Gilbert & Sullivan’s The MikadoAug 18, 2019 - 3:00pm
Community Church of Vero Beach - 1901 23rd St, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Central Florida Vocal Arts and Opera del Sol, in collaboration with the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra, will present a star-studded cast of singers in an unstaged production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s beloved operetta, The Mikado. The Mikado is the most popular Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and arguably the most popular ever written. The Mikado is laugh out loud fun for the entire family, as Victorian England meets an imaginary imperial Japan. Sparkling satire, famous melodies, and captivating silliness abound in this topsy-turvy tale of love and misadventures.
Through collaboration with the Asian American community in Central Florida, we are using this work as an opportunity to celebrate Japanese art and culture via this satirical work”. Directed by Asian American director, Kit Cleto with support from veteran opera director Eric Pinder, this production team promises to bring creative comedy to the stage through an outstanding cast.
Including shining stars Tamir Hernandez (Maria [West Side Story]) as Yum Yum, Japanese American opera star, Arisa Kusumi (Pamina [Die Zauberflote], Susanna [Le Nozze di Figaro]) as The (first female) Mikado and Metropolitan Opera regular Susan Neves as Katisha (Turandot [Turandot], Bloody Mary [South Pacific]), the ladies of our modern Mikado are the finest Central Florida has to offer! Not to be out done, the men in our cast including John Segers, Jacob Pence, Stephen Cauley and Bryan Hayes also shine brightly! With Space Coast Symphony Orchestra and maestro Aaron Collins bringing this score to life, this caliber of talent on one stage in Central Florida won’t soon be found again and will certainly result in an audience reveling in (un)”modified rapture”.
Versatile is a word used frequently when referring to American soprano Susan Neves who has been acclaimed in the world’s great opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera, Vienna State Opera and throughout Italy. Her dramatic range and versatility set her apart.
From Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Verdi’s Lady Macbeth, Puccini’s Tosca and Turandot to her “nightclub act” From Mozart to Moon River, as well as intimate recitals, Susan is recognized as a singing actress of the highest order who connects with her audiences as few do.
Acclaimed by the Winston-Salem Journal, as a “…Bloody Mary… who infuses “Bali Hai” with yearning and a little cry in her voice…”, by the magazine Figaro Si as “…one of the most gifted sopranos of our time”, by Opera News as a singer “…of powerful emotion…” and by Pittsburgh’s Tribune Review as “…a master of emotional progression…”, Susan Neves is an artist who revels in all kinds of music.
Susan is not a so-called “cross-over artist” when it comes to Broadway and music theatre, since it is in her blood, beginning very early with a high school production of Once Upon a Mattress and leading to New Moon, Utopia Limited and The Pirates of Penzance with the Village Light Opera Group in New York City. She is as much at home with the music of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, as she is with Giuseppe Verdi or Giacomo Puccini.
A native New Yorker, she earned her master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. When her travel schedule permits she enjoys teaching voice students. www.SusanNeves.com.
Stephen Cauley graduated from Rollins College with an M.A.T in Music Education and is currently teaching music at CFLA where he is the director of both middle school and high school music programs. He is a teacher, performer, director, and composer. As a performer, Stephen has traveled around the world performing in professional touring groups of musical theatre throughout the United States and also performing in Italy and Japan. Some of his music theatre roles include Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, Huckabee in The Fantasticks, Marc Anthony in A Chorus Line, The Dentist (Orin Scrivello) in Little Shop of Horrors, Mordred in Camelot, Dr. Parker in Batboy: The Musical, and Hindley in his original musical, Wuthering Heights. He has also performed in various Operas such as The Gondoliers, and La Boheme. He is currently working on his newest original musical Critical Fail hoping to debut next year. Stephen has performed with CFVA in two past productions as King Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors and as Barsad in A Tale of Two Cities the Musical.
Japanese-American soprano Arisa Kusumi has performed around the world, including in Europe, the US, Mexico, and Japan. An internationally acclaimed concert and recital singer, her career highlights include performances at Marlboro Music Festival, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, Villecroze Festival of France, the Austrian Embassy in Washington DC, Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Mozart Society of Atlanta, and the Robert Schumann Philharmonic in Germany.
Her prolific opera career includes over 300 opera performances of light lyric/soubrette roles such as Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Anna in Nicolai’s Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Waldvogel in Wagner’s Siegfried among others at such companies as the San Francisco Opera Center, the Chemnitz, Halle, and Osnabrück Operas of Germany, Vadstena Akademien in Sweden, the Xalapa Orchestra in Mexico, and as Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. She was a prizewinner at the Verbier Festival, the International Robert Schumann Lied Competition, as well as being a finalist in the Joy in Singing Competition. A magna cum laude graduate of the Eastman School of Music, she received further training at the Bavarian State Opera Münchener Singschul’, Ravinia Festival Steans Institute, and extensive mentorship from such art song masters as Dalton Baldwin, Thomas Quasthoff, and Ernst Haefliger, among others. She studied voice with Carol Webber, Benita Valente, and Marni Nixon. As a teacher, Ms. Kusumi has given masterclasses at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of South Florida, and Bob Jones University. She also served many years on the voice faculty at Rollins College and is regularly invited to judge international voice competitions. In the summer of 2018, she made her directorial debut in a world premiere of the opera Bridesmaids by Scott Bradley Joyner at the Vienna Summer Music Festival. She currently teaches privately and serves as the Executive and Artistic Director of the Howey Mansion Music Series.
Nishaa Johnson is a singer, pianist, and teacher. Nishaa holds both a Bachelor of Music Degree in Voice Performance and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from the University of South Florida. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Arts Degree with an emphasis in Music, from the University of Central Florida.
She has performed with many organizations within Central Florida, such as CFCArts, Central Florida Vocal Arts, Opera Del Sol, Disney, and Gaylord Palms. Most recently, she performed the role of Laurie in The Tender Land with UCF Opera. In addition to being a student and graduate teaching assistant at UCF, she teaches private voice and piano from her studio in Orlando, and is an adjunct voice instructor at the Montverde Academy Conservatory of Music.
Bryan Hayes is a working vocalist with a background ranging many genres including Classical, Jazz, Blues, Soul, R&B, Rock, Pop and more. In fall 2013 he received bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Florida in the studies of Classical voice and in Jazz Studies, primary instrument being voice.
He has performed and continues to perform in countless concerts, he has performed major roles in numerous operas, oratorios and theatrical productions, and has toured with different groups in many different countries, including but not limited to; the University of North Florida and University of British Columbia Opera ensembles in two separate productions in the Czech Republic, the University of North Florida Chorale 2010 tour of Italy, the St. John’s Cathedral Choir of Jacksonville 2014 tour of Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, a contract with Carnival Cruise Lines in 2014, and numerous shows with the Orlando Philharmonic and Opera Orlando.
He has performed onstage with such noted artists and ensembles, including but not limited to; The Royal Symphony of England, Reggie Wooten, Ben Folds and Andrea Bocelli.
In 2015 Bryan released his first album of original compositions entitled “This Is Me.” Bryan aspires to continue a career of performance and composition. He currently resides in Orlando, Florida.
Ian Campbell first encountered G&S in high school in Australia, when he sang Nanki- Poo in The Mikado. At the time, Sydney boasted many amateur operetta groups, and while at university he sang Tolloller in lolanthe,Fitzbattleaxe in Utopia Limited,both Hilarion and Cyril in Princess lda, and even Enoch Snow in Carousel. Upon graduation he joined the newly-formed Opera Australia and for seven years sang comprimario tenor roles in operas such as The Rake's Progress, Tannhciuser, Otello and Falstalf, and was in the cast of War and Peace which opened the Sydney Opera House in 1973. He then moved into management and stage direction becoming General Manager of The State Opera of South Australia in Adelaide, Assistant Artistic Administrator at the Metropolitan Opera in NY, and for more than thirty years, General and Artistic Director of San Diego Opera. He has directed many operas including Tosca, Murder in the Cathedral, Katya Kabanova, La traviata, Aida, La bohdme, Falstaffand Don Quixote as well as Terrence McNally's play, Master Class.
Amanda Decker is an in demand actress and singer. Recent stage credits include Lady Nijo/Win in Top Girls at Mad Cow Theatre, Euterpe in Xanadu at The Garden Theatre, and Lisa in Mamma Mia at Theatre Winter Haven.
Film credits include a lead in the short film, Yoga Mat Chats. She can also be seen in the Music Video PSA I See the Roses, a film project intended to bring awareness to the realities of Human Trafficking. When she’s not working, Amanda enjoys watching Netflix with her dog and thrifting. Amanda thanks her husband, Zach, for being her greatest supporter and best friend.
Mezzo soprano Jacquelyn Pileckas recently completed a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Florida. In 2017, Ms. Pileckas graduated from Christopher Newport University with B.M. in Vocal Performance.
At the University of Florida, Ms. Pileckas performed as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, as well as workshopping the role of Pearl in Paul Richard’s upcoming opera The Gollum of Prague. With Opera CNU, Ms. Pileckas performed Laetitia in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief and Despina in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. She has also performed Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with OperaFestival di Roma, The Mistress of the Novices in Suor Angelica with Red River Lyric Opera, and Gherardino in Gianni Schicchi with Tidewater Opera Initiative.
Geoff is thrilled to be making his debut with Central Florida Vocal Arts. A proud graduate from Weber State University, Geoff has worked to spread social awareness through dance and movement. He has acted alongside local LGBTQ organizations as a dance therapist to help youth and members of the community struggling with mental and physical illness.
He is also a part of the daily entertainment family’s of Sea World, Walt Disney World, and Osceola Arts. Previous Companies: Alonzo King Ballet, Grupo Corpo, WSU Moving Co., Utah Festival Opera, New London Barn Playhouse. Previous Works: Shrek- The Musical, Arcadia, Rocky Horror Show, Evita. XOXO Mama & Parkie!
Jacob Pence has been hailed by Ken Herman of the San Diego Story for his “robust and colorful” singing and described by freelance performing arts writer Tom Alvarez as “showing finesse...” in his blog On the Aisle. This past season has seen Jacob perform the roles of Dax and The Client with Opera Orlando as part of Orlando Fringe, as Pritschitsch in the OperaNeo production of The Merry Widow in San Diego, California and as the Bass Soloist in performances of Handel’s Messiah with Central Florida Vocal Arts and the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. Jacob has performed in productions with The St. Petersburg Opera Company, Kentucky Opera, Indianapolis Opera, The Crested Butte Music Festival, Music by the Lake at Aurora University, Columbus Opera, The Lexington Opera Society, and the Martina Arroyo Foundation. A native of Crestwood, Kentucky, Jacob is a graduate of The Ohio State University and the University of Evansville, residing near Orlando, Florida performing regularly with the Opera Orlando Chorus and All-Saints Episcopal Church Choirs.
Danielle K. Smith is an active and versatile performer, and a passionate and energetic music educator. She has sung professionally with Opera Orlando, Orlando Light Opera, and Central Florida Vocal Arts, and some of her favorite performed roles include Brigitta from Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, Nella from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Jenny from Sondheim’s Company. Danielle is a frequent recitalist and has performed for the University Club of Winter Park, Westminster Winter Park, the Woman’s Club of Winter Park, and for various galas and benefit concerts in the central Florida area. Danielle cantors at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, and is a member of the all female holiday a cappella group, Belles and Bows. Danielle holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Vocal Performance from Rollins College and a Master’s of Music degree in Voice Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. She is a Teaching Artist for the School of the Arts at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. She has also taught voice and directed with Central Florida Vocal Arts and Central Florida Community Arts, and teaches private voice lessons out of her home studio in Winter Park.
Lyric Soprano Ashly S. Thomas currently holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance from Bethune-Cookman University located in Daytona-Beach, FL. During her undergraduate studies, she was frequently featured as a soloist for concerts and many diverse opera scenes. When Ms. Thomas was not on stage at the university, she was performing with the Orlando Opera Company as a member of the opera chorus.
After spending time studying overseas Ms. Thomas began her Master's Degree in Opera at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. There she was cast as Countess Almaviva in a fully staged production of Mozart's Le Nozzi di Figaro. Most recently Ms. Thomas was selected as a studio artist in the Angels Vocal Arts young artist program located in Los Angeles, CA where she had the honor of being a featured soloist in several performances in and around Los Angeles, including a masterclass with Italian tenor Maestro Vittorio Grigolo. Ms. Thomas is currently a resident artist with Opera Tampa.
A Florida native, Ms. McCranie has an extensive background in the arts, from performing on stage to teaching and working in arts administration. Miss McCranie was most recently seen performing in Central Florida with Space Coast Symphony, Opera del Sol and Central Florida Vocal Arts in their Masquerade program. Stephanie also currently performs with the acclaimed Classical Crossover group, Klassika. Ms. McCranie had the privilege of serving as faculty at Texas A&M University Commerce, University of the Incarnate Word and University of Tampa. While in Texas, Ms. McCranie was a member of the esteemed Dallas Opera Chorus and was also chosen as a Semi-Finalist in the Dallas Opera Guild competition. Favorite roles include Beauty (Beauty and the Beast), Miss Silverpeal (Impresario), and Micaela (La Tragedie de Carmen). In addition to a Bachelors degree in Music Education from Stetson University, Ms. McCranie has a Masters in Vocal Performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Tamir Hernandez Rosa is thrilled to be making her Central Florida Vocal Arts, Opera del Sol, and Space Coast Symphony Orchestra debut with this iconic and timeless work! Her stage works include: West Side Story (Maria), Destiny of Desire (Victoria Maria del Rio), O Wondrous Night (Mary), Miss Saigon (Ellen), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Gargoyle/Player), Ghost The Musical (Mrs. Santiago/Ensemble). Tamir has performed with various groups around the state, including: University of Central Florida Opera, Take Note - A Vocal Collective, Legacy!, and Encore Performing Arts. A proud UCF Music alum, Tamir has also performed throughout Central Florida area theme parks and resorts including the Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland Florida, and Gaylord Palms.
John Segers began his performing career in New York City at the age of five. John has amassed almost half a century of theatrical experience, mostly in operetta, musicals, and Shakespeare. Some of his previous credits include Camelot (King Arthur), Man of La Mancha (Don Quixote), Sullivan and Gilbert (W. S. Gilbert), Arsenic and Old Lace (Jonathan Brewster), The Sound of Music (Captain Von Trapp), Chicago (Billy Flynn), and Moby Dick (Captain Ahab). John is a specialist in Gilbert & Sullivan, having directed productions of Trial By Jury, The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado for various theatres, including staging the children's Mikado for the Orlando Youth Opera. He has appeared in full productions of Trial By Jury (The Learned Judge), The Sorcerer (John Wellington Wells), H.M.S. Pinafore (Sir Joseph Porter), The Pirates of Penzance (Major-General Stanley), Iolanthe (The Lord Chancellor), The Mikado (as Ko-Ko and as Pooh-Bah in different productions), Ruddigore (Sir Despard Murgatroyd), and The Gondoliers (The Duke of Plaza-Toro). In addition, he has also appeared in staged concert scenes from all of the other surviving G&S operettas, and served repeatedly as Orlando Opera's guest lecturer in Gilbert and Sullivan. John is happiest about a particular production of H.M.S. Pinafore, for it was there that he met his beloved wife, Theresa. John is the director of the Orlando Gilbert and Sullivan Players.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Kit Cleto was born in Chicago, Illinois and showed interest in music at an early age. He actively sang in choirs from elementary school through high school. He received a BM in vocal performance from the University of Central Florida, studying under Dr. Jeremy Hunt and Priscilla Bagley. During his time at UCF, Kit sang solos with the University Chorus, Chamber Singers, and UCF Symphony Orchestra. He also performed operatic roles with UCF Opera, the Orlando Opera Company, and Valencia Opera Theater Workshop. Kit received a MM in Voice Performance & Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under full scholarship, studying with Jerold Siena, an internationally acclaimed tenor who has appeared regularly at the Metropolitan Opera and the world's leading opera houses. He performed operatic and musical theatre roles with the Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, U of I Opera Studio & Opera Scenes, Station Theatre, Sinfonia da Camera, and the Allerton Music Barn Festival. Kit spent the summers of 2010 and 2013 performing operatic scenes and studying the Italian language with La Scuola Italia per Cantanti Lirici in Urbania and St’Angelo in Vado, Italy. Recently, Kit has successfully crossed over into the musical theatre genre as well, performing leading and supporting roles with many Central Florida theatre companies such as the Garden Theatre, Athens Theatre, Mad Cow Theatre, Central Florida Community Arts, and Titusville Playhouse. He currently serves on the voice faculty at Valencia College and the Orlando School of Music.
An accomplished actor, writer and director, Eric Pinder has been part of the Orlando arts scene for 23 years. As a theme park performer, he has worked in all four Disney parks (including the legendary "Adventures' Club" on Pleasure Island where he played three different roles) as well as several stages at Universal. Originally from Michigan, Eric holds a BFA in Musical Theatre where he portrayed roles as diverse as Richard in "Ah, Wilderness", Marcellus in "Music Man", and the Police Sargeant in "Pirates of Penzance" to name just a few. He has an MFA In Theatre Performance from the University of Florida where a sampling of his parts there include the Major General in "Pirates of Penzance", "Chairman/Sapsea in "Mystery of Edwin Drood" and Lexy Mills in "Candida".
A professional Equity performer, Eric has been onstage at Mad Cow Theatre (Lockstock in "Urinetown", "Shipwrecked!", "The Explorers Club") Orlando Shakes ("The Luckiest People in the World", "The Exit Interview") and SAK Comedy Lab (Christmas Carol Invasion). He is best known for being a fixture of the International Orlando Fringe Theatre Festival having appeared in 19 out of 25 years. Besides appearing in works by others, he also penned his own one man shows, "Waiting For Napoleon" and "My Mislabeled Youth" as well as the critically acclaimed hits "Driving Miss Cherry Blossom" and "Skip Peril" both of which were named "Best Bets" by the Orlando Sentinel.
He was a supernumerary for Orlando Opera's production of "Salome" and has performed Antonio in two different productions of "Barber of Seville". Taking over as Director in Residence for Florida Opera Theatre, he directed "Gianni Schicci", "The Telephone", "Old Maid and the Thief", "Trouble in Tahiti", "Peter Brooks' Carmen", as well as several concerts and events. For Orlando Light Opera he directed "The Student Prince". He was proud to be the director for the inaugural production of Opera Orlando, the double bill of Mozart's "Impresario" (for which healso wrote a new script) and Poulenc's "Mamelles de Teresias". Next up, he is directing "The Seven Year Itch" at Valencia College. He is at work on two different opera librettos, one of which is for a hockey opera called "Goaliedammerung".
Soprano, Theresa Leigh Smith-Levin, is proud to be the founder and Chief Executive Director of Central Florida Vocal Arts, parent company to Orlando Light Opera and to co-produce the outstanding cast and crew of The Merry Widow. Theresa is a UCF and Univ. of Miami alumni, who performs regularly throughout the area. She cantors weekly at St Margaret Mary Church and maintains a music studio of 40+ students. In addition to her private studio, Theresa teaches voice at Dr. Phillips’ H.S. and Dr. Phillips’ PAC School of the Arts. Theresa was most recently seen singing the role of Philia in Forum, the Baroness in The Sound of Music and Princess Margaret in The Student Prince with Orlando Light Opera. She is a sought after performer, director and music director of both musical theater and classical vocal works. She has also produced numerous original productions with Central Florida Vocal Arts. Later this month, she will be performing the one-woman show, Save Me Dolly Parton, produced by Beth Marshall Presents at The Indy Fringe Festival. Theresa would like to thank her husband Brent, fur baby Missy and son-in-utero for their love, support and patience! And THANK YOU for being here to support the arts in Central Florida.
Conny Williamson is thrilled to return to Orlando Light Opera (OLO) for their Summer Production of Merry Widow. Most recently, Conny stage Managed Soap Opera Sloppy Seconds for Central Florida Vocal Arts (CFVA) at Fringe. This past Spring she worked on Two Trials for First Coast Opera in St. Augustine. Prior to that, Conny worked with the Orlando Philharmonic for their Opera Trio of The Magic Flute, Candide, and The Elixir of Love last Season. This past fall, Conny worked with Central Florida Vocal Arts on their Original Production of Grimmly Ever After, as well as an independent production of Dracula. Last summer, Conny Stage Managed the Premiere of The Student Prince, which was a collaborative effort between OLO, CFVA, and the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with Opera Tampa, and the Orlando Opera, on such Productions as: Madama Butterfly, Samson and Delilah, Pirates of Penzance, and The Elixir of Love. Conny called the Winter Park Playhouse home for three Seasons doing some fun Musicals, including Forbidden Broadway’s Greatest Hits; 8 Track: The Sounds of the 70’; and Musical of Musicals: The Musical. When she is not Stage Managing, Conny is a Textile Services Manager at The Walt Disney World Resort. She is also a Team Member at Universal Studios, and works closely with the Events Team as a Sub Coordinator for Halloween, Christmas, and Mardi Gras. Conny is a Manager (MOD) and Trainer at Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Shows. In the Orlando area, she has worked with, Yow Dance, The IceHouse Theatre, Ibex Puppetry, The Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Theatre Winter Haven, Baggy Pants Theatre Company, and Polk State College. Conny just completed a three-year term as a panelist for the Small Budget Category for United Arts of Central Florida. Conny would like to thank CVFA, OLO, and The Space Coast Symphony for this amazing opportunity!
Established in the mind of its Founder & Executive Director, Nicole Dupré, Opera del Sol was manifested from her adoration for all things Orlando and her love for opera. Having labored for nearly a decade in various capacities within the world of the performing arts, Nicole imagined, believed, and then conceived a way of facilitating opera for a 21st Century audience. Lifting it beyond the opera house and over the walls of the concert hall and delivering it straight to a multigenerational and multiethnic audience, via Central Florida’s most cherished structures is its mission.
Since 2009, Nicole Dupré has worked alongside and within numerous Performing Arts institutions, including Opera Orlando, The Orlando Philharmonic, Stetson University, UCF, The Orlando Ballet, Vero Beach Opera Company, among others. As a heavily sought after Hair, Makeup and Wig Designer her work has been seen in such productions as: Madama Butterfly, La Traviata, Tosca, Barber of Seville, Marriage of Figaro, Impresario, Les mamelles de Tiresias, Don Pasquale, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Don Giovanni, Magic Flute, Candide, Beauty & the Beast, Don Quiote, Dracula and many more. Her highly regarded expertise in skincare has earned the trust of such notable clientele as: FORBES Magazine, The Today Show, MSNBC, The Golf Channel, WESH2News, and even a 500lb. tiger.
Affectionately regarded as the unofficial Empress Of Orlando, Nicole Dupré is unapologetic about her love and zeal for Orlando. As a graduate of The Mayor’s City Academy, she has determined to help shape Orlando’s Performing Arts culture. Opera del Sol endeavors to re imagine operatic classics, cultivate and create modern gems and expose audiences of every age and background to the wonders of the Performing Arts.