It’s 48 BC, and Egypt is roiling. Tolomeo, Cleopatra’s devious brother, has seized the throne, and Cleopatra will do whatever it takes to get it back. Enter mighty Cesare—the ultimate king or queen maker—fresh from his victory over his greatest rival, Pompeo, and looking to add Egypt to his list of conquests for the Roman Empire.
Will Cesare choose to side with Tolomeo, who brings him Pompeo’s head on a platter? Or will it be Cleopatra, who uses her wiles and breathtaking beauty to entice Cesare into getting her everything she wants—including him.
Passion, politics, glorious music, and one of opera’s greatest seduction scenes—Giulio Cesare was a triumph from its first performance and remains Handel’s most popular opera. Look forward to a riveting (and surprising!) production from our artistic team.
The court of Alexandria celebrates Giulio Cesare’s arrival in Egypt and the defeat of his Roman political rival, General Pompeo. Pompeo’s wife, Cornelia, begs for clemency for her husband, and Cesare agrees to grant it when Pompeo comes to concede to him. Scarcely has he said this when the Egyptian military leader Achilla arrives bearing the severed head of Pompeo, a gift from the Egyptian Prince Tolomeo. Cesare is offended by the gesture and rebukes Achilla. Cornelia collapses in grief, and Sesto resolves to strike down his father’s murderer.
Tolomeo’s sister Cleopatra learns from her servant Nireno about Pompeo’s murder and her brother’s inept attempt to curry favor with Cesare. She tells Nireno that she plans to offer Cesare a more appropriate welcome and, in doing so, will supplant her brother and become queen of Egypt. She taunts Tolomeo about his ineptitude both in love and war. Achilla enters with the news that Cesare was angered by the murder of Pompeo, adding that he would gladly do away with Cesare in return for Cornelia’s hand. Tolomeo welcomes the idea of being rid of Cesare.
Outside the Roman camp, Cesare reflects on the fragility of life and the senseless death of Pompeo. Curio announces that “Lidia,” Cleopatra’s lady-in-waiting has come to meet with Cesare. Lidia (who is Cleopatra in disguise) tells him of Tolomeo’s cruelty to her people. Cesare is completely taken by her beauty; he falls in love with her and promises to help her. Cornelia and Sesto arrive at the Roman camp to receive the urn with Pompeo’s ashes from Cesare. As Cornelia mourns her loss, she searches for the courage to murder Tolomeo, but Sesto tells her that it is the duty of the son to avenge his father. As they make their plan, “Lidia” approaches the two and offers the services of her advisor, Nireno, who will lead them to Tolomeo.
Cesare meets with Tolomeo despite his mistrust of the man and his treacherous behavior. The two engage in a tense diplomatic exchange during a formal exhibition of Roman and Egyptian fighting, which turns ugly. Later, Tolomeo orders Achilla and his soldiers to arrest Sesto and bring Cornelia to him as a captive. Achilla is attracted to Cornelia and professes his feelings for her before allowing mother and son to bid each other farewell.
Cleopatra stages a theatrical display, playing “Virtue in the Garden of Parnassus” to lure Cesare to her dressing room, where she will await him as Lidia.
Achilla pleads with Cornelia for her love. Tolomeo promises Cornelia to him if he will kill Cesare. He proceeds to taunt Cornelia. When he finally leaves, Sesto, having escaped, arrives to free her. Meanwhile, Cesare discovers Lidia, who reveals her identity as Cleopatra amid their lovemaking.
As civil war erupts, Curio brings the news that Tolomeo’s soldiers have attacked the Roman camp, and Cesare leaves Cleopatra, vowing to defend her and return. Left alone, Cleopatra realizes both that she is in love with Cesare and that may never see him again.
Tolomeo’s soldiers capture Cleopatra, and he orders Cleopatra to be imprisoned. Cesare, having barely survived the battle, searches for any survivors on the shoreline and prays that Cleopatra has survived the uprising. Sesto and Nireno come upon the wounded Achilla, who offers them his medallion for safe passage as proof of his love for Cornelia and disdain for Tolomeo. Cesare sees and recognizes Sesto. Together they form an alliance.
Still a prisoner, Cleopatra fears that Cesare is dead, shattering her last hopes for survival. She is astonished when he appears to rescue her. Cleopatra and Cesare will now join Egyptian and Roman forces to defeat Tolomeo’s army. Sesto avenges his father’s death by killing Tolomeo and rescuing Cornelia.
Cesare and Cleopatra enter Alexandria in triumph. As the two declare their love, Cornelia and Sesto, and the people of Egypt welcome the return of peace.
“Collecting the Past and Present in Giulio Cesare in Egitto”
by Devon Nelson
Ph.D. Musicology Candidate
George Frederic Handel wrote Giulio Cesare for the Royal Academy of Music, an opera company which produced Italian opera in London. The work premiered on February 20, 1724, at the King’s Theatre as a part of the academy’s fourth season. The academy formed in 1719 with funds from noble subscribers and official approval from King George I. Handel managed the orchestra, composed several operas each season, and recruited the most important Italian singers for the company. On trips abroad, he hired three of the lead singers in Giulio Cesare: alto castrati Senesino (Cesare) and Gaetano Berenstadt (Tolomeo), in 1720 and 1722, respectively, and soprano Francesca Cuzzoni (Cleopatra) in 1723.
Star singers were the main attraction in Italian opera seria performances. Composers were expected to write for the performers’ vocal strengths and highlight their talents. Handel’s music displays the skills of his hand-picked cast in roles written for or adapted to each singer. Each castrato was known for particular skills and character types. Senesino was typically cast in lead-male heroic roles, and Cesare is no exception. Cesare’s aria “Empio, dirò, tu sei,” in Act 1, Scene 3, plays to Senesino’s strengths of fast, scalar passage work. Contrastingly, Berenstadt’s role as Tolomeo fits his usual casting as a scheming villain. Tolomeo begins his plan to kill Cesare in “L’empio, sleale, indegno,” in Act 1, Scene 6, which features a narrow range and frequent leaps, typical of arias written for Berenstadt.
Senesino’s and Cuzzoni’s vocal abilities shaped the music for their roles, but the characters of Cesare and Cleopatra also have uniquely nuanced portrayals. Handel’s and librettist Nicola Francesco Haym’s treatment of these characters reflects the ancient records of the two historical figures and how the eighteenth century had come to understand them. Their characterization of Cesare had to balance the complex historical image of the Roman political and military leader with eighteenth-century expectations of how noble characters should be represented in opera. They focused on depicting Cesare as a clement ruler, following a tradition from earlier Italian operas. The most prominent example of this is Cesare’s reaction to his slain enemy, Pompeo. In the course of Act 1, Cesare comforts Pompeo’s widow and denounces his killer (Scene 3). He then genuinely mourns Pompeo’s death in his aria “Alma del gran Pompeo,” in Scene 7. This aligns with historical accounts and Caesar’s self-created image.
Cleopatra’s aria “V’adoro pupille” (Act 2, Scene 2) highlights Cuzzoni’s singing and may reflect ancient accounts of the Egyptian queen. Cuzzoni’s contemporaries commented on her technical mastery in creating lyrical cantilenas, beautiful and tasteful embellishments, and affective tempo manipulation, all essential to the performance of this aria. The libretto’s description of Cleopatra in this scene as “Virtue sitting on a throne attended by the Nine Muses”—combined with the musical setting featuring a diegetic sinfonia played by an onstage band of musicians including harp, oboe, solo violins, viola, and viola da gamba—may be trying to reflect a historical account. Plutarch’s Antonius describes Cleopatra as accompanied by “the sound of flutes, pipes, and strings . . . looking like a painting of Aphrodite . . . Her most beautiful serving maidens were positioned, like Nereids or Graces” around her.
These depictions based on classical references may have been related to the librettist’s antiquarian interests. Haym, a cellist and secretary for the Royal Academy of Music, collected a variety of antiquarian materials, including books, art, and ancient coins. His job as secretary entailed adapting libretti for use in productions and dealing with aspects of staging. In the academy’s many operas with plots on ancient subjects, his duties could have been aided by his antiquarian endeavors. Haym adapted the libretto for Giulio Cesare from a 1677 work by Francesco Bussani. At the end of the plot summary in the 1724 published libretto, Haym lists his ancient sources for the story and where it was necessary to stray from them, even though Bussani does not provide this detail. This specification of ancient sources was important to antiquarians like Haym and his audience members who had antiquarian interests.
Antiquarians and others more generally interested in historical sources would have been acquainted with Haym’s listed sources and many other writings, objects, and artifacts about Caesar, Cleopatra, and ancient Rome and Egypt. Haym published volumes of antiquarian writings featuring engraved plates of Roman and Egyptian medals and coins in 1720 and consequently was admitted to the Society of Antiquaries in 1725. Other society members he may have known were interested in subjects relating to Giulio Cesare: Egyptology and Roman artifacts. Their earlier publications on these topics describing the customs of each culture and engravings of antiquities would have been available to Haym as he worked on the staging of the opera.
Links between antiquarian culture and eighteenth-century opera were also formed in musical antiquarian societies whose members included Haym and Senesino. Musicians joined as a way to link past music with their modern musical practices. Handel’s and Haym’s work represents the blending of past and present: a historical topic shaped by more recent dramatic traditions and character development based on ancient sources, eighteenth-century conceptions of history, and contemporary musical practices. Giulio Cesare was written for a prestigious “collection” of prominent Italian singers from a collection of historical sources. This opera—with its focus on a narrative subject deeply connected to the intellectual and artistic concerns of Handel, Haym, and Senesino—can be understood as a musical and dramatic embodiment not only of ancient history, but of antiquarian objects central to eighteenth-century engagement with the ancient world.
Conductor Gary Thor Wedow has established an enviable reputation for dramatically exciting and historically informed performances. A proud graduate of the Jacobs School of Music, where he studied with piano virtuoso Jorge Bolet, he has returned for several Handel operas under the aegis of the Georgina Joshi Foundation and most recently led a bel canto favorite, Lucia di Lammermoor, in 2018. Wedow’s 2017-18 season included his debut with Cincinnati Opera, conducting L’incoronazione di Poppea with Catacoustic Consort, La Calisto at The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, Don Pasquale at Pittsburgh Opera, and a return to the Amherst Early Music Festival. A favorite with Seattle Opera audiences, Wedow has also been a frequent guest of the Canadian Opera Company, Utah Opera, San Diego Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera, among others. He was long associated with New York City Opera, leading groundbreaking productions of Carmen, Don Giovanni, and Xerxes. He has collaborated with many historic performance ensembles, including Portland Baroque, Parthenia, and the Juilliard Historic Performance Orchestra. With gambist Lawrence Lipnik, he has prepared several performing editions of Baroque works and led the New York premiere of Telemann’s Orpheus for New York City Opera, La Calisto for Carnegie Mellon University and the Canadian Opera Company, and Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria for Wolf Trap Opera. He has conducted numerous early operas for major opera companies, and his performances of Messiah have taken him from the podiums of the New York Philharmonic and the Seattle Symphony to the early music orchestras of St. Thomas Episcopal Church and Portland Baroque Orchestra. He served as the associate conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society for 10 years. Born in LaPorte, Indiana, and now a resident of New York City, he has been a member of The Juilliard School faculty since 1994.
Robin Guarino is a theater, opera, and film director based in New York City and Cincinnati. She has directed more than 90 original productions, and her work has been presented by opera companies, festivals, theaters, and symphonies including the BAM Next Wave Festival, Canadian Opera Company, Cincinnati Opera, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Bard Summer Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Virginia Opera, among others. Guarino’s films have been shown at international film festivals throughout the United States and Europe, and her film Crossing the Atlantic was broadcast on Independent Focus POV. She is deeply committed to developing and directing new work and has directed six world-premiere opera productions as well as three films. As co-artistic director of Opera Fusion: New Work, she has produced more than nine workshops of new operas, most of which have gone on to world premieres at major opera houses in the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera, Dallas Opera, Minnesota Opera, HGOco, Cincinnati Opera, and Opera Theater of Saint Louis. Guarino has collaborated with many top artists in multiple mediums, including Robert Wilson, Christopher Knowles, Rufus Wainwright, Jake Heggie, Mark Adamo, Ned Rorem, and Renee Fleming, among others. She has collaborated with conductors including James Levine, Edo De Waart, Sir Charles Mackerras, Patrick Summers, Leon Botstein, Michael Christie, William Christie, and Gary Wedow. Renowned as a teacher and leader in young artist training, she has taught at The Juilliard School as dramatic advisor to Juilliard Opera and has held the J. Ralph Corbett Distinguished Chair of Opera at the University of Cincinnati–College-Conservatory of Music since 2007. Lincoln Center has long been an artistic home to Guarino, who became a member of the Metropolitan Opera stage directing staff in 1992 and has been invited back to direct more than a dozen productions.
Designer Allen Moyer’s Broadway credits include the musical Grey Gardens (Tony/Drama Desk/Outer Critic’s Circle nominations and the 2006 Hewes Award from the American Theater Wing), Lysistra Jones, The Lyons, After Miss Julie, Thurgood, Little Dog Laughed, In My Life, Twelve Angry Men (including the national tour), The Constant Wife, Reckless, The Man Who Had All the Luck, and A Thousand Clowns. Off-Broadway credits include Giant (NYSF/Public Theatre), A Minister’s Wife and The New Century (Lincoln Center Theatre), Passion Play (Epic Theatre Company), Mr. Marmalade and The Dazzle (Roundabout Theatre), Landscape of the Body and A Few Stout Individuals (Signature Theater Company), Lobby Hero (Playwrights Horizons), and This is Our Youth (New Group/Second Stage). Regional theater credits include Betrayal and Private Lives (The Huntington), M. Butterfly (Guthrie Theatre), and productions for Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, Long Wharf, Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, Yale Rep, and Baltimore’s Center Stage. Additional productions include Orfeo ed Euridice for the Metropolitan Opera, directed by Mark Morris, Die Fledermaus for the Canadian Opera Company/English National Opera plus productions for Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Houston Grand Opera, Scottish Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, and several productions for New York City Opera, including Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All and Puccini’s Il Trittico and La Bohème (also broadcast on Live from Lincoln Center). Moyer also recently designed the premiere of the Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie The Grapes of Wrath, commissioned for the Minnesota Opera, and the recent premiere of Frank Wildhorn’s The Count of Monte Cristo for the Theater St. Gallen (Switzerland). He also designed the Delibes ballet Sylvia for San Francisco Ballet and Romeo and Juliet: On Motifs of Shakespeare for the Mark Morris Dance Group, both choreographed by Mark Morris. Moyer is the recipient of a 2006 Obie Award for sustained excellence and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Albright College (2012).
Linda Pisano designs for theater, dance, musical theater, ballet, and opera throughout the United States; her ballet designs have toured the U.K. and Canada. An award-winning designer, she is the only U.S. costume designer to have her work selected for the 2017 World Stage Design Exhibition, in Taipei. Her work will represent 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 (2015) and the China Institute of Stage Design in Beijing (2016). As professor of costume design at Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance, she also directs the Theatre and Drama study abroad program in London, heads the Design and Technology division, and co-authored the recent book The Art and Practice of Costume Design. Pisano designs professionally with many companies throughout the United States. Some of her most recent work includes West Side Story, L’Étoile, Miranda, Anne Frank, Salome (with Patricia Racette), Candide, To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Sense and Sensibility, Chicago, Madama Butterfly, Dead Man Walking, A Little Night Music, Bloody Andrew Jackson, and the opera Akhnaten. Later this season, she will be designing Bernstein’s Mass for Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater. Pisano is a member of the United Scenic Artists, Local 829.
Lighting Designer Julie Duro is delighted to be returning to the IU Jacobs School of Music. Her work in opera includes designs for Palm Beach Opera, Connecticut Opera, Manhattan School of Music, Kentucky Opera, Mannes Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera International in Washington, D.C., Opera Illinois, Dayton Opera, Opera at USC, Florida State Opera, Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Opera North. Her work in dance encompasses designs for North Carolina Dance Theatre, the Australian Ballet, Southern Ballet Theatre, Kansas City Ballet, Dances Patrelle, and Mark Stuart Dance Theatre. She was the resident lighting designer for the critically acclaimed Ohio Ballet from 1996 to 1999, and she works frequently with Tulsa Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where her work can be seen each year in their productions of The Nutcracker. Duro has worked at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut, where she designed the lighting for A Word or Two Before You Go, a one-man show written by and starring Christopher Plummer, and The Member of the Wedding, directed by Joanne Woodward. In addition, she has designed lighting for Riverside Theatre, the Olney Theatre, Florida Repertory Theatre, Seacoast Repertory, Artpark, Pennsylvania Centre Stage, and the Kennedy Center. She is also excited to be working with the Emerson String Quartet on Black Monk.
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 West Side 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.
Eiddwen Harrhy’s singing career has taken her to many of the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls. Now her teaching is following a similar path, with master classes and one-to-one teaching around the world, including Prague, Vilnius, Stockholm, Berlin, Helsinki, Utrecht, Vienna, Bloomington, Cologne, and Singapore. Harrhy has been teaching at the Royal College of Music for more than 10 years, with her studio including eminent singers and students in the U.K. and in Europe. She has sung with major orchestras and opera companies around the world as well as in more than 20 Handel operas, from Amadigi to Tamerlano, and is regarded as one of the greatest Handel specialists of her generation. Her notable roles include Pamina, Michaela, Countess, Alcina, Poppea, Iphigenie, Fiordiligi, Donna Elvira, Octavian, Composer, Katya Kabanova, Madame Butterfly, and Marie (Wozzeck). Harrhy has worked with many of the great conductors, including Davis, Goodall, Solti, Haitink, Gardiner, Elder, Herreweghe, Norrington, Hickox, Jansons, Minkowski, Mackerras, Willcocks, Pritchard, Hogwood, and Marriner. Directors she has worked with include Peter Hall, Philip Prowse, Jonathan Miller, Richard Jones, Graham Vick, John Copley, John Cox, Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Götz Friedrich, Anthony Besch, and Frank Corsar. She has performed with the leading accompanists of her generation, including Geoffrey Parsons, Graham Johnson, Pascal Roge, Roger Vignoles, and Michael Pollock, appearing in Amsterdam, Athens, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, St. Petersburg, Sydney, and Vienna. Festivals include Glyndebourne, Batignano, Edinburgh, Halle, Aldeburgh, Geneva, Bruges, Lucerne, and Hong Kong. She has made many notable appearances in the BBC Proms and many other broadcast concert performances in the U.K., United States, and Europe for both television and radio. Harrhy has recorded for EMI, Erato, Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi, Nimbus, Opera Rara, and Virgin Classics, among others. She is a fellow of the Royal College of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music by the University of Swansea, Wales.
Daniela Siena brings many years of experience in teaching Italian diction and language to singers. She was introduced to operatic diction by Boris Goldovsky, who was seeking a native speaker without teaching experience to work with singers according to his own pedagogical principles. Siena went on to teach in a number of operatic settings (among them, the Curtis Institute of Music, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Seattle Opera). Over the years, she worked with a number of well-known singers, including Samuel Ramey, Justino Díaz, Carol Vaness, Wolfgang Brendel, June Anderson, Gianna Rolandi, and Jerry Hadley. The conductors, coaches, and stage directors with whom she has worked include Otto Guth, Max Rudolf, Edoardo Müller, David Effron, Arthur Fagen, Anthony Pappano, Anthony Manoli, Terry Lusk, Dino Yannopoulos, Tito Capobianco, Andrei Șerban, John Cox, and John Copley. At New York City Opera, Siena worked closely with Beverly Sills—as her executive assistant, as a diction coach, and as the creator of English supertitles for a dozen operas. More recently, she worked for two years as a coach for the Young Artists Program of the Los Angeles Opera and, for the past six years, she has taught in Dolora Zajick’s summer Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. Born in Florence, Italy, to an Italian mother and a Russian émigré father, Siena arrived in the United States at age seven. She 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 licensed as a psychotherapist by the state of California, where she practiced for 15 years. The mother of two grown children, she moved to Bloomington to be near her son, who lives here with his wife and two young daughters.
Bass Rivers Hawkins, from Columbia, South Carolina, is a graduate student and associate instructor at the Jacobs School of Music, where he studies with Brian Gill. At IU, Hawkins has been seen as Leporello in Don Giovanni and Capitán in Florencia en el Amazonas, as well as in productions of Peter Grimes, Dead Man Walking, and It’s a Wonderful Life. He spent spring 2018 as a resident young artist with Hawaii Opera Theatre, where he performed as the Captain and Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, the Corporal in The Daughter of the Regiment, and Beau in Service Provider by Christopher Weiss and John de los Santos. In summer 2017, he joined Central City Opera’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program as a young artist; there he performed in Carmen, Così fan tutte, The Burning Fiery Furnace, and Gallantry. Hawkins earned his B.M. from New York University’s Steinhardt School.
Mezzo-soprano Grace Skinner is from La Center, Washington, and is a first-year master’s student in the voice performance program at the Jacobs School of Music. She completed her undergrad at Portland State University, where she studied with Christine Meadows. Skinner has performed the roles of Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, La Principessa in Suor Angelica by Giacomo Puccini, Florence Pike in Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten, and Samantha in The Place Where You Started by Mark Lanz Weiser. This summer, she will attend the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she will be performing the role of Mrs. Segstrom in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Skinner is an associate instructor of voice currently studying with Jane Dutton.
Ahyoung Jeong is a soprano from Seoul, Korea, pursuing a Doctor of Music degree. She earned her Bachelor of Music from Seoul National University in 2013 and her Master of Music from New England Conservatory in 2015. Her competition awards include second place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Indiana Regional, first place in NATS New England Regional, and third place in NATS National. Jeong has performed operatic roles such as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria, Morgana in the Emerald City Opera production of Handel’s Alcina, Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Prague Estates Theater, and Papagena in the New England Conservatory production of Puccini’s La Bohème. As a concert singer, Jeong has sung soprano solos of sacred music including Mozart’s Requiem and three Bach cantata concerts with the Bloomington Chamber Singers. She is a current student of Brian Horne.
Virginia Mims, from West Palm Beach, Florida, is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance. Under the tutelage of Alice Hopper, Mims has been seen in Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater’s productions of The Music Man, as Marian Paroo, and Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life, as Mary Bailey. She has performed in the ensembles of Jacobs’ recent productions of Oklahoma!, Madama Butterfly, and Don Giovanni, and will be performing in its April production of Bernstein’s Mass. She will begin pursuing a Master of Music in Voice Performance next year.
Elijah McCormack is a second-year master’s student in early music voice, studying with Steven Rickards. Originally from Connecticut, McCormack earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Skidmore College. Most recently in the Jacobs School, he appeared as the Dewman in Hansel and Gretel, and, last spring, he appeared as a soprano soloist in the Historical Performance Institute’s (HPI) performance of Bach’s Johannes-Passion. He regularly performs with the HPI ensemble Concentus. Outside of the Jacobs School, he has sung roles in Alcina (Oberto), Cavalli’s Didone (Amore), Xerxes (Arsamenes), Le Nozze di Figaro (Cherubino), and The Turn of the Screw (Miles).
Hunter Patrick Shaner, a countertenor from Salisbury, Maryland, is pursuing an M.M. in Voice Performance. Last semester, he was a featured soloist in the University Singers concert and later this year, will be performing in Carol Vaness’s Opera Workshop as well as Bernstein’s Mass. Outside credits include Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Miles (The Turn of the Screw), and Tolomeo (Giulio Cesare) with Red River Lyric Opera. Shaner appeared in the University of Kentucky’s Emmy Award-winning production of Grand Night for Singing in 2017 and Alltech’s annually televised holiday concert Celebration of Song from 2014 to 2017. He studies with Carol Vaness.
Mezzo-soprano Gabriela Fagen is a second-year M.M. student studying under the tutelage of Mary Ann Hart. With Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater, she has performed as Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos, Ethel Toffelmeier in The Music Man, and Unulfo in Rodelinda. Other recent role credits include Orlofsky in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (Lyric Opera Studio Weimar), Concepción in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole (Graduate Opera Workshop), Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte (Prague Summer Nights Festival), and Dame Hannah in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore (University Gilbert & Sullivan Society). Additionally, Fagen is a recipient of the Georgina Joshi International Fellowship and the Viola Wheeler Arts Award.
Emily Warren, mezzo-soprano, is a graduate student studying with Patricia Stiles. This is her fourth production with Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater, having previously performed the roles of Teacher/Ensemble in Mason Bates’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Dryade in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and Koukouli/Ensemble in Chabrier’s L’Étoile. Recently, Warren performed the role of Dritte Dame in a production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Krzysztof Urbański. During her time at Indiana University, she has performed as Angela in the IU Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of Patience and has premiered the role of Joan in Kyle Peter Rotolo’s one-act opera Marilyn’s Room with New Voices Opera. She earned her B.M. in Vocal Performance from Baldwin Wallace University, during which time she performed the roles of Ramiro in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and L’enfant in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges.
Yujia Chen is a mezzo-soprano from Shanghai, P. R. China, currently pursuing her Performance Diploma at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Carol Vaness. She earned her Master of Music degree from IU and her B.M. from Shanghai Conservatory of Music, studying with Zheng Zhou. Chen performed the role of Eduige in Jacobs’ 2017 production of Handel’s Rodelinda and the role of Alisa in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in 2018. She was one of the chorus members in this season’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.
Mezzo-soprano Gretchen Krupp, a Northern Virginia native, was a grand finalist in the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Last summer, she was a young artist at the Glimmerglass Festival and sang Chocholka, Woodpecker, and Innkeeper’s Wife in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Krupp mostly recently sang Mère Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites at Indiana University. While at IU, she has performed Alisa (Lucia di Lammermoor), Auntie (Peter Grimes), Marquise (The Daughter of the Regiment), and Sister Lillianne (Dead Man Walking). She is an alumna of many programs, including Wolf Trap Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, and HGO’s Young Artists Vocal Academy. She was a finalist in the 29th Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, culminating in the 2017 Concert of Arias at Houston Grand Opera. This summer, she will return to the Glimmerglass Festival to sing Samira in The Ghosts of Versailles and Mrs. Noah in Noah’s Flood. Krupp recently earned a Master of Music degree and is currently completing a Performer Diploma at Jacobs, where she studies with Jane Dutton.
Bass-baritone Steele Fitzwater is a first-year master’s degree student studying voice with Peter Volpe. Originally from Dawson, West Virginia, Fitzwater recently completed his undergraduate studies at Miami University (Ohio) in vocal performance and fashion and design. Earlier this season, he made his Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater debut as Javelinot in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites as well as being a chorister in the same production. With Miami University Opera, Fitzwater was seen as Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Death (Savitri), Carl-Magnus Malcolm (A Little Night Music), Frank Maurrant (Street Scene), and Capt. Jonathan Williams in the world premiere of Daniel Levy’s The Martian Chronicles. During two summers with the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center, he performed Doctor Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro), Carl Olsen (Street Scene), Snug (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Louis Cyphre in the world premiere of J. Mark Scearce’s Falling Angel. As a concert soloist, Fitzwater has performed the bass solos in The Creation (Haydn), Messiah (Handel), Mass in G (Schubert), and The Seven Last Words of Christ (DuBois). He made his professional operatic debut at age 17, as the First Priest in Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Opera Roanoke, where he was an apprentice artist for three seasons. This summer, he will join Central City Opera as a studio artist in Central City, Colorado.
Tenor Blake Beckemeyer specializes in historically informed performances of Baroque operatic and sacred works. In the past year, he has performed as Evangelist in the Schütz Weihnachtshistorie with Concentus, concertist in BWV 75 with Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro with DePauw Opera, Marco in The Gondoliers with the University Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and soloist in the Bach Magnificat with Christ Church Cathedral. He has worked professionally with Charlotte Bach Akademie, Oregon Bach Festival, and Bach-Ensemble Helmuth Rilling. He graduated this spring from DePauw University with a B.M. in Vocal Performance and a B.A. in Mathematics, and was a finalist for the Ferid Murad medal (DePauw’s highest academic honor). Beckemeyer is in his first year of the master’s degree in early music voice, studying with Steven Rickards.
Benjamin Bird is originally from Palmdale, California. A second-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. This is his third Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater performance, previously appearing in Dialogues of the Carmelites (L’Aumonier) and Ariadne auf Naxos (Tanzmeister/Brighella).
Bass Drew Comer, a native of Brownsburg, Indiana, is making his Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater role debut. He is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance under the instruction of Patricia Stiles and Gary Arvin. During his time at the Jacobs School, he has been seen in the choruses of Lucia di Lammermoor, The Music Man, Florencia en el Amazonas, Oklahoma!, and The Barber of Seville. With Katherine Jolly’s Opera Workshop, he has performed in scenes from The Mikado (Pooh-Bah), La Clemenza di Tito (Publio), Die Zauberflöte (Sarastro), and Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Osmin). 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 for a “powerful, steady voice and distinctive height” by Opera Canada. He is a recipient of the Indiana Premiere Young Talent Scholarship and the William and Emma Horn Scholarship, and has been recognized as an Indiana University Founders Scholar.
Quinn Galyan, of Bloomington, Indiana, is a first-year master’s student studying as a bass-baritone under Brian Horne. At Jacobs, he has performed as Doc in West Side Story, Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, Siroco in L’Étoile, Charlie Cowell in The Music Man, and Hortensius in The Daughter of the Regiment. Additionally, he has had solos in Dead Man Walking and South Pacific, along with chorus work in Dialogue of the Carmelites, Peter Grimes, H.M.S. Pinafore, La Bohème, and Carmen. Galyan has performed in IU’s Symphonic Choir, University Chorale, and Summer Chorus (King David, conducted by Walter Huff). Outside of Jacobs, he has performed with the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, and Cardinal Stage Company in Bloomington, Indiana. While in Graz, he had solo work in AIMS’s musical theater concert as well as the final orchestra concert of its summer season. With Cardinal, he was the bass of the Cockney Quartet in My Fair Lady and performed in Annie, Big River, and The Wizard of Oz.