Aida: Guest Artists cover

Aida: Guest Artists

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Aida is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni. Set in Egypt, it was commissioned by and first performed in Cairo on 24 December 1871; Giovanni Bottesini conducted after Verdi himself withdrew. Even today, the work holds a cherished place in the operatic canon, and is performed every year around the globe.
This is the first in a series of NoteStreams on tonights performance. You'll be automatically linked to the following at the end. The Preview Talk with host Alan Chapman is in included.
To learn more about Music Director Carl St.Clair, click here.
To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here.





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Mary Birnbaum, Stage Director

Mary Birnbaum, Stage Director

Nominated for Best Newcomer of 2015 at the International Opera Awards in London, Mary Birnbaum has been singled out as a young stage director to watch. Her recent production of The Rape of Lucretia at Juilliard garnered a rave from Anthony Tommasini at The New York Times who called it “viscerally overwhelming.” Other New York credits include Die Zauberflöte (Juilliard), the premiere of Jeremy Denk and Steven Stucky’s The Classical Style at Carnegie Hall in December 2014, and a nine-singer chamber version of Eugene Onegin, also for The Juilliard School, co-led by conductor Matt Aucoin.

Internationally, Birnbaum’s work has taken her to Taiwan, Melbourne, Costa Rica and Tel Aviv. In the summer of 2016, she directed Otello at the Taipei Philharmonic. In the U.S., she has directed in Seattle, Santa Fe, Houston, Ojai, Berkeley, Columbus (Ohio) and Charlottesville (Va.) Her production of Hänsel und Gretel in Houston was No. 2 on a list of “Best Operas in 2014,” following only the Ring Cycle at Houston Grand Opera.

Birnbaum has produced and developed new plays and theatrical events in New York. From 2009- 2012, she founded/managed a theater company, Art Party, which produced story-specific events that engaged the audience in creative ways. STARBOX, a performance installation in Bryant Park, involved the audience lining up for a face-to-face meeting with a star. However the real play happened while the audience waited, as over 40 actors performed scenes all over the park.

She has also worked with playwrights to develop new work, most notably in the Soho Rep Writers/ Directors Lab and at Ars Nova. She co-wrote/directed a feminist pop-concert called Baby No More Times with Melissa Lusk and Caroline V. McGraw.

Teaching and working with young singers is another important part of Birnbaum’s career. She was invited to teach acting at Juilliard at age 26 and now holds the position of associate director of the artist diploma program. In addition, she has worked with singers from the Lindemann program in acting class and scenes. She has also taught master classes at Mannes and currently teaches the opera workshop at Bard. Birnbaum holds a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature with a minor in French from Harvard College and a certificate in movement and design from Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Upcoming projects include the premiere of Kristin Kuster and Megan Levad's opera Kept at the Virginia Arts Festival and Oklahoma at Ashlawn Opera.

Kelebogile Besong, Soprano/Aida

Kelebogile Besong, Soprano/Aida

The young South-African spinto-soprano Kelebogile Besong is emerging on the international opera and concert stages as a talent of unusually strong stage presence, sensitive musicianship and vocal power. Her Pacific Symphony performance as Aida marks her North American debut.

Over the last few seasons, she has enjoyed successes in the title-role of Aida at Malmö Opera, as Musetta in La Bohème at Grange Park Opera and the Savonlinna Festival, a series of aria concerts with the NDR Radiophilharmonie conducted by Andrew Litton, as Violetta in La Traviata at the Opéra National de Montpellier, Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro at Tampere Opera, under the baton of Roy Goodman, the roles of Venus in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis as well as the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik.

Other operatic roles include Micaela in Carmen, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Gabisile in the Opera Africa world premiere of Ziyankomo and the Forbidden Fruit by Phelelani Mnomiya, the title role in Opera Africa’s production of the Zulu Opera Princess Magogo at Den Norske Opera in Oslo and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos for Opéra Royal de Wallonie.

On the concert platform she has performed works such as Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem and Great Mass in C-Minor. Most recently, Besong appeared as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte at the Bregenzer Festpiele, Aida at the Aalto Theater in Essen, Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Orchestra of the 18th Century and conductor Kenneth Montgomery and returned to the Opera National de Montpellier as Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and Dejanira in Weill’s Royal Palace. Forthcoming engagements include house debuts as Musetta with Teatro Regio di Torino and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and as Aida at La Monnaie in Brussels.

Besong won the national soloist competition at the Tirisano Schools Choral Eisteddfod for three consecutive years and was later awarded a scholarship to study for a BA in performing arts at Tshwane University of Technology. She is the proud recipient of the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist Award in Music and in 2013 she was awarded Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Government (Arts). Besong was a finalist of the 32nd Belvedere Singing Competition 2013, held at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam, and represented South-Africa in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition 2015.

Arnold Rawls, Tenor/Radamès

Arnold Rawls, Tenor/Radamès

Tenor Arnold Rawls has delighted audiences with his unique combination of vocal and dramatic skills in performances ranging from art song to opera. He has been hailed for having a powerful, clarion-sounding tenor, a firm, pliant lyric tenor with ringing high notes, as well as a flair for acting.

Future engagements include a.o. Captain Ahab in Moby Dick at Polish National Opera in Warsaw in May 2017. Recent engagements include Das Lied von der Erde with Hangzhou Symphony Orchestra in March 2016, his debuts with the Opera Company of Philadelphia in the title role of Verdi’s Otello and with Oper Frankfurt in a double bill of L'Oracolo by Leoni and Le Villi by Puccini as well as the role of Apollo in Strauss' Daphne.

Rawls had return engagements with Seattle Opera as Foresto in Attila and Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, Calaf in Turandot with Arizona Opera and he returned to Austria for the Bregenzer Festspiele as Radamès in Aida as well as the title role in Andrea Chènier. In the summer 2014 Rawls performed Walther in Die Meistersinger in Seattle.

The 2009-10 season found Rawls singing the role of Radamès in Aida with Bregenzer Festspiele in Austria, Manrico in Il Trovatore with the Seattle Opera, Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with the Indianapolis Opera, Turiddu and Canio in Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci with the Pensacola Opera and Erik in The Flying Dutchman with the Madison Opera. In April 2011 he made his MET debut as Manrico in Il Trovatore substituting an indisposed Marcelo Alvarez, having huge success.

His repertoire also includes roles such as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Cavaradossi, Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera, Sam in Susannah, Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Don José in Carmen, the Duca in Rigoletto and Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West. His concert repertoire includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Handel's Messiah, Rossini's Stabat Mater, Schumann's Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem and Puccini's Messa di Gloria.

Milena Kitić, mezzo-soprano/Amneris

Milena Kitić, mezzo-soprano/Amneris

Milena Kitić, a renowned mezzo-soprano, has performed numerous roles with opera companies around the world in the last three decades. Best known for her performance as the title role in Carmen, Kitić has played Carmen in major performance venues across the United States and Europe including National Theatre in Belgrade (Serbia), Essen Opera in Germany, Washington National Opera, Baltimore Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Pacific and Metropolitan Opera.

She has received numerous accolades for her performances, including the German Music Critic’s Award for “Performer of the Season’’ in 1998 and the Opera Pacific Guild’s “Diva of the Year” in 2005. The International Jeunesses Musicales Competition in Belgrade has established a special prize for “the best young mezzo-soprano” in Kitić’s name.

Her talent earned her the inaugural artist-in-residence award given by Chapman University in Orange, where she has been an adjunct professor and master class instructor since 2007. She also works closely with USC, California State University, Northridge, Saddleback College, Orange County School of the Arts and runs a private vocal studio. Kitić currently serves as chair of artistic excellence for LA Opera with whom she most recently performed the role of Carmen, Albine in Thaïs (with Placido Domingo), Mrs. Noah in Noah’s Flood, and will again appear as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly in March 2016.

With Pacific Symphony, she performed her signature role of Carmen in February 2015, sang selections from Carmen during the Summer Festival 2015, and helped opened the 2015-16 season with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In March 2016, she also performed alongside Placido Domingo and Deborah Voight at the grand opening of Chapman University's Musco Center for the Arts. Kitić's next appearance at Musco Center for the Arts in scheduled as her solo recital in March 2017.

Kitić has studied with Metropolitan and Vienna State Opera star, Kammersängerin Biserka Cvejic. She holds a bachelor of music in performance from the University of Music in Belgrade, Serbia and a master of music in performance from the University of the Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Mark Delavan, Baritone/Amonasro

Mark Delavan, Baritone/Amonasro

A singer of “incisive vocal power and fierce theatrical acuity,” Mark Delavan is sought after throughout the United States and Europe for the most demanding roles in his repertoire.

He regularly appears in the title roles of Der Fliegende Holländer, Falstaff and Rigoletto, and as Iago in Otello, Scarpia in Tosca, Jochanaan in Salome and Amonasro in Aida.

In the summer of 2011, Delavan completed his first performances as Wotan/Wanderer in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen for San Francisco Opera’s new production by Francesca Zambello. The San Francisco Examiner said, “A great new Wotan has arrived. Mark Delavan is both majestic and heartbreakingly human. His acting, diction and warm, broad voice impress throughout…When he stumbles under the weight of his sorrow, when he spits out words of anger, Delavan joins the historic line of Wotans to remember.”

In the current season, Delavan will sing Amonasro in Aida at the Metropolitan Opera and Jack Rance in La faniculla del West at Michigan Opera Theatre.

Delavan recently returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Jupiter in Die liebe der Danae and Alfio/Tonio in the double-bill of Cavalleria Tusticana and Pagliacci. He returned to Pittsburgh Opera in the title role of Nabucco and debuted as Jochanaan in Salome at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova under Fabio Luisi. He also sang Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West at Santa Fe Opera.

Last season, he returned to San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Scarpia. He also created the role of Giovanni in the world premiere of Marco Tutino’s Two Women (La Ciociara) at San Francisco Opera. In concert, Delavan was heard in Kurt Weill’s The Road of Promise with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall and with the New York Choral Society in Mendelssohn’s St. Paul.

Julian Close, Bass Ramfis

Julian Close, Bass Ramfis

Noted as having “a rich voice that appears to come from the center of the earth,” as well as, simply “a voice to die for,” British bass Julian Close has appeared at several esteemed opera houses throughout his career including The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North UK, Scottish Opera and the Wexford, Buxton, Longborough, and English Bach Festivals in a wide range of roles.

He has performed at Lincoln Center New York, The Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Centre, The Bridgewater Hall and he has made numerous television and radio broadcasts for the BBC.

This season, Close performs the role of Hunding in Die Walküre, which he previously sang in concert, with Saffron Opera Group. He reprises the role of Fafner in Das Rheingold with Minnesota Opera and makes a return to the Metropolitan Opera for their productions of Rigoletto and Der Rosenkavalier. He will also return to Welsh National Opera in 2017.

Recent engagements include his debut with Washington National Opera as Fasolt in Francesca Zambello’s ground-breaking production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, as well as a return to the Metropolitan Opera as the Theatre Manager/Banker in Lulu. He first joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in 2011 for their production of The Ring Cycle and has returned as a performer subsequently every season.

Additional recent engagements include Hunding in a concert performance of Die Walküre with The Chandos Orchestra; Manager/Banker in Lulu with Dutch National Opera; Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Longborough Festival; Verdi’s Requiem with the Eaton Christchurch Choir in Norwich; and a return to Welsh National Opera for Moses und Aron and Nabucco. He also returned to Opera Project for Madama Butterfly and joined Opera Rara for Donizetti’s Les Martyrs at Royal Festival Hall.

Philip Skinner, Bass-baritone/King of Egypt

Philip Skinner, Bass-baritone/King of Egypt

Bass-baritone Philip Skinner has proven himself a highly versatile artist both dramatically and vocally. He has had great success singing roles ranging from the standard bass repertoire such as King PhiIip in Don Carlo, to Jocanaan in Salome and Escamillo in Carmen in the helden and dramatic baritone repertoire. In San Francisco Opera’s 2007-08 season, he performed the role of Edgar Ray Killen in the world premiere of Philip Glass’ Appomattox, as well as the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte and Rambaldo in La Rondine.

Recent performances include Crespel in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Opera Colorado and Florida Grand Opera, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Festival Opera, the Doctor in Wozzeck with Ensemble Parallèle and the Astoria Music Festival (Oregon), Doc Gibbs in Opera Idaho’s Our Town, the Poet and the Judge in Philip Glass’ Orphée with Ensemble Parallèle, the Speaker with Seattle Opera, the Musiklehrer in Ariadne aux Naxos with West Edge Opera, and the Duke in Roméo et Juliette and Second Soldier in Salome with San Diego Opera.

A San Francisco Opera Merola and Adler Fellow graduate, Skinner has performed leading and supporting roles in 54 productions there since his 1985 debut. He has also performed leading roles with the Lyric Opera Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, NYC Opera, Washington National Opera, Theatre de la Monnaie (Brussels), Teatro di San Carlo (Naples), Victoria State Opera (Melbourne), Canadian Opera and the Spoleto Festival. He has numerous appearances at the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall, as well as performances with the Israeli Philharmonic, Dusseldorf Symphoniker, San Francisco Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Nicholas Preston, Tenor/Messenger

Nicholas Preston, Tenor/Messenger

Praised by the Orange County Register as being “resonant and warm” and by the classical music site Bachtrack as “a ringing stentorian tenor,” Hawai’i native Nicholas Preston is in demand as a soloist in Southern California and beyond, having performed throughout California, and toured as a soloist in France, Italy and Spain. He has been a member of Pacific Chorale and The John Alexander Singers since 2002, and has frequently appeared as a soloist with both ensembles.

Preston has also performed as a soloist with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Claremont Chorale, Santa Maria Philharmonic Society, Cypress Masterworks Chorale and The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He has worked under the batons of John Alexander, Carl St. Clair, Keith Lockhart, John Williams, Nicholas McGegan, Kent Nagano, John Mauceri, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Grant Gershon and Gustavo Dudamel.

Preston’s recent solo appearances include Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Horatio Parker’s Hora Novissima, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Symphony No. 9, Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, Handel's Messiah and Judas Maccabeus, and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

Upcoming performances include tenor soloist in Vespers of 1610 by Claudio Monteverdi with Long Beach Camerata Singers, and tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with Long Beach Symphony, both in April 2017.

In December 2014, he appeared as a soloist with Pacific Symphony in the production of Handel’s Messiah, and in May of 2015, he performed as the soloist in Herbert Howells’ Hymnus Paradisi with Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony. Preston was featured in the world premiere of Philip Glass’ The Passion of Ramakrishna, which was commissioned for the grand opening of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and premiered by Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale under the direction of Carl St.Clair in 2006.

He is also featured on the commercial release of The Passion of Ramakrishna, under the Orange Mountain label. Preston is proud to be involved with Pacific Symphony’s award-winning education programs, being a presenter with the Class Act program as well as a featured soloist in the Youth Concerts. Preston received his B.A. in music at Loyola Marymount University, where he studied voice with Karl Snider, and he is currently studying with Mark Goodrich at Cal State Fullerton.

Renée Tatum, Soprano/High Priestess

Renée Tatum, Soprano/High Priestess

Noted for her “commanding and dramatic presence” (Opera News), Renée Tatum is rapidly gaining critical acclaim on the most prestigious opera stages in the United States. This season, engagements include Flosshilde in Das Rheingold at the National Taichung Theatre and in Götterdammerung in a return to Houston Grand Opera, Olga in Eugene Onegin with Boston Youth Symphony; and solos in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Pacific Chorale, Mozart’s Requiem with Omaha Symphony and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with San Diego Symphony.

Recent seasons’ engagements include Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Toledo Opera, Flosshilde and Waltraute in Der Ring des Nibelungen with Washington National Opera, Flosshilde in Götterdämmerung with Teatro Massimo di Palermo, a return to the Metropolitan Opera as the Second Lady in Julie Taymor’s production of Die Zauberflöte led by Ádám Fischer, a return to Houston Grand Opera both as Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte under the baton of Robert Spano, and as Grimgerde in a new production of Die Walküre conducted by Patrick Summers.

Tatum also joined an international cast in Japan as Flora in Verdi’s La Traviata, sang as the mezzo soloist in Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem with The Eastern Music Festival, and as mezzo soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with The Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

A recent alumna of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Tatum made her Metropolitan Opera début as Inez in Il Trovatore conducted by Marco Armiliato. Additional performances at the prestigious house include Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte conducted by Jane Glover, Second Woodsprite in Rusalka led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Unborn in Die Frau ohne Schatten with Vladimir Jurowski, Emilia in Otello under the baton of Semyon Bychkov, Adonella in Zandonai’s seldom heard Francesca da Rimini conducted by Marco Armiliato, Fenena in Nabucco with Paolo Carignani, and Flosshilde in Robert Lepage’s landmark production of Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Fabio Luisi.

John Alexander, Artistic Director Pacific Chorale

John Alexander, Artistic Director Pacific Chorale

Artistic Director Director of Pacific Chorale since 1972, John Alexander is one of America’s most respected choral conductors. His inspired leadership both on the podium and as an advocate for the advancement of the choral art has garnered national and international admiration and acclaim. Alexander’s long and distinguished career has encompassed conducting hundreds of choral and orchestral performances nationally and in 27 countries around the globe.

He has conducted his singers with orchestras throughout Europe, Asia and South America and, closer to home, with Pacific Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Musica Angelica and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Equally versatile whether on the podium or behind the scenes, Alexander has prepared choruses for many of the world’s most outstanding orchestral conductors, including Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Seiji Ozawa, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel, Lukas Foss, Max Rudolf, Carl St.Clair, Gerard Schwarz, Marin Alsop, John Mauceri, John Williams and Keith Lockhart.

Rober Istad, Pacific Chorale

Rober Istad, Pacific Chorale

Robert Istad is the associate conductor of Pacific Chorale and director of choral studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he conducts the University Singers and Concert Choir, in addition to teaching courses in conducting, advanced interpretation and literature.

He has prepared choruses for Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony, Sir Andrew Davis and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, as well as conductors Bramwell Tovey, Eric Whitacre, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, John Alexander, William Dehning, David Lockington and Mark Mandarano.

Istad received his bachelor of arts degree in music from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., his master of music degree in choral conducting from California State University, Fullerton, and his doctor of musical arts degree in choral music at the University of Southern California. Istad is also the artistic director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers and Long Beach Bach Festival.

Anshuman Bhatia, Lighting Designer

Anshuman Bhatia’a exciting designs for opera, theater and dance have been seen at Beijing’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Soho Rep, The Public, The Atlantic, Arena Stage in Washington D.C., The Juilliard School, HERE Arts Center, LoftOpera, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, La Mama ETC, Bard Music Festival, Infinity Theater Company, The University of Denver, Brown/Trinity, Adirondack Theater Festival, Oxford Playhouse and The New School for Drama.

Upcoming work can be seen at Rattlestick Theater, La Mama ETC, Edinburgh, Virginia Arts Festival and the Santa Fe Opera. Bhatia received her M.F.A. from New York University.

Kathryn Wilson, Costume Designer

Kathryn Wilson has been designing costumes professionally for the past 11 years and is currently on the adjunct faculty at Chapman University. She received her M.F.A. in costume design at the University of California, Irvine.

Her recent shows as costume designer include Urinetown, Picasso at Lapin Agile, Macbeth, Godspell, Hedda Gabler, Lend Me a Tenor, Trojan Women, The Tempest, School for Scandal, Noh Plays, Our Country’s Good (Chapman University), Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, Two Gentlemen of Verona, As You Like It, Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, Henry V, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Orange County), Hansel and Gretel (UC Irvine) and Machiavelli (Hayworth Theater).

Ora Jewell-Busche, Wig and Makeup Designer

Ora Jewell-Busche is a wig and makeup designer who has spent the last decade working in opera, theater, dance and film, primarily in the Chicago area.

Her work has been seen in Pacific Symphony's productions of Turandot, Carmen and La Traviata; and on the stages of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lyric Opera of the North, Lookingglass Theater, Northlight Theater and River North Dance Chicago, to name a few. She is a recent transplant to Los Angeles.

Tyquan Christie, Dancer

Tyquan Christie, Dancer

Tyquan Christie was born and raised in South Carolina, where the majority of training he received was under the direction of Dianne and Lacey Cheek. Upon graduating, Christie auditioned for Season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance and made the Top 30, which promptly began his professional dance career.

Christie moved to Los Angeles in 2014 where he had the opportunity to perform on the Disney Channel with Sofia Carson, on The Talk and other various jobs. Christie is currently working on various projects and part of the R.ED Company working with Rhapsody James.

Raymond Ejiofor, Dancer

Raymond Ejiofor, Dancer

Raymond Ejiofor is a Gates Millennium Fellow and earned a master's of public health policy from USC. Ejiofor has performed and created works with Daniel Ezralow, Lula Washington, Bryan Arias, Ryan Heffington, Sidra Bell, Kyle Abraham and Robert Battle.

Some of his performance credits include with Audi|Shanghai, Toshiba International Industrial, Samsung, Apple, Beijing Dance Festival, Springboard Danse Montreal and Pittsburgh Opera, Pharrell Williams, Future, Little Boots and Daft Punk. Ejiofor is currently collaborating with various companies such as Lula Washington Dance Theater, L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, Kevin Williamson Dance and Oui Danse.

Lisa Gillespie, Dancer

Lisa Gillespie, Dancer

Lisa Gillespie has been principal dancer in many operas including The Merry Widow, Carmen, The Pearlfishers, Aida, La Traviata, Eugene Onegin, Die Fledermaus and The Ghosts of Versailles for Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera and Seattle Opera, among others.

Recent performances include Witch in LA Opera's Macbeth and Eliza in The King & I at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. She has danced with Raiford Rogers Modern Ballet (Los Angeles, New York, London) and Ballet Arizona. Gillespie trained at North Carolina School of the Arts and San Francisco Ballet.

Isaac Huerta, Dancer

Isaac Huerta, Dancer

Isaac Huerta has been dancing since a young age and has cultivated a joy and passion around the expression. He is a veteran of club, museum, video and live-stage performances. He knows dance as a primordial wonder and knows it needs to be accessible to all beings of every walk of life. Huerta continues to grow into movement and enjoys sharing the light movement brings.

Natalie Iscovich, Dancer

Natalie Iscovich, Dancer

Natalie Iscovich received a B.F.A. in dance performance from Chapman University.

She has performed in LA Opera's Macbeth with Plácido Domingo, on tour with Rudolph the Musical, regionally with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (MTW), The Full Monty, The Addams Family, Tarzan, Side Show, Seussical The Musical (3DT) In The Heights, Kiss Me Kate and Bye Bye Birdie (CMT).

Andrew Martinez, Dancer

Andrew Martinez, Dancer

Andrew Martinez received his training from Anaheim Ballet under the direction of Lawrence and Sarma Rosenberg. He has performed in many of their productions with such roles as the Prince in The Nutcracker, the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream and their Street View outdoor performances. He performed with Inland Pacific Ballet in their 2012 production of Cinderella. Martinez has received scholarships to train at Anaheim Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater and Inland Pacific Ballet. He has begun teaching ballet for students aged 5-18 and also began pursuing his dream to obtain a bachelor's in engineering.

Pacific Symphony's Opera Initiative

Pacific Symphony’s “Opera Initiative” is now in its fifth season, and has enjoyed great critical and audience acclaim. The project has been an artistic and financial success, and has enabled the Symphony to forge new relationships with a number of local institutions as well as singers and stage directors of national and international reputation. In addition, the Symphony has had great success in introducing opera to young people through its annual children’s opera, and now regularly hosts tours to regional opera productions in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Key to the success of this endeavor are a number of supporters who have been most generous in contributed financial help to ensure the viability of these efforts. From the enthusiastic volunteers of Opera FOCUS to major patrons, hundreds have come forward to make certain that professional opera in Orange County is artistically and financially successful.

The Symphony acknowledges those who have made current year leadership gifts (through Jan. 22, 2017) in support of the Opera Initiative. Please join us in thanking them for making this new endeavor a success.

HONORARY PRODUCERS

Opera Focus

ARTIST AND EVENT UNDERWRITERS

Benton and Wanlyn Bejach Pat and Mary Dirk

Valerie and Hans Imhof Hydee and Carlos Mollura

The Isadore and Penny Myers Foundation Mark and Stephanie Nielsen

Michelle Rohé

Honorable H. Warren and Janet Siegel

HANSEL AND GRETEL – OPERA FOR KIDS SPONSOR

Honorable H. Warren and Janet Siegel

SPECIAL THANKS TO OPERA FOCUS

Laila Conlin and Beverly Spring, Opera Focus co-chairs

To learn more about Music Director Carl St.Clair, click here.

To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here.