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Prelude to Performance
Program Outline
2012 Perf,/Participants
Past Productions
2012 Staff
How to Apply
Dates & Deadlines

Role Preparation
Program Outline
How to Apply
Dates & Deadlines


2012 STAFF

Martina Arroyo, Executive Director / Role Class

Born in New York City and raised in Harlem, American soprano Martina Arroyo is admired around the world for her operatic roles, oratorio and recital performances, recordings, teaching, and commitment to young artist development. Arroyo has performed on the stages of the world’s most prestigious opera houses – New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, London’s Covent Garden, Milan’s La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, and the Buenos Aires Teatro Colón – and in the world’s premiere concert halls – Salzburg, Berlin, Rome, Paris, and New York. She is famous for her interpretations of Verdi, Puccini, Strauss, and Mozart.


Ed Bak, Pianist

Ed Bak, is an accomplished and internationally respected pianist and vocal coach, with credits in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia. He has performed widely in such venues as the Philips Collection, Tanglewood Festival, Lanaudiere Festival, Monnaie, Kolarac Hall, and Teatro Colón. He is in high demand as vocal coach and collaborative pianist. He has expertise in French, German, and Russian, as well as Italian and Spanish. He is currently on the faculty of The Ohio State University School of Music, and previously held faculty positions at the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory and the Peabody Institute Preparatory. He has given master classes at the Escuela Moderna in Santiago and the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón. He has been a visiting professor of piano in Seoul, South Korea.


Charles Caine, Costume Designer

Charles Caines his talents and experience to our program for our eight season. He started his illustrious career at the Metropolitan Opera, as resident costume designer for 16 seasons, and since then has designed for many other opera companies, including Canadian Opera, Montreal Opera, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago Lyric, Washington Opera, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and NYCO. His designs have appeared in the acclaimed PBS-TV production of Luisa Miller starring Domingo, Milnes and Scotto. Aside from design projects he now adds lectures to his schedule, recalling the glories from the Golden Days backstage at the Met.


Daniela Candillari, Pianist

Daniela Candillari has worked as pianist, chorus master and assistant conductor in Europe, North America, and Asia. As a pianist and vocal coach she has collaborated with such artists as Carol Vaness, Martina Arroyo and Håkan Hagegård. She was the first musician from Slovenia to win a Fulbright Scholarship and a TED Fellowship. She received her Bachelor of Music and Masters Degree in Piano Performance from Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz, Austria, a Masters in Jazz studies from Indiana University School of Music, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University in Vienna. She has been working as chorus master and assistant conductor at the Slovenian National Opera in Maribor, and since January 2012 has been named assistant to the Artistic Director of the same opera house. Future engagements include a CD recording Les chemins de l’amour with soprano Andreja Zakonjsek Krt.


Kay Walker Castaldo, Director
Così fan tutte

A director of opera and theatre, Kay Walker Castaldo has a multitude of new, original productions to her credit in prestigious companies worldwide including Teatro Colon, Florida Grand Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Cincinnati Opera, as well as numerous guest directing engagements at New York City Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, and the Indianapolis Opera. Next, she directs and Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci at the Arizona Opera and A Water Bird Talk at Indianapolis Opera. Over the past two seasons, she has directed Les Pêcheurs de Perles in her Seattle Opera and Opera Cleveland debuts, Rigoletto in her Austin Lyric Opera debut, La Traviata at Opera Carolina, Carmen at the Arizona Opera, Les Pêcheurs de Perles at Opera Cleveland, Il Trovatore with El Paso Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor and Der Fliegende Holländer with Mobile Opera, Little Women with Syracuse Opera, The Threepenny Opera at University of Northern Arizona, and several scene programs at the Spoleto Festival (Italy).


Nicholas Fox, Assistant Conductor, Chorus Master and Pianist

Nicholas Fox began studying piano and composition at the age of 12.  He was a much-in-demand vocal coach and accompanist in the Southern California area. Since graduation from Mannes, he has remained an extremely in-demand accompanist, coach, teacher, and conductor in the New York area. He has led several fully staged operatic productions.  He has been music director and conductor of Opera at Rutgers Church. In May 2007 he assisted Maestro Yves Abel, principal guest conductor at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, in a series of performances of Rameau’s ‘Castor et Pollux’ with Mr. Abel’s L’Opera Francais de New York. He led the Mannes Chorus and Orchestra in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem at the church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in Manhattan.  He was appointed Assistant Chorus Master at NYCOpera in September, 2009.


Ian Paul Guzzone, Props Manager

Ian Paul Guzzone is an MFA Scenic Design candidate at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Ian was formerly the resident Props Master at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA. Recent credits include: Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare and Company, set design); Rent (Temple University, assistant set design), and Thirst: A Spell For Christabel (First Light Theatre Group NYC, props master). Ian is returning to Prelude to Performance after he work on their productions of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Rita and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in 2010.


Stephen Mo Hanan, Stagecraft

As the original Gus/Growltiger in Broadway’s Cats, Stephen Mo Hanan received a Tony nomination and subsequently published his rehearsal journal, A Cat’s Diary. He was co-author and star of Jolson & Company, at the York Theatre, off-Broadway’s Century Center, and Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse. He has sung Gustavo in Ballo in Maschera at the Amato Opera and is author of Scarpia’s Kiss, a novel of opera’s world. He has just returned from portraying the Major-General in The Pirates of Penzance, a production in Yiddish by Montréal’s Segal Centre for the Arts. His blog posts are archived at


Peter Harrison, Set Designer

Peter Harrison’s  opera design credits include the NY premiere of Adamo’s Little Women for New York City Opera (also for Tokyo and Nagoya,Japan as U.S. Cultural Representative to the 2005 World Expo). He designed the world premiere of Bongani Ndodana-Breen’s WINNIE in Pretoria, South Africa. He has also designed world premieres of Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts for the Juilliard Opera and Davis' Wakonda's Dream for Opera Omaha.  He has designed for Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Nordfjord(Norway), Florida Grand Opera and many others. He has work with Manhattan Theatre Club, and many Off-Broadway musicals. He was the designer for John Leguizamo’s Mambo Mouth for HBO and Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead for PBS. He has been nominated for the American Theatre Wing Design Award and the Barrymore Award.


Laura Hirschberg, Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Director

Laura Hirschberg is a NYC-based director/playwright/stage manager.  She is proud to be back at Prelude to Performance for a third year, having previously stage managed The Magic Flute and Don Giovanni.  Other stage management credits include: Magic & Mayhem (WorkShop Theater), Miss Kim (45th Street Theater), R U Nobody 2? (New Georges), In the Summer Pavillion (Living Theater), and many others. 


Steven Horak, Wigs and Makeup

Steven Horak has been on the Makeup Department Staff of the Metropolitan Opera for eighteen seasons following twelve seasons as a wigmaker and makeup artist at the San Francisco Opera.  Prior to joining the MET, his many years as a journeyman included seasons as Wig and Makeup Designer for Michigan Opera Theatre, Chicago Opera Theatre, the Lake George Opera Festival, and as a wig and makeup artist for the opera companies of Philadelphia, Miami, and St. Louis.  He is currently also principal wig designer and constructor for Studio E.I.S., a Brooklyn-based company which furnishes realistic human figures to museums across North America. These include the new Education Center at the Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia which features forensically age-regressed figures of George Washington.


Joan Krueger, Coach
Così fan tutte

Joan Krueger was named “2004 Coach of the Year” by Classical Singer magazine.  She has accompanied  Cecilia Bartoli, Sumi Jo, and Vinson Cole at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, was seen with Carol Vaness on A&E’s Breakfast With The Arts, has performed collaborative recitals in Avery Fisher Hall, The Met Museum of Art, The United Nations, and many other venues across the U.S.  She was an Assistant Conductor for the Sarasota Opera, Music Director for NYU’s Opera Workshop, and a coach for IntermezzoOpera Festival.  Currently, she is on the faculty of SUNY Purchase and the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute.  She is the pianist for the Jensen and the Chester Ludgin Verdi Baritone competitions and was a judge for the Classical Singer vocal competition.  She maintains an active coaching studio in NY.   


Matthew Lata, Director

Matthew Lata is the Director of Opera at Florida State University. One of America’s most respected directors of opera, he has directed more than one hundred productions with leading opera companies throughout North America, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Aida, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni), The Washington Opera (Don Giovanni), Florida Grand Opera (Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, La Forza del Destino, Otello, Il Trovatore), Anchorage Opera (Gianni Schicchi), Baltimore Opera (Carmen), Connecticut Opera (Turandot and Il Trovatore),Chattanooga Opera (Rigoletto), Chautauqua Opera (Tosca), Cleveland Opera (Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci), Opera Columbus (Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, L'Italiana in Algeri), Lyric Opera of Kansas City (Romeo et Juliette, La Cenerentola, Madama Butterfly, and Die Zauberflöte), Hawaii Opera (Andrea Chenier, Un Ballo in Maschera, Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, L'Italiana in Algeri, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte). He also directed the world premiere of Anton Coppola’s Sacco and Vanzetti to international acclaim for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. In recent seasons, he has direct Faust in Memphis, Don Giovanni in New Orleans, and L’Elisir d’Amore in Grand Rapids in addition to productions at Florida State University. The current season includes productions with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (The Magic Flute) New Orleans Opera (Un Ballo in Maschera), Opera Memphis (Tosca), and Opera Grand Rapids (La Boheme).


Shayna Leahy, Assistant Administrative Director, Stage Manager and Assistant Director
Così fan tutte

Shayna Leahy is excited to be returning to the Prelude to Performance program after a year away. She has been working as an assistant director and stage manager for the program previously, and was the recipient of the David Farrar Internship for Stage Direction in 2008.  She directed her first Madama Butterfly for the Wichita Grand Opera in January, after directing Aida there last season.  Ms. Leahy is the Director of Vocal Music & Theory at Highland Community College, and recently was music director of the KCACTF nationally recognized production of Once on This Island.  She received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Wichita State University.


Brad Lemons, Stage Combat

Brad Lemons has served as Fight Director on Random Violence at the Brooklyn Lyceum, productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream for Circle in the Square Theatre School and REV Theatre Co., Witch of Edmonton also for REV Theatre Co., as well as a series of student films at the New York Film Academy, working in tandem with emerging young film directors. He was Assistant to B.H. Barry on Broadway's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His work as a fight performer has been seen in Carmen and Otello at the Metropolitan Opera and on All My Children at ABC. He has taught for Circle in the Square, the New York Film Academy, Showtix: Behind the Scenes Broadway and Southern Connecticut State University. He is resident fight director for REV Theatre Co. .


Sevrin Anne Mason, Makeup Assistant

Sevrin Anne Mason began working as a make-up artist alongside acting and continues to pursue both. Past favorites include Dialogues of the Carmelites, Cosi Fan Tutte, and Falstaff (Mannes); Ivona, Princess of Burgundia (Williamstown); Manon Lescaut, and Therese Raquin (DiCapo),  Sevrin graduated from Boston University's BFA program and played Mercy Lewis in The Crucible on Broadway starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. She is currently performing in Much Ado About Nothing in Central Park."


Kathy Olsen, Coach

Encompass Arts Founder, Katherine Olsen, is one of the most famous and sought-after opera coach/accompanists in the world today. She is currently on the board of the Singer’s Development Foundation and the Marcello Giordani Foundation. In 2001, she was appointed Principle Coach and Artistic Administrator for Baz Luhrmann’s Tony Award-winning production of Puccini’s La Boheme. Over the course of her career, she has been involved with many teaching programs and masterclasses with: Renata Scotto, Sherrill Milnes, Martina Arroyo and Regina Resnik, to name a few. She has been on the staff of numerous summer programs including: Opern Air Gars, Voice Experience and Berkshire Opera Young Artists Program.


Traci Klainer Polimeni, Lighting Designer

Traci Klainer Polimeni, lighting designer. Opera credits include: L'Italiana in Londra, Zemire Und Azor, Il Matrimonio Segreto, directed by Albert Sherman; Talk Opera, directed by Dona Vaughn; Paris and Oenone, directed by Gordon Ostrowski. NY theatre credits include: The Asphalt Kiss (59E59, Drama Desk nomination); Broadway production of Prune Danish starring Jackie Mason (Royale Theatre); Four (MTC, Lucille Lortel nomination); One Ride (Queens Theatre in the Park).  Traci is also a partner in the design firm Luce Group which specializes in architectural, exhibit and event lighting design. Luce’s current projects include: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC.


Ellen Rievman, Libretto

Ellen Rievman has a performing career spanning nearly three decades. For twenty-four years, as a member of the Met Opera, she performed in over 100 productions alongside some of our generation's greatest opera stars. Since leaving the Met in 1995, she has worked with singers to coach the drama, explore the text, and incoporate these skills with gesture, movement, stagecraft, and physical eloquence. Ellen directs and coaches privately, focusing on audition preparation, dramatic presentation, song/aria interpretation and performance.


Mark Rucker, Administrative Director

Mark Rucker first sang Renato in Un ballo in maschera with Luciano Pavarotti. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida and returned as Don Carlo in La forza del destino, Rigoletto and Tonio in I Pagliacci. His Italian debut was Rigoletto in Bologna and returned to Italia for such roles as Macbeth and Nabucco. Recent appearances have included Stankar in Stiffelio at Wiener Staatsoper, Macbeth and Rigoletto for Opera Liege, Nabucco for the Savonlinna and Bregenz Festivals and Amonasro for Arena di Verona. He has sung major dramatic baritone roles throughout North America. His Carnegie Hall debut was Don Carlo in La forza del destino, Antonio in Linda di Chamonix at the Concertgebow and Rigoletto in Tel Aviv with the Israel Philharmonic. Future engagements include the title role in his first Der Fliegende Holländer in Belgium and I Pagliacci with New Orleans Opera.


Sergio Stefani, Diction

Sergio Stefani was born in Bologna, Italy and grew up in Rome, where he studied Liberal Arts at Liceo “Pilo Albertelli” and Law at the University of Rome, before coming to the United States. About twenty years ago, he devised a unique approach for teaching his native language - the opportunity of learning at one’s own pace - a teaching program that must be the student’s learning program - individual lessons to cover grammar or special individual needs - conversation classes to hone one’s skills - diction and role interpretation to opera singers. Sergio has enjoyed being a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera and he is proud to have had, among his students, some members of that company.


Maestro Willie Anthony Waters, Music Director and Conductor

Maestro Willie Anthony Waters, Music Director, is formerly General and Artistic Director of Connecticut Opera. He conducted numerous noteworthy productions for the company, including the Arena production of Aïda in 1991, Otello, Porgy and Bess and Salome. He has been a guest conductor for numerous American and European opera companies and symphony orchestras, including several in South Africa. In 2002, Maestro Waters debuted at New York City Opera, and in 2008, he made his debut at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford. Recent engagements include Carmen for Florida Grand Opera, Tosca for Opera Memphis, Die Fledermaus for Opera Hamilton (Ontario), University of Connecticut and Northwestern University.


Maestro Steven White, Conductor
Così fan tutte

Praised by Opera News as a conductor who "squeezes every drop of excitement and pathos from the score," Steven White is one of North America's premiere conductors of both operatic and symphonic repertoire. In 2010 he made his acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Verdi's La traviata, starring Angela Gheorghiu, Thomas Hampson and James Valenti. He returns to the Met in 2012 to conduct performances of La traviata with Natalie Dessay, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Matthew Polenzani. These performances come as part of an ongoing relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, where, since 2009, Maestro White has been involved with productions of Don Carlo, Billy Budd, La sonnambula, Lucia di Lammermoor, Così fan tutte and many others working with such singers as Plácido Domingo, Roberto Alagna, and Juan Diego Flórez. Other engagements for 2011 and 2012 include La traviata at New York City Opera, Aida at Arizona Opera, La bohème and La traviata with Lyric Opera Baltimore and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Der fliegende Holländer with Opera Roanoke, the Strauss Four Last Songs with Dame Kiri Te



Jen Joyce Davis (Photographer) “I grew up a military kid, we were always moving around. My Dad "the great explorer" as I like to call him gave me my first camera when I was 9, and I began my own explorations through a viewfinder. Now 33, and living in NYC, a hobby in youth has now turned into a profession as an adult. To capture and moment of time in a single frame, and to successfully convey what I was seeing and feeling at the time is my biggest challenge. Photographing the Opera brings me these challenges every second. I love being able to get close and into the singers world as they perform, I am shadow in the darkness of a theater, feeling the rage of gentlemen dueling over a lady love, the sadness of lost love, the joy of a union, the evil of a hated tyrant, and the humor of a jester. The moments are never ending.”

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