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New in November 8 Playbill


Who Married Star Husbands

The Loathy Lady


Paul Richards:

Born in New York City in 1969 to a musical family, composer Paul Richards has been engaged with music since childhood, including forays into various popular styles, the Western canon, and Jewish sacred and secular music through his father, a cantor. All of these experiences inform his creative activities, which have included numerous orchestral, vocal, chamber, and theatrical works, including two full-length operas. Hailed in the press as a composer with “a strong, pure melodic gift, an ear for color, and an appreciation for contrast and variety,” and praised for his “fresh approach to movement and beautiful orchestral coloration,” his works have been heard in performance throughout the country and internationally on six continents.

He has been recognized in numerous competitions, winning the St. Mary’s College/Kaplan Foundation Commission Competition, the Columbia Summer Winds Outdoor Composition Contest, the Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s Fresh Ink Florida Composers’ Competition, the International Section of the New Music for Sligo/IMRO Composition Award and the Truman State University/M.A.C.R.O. Composition Competitions. Other honors and awards include Special Distinction in the ASCAP Rudolph Nissim Prize, Finalist in the American Composers Orchestra Whitaker Reading Sessions, Second Prize in the International Horn Society Composition Competition, First Place in the Voices of Change Composers Competition, two First Place prizes in the Guild of Temple Musicians Young Composers Award, and many others.

Commissions have come from organizations including the Boston Brass, the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Florida State Music Teachers’ Association and Music Teacher’s National Association, Duo 46, Sonoran Consort, Meet the Composer-Arizona, Arizona Repertory Singers, Arizona Commission on the Arts and Catalina Chamber Orchestra. In addition, many university wind programs have commissioned Richards’ work, including those of Baylor, Del Mar, Florida, Illinois – Champaign/Urbana, Michigan, Nevada – Las Vegas, North Carolina – Greensboro, Northern Iowa, Syracuse and Truman State.

Richards’ theatrical work has included music for dance, plays, film, and two full-length comic operas. “The Loathly Lady” premiered at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, with Julianne Baird, Thomas Meglioranza, members of Anonymous 4, and a mixed ensemble of period and modern instruments, relating an updated version of Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” in which a knight travels through time, meeting iconic characters in an effort to answer the question, “what do women want most?” “Biennale” premiered at the Barnes Foundation in 2013 with support from the Mellon Foundation and the Penn Humanities Forum, and a cast including Naomi O’Connell, Christopher Burchett, Caroline Worra, and Jesse Blumberg. Set in Vienna at the world’s largest contemporary art festival, it relates a woman’s encounter with an art installation, and its artist, in a life-changing moment of self-realization.

Music by Paul Richards is recorded on the Meyer Media, Capstone, Mark, Summit, MMC, Raven, and Pavane labels, and his works are published by Carl Fischer Music, TrevCo Music, Jéanne Inc., the International Horn Society Press, and Margalit Music. Currently Research Foundation Professor of Music and head of composition and theory at the University of Florida, where he has been on the faculty since 1999, he served as Visiting Professor at Florida State University in 2016, and previously taught at Baylor University. Richards earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at the University of Texas at Austin, and Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Theory and Composition at the University of Arizona.


Wendy Steiner:


Wendy Steiner is the Richard L. Fisher Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, past Chair of the Penn English Department, and Founding Director of the Penn Humanities Forum.  Among her books on modern literature and visual art are The Real Real Thing:  The Model in the Mirror of Art (2010); Venus in Exile:  The Rejection of Beauty in Twentieth-Century Art  (2001); and The Scandal of Pleasure:  Art in an Age of Fundamentalism (listed among "New York Times 100 Best Books of 1996").  Her cultural criticism has appeared widely in U.S. and U.K. papers and her honors include Guggenheim and ACLS fellowships.  Most recently, Steiner has turned to multimedia opera, as librettist and producer/director of The Loathly Lady (2009; composer Paul Richards; artist John Kindness) and Biennale (composer Richards; artist Andrew Lucia; in development).

Moira O'Sullivan:


Moira O'Sullivan, is an actor and director based in NYC. She is the staging director and acting instructor for the Hartt School's summer Pre-Professional Musical Theater Intensive and can be seen performing this holiday season in Ivoryton Playhouse's It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Theatre credits include: Beneath The Gavel (Off-Broadway, 59E59), Oleanna (Playhouse on Park), Biloxi Blues (Ivoryton Playhouse), Red Snow (Insomnium Theater Company), Abduct, Transport, Deliver (Scene Change Festival). TV credits include: I, Witness (Investigation Discovery) and The Cobblestone Corridor (PBS).  She holds a BFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and is an Upright Citizens Brigade trained improvisor.


Jessica Rost:


Soprano Jessica Rost received her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory, where she performed as Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Clorinda (La Cenerentola), and Pamina (The Magic Flute). Following her undergraduate studies, she spent two months in France with the Franco-American Vocal Academy performing the lead in the contemporary comedic opera Les Fables Enchantées by Isabelle Aboulker. This past June, Jessica sang in the Boston Early Music Festival, as well as the Institute for 17th Century Music in New York directed by Drew Minter and Julianne Baird, where she portrayed Deianira and the goddess Venere in Cavalli’s Ercole amante. Last month in West Hartford, Jessica sang Gilda in the famous Act 3 quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto in a benefit concert to bring medical aid to Haiti.  Jessica is thrilled to be singing in Hartford Opera Theater’s New in November program as Virginia Woolf in The Loathly Lady by Paul Richards.  

Abigail Paschke:


Abigail is thrilled to be back at HOT for their New in November festival! Recent credits include Gherardino in Gianni Schicchi (Salt Marsh Opera), Abigail Williams inThe Crucible (HOT), Maria in The Sound of Music (The Carnegie), Adele (cvr) in Die Fledermaus (Virginia Opera), Leïla (cvr) in Les pêchuers des perles (Virginia Opera) Juliette (cvr) in Roméo et Juliette (Des Moines Metro Opera), Frasquita in Carmen (Kentucky Opera), and Valencienne in The Merry Widow (Kentucky Opera). Abigail has been a Resident Artist at Sarasota Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Kentucky Opera, Opera Saratoga, Cincinnati Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. She was the Grand Prize winner of the 2011 Orpheus Competition, an Encouragement Award winner from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a Houston Grand Opera McCollum Competition Semi-Finalist. She holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and Master of Music degree from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Many thanks to Liz and the HOT family!


Lydia McClain:


Lydia McClain is a multi-faceted performer whose repertoire ranges from early music to contemporary song.  Most recently, Lydia performed the World Premiere of Elizabeth Austin’s Frauenliebe und –leben, sung in English, at the National Opera Center.  In 2018, Lydia will perform in the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, singing a scene from Austin’s opera, Marquise of O.   Other recent performances include a solo recital at the Hill-Stead Museum, the US Premiere of Tawnie Olson’s Sailing to Byzantium with the Foot In the Door Ensemble, and the World Premiere of Aphrodite, by Daniel Mertzlufft.  In 2015, Lydia was a fellow at the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar under the direction of Stephanie Blythe and Alan Smith.  There she presented songs by living American composers, including a gala featuring the music of composer-in-residence, Ricky Ian Gordon.  A native of Pennsylvania, Lydia holds a Bachelor of Music from The Hartt School of Music and a Masters in Music from Florida State University.  She lives in Simsbury, CT where she currently maintains a private studio and is on the music faculty of the Ethel Walker


Michael McAvoy:


Baritone Michael McAvoy is an acclaimed American opera singer described as demonstrating “range, resonance and imperative skill” (Naples Daily News).  This season, he had the pleasure of portraying Top with Hartford Opera Theatre in their production of Copland’s The Tender Land. Mr. McAvoy has worked with various regional opera companies, such as Bronx Opera, New York Lyric Opera, Opera Oggi New York, Vocal Productions New York, Light Opera of New York, Connecticut Concert Opera, Opera Theatre of Connecticut, Connecticut Lyric Opera and Opera Naples.

He has conquered some of the largest roles in the lyric baritone repertoire, most notably Figaro from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.  He first appeared in the role at Symphony Space in Manhattan with Vocal Productions NY.  He has also taken on the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Vocal Productions NY as well as Bronx Opera.  His other notable roles include Belcoré in L’elisir d’amore, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Peter in Hansel and Gretel, Mr. Gobineau in The Medium, Ben in The Telephone, Oliver in The Vagabond King, Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore, and Thomas Putnam in The Crucible, which was his first full production with HOT.

Mr. McAvoy’s singing credits also extend to oratorio and concert works.  He was seen performing the baritone solos in both Fauré’s Requiem, with the Granby Festival Chorus, as well as Duruflé’s Requiem with the Naples Philharmonic Chorale.  He has performed as a soloist in Bach’s Magnificat, Mozart’s Regina Coeli and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, with The Falmouth Philharmonic Chorale, supported by full orchestra, and conducted by John Yankee.  He also appeared as El Dancaïro with The Norwalk Symphony Orchestra in their semi staged version of Bizet’s Carmen.

Mr. McAvoy has completed the Franco-American Vocal Academy summer program.  He has also participated in the Opera Naples Young Artist Program, where he understudied major roles, sang in outreach concerts and played comprimario roles in their fully staged productions, under the batons of Willie Anthony Waters, Lucy Arner, and William Noll.  He won first place in Opera Theatre of Connecticut’s Amici Vocal Competition and later played Curio in their production of Handel’s Julius Caesar in Egypt.

Having graduated with his degree in Vocal Performance from The University of Connecticut, Mr. McAvoy has since had the honor of returning to his alma matter to perform as a paid professional in UCONN Opera Theater productions. Currently, he continues to study voice with UCONN’s Dr. Constance Rock.


She’s Fabulous


Tony Solitro:


Tony Solitro is a composer of concert and stage music that combines rich lyricism, visceral rhythmic energy, and a varied harmonic palette. His passion for literature and drama has led him to write several song cycles, chamber pieces for voice and mixed ensemble, choral settings, incidental music for theatrical productions, and works for the operatic stage.

Recent highlights include: No More in Darkness, for Ensemble Scorrevole; Breaking Point, premiered at the Cortona Sessions for New Music; She’s Fabulous, premiered by Boston Opera Collaborative; More Beautiful Than Night, a song cycle for Lebanese-American tenor Roy Hage (Resident Artist, Academy of Vocal Arts); Shadow Confrontations, a string quintet for bassist Joseph Conyers (Assistant Principal, Philadelphia Orchestra) that was recorded in September 2016 with the Daedalus Quartet; Les Bouteilles de la Table Ronde, a surrealist drinking song for mezzo-soprano commissioned by The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia for Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson’s Consider the Belvedere installation; Spectra of Morning, for magnetic resonator piano, given its west coast premiere by Richard Valitutto on a concert presented by People Inside Electronics in Los Angeles and its UK and European premiere by Ben Powell at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England; and the world premiere of Heroes and Beasts, a concerto for violoncello and chamber orchestra, with soloist Branson Yeast and the Litha Symphony Orchestra in Manhattan.

Other notable performances of Tony’s compositions: Time in Eternity at the International Guitar Research Centre (University of Surrey, Guildford, UK); Automata at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts (commissioned and premiered by Network for New Music); War Wedding at the Red Note New Music Festival (Illinois State University); and—as the beneficiary of an American Composers Forum’s New Voices commission—The Curious Habit of Madre Usimbalda in Città della Pieve and Città di Saluzzo, Italy (International Opera Theater).

Tony has been awarded fellowships and artist residencies at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Brevard Music Center. He earned his Ph.D. as a recipient of the George Crumb Music Fellowship and the Benjamin Franklin Teaching Fellowship from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.M. from the Longy School of Music on a Nadia and Lili Boulanger Scholarship. To hear recordings, see videos, and explore his composition catalogue, visit


Hannah Simms:


Hannah Simms (Director) is a director and teacher based in Hartford, CT. She is a graduate of the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theatre, and the NTI Advanced Directing Semester at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Directing credits include: Lest We Forget, Frog Hollow State of Mind and Asylum Hill: Meet Us Where We Are (HartBeat Ensemble), Guenevere (Ivoryton Playhouse),  Eurydice, (PVPA Charter High School),  Winter's Tale, Julius Cesar, and Romeo & Juliet (Hampshire Shakespeare). She has also directed in the Write On! festival at Hartford Stage.  Assistant Directing credits include The City That Cried Wolf off-Broadway at 59E59, and FlipSide at HartBeat Ensemble. Hannah is an ensemble member at HartBeat Ensemble, and is a veteran facilitator of their Youth Play Institute.


Jennifer Sgroe:
Soprano Jennifer Sgroe has performed across the US and at festivals in Finland, England and Austria in
opera, recitals and on the concert stage. She specializes in contemporary American opera and art song and repertoire of the Baroque and Classical eras.  Praised for her “patrician ease and polished vocal refinement’ by the Boston Music Intelligencer, Ms. Sgroe made her Jordan Hall debut with The Shakespeare Concerts in April 2017 and performed Jessica Rudman’s Trigger, about the effects of domestic violence, with Hartford Opera Theatre and the Women Composers’ Festival in ’16 and ‘17. She has recently performed with the Cambridge Symphony, Arbor Opera Theater, Sinfonietta Nova and the Sugar Creek Opera. In 2018, she returns to Jordan Hall for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy for NEC’s 150th Anniversary concerts and continues to offer performances of the original recital program, To the Sea, developed with her collaborator, pianist Beverly Soll. Originally from NY, Jennifer Sgroe resides in Salem, MA. In addition to her work as a singer, she is on the voice faculty of New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education. She holds Bachelor of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Music in Opera from The Boston Conservatory. For more information visit:


Jan Zimmerman:
A native of Panama City, Florida, Jan Zimmerman, soprano, received her MM in Vocal Performance from the Boston Conservatory and is currently a candidate for a DMA in Vocal Performance at UConn. An avid supporter of new music, Ms. Zimmerman originated the role of “Various” in Nicholas Vine's Loose, Wet, Perforated with the Boston-based opera company Guerilla Opera. Some of Ms. Zimmerman's favorite operatic roles include Lady Billows (Albert Herring), The Grand Duchess (The Grand Duchess of Gérolstein), Elizabeth Proctor (The Crucible), Hélène (La Belle Hélène in Perigueux, France), the Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors) and Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus). Ms. Zimmerman is a student of Dr. Constance Rock.

Kalena Bovell:
Praised for her “brilliant conducting skills” (Chicago Tribune) Kalena Bovell is described as a young conductor who possesses innate confidence and charisma. A vibrant conductor and educator, Kalena has just completed her tenure as Assistant Conductor for the 2016-17 Season with the Chicago Sinfonietta. In 2017, Kalena was a Semi Finalist for Marin Alsop’s prestigious Taki Concordia Fellowship and was awarded 3rd place in the American Prize for the college/university division in 2015.

For the 2015-2016 season, Kalena was selected to be a Chicago Sinfonietta Freeman Conducting Fellow. This opportunity allowed her to work closely with Mei-Ann Chen and take part in Maestro Paul Freeman’s vision of fostering and promoting cultural diversity within classical music. Kalena also traveled to Memphis, Tennessee in May of 2016 and assisted Mei-Ann Chen for her final masterworks concert with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, conducting the off-stage brass in Mahler’s First Symphony. ​

Kalena has served as the cover conductor with the Hartford Symphony on various masterworks concerts. She has assisted Music Director, Carolyn Kuan, and guest conductors Bill Eddins and Gerard Schwartz. Kalena has also been fortunate to work with with renowned conductors Johannes Schlaefli, James Lowe, Donald Portnoy, Maurice Peress, Jorge Mester, Diane Wittry, Peter Jaffe, John Koshak, Kenneth Kiesler and has received coachings from Michael Morgan, Rossen Milanov, Gerard Schwarz and Bill Eddins.


Currently the Orchestra Director at the Loomis Chaffee School, Kalena received a Master’s Degree and Graduate Professional Diploma in instrumental conducting from The Hartt School where she was a student of Edward Cumming.


Stephen Scarlato:
Stephen Scarlato is a collaborative pianist and organist based in central Connecticut. He received his bachelor's degree in organ performance from The Hartt School, where he studied under Larry Allen.  While at The Hartt School, Stephen received the University of Hartford's Regents Honors Award for academic excellence, won prizes in the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival/USA, and graduated summa cum laude.  He can be heard on several commercially available recordings, including the recently released album ‘Music of the Spheres’ by the choral group Voce, the Valmarie Music cd 'The Ash Grove' with soprano Julie M. Poole, and a collection of Chinese art songs entitled "Infinite Time" with baritone Chai-lun Yueh. In addition to a wide variety of freelance work, he currently serves as organist at Immanuel Congregational Church, and as a staff accompanist in The Hartt School's vocal studies division.

The Place Where You Started

Mark Lanz Weiser:
Composer Mark Lanz Weiser has always had a passion for the combination of music and drama. He explores the ways drama can influence and shape music through his operas, art songs and concert music.

In 2015 Opera San Jose premiered Where Angels Fear to Tread, Weiser’s opera based on the novel by E. M. Forster. It was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “potent and well-made” and “ravishing” by the San Jose Mercury News. Both publications included the opera on their top 10 list of 2015 musical events. The Place Where You Started, a scene from which is being presented this evening, is an opera Weiser wrote in collaboration with librettist Amy Punt. The Place Where You Started was premiered in Portland in November of 2016. Described as a “remarkable opera” in Northwest Reverb, it was subsequently performed in Shanghai, China.

In 2015, Weiser was awarded the ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for his second symphony (Sinfonia Magalhães), a musical evocation of Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe. His High Velocity for solo piano won the 2015 Ithaca College International Heckscher Composition Prize, and Anthem for a Doomed Youth, a song cycle for baritone and piano using the poetry of Wilfred Owen was awarded the NATS National Art Song competition. He has held residencies at the Yaddo colony in New York and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and his music has been published by Boosey & Hawkes and Editions Bim International Music Publishing.

Mark Lanz Weiser received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance and master’s degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He is currently Assistant Professor in Composition and Director of Undergraduate Music Theory at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. Website:

Amy Punt:
Amy is a screenwriter, essayist and freelance journalist. Her writings have been featured in Salon and The Weeklings, and she has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC. Originally from Chicago, Punt began her career writing and directing original plays for The Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Bailiwick Repertory, and Strawdog Ensemble. After receiving her Master of Directing for Cinema/ TV and Communication at Regent University, she moved to Los Angeles and began working at The Writers Boot Camp where she had the opportunity to develop scripts with Warner Brothers Animation and teach screenwriters professional development of their screenplays. Punt teaches creative writing at Rosemont College and privately coaches professional screenwriters. She lives in Los Angeles.

Gretchen Werda:
Gretchen Werda is a mezzo-soprano, arts manager, and opera director/producer.  She is a second year Master's student studying Vocal Performance at New England Conservatory. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Southern Connecticut State University, as well as a specialist certificate in electronic music production from Berklee College of Music.  

Gretchen is an interdisciplinary artist at the core, and has studied many artistic mediums such as dance, visual art, instrumental music, opera, and theater.  As a stage director she draws upon her experience in all art forms to best illustrate and tell a story.

Gretchen has most recently worked as the stage director of Don Giovanni at New England Conservatory's Perkins Opera Scenes evenings and frequently works as assistant director on larger scale productions at NEC.  This year she also spent the summer studying opera directing abroad, and working as assistant director on Die Zauberflöte with Berlin Opera Academy.  She looks forward to upcoming projects in Berlin 2018.

Gretchen's most recent vocal performing highlights include:  Shepard, Number, and Frog in Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Spirit #6 in Massenet's Cendrillion, and opera chorus in Emanuel de Falla's La vida breve with New England Conservatory Graduate Opera.  She looks forward to singing Adonis in the upcoming workshop of Permadeath, a new interactive video game themed opera slated to premiere in Boston 2018.

Gretchen is passionate about the creation and production of new opera and musicals.  She has worked as a manager and producer with numerous theater and opera companies, including Goodspeed Musicals, White Snake Projects, and Guerilla Opera to name a few.  After completing her graduate studies, she plans to pursue stage directing and producing new opera full-time.

Kristen Charpentier:
Soprano Kristen Charpentier is thrilled to be working Hartford Opera Theater again!  She very recently performed a solo voice recital at the Providence, RI Music Mansion, singing works by Faure, Handel, Mozart, and more. Previously this year she reprised her role as Azuma in the third act of Elsa Respighi's Samurai, as part of the Women’s Composer Festival in Hartford.  Ms. Charpentier has appeared in three of HOT's NIN Festivals, has worked with the Opera Company of Brooklyn for multiple concerts, and performed with Opera Providence consecutive years.  She has performed roles such as Lucy (The Telephone), Edith (Pirates of Penzance), Norina (Don Pasquale), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Mrs. Alice Ford (Merry Wives of Windsor), Carolina (Matrimonio Segreto), Marie (Daughter of the Regiment), and Amy (Little Women). 

Mavis Hsieh

Anne Graczyk:
Connecticut born mezzo-soprano Anne Graczyk Druce received her Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University graduating summa cum laude and subsequently received her Graduate Professional Diploma in Vocal Performance from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.  Upon completing her vocal studies, Anne was accepted into the Artist Diploma program at Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, graduating in December 2007.

After taking a brief performing hiatus to raise her two boys, Anne is thrilled to be back performing with Hartford Opera Theater. Most recently, Anne performed the roles of Jo March, Little Women and Lucretia, The Rape of Lucrecia with Hartford Opera Theater, as well as Badessa and Nursing Sister in Suor Angelica with Opera Theater of Connecticut.  Other performances include Dorabella, Cosi fan tutte, and Meg Page, Falstaff, for Intermezzo Young Artist Development Program;  Zita, Gianni Schicchi, La Zelatrice, Suor Angelica, and Lucretia, The Rape of Lucretia, all for Hartt Opera Theater.  She has covered the roles of Milano and Ericlea in Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse as well as Ursule in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict with Chicago Opera Theater while there as a Young Artist.

This past season, Anne was the Mezzo Soloist in Bach's Magnificat and Vivaldi's Gloria at First Church of Christ, Wethersfield where she is also the Alto Section Leader. In 2012, Anne made her debut with the Farmington Valley Chorale as the Mezzo Soloist in the Mozart Coronation Mass and Haydn Lord Nelson Mass.  In 2011, she was the Mezzo Soloist in Vivaldi's Gloria with the Keene Chorale, Keene, NH.

Spencer Hamlin:
Spencer Hamlin has been praised by Opera News for his “dazzling Italianate voice” and “scintillatingly smooth leggiero tenor” after performances of Tonio in La fille du régiment and Alfred in Die Fledermaus with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance series. This summer, Hamlin returned to Prelude, singing Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. Hamlin recently made his New York City Opera debut as Detective Thibodeau in the New York premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne. After hearing Hamlin as Nemorino in UConn Opera Theater’s production of L’elisir d’amore in February 2015, the Pulitzer Prize winning former Washington Post music critic Tim Page wrote: “Spencer Hamlin has a sweetly lyrical high tenor voice, which he deploys with immaculate taste, and his acting is communicative and persuasive.”

Hamlin received his masters degree from the University of Connecticut where he studied under Dr. Constance Rock. Other roles have included Ernesto in Don Pasquale, The Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Almaviva in Il barbieri di Siviglia, the title role in Albert Herring, Henrik in A Little Night Music, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Judge Danforth in The Crucible, Laurie in Little Women, and Percy Grainger in the U.S. Premier of Justin Dello Joio’s Blue Mountain.

Hamlin has performed with New York City Opera, Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance series, Connecticut Lyric Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, Hartford Opera Theater, Wendy Taucher Dance Opera Theater, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Rhode Island College Symphony Orchestra, and various ensembles at the University of Connecticut.


Jared Graveley:
Jared Graveley, 22, is a young vocal artist from the Connecticut area. A recent graduate from the UConn School of Music, Jared has become an active member of the arts community, most recently singing as a selected soloist for renowned composers Paul Mealor in May, and Eriks Ešenvalds in November, with the award winning choral ensemble Voce. Jared is incredibly excited to be making his Hartford Opera Theatre debut this weekend, and would like to thank his vocal mentors and teachers, Rod Nelman and Craig Hart, for their priceless guidance, support, and knowledge.

Marie Curie Learns To Swim

Jessica Rudman:
Described as a “new music ninja” by the Hartford Advocate, Jessica Rudman is a Connecticut-based composer and teacher whose music unifies melodic development and narrative structures with extended techniques to create a unique and personal emotional expression.  Her works have been performed by groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Riot Ensemble, the Cadillac Moon Ensemble, the Omaha Symphony's Chamber Orchestra, the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra.  She has received awards from SCI/ASCAP, Boston Metro Opera, the College Music Society, the International Alliance for Women in Music, and others.  

Jessica has served on the faculty at Baruch College, Central Connecticut State University, and The Hartt School.  She is currently the Director of the Young Composers Project and the Chair of the Creative Studies Department at The Hartt School Community Division.  Jessica has also been highly involved in arts administration and volunteers with the Women Composers Festival of Hartford.  She holds degrees from the CUNY Graduate Center, The Hartt School, and the University of Virginia.  More information about Jessica and her work can be found at her website,

Kendra Preston Leonard:
Kendra Preston Leonard is a musicologist and music theorist whose work focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; music and screen history; and music and Shakespeare. She is the Executive Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive.

Leonard is the author of The Art Songs of Louise Talma; Music for Silent Film: A Guide to North American Resources; Louise Talma: A Life in Composition; The Conservatoire Américain: a History; Shakespeare, Madness, and Music: Scoring Insanity in Cinematic Adaptations; and is the editor of Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing: Music in the Worlds of Joss Whedon. She has been a featured speaker on BBC Radio 3; was the 2013 Fall speaker for the American Musicological Society-Library of Congress Lecture Series; and a keynote speaker at the American Music Research Center’s Fourth Annual Susan Porter Memorial Symposium on “Nadia Boulanger and American Music.” She has presented her research regularly at conferences including those of the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and the Shakespeare Association of America; has published in the Journal of Musicological Research, Women & Music, and Upstart; and has contributed book chapters to several collections. Leonard is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and fellowships for her work, including the 2017-18 Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellowship at the Newberry Library; 2016-17 Harry Ransom Center Fellowship; the 2016 Janet Levy Award from the American Musicological Society; a 2016 American Music Research Center Fellowship; the 2016 Society for American Music Sight and Sound Subvention; the inaugural Judith Tick Fellowship from the Society for American Music (2013-2014); and the Thornton Wilder Fellowship at the Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (2009).
Leonard has also worked in scholarly publishing and is a consultant and reviewer for scholarly, higher education, and trade presses.
She trained as a cellist and specialized in twentieth-century and new music, although she has since retired from performance due to chronic injury. She received her high school diploma from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and her Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University. She earned the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Certificate in Advanced Instrumental Studies and received her Master of Music degree in cello performance from the University of Miami before attending the University of Cincinnati College
Conservatory of Music for doctoral work in musicology. She received her PhD from the University of Sunderland (UK).
 Also a librettist, lyricist, and poet, Leonard lives near Houston, Texas, with her husband, engineer and research scientist Karl Rufener.

Eric Larivee: Eric Larivee is very happy to be collaborating with the very talented human beings of Hartford Opera Theater.

A multi-talented, award winning cabaret and musical theater artist, producer, director and music director, Eric was awarded "Best Musical Direction" in the state of Connecticut from the Connecticut High School Music Theater Awards for the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts' production of West Side Story. Eric is the former Chair of the GHAA Musical Theater Department, having developed a ground-breaking, highly competitive, nationally recognized college preparatory musical theater curriculum. He has appeared both on and off-Broadway, and in almost every cabaret room in NYC as well as in Europe. He has performed with John Bucchino, Betty Buckley, Craig Carnelia, Ann Hampton-Callaway, Hildegarde, Andrea Marcovicci, Amanda McBroom, Kay Starr, Elaine Stritch, Margaret Whiting, and Julie Wilson, among many others.

Eric has produced, directed and music directed well over 200 musical theater and cabaret/jazz productions including the history making productions of “New Ways to Dream- A Tribute to Musical Theater” starring Eric’s mentor and Tony Award-winning Broadway legend Betty Buckley and the “40th Anniversary Celebration of The Music Man” Guest Starring Academy Award winning and movie musical legend Shirley Jones. He is the artistic director of New England Cabaret Theater and the Vox Humana Project, creating world-class masterclass/educational opportunities and events with such luminaries as Betty Buckley, John Bucchino, Andrea Burns, Liz Callaway, Barbara Cook, Gavin Creel, Ann Hampton-Callaway, Megan Hilty, Shirley Jones, Lorin Latarro, Constantine Maroulis, Karen Mason, Laura Osnes, Ben Vereen, Julie Wilson, and many others over the years. Eric received the Julie Wilson Award for Excellence in the Art of Cabaret from the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Cabaret Conference.  Also, awarded a full scholarship to the Yale University Cabaret Conference. Eric has studied at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the Hartt School, Manhattan School of Music (

and Yale University.

Past president of the Boston Association of Cabaret Artists (BACA), past Artistic Director of Heart To Heart Productions and The Artist's Way Conservatory of the Performing Arts. He is the co-creator and music director of Encore! Ensemble Summer Theater with programs running in France and Germany.


Mr. Larivee is also a much sought after vocal technician and musical theater/cabaret coach and director with students currently on Broadway, off-Broadway, the West Coast, and every major conservatory college program in the United States.

He maintains studios in NYC, West Hartford and Boston. Those interested in a consultation or course of study should contact

Susan Yankee:
Susan Yankee performed Soprano and Mezzo-soprano repertoire across the country, including two solo appearances at Carnegie Hall. First, a Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in the Beethoven Mass in C and Mozart Requiem under the baton of Jerald Ottley, conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This was followed by the World Premiere of Imant Raminish’s Symphony of Psalms. Appearances with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, New York City Opera National Company. Tulsa Opera, Opera Memphis, Longview Opera, Shreveport Opera, Harrisburg Opera, Opera Theater of CT, and Sarasota Opera. As a concert artist with The Little Orchestra Society of New York, Memphis Symphony, Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, Connecticut Chamber Choir, Wallingford Symphony, Orchestra New England, Bethlehem Bach Festival, Lake Charles Symphony, Shreveport Symphony, Annapolis Opera, and the Mozart in Mass Series at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC. As a young artist, with the Glimmerglass Opera, Virginia Opera, Israel Vocal Arts Institute, the Sarasota Opera Studio, and two seasons with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. World Finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, a Mid-Atlantic All District Division winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, as well as a winner of the Palm Beach Opera Competition, the Connecticut Opera Competition, Amici Vocal Competition and the Liederkranz Foundation Awards for Voice. She has been on the voice faculty of Centenary College, University of Tampa, East Texas Baptist University, Florida Gulf Coast University and Patel Conservatory. She has been on the voice faculty for several prestigious voice programs, including the Sherrill Milnes V.O.I.C.Experience at Walt Disney World and Opera Tampa, Intermezzo Foundation for Voice and Seagle Music Colony. She is past artistic director of the Shreveport Opera Xpress Young Artist program. In addition, Ms. Yankee is a three times National Endowment of the Arts grant recipient for her interactive educational operas for children based on popular fairytales to the music of classical opera composers. Ms. Yankee is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music and the Yale School of Music. She is an Associate Fellow of Trumbull College, Yale University.

Hannah Shanefield:
A native of Philadelphia, soprano Hannah Shanefield is in her senior year at the Hartt School pursuing her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. She is thrilled to be making her Hartford Opera Theater debut as Irene in a scene from Rudman’s Marie Curie Learns to Swim. Upcoming performances include scenes from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette (Juliette) and Floyd's Susannah (Susannah) with Hartt Opera Theater. She is a resident artist with Opera Connecticut, having covered Gilda and sung the Paggio in Verdi’s Rigoletto this October. Other recent performances include the title role in Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, Madame Herz in Mozart's The Impresario, and Jenny in Rorem's Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters, all with Hartt Opera Theater. Hannah was a young artist at the CoOPERAtive program in 2016. She studies internationally renowned soprano Maureen O'Flynn.

Joseph Hodge:
Praised for his "musicianship and energy on stage" (Journal Inquirer), Joseph Hodge currently serves as the Music Director of the Connecticut Valley Symphony Orchestra and Manchester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale.  Joseph graduated from the Hartt School of Music in 2012, where he studied conducting with Edward Cumming and was the Assistant Conductor of the Hartt Symphony Orchestra.  

Guest conducting engagements have brought him across the country to work with opera companies and orchestras alike, such as Charlottesville Opera (VA), Abilene Opera Association (TX), Houghton Lyric Theater (NY), and the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival (IN).  He has previously studied conducting with Edward Cumming, Christopher Zimmerman, Kate Tamarkin, and Kenneth Kiesler. With Hartford Opera Theater, Joseph recently led mainstage performances of Robert Ward's The Crucible and Aaron Copland's The Tender Land.  This is his eighth season working with HOT.

Nathaniel Baker:
Connecticut native, Nathaniel Baker, began his formal piano training at the age of 7. His subsequent rise to musical maturity has seen the beginnings of a rich and varied career as a solo performer, chamber musician, music director, and theorist. In the spring of 2010, Nathaniel graduated from The Hartt School with majors in both Piano Performance and Music Theory. He has studied privately with Luiz de Moura-Castro, Benita Rose and Margarita Nuller and participated in master classes with Paul Badura-Skoda, Diane Andersen, Dmitry Rachmanov, Watson Morrison and Awadagin Pratt, among others.

Baker has played in venues throughout Connecticut, including the Connecticut Governor’s Residence, the Mark Twain House, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Shafer Auditorium and Von Der Mehden Recital Hall at the University of Connecticut. He has also performed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, at music festivals in Spain and Portugal, and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s fourth largest city. Baker has appeared as a soloist with the Willimantic Orchestra and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Youth Orchestra. He placed third in the 2011 Young Artist Piano Competition sponsored by the Connecticut State Music Teachers’ Association.

The past few years have seen the development of another one of Nathaniel’s passions: poetry. Nathaniel’s unique blend of dramatic poetry recitation and music has found an audience throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. In July 2010, this integral aspect of Nathaniel’s career assumed international dimensions when he gave an extensive recitation at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Italy.

Who Married Star Husbands

Shuying Li:
Praised as “a real talent here waiting to emerge” (Seattle Times) and with her “skillful orchestral writing, very colorful language and huge waves of sound,” Shuying Li is an award-winning composer who began her musical education in her native China. In her sophomore year at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, she won a scholarship to continue undergraduate study at the Hartt School in Connecticut. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, where she is now pursuing a doctorate degree.

Most recently, Shuying has been commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to write a new piece for a Carnegie Hall premiere in December 2017. In addition, named one of the three resident composers in the Composer Librettist Development Program with the American Lyric Theater in their 2017-2018 season, Shuying will write a one-act opera being produced by ALT in May 2018. In 2015, Shuying’s orchestral work, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night was named a winning work to participate in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Edward T. Cone Composition institute, where it was performed by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under the baton of JoAnn Falletta in July. In 2013, Shuying’s orchestral work Overture to “The Siege” was selected as the winning composition in both IAWM’s Libby Larsen Prize and the Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia Composition Competition, resulting in premiere by the Seattle Symphony. In 2014, after performances by the Hartt Wind Ensemble and the University of Cincinnati CCM Wind Orchestra, Shuying’s work for band, Slippery Slope, won the ASCAP/CBDNA Ferederick Fennell Prize. It will be circulated to ensembles performing at the national and regional CBDNA conferences, and during the CBDNA Forum at the Mid-West Clinic.

Other awards include recognition as a Finalist in the 2017, 2016 and 2015 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, awards from The American Prize, the Michigan Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer Competition, the NAfME Composers Competition, the Melta International Composition Competition, the Florence String Quartet Call for Scores, the Foundation for Modern Music’s International Robert Avalon Composition Competition, the MacDowell Club of Milwaukee Young Composer Competition, and the International J. Dorfman Composition Competition, among others. She was the “Composer in Residence” for the Romania ICon Arts Festival during summer 2014.

Shuying’s compositions have been performed by Seattle Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Wellesley Conference Chamber Orchestra, Orkest de ereprijs (Netherlands), Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra (Finland), ICon Arts Ensemble (Romania), Cecilia Quartet (Canada), Opera From Scratch (Canada), Donald Sinta Quartet, 15.19. Ensemble (Italy), Ascanio Quartet (Italy), Atlas Ensemble (Netherlands), University of Cincinnati Wind Orchestra, Hartt Wind Ensemble, etc. Her prior composition teachers include Ye Guohui, Robert Carl and Larry Alan Smith. She studied conducting with Glen Adsit and Edward Cumming, and studied piano with Paul Rutman. Additionally, Shuying has worked with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick, Christopher Theofanidis, Steven Mackey. For more information, please visit

Chelsea Gallo

Kenzie Allen:

Kenzie is a poeteditorphotographerdesigner, and literary activist. She is currently a second-year PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where she is an Advanced Opportunity Fellow, Chancellor’s Award recipient, and a Teaching Assistant in American Indian Studies. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program (‘14), where she received Hopwood Prizes in poetry and non-fiction. She is the recipient of the 2014 Littoral Press Poetry Prize, a 2013Aspen Summer Words Emerging Writers Fellowship from the Aspen Writers’ Foundation, and a Zell residency fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center.

Originally from West Texas, she now shares time between Trondheim, Norway, and her tribe’s reservation in Oneida, Wisconsin. She is at work on her first manuscript in poetry, a chapbook of Texas poems, and a memoir about blood quantum, as well as several opera projects. Her poems have appeared in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Indiana Review, Drunken Boat, SOFTBLOW, Apogee, Boston Review, Narrative, Best New Poets 2016, and other venues, and she is the managing editor of Anthropoid and the founder of Apiary Lit.

Kenzie loves cacti and the two-step. By day she works as a web and ui/ux designer and by night she tries to contact Norman Dubie through her dreams. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology (with Robert Sussman, Tab Rasmussen and field work with John Kelly; graduate ethnographic study with Ruth Behar, linguistic anthropology study with Bernard Perley) and continues to develop work in applied anthropology, ethnopoetics and ethnographic studies, most recently as a Student Representative for the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. She loves to travel.


Lila Palmer: 
Lila Palmer is a librettist and soprano holding degrees from Cambridge, NEC & the GSMD. She is an alumnus of ENO’s Operaworks & a fellow of the GSMD. Operas include Harbour (2015); Dead Equal (2016); Two-Step (2016); Sunshine Girl (2017); Changing Stations (2017); Heard (2017); and The Jewel Merchants (2017). Plays include Unblooded and Fed. As a writer & dramaturg she has worked with organisations including Helios Collective, Wigmore Hall, Boston Opera Collaborative, workshOpera, Roman River Festival, Bethlem Gallery, Arts for Change & The Sounding Board. She is co-director of Not White Noise company & soprano for Four Corners Assembly, an international contemporary music ensemble. She is currently an artist-in-residence with American Lyric Theater, NYC.

Michelle Hendrick:
Michelle Hendrick is an accomplished director, teacher, producer and actor. She is currently the Resident Stage Director for the University of Connecticut Opera Theatre, where she has staged Hansel and Gretel, Noye's Fludde, Albert Herring and The Barber of Seville. She was the founding Artistic Director of Hartford Opera Theatre, where she staged A Little Night Music, The Rape of Lucretia, Trouble in Tahiti, The Telephone, Hand of Bridge, Hansel and Gretel, The Old Maid and the Thief, Der Schauspieldirektor, Bastien und Bastienne, the world premiere of Tom Sawyer and six new 10-minute operas in the New In November series which she inaugurated.  She has also staged Le mariage aux lanternes and the East Coast premiere of The Three Hermits for the Hartt School and Le mariage aux lanternes and Les bavards for the Intermezzo Opera Festival. At Trinity College she directed the plays Eurydice and Romeo and Juliet.

Michelle has over 15 years experience teaching at the university level, with particular expertise in working with opera singers, singing actors and non-actors; classical text work; and combining a Stanislavski-based approach with rigorous movement techniques. In addition to being on the faculty at the University of Connecticut, Michelle has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at Trinity College since 2006.  She was an Associate in Opera at the Hartt School and has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Intermezzo Opera Festival and the International School of the Philippines.  

Her professional work as an actress includes roles at Hartford Stage, TheaterWorks, PlayMakers Repertory Company, and the Ko Festival among others.  Michelle earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts and an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Professional Acting Training Program.  Prior to her theatrical career, Michelle was a competitive figure skater, ranked 7th on the East Coast, 3rd in New England.


Four Corners Ensemble

Lila Palmer:
Lila Palmer is a librettist and soprano holding degrees from Cambridge, NEC & the GSMD. She is an alumnus of ENO’s Operaworks & a fellow of the GSMD. Operas include Harbour (2015); Dead Equal (2016); Two-Step (2016); Sunshine Girl (2017); Changing Stations (2017); Heard (2017); and The Jewel Merchants (2017). Plays include Unblooded and Fed. As a writer & dramaturg she has worked with organisations including Helios Collective, Wigmore Hall, Boston Opera Collaborative, workshOpera, Roman River Festival, Bethlem Gallery, Arts for Change & The Sounding Board. She is co-director of Not White Noise company & soprano for Four Corners Assembly, an international contemporary music ensemble. She is currently an artist-in-residence with American Lyric Theater, NYC.

Leah Schweighofer:
Born and raised in the farmlands of northeast Pennsylvania, soprano Leah Schweighofer is absolutely thrilled to debut with Hartford Opera Theater as Young Sister in Who Married Star Husbands. Leah is a senior at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford studying voice with soprano Maureen O’Flynn and vocal coach/pianist Eric Trudel. This winter, she will perform in the Hartt School’s Opera Mainstage of The Merry Widow. Leah sings with the choir at Old St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church under the direction of Lisabeth Miller and will be a professional soloist in the upcoming performance of Bach’s Cantata 140 as part of Old St. Andrew’s Music Concert Series this December.

Mark Hale:

Mark Hale appears with Hartford Opera Theater for the first time as Star with Shining Eyes.  A resident of Killingworth, Mark has sung principle roles with Connecticut Opera, Opera Memphis, State Repertory Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, Liederkranz Opera, Brandenburg Opera, and Sarasota Opera.   Mark also has appeared as the tenor soloist in myriad oratorio and concert performances throughout the United States.  Mark earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Connecticut.

Ian Pomerantz:
American music director and bass-baritone Ian Pomerantz’s "rich bass-baritone voice" is "especially remarkable, with gravity turning mellifluous at key moments, free of any hint of false inflation.” Praised for his versitility, he is“the possessor of an instrument naturally at home in many genres,- in opera, in recital, and in oratorio.” Pomerantz is a specialist in the French baroque vocal repertoire, and is the co-founder and artistic director of Les Enfants d’Orphée, an ensemble dedicated to bringing the music of the French Baroque to North American audiences. To begin his 2016-2017 season, Pomerantz gave the North American premiere of Philippe Courbois’ Orphée, and revived Boismortier’s Automne with harpsichordist Byron Schenkman, for which the Boston Music Intelligencer said the two “radiated with investment and artistic attitude.” With Les Enfants, he is also reviving cantatas by Clérambault as a part of the John Kleshinsky Concert Series in Boston. A performance of Charpentier’s In Nativitatem N.S.J.C. Canticum brings him to New York City’s baroque stages in December, and he is excited to join the Grammy Award-winning Boston Early Music festival in the North American premier of Campra’s opera Le Carnival de Venise.

As a scholar of Jewish music, Pomerantz joined Boston’s Cantata Singers at Jordan Hall as the guest soloist in Yehudi Wyner’s Torah Service, and collaborated in Orchestra of New Spain’s groundbreaking program The Triangle of Al-Andalus. In the 2017-2018 season, Pomerantz joins Opera Connecticut as a Resident Artist in their season's productions, and will premier the new opera Who Married Star Husbands with Hartford Opera Theater. He will direct a revival Louis Saladin’s Canticum Hebraïcum of the 1680’s in a collaboration with Les Enfants and Boston, and joins Byron Schenkman and Friends as a guest soloist in reviving Handel’s cantatas for bass voice. Pomerantz holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College, Masters of Music in Voice from Longy School of Music of Bard College, and is completing a doctorate focused on French Baroque repertoire at the Hartt School, with additional study in France.

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