© 2017 Hartford Opera Theater. All Rights Reserved.

P.O. Box 370442

West Hartford, Connecticut 06137

Ph: 860.578.4393

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Cast Bios

CALEB ALEXANDER - Ensemble/Mr. Splinters (Cover) - Caleb Alexander is a sophomore in vocal performance at the Hartt School of Music. He is looking forward to being a part of Connecticut Opera Theater's production of The Tender land. Caleb's recent credits include "The Page" in Amahl and the Night Visitors and "The Schoolmaster" in The Cunning Little Vixen, both performed at the Hartt School. Caleb has also performed the role of "Goro" in Madame Butterfly and was a soloist in Mozart's "Coronation Mass" at the Assisi Sacred Music Festival. Caleb was also selected to be in the New Hampshire All State "Select Chamber Quartet" and San Francisco All-City Chorus.

ROBERT BAREFIELD - Pa Moss - Baritone Robert Barefield has performed as soloist with organizations throughout the United States and in Europe, including the New Orleans Opera, Connecticut Concert Opera, Hartford Opera Theatre, the Mississippi Symphony, the Arizona Opera, the Dorian Opera Theatre, the Central City Opera, the Ohio Light Opera and Operafestival di Roma in Italy. Operatic roles have included Danilo in The Merry Widow, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Sid in Albert Herring, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, John Proctor in Robert Ward's The Crucible and the title roles in Don Giovanni and Gianni Schicchi. As an oratorio soloist, Barefield's performances have included Carmina Burana, the Fauré Requiem, The Sea Symphony and Dona Nobis Pacem of Vaughan Williams and Handel's Messiah. In October 2015, he will perform as soloist in the Brahms Requiem with the Chattanooga Symphony. An accomplished recitalist, Robert Barefield's wide-ranging repertoire has encompassed works such as Schubert's Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin, Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel and premiere performances of works by contemporary composers such as Lowell Liebermann, Robert Maggio and David Conte. His European recital performances have included venues in Austria, Germany and Spain. In 2008, Barefield performed the role of Bishop Zumarraga in the world premiere of James DeMars' opera, Guadalupe - Our Lady of the Roses. These performances were recorded and released by Canyon Records. Two Plus One, Barefield's CD of art song duets (with soprano Carole FitzPatrick and pianist Eckart Sellheim) was released by Cavalli Records of Bamberg, Germany. Two additional CDs, Occident Meets Orient (with Carole Fitzpatrick and pianist Russell Ryan) and Songs to Fill the Void (with pianist Carolyn Hague), were released by Albany Records. He has made presentations at national conferences of leading music organizations and his articles on voice-related topics have appeared in The Journal of Singing, The American Music Teacher, and The Music Educator's Journal. Barefield received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he was a Corbett Opera Scholar. He is Associate Professor at the Hartt School in Connecticut, having served on music faculties at Arizona State University, Southern Methodist University and others. His summer activities have included performing and teaching at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Operafestival di Roma, the Vianden International Music Festival in Luxembourg and the IES Center in Vienna, Austria (in collaboration with Carolyn Hague and Michael Pinkerton). Robert Barefield’s current and former voice students are active as performers and educators throughout the country. 

 
 
 

LINDSAY CABANISS - Ensemble/Mrs.Splinters (Cover) - Mezzo-Soprano Lindsay Cabaniss is excited to perform in her first Hartford Opera Theater production. Recently, she had the pleasure to perform the demanding role of Baba in Menotti’s The Medium at the Hartt School of Music and the more playful role of Cherubino with Manhattan Opera Studio. While attending the Hartt School of Music, Lindsay performed as Public Opinion in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, Second Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Dinah, in scenes from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, and the opening scene from Rossini’s Cenerentola as the title role. Summer 2014, she was contracted with the College Light Opera Company, performing leading roles such as The Witch in Into the Woods where she “command(ed) the stage, firing off complex lyrics with aplomb and showing that even monsters have feelings,” and as Nettie Fowler in Carousel, portraying a “matronly force of nature.” Other supporting roles with CLOC include Mabel in The Pajama Game, Madame Thénardier in Les Miserable, and Mrs. Jones in How to Succeed in Business. Previously, Lindsay performed as the Third Spirit in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with UConn Opera Theater, as Idamante in the quartet from Mozart’s Idomoneo with New England Conservatory’s Summer Scenes, and in concerts in Downtown Disney with Sherill Milnes’ V.O.I.C.Experience GenX program. Lindsay graduated December 2015 from the Hartt School of Music with a BM in Vocal Performance. She continues to cantor and perform in benefit concerts with St. Timothy’s Catholic church in West Hartford, CT. 

 

DARIUS GILLARD - Martin - Tenor Darius Gillard is steadily gaining momentum on regional operatic circuits. Praised for his warm legato and charismatic presence, he excels in the lyric repertoire. Having spent the majority of his career as a lyric baritone, he made a speedy switch to tenor in 2016 and made a role debut the same year as Romeo in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette at the Power Center for the Performing Arts. To date, he has performed a number roles in operas ranging from the classical works of Mozart to the verismo operas of Verdi and Puccini. He has appeared in leading roles and as a young artist with companies such as Connecticut Lyric Opera, Greenville Light Opera, Capitol Opera Raleigh, Central Piedmont Opera, and The Verdi Opera Theatre of Detroit. He has also made appearances with Charleston Chamber Orchestra, Flint Symphony Orchestra, and the Detroit Festival Camerata as a featured soloist in various oratorio works. At present, he is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of

Michigan under the instruction of Dr. Scott Piper.

THOMAS LASTOWSKI - Ensemble/Mr. Jenks (Cover) - Baritone Thomas Laskowski currently studies Voice Performance at the Hartt School in West Hartford, CT. A native of Floral Park, New York, he has been praised as “a quick-change artist, taking on many characters, each with a distinct personality” by the Queens Chronicle. His previous operatic roles have included the Gamekeeper in The Cunning Little Vixen, the Maestro in Prima la musica e poi le parole, Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Mars in Orpheus in the Underworld, Sylvester in Ned Rorem’s Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters, and Toby in The Medium. Thomas is a student of Dr. Robert Barefield.

 

NIKITA MALLACH - Beth Moss - Nikita Mallach is a Junior at Conard High and American School for the Deaf. She loves sports and acting. Nikita has been involved in the Cridders shows annually since 2014. She has also participated in the National Theater of the Deaf’s Theater Immersion Program. She had been involved with some productions in both schools.  Nikita loves to make theater come to life. If none of the above applies, you can find Nikita in her room and dreaming of wanting to be a pink elephant.

 

SCHAUNTICE MARSHALL- Mrs. Jenks - The Washington, D.C. soprano, Schauntice Marshall, has a golden gift to touch and warm your heart, and has a refreshing sense of wholeness for the spirit and soul. After graduating from Ellington School of the Arts, Schauntice pursued her studies at Shenandoah University – Conservatory, and completed her graduate professional diploma in voice at the Hartt School. She is the soprano soloist at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, and can be seen in various halls in churches in the area. Her roles include: Amahl from Amahl and the Night Visitors, Susanna from Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Yum Yum in The Mikado, and recently performed the role of Oberto from Alcina. Schauntice stepped into the role of Tituba from the Crucible for her first performance with HOT last year and is pleased to offer the role of Mrs. Jenks in HOT's production of The Tender Land this year.

 
 
 

MICHAEL MCAVOY - Top -  University of Connecticut (UConn) graduate Michael McAvoy earned his degree in Vocal Performance studying under Dr. Constance Rock. He won first place in Opera Theatre of Connecticut’s Amici Vocal Competition, and later played Curio in their production of Julius Caesar in Egypt. With his agile lyric baritone voice he most enjoys singing the role of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia,which he performed with Vocal Productions NYC and Opera Oggi NY. He has also worked with Connecticut Concert Opera, Light Opera of New York, Bronx Opera, and Opera Naples, where he participated in their Young Artist Program. Most recently, Michael portrayed El Dancairo in the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra’s Carmen,and, as a professional, returned to his Alma mater to play Belcore in UConn's L'elisir d'amore

CAROLINE MIDGETTE-ISMAIL - Mrs. Splinters/Ma Moss (cover) - Caroline Midget-Ismail is thrilled to debut with Hartford Opera Theater in The Tender Land as Mrs. Splinters and the understudy for Ma Moss.  During her career, she has performed repertoire ranging from Sacred Classical music to Romantic Operas.  Caroline has performed roles including the pant-roles Cherubino and Siebel from Le Nozze di Figaro and Faust to the grand operatic roles of Charlotte and Paulina from Werther and Pique Dame.  For many seasons, Caroline was engaged as an ensemble performer with Houston Grand Opera and Connecticut Grand Opera. She has had the pleasure of performing the Gilbert and Sullivan roles Ella, Lady Jane and Ruth with Ohio Light Opera, Houston Gilbert and Sullivan Society and Connecticut Gilbert and Sullivan Society.  In addition, Caroline has performed as the Alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Verdi Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass, and St. Matthew Passion with The Woodland’s Symphony, Orchestra X and Hamden Symphony. 

 

JANELLE ROBINSON- Ma Moss - For the past twenty years, Janelle Anne Robinson has enjoyed an ongoing professional career on the operatic and musical theater stage. Her performances span several countries including France, Canada and Japan as well as most of the continental United States. Recently, Janelle received the 2014 Connecticut Critic’s Choice award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Bloody Mary in STONC’s South Pacific.  Other awards include The Richard Tucker Study Grant and the MacAllister Award. Janelle’s credits include the Broadway production of Cameron Mackintosh and Disney’s Mary Poppins, directed by the award-winning Sir Richard Eyre, in which she originated the role of Mrs. Corry; Oklahoma, also produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Trevor Nunn; and Hal Prince and Susan Stroman’s revival of Showboat.  She was a principal member in the 1st National tours of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Showboat. Regionally, Janelle has performed with Virginia Opera, Opera Omaha, Connecticut Opera and Opera Company Philadelphia, Papermill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theater, Maine State Music Theater, The Cleveland Playhouse, STONC and Playhouse. Along with the aforementioned, Janelle has worked with many illustrious directors and choreographers throughout the years, including Michael Mayer, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Barry Ivan, Vicky Bussert, Dotty Danner, George Osborne, Wayne Cilento, Rob Ashford, Eric Stern and David Caddick.  Her various television and film credits include Febreze, Law and Order: Criminal Intent,  A Little Game and Aftermath.  She received a Bachelor of Music from the Hartt School, an Advanced Certificate in Voice from the Juilliard School and a Master of Music from The Curtis Institute. She has also trained at the School for Film and Television in NYC. Presently, she is on faculty at Western CT State University and The Hartt School in the music theater departments. She is also a faculty member of Hartt’s Community Division, Fineline Arts Center and The Enchanted Garden.  Janelle previously taught at Juilliard’s summer exchange program. 

 

NIGEL ROWE - Mr. Splinters - Nigel is a native of West Hartford, CT and attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, sparking his interest in theatre and classical music. He received his Bachelors of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in 2014, where he performed as Jack in Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Mr. Splinters in Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, as well as Ouf in Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’Étoile. After graduation, Nigel was fortunate enough to be able to move abroad to Clermont-Ferrand, France to be an English teacher in multiple primary schools through the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF). Through TAPIF, he discovered his passion for education and has since worked for The Experiment Abroad, chaperoning a group of high school students as they studied abroad in the Netherlands, and for the West Hartford Public Schools district as a Teaching Assistant for King Philip Middle School as well as a district-wide substitute. Nigel also took part in HOT’s New in November of 2015, as well as their production of The Crucible, in the role of Ezekiel Cheever. This past summer, Nigel participated in the New York Thespis Theatre Festival appearing in the original piece Goldilocks.Most recently, Nigel renewed his contract with TAPIF and has been living in the south of France in Nîmes, as a primary school English teacher. Nigel is very happy to be back home and ecstatic to be working with HOT once again!

 

ALYSON SHEEHAN - Ensemble/Mrs. Jenks (Cover) - Alyson is incredibly excited to be performing with Hartford Opera Theater once again. This season she had the honor of singing the role of Christa in scenes from Verlorene Heimat, as part of Hartford Opera Theater’s New in November. Last season, she sang her debut with the company as Ruth Putnam in The Crucible. Alyson is a recent graduate of the Hartt School of Music and is currently studying voice under soprano, Maureen O’Flynn. She has participated in several productions at the Hartt School including The Magic Flute, Orpheus and the Underworld, The Devil and Daniel Webster and The Cunning Little Vixen. Alyson’s favorite role that she has performed is Lucy, in Menotti’s The Telephone. In addition, she has sung in the chorus of Opera Connecticut productions such as Pagliacci and Tosca.  Alyson would like to thank the entire staff of Hartford Opera Theater for being so kind and welcoming to her, as well as all of the incredibly talented members of the cast.  

 

LISA WILLIAMSON - Laurie Moss - Described by the Washington Post as “silvery of voice” and “a showstopper” for her recent performances with Washington National Opera as The Rose in The Little Prince and The Flamingo in the world premiere of Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn and Me, soprano Lisa Williamson is a versatile singer who has forged a diverse career that has taken her around the world from Muscat, Oman to the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to the Indianapolis Brickyard. This season she returns to the New Haven Symphony Orchestra to sing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and makes her debut with Portland Opera in a double bill of David Lang’s the difficulty of crossing a field and the little match girl passion singing Virginia Creeper and the soprano soloist. She recently returned to Opera Theater of Connecticut as Adele in Die Fledermaus and as Musetta in La Bohème and to The Glimmerglass Festival as the soprano soloist in the world-premiere staging of the little match girl passion. Other past highlights include Maud Dunlop in The Music Man at the Royal Opera House, Muscat in Oman, Despina in Così fan tutte and Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Yale Opera, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with Connecticut Concert Opera, and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Salt Marsh Opera. On the concert stage she has appeared with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, Italy singing Eileen Sherwood in Wonderful Town, with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra singing highlights from La Bohème, and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra singing Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras, No. 5 for Soprano and 8 Cellos. Lisa is an active recitalist who was a finalist in the 2015 Mary Trueman Vocal Competition, was featured in The Song Continues at Carnegie Hall and is the recipient of the 2015 Marc and Eva Stern Fellowship at Songfest. She frequently performs recitals throughout the Eastern US. From 2005-2010, Ms. Williamson was the vocal soloist with The United States Coast Guard Band. In this high-profile position she sang for Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cabinet Members, Senators, and Congressmen. In 2006 and 2007 she performed the National Anthem at the Indianapolis 500 for live audiences of over 400,000 and millions on television world-wide. In her more than two hundred performances with the Coast Guard Band she performed in thirty-four states in the U.S. and throughout Japan singing patriotic songs, opera arias, classical chamber works, and the American Songbook. She is featured on six Coast Guard Band recordings. Ms. Williamson holds a Master of Music in voice from the Yale School of Music, as well as a Performer’s Certificate from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Music in voice performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University. She has been a young artist at The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera, and Connecticut Opera and has been an award winner in competitions with The Metropolitan Opera National Council, Connecticut Opera Guild, and Annapolis Opera. Lisa, the daughter of premiere military band musicians, is a native of Alexandria, Virginia. She now makes her home in Connecticut with her husband, Lieutenant Commander Adam Williamson, the director of the United States Coast Guard Band. Find out more at www.LisaWilliamsonSoprano.com. 

 

JERMAINE WOODARD JR. - Mr. Jenks - Jermaine Woodard Jr. is a graduate in Voice Performance from The University of Hartford’s Hartt School studying with Cherie Caluda and Eric Trudel. Jermaine has performed in several opera productions with Virginia Opera, Lyric Opera of Virginia, Hartford Opera Theatre, Opera Connecticut, The Governor’s School for the Arts, and Hartt Opera Theatre. His work with choral ensembles include New England’s artistically-acclaimed CONCORA, Cathedral of St. Joseph's Schola Cantorum, Holy Family Passionist Retreat & Conference Center, Connecticut’s New Haven Chorale, Hartford Chorale, Wallingford Chorale, and many more. Extracurriculars feature music directing University of Saint Joseph’s Voices of Praise, cantoring and bass-section leading, and assistant directing Two Rivers Magnet Middle School’s Show Choir and Drama Club.