madary’s other IU Opera credits include the choruses of L’Étoile and Lucia di Lammermoor. His non-IU credits include Orpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld and Mr. Angel in Der Schauspieldirektor.
Bass-baritone Garrett Godsey, from Avon, Indiana, is a first-year choral music education student at the Jacobs School of Music. He currently studies voice with Peter Volpe and has been a part of productions such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Lucia di Lammermoor for IU Opera Theater. Before attending Jacobs, he studied vocal performance at Bellarmine University, performing as Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Lieutenant Schrank is his first principal role at IU. He has also been a part of several choral productions at the Jacobs School, including Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion, and will be a part of this year’s IU Summer Chorus.
Benjamin Bird is originally from Palmdale, California. A first-year doctoral student studying with Peter Volpe, Bird earned a master’s degree in voice from Brigham Young University, where he appeared in The Barber of Seville (Almaviva), Manon (des Grieux), The Elixir of Love (Nemorino), Die Fledermaus (Alfred), and The Pirates of Penzance (Frederic). He has also performed with Utah Vocal Arts Academy in its productions of Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Don Basilio/Don Curzio) and has been a featured soloist with Brevitas Choir on its 2016 album, Nowell Sing We.
Tenor Vincent Festa was seen earlier this season as King Ouf in L’Étoile. Previous IU Opera Theater credits include Bob Boles in Peter Grimes and the notary in The Daughter of the Regiment. Additional performances at the Jacobs School include Nicolas in Britten’s cantata Saint Nicolas and Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer. Festa spent last summer in the Dordogne region of France, where he studied at L’Art du Chant Français, founded by Glenn Morton and Michel Sénéchal. He will join the Aspen Music Festival for summer 2018. While a studio artist at the Chautauqua Opera Company in 2016, he covered the role of Nanki-Poo in The Mikado and appeared in a scenes program as Count Almaviva from The Barber of Seville. Additional roles include Nika Magadoff in The Consul in Boston’s historic Jordan Hall, Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Opera on the Avalon, Colin in L’Amant Anonyme by Saint-Georges with the Little Opera Theater of New York in collaboration with New Vintage Baroque, and Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw under the direction of Nic Muni. Festa was a 2014 Vocal Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, where he made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in Bernstein’sCandide as Charles Edward and Inquisitor I. A native New Yorker, he earned a bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School and a master’s degree from the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory. He is pursuing a Performer Diploma under the tutelage of Timothy Noble.
Russian-American mezzo-soprano Elizaveta Agladze made her operatic debut as Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica in March 2015 in New York. Later that year, she performed the roles of Dritte Dame and Dritte Knabe in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Germany with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar. In 2016, she returned to Weimar as Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, earning praise for “grandiose mastery” by Göttinger Tageblatt. Last season, she performed the role of Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Hudson Opera Theatre and participated in recitals at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and in her hometown of Pushchino, Russia. A participant in OperaWorks Advanced Artist Program (2013) and Lyric Opera Studio Weimar (2015, 2016), Agladze earned bachelor’s degrees in music and psychology from Emory University and a master’s degree in organizational sciences from The George Washington University. She is currently a first-year master’s student in voice performance under the tutelage of Carlos Montané at the Jacobs School of Music.
Mezzo-soprano Eleni Taluzek, from Lemont, Illinois, is pursuing her Doctor of Music degree at the Jacobs School under the tutelage of Timothy Noble. She earned her Artist Diploma in Opera and her Master of Music in Voice at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in Cincinnati. While at CCM, she performed as Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Lapák in The Cunning Little Vixen, and Number 3 in Transformations by Conrad Susa. Taluzek was the Third Spirit in Die Zauberflöte and Gladys in Roscoe at Opera Saratoga. She has performed in concerts in Cincinnati, New York, and Washington, D.C.
Baritone Milan Babic is a third-year undergraduate student at the Jacobs School of Music pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Carlos Montané. Babic’s roots lie in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he attended Buffalo Grove high school. In 2014 and 2015 respectively, he ventured to Peoria, where he attended the all-state Illinois Music Educators Association as a member of the vocal jazz ensemble. He has played several leading roles in musical theater productions and in January 2015, traveled to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he was a player in the all-state Illinois Theater Festival Production of Pippin. Since then, he has been well received in ensembles and competitions from California to the Midwest. He has also received instruction and performed in the German town of Sankt Goar as well as in Italian and Austrian cities. Bibac began his tenure with IU Opera Theater in its production of The Barber of Seville in 2015 and has sung roles in Carmen, The Daughter of the Regiment, Madama Butterfly, Peter Grimes, L’Étoile, and Ariadne auf Naxos. In 2016, he debuted in Madama Butterfly as the Imperial Commissioner while a second-year undergraduate student.
A native of New Jersey, Zachary Coates came to the Jacobs School of Music to pursue a Master of Music in Voice Performance in 2011, earning that degree as well as a Performer Diploma in 2014. In the 2014-15 season, he was a young artist with Michigan Opera Theatre, where he was praised by Opera News for his “expansive, playful presence.” After a successful year in Detroit, he returned to Indiana to work on a Doctor of Music degree, which he expects to complete within the next year. Coates earned his Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he appeared on stage as Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande), the Father (Hansel and Gretel), the Marquis de la Force (Les Dialogues des Carmelites), and Pinellino (Gianni Schicchi). He has been a young artist with Opera North, where he performed the role of John Brooke in Mark Adamo’s Little Women. Coates has appeared with IU Opera Theater in the roles of Balstrode (Peter Grimes), Sulpice (The Daughter of the Regiment), Don Alphonso (Così fan tutte), Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), Aye (Akhnaten), Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni), Sid (Albert Herring), and Guglielmo (Così fan tutte). He also has many concert credits to his name, including narrating Honegger’s King David with the IU Summer Chorus, the Fauré Requiem with the IU Chorale, the Mozart Requiem with the Westminster Symphonic Choir, and Haydn’s Mass in Time of War with the American Classical Orchestra.
Wisconsin native Jacob Engel is making his IU Opera Theater debut. He was seen recently in Carol Vaness’s Opera Workshop in the role of Simone in Gianni Schicchi and the title role in Hamlet. He has performed in the choruses of IU Opera Theater’s productions of Florencia en el Amazonas, Peter Grimes, and L’Étoile under the direction of Walter Huff. Prior to attending IU, Engel was the second-place winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing National Student Auditions (2015) and the winner of the Minneapolis Schubert Club Scholarship Competition (2015). He is a second-year master’s student at the Jacobs School of Music studying with Brian Horne.
Maori-American baritone David Tahere’s previous operatic credits include Sam (Trouble in Tahiti), Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Ramiro (L’Heure Espagnole), Le Gendarme (Les Mamelles de Tirésias), Saint Peter (Too Many Sopranos), Harašta (Cunning Little Vixen), Olin Blitch (Susannah), Daniel Webster (The Mother of Us All), and Henry Potter in IU Opera Theater’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life. Tahere has been a featured soloist with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Chamber Chorus, Chattanooga Choral Arts Society, Chattanooga Bach Choir, and Tenth Concert Series under the baton of highly regarded conductors Andrew Altenbach, Alan Harler, Cristian Macelaru, Teri Murai, and Helmuth Rilling. Tahere is also a lover of song and has been a three-time fellow with SongFest, working with Sir Thomas Allen, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, and Sanford Sylvan. Upcoming performances include recitals with the Lysander Piano Trio, Rutter’s Mass of the Children, and Fauré’s Requiem. Currently studying with Wolfgang Brendel, Tahere is a second-year doctoral student and associate instructor at the Jacobs School.
Elise Hurwitz is a junior undergraduate from Cincinnati, Ohio, studying vocal performance and Italian as a student of Alice Hopper. This is her first principal role with IU Opera Theater. She has previously appeared as a chorus member in three IU Opera productions, most recently as Zinnia in Chabrier’s L’Étoile as well as in The Music Man and Florencia en el Amazonas. Last summer, she was immersed in Italian music and culture through Music in the Marche. Other summer programs include Brevard Music Festival and the Sankt Goar International Music Festival and Academy.
Maya Vansuch, soprano, is a fourth-year undergraduate at the Jacobs School of Music earning her voice performance degree under the tutelage of Alice Hopper. A native of Dayton, Ohio, this is Vansuch’s solo debut with IU Opera Theater; last fall she made her chorus debut in L’Étoile. At Jacobs, she is an avid performer of new music, having been a member of NOTUS Contemporary Vocal Ensemble all four years of her time here as well as premiering many choral and solo works by Jacobs composition students. She sang the role of Juliet in scenes from Don Freund’s Romeo and Juliet with the New Music Ensemble and performed again with the ensemble in an evening of new opera scenes by student composers. She is an active member of the student-run Indiana University Gilbert & Sullivan Society, having sung the role of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance and the title role in Patience as well as being a chorus member and costumer for several productions. Vansuch has sung the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte) with the Bloomington outreach program Reimagining Opera for Kids and is soprano lead at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.
Mezzo-soprano Gabriela Fagen is a first-year M.M. student studying under the tutelage of Mary Ann Hart. Last spring, Fagen earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Jacobs School of Music as a student of Costanza Cuccaro. Fagen’s recent role credits include Unulfo in Handel’s Rodelinda and Ethel Toffelmeier in The Music Man with Indiana University Opera Theater, Conceptión in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole in Graduate Opera Workshop, Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Prague Summer Nights Festival, Dame Hannah in Ruddigore with the Indiana University Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and Third Spirit in Die Zauberflöte with the Savannah Voice Festival. She is a recipient of the Viola Wheeler Arts Award and the William and Emma Horn Scholarship.
Emily Warren, mezzo-soprano, is in the second year of her graduate studies at the Jacobs School of Music. She first appeared with IU Opera Theater last semester as a featured chorus member in Chabrier’s L’Étoile. She recently performed as Angela in the Indiana University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of Patience, and last year she premiered the role of Joan in Kyle Peter Rotolo’s one-act opera Marilyn’s Room with New Voices Opera. A Buffalo native, Warren earned her B.M. in Vocal Performance fromBaldwin Wallace University, where she performed the roles of Ramiro in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera and L’Enfant in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. At Jacobs, she has performed in several choral ensembles, including NOTUS, Conductors Chorus, and University Singers. She is a student of Patricia Stiles.
Soprano Amy Wooster, hailing from Indianapolis, is pursuing her undergraduate degree in voice performance as a student of Carlos Montané. She has performed in choruses in IU Opera Theater’s Così fan tutte, Madama Butterfly, Peter Grimes, and L’Étoile. This is her IU Opera role debut.
Soprano Savanna Webber is in the third year of her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance studies at the Jacobs School of Music. A student of Brian Horne, she has performed with IU Opera Theater in productions of Madama Butterfly, The Music Man, and It’s a Wonderful Life. This past summer, she sang Zweite Dame and covered Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. In the summer of 2016, she sang Ida and covered Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Boston University Tanglewood Institute. This spring, she will be in the chorus of the IU Opera Theater production of West Side Story.
Born and raised in Georgia, tenor Rodney Long earned a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance with honors from Columbus State University (Columbus, Georgia). He has been a finalist at the state and regional level of the National Association of Teachers of Singing auditions numerous times for both the classical and musical theater categories. His most recent professional opera engagement was with Bel Cantanti Opera (Washington, D.C.) in its production of The Barber of Seville. Other favorite stage credits include roles in Aida (Mereb), Into the Woods (Wolf), and Le Nozze di Figaro (Don Curzio). In concert, he has sung as the tenor soloist for J. S. Bach’s Christ Lag in Todes Banden and for Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ. Long was an IU Opera Theater chorus member in L’Étoile in October and will appear in the chorus of its production of West Side Story in April. He is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance alongside a graduate certificate in vocology from the Jacobs School of Music, studying with Timothy Noble.
Christoph Irmscher is Provost Professor of English and director of the Wells Scholars Program at Indiana University Bloomington. He is a widely published biographer and author, most recently of Max Eastman: A Life (Yale). An avid actor in his youth, this is his debut with IU Opera Theater.