Sunday, August 20, 2017 - 3:00pm

1707 16th Street Vero Beach, FL 32960

Light Opera of Orlando

Eric Pinder, Director
Aaron Collins, Conductor

Translated by Swantje Levin, Re-Imagined by Eric Pinder
Performed in English with projected English titles

LEHAR  The Merry Widow

Hanna inherited a fortune from her late husband. The year is 2005, and she is so wealthy that everyone who is anyone in Silicon Valley is tracking her down to get a piece of her wealth. Believing that a new marriage is the best way to secure her inheritance, a business mogul springs into action with the help of his wife (a former escort) to find Hanna the right husband. It isn't as easy as it seems, however - the clever widow has her sights set on the charming and reckless Daniel, an old suitor that didn't pan out in her past. There's only one problem: Daniel has no intention of giving up the wild party life of a bachelor.  He has a gaggle of show girls to keep him entertained, and not even the promise of Hannah's wealth can pull him away from his luxuriant escapades.   Rendezvous are rampant and complications abound.   Hanna ultimately gets her man as Lehár’s unforgettable tunes bubble happily along.

* Not appropriate for children under the age of 13.   

Artist Information

Claire Tendl is a poised and charismatic soloist and ensemble performer with an extensive background in performing. She is currently a sophomore at The University of Florida receiving a degree in Vocal Performance.  Claire also works at The Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville where she regularly performs in masses and solo works. Her most recent performances have included tours with the UF Opera Theater Program throughout Tampa and Orlando. These tours included performing opera scenes from operas such as Carmen as Frasquita, Die Zauberflöte as Pamina, The Mikado as Yum-Yum, and Le Nozze di Figaro as Susanna. She has also recently performed in the Duruflé Requiem and Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the lamb” with The Holy Trinity Church. Upcoming performances include The Merry Widow with Orlando Light Opera as Hanna Glawari this August 2017, and Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, as the understudy for Rosina this coming Spring 2018 with the UF Opera Theater Program. Claire is ecstatic to join the Orlando Light Opera Company this summer in the Production of The Merry Widow. She could not be more grateful for this opportunity.

Kevin Romero, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, received his Music education in Vocal Performance from Valencia College, University of Central Florida, and Stetson University. He began his vocal training as a Lyric Tenor specializing in Classical and Romantic repertoire under countless of critically acclaimed professional Vocal Coaches. He has remained an active member and frequent soloist on both of Valencia’s and Stetson University’s Vocal ensembles and Opera-Theatre Workshops, and has been honored with representing these Music Institutions in a wide variety of National Singing Competitions and Conventions, winning numerous 1st place Awards, Certificates and Achievements. Outside of Music education, Mr. Romero has sung and performed in multiple operatic roles and productions with many of Central Florida’s most prestigious theatre groups and companies like Central Florida Vocal Arts and Orlando Light Opera.  Kevin Romero is delighted to perform once again with Orlando Light Opera in this spectacular production of “The Merry Widow”.

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.

An Iowa native, Julie Batman sings professionally with the Orlando Light Opera, Orlando Opera, the Dickens Carolers, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. She holds a Bachelor of Music performance degree from Rollins College where she studied voice with Curtis Rayam. A dedicated educator, Julie serves as Adjunct Professor of Voice and Piano at Rollins College where she has also been a choral director and accompanist.  She also teaches voice and piano at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando. Since 2015, Julie has been a member and featured soloist with the acclaimed Basilica Choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe.  As a featured vocal soloist, Julie has performed with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, the Messiah Choral Society, Central Florida Community Arts and others. Her performance solo credits include the premiere of the contemporary ballet “Carolina” by Jessica Klee, Handel’s “Messiah”, Mozart’s “Requiem”, Schubert’s “Magnificat”, Vivaldi’s “Nulla in Mundo Pax/ Alleluia”, Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” and “Grand Mass in C Major” and many more.  Julie has appeared on several commercially released recordings including Ernest Wolf’s “Easter Cantata” with the Moravian Society, “All is Bright” with the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra, “Ave Maria” by the Basilica Choir and others.  In addition to singing and teaching, Julie enjoys accompanying choral groups and playing solo piano for events.

Eliza Dopira has been praised for her “vibrant tone” (Cecilia Porter, Washington Post) as well as her “thoughtful phrasing” and “shining work” (Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun). Eliza has appeared as a soloist with Brevard Community Chorus and she is no stranger to the King Center Stage. Eliza has also performed as a soloist with The Brevard Symphony Orchestra and Space Coast Symphony. Ms. Dopira has performed several operatic roles with Sarasota Opera, Baltimore Opera, Washington Summer Opera, and Lake George Opera.

An accomplished concert artist, Ms. Dopira was chosen to premiere The Suite from Sophie's Choice by Nicholas Maw at Peabody Conservatory's Grand Reopening Celebration. She has performed Ravel's "Chanson Madécasses" with members of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC to sold-out crowds. Other concert appearances include the Beethoven 9th with the River Cities Symphony, Mahler Symphony No. 3 with Peabody Symphony Orchestra, Shérézade with the Peabody Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Mozart and Duruflé Requiems andHandel’s Messiah.

Ms. Dopira is a graduate of Peabody Conservatory, where she earned a Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera in the studio of Phyllis Bryn-Julson, as well as a Master’s Degree. A native of Melbourne, Florida, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Florida State University in the studio of Yvonne Ciannella. Eliza serves as a full time instructor of music at Florida Institute of Technology, leading the Concert Choir and String Orchestra as well as teaching voice. She enjoys sharing her talent by organizing and performing fundraising concerts for local philanthropic organizations.

A lover of both opera and musical theater, Benjamin Ludwig was graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance. While at UCF he performed professionally with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Florida Opera Theatre in productions of La Traviata, Madama Butterfly, La bohème, Rigoletto, and Il barbiere di Siviglia.

He was seen on stage most recently in Theater at the J’s production of Bye Bye Birdie as Albert Peterson. Those who just can’t get enough Ben Ludwig can find him cantoring at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Cloud. Ben is delighted to be a part of this exciting production and hopes you are, too.

Erik Branch is delighted to return to OLO after having played Lutzin its initial production of The Student Prince last summer (after playing the totally dissimilar role of Sister Rosemary in Angelina Sings! at the Fringe Festival!) A native of New York City, he has been seen as Beadle Bamford (Sweeney Todd), Ralph Rackstraw (HMS Pinafore), Alexis (The Sorcerer), and Mordred (Camelot), as well as in CFVA's Life of the Party and The Quest (Sarastro); in an assortment of non-musical roles including Malvolio (Twelfth Night), Étienne (Vampire Lesbians of Sodom), and Dr. Brodsky (A Clockwork Orange); in over 20 films, and in commercials. He appeared in 11 operas with the Orlando Opera Company, and has appeared in another 11 operas with the Orlando Philharmonic, in association with Mad Cow Theatre Company and Opera Orlando.  Erik holds a BA in Music and an MA in Composition from Hunter College. He is active also as a pianist and musical director in the Orlando area. Erik’s music has had performances in such cities as New York, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Orlando, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Bucharest, Bordeaux, and Athens, and at West Point, at Harvard University and at the Crane School of Music.  He thanks his family, friends, and castmates and crew for their support.

Elise Spagnuolo is a student at the University of Central Florida who will graduate in fall of 2017 with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance as well as a Bachelor of Music Education. Music and singing have always been a passion of hers, most likely stemming from her father's musicianship, and it was flourished through his continual support. Spagnuolo has been performing in choir ever since a child, always jumping at the opportunity of being a part of all open and auditioned choirs in school, then continuing in UCF with the Women's Chorus, University Chorus, and the select Chamber Singers. She has also travelled to Bulgaria to be a part of a production of Madama Butterfly in summer 2016, which only further confirmed her path in music. She is currently in pursuit of a career as a high school choir director, but not without continuing to perform on the side.

Jonatan Rodriguez has recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Music Performance where he studied under Dr. Jeremy Hunt. A music student of nearly 12 years, Jonatan is no stranger to the stage. He is excited to be back with Orlando Light Opera after last year's inaugural production of The Student Prince debuting as a lackey.  Recent performances also included "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses" with the Orlando Philharmonic, Grimmly Ever After (Prince, King Teufel), and Opera Tampa’s full season (Romeo et Juilette, Cenerentola, and Tosca). Future engagements include Opera Tampa’s productions of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Macbeth. Jonatan plans on continue his studies in 2019. Jonatan is an Orlando native who loves The City Beautiful. When he is not on stage or making music, he likes to spend his time in the kitchen baking and cooking. He would like to thank his family and friends for all their support. Jonatan Rodriguez would also like to thank Orlando Light Opera for this opportunity.

Natalie Almeter is a soprano currently studying opera and voice at the University of Central Florida. She is currently a Junior working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance and studies voice with Beverly Rinaldi. She cantors for multiple Catholic churches across Florida including Saint James Cathedral in Orlando, Saint Thomas Aquinas Church in Saint Cloud, and Saint Joseph Church in Bradenton. In the Summer of 2016, Natalie was chosen to travel to Florence, Italy to study operatic voice as a part of Rider University’s Florence Summer Program. There, she spent three weeks of intensive coaching and Italian immersion. It was an unforgettable experience that she will forever cherish. Natalie was cast as the role of Barbarina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro during Sarasota Opera’s 2015  MainStage season. She was also awarded first place in the 2015 and 2017 NATS competition for Women’s Classical Voice. Outside of music, Natalie works at Henri Bendel in the Mall at Millenia and is a talent for the Professionally Pretty modeling agency. Natalie’s operatic journey began in the Sarasota Youth Opera children’s chorus for multiple MainStage shows in Sarasota and grew her love for the art form. With every new opera she performed in or watched, a deeper longing to pursue a career in the field arose.  Natalie dreams of a life full of music, travel, and creativity wherever the journey may lead her. She is so excited to share her passion with others and looks forward to her future as a performer.

Bryant Williams is a recent graduate from Rollins College. At Rollins he has appeared in a number of recitals and was recently a member of the cast of the Music Department production of  Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute and the title role of Gilbert and Sullivan's, The Mikado. In addition to his appearances in Rollins events, Bryant attended Music Theater Bavaria in the summer of 2014, where he sang the role of Don Alfonso in scenes from Mozart’s Cosí fan Tutte. This past year he debuted as King Balthazar in Opera Orlando's production of Menotti's opera, Amahl and the night visitors and covered Leporello from Mozart's, Don Giovanni. Bryant appeared as Escamillo in Carmen by Bizet wth the Harrower summer opera workshop and Leporello in Don Giovanni. Bryant is a resident artist of the Choir at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church  in Winter Park and studio artist of Opera Orlando, but in addition he regularly perform guest appearances in churches throughout the South.  He studies voice with Richard Owens and prides himself on singing difficult baritone roles in the opera genre.

Peter Rodrigues is thrilled with his time with Opera Orlando.  He was recently seen onstage in the chorus of Orlando Philharmonic’s production of Candide, and The Magic Flute. In addition to his duties as the Choral Director at Colonial High School, Peter is an area voice teacher, and takes pride appearing the choruses for Opera Orlando and Orlando Philharmonic.

Peter has sung Alfredo in Die Fledermaus, Tinca in Il Tabarro, Mr. Splinters in The Tender Land, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni. He studied at Stetson University and earned a Masters of Music from New England Conservatory.

Danielle K. Smith 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.  Her favorite performed roles include Elle from Soap Opera with Central Florida Vocal Arts, Brigitta from Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Nella from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with Westminster Opera, and Jenny from Sondheim’s Company with Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park.  Danielle frequently performs in recitals, cabarets, galas, and concerts in the central Florida area, is a member of Belles and Bows Holiday Quartet, and cantors at St Margaret Mary Church in Winter Park.  Danielle enjoys teaching vocal performance for CFVA and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts School of the Arts, and also teaches private voice lessons out of her home studio in Winter Park.

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.


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!

Sean Duncan is ecstatic to be working on "Orlando Light Operas". production of "The Merry Widow"! Growing up around all aspects of technical theatre, Sean has developed a passion for lighting and scenic design he puts to good use in his daily life. Sean is the resident technical director of "Orlando Light Opera". as well as their partner company "Central Florida Vocal Arts": An organization dedicated to providing performance opportunities and operatic education to the masses. Sean also works as a freelance Stage Manager in central Florida, and surrounding communities such as West Palm Beach. Sean would like to thank General Director of OLO: Justin Morrison for the opportunity to work with such a fantastic production team that is always open to new ideas, executive director/founder: Theresa Smith-levin for her continued support in every theatrical endeavor they work on together, and production Director: Eric Pinder for the ability to work on such a revolutionary adaptation of a well known work that makes operetta more accessible to all audiences!

Sondra Jones is originally from central Illinois.   Music Educator for OCPS at Rock Springs Elem.  Soprano with Bach Festival of Winter Park, Seamstress, Quilter, Owner of Sewfeggio LLC.   Past theatrical experiences onstage and/or backstage include Illinois Opera Theatre (The Man of LaMancha)  Springfield Muni Opera (Pirates of Penzance) Lincoln Community Theatre (Brigadoon), Springfield Theatre Center (Annie), Greater Orlando Actor's Theatre  (Jekyll & Hyde, The Toxic Avenger), Central Florida Vocal Arts (Grimmly), and many school productions as Director (Li'l Abner, The Pajama Game, Pirates of Penzance, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Into the Woods, Joust!, Cinderella, Broadway Beat) and countless summers assisting children's productions at church camps.     She's very excited that this December she's directing Disney's Aladdin Jr. at Rock Spring Elementary School in Apopka.

Justin Morrison, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an avid performer and teacher in the Orlando area. He graduated from Duquesne University in 2014 with a Bachelors of Music degree in Voice Performance with a concentration in Opera and Classical Voice. He also completed minors of study in German and French language and enjoys practicing language and writing novels in his spare time.

Not a stranger to the stage, Justin Morrison has performed many operatic and musical theater roles including Il Conte Almaviva and Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Doktor Falke and Frank (Die Fledermaus), Monsieur Presto and Le Fils (Les Mamelles de Tirésias), Ben (The Telephone), Bob, (The Old Maid and the Thief), Morales (Carmen), Prince Hilarion (Princess Ida), Marcellus (The Music Man), and Gaston (Beauty and the Beast).  He has spent summers singing in Vermont and New Mexico as well as Pennsylvania and has even directed and produced several shows. Justin also enjoyed performing with the Pittsburgh Opera Chorus in productions including La Bohème and Otello before moving to Orlando.

In Florida, Justin has performed lead roles with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Orlando, the Orlando Light Opera, University of Central Florida Opera, and Central Florida Vocal Arts. He is a resident artist with Opera Orlando, a chorister of the Tampa Opera, and is the General Director of the Orlando Light Opera.  Justin is also a church cantor, accompanist for a synagogue, piano tuner, and multi-instrumentalist.

When not pursuing performance, Justin Morrison loves to teach and share music with others. Justin has over nine years experience in teaching Voice, Piano, Trombone, Guitar, Stringed Instruments, Drums, Acting, Music Theory, and even Taekwondo to students of all ages.