Prepare to leave the theater exhilarated—and thinking—as a crisis in faith blazes in this brilliant theatrical tour de force.
With a cast of close to 200 (choirs, rock bands, jazz and blues singers, dancers, and more), Bernstein’s Mass was controversial from the get-go. Some clergy called it blasphemous, but Pope John Paul II presented it at the Vatican. Some critics called it too populist, but audiences loved it; and The Washington Post proclaimed it “the greatest music Bernstein has ever written.”
Religious doctrine and text are pitted against the individual’s personal relationship with the Almighty—relationships filled with everything from anger and doubt to an overwhelming yearning for acceptance and love.
Commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy to open the Kennedy Center and honor her late husband, Bernstein’s Mass is electrifying, sometimes irreverent, and always soul stirring.
In English with English supertitles.
Apr. 5, 6, 12, 13 Musical Arts Center 7:30 PM
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Images from Bernstein's Mass dress rehearsals in the Musical Arts CenterIndiana University
Director's Notes and Program Notes
by Candace Evans
As I began to write these notes, I heard the news of the deadly shooting in New Zealand. This horrific incident joins Pittsburgh, Quebec, and Charlottesville in a seemingly endless list of extremist brutality in places of worship.
The sad truth is that our world has long been fragmented by faith-based struggle. Countless wars have been fought over religious dominance and perceived privilege. People have been forced to accept a conquering society’s belief system—or be killed. Religion justifying violence is a dreadful contradiction. Is peaceful faith-diversity possible?
Considering how I wanted to direct Mass, first produced in 1971, I reflected on how much has changed in our society since then. The internet has opened us up to the immediacy of information. Social media has enabled us to share images in real time.
Today, we have become our own “news reporters,” and with that comes consequences. We must sort fact from fiction amidst the daily deluge of information. What is true? What is twisted? What do we ultimately believe?
I want this production to allow us to fully and safely ask questions: “What do I believe in and stand for? What offends me, and what would I tolerate?” Most of us think we know those answers, but when confronted with conflict, questions, or force, in what would we intervene?
To bring these questions into our 2019 context, I shaped this production with the addition of a multifaith component. Rather than view this as a mass in the traditional sense of the word, consider it a religious gathering. Let’s ask ourselves, “In a world of immediate global information and interconnection, how do we allow space for a variety of viewpoints and faiths to coexist? What does living in harmonious diversity really mean?”
Let these questions be the guide for this experience as you watch Mass—a search for faith in a chaotic world.
by Bret McCandless Ph.D. Musicology Candidate
Leonard Bernstein made his mark as a conductor, composer, educator, and celebrity, and it is difficult to honor him in all of those areas for his centenary through a single performance.
Mass might be the most appropriate way to honor and remember Bernstein as a musician who tried to do it all: with its musical eclecticism, political undertones, commissioning for a major American cultural event, and overall immensity, perhaps a performance of Mass is the most fitting way to honor Bernstein’s legacy. Formally titled MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers, Mass was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., on September 8, 1971. The Kennedy Center was to serve as the cultural center of American arts and Mass was designed to not only commemorate the memory of a president who extolled the virtues of the arts, but also to show off what was possible in the new center. Mass is an enormous production, requiring a large orchestra of strings and percussion, onstage winds, a marching band, a rock ensemble, a jazz ensemble, an adult choir, a boys’ choir, an ensemble of singer-actors, dancers, one central singer, and pre-recorded quadrophonic tape music coming from all directions. This was a major statement by one of the United States’ most recognizable cultural figures in front of an audience that included members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, and the who’s-who of American politics and culture.
A Roman Catholic Mass from a Jewish composer might seem to be an odd choice to inaugurate a new concert hall of a nominally secular nation, but Mass is not a typical concert Mass. Mass is a theatrical work that uses the text and actions of the Roman Mass as a starting point for an examination of the place of faith in the modern world. Bernstein’s Mass includes the typical Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, but also includes other parts of the Mass that are not often set by composers, such as various prayers, readings, and a sermon. In addition, Bernstein and his collaborator Stephen Schwartz also included what they titled “tropes.” A trope was a medieval practice of inserting new texts into the standard Mass texts, something that the Catholic Church discontinued in the sixteenth century. Whereas medieval tropes served to explain and expand upon the traditional texts, Bernstein and Schwartz’s tropes often deliberately contradict and question traditional Christian teachings. Bernstein remarked that the tropes are “a subtext, simultaneously and concurrently, that consists of what might be going on in your mind or anyone else’s during the Mass.”
With Mass, Bernstein was entering into major musical, religious, and political discussions that were of central concerns for 1970s America. In the forefront were religious issues, such as the Second Vatican Council, a council to decide how to reform worship in an age where fewer people were engaged with the Catholic Church. One of the major changes was the authorization for Mass to be held in the vernacular language of the congregants, instead of in Latin, which had been the language of Mass for centuries. The church also encouraged congregational participation in all forms, including permitting more contemporary musical styles like pop and rock for the observation of worship. Other tensions between the church and the modern world came from the many violent conflicts in the 1960s and 1970s. With the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Kent State Massacres, protests on college campuses across the country, and great unrest and the loss thousands of young men in Vietnam, there was great disillusionment in the progress of human rights and the teachings of the church. Throughout Mass congregants celebrate God with a combination of popular and symphonic music, but also directly challenge the relevance of the church and of Mass itself to their lives.
Mass is perhaps Bernstein’s largest work and incorporates a wide spectrum of musical styles, as if Bernstein were asserting that he could do it all. There are four main musical styles that function to serve the dramatic tension between the more solemn church traditions and the unstable modern world. The first is a hybrid popular-symphonic style, associated with many of the Latin texts of praise. The second style incorporates avant- garde and high art music elements that give a sense of the church losing touch with congregants. The third style is a modernist symphonic style that hearkens back to Mahler (Bernstein’s favorite) in the two orchestral meditations. The fourth style is a more popular style, sometimes sounding like Bernstein’s Broadway music and often imitating blues and popular music of the forties and fifties. These include most of the tropes, where common people express their doubts and tell stories of religion in their lives. Really, the drama of Mass derives from this eclecticism of styles, as symphonic songs of praise, academic statements of belief, and agitated denials of church doctrine alternate and collide. The main collision comes in the agitated Agnus Dei, which devolves into the Dona Nobis Pacem, with the choir crying for peace over a groove reminiscent of rock and with members of the Street Chorus demanding peace from God. Here, the Celebrant has an astonishing 14-minute mad aria, where he cycles through motives from throughout the evening, picking up shards of shattered themes into an incredible mosaic. Eventually he gives up and leaves the stage. The finale ends with a great musical round of optimism, capped off with a simple chorale of praise, a return to finding hope in a broken world.
Leonard Bernstein may come off to many as naïve or superficial in his unfashionable idealism and dabbling in popular styles. Mass certainly received this criticism from many critics, but other critics of the time called it Bernstein’s best work to date. Mass contains perhaps some of Bernstein’s most engaging music and showcases his musical eclectism, his symphonic ambitions tied to his populism, his optimism in tonal music in its struggle with academic formalism, and his hope for humanity in spite of all of its challenges. As we celebrate Bernstein’s one-hundredth birthday, tonight’s performance is a fitting tribute to a staggering musical career and his unflagging belief in the power of music.
Constantine Kitsopoulos has established himself as a dynamic conductor known for his ability to work in many different genres and settings. He is equally at home with opera, symphonic repertoire, film with live orchestra, musical theater, and composition. His work has taken him all over the world, where he has conducted the major orchestras of North America, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Tokyo Philharmonic. In addition to Kitsopoulos’s engagements as guest conductor, he is music director of the Festival of the Arts Boca, general director of Chatham Opera, and general director of the New York Grand Opera. Highlights of the 2018-19 season include his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, return engagements with the Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Toronto Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, and San Antonio Symphony. Kitsopoulos has developed semi-staged productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, for which he has written a new translation, Don Giovanni, and La Bohème. In addition to this production of Bernstein’s Mass, he has conducted IU Jacobs Opera Theater’s productions of Falstaff, Die Fledermaus, A View from the Bridge, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Most Happy Fella, South Pacific, Oklahoma!, The Music Man, and The Last Savage. He was assistant chorus master at New York City Opera from 1984 to 1989. On Broadway, Kitsopoulos has been music director of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (cast album on PS Classics), A Catered Affair (cast album on PS Classics), Coram Boy, Baz Luhrmann’s Production of Puccini’s La Bohème (cast album on DreamWorks Records), Swan Lake, and Les Misérables. He was music director of ACT’s production of Weill/Brecht’s Happy End and made the only English-language recording of the piece for Sh-K-Boom Records. Kitsopoulos is music director/supervisor of a new musical theater piece titled Alamo, with music and lyrics by Jacobs Distinguished Professor Timothy Noble.
Known for clarity of storytelling, Candace Evans was praised by Opera News for her “flawless sense of timing.” Previous productions for Indiana University include Candide, Werther, Florencia en el Amazonas, and Akhnaten, named by Philip Glass as a definitive production. Known for dramatic truth in traditional repertoire, as well as innovative new productions, Evans’ production of Salome for the inaugural season of Opera San Antonio featured Patricia Racette in her title role debut. Reviewed by Opera News, her interpretation of Three Decembers for the Fort Worth Opera Festival spoke of “bringing characters vividly to life,” and her new production of L’Italiana in Algeri for Opera Southwest was described as “riveting and effervescent.” She served as the workshop director and dramaturge for Riders of the Purple Sage, for a world premiere at Arizona Opera. Honored by the legendary Teatro Colón, her production of La Viuda Alegre was voted in the top three operas of the season by the Argentinian National Music Critics Association. Among other top-10 classical music events were her Carmen and Eugene Onegin for Madison Opera, as well as The Merry Widow for Dallas Opera, where she also directed Don Pasquale for its inaugural season at the Winspear Opera House. Among Evans’ other engagements are the opera companies of Santa Fe, San Diego, Arizona, Palm Beach, North Carolina, San José, Knoxville, Birmingham, Grand Rapids, and Indianapolis, as well as Florentine Opera and Carnegie Mellon University. Trained as an opera singer and dancer, she toured the world as an actor and has an M.F.A. in classical theater/ direction. This combination of experience has given her a unique ability to understand the disciplines essential to artistic success. Her focus on supportive communication with performers integrates voice, mind, and body to release performances of emotional and physical freedom. Relocating to Dallas from New York City, Evans taught at Southern Methodist University from 1994 to 2000. In addition to her active directing career, she conducts workshops internationally. Upcoming productions include Le Nozze di Figaro, Eugene Onegin, Roméo et Juliette, and a return to the Dallas Opera in its 2020 season.
A Bloomington-based designer and scenic artist, Mark F. Smith is director of scenic painting and properties for IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater, where he has worked on more than 100 hundred productions during the past 23 years. Design work for Jacobs School projects includes 2016’s Florencia en el Amazonas, last season’s Don Giovanni and Ariadne auf Naxos, and this season’s Hansel and Gretel. His design for Florencia en el Amazonas was featured in San Diego Opera’s 2017-18 season. In addition to work for Indianapolis Civic Theater, Butler Ballet, and Indianapolis Ballet’s company premiere production of The Firebird, area theatergoers will recognize his designs for more than a dozen Cardinal Stage Company shows, including Les Misérables, A Streetcar Named Desire, My Fair Lady, Big River, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Smith earned a Master of Fine Art in Scenic Design from the IU Department of Theatre and Drama and was a student of former Jacobs faculty C. David Higgins and Robert O’Hearn. Upcoming productions include Swan Lake for Indianapolis Ballet.
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, Pisano is the only U.S. costume designer to have her work selected for the World Stage Design Exhibition in Taipei 2017. Her work will be featured representing the United States for the second time at the Quadrennial World Exhibition in Prague in June. 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 and the China Institute of Stage Design in Beijing. Pisano currently serves as chair of the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance at IU and producer of Indiana University Summer Theatre. As professor of costume design, she also directs the Theatre & Drama study abroad program in London and is a co-author of the recent book The Art and Practice of Costume Design. Some of her work with Jacobs includes Giulio Cesare, West Side Story, L’Étoile, Akhnaten, Madama Butterfly, Vincent, and La Traviata. She also designs with Opera San Antonio, BalletMet, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Utah Festival Opera, and San Diego Opera, and is designing Candide at Des Moines Metro Opera in June. You can see her work on the upcoming production of IU’s Parsifal and Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Christmas Carol. She is a member of the United Scenic Artists, Local 829.
Todd Hensley returns to the Jacobs School of Music after lighting Florencia en al Amazonas, The Tale of Lady Thi Kính, Akhnaten, Candide, and La Rondine. Other opera designs include Un Ballo in Maschera, Don Giovanni, and Cavalleria/Pagliacci for Florida Grand Opera, Carousel and From the Towers of the Moon for Minnesota Opera, and productions for Baltimore Opera, Cleveland Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, The Skylight, Wolf Trap Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater. Other design work includes the Noel Coward musical A Marvelous Party, with engagements in six cities; Eartha Kitt in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill; and The Hobbit for the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis. Hensley is a partner with Schuler Shook Theatre Planners, with projects including Chicago’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Lookingglass Theatre, and major opera house renovations in Seattle, Chicago, and Sarasota.
Walter Huff is 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 Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater productions of Akhnaten, Le Nozze di Figaro, Lady Thi Kính, 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, Lucia di Lammermoor, West Side Story, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Dialogues des Carmélites, and L’Elisir d’Amore. For four years, Huff has served as choral instructor and conductor for the Jacobs School’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. In the summer of 2018, Huff served on the faculty at Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute (Vocal Division).
Charles Snell has just completed his final year of coursework toward a doctoral degree in choral conducting at the Jacobs School of Music. Prior to moving to Bloomington, he led the choral program at Lakeside High School in Atlanta, Georgia, from 2008 to 2017, where his choirs performed across the nation as well as internationally, receiving superior ratings and accolades. Snell also served as the assistant choirmaster at All Saints Episcopal Church and as an assistant director in the Atlanta Master Chorale. His earlier education included studies with André Thomas, Kevin Fenton, Eric Nelson, and Simon Carrington. For the past two decades, Snell has worked with choirs of every age and level of education, bringing his passion for the choral art to numerous singers throughout the country. As a tenor, he has performed across the United States and internationally, both as a soloist and a chorister. This is his first year working with the Indiana University Children’s Choir. He also serves as a choral scholar at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington. He resides in Bloomington with his wife, Jane, their two children, Nils and Elin, and their dog, Klaus.
E. M. Gimenez (B.S.‘02) is a Los Angeles-based sound and video designer who works equally in opera, immersive theater, and popular music. Selected credits include the world premiere productions of the operas Crescent City and Invisible Cities for The Industry, It’s a Wonderful Life at IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater, and dozens of experimental productions around Los Angeles and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In addition to his degree from Jacobs, he also holds a degree from CalArts.
Baritone Brandan Sanchez is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance, studying under Julia Bentley. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from San José State University (SJSU) and has participated in the Opera San José Young Artist Program. He has performed in IU’s productions of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and Dialogues of the Carmelites. At SJSU, he performed roles in Postcard from Morocco and Orpheus in the Underworld. Solo baritone performances include the Fauré and Brahms Requiems, both with SJSU. In the summer of 2015, he debuted with the Symphony Silicon Valley in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, and in 2016, he performed Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Ireland Limerick Sinfonia. In 2017, he joined Peninsula Cantare as the baritone soloist for the Carmina Burana and Mozart Vespers. Later this year, he will be performing the role of Celebrant with SJSU in its production of Bernstein’s Mass.
Tenor Carl Rosenthal is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance with Andreas Poulimenos and Gary Arvin. Rosenthal has previously appeared on the IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater stage as Le Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Bernardo in West Side Story, and Mr. Martini in It’s a Wonderful Life. With the Carol Vaness Opera Workshop, he has sung Gonzalve in L’heure Espagnole and Acts 3 and 4 of Roméo et Juliette (Roméo), and he will appear later this semester in Act 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lysander) and of La Rondine (Prunier). He was also recently heard in Auer Hall as the tenor soloist in Erik Ransom’s Man and the Sea cantata. A 2018 recipient of the Georgina Joshi International Fellowship, he debuted last July at Prague’s historic Estates Theater, as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with the Prague Summer Nights Festival. This summer, he will attend the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he will continue his vocal studies with Vaness and perform in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. 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. In addition to his musical studies, he currently works as an associate instructor in math for the IU School of Education.
Soprano Lindsey Allen is completing her Master of Music at Indiana University, under the tutelage of Heidi Grant Murphy. Allen recently performed in Tel Aviv, Israel, in Summer Opera Tel Aviv’s production of Die Zauberflöte, as Erste Dame. Her IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater credits include Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life, as Mrs.Thompson, and The Music Man, as Mrs. Paroo. Other performances include Jacobs opera scenes, as Magda Sorel in The Consul. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, in Winston- Salem. Allen has performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Sacra, Piedmont Opera, and A. J. Fletcher Opera.
Baritone Milan Babić is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the Jacobs School of Music. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Carlos Montané. Babić’s roots lie in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he attended Buffalo Grove high school. Observing his passion for musical theater, he has played several leading roles in popular productions, including traveling to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in January 2015 to be 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 Germany. In 2018, he traveled to Weimar, Germany, to perform the role of Frank in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. He first appeared with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater in its 2015 production of The Barber of Seville. Since then, he has played a role in six of its operas, including Carmen, The Daughter of the Regiment, Madama Butterfly, Peter Grimes, L’Étoile, and Ariadne auf Naxos. He debuted in Madama Butterfly as The Commissioner at Jacobs in 2016. Babić performed the role of Marquis de la Force in this year’s Opera Theater production of Dialogues of the Carmelites.
Aimes Dobbins is a senior from Honolulu, Hawaii. They are in the Individualized Major Program studying Queer Arts & Humanities. This is their mainstage debut with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater.
Tenor Andrew Flanagin, a native of Columbia, Missouri, is pursuing a Master of Music degree at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Katherine Jolly. His recent role credits with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater include Uncle Billy Bailey in the collegiate premiere of It’s a Wonderful Life by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, and opera choruses for Don Giovanni, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Dialogues of the Carmelites. Recently, Flanagin was a featured tenor soloist on Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the University Chorale and Conductors Orchestra under the direction of Joshua Harper at Jacobs.
Denique Isaac is pursuing her Master of Music in Voice Performance at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Patricia Stiles. Isaac’s home is Baltimore, Maryland, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in voice performance at Washington Adventist University. During her undergraduate studies, she performed the roles of Clara in Porgy and Bess, Eponine in Les Misérables, the Counsel from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, and Cinderella from Warren Martin’s The True Story of Cinderella. Also during her undergraduate studies, she performed many sacred works and was featured as the soprano soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G, the Vivaldi Gloria, the Rutter Requiem and the Bach Magnificat in D. During her time at Jacobs, she has performed Maria Stuarda (Maria Stuarda), Adriana (Adriana Lecouvreur) and Tybalt (Roméo et Juliette) in Carol Vaness’s Opera Workshop. This semester, she will perform in Heidi Grant Murphy’s Opera Workshop as Fiordiligi in the Act One finale of Così fan tutte. Isaac made her debut at IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs as a chorus member. She is also a member of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble.
Bass-baritone Joey LaPlant is an Indianapolis native pursuing a voice performance degree with an outside field in musical theatre under the tutelage of Brian Horne and Gary Arvin. LaPlant was most recently seen on the Opera Theater stage as Riff in West Side Story. Other IU credits include Don Giovanni (Masetto), Jesus Christ Superstar (Caiaphas), Florencia en el Amazonas (Featured Soloist/Ensemble), and the ensembles of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, The Music Man, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Regional credits include The Good Swimmer (Lifeguard) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music New Wave Festival, The Secret Garden (Major Holmes), Amazing Grace (Briggs/Monsieur Clow) and The Barber of Seville (Basilio Cover/Ensemble) at Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, and Hoagy on My Mind (Jack) at Actors Theatre of Indiana. This summer, he will appear at Bigfork Playhouse in Bigfork, Montana, where he will be performing the role of Frank Sr. in Catch Me if You Can, as well as in its productions of Oklahoma!, A Totally Radical 80’s Revue, Seussical, and The Wedding Singer.
Grace Lerew is a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Music in both Voice and Bassoon Performance under the tutelage of Heidi Grant Murphy and William Ludwig, respectively. Last summer, Lerew attended the Tel Aviv Young Artist Opera Program in Israel under the artistic direction of Kevin Murphy. She has been seen on stage at the Jacobs School of Music in multiple performances, including Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and Krzysztof Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion. More recently, she sang in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with The Cleveland Orchestra. This summer, she will be traveling to Europe to sing Papagena in Die Zauberflöte with the Berlin Opera Academy.
Imara Miles, a native of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, is a mezzo-soprano in the second year of her master’s program at the Jacobs School of Music. Under the tutelage of Patricia Stiles, Miles made her operatic debut in fall 2017 in the Carol Vaness Opera Workshop production of Gianni Schicchi, as Zita. She previously performed with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater in the chorus of the collegiate premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and as Mere Jeanne in Francesca Zambello’s production of Dialogues of the Carmelites. A graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, Miles studied under Erin Lippard and performed in productions of The Drowsy Chaperone (title character), The Pirates of Penzance (Ruth), Guys and Dolls (Gen. Matilda Cartwright), and The Boyfriend (Lady Brockhurst). This past summer, she was part of Grant Park’s Project Inclusion Vocal Ensemble fellowship and performed with the Grant Park Choir for the premiere of Ērik Ešenvalds’ The Pleiades. She is currently a member of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Upcoming engagements include playing Augusta Tabor in the Carol Vaness Opera Workshop production of The Ballad of Baby Doe and Peaseblossom in Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She will be joining the Glimmerglass Festival Young Artist Program in May.
Brianna Murray is a first-year master’s degree student from Elmhurst, Illinois, studying with Patricia Stiles. Earlier this season, Murray made her IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater debut as a chorister in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. She completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory with degrees in voice and psychology. At Oberlin, she was seen as a fairy in Cendrillon, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro. Murray also performed as the soprano soloist in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Handel’s Messiah at Oberlin. She spent two summers at the Bay View Music Festival, where she performed the roles of Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Frasquita in Carmen.
Ben Plunkett is a sophomore voice performance major at the Jacobs School of Music. A baritone studying with Peter Volpe, this is his fifth show and first role on the Musical Arts Center stage. He was in the chorus of L’Étoile, Lucia di Lammermoor, and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, and a supernumerary in Giulio Cesare.
Dennis Rendleman is a junior pursuing bachelor degrees in flute performance, musical theatre, and music education with a minor in conducting at the Jacobs School of Music. Coming from a strong military background, with both parents retired from the Army, he has lived all over the United States in locations from West Point, New York, to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As a flutist, he has performed at the Midwest Clinic, on NPR’s Fromthe Top, and with various orchestras and wind ensembles (Louisville Orchestra, IU Wind Ensemble, Bloomington Orchestra, Hoosier Pops Orchestra, and IU Philharmonic Orchestra, among others). His most recent performances also include studying abroad and performing in Vienna, Austria, last summer. A current student of Thomas Robertello, past teachers include Don Gottlieb (Louisville Orchestra), Joy Zalkind (Las Cruces, Juarez, and El Paso symphony orchestras), and several others. Rendleman made his IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater debut last year in Bernstein’s West Side Story (Chino).
Jeremiah Sanders, a native Hoosier, maintains an active schedule as a performer, conductor, and educator. Last month, he was a finalist in the Orpheus National Vocal Competition and received the Raphael Bundage Young Artist Award. In 2018, he received a first place with the Friends of the Symphony (Lima Symphony Orchestra) Young Artist Competition, a second place win with the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Collegiate Scholarship Competition, and a Caldwell Memorial Award with the National Society of Arts and Letters Vocal Competition. Previously, Sanders received an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, Kentucky District. Earlier this season, he was the Father in Hansel and Gretel. He covered Ford in Falstaff with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance Young Artist Program. As a conductor, he directed at a Celebration of African American Music Concert in Indianapolis and Butler University’s Gospel Fest, as well as Fauré’s Requiem at First Presbyterian Church in Seymour, Indiana. He graduated from Butler University with a master’s degree in Vocal Performance (2017) and earned his undergraduate degree at Manchester University (2014). Sanders is currently pursuing a Performer Diploma under the tutelage of Jane Dutton and Kyung-Eun Na. His previous teachers include Kirsten Gunlogson, Thomas Studebaker, and Debra Lynn. Sanders will join Opera Saratoga this summer covering Peter in Hansel and Gretel.
Tenor Benjamin St. John is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and Music Education under the instruction of Jane Dutton. He is a native of Rockford, Illinois, where he recently performed as a soloist with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra. This is his principal role debut with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater. Last fall, he performed the role of Marco in University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of The Gondoliers. He was also a member of The Daughter of the Regiment, Madama Butterfly, The Music Man, and Lucia di Lammermoor opera choruses.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tislam Swift has performed on a wide array of concert stages, theaters, and opera houses. In 2007, he was a background vocalist for Elton John’s sixtieth birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden. He was also a member of the 2013-14 season of the Atlanta Opera Chorus, under the direction of Walter Huff. In 2014, Swift participated in the Princeton Opera Festival’s production of Porgy and Bess. He has made IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater appearances in La Bohème, South Pacific, The Barber of Seville, Die Fledermaus (Dr. Blind), Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man (Marcellus Washburn), and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (Scaramuccio). He is a frequent performer in Hamilton, Bermuda, where he has performed the tenor solo in John Stainer’s Crucifixion at St. Paul’s AME Church. As a young artist, he has spent a summer at the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre performing in productions of Ragtime, Porgy and Bess, and Peter Pan. Swift has performed for the World Premiere Gala of the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Morehouse College and a Master of Music from the Jacobs School of Music and is currently a Performer Diploma student with Patricia Stiles.
Soprano Alexandra Taylor is from Naples, Florida, where she began her musical training at the age of 12. She went on to perform in the chorus of numerous Opera Naples productions. She is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Patricia Stiles. This is her debut with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater. Later in the semester, she will be performing in Katherine Jolly’s Undergraduate Opera Workshop. This summer, Taylor will sing the role of Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival at the historic Estates Theatre. She is a Premier Young Artist, Ulrich Weisstein Friends of Music Scholarship recipient, and member of IU’s Hutton Honors College.
Ethan Udovich hails from Hockessin, Delaware. He is currently pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance studying with Brian Horne. He recently appeared with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater in the chorus of Dialogues of the Carmelites and in The Elixir of Love. This summer, he will sing the role of Giles Corey in The Crucible at Berlin Opera Academy in Germany.
Gabriella Will, from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, is pursuing her Master of Music degree under the tutelage of Alice Hopper. In her first year at the Jacobs School, Will sang in the Women’s Chorus for Holst’s The Planets as well as in the Oratorio Chorus for Britten’s War Requiem. She has also been featured as a chorus member in the mainstage production of The Elixir of Love.
Amy Wooster is a first-year M.M. student under the tutelage of Andreas Poulimenos. Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, she earned a B.M. in Voice Performance from the Jacobs School of Music in May 2018. She has performed in numerous IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater productions, notably as Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos, and in the ensembles of L’Étoile, Peter Grimes, Madama Butterfly, and Così fan tutte. With IU Opera Workshop she has appeared in scenes as Elisetta (Il matrimonio segreto) and Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito). She recently was the soprano soloist for Ludwig van Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy at Jacobs.
Soprano Kandace Wyatt, from Channelview, Texas, is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Alice Hopper. Wyatt earned a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Baylor University. She has performed as a young artist at the Summer Opera Studio of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), with the CoOperative at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and as a recitalist with the Cornish-American Song Institute in Falmouth, Cornwall, U.K. She was a preliminary area winner in the 2014 Classical Singer Vocal Competition and winner of the 2012 Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Performing Arts Scholarship in Washington, D.C., where she was the featured guest soloist. Her credits include Antonia in The Tales of Hoffman (scenes), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (scenes) with Baylor Opera, and Micaela in Carmen (scenes) with the CCM Summer Opera Studio. She has appeared as an ensemble cast member of Baylor Opera Theater’s productions of Dialogues of the Carmelites, Trial by Jury, The Elixir of Love, and The Daughter of the Regiment. Wyatt was recently a member of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble.