August 15, 2019 at 7:30 PM & August 17, 2019 at 7:30 PM
1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
Stage Director: Margaret Jumonville
Conductor: Michael Pecak
Assistant Stage Director: Diane Machin
The action takes place in Egypt, the day after Giulio Cesare’s victory over Pompey. While savouring his victory, Cesare receives a visit from Cornelia, who begs him to spare her husband Pompey’s life. Cesare is about to grant her wish when Tolomeo, king of Egypt (and Cleopatra’s brother), has Pompey's head delivered to Cesare. Everyone is shocked and appalled. Sesto, Cornelia’s son, is obsessed with killing Tolomeo and avenging his father’s death after the latter brutally separates him from his mother. Cleopatra decides to use her charms to win Cesare’s support in her efforts to become queen and rule Egypt alone. At first she is defeated by her brother’s army, but is rescued by Cesare and falls into his arms. After a series of plot twists, Sesto and Cornelia pledge their loyalty to Cesare and Cleopatra, who, in turn, sing of their love.
Giulio Cesare - Alexis Peart
Alexis Peart, mezzo-soprano, has just completed her third year at the Eastman School of Music in the studio of Professor Katherine Ciesinski. This season, Alexis will perform the title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Chicago Summer Opera, and Maman in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges with Eastman Opera Theater. Her recent operatic credits include Alma March and Meg (cover) in Mark Adamo’s Little Women with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Leila in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe as a part of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s OrchKIDstra Series, Vistola Fiume in Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero with Eastman’s Collegium Musicum, and various selections as Mercédès and Carmen (cover) from Bizet’s Carmen with the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, and as Annio from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, Orfeo from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Sesto from Handel’s Giulio Cesare, and Meg from Verdi’s Falstaff with the Opera Viva program in Verona, Italy. Alexis is also passionate about oratorio and early music and was recently the alto soloist in J.S. Bach 102 and 48 Cantata and Handel’s Messiah at the Eastman School of Music, she also performs frequently with Eastman’s baroque orchestra Collegium Musicum in their annual concerts and events.
Giulio Cesare - Victoria Thomasch
Mezzo-Soprano, Victoria Thomasch recently performed the role of Dorabella (Così fan tutte) with Varna International in Bulgaria and also earlier in the year with Amore Opera in New York City. Though Victoria loves playing dramatic divas, she is noted for her trouser roles including Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) and is thrilled to now add Giulio Cesare to her repertoire. A few of her other favorite roles include: Dorothée (Cendrillon), Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Ottavia (L'incoronazione di Poppea), and Suora Infermiera (Suor Angelica). Victoria is passionate about using music to help others and recently produced and performed in her “3rd Annual Recital for Refugees” at Opera America, which raised money for the International Rescue Committee. When home in New York, Victoria runs a private voice studio, serves as the alto section leader in her church, volunteers with Sing for Hope, and plays with her cat named Bear. Victoria received her Master of Music degree, specializing in Vocal Performance, from New York University and graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Music degree from Baylor University. Additional training includes Berlin Opera Academy, Opera Guadalajara, and Opera Works.
Cleopatra - Kayla Eldridge
Soprano Kayla Eldridge is a native of Bentonville, Arkansas, receiving her Master of Music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She is under the tutelage of Timothy Noble. While at IU, she has performed as an opera chorus member in La Bohème, Peter Grimes, Lucia di Lammermoor, and L'elisir d'amore. She most recently performed the role of Sœur Mathilde in Dialogues des Carmélites with IU Opera. She is thrilled to make her principal role debut with Chicago Summer Opera.
Cleopatra - Yoonhee Park
Yoonhee Park, a young-talented soprano enrolled in Manhattan School of Music as Master with outstanding performance experiences. For bachelor, she was graduated in Seoul National University from Korea. She was major in Classical vocal music and minor in Political Diplomacy. Since she showed her talent as a young age, she was selected for the KBS (Korea Broadcasting System) Children Choir and she was invited from the worldly-wide famous soprano, Sumi Jo, for her album producing. She appeared on the show that was EBS (Educational Broadcasting Channel) Space for performing. She also participated in Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra and Prime Philharmonic Orchestra. Her recent opera are Erste Dame in “Die Zauberflöte”, L'Eternità, from "La Calisto" as well as her recent opera scene is “Die Zauberflöte”, Pamina , Papagena and “La voix Humaine” by F. Poulenc, Dew Fairy from “Hänsel und Gretel”, Niece 2 from “Peter Grimes”, Ännchen from “Der Freischütz”, Héro from “Béatrice et Bénédicte”, Mahénu from “L’ile du rêve”. Yoonhee Park is a student who likes to challenge herself to pursuit perfection and it is certain that she has a bright future as a musician.
Cover Cleopatra - Anna Atkinson
Soprano Anna Atkinson, originally from Carmel, Indiana, recently graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Music in Voice and a Bachelor of Music Education under the tutelage of Timothy Noble. This fall, she will be attending McGill University to pursue a Masters of Music in Voice Performance. While at Indiana University, she performed in Lucia di Lammermoor and Dialogues des Carmelites with IU Opera Theater. She is excited to make her role debut with Chicago Summer Opera.
Cornelia - Luana Arabadgi
Brazilian mezzo-soprano Luana Arabadgi graduated with a double major in Vocal Performance and Music Business at the Crane School of Music, State University of New York at Potsdam. Luana is excited to be joining Chicago Summer Opera singing the role of Cornelia in Giulio Cesare and Lucretia in scenes of The Rape of Lucretia. In past seasons, she has appeared in the productions of L’Etoile (Koukouli) and Die Fledermaus (ensemble) with the Crane Opera Ensemble, and Hänsel und Gretel (Sandman) with the Manhattan Opera Studio. Luana is also very passionate about arts administration and has worked for Florida Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar and Chicago Summer Opera. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband while continues her vocal studies with W. Stephen Smith.
Cornelia - Mahsheed Massarat
Mahsheed Massarat, Mezzo-Soprano, just finished her first year of her master's degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studies with acclaimed Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano, Susanne Mentzer. In 2018 Ms. Massarat sang the role of Mrs.Peachum in Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, as well as the title role of Bizet’s Carmen and Second Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in the SFCM Opera Scenes Program in 2019. She holds a BM in Voice Performance from the University of Oregon, where she studied with mezzo-soprano Milagro Vargas and was the recipient of multiple scholarships. In the UO Opera Ensemble she covered Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte and sang the title role of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in the 2017 UO Opera Scenes Program. She served a young artist residency at the Opera Nova Costa Rica International Opera Training Program under Karen Esquivel and Gustavo Castro. She performed scenes as Isabella from Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, Cornelia from Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Maddalena from Verdi’s Rigoletto with role study, Acis in A. Llitres’ Acis y Galatea, Doña Frasquita from M. Panella’s El Gato Montes. She is excited to be making her Chicago Summer Opera debut as well as debuting her first full operatic role as Cornelia in Handel’s Giulio Cesare.
Cornelia Cover - Zoë Sheller
Zoë Sheller, Mezzo-Soprano, resides in Salisbury, Maryland. Zoë is thrilled to be performing her first opera role, covering Cornelia in Giulio Cesare, as well multiple scenes, with Chicago Summer Opera. Zoë began pursuing classical voice at 16 years old under the tutelage of Alina Kozinska at Peabody Preparatory. Now, she is going into her second year of undergraduate training with Elizabeth Futral at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
Tolomeo - Lucas Coura
Lauded for delivering “substantial emotional weight and pathos” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer), Brazilian-American countertenor Lucas Coura is quickly establishing a reputation as a consummate singer-actor in the Boston area. Most recently, Coura made his Boston debut in the role of Doodle in Stefan Weisman and David Cote’s The Scarlet Ibis. Equally comfortable in the world of early music, Coura will make his debut with Cambridge Chamber Ensemble in May performing the role of Claudio in a modern production of Händel’s Silla. Coura earned a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance and Music Theory from Stetson University—where he graduated summa cum laude and had the honor of delivering the commencement address.
Tolomeo - Kirsten Anderson
Kirsten Anderson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music from Pepperdine University and a Master’s degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. Favorite roles include Alice in Verdi’s Falstaff (Westminster Opera Theater) and Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Pepperdine University Opera). She recently appeared as an apprentice artist for the farewell season of Bel Canto at Caramoor, and as a chorister in Peter Grimes and Madame Butterfly with the Princeton Festival Opera. Kirsten also enjoys musical theater, and has played Bathsheba in Alan Menken’s King David (3 Crosses Church) and joined the ensemble for shows such as Les Misérables (Pepperdine University). This summer, Kirsten revisits Così fan tutte in the role of Dorabella (LAH-SOW Bloomington) and is excited to sing Tolomeo in Giulio Cesare with Chicago Summer Opera.
Sesto - Amanda Staub
Amanda Staub (Sesto) mezzo-soprano, is a graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio. This season, Staub performed the roles of Bessie in Kurt Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel (2019), Mrs. Jones in Street Scene (2019), and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (2018) with the Maryland Opera Studio. Other recent roles include the title role in Handel’s Ariodante with Oberlin in Italy (2018), Soeur Mathilde in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (2018) and Terry Evans in the premiere of Theo Popov’s Town Hall (2017) with the Maryland Opera Studio. Equally at home on the concert stage, Staub has performed as a soloist in recital at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., with the Capital City Symphony,
the University of Maryland Chamber Singers, and the University of Maryland Wind Ensemble. Staub is a student of Delores Ziegler.
the University of Maryland Chamber Singers, and the University of Maryland Wind Ensemble. Staub is a student of Delores Ziegler.
Sesto - Claire Cooper
Claire Cooper is a mezzo soprano from Raleigh, North Carolina studying with Elizabeth Futral at Peabody Institute. Ms. Cooper has most recently performed as Toledo in Zach Redler’s The Falling and the Rising with Peabody Opera Theatre. Other noteable roles include Dorabella in Così fan Tutte with New York Lyric Opera, Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Amalfi Coast Music Festival and Donna Elvira in scenes from Don Giovanni at Carnegie Hall. In addition to performance, Ms. Cooper possesses passion for teaching and directing. She most recently assistant directed Puccini’s Il Trittico with renowned opera director Garnett Bruce with Peabody Opera Theatre. While completing her Bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ms. Cooper assistant directed UNC Opera’s 2017 Fall Opera Scenes. Additionally, she music directed Mel Brooks’ The Producers, Songs for a New World, and The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown with Company Carolina. Before attending Peabody, Ms. Cooper also taught voice lessons to young singers at the Chapel Hill School of Musical Arts. Ms. Cooper is thrilled to be portraying the role of Sesto in Chicago Summer Opera’s performance of Giulio Cesare.
Nireno - Chuanyuan Liu
Countertenor Chuanyuan Liu began pursuing singing less than three years ago, but quickly found his artistic voice at the University of Virginia. Chuanyuan made his operatic debut as a chorus member in Victory Hall Opera’s American premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Achante et Céphise in 2017. He then attended both national and international training programs, including Virginia Baroque Performance Academy (Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival), Mikael Eliasen Voice Program (Curtis Summerfest), and Oberlin in Italy, where he sang in the chorus of Puccini’s La Rondine. Previous scene credits include Sandmann (Hänsel und Gretel) and Nerone (L’incoronazione di Poppea). Previous concert credits include soloist in Handel’s Messiah (excerpt), Bernstein’s Missa Brevis, and a frequent participant of Tea Time Recitals at the University of Virginia. A recent graduate, he is a Miller Arts Scholar and a recipient of University Award for Projects in the Arts, and has been generously sponsored by the Charles S. Roberts Scholarship Foundation. In the fall, Chuanyuan will pursue his master's degree at Bard College Conservatory of Music.
Nireno - Megan Dotzler
Megan Dotzler, Mezzo Soprano, is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is currently pursuing her Master of Music degree in voice performance at the University of Minnesota as a student of Adriana Zabala. This past season, she sang the roles of Oktavian in scenes from Der Rosenkavalier and Nancy in Albert Herring with University Opera Theater at the University of MN. From 2013-2015 she was a member of the chorus with Fargo-Moorhead Opera (Madama Butterfly, La fille du regiment, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and The Merry Widow). A graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, she sang scenes including the roles Idamante (Idomeneo), Contessa (Le nozze di Figaro), Pamina (The Magic Flute), and Marie (The Daughter of the Regiment). In 2014 she attended Concordia’s Voice and Italian May Seminar in Trieste, Italy. She was also a member and soloist with the Choral Arts Ensemble in Rochester, Minnesota from 2015-2018.
Achilla - Brian Witowkski
Baritone Brian Charles Witkowski is thrilled to be back in Chicago making his debut with Chicago Summer Opera. His studies and career have taken him as far west as Hawaii and as far east as China with repertoire ranging from Gregorian Chant in cathedrals to musical theatre roles like Lancelot in Spamalot. Some of his other favorite past roles include Lord Farquaad in Shrek: The Musical, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Marius in Les Miserables and Charles Guiteau in Assassins, which was with Petite Opera Productions in 2016. Most recently, he was the baritone soloist in Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with Orchestra Sono and the Oakland Choral Society in his native state of Michigan. He earned his Master of Music from Oakland University and his Doctor of Musical Arts with emphasis in Vocal Performance and minor in Theatre from the University of Arizona. An avid recitalist with a passion for Lieder, his dissertation was on a set of ballads by Carl Loewe, a contemporary of Schubert from Northern Germany. He has taught at Rockford University, facilitated professional development seminars to teachers and artists through Arts Integration Solutions and other organizations, is regularly sought out as a speaker, and offers artists masterclasses and workshops in authenticity, financial empowerment, and leadership. He is the founder of The Lucrative Artist, where he provides business and leadership coaching to help artists position themselves to better have more of the authentic careers and lives they desire and deserve; please learn more atwww.thelucrativeartist.com. To quote the late Earl Nightingale, "We don't have to compete, all we have to do is create."