The Magic Flute - Meet The Artists cover

The Magic Flute - Meet The Artists

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One of Mozart’s most popular operas, The Magic Flute is a fairy tale about love telling the story of Tamino and Papageno, a prince and bird catcher tasked by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the confinements of a mysterious high priest. Prepare yourself for an evening filled with magic, comedy and some of opera’s greatest arias!
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Robert Neu, Stage Director

Known for his “distinctive staging style” and for being “the most inventive opera director in town” (St Paul Pioneer Press), Robert Neu is challenging the norms by becoming a pioneer in the field of semi-staged operas with symphony orchestras. Sought after for his highly theatrical and musically sensitive work, Neu has directed more than 80 productions of opera, musical theater and plays throughout the country. With his vast experience of bringing semi-staged operatic repertoire to symphony orchestra stages, Neu has worked closely with the Minnesota Opera presenting critically acclaimed productions of Candide, Fidelio, Hänsel und Gretel, Tosca, Carmen, Peer Gynt, La bohème, La traviata, Bernstein’s Mass, Die Zauberflöte, Die Fledermaus and Carousel. With the Colorado Symphony, he has directed Tosca and The Music Man. Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Pops audiences have seen his productions of The Music Man, Die Zauberflöte, Peer Gynt and The Sound of Music. Neu teaches masterclasses in audition techniques for the University of Minnesota’s opera department, and he is a resident director at Lyric Arts Theater in Minneapolis. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

John Teeier, Tamino; Tenor

On the international stages of opera, concert, and recital, Canadian John Tessier has garnered attention and praise for the beauty and honesty of his voice, for a refined style and creative versatility, and for his handsome, youthful presence in the lyric tenor repertoire. The Juno Award-winning artist has worked with many of the most notable conductors of our day including David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, Plácido Domingo, John Nelson, Franz Welser-Möst, Emmanuelle Haïm, Charles Dutoit, Donald Runnicles, Robert Spano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Bernard Labadie. Highlights of recent opera seasons feature Bellini’s I Puritani and Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, both at the Wiener Staatsoper, Cherubini’s Médée at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, both Les pêcheurs de perles and Maria Stuarda at Seattle Opera and La cenerentola for New Zealand Opera. He has given the world premiere of Robin de Raaff’s Waiting for Miss Monroe at the Netherlands Opera, and has sung Der fliegende Holländer at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Don Giovanni for a South American debut at the Teatro Colón and The Pearl Fishers with the English National Opera.

Hadleigh Adams, Papageo; Bariton

New Zealand baritone Hadleigh Adams has been featured in Opera News magazine as a Soundbyte artist and has received international acclaim for his performances on stage and in concert. He is renowned for his dynamic stage presence and ability to draw true, honest characters in his performances. His broad repertoire spans from Baroque and Bel Canto through Britten and to contemporary composition. He has collaborated with some of today’s greatest artists on the concert platform, and on the opera stage. Over the past season, Adams has made his debut performances with some of the United States’ top companies. He has performed with Pittsburgh Opera, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Oakland Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, Michigan Opera Theatre, the Colorado Symphony and Opera Omaha. In 2015, Adams made his New York debut in RB Schlather’s production of Handel’s Orlando at Whitebox, N.Y. This production won praise from critics for its visceral, modern treatment of the work. The New York Times wrote: “A muscular stud in head-to-toe skin- tight leather ... Overseeing all is the magician Zoroastro, sung by Hadleigh Adams with a dark yet flexible bass and a glowering presence.”

Tess Altiveros, Pamina; Soprano

Praised for “a ripe, sensual lyric soprano” (Opera News) and a “captivating combination of skilled singing and magnetic acting” (Pioneer Press), soprano Tess Altiveros is in high demand on concert and operatic stages alike. The 2016-17 season highlights included Clorinda in Seattle Opera’s critically acclaimed The Combat, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion under Cristian Mâcelaru (Colorado Symphony, staged), Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Skylark Opera Theatre), Musetta in La Bohème under Andrew Litton (Colorado Symphony) and Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro (Angels & Demons Entertainment), a performance described as “utterly captivating” by the Twin Cities Arts Reader. Altiveros began her 2017-18 season touring internationally as Euridice in L’Orfeo under Stephen Stubbs (Pacific MusicWorks), and engagements with Symphony Tacoma and Great Bend Center for Music. Further engagements for the season include Music of Missions and Mystery (San Francisco Early Music Society), Messiah (Bremerton Symphony), Maria in West Side Story (Central City Opera/Boulder Philharmonic), Bach’s Advent Cantatas (Pacific MusicWorks) and the Rossini Messe Solonnelle (South Bend Chamber Singers). This is Altiveros’ debut with Pacific Symphony.

Kathryn Lewek, Queen of the Night; Soprano

Soprano Kathryn Lewek has established herself as one of opera’s strongest coloratura sopranos of this generation and is now expanding her resume with some of the most vocally challenging roles in the soprano repertoire. This summer she reprised her signature role as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte with The Deutsche Oper Berlin, and performed the Queen of the Night aria as one of the 10 pieces in “Sir Henry’s Magnificent Musical Inspirations” concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at BBC Proms Classical Music Festival. This season, she will return to Washington National Opera as Cunegonde in their production of Candide and reprise her role as the reigning Queen of the Night with The Metropolitan Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Dutch National Opera, Pacific Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony. In concert, Lewek will perform the soprano solo in Händel’s Messiah with Music Sacra and Oratorio Society of New York, sing at galas for The Opera Foundation and Toledo Opera, and perform a recital with Rockefeller University and a recital and masterclass with Messiah College.

Upcoming seasons include a role debut as the three Heroines in Les contes d’Hoffmann and a return to The Gran Teatre del Liceu as well as multiple returns to The Metropolitan Opera.

Lewek’s interpretation of her signature role, a quintessential Mozart villain, Queen of the Night, has garnered international critical acclaim: “Kathryn Lewek, a favorite Queen of the Night these days, nailed her otherworldly coloratura arpeggios to the wall in her ‘Vengeance’ aria, but more impressive to me was the pathos with which she quickly conveyed, in Act 1, the full suffering of a mother whose child has been kidnapped.” She performed the role in productions of Die Zauberflöte in debuts with The Metropolitan Opera, The Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bregenzer Festspiele, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Wiener Straatsoper, Teatro Real in Madrid, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Opera Leipzig, Opera de Toulon, English National Opera, Nashville Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Welsh National Opera and The Royal Danish Opera.

Evan Boyer, Sarastro; Bass

Bass Evan Boyer, who hails from Louisville, KY, has been heard on concert and opera stages around the world. A graduate of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s prestigious Ryan Opera Center, during three seasons with the company he was heard in over a dozen productions including La bohème, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Aida, Carmen, Lohengrin, Macbeth and Rigoletto, among others. Since departing the program, he has already returned as Lodovico in Otello and the company’s annual concert at Millennium Park. In the 2017-18 season, Boyer makes his debut with Kentucky Opera as Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, and returns later in the season as Warden George Benton in Dead Man Walking. This performance in Mozart’s The Magic Flute marks Boyer’s debut with Pacific Symphony. Additionally, this spring Boyer sings “Handel’s Messiah in Lexington, KY and Mozart’s Requiem with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Recent performances include his debut at Cincinnati Opera as Angelotti in Tosca and Masetto in Don Giovanni for his debut with Seattle Opera, Colline in La bohème for his Palm Beach Opera debut, and was heard as the Armchair/Tree in L’enfant et les Sortilèges with Seiji Ozawa’s Music Academy in Japan. He debuted at the Canadian Opera Company in productions of Salome and Dialogues des Carmelites, followed by his return engagement as Samuel in Un ballo in Maschera.

Amy Shoremount-Obra, Lady; Soprano

Amy Shoremount-Obra was recently hailed as “Incredible! Another vocal highlight of the evening. She performed with a tone steeped in longevity, endurance, and agility … This is a voice of true substance” (Boston Music Intelligencer). She made her Metropolitan Opera début as First Lady in Julie Taymor’s acclaimed production of Die Zauberflöte. Since, she returned for productions of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Norma, Nabucco and Don Giovanni. She returns this season to reprise her role as First Lady in Die Zauberflöte. She also sings the soprano solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with National Chorale. Following her “electrifying” portrayal of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Venture Opera, she was featured in the Sound Bites article of the May 2016 issue of Opera News, where they hailed: “Shoremount-Obra’s shining, healthy soprano had all the power and glory required for ‘Or sai chi l’onore,’ demonstrating agility, accuracy and beauty as well as gale-force temperament.” Shoremount-Obra has performed in several prominent venues throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, David H. Koch Theater, the Oslo Konserthus and the Oslo National Gallery in Norway, the Tanglewood Institute and The Sheldon in St. Louis.

Deborah Nansteel, Lady; Mezzo-Soprano

A formidable display of vocal power and dramatic assurance,” mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel recently made a number of outstanding debuts at esteemed venues throughout the country, including Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette and the cover for Fenena in Nabucco, Carnegie Hall for Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and with New York Philharmonic alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy. Other notable recent engagements include Nettie Fowler in Carousel and Elvira Griffiths in An American Tragedy with Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Berta in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program. Other roles in her repertoire include Adalgisa in Norma, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Eboli in Don Carlo, Amneris in Aïda, and Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde. Nansteel is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where she earned an artist diploma in opera and a master of music in voice. At CCM, she performed the roles of Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marguerite in Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Mother Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia and Mother Goose in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress.

Julia Benzinger, Lady; Mezzo-Soprano

Hailed by the International Herald Tribune for her “luscious mezzo” and Der Tagesspiel for “her impressive, metallic dramatic soprano”, American mezzo-soprano Julia Benzinger is enjoying a career in both opera and concert throughout Europe and the United States.

Benzinger opened the 2017-18 season with Seattle Art Song Society in a recital celebrating the works of beloved Seattle composer Bern Herbolsheimer. Further engagements for the season include Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra and Choral Arts Northwest, where she will perform Joseph Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis (“Nelson Mass”). Benzinger was a soloist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2007-14, during which time she performed a large and varied repertoire, highlights of which include Der Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), Flosshilde (Das Rheingold), the title role in Gnecchi’s Cassandra, Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Olga (Eugene Onegin), The Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Der Page (Salome), Bersi (Andrea Chenier) and Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro).

Julius Ahn, Monostatos; Tenor

Versatile tenor Julius Ahn delights audiences around the world with his unique interpretations. Of his signature role, Goro in Madama Butterfly, critics hail “As the marriage broker Goro, tenor Julius Ahn was in his element, delivering the wickedness of his character with gusto.” Ahn recently performed the role in his debut at San Francisco Opera as well as with Canadian Opera Company, Palm Beach Opera, Vancouver Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This season, Ahn will perform Bardolfo in Falstaff with Omaha Opera and reprise the role of Pang in Turandot, another signature role, with San Francisco Opera, Vancouver Opera and Tulsa Opera. In recent seasons, Ahn grabbed the attention of operagoers as he joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for performances of The Nose, Turandot and Die Fledermaus and made his main stage debut as the Second Priest in Die Zauberflöte. He later performed in Rigoletto with the esteemed opera house. He also performed the role of Pang in Turandot with Michigan Opera Theatre, Utah Symphony & Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Atlanta Opera and in his debuts with Seattle Opera and Cincinnati Opera; reprised the role of Goro in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at Opera Carolina, Nashville Opera, San Francisco Opera and the Northern Lights Music Festival. Ahn attended the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with the world-renowned tenor Vinson Cole and performed a wide range of operatic roles.

Bridgette Gan, Papagena; Soprano

Praised by the Washington Post for her “gorgeous singing,” soprano Bridgette Gan is quickly establishing herself as a vibrant interpreter in the musical realms of opera, concert and crossover works. Recently, Gan made an acclaimed last-minute debut as Marie in Palm Beach Opera’s production of La fille du Régiment in which she successfully sang the company’s matinee youth performance followed by the mainstage performance within the same day. Critics called her portrayal “a tour de-force … vocally beautiful and consistent with a rich tone and sparkling high notes … a great star turn for a young singer who has a world of potential in front of her.” Gan’s 2016-2017 season included a return to Opera Orlando for her role debut of Norina in Don Pasquale, as well as her company and role debut with St. Petersburg Opera as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore. In concert she returns to the South Florida Symphony, and was featured at the Newport Music Festival during the summer of 2016. In 2017-18, Gan looks forward to returning to Opera Orlando as both Musetta in La Bohème and as a guest artist for their 2018 gala, and her debut with Pacific Symphony as Papagena in The Magic Flute.

Colin Ramsey, Speaker of the Temple, Priest, Armed Guard, Slave; Bass

Since making his operatic debut as Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Colin Ramsey’s “majestic, orotund, ravishing bass” (Opera Today) has been heard in repertoire spanning continents and centuries. In the 2016-17 season, Ramsey made his company debut at Opera San Jose as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. He continues his residence in San Jose reprising Colline in La Bohème and Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He also made his role debut as Father Palmer in the West Coast premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night. Ramsey’s past performances have brought him to the stages of Seattle Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Wolf Trap Opera, Austin Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been featured as Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Mr. Kofner in Menotti’s The Consul, Il Frate in Verdi’s Don Carlo, Angelotti in Tosca, the Sprecher in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Giorgio in the U.S. premiere of Paisiello’s rarely performed Nina, and as a “sonorous” (Classical King Seattle) Cadmus and Somnus in Handel’s Semele. He is an alumnus of The Manhattan School of Music where he attended as a presidential scholar and Theodore Presser Foundation scholar. Upon graduating, he was honored with the Hugh Ross Award, given annually to a “singer of unusual promise.”

David Guzman, Priest, Armed Guard, Slave; Tenor

Rising star Colombian tenor David Guzman is known for his exquisite tone and impeccable musicianship. He has been praised for his “impressive tenor, singing with force and ease throughout his range, with ringing tone at full voice, thoughtful in quieter moments” (Houston Chronicle). Guzman began the 2017–2018 season as Orpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld in a return engagement with Western Plains Opera and then performs as Alfredo in La Traviata with Sarasota Opera. During the 2016-17 season, as Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Opera Tampa, he was singled out for his “bright and powerful tenor that hits a bull’s-eye on distant targets … Guzman remains one to watch. It would not be surprising at all if he ascends to significant heights” (Tampa Bay Times). During the previous season, he performed as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Heartbeat Opera, and covered the role of Aureliano in Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts. Guzman made his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Gonzalez’s Misa Azteca with Mid-America Productions followed by performances of Mozart’s Coronation Mass at Alice Tully Hall and Mozart’s Vespers at Avery Fisher Hall with DCINY in New York City. Additional performances of note include The Duke in Rigoletto with North Shore Opera Festival in New York, Rodolfo in La Bohème with Opera in the Heights in Houston, Don Jose in Carmen with Long Island Opera, Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore with Divaria Productions, Alfredo in La Traviata with Bronx Opera, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Salt Marsh Opera and Edgardo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Stony Brook Opera.

Dr. Robert Istad, Artistic Director Pacific Chorale

Dr. Robert Istad became the artistic director of Pacific Chorale in the 2017-2018 50th season, after serving as assistant conductor since 2004. He has conducted Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony in performance and has prepared choruses for a number of America’s finest conductors and orchestras, including: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony, Esa–Pekka Salonen 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 Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Thomas Wilkins, John Williams, Eugene Kohn, Steven Mercurio, Richard Kaufman, Eric Whitacre, William Lacey, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, Case Scaglione, Robert Moody, John Alexander, William Dehning and David Lockington. Istad also serves as professor of music and director of choral studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he conducts the University Singers and Women’s Choir, in addition to teaching courses in conducting, advanced interpretation and literature. He and his singers were featured at the 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas, Tex. and the 2012 ACDA Western Division Conference in Reno, Nev. Istad’s University Singers also performed for the 2013 National Collegiate Choral Organization National Conference in Charleston, S.C. Istad and the CSUF University Singers have performed all over the world, including a 2015 residency and performances in Paris, France, engagements at the 2012 Ottobeuren Festival of Music in Germany, the 2012 Eingen Festival of music in Germany, a 2010 performance for UNESCO in Pisa, Italy, and in 2008 at the world-famous Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. 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. He studied conducting with Dr. William Dehning, John Alexander and Dr. Jon Hurty. Istad is president of the California Choral Directors Association and is in demand as an adjudicator, guest conductor, speaker and clinician throughout the nation.

Robin Walsh, Puppet Designer

Puppetry is an ancient art that has a deep-seated appeal to audiences of all ages. Following in the footsteps of master puppeteer Albrecht Roser, Walsh seeks to take puppetry beyond the realm of children’s entertainment and return it to the multi- faceted, modern audiences of today. She’s been in puppetry for over 20 years and has built, designed and performed around the world, from New York City, to L.A., Germany and China. For her, the greatest joy is experiencing that moment when bits of cloth, wood and string truly come to life for an audience. She is glad to have a chance to share that magical moment whenever she can. She has performed her work at the O’Neill Theatre Center and the Henson Carriage House. She also designed, directed and performed two original, large-scale, puppet ballets with the Stanford University Orchestra, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, as well as Rebel’s The Elements with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado. Her many studies with world renowned puppeteer Albrecht Roser have opened up a whole new way of looking at and working with puppets, and is happy to join his constant search for Puppet Zen. Currently she is the Puppetry Consultant for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Kathryn Wilson, Costume Designer

Kathryn Wilson is a freelance costume designer working in Orange County for the past 11 years. She has designed for dance, opera, theater and photography across the nation and internationally. Her recent works include projects for Pacific Symphony (La Traviata), Shakespeare Orange County (seven consecutive seasons), The New Swan Theater (three seasons), Prague Shakespeare Festival (2012), South Coast Repertory, Chapman University dance, drama and opera departments, UC Irvine dance and opera department, The Chance Theater and Orange County School of the Arts (2006). Wilson received the LA Weekly award for her costume design of Machiavelli (2006). She is currently adjunct faculty at Chapman University in costume and makeup design. In addition, Wilson works as an accomplished dye/painter and crafts artist for the performance arts.

Ora Jewell-Busche, Wig and Make-Up Designer

Ora Jewell-Busche is an LA-based wig, make-up and costume designer with more than a decade of working in the field of opera, theater and film. She has worked extensively with companies ranging from The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Lookingglass Theater, Chicago Shakespeare, The Steppenwolf, The Goodman Theater, Pacific Symphony, Shattered Globe, Sans Culottes, Lyric Opera of the North and many more. Recent projects include: Turandot (Pacific Symphony), Barber of Seville (Lyric Opera of the North), Carmen (Pacific Symphony) and Il Trovatore (Hawaii Opera Theater). Film and television credits include Were the World Mine, Chicago Overcoat, Sound of Music Live!, Prison Break and Batman v. Superman. Jewell-Busche received a BFA in costume design from DePaul University and apprenticed under Melissa Veal (originally of the Stratford Festival of Canada) as a wigmaker. As well as maintaining a busy design schedule, she also teaches theatrical make-up at Make-up First School in Chicago.

Kathy Pryzgoda, Lighting Designer

Kathy Pryzgoda has been a lighting designer for the past 25 years. Her diverse background includes lighting design for large commercial lighting projects, architectural lighting, residential, theatre, event and TV lighting design. Pryzgoda received a bachelor of arts degree in theatre from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She has designed lighting for such companies as Long Beach Opera, Los Angeles Classical Ballet and the Jazz Tap Ensemble. Pryzgoda has received several awards in lighting design including a Dramalogue Award for outstanding achievement in theatre. In addition to theatre, Pryzgoda has experience with lighting designs for television. She was lighting designer/lighting director for Channel One News between 1992 and 2002. During that time, Pryzgoda received three Broadcast Design International Gold Awards for her lighting design at Channel One News. Other notable projects include the lighting design for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings on ABC and production design consultant for CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn.

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

To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here