by Miguel Arango Calle and Molly Covington Ph.D. Musicology Students
The day before Emanuel Schikaneder’s troupe planned to premiere its adaptation of Beaumarchais’s Le Mariage de Figaro, Viennese newspapers announced with excitement the staging of a play that was already shocking audiences in pre-revolutionary France. To the disappointment of many, the next night there was no premiere. At the last minute, the emperor himself forbade the performance of the comedy for its licentious and politically subversive qualities.
Just a few days after this incident, Mozart came to his librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, requesting an operatic adaptation of precisely that play—a bold move, considering that such an opera was likely to suffer the same fate as Schikaneder’s staging. Nevertheless, a little more than a year later, the operatic version of Le Nozze di Figaro was premiered with the emperor’s blessing.
Why did the emperor change his mind so swiftly? Conventional wisdom has it that, trusting Da Ponte to cut the sections that “offended public decency,” the emperor could not resist the beauty of Mozart’s music. While it is true that Da Ponte suppressed many of the play’s polemical sections—like Figaro’s tirade against the aristocracy and Marcellina’s against the oppression of women—it perhaps escaped the emperor that Mozart’s beautiful music could convey a political message as adamantly as the play itself.
Mozart made this possible by exploiting the social overtones of the music of his time, imbuing the opera with subtle yet striking commentary. For example, in “Se vuol ballare,” Figaro’s first aria, Mozart seems to challenge the social hierarchies portrayed in the opera. After hearing about the Count’s lust for Susanna, Figaro sings about outwitting his master and frustrating his plans to seduce her. Unexpectedly—perhaps even shocking its first audiences—Mozart set the first section of this aria to the rhythm of a minuet, an aristocratic dance popular across European courts that was associated with nobility and elegance. Figaro’s distinguished restraint, however, does not last long: his courtly aria suddenly devolves into an unrefined contredanse whose lively rhythm had rustic, unsophisticated undertones. After indulging in the vulgar contredanse, Figaro returns to the initial minuet rhythm. After everything seems to be said and done, though, the orchestra surprisingly returns to the animated contredanse, finally closing the number.
This juxtaposition of dance rhythms invites interpretation: perhaps Mozart was trying to elevate Figaro by endowing him with the refined minuet, or maybe he was trying to portray the servant as capable of navigating each of the social spheres evoked by the contrasting dance rhythms; more boldly, he could have also intended to establish a confrontation between classes, in which the plebeian contredanse gets the last word. Interpretive preferences aside, it seems clear that Mozart was interested in questioning, through music, the social imperatives of his time.
Figaro’s aria is not the only one subjected to this treatment. Susanna’s serenade in the fourth act offers a subtler mixture of social registers that also challenges the status quo, but from a more gendered perspective. “Deh vieni” is heard right after Figaro’s misogynistic diatribe “Aprite un po’ quegli occhi,” prompted by his belief that Susanna will meet the Count behind his back. This, of course, is part of Susanna’s ruse, since in the serenade her love for the absent Count is feigned.
To subvert the hierarchies in this aria, Mozart relies not on the connotations of different dances, but rather on the undertones of two operatic conventions: the accompanied recitative and the sentimental soliloquy. Unlike most serenades in this repertoire, Susanna’s is prepared by an expressive accompanied recitative (that is, one supported by the full orchestra and not only by the continuo), a device usually reserved for aristocratic roles. Although endowing low-class characters with accompanied recitatives is not unique to Mozart, it is striking that in Figaro the composer “democratically” allocated one to each of the four main characters. But Susanna’s recitative is not unambiguously elevated; its recurring orchestral phrase works more as a pictorial, scene-setting device than as a typical dramatic response, invoking the pastoral landscape instead of depicting Susanna’s emotions. This calls into question the seriousness of her aria.
On the other hand, Mozart steadily increases the gravity of the serenade itself, turning what initially appears to be a modest diegetic number into an emotionally profound statement. Susanna’s music abandons the simplicity projected by the guitar-like strings and naive melody as her voice and the orchestra slowly dissociate. In the end, Susanna’s coloratura is left suspended, unsupported by the orchestra, and the serenade is rendered a sentimental soliloquy. In crafting this moment of sheer beauty, Mozart not only forgoes the serenade’s pastoral simplicity, but also endows Susanna with an emotional depth usually reserved for noble characters.
These, of course, are not the only moments that subvert the opera’s social hierarchies. Figaro is rife with them. In Bartolo’s “La vendetta,” markers of nobility and learnedness give way to buffoonish sophistry, as military marches and clever counterpoint devolve into comic patter. In “Hai gia vinta la causa,” the Count’s accompanied recitative stammers with musical non-sequiturs while his angry blustering betrays his vanity. In these and many other instances, social norms are challenged both dramatically and musically, either by mocking the failings of the nobility or by elevating characters of lower rank. In this way, the opera is as subversive as the story upon which it is based, despite the emperor’s acquiescence. In the end, although Da Ponte was compelled to censor the story’s most overt politics, Mozart musically reinforced them in ways so subtle and compelling that the polemics of such a tale became permissible, even in a time of looming revolution.
With a repertoire of more than 200 works from lyric opera, oratorio, choral, and symphonic repertoire to his credit, Australian-born conductor Antony Walker is well suited to the roles of music director at Pittsburgh Opera and artistic director at Washington Concert Opera, positions he continues through the 2019-20 season. He has led performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Canadian Opera, English National Opera, Opera Australia, Santa Fe Opera, Welsh National Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Maggio Musicale di Firenze, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra of San Francisco Opera, among others. He is also music director at Washington Concert Opera, where he conducts two titles each year. Conductor emeritus at Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera, Walker is a prolific recording artist, having conducted and collaborated on several award-winning recordings. The Voice with Teddy Tahu Rhodes garnered the 2004 ARIA Award for Best Classical Music Album of the Year. Walker’s DVD of the “Emperor Concerto” (also on CD as part of a complete set of the Beethoven Piano Concertos) won the international DVD Association Award for Music Excellence. Releases of Pinchgut Opera live recordings on the ABC Classics and Pinchgut Live labels have consistently won praise both in Australia and abroad. Originally trained as a cellist, Walker’s understanding of orchestral repertoire is broad, and he is known for his incisive interpretation and execution as well as his insightful reading of new works. A former tenor, he is particularly sensitive to the needs of vocalists, founding Cantillation in Sydney—a chorus of professional singers—and leading the group in performances and recordings of early works. Formerly musical director of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, he moved to the U.K. to assume the position of chorus master and staff conductor for Welsh National Opera, where he remained from 1998 to 2002.
Michael Shell’s “visionary” and “masterful storytelling” (OperaNews) is steadily leading him to be one of the most sought-after directors in the United States. His “thoughtful and detailed score study” (OperaToday) is shown in character development and relationships onstage as well as the complete visual world he creates. Shell has directed productions for Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Omaha, Opera San José, Opera Tampa, Opera North, Virginia Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and recently made his directorial debut at Houston Grand Opera. He made his international directing debut at the Wexford Festival Opera in 2010 with a production of Winners by American composer 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 earned B.M. and M.M. degrees in Music/Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He was a Corbett Scholar at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as well as studying acting and scene study on a school-awarded scholarship at H. B. Studios in New York City. He has been guest faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Florida State University, and Webster University, St. Louis, teaching Opera Workshop and directing Undergraduate Opera Workshop performances. In addition, he has been guest director at the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute, Oklahoma University, and was a frequent guest director at Indiana University. Shell joined the faculty of the Summer Opera Program at the Israeli Vocal Arts Institute in 2018. Last fall, he joined the faculty at the Jacobs School of Music, teaching classes in acting. Recent engagements include Silent Night for Arizona Opera and a new production of Candide for Des Moines Metro Opera.
Dana Tzvetkov designs and constructs costumes for opera, ballet, and theater. Her work has recently been featured in Central City Opera’s Tosca (2016) and Carmen (2017), and the National Opera Association’s Hagar (2016). Her designs have appeared on Indiana University’s Musical Arts Center stage in Saudade, Carmen, and Peter Grimes. She has designed rentals for Ball State Opera Theater, Mississippi Opera, DePauw University, and Butler University. She worked alongside Linda Pisano for Opera San Antonio to build costumes for a cast including Patricia Racette and Michelle DeYoung. She has been commissioned to create concert gowns for DeYoung and Sylvia McNair. Tzvetkov served as the costume shop supervisor for IU Opera and Ballet Theater from 2013 until recently, when she was promoted to shop manager. She returned to Central City Opera in summer 2018 to coordinate its production of Il Trovatore.
Ken Phillips, lighting supervisor at the Jacobs School of Music, is making his IU Jacobs Opera and Ballet Theater debut with this production. He earned an M.F.A. in Lighting Design from the University Arizona and previously worked freelance around the country. Most of his previous designs have been for musical theater, and samples may be seen at KGPhillips.com.
WalterHuff 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 The Merry Widow, Akhnaten, Lady Thi Kính, H.M.S. Pinafore, La Traviata, The Italian Girl in Algiers, La Bohème, The Last Savage, South Pacific, The Magic Flute, 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, L’Étoile, It’sa Wonderful Life, Lucia di Lammermoor, WestSide Story, The (R) evolution of Steve Jobs, Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Elixir of Love, and Bernstein’s Mass. For four years, Huff has served as choral instructor and conductor for the Jacobs School’s Sacred Music Intensive. He has conducted the Jacobs Summer Music series productions of Arthur Honegger’s King David and Stephen Paulus’s The Three Hermits. Last summer, he returned for a second year to Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute.
Matt Herndon is an advanced actor combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD), a Bloomington native, and an IU Theatre alumnus. His previous productions with Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater include WestSide Story, Lucia di Lammermoor, Peter Grimes, Oklahoma!, Carmen, Così fan tutte, and Dead Man Walking. His other favorite credits include Billy Witch, She Kills Monsters, and Mad Gravity for the Bloomington Playwrights Project; Anon(ymous), Spring Awakening, king oedipus, Macbeth, Oleanna, and The Rimers of Eldritch for Ivy Tech Theatre; King Lear for IU Theatre; and The Lieutenant of Inishmore for University Players. Herndon has served on staff for multiple SAFD regional stage combat workshops.
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. She has 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, she 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 earned 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 earned a master’s degree and became a licensed psychotherapist in California, where she practiced for 15 years. The mother of two grown children, she moved to Bloomington to be near her son and his family.
Baritone Milan Babić is pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Peter Volpe. In May 2019, Babić earned his Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Jacobs under the tutelage of Carlos Montané. In 2018, Babić traveled to Weimar, Germany, to perform the role of Frank in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. This past summer, he returned to Weimar to perform the role of Papageno in The Magic Flute. With IU Jacobs Opera Theater, he performed the role of Marquis de la Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites, the Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and the Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly. He also sang in its productions of Mass, L’Étoile, Peter Grimes, The Daughter of the Regiment, and Carmen. Babić first performed with Opera Theater in 2015, in The Barber of Seville.
SonJin “John” Kim, a South Korean bass, is pursuing a Performer Diploma in Solo Performance at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. He is the recipient of a Georgina Joshi Fellowship, one of the school’s most prestigious awards. He graduated from Seoul National University, where he was granted full scholarship under the tutelage of Yonghoon Lee. There, Kim was celebrated for his roles as Il Commendatore in DonGiovanni and Sarastro in The Magic Flute, having also performed them at the Seoul Metropolitan Opera House. As bass soloist, he performed in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Louisville Orchestra. His experience in choral singing includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Britten’s WarRequiem, and Bernstein’s Mass.
Originally from Orange County, California, soprano Tiffany Choe is pursuing a master’s degree under the tutelage of Heidi Grant Murphy. Choe has been featured in IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater productions as Laoula (L’Étoile), Constance (Dialogues of the Carmelites), and Rosalia (WestSide Story). She has also sung in several Opera Theater choruses. Last summer, she was an apprentice at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute and won an Encouragement Award at the Southeast Met National Council Auditions earlier this year.
A student of Heidi Grant Murphy, this is Kate Johnson’s first semester pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance at the Jacobs School of Music and her debut with IU Jacobs Opera Theater. She is originally from Omaha, Nebraska, where she received the Opera Omaha Guild Award at the Nebraska District Met National Council Auditions in 2016 and 2018. Johnson has been engaged by Opera Omaha as a recitalist and as a chorus member in Pagliacci (2018) and Faust (2019). As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, she performed Beth in Little Women and Zerlina in Don Giovanni in fully staged productions.
Ian Rucker, a lyric baritone from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is a first-year master’s student pursuing a degree in voice performance. He earned his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire under the instruction of Kenneth J. Pereira, a Jacobs School alumnus. There Rucker portrayed the title role in Sweeney Todd as well as in Don Giovanni. This is his first performance with the Jacobs School of Music.
A native of Cleveland, Tennessee, Aaron Murphy is a graduate of Lee University and McGill University as a student of Tony Deaton and Stefano Algieri, respectively. He is currently a doctoral student with Timothy Noble at the Jacobs School of Music. He has appeared as Betto in Gianni Schicchi, Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers, and Ben in The Telephone with Lee University Opera Theatre and as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and the Mayor in Bizet’s Docteur Miracle with Opera Tennessee. Additional roles include The Origamist in the Canadian premiere of Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight!, Frank and Frosch in Die Fledermaus, Ramiro in L’heure espagnole, and covering Melisso in Alcina with Opera McGill. While living in Canada, he sang the title role in Eugene Onegin and covered the Parson in Cunning Little Vixen with Opera NUOVA. This past summer, he covered the role of Valdeburgo in Bellini’s La straniera with Teatro Nuovo. His concert credits include the bass solos in Handel’s Messiah and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music for the annual Lee University Masterworks Festival, the Narrator in Charpentier’s Le reniement de Saint-Pierre with the Lee Chorale, Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Cantabile Chorale de Ste.-Geneviève, Québec, and Bach’s Magnificat at historic St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina
Soprano Shayleen Norat, from Coamo, Puerto Rico, is pursuing a Performer Diploma in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. Norat earned her Master of Music in Voice Performance from the Jacobs School of Music and her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in Music from the University of Puerto Rico, complementing her studies at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. Previous roles include Pamina in The Magic Flute, Ludmila in The Bartered Bride, La Suora Infermiera in Suor Angelica, Une pastourelle in L’enfantet les sortilèges, and Rosaura in Los Gavilanes. She has also performed leading roles in opera workshop scenes from La Rondine, Manon, Roméo et Juliette, Le Nozze di Figaro, I Pagliacci, and La Bohème. She is an alumna of the Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival and the Miami Summer Music Festival. Last summer, she was part of the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she performed the role of Mrs. Johannes “Ma” Zegner in Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up. Norat has been seen on the MAC stage as Maria in the IU Jacobs Opera Theater’s 2018 production of West Side Story.
Originally from Plymouth, Michigan, soprano Mary Martin is a second-year doctoral student making her IU Jacobs Opera Theater debut. She is an associate instructor of voice and assistant director of Michael Shell’s Undergraduate Opera Workshop studying with Patricia Havranek and Gary Arvin. During her first year at Jacobs, she performed with the Latin American Ensemble and sang “The Jewel Song” from Faust at the IU Auditorium for organist Dennis James’ Phantom of the Opera performance with orchestra. Outside of Indiana University, recent highlights include the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor with South Bend Lyric Opera, a company debut as Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann with Arbor Opera Theatre, and Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Opera MODO. Martin earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from the University of Michigan, where she studied with Melody Racine and worked with Martin Katz, Kenneth Kiesler, Robert Swedberg, and Jerry Blackstone. Favorite roles from her time at Michigan include Nannetta (Falstaff), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Amy (Little Women), and the Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute). She is also an alumna of Central City Opera and the Janiec Opera Company of Brevard Music Center. Martin is a teaching artist of Michigan Opera Theatre, where she directed its 2019 Operetta Workshop program and performs as a community outreach artist.
Mezzo-soprano Ashlyn Brown is a first-year master’s student majoring in voice performance in the studio of Carol Vaness. Born in Palm Springs, California, she spent a year singing with the UCLA chamber singers before attending the Jacobs School of Music. As an undergrad, she studied with Carlos Montané. She has performed as Hansel in IU Jacobs Opera Theater’s Hansel and Gretel and Aloés in its production of Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’Étoile, as well as Third Lady in the Chicago Summer Opera’s production of The Magic Flute and Mad Margaret in the University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s Ruddigore. Brown has performed partial roles such as Sesto from La Clemenza di Tito and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro in the Chicago Summer Opera’s scene program. She has sung in five IU Jacobs Opera Theater choruses, most recently in Gaetano Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. She has also been in the chorus of the University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s The Pirates of Penzance. She was featured as Dorabella in a scene from Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Katherine Jolly’s Undergraduate Opera Workshop. Most recently, Brown was the alto soloist in the Carmel Symphony’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem at the Palladium.
Mezzo-soprano Grace Skinner is from La Center, Washington. She is a second-year Master of Music student at the Jacobs School of Music, where she is also an associate instructor of voice. She performed the title role in IU’s production of Giulio Cesare last spring. Skinner spent last summer at the Aspen Music Festival, where she performed the role of Mrs. Segstrom in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. She earned her undergraduate degree in voice at Portland State University, where she performed the roles of Florence Pike in Britten’s Albert Herring, La Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. She also performed the role of Samantha in the world premiere of Mark Lanz Weiser’s opera The Place Where You Started, which was taken on tour to China in 2016. She currently studies with Jane Dutton.
A native of Queens, New York, mezzo-soprano Annmarie Errico is in her second year of graduate studies at the Jacobs School of Music. Last summer, she performed the role of Marcellina in Miami Music Festival’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of Steven Gathman and direction of J. J. Hudson. While at IU, she has performed as Mama McCourt in The Ballad of Baby Doe and Suzy in La Rondine in Carol Vaness’s Graduate Opera Workshop. Errico has also appeared as a soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the University Chorale and Debussy’s Trois Chansons with the University Singers. Last spring, she was a soloist in Bach’s Cantata BWV 114 with the Bloomington Bach Cantata Project. Past roles include Hansel in Hansel and Gretel (Manhattan Opera Studio), Mother Jeanne in Dialogues of the Carmelites (Queens College Opera Studio), covering Mercédès in Carmen (Prelude to Performance), and many opera chorus engagements with the IU Historical Performance Institute, Bronx Opera, String Orchestra of Brooklyn, and MasterVoices. She is a student of Patricia Stiles.
Kate Sorrells is a mezzo-soprano from Asheville, North Carolina. She made her operatic debut in 2015 as The Mother in the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute’s production of The Consul. She has been seen on the stage at Indiana University as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn (IU Opera Theater’s The Music Man), Jane (University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s Patience), and the Nurse (Don Freund’s Romeo & Juliet). She was recently awarded a Georgina Joshi International Fellowship, which she used to live and study voice during the summer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Kate is the recipient of the Bain Scholarship in Opera for the 2019-20 school year. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree under the tutelage of Patricia Havranek.
Mexican bass Ricardo Ceballos has been featured in IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater productions as Dulcamara (The Elixir of Love), Colline (La Bohème), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), Friar Laurence (Romeo and Juliet), Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro), Melisso (Alcina), Zuniga (Carmen), and Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni). He recently won first place in the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale competition. He also sang in two performances of Dallas Opera’s “Donizetti and Company,” where he was part of the outreach program. As a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera Company, he sang the role of Caron in L’Orfeo by Monteverdi. Currently pursuing a Performer Diploma with Peter Volpe, Ceballos is an associate instructor at Jacobs. He has also studied with conductor Enrique Patrón and Barbara Hill-Moore. Ceballos was born in Colima, Mexico, and received training at IUBA (Mexico), CMA (Mexico), and Southern Methodist University (U.S.). He was part of the young artist program at the International Society of Mexican Artistic Values (SIVAM) in Mexico, where he studied with Teresa Rodríguez, Vlad Iftinca, John Fisher, Joan Dornemann, Denise Massé, and Ugo Mahieux. Upcoming performances include the role of Méphistophélès from Gounod’s Faust at Guadalajara, Mexico, as part of Beckman Opera Studio.
Ron Dukes, 24, is a graduate student and associate instructor of voice at the Jacobs School of Music making his IU Jacobs Opera Theater principal role debut. In his most recent project, he was featured as a studio artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where he performed as Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos and covered the role of Don Iñigo Gomez in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole. An Indianapolis native, Dukes made his professional debut with Indianapolis Opera as the Commissioner in its 2017 production of La Traviata. He was an award-winning finalist in the George London Foundation for Singers competition and is a recipient of the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s Encouragement Award.
Tenor Benjamin Bird is originally from Palmdale, California. A third- year doctoral student studying with Peter Volpe, he 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 (Frederick). 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). He was a featured soloist with Brevitas Choir on its 2016 album, Nowell Sing We. Last summer, he sang one of the title roles in The Three Hermits with IU Summer Chorus. Bird has previously appeared in IU Jacobs Opera Theater productions of Ariadne auf Naxos (Tanzmeister/Brighella), Dialogues of the Carmelites (L’Aumonier), and Giulio Cesare (Nireno).
Sylvester Makobi hails from Nairobi, Kenya. With IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater, he has performed as the Second Priest in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Rev. Horace Adams in Britten’s Peter Grimes. He has sung in the ensembles for Menotti’s The Last Savage, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and Stephen Paulus’s The Three Hermits. Makobi has also performed as Gilbert in the ensemble of the musical Hairspray by Marc Shaiman with Cardinal Stage. While in the U.S., he has appeared as soloist, performed recitals, and been featured in concerts in Bloomington, Chicago, and Madison (Indiana). He earned a master’s degree in voice performance from Kenyatta University (Nairobi). He is now a third-year Doctor of Music student under the tutelage of Marietta Simpson. He also studied with Thomas King. Makobi is the administrative assistant of Camp S.O.U.L and road manager of the IU Soul Revue, both with the IU African American Arts Institute. He recently received the 2019 Carlton Hodge Price, awarded to an IU doctoral student for their commitment to excellence in African Studies, outreach, and other activities directed to the wider public. Makobi has been involved in the recording of five albums, where he was featured soloist and played different Kenyan instruments, including Ohangla drums and Kĩgamba. He is currently working with Bloomingsongs on this year’s album, where he is singing and playing Chivoti and Nyatiti.
Brianna Murray is a second-year master’s student from Elmhurst, Illinois, studying with Brian Gill. With IU Jacobs Opera Theater, she has been seen as a Street Singer in Bernstein’s Mass, Angelica in The Three Hermits, and a chorister in 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.
A native of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, Gabriella Will is in her second year of the master’s program at the Jacobs School of Music, studying with Timothy Noble. Her previous stage experience with IU Jacobs Opera Theater includes as a chorus member in The Elixir of Love and a Street Singer in Bernstein’s Mass.
Joseph Andreola, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is making his IU Jacobs Opera Theater role debut. He performed in the choruses of the 2018-19 season productions of Poulenc’s The Dialogues of the Carmelites and Bernstein’s Mass. His past opera credits include Onegin (cover) and Zaretsky in EugeneOnegin, and Rambaldo Fernandez in La Rondine with Undercroft Opera in Pittsburgh. Last spring, he performed the role of Horace Tabor in a performance of the first act from The Ballad of Baby Doe in the Carol Vaness Opera Workshop. Andreola is a second-year master’s student studying with Carol Vaness.
A native of Brownsburg, Indiana, bass Drew Comer is a first-year master’s student studying under the tutelage of Jane Dutton and Gary Arvin. He recently earned a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance degree from the Jacobs School, studying with Patricia Stiles. With IU Jacobs Opera Theater, he performed the role of Curio in Handel’s Giulio Cesare and was seen in the choruses of The Barber of Seville, Oklahoma!, Florencia en el Amazonas, The Music Man, Lucia di Lammermoor, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Bernstein’s Mass, and The Three Hermits. Internationally, he has performed in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Masetto) and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Seneca) with the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, where he was praised by Opera Canada for his “clear enunciation and powerful steady voice.” He performed in scenes from The Mikado (Pooh-Bah), La Clemenza di Tito (Publio), The Magic Flute (Sarastro), and Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Osmin) in Katherine Jolly’s Opera Workshop. Comer has also sung in master classes with soprano Caroline Worra and tenor Matthias Klink.
Tenor Elijah Bowen is a second-year undergraduate student at the Jacobs School of Music studying with Brian Horne. This production marks his IU Jacobs Opera Theater debut. A native of Logansport, Indiana, he is pursuing a double major in voice performance and choral music education. Last year, he played Luiz in the University Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of The Gondoliers and Corebo in Cavalli’s La Didone with the Haymarket Opera Company of Chicago, Illinois. A first-place district winner in the Indiana National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, Bowen has been featured with the Singing Hoosiers and currently sings tenor for the Choir of Men and Choristers at the historic Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis.
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 Brian Gill and Gary Arvin. Flanagin’s recent role credits with IU Jacobs Opera Theater include a Street Singer in Bernstein’s Mass, Uncle Billy Bailey in the collegiate premiere of It’sa Wonderful Life by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, and opera choruses for Don Giovanni, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Dialogues of the Carmelites. This spring, Flanagin will make his professional debut with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, singing the role of Pong in a semi-staged production of Puccini’s Turandot.