In nineteenth-century Russia, Eugene Onegin is a sophisticated but cavalier bachelor who rejects young Tatiana’s naive confession of love. Bored, he tries to seduce his best friend’s betrothed, which unsurprisingly incites a duel in which Onegin kills his dear comrade.
Years later, Onegin “meets” lovely and cultured Tatiana and declares his love for her; it is the same Tatiana, now stylish, married, and happy. Though she still feels for Onegin, her marriage—and heart—will remain intact.
Enveloped in Tchaikovsky’s sweeping melodies, Onegin is left distraught and alone, one of Russian literature’s “superfluous men.”
In Russian with English supertitles.
Mar. 1, 2 Musical Arts Center 7:30 PM
Join us at 7 PM before each performance for the Opera Insights Lecture, located on the mezzanine level of the Musical Arts Center.
Place and Time: Russia, 1820s Act I Scene 1 A garden of the Mme. Larina’s estate. As her daughters, Tatiana and Olga, sing of unrequited love, Mme. Larina, a country widow and landowner, and the nurse, Filipievna, muse over their lives, where love and happiness are replaced by habit and duty. Peasants returning from the harvest bring gifts to their landlady as a part of a ritual of celebrating the end of the season. Their songs make Tatiana lose herself in distant dreams, while Olga only wants to play and dance. Mme. Larina gently admonishes her older daughter, trying to bring her closer to the reality of life as she sees it, but Tatiana remains pensive and apart, wrapped in the fantasy of her beloved novels. Olga’s fiancé, Vladimir Lensky, a poet, and his friend, Eugene Onegin, arrive. Tatiana recognizes in Onegin the personification of her romantic ideals; Olga comments that local gossip will certainly link Onegin and Tatiana romantically, and Onegin remarks to Lensky that he finds Tatiana’s temperament much more interesting than Olga’s surface gaiety. As Onegin engages Tatiana in conversation, Lensky renews his vows of love for Olga.
Act I Scene 2 Same night. Tatiana’s bedroom. Filipievna entertains a yearning Tatiana with tales of her own arranged marriage. Tatiana finally admits to Filipievna that she has fallen in love and decides to write a letter to Onegin. Tatiana confesses her love for Onegin and begs him not to reject her. Dawn is breaking when she puts down her pen. Filipievna enters, and Tatiana begs the nurse to give the letter to her grandson to deliver to Onegin. Tatiana is frightened by the boldness of her own impulse and, at the same time, is intoxicated by the power of her new emotion of love.
Act I Scene 3 A couple of days later. A garden of Mme. Larina’s estate. As the maidens of Larina’s estate go on about their work duties, Tatiana waits in anticipation of Onegin’s imminent visit. She regrets having written her letter, but her thoughts are interrupted by Onegin’s arrival. He admits having been touched by her confession but tells her that love and marriage are thoughts he has set aside long ago. As he returns her letter back to Tatiana, he urges her to practice more self-control.
Act II Scene 1 Several months later. Mme. Larina’s house. A party is in progress in honor of Tatiana’s name day. As Onegin and Tatiana dance, he overhears gossip about his reputation and his intentions towards Tatiana. Annoyed by their chatter, he resolves to dance with Olga to tease Lensky for bringing him to the ball. As the waltz ends, Lensky confronts Olga with her fickleness, but their argument is interrupted by the entrance of M. Triquet, an ostentatious French tutor, who sings a song in Tatiana’s honor. The dancing resumes with Onegin as Olga’s partner. Jealous of Olga’s continued attention to Onegin, Lensky accuses him of compromising Olga. Before Onegin can calm his friend down, Lensky challenges him to a duel. Pressured by the code of honor of the time, Onegin must accept the challenge.
Act II Scene 2 The next morning. A snow-covered field in the country. Lensky and his second, Zaretsky, wait for Onegin. Lensky meditates on his past and is uncertain about his future. Onegin enters with his valet, Guillot, who has come to act as his second. Lensky and Onegin both regret their actions but realize that there is no turning back. The men draw, and Lensky is shot dead by Onegin.
Act III Scene 1 Several years later. Winter. A fashionable ballroom in St. Petersburg. Having traveled abroad for several years since the duel, Onegin has returned to the capital. As the guests finish a polonaise, Onegin contemplates his past actions and present tedium. At a ball, Prince Gremin introduces his young wife. Onegin is astonished to recognize her as Tatiana and realize he is in love with her. Gremin proudly extols Tatiana’s quiet gifts and his deep love for her. As they are reintroduced to each other by her husband, Tatiana barely manages to control her emotions. She begs to be taken home. After she leaves, Onegin becomes aware of his feelings for Tatiana and resolves to confess his love to her.
Act III Scene 2 A couple of days later. A room in Prince Gremin’s house. Onegin has sent a letter to Tatiana. Onegin arrives, and Tatiana asks him to practice the same self-control he requested of her in the past. She suggests it is her new position that is now attracting Onegin. Yet, she finds herself weeping when Onegin begs her forgiveness for his past coldness. She breaks down and confesses that she still loves Onegin but will remain true to her duty as wife to Gremin. He entreats her to escape with him, but Tatiana hastens from the room before her resolve fails, leaving behind the despairing Onegin.
by Monika Franaszczuk Ph.D. Musicology Student
The task of adapting any literary work to the stage is no easy one, and it is only made more difficult when the source material happens to be one of the most celebrated and well-known works in the Russian literary canon. In Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky met this challenge with expressive lyricism that emphasizes the Romantic melancholy and emotional unrest that forms the heart of this story.
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is a giant in the Russian literary world. The weight of his name can only be compared to that of Shakespeare’s in English, and his Eugene Onegin is a beloved, highly regarded work of Russian poetry. A novel in verse, it is made up of nearly 400 sonnets, each written in iambic tetrameter with the rhyme scheme aBaB ccDD eFFe GG, where the uppercase letters are masculine rhymes, ending on a stressed syllable, and the lowercase are feminine, ending on an unstressed syllable. This verse scheme is so distinctive that it has come to be known as the “Onegin stanza” or sometimes the “Pushkin sonnet.” The intricacies of Pushkin’s poetry have proven famously difficult to translate, with not even Nabokov’s scrupulous, four-volume translation escaping heavy criticism. A musical “translation” faces similar challenges. Despite the libretto sharing a language with the novel, it is not so straightforward to adapt all the details of Pushkin’s verse into an opera.
The idea for an opera based on Eugene Onegin was suggested to Tchaikovsky by soprano Yelizaveta Lavrovskaya. At first, he was hesitant about taking on such a project. With so much of the action taking place over letters, in private, or through the narrator’s commentary, the novel does not necessarily lend itself easily to the operatic stage, much less while paying due reverence to Pushkin’s words. Nonetheless, Tchaikovsky soon overcame his reluctance to the idea, writing to his brother, Modest, that he had become so passionate about the subject that he had spent an entirely sleepless night creating a first draft of the scenario.
The libretto was put together by the composer himself, with the help of friend and poet Konstantin Shilovsky. Large swaths of the text are word-for-word Pushkin, the verses lifted directly from the novel. However, even with this level of faithfulness to the original text, Tchaikovsky did have to make some changes in order to dramatize the story, necessarily cutting down or rearranging Pushkin’s poetry and inserting verse of his own in order to translate this work for the stage. Unsurprisingly, this led to critiques, unsympathetic to the attempt to adapt the unadaptable.
Pushkin’s novel is strikingly intimate. Many of the key dramatic moments take place in private, through dreams or fantasies, through the narrator’s commentary, and perhaps most importantly, through letters. In turning the novel into an opera, Tchaikovsky had to make decisions on how to dramatize these private moments. Some were set as arias, which naturally preserve the sense of individual contemplation, while others were turned into duets or other ensembles, allowing for more visual and musical interest during these scenes. As an example, Pushkin’s Lensky delivers his challenge to Onegin via a private letter, while Tchaikovsky’s Lensky challenges him in a public confrontation during Tatiana’s name day ball, creating a more intense spectacle for the stage and building the drama leading up to the duel scene.
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is framed by two love letters, one sent by Tatiana in the first act, and the other sent by Onegin in the last. Both are met with unreciprocated feelings. Despite their obvious parallels, Tchaikovsky adapted each letter in a distinct way. Tatiana’s letter is a solo aria, maintaining its private nature, while Onegin’s is combined with Tatiana’s answering monologue, creating a duet where, in the novel, there is none. Tatiana’s Letter Scene, composed before any of the other music, is an outpouring of emotion, emphasized by the musical setting. The lyrical, arching melody and the simple accompaniment evoke her youthful declaration of affection, full of honest resolve and trepidation. For Tchaikovsky, this confession formed the heart of the work, and it shows in the care he took to remain faithful to the text, which is nearly unaltered throughout this scene.
In contrast, Onegin’s confession to Tatiana in the opera finale plays out quite differently to the one in the novel. In Pushkin’s text, Onegin writes his feelings in a letter, and Tatiana’s later response is a one-sided reprimand, with the heroine departing before Onegin can even reply. Tchaikovsky, however, paired both of these individual statements, combining selections from each and creating a dialogue. In turning this moment into a duet, Tchaikovsky created a more operatic ending that features the voices of both protagonists.
One common critique of this opera is that the narrator of the novel did not survive the adaptation to the stage. While there is no narrator character per say, Tchaikovsky’s music often acts as a kind of pseudo-narrator, offering audible commentary on the story. For example, in the finale duet, Tatiana refuses Onegin’s advances essentially by affirming that she will remain true to her marriage vows. But the music provides more nuance in the appearance of Lensky’s theme in the orchestra. It is not simply loyalty to her husband that keeps Tatiana from running away with Onegin, but also the reminder that he was the cause of Lensky’s death.
Despite Onegin’s role as the titular character of the opera, it is Tatiana who saturates the musical space. Her theme, a chromatically inflected figure outlining a sixth, follows a downward contour, reminiscent of a sigh, and it is one of the most recognizable motifs of this work. This theme opens the opera, the orchestral introduction built almost entirely on this figure. Tatiana is first associated with it early in Act I, when she enters after the peasant chorus. Her first words are set to this music, and it is echoed in the orchestra as well. Her Letter Scene aria likewise features this melody at its climax, and even leading up to the full statement of this theme, Tatiana’s lines are full of similar sixth intervals and sighing figures. Tatiana’s entrance in Act III contains a transformed version of her theme. As Prince Gremin’s wife enters, the clarinet melody is strikingly reminiscent of her motif. In the same key as the Letter Scene, and full of those sighing sixths, this is a theme that has changed alongside Tatiana, now worldly and grown.
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin has grown in popularity since its premiere in 1879, becoming a staple in opera houses worldwide. In it, the genius of two of the great Russian creative artists come together, Pushkin’s beloved verse and Tchaikovsky’s expressive melodies blending together to create this remarkable epic. The excitement Tchaikovsky felt for this project is palpable in every note. In a letter to composer Sergei Taneyev, he wrote of Eugene Onegin that, “if even just the slightest portion of what I felt when composing this opera finds a response in the listeners, then I will be utterly content and want for no more.”
Described by Opera News as “a ninja warrior with a baton” for his performances of Berg’s Wozzeck with Des Moines Metro Opera, David Neely maintains an active conducting career in symphonic, opera, ballet, and educational settings. He is director of orchestral activities at the University of Maryland. He has appeared with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Bochumer Symphoniker, Dortmunder Philharmoniker, and Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg, among others. He remains a frequent guest conductor at the IU Jacobs School of Music, from which he holds degrees in piano performance and orchestral conducting. As music director and principal conductor of Des Moines Metro Opera, Neely has elevated the company’s musical profile with critically acclaimed performances of a wide range of new and traditional repertoire, including the recent world premiere of Kristin Kuster and Mark Campbell’s A Thousand Acres. This summer, Neely will conduct the world premiere of Damien Geter and Lila Palmer’s full-length American Apollo and Richard Strauss’s Salome. He has led productions with Atlanta Opera, Sarasota Opera, and numerous European opera houses, including Bonn and Dortmund. His performances have been praised in Opera News, Opera Today, the Chicago Tribune, and The Wall Street Journal. Neely has performed with many prominent instrumentalists, including David Chan, Roberto Diaz, Ricardo Morales, Joshua Roman, Bella Hristova, Benjamin Beilman, Rainer Honeck, Nicholas Daniel, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ben Lulich, Hai-Ye Ni, and Phillipe Cuper. He has appeared as a collaborative pianist with numerous singers, including a recent recital with Joyce Castle and Schubert’s Winterreise with David Adam Moore. He has served as a conducting teacher and guest master coach with Washington National Opera’s (WNO) Cafritz Young Artist program and was the conductor for WNO’s American Opera Initiative in 2021. He regularly conducts the Washington, D.C., area’s Apollo Orchestra. His performance of Florence Price’s Symphony No. 3 with the National Orchestra Institute was recently featured on NPR’s Performance Today.
Jose Maria Condemi is a director, producer, and educator in the field of opera and theater whose work has been consistently praised for its strong conceptual approach, striking visual presentation, and remarkable dramatic truth. His association with the San Francisco Opera has resulted in several mainstage directing engagements, including Carmen, Un Ballo in Maschera, Madama Butterfly, Faust, Tosca, and Così fan tutte. He also helmed the San Francisco Opera’s world premiere commissions of The Secret Garden and Earthrise and innovative projects such as La Bohème Out of the Box. Other noteworthy directing engagements include Ernani and Tristan und Isolde (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Aida (Houston Grand Opera), Tosca (The Dallas Opera), Luisa Miller (Canadian Opera Company), Orphee et Eurydice, La Bohème, Tosca, and Il Trovatore (Seattle Opera), Ainadamar, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Tosca, and Lucia di Lammermoor (Cincinnati Opera), Don Giovanni (Portland Opera), Così fan tutte, and The Barber of Seville (Atlanta Opera), Cendrillon, Joan of Arc, and Rigoletto (New Orleans Opera), The Elixir of Love (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), Maria Padilla (Minnesota Opera), Florencia en el Amazonas (Opera Colorado, Utah Opera, Pittsburgh Opera), Simone Boccanegra (Teatro Colon/Buenos Aires), Tosca, and Maria de Buenos Aires (Florida Grand Opera), Frida (The Detroit Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Florida Grand Opera). Condemi has been a guest lecturer, master teacher, and stage director for the Merola Opera Program, Wolftrap Opera, Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, Houston Grand Opera Studio, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), and the New National Theater Young Artists Programme in Tokyo. He was artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara from 2010 to 2015 and is a frequent adjudicator for Opera America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally from Argentina, Condemi earned an undergraduate degree in opera stage direction from the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from CCM.
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 many IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater productions, including L’Étoile, It’s a Wonderful Life, Lucia di Lammermoor, West Side Story, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Elixir of Love, Bernstein’s Mass, Le Nozze di Figaro, Parsifal, Suor Angelica, La Traviata, Little Women, The Barber of Seville, Xerxes, La bohème, The Magic Flute, The Coronation of Poppea, Falstaff, Highway 1, USA, La Rondine, H.M.S. Pinafore, Ainadamar, Anne Frank, Candide, and The Merry Widow. For five years, Huff has served as choral instructor and conductor for the Jacobs School’s Sacred Music Intensive. He conducted the Jacobs Summer Music series productions of Arthur Honegger’s King David and Stephen Paulus’s The Three Hermits. This past summer, Huff returned for his fifth year as a faculty member at the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute. This season, Huff also serves as principal guest coach for the Atlanta Opera Studio Artists Program.
Sarah Wroth is chair of the Ballet Department and associate professor of ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. She began her training at the Frederick School of Classical Ballet in Frederick, Maryland. In 2003, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Education from the Jacobs School of Music. That same year, she joined Boston Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. With the company, Wroth performed principal roles in works by William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Marius Petipa, Jerome Robbins, Helen Pickett, and Mikko Nissinen, and soloist roles in ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, and August Bournonville. She has performed with Boston Ballet internationally in Spain, England, South Korea, and Finland. In 2009, she was awarded the E. Virginia Williams Inspiration Award for her unwavering dedication to ballet and the Boston Ballet Company. Wroth earned a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University in 2015 and retired from Boston Ballet in May 2017.
Elizabeth Licata is an award-winning costume artist and head of costumes at IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater. Previously, she worked for the Santa Fe Opera, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Constellation Stage & Screen, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. She was an M.F.A. student under Heather Milam, head of the Costume Technology program at IU. Additionally, she has studied haute couture at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and embroidery from the London School of Embroidery and at Chanel’s École Lesage in Paris. Licata earned a B.A. from Dartmouth and an M.A. from Stanford.
Russell Long’s most recent design credits include Lunch Bunch, 45 Seconds from Broadway, The Music Man, Carrie: The Musical, Pippin, and the national tour of We Outside. He has also worked as the lighting supervisor/resident lighting designer for Aspen Music Festival and School, where he designed lights for Uncommon Ritual, ¡De Colores!, and Mathew Whitaker. Originally from Southern Arizona, Long studied at Northern Arizona University and has worked with Arizona Theatre Company, Peaks Productions, University of Arizona Opera, Aspen Opera, and Vail Ballet Festival. He is also a founding member of Spotlight Youth Productions in Oro Valley, Arizona. He earned an M.F.A in lighting design from the IU Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance. Locally, he has worked with the African American Arts Institute and local music and performing group Ben & Winnie.
Camilla Tassi is an NYC-based projection designer and musician from Florence, Italy. Design credits include Falling Out of Time (Carnegie Hall), King Arthur (Lincoln Center, Juilliard415), Adoration (Beth Morrison Projects), L’Orfeo (Apollo’s Fire Tour), Malhaar (Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA Master Chorale), Path of Miracles (Conspirare), Lady M (Heartbeat Opera), Anne Frank (IU Jacobs Opera Theater)), Fires in the Mirror (Baltimore Center Stage & Long Wharf Theater), Iphigénie en Tauride (Boston Baroque), La Bohème (Music Academy of the West), Cendrillon (Peabody Opera), SEACHANGE (Miami City Ballet), Song from the Uproar (Yale Schwarzman), and Alcina (Yale Opera). Tassi enjoys bringing theatrical design to traditionally unstaged concert compositions, recontextualizing the repertoire with today’s audiences. She has an upcoming performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Washington Chorus (Kennedy Center). A classically trained musician, she has sung with groups including the Yale Schola Cantorum, and Apollo’s Singers with the New York Philharmonic. Tassi has guest lectured at institutions including Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn State, and Yale. She is the 2022 recipient of the Burry Fredrik design award and the 2023 Robert L. Tobin Opera Director-Designer prize. She holds degrees in computer science, music, and projection design and earned an M.F.A. in Design from the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale under Wendall Harrington.
Andrew Elliot is a makeup artist, wig designer, stylist, and cellist. His design and music work can be seen and heard with IU Jacobs Opera and Ballet Theater, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Actors Theatre of Indiana, Phoenix Theatre, Zach & Zack Productions, Summer Stock Stage, and more. His work as a makeup artist and stylist can be seen locally and nationally in various publications, commercials, billboards, industrials, and editorials. He spent 2020 recreating icons of film, fashion, and theater, which gained national attention, with features in The New York Times, NowThis News, The Indianapolis Star, and Indianapolis Monthly.
Steven C. Kemp is a set designer for opera, theater, and events. Originally from Houston, Texas, he earned an M.F.A. from UC San Diego. His previous IU Jacobs Opera Theater designs include Candide, West Side Story, The Music Man, Madama Butterfly, Oklahoma!, and Dead Man Walking. His 130 designs for opera have been presented at 40 companies, including The Atlanta Opera, LA Opera, Arizona Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Sarasota Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Des Moines Metro Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Kentucky Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Santa Barbara, Pittsburgh Opera, Portland Opera, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His 26 designs for Opera San Jose across 13 seasons include the west coast premieres of Anna Karenina and Silent Night as well as acclaimed productions of Idomeneo and Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella. His design for Candide, originally presented at Des Moines Metro Opera, won Honorable Mention at the 2021 Golden Trezzini Awards for Architecture and Design. His design for Falstaff was selected as a finalist in the World Stage Design 2017 exhibit in Taipei, Taiwan. He has designed over 50 productions in New York City, including the Off-Broadway revivals of Tick, Tick…Boom! and Ordinary Days as well as numerous productions for regional theaters, cruise ships, and international tours, such as the current Sesame Street Live!, Peppa Pig Live!, Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour, and Baby Shark Live!. Early in his career, he worked extensively as an associate designer, including on designs for 10 Broadway productions, national tours, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Theatricals, DreamWorks, and The Metropolitan Opera.
Ukraine-born Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad is a pianist and collaborator with a flourishing career on both sides of the Atlantic. She is a full music staff member at San Francisco Opera and a guest assistant conductor at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She has collaborated with conductors such as Bertrand de Billy, Eun Sun Kim, Nathalie Stutzmann, James Gaffigan, Nicola Luisotti, Henrik Nánási, Ramón Tebar, and others. As a collaborative pianist, Barrad has worked with opera and vocal music organizations across the U.S., including the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, Des Moines Metro Opera, Long Beach Opera, Cincinnati Song Initiative, West Edge Opera, Queen City Opera, Songfest, Lieder Alive, and more. As a teacher, she has been hired for coaching residencies at the Adler and Lindemann Young Artist Programs and Indiana University, among others. Before deciding to pursue a career as a collaborative pianist, she won top prizes at international piano and chamber music competitions, including the International Competition for Young Pianists (Belgrade, Serbia) and the Sergei Taneyev International Chamber Ensemble Competition (Kaluga, Russia). She also won first prize in the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra Competition and was twice a national finalist in the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition, winning third prize in 2011. Barrad earned a master’s degree in collaborative piano from the University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music, where she also earned a D.M.A. in Piano Performance studying with Awadagin Pratt. She completed three years of the Adler fellowship at San Francisco Opera as well as a summer at the Merola Opera Program.
Cori Ellison, a leading creative figure in the opera world, returns to IU Jacobs Opera Theater after previously serving as dramaturg for Anne Frank. She has been staff dramaturg at Santa Fe Opera, the Glyndebourne Festival, and New York City Opera. Active in developing contemporary opera, she is a founding faculty member of American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program and has developed new works for companies including Glyndebourne, Icelandic Opera, Canadian Opera, Norwegian Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Chicago Opera Theater, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, Pittsburgh Opera, and Beth Morrison Projects. She has been production dramaturg for projects including The Coronation of Poppea at Cincinnati Opera; Orphic Moments at the Salzburg Landestheater, National Sawdust, and Master Voices; Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo at National Sawdust and Philharmonia Baroque; Washington National Opera’s Ring cycle, Opera Boston’s The Nose, and Offenbach!!! at Bard Summerscape. At The Juilliard School, she serves on the Vocal Arts faculty and is also a faculty member at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers. She has coached and taught master classes for singers at schools including the Jacobs School of Music, the University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music, Mannes College, University of Toronto, University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, Michigan State University, DePaul University, University of Illinois, Montclair State University, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She serves as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, Concurso San Miguel in Mexico, and other vocal competitions. She creates supertitles for opera companies worldwide and helped launch Met Titles, the Met’s simultaneous translation system. Her English singing translations include Hansel and Gretel (New York City Opera; twice performed at IU), La vestale (English National Opera), and Shostakovich’s Cherry Tree Towers (Bard Summerscape). She has written for The New York Times and has contributed to books including The New Grove Dictionary of Opera and The Compleat Mozart.
Seonyoung Park is a lyric soprano from South Korea. Praised for her energetic, warm, and expressive voice and her remarkable musicianship. She made her professional debut in Korea as Sandmann in Hansel and Gretel at Seongnam Art Center in 2018. In Italy, Park performed Mimì in La Bohème with the Morellino Classic Festival of Castagnoli Theater of Scansano in 2019. She has also performed the role of Seonyoung in Three of Us, an anti-Asian hate opera performed at IU’s Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, and Maguelonne in Cendrillon at IU. She won first prize in the Euterpe International Music Competition in Milan in 2019, third prize in the foundation of Korean Classic Vocal Performer International Vocal Competition, second prize in the NanPa National Music Competition, third prize in the 28th Suri Music Competition, and was a finalist in the JoongAng Music Competition in Korea in 2018. Park earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from KyungHee University in Seoul in 2017 and 2019, respectively. She then pursued further training in Milan in the Performer in Voice program at the Melos Academy of Vocal Music. She is pursuing a Performance Diploma in Voice at the Jacobs School of Music under Jane Dutton.
Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, soprano Ashley Ruckman is a first-year master’s student under the tutelage of Carol Vaness making her role debut with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater. Ruckman earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Wichita State University, where she performed notable roles including Hester in Laitman’s The Scarlet Letter, Arminda in La Finta Giardiniera, Esther in The Path to Heaven, and Despina in Così fan tutte. Ruckman recently performed professionally with the Wichita Grand Opera, singing the roles of Musetta in La Bohème and Berta in The Barber of Seville. Recent honors include second place in the 2023 Naftzger Young Artist competition, winner and selected soloist for the 2023 Wichita State Concerto-Aria Concert, and soprano winner of the 2022 Rondelli Vocal Competition. A member of The Merry Widow ensemble last fall, this is her second production with Jacobs Opera Theater.
Tenor Jinpark Choi, a native of Seoul, South Korea, is a first-year P.D. student at the Jacobs School of Music studying under Jane Dutton. This is his first production with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater. Choi earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal music from Yonsei University under Jaeyoon Jung and a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music (CCM) under Daniel Weeks. Choi also studied with opera coaches Andrew Crooks, Donna Lowey, and Marie-France Lefebvre. While at CCM, Choi sang the roles of Rinuccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Colin in Joseph Bologne’s L’Amant Anonyme.
Tenor Josh Hooker, from Midway, Utah, is pursuing a Master of Music in Performance degree at the Jacobs School of Music, where he studies with Carol Vaness. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance as a student of Isaac Hurtado at Utah Valley University, where he performed as Hoffman in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman and Arturo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, covered Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, and was winner of the Concerto Competition. He made his professional debut with Lyrical Opera Theater in Utah as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, followed by Rinuccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
Mezzo-soprano Esther Jo, from Seoul, South Korea, possesses a sophisticated voice covering opera, oratorio, and art songs and is pursuing a Performer Diploma with a Performance Fellowship under the tutelage of Tichina Vaughn at the Jacobs School of Music. At Hanyang University in Seoul, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music, Jo secured multiple merit-based full scholarships and exclusive teaching certification, ranking among the top three students in the voice department. In the Master of Music program, she earned maximum merit-based full scholarships and research assistantships, ultimately graduating with full-tuition coverage. She received the Excellent Doctoral Scholarship and admission to the Doctor of Music program. Under the tutelage of Locky Chung and Su-gil Park in Korea, Jo displayed her artistry in various opera roles, including Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto, a collaborative production by Hanyang University and the Seongdong Cultural Foundation, Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen, and Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. As an alto soloist, she showcased her talent in oratorios such as Charpentier’s Te Deum, Vivaldi’s Gloria in D Major, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, and Schütz’s Die Sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz. Participating in master classes by Mutzumi Moteki at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and consistently attending the Yewool Summer Music Camp, she earned recognition for her skills from musicians globally. She also taught voice in various music academies in Seoul. After performing as Carmen in Michael Shell’s Opera Workshop, she now makes her debut with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater.
Veronica Siebert is a mezzo-soprano from North Carolina and a first-year graduate student studying with Jane Dutton. This summer, she looks forward to being a Gerdine Young Artist at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, covering Sesto in Giulio Cesare. Siebert was an Ader Emerging Artist at Charlottesville Opera in 2022, where she sang in Guys and Dolls, Tosca, and various concerts and worked with composer Tom Cipullo on a concert of his works. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Siebert sang Endimione in La Calisto, The Witch in Into the Woods, The Foreign Singer in Postcard from Morocco, Emma in a workshop of Ben Moore’s Henry and Company, and was a soloist in over 10 concert works, including Vivaldi’s Magnificat and Brahms’ Zwei Gesänge at Eastman. Siebert was a soloist in BWV 42 with the Salem Bach Festival and sang Isaac in Britten’s Abraham and Isaac for the Music@Home concert series. In competitions, she has been awarded first place at the Civic Morning Musicals Competition and at the Heafner-Williams Competition, the Encouragement Award at the Met-Laffont NC District, and third place at the Young Patronesses of the Opera Competition, among others.
Baritone Colin Anderson has recently appeared as Amonasro (Verdi’s Aida), Peter (Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel), Ford (Verdi’s Falstaff), Bottom (Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Sam (Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti), and Antonio (Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro). Anderson also appeared in twenty-first century works, with performances of Du Yun’s Angels Bone, Rachel J. Peter’s Wild Beasts of the Bungalow, and Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up. He has a love for art song and a particular interest in music by underrepresented minority groups. He holds a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Indiana University, where he is currently pursuing a Performer Diploma under the tutelage of Brian Horne.
David Drettwan is a second-year M.M. student hailing from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and studying under the tutelage of Jane Dutton. Past roles at Jacobs include Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni) and Kromow (The Merry Widow), as well as Anne Frank (chorus) and a workshop performance of Gianni Schicchi (Gianni Schicchi) and Swimming in the Dark (Janusz). Outside of Jacobs, Drettwan made his professional debut in the world-premiere production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning new opera Omar at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. He also performed Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), King Arkel (Pelléas et Melisande), Melisso (Alcina), and Keeper/Father Trulove (The Rake’s Progress) at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. This summer, he will be an apprentice artist at Central City Opera singing the role of Jake Wallace in La Fanciulla del West by Puccini.
Sunghoon Han is a bass-baritone from Seoul, South Korea. After graduating with honors from Yonsei University with a Bachelor of Music, he is currently pursuing a Performer Diploma at the Jacobs School of Music under the guidance of Carol Vaness. Following his academic accomplishments, Han made his U.S. debut at the Jacobs School of Music, performing the role of Nardo in La Finta Giardiniera. Recently, he won the title of Laffont Competition Indiana District Winner. In his native Korea, he has performed as Colline in La Bohème, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale in Don Pasquale, and Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte. His rendition of Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli as a bass soloist garnered significant acclaim. Han has been recognized in the Music Association of Korea Competition, Classic Music Magazine Competition, and Journal of Music Competition. Notably, he was chosen as a Kumho Young Artist, culminating in a successful solo recital. He also earned a position as a Korea National Opera Studio Artist, where he actively contributed. He has refined his artistry through master classes with Thomas Hampson and Helmut Deutsch.
Stephen Stavnicky is a bass-baritone from Cleveland, Ohio, and this is his first opera role at IU. He is a first-year double-degree master’s student in voice performance and trumpet performance under the tutelage of Peter Volpe (voice) and Jason Bergman (trumpet). His opera roles outside of IU have included Leporello in Don Giovanni, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Ben in The Telephone, and King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors. As a trumpet player, Stavnicky has performed with the IU Symphonic Band, IU Philharmonic, and various chamber groups. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance degree from Kent State University.
Mezzo-soprano Carlynn Berners is a junior studying voice performance under the tutelage of Peter Volpe. This is her first role with IU Jacobs Opera Theater, having previously been in the choruses of Roméo et Juliette, Candide, and Don Giovanni. In the summer of 2023, she studied lieder at the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, where she worked with artists such as Elly Ameling, Julius Drake, Robert Holl, and Helmut Deutsch. She also studied in the lieder studio of AIMS in Graz in 2022. She has sung with baroque ensemble Echoing Air at its Exploring Vocal Arts Program, and she has performed scenes as Cherubino, Dorabella, and Mercédès in Patricia Stiles’ Opera Workshop. An avid proponent of new music, Berners has participated in student composition recitals. Originally from Greenwood, Indiana, she currently is a choral scholar at First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington.
Mezzo-soprano Maisah Outlaw transitioned to a career in opera after working internationally as a Montessori teacher. Her career has taken her across five continents to encounter numerous cultures. After committing to the pursuit of her lifelong passions and gifts, she was admitted to the Jacobs School of Music, where she is currently studying in the master’s program with Michelle DeYoung. Outlaw returns to the MAC stage after most recently spending the summer as a festival artist with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. This past spring, she performed as the Old Lady in IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater’s production of Candide. Since the start of her graduate work, Outlaw has premiered the role of Aunt Lou in Highway 1, USA at the collegiate level. In Italy, she performed the role of Ottavia from The Coronation of Poppea and Zia Principessa from Suor Angelica.
Tenor Jinpeng Jiang, from Shanghai, China, is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Deanne Meek and Carlos Montané. This is his IU Jacobs Opera Theater role debut. At IU, Jiang has been seen in the opera chorus of Don Giovanni and Anne Frank as well as Roméo et Juliette. In 2022, he attended the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar program in Germany and performed the role of Monostatos in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, his first opera. This past summer, at the invitation of the director, he returned to the program to perform the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni as his first operatic leading role.
Tenor Jakob Spino is a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s in voice performance as well as a certificate in vocology under Brian Gill. Raised in the southern suburbs of Chicago, he began singing at Carl Sandburg High School as Javert in Les Misérables, going on to earn an A.F.A. from Moraine Valley Community College, then a B.F.A in voice from the IU Jacobs School of Music. This is his first role with IU Jacobs Opera Theater, but he is a veteran of IU opera choruses, having performed in the ensembles of Handel’s Xerxes, Verdi’s Falstaff, Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Chabrier’s L’Étoile, Shulamit Ran’s Anne Frank, and Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
Russian American mezzo-soprano Elizaveta Agladze-Scherschel is currently a third-year doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Music studying with Deanne Meek. A participant of the XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition and a prizewinner in the 2018 Dr. Luis Sigall International Voice Competition in Viña del Mar, Chile, and the 2019 American International Czech and Slovak Competition, Agladze-Scherschel has performed the roles Mère Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Zelatrice in Suor Angelica with IU Jacobs Opera Theater; Angelina in La Cenerentola and Third Lady/Spirit in The Magic Flute with the Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar; Olga in Eugene Onegin with Hudson Lyric Opera; Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with New York Lyric Opera Theatre; and Lame Prostitute in OperaWorks Advanced Artist Program’s opera-pastiche, Exposure. In addition to operatic roles, Agladze-Scherschel has performed as a recitalist in America and Russia, including in such venues as the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Silver Age Museum and Esenin Centre in Moscow. She holds a bachelor’s degree with majors in music and psychology from Emory University, a master’s degree in organizational sciences from The George Washington University, and an M.M. in Vocal Performance degree from the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Carlos Montané.
Cassandra Glaeser, a dramatic soprano from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is a doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Music, where she studies with Jane Dutton. This is her fourth production with IU Jacobs Opera Theater, marking her role debut as Madame Larina. Previous Jacobs stage appearances include Gertrude in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Mrs. Van Daan in the world premiere of Ran’s Anne Frank, and Mrs. Grose in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. Last summer, she appeared as the First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with the IU Summer Chorus. Professional credits include the Fourth Serving Maid and Chrysothemis (cover) in Elektra with Des Moines Metro Opera. She was an apprentice artist with both Sarasota Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera for two seasons. Other performance highlights include scenes as Leonora in La forza del destino, Leonora in Il trovatore, Aida in Aida, La Gioconda in La Gioconda, Leonora in Fidelio, and Amelia in Un ballo in Maschera. Glaeser earned a Master of Music in Opera Performance degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance degree from Lawrence University.
Rudolph Altenbach is a second-year undergraduate baritone from Chicago studying with Zachary Coates. He is pursuing a B.S.O.F. degree in health science and vocal performance. He has performed as a chorus member in previous productions at IU, including Don Giovanni, Candide, and Roméo et Juliette.
Baritone Shan Ding is originally from China, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. In 2019, he participated in Gianni Maffeo and Giuseppe Morino’s master classes and the Assisi Music Festival in Italy. In 2020, he received the Special Jury Prize at the Prokofiev International Music Competition. In 2023, he participated in the opera studio at the Aspen Summer Music Festival and played Hosokawa in Bel Canto and the Count in Act IV of Le Nozze di Figaro. Ding has also appeared as Maestro in Ainadamar, the Inquisitor in Candide, and Count Capulet in Roméo et Juliette with IU Jacobs Opera Theater. Additionally, he played Count Almaviva, Betto, Rodrigo, and Ping in Carol Vaness’s Opera Workshop. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree studying with Carol Vaness.
Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, baritone Patrick Tervo is in his second year of studies pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Michelle DeYoung. A lifelong performer and multi-instrumentalist originally based in Portland, Oregon, he transitioned into the study of opera in high school after portraying the role of Major-General Stanley in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. He is an alumnus of Oregon Repertory Singers and the award-winning West Linn High School Symphonic Choir directed by Aubrey Patterson. Through these programs, Tervo has collaborated with the likes of Eric Whitacre, Caroline Shaw, and Matthew Lyon Hazzard. This is Tervo’s IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater role debut; he has previously been seen in the opera choruses of Chabrier’s L’Étoile, Ran’s Anne Frank, and Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
From Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, Simon Brea is a first-year master’s student at the Jacobs School of Music. He graduated from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in voice and opera studies under the tutelage of Jacque Trussel. At Purchase, Brea performed roles such as Don Basilio (Le Nozze di Figaro), Le Prince Charmant (Cendrillon), and Tamino (The Magic Flute). Last semester, he made his Jacobs debut playing the role of Camille de Rosillon in Lehár’s The Merry Widow, while also participating in the opera chorus for Roméo et Juliette. This summer, Brea will make his professional debut as a principal artist at Opera North’s Resident Artist Program in New Hampshire, performing the roles of Mercury (Orpheus in the Underworld), Borsa, while also covering the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto), and Jack (Into the Woods). He is currently studying under Russell Thomas.