by W.A. Mozart
October 13 & 14, 2023 | 7:30 PM
Forest Hills Fine Arts Center
The divine Mozart’s first operatic success, which was commissioned by the Austrian Emperor Joseph II (see the movie Amadeus for more). The beautiful noblewoman Costanza and her maid Blonda are shipwrecked and taken to the palace of Pascha Selim, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. Selim falls in love with Costanza, who refuses him to be faithful to her one true love, Belmonte. The Abduction is a family-friendly masterpiece for all to enjoy.
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Orchestra Premium, Center Mezzanine, Box $79
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Front and Rear Orchestra, Parterre, Front Balcony, Loge $49
Rear Balcony $27
William Lumpkin | Conductor
Maestro William Lumpkin’s extensive repertoire and career have led to engagements with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Boston Lyric Opera, having previously served on the music staff for Los Angeles Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre, and Wolf Trap Opera.
Additionally, Maestro Lumpkin led performances of the Mary Zimmerman production of Philip Glass’s Galileo Galilei as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s New Wave Festival, having previously conducted world premiere performances at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
In 2003, Maestro Lumpkin conducted the American premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and again in 2005 for Boston Lyric Opera, which Opera News praised, stating “Dove’s impressive score was conducted wonderfully by another veteran of the Saint Louis production, William Lumpkin.” Additional credits at St. Louis include La Bohème, The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Hansel and Gretel. In 2004, Maestro Lumpkin joined Boston Lyric Opera to conduct Così fan tutte. Of this production, Opera News stated “Lumpkin kept his players and singers under firm control, at the same time allowing them sufficient liberty to bring out nuances in their performances,” and the Boston Globe noted “His work had brio, style, and heart, and the orchestra played beautifully for him.”
Maestro Lumpkin is an Associate Professor of Music and the Artistic Director and Conductor for the Opera Institute at Boston University, where he has conducted over 40 opera productions at the Huntington Theatre, the Emerson Cutler Majestic, the Paramount Theatre, and at the newly constructed Booth Theatre at Boston University. Highlights include a co-production with Glimmerglass Opera of E. Loren Meeker’s production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, a co-commission with New York City Opera of Tobias Picker’s chamber version of his opera Dolores Claiborne, and a concert version of Vanessa with Boston University alum Lauren Flanigan. Most recently, he conducted productions of Alcina and Little Women, which he will lead again at the Harrower Summer Opera Workshop in 2024. He has also appeared as guest conductor at Indiana University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the Jacob School of Music at Indiana University.
As a pianist, Mr. Lumpkin collaborated with Juliana Gondek recording Roger Bourland’s “Four Quartets of Songs and Arias” for Navona Records.
A native of Lewisburg, PA, Mr. Lumpkin holds a BM from the Eastman School of Music, an MM in Conducting from UCSB, and a D.M.A. from the University of Southern California.
Eve Summer | Director
Hailed “a rising star of stage directing whose approach refreshes hope for the future of opera,” Eve Summer is a director, producer, and choreographer.
She has been described as having “a gift for translating classic symbolism into familiar detail with just enough flippancy to bring out the fun of the opera without skewing the emotional equation.” Recent directing credits include The Glimmerglass Festival, Trouble in Tahiti; Opera Columbus, Tosca, Don Giovanni, Rigoletto (upcoming); Curtis Opera Theatre, Così fan tutte, Albert Herring; Opera Saratoga, The Barber of Seville; Tulsa Opera, The Little Prince; Opera Carolina, Don Giovanni; Opera Grand Rapids, Così fan tutte, The Pirates of Penzance, Don Giovanni, The Mikado; Opera Orlando, The Tales of Hoffmann,Lizbeth; Connecticut Early Music Festival, Xerxes; A.J.Fletcher Opera Institute at UNCSA, Volpone; Opera Tampa, The Pearl Fishers; Opera in Williamsburg, La bohème, The Pearl Fishers, The Magic Flute; Boheme Opera New Jersey, Aida, Lucia di Lammermoor; BU Opera Institute, Little Women, Later the Same Evening.
Ms. Summer’s work has been called “eye-poppingly contemporary,” “a riveting, glorious production from beginning to end,” and “can only be described as brilliant.” Critics raved that her production of Xerxes was “a delight, and a testament to Summer’s gift for banishing stodginess from an art form too often seen as fossilized and elitist.” Critics hailed her recent Albert Herring at Curtis as “exuberant and delightful,” “a drawing room tour de force,” and declared “It is hard to imagine how the performance could have been improved. It was sensational.”
A former professional ballet dancer and choreographer, Ms. Summer’s choreography credits include a commission to choreograph a new ballet, Jeanne’s Fantasy, by composer Mark Warhol for the premiere with Contrapose Dance and Fort Point Theatre Channel, Elektra at Des Moines Metro Opera, Falstaff at Opera Colorado, and Don Giovanni at Boston Opera Collaborative. She recently collaborated with renowned choreographer Karole Armitage on the critically acclaimed American premiere of Philip Glass’ Opera-Ballet The Witches of Venice at Opera Saratoga. Ms. Summer has served as staff director and choreographer at many opera companies including Boston Lyric Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Colorado, Tulsa Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Opera Boston.
Duane Davis | Chorus Master
Duane Shields Davis, originally from Cleveland, has taught 48 years.
Schools included The Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Community College, Western Michigan, the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and most recently he served as Chorus Master for Opera Grand Rapids for 31 years.
Duane awards include the Legacy Award presented by the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Maynard Klein Award for Choral Excellence presented by the American Choral Directors Association of Michigan. His ensembles have toured the U. S., Bahamas, Canada, Japan and Europe. Duane has conducted in Carnegie, Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls as well as the Kennedy Center. He has conducted All-State Choirs in 12 states and 7 Canadian Provinces.
As a composer and arranger, Duane has conducted performances by the Grand Rapids Symphony at the annual Symphony With Soul concert. His has prepared ensembles and shared the stage with such artists as Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Terrence Blanchard, Janis Siegel, Joe Williams, Dianne Reeves, Tony Bennett, Take 6, Lalah Hathaway, New York Voices, Marcus Roberts, Lizz Wright and others.
Duane served as director of The Disney-Grammy All-American College Singers, and he conducted the opening ceremonies for the Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom. He has served as a guest artist/clinician in Riga, Latvia and was a guest presenter in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan, for the 7th World Symposium on Choral Music as well as the DODDS choral festival conductor in London, England.
In May 2016, Duane served as chorus master for productions of Porgy and Bess and conducted the premiere of a chamber opera Afram ou la belle Swite, by Edmund Thornton Jenkins, at the Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston, South Carolina. Duane served as adjudicator at the Brandon Festival in Manitoba and will serve in a similar position at the New York Jazz Festival, held at the Apollo Theater.
Keith Oberfeld | Co-Lighting Designer
Keith Oberfeld has worked in theatre, film, television, and corporate event production since 1978.
He was the technical director for Opera Grand Rapids for thirty years and has designed lighting and projections for opera and musical theatre both regionally and nationally, including productions for New Orleans Opera and Palm Beach Opera. Keith has designed productions for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Circle Theatre, Actors Theatre and Heritage Theatre Group locally. Keith has stage managed events for Aramark, Porsche, Hilton Hotels, Fiserv, Gordon Food Service, and Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and loves his wife, baseball, his dogs, and flyfishing, not necessarily in that order.
Catherine Marlett Dreher | Co-Lighting Designer
Productions include shows for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Circle Theatre, Actors’ Theatre, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids, Opera Grand Rapids, Aquinas College, GVSU, Grand Rapids Community College and Cornerstone University. Theatre credits include: Shakespeare in Love, Mamma Mia!, Burnt Part Boys, Fun Home, Into the Woods, The Little Mermaid, Dracula, My Fair Lady, It Shoulda Been You, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. She also designs lights for corporate events and teaches Theatrical Design at Aquinas College. She works as the Production Manager and Resident Lighting Designer at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.
Martha Ruskai | Wig & Makeup Designer
During Martha Ruskai’s 25-year career, she has designed more than 200 productions at more than 25 companies encompassing every area of the performing arts.
Ms. Ruskai earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and an M.F.A. in Theatre Design from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. Ms. Ruskai conceived and developed the wig and makeup program at UNCSA and served as its director from its inception through 2006. Ms. Ruskai began her career working with such legendary singers as Jerome Hines, John Alexander, and Dame Joan Sutherland. Career highlights include building Bryn Terfel’s wig for his U.S. debut and designing Der Rosenkavalier with Helen Donath and Delores Zeigler. Ms. Ruskai’s professional credits as a makeup artist, wig maker, and designer include Piedmont Opera Theater, Opera Carolina, Opera Grand Rapids, Santa Fe, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Nashville, Atlanta, and National operas; Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, New York Concert Baroque/Concert Royal; Atlanta Ballet; and North Carolina Dance Theatre.
In addition to fashion runway work, Ms. Ruskai has styled print and TV ads for Miller Light Beer, Girbaud Clothing, IBM, and Neese’s Sausage. Film work includes historic re-enactment films for Planter’s Peanuts and the John Dickenson plantation. She has also built and styled properties wigs for the motion picture Sleeping with the Enemy, as well as building and styling wigs for several made-for-TV productions including Tecumseh!. In addition, she maintains an active guest lecturer schedule, having given master classes at Duke University, Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Indiana University, Colorado College, Brenau College, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Georgia State University, and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Erica Monroe | Costume Coordinator
Erica Monroe attended Kootenay School of the Arts in British Columbia for coursework in pattern drafting, tailoring, and advanced garment detailing.
She received her undergraduate degree in Literature from Calvin University and her masters degree in Speech Language Pathology from Grand Valley State University. She has worked for The House Theater Company and The Albany Park Theatre Project in Chicago, Illinois and Calvin University’s theater department as the costume shop manager. She has assisted as costume coordinator and head of wardrobe at OGR during productions of Aida, Cosi fan Tutti, Don Giovanni, Turandot, The Pirates of Penzance, and costume designer for Stinney: An American Execution and The Last American Hammer. Additionally, she has served as the costume designer for Grand Valley State University’s productions of A Minister’s Wife and The Importance of Being Earnest as well as the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s musical, Once on This Island.
Forrest Wakeman | Pianist
Forrest Wakeman is a performer and educator based in West Michigan.
He currently serves as a full-time member of the music faculty at Calvin University where he teaches piano, composition, music theory, and music technology courses. This is his second season serving as collaborative pianist with Opera Grand Rapids; he also appears frequently as a keyboard player for the Grand Rapids Symphony and is an active recitalist, clinician, and adjudicator. His original music has been heard in advertisements, podcasts, audio books, and on the radio throughout the US and Canada. In addition to his work with Opera Grand Rapids, Forrest has played for over twenty Broadway national touring productions. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from Michigan State University, where he studied with Deborah Moriarty. He lives in Belmont, MI with his family.
Aubry Ballarò | Konstanze
Aubry Ballarò is quickly gaining attention as a lyric coloratura soprano with exceptional bel canto technique.
She most recently reprised the role of Gilda in Rigoletto with Opera in the Park Portland, and will make several role and house debuts this season including Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opera Grand Rapids and Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor with Columbus Symphony.
Ms. Ballarò made her international debut in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with State Opera Stara Zagora in Bulgaria in 2022 and subsequently joined The Princeton Festival to sing the role of Madame Herz in their production of Mozart’s The Impresario. In 2023, Aubry returned to State Opera Stara Zagora to debut Violetta in La Traviata, and debuted the role of Gilda in Rigoletto with Opera Columbus later that month. Under the baton of Steven Mercurio, she appeared twice at the Festival de Musique de Saint Barthélemy, singing Micaëla in their 2020 production of Carmen, and popular operatic selections in their 2021 concert with orchestra.
Ms. Ballarò is a recent graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts, where she was seen performing roles such as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, and Oscar in Un ballo in maschera. Other roles during her education were Queen in the world premiere of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Seagle Music Colony), Lisette in La Rondine (Oberlin in Italy), Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring (Oberlin Opera Theatre), Despina in Così fan tutte (Oberlin in Italy), and Adele in Die Fledermaus (Oberlin Opera Theatre).
Ms. Ballarò was a District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition in 2022, and a winner of the Bologna International Vocal Competition in 2019. She was also a finalist in the Jensen Foundation Competition in New York (2022), and the Vincerò World Singing Competition in Napoli (2021).
Leo Williams | Belmonte
Stage credits at Indiana University include: Don Giovanni, La fille du Régiment, Peter Grimes, The Crucible, The Consul, Rigoletto, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Samson et Dalilah, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Lucia di Lammermoor.
Williams has had an active performing career overseas (spanning five continents) appearing in: La bohème, L’elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Don Giovanni. Leo was a 2020 Opera Maya Studio artist, Berlin Opera Academy Principal Artist, and an Opernfest Prague Fellow. Recent debuts include: Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca for the Sitzprobe with The Naples Philharmonic, Spoletta in Puccini’s Tosca Gulfshore Opera (Naples, Fl), Macduff and Malcom in Verdi’s Macbeth (Australia), Don Ottavio, and Tamino in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte (Germany).
Leo is a past participant in The UNISA International Voice Competition (South Africa). He was a recent Soloist with the Key Chorale and Sarasota Ballet singing works of Margret Bonds. After winning a coveted spot in the Nationwide Detroit Opera Resident Artist Program final auditions, he joined the program for the 2022-2023 season, where he has been the official cover for Faust in Gounod’s Faust, making his Detroit Opera debut singing the role of Messenger in Aïda and the role of Torero in Ainadamar.
At the Head of this 23/24 season Williams is set to star in the Opera Grand Rapids production of: Die Entführung aus dem Serail as Belmonte, Lead the Boca Raton Sinfonia as Tenor Soloist in Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings, and return to Gulfshore Opera covering Prince Calaf and singing Pang in Turandot.
An avid lover of world travel and speaker of 5 languages with years of classical dance training, he is well recognized in South Florida’s Dance and Theatrical Arts community. Mr. Williams served as Assistant Professor of the IU Soul Revue acting as Vocal Coach, Teacher and Choreographer. Currently teaching as a private voice instructor he is also a Freelance soloist at the First Church of Christian Science Fort Lauderdale, & Church by the Sea Bal Harbor.
Jennie Judd Reyes | Blonda
Soprano Jennie Judd Reyes is recognized for her innate ability to embody music and texts, engaging in honest, transparent storytelling that deeply connects with audiences.
She sings repertoire that spans from the Renaissance to the present as a choral artist and featured soloist including Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben BWV 147 (VoxGR); Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 61 (Holland Bach Society); Considering Matthew Shepard (Fountain Street Church); and Who Married Star Husbands by Shuying Li (Four Corners Ensemble).
Jennie is a frequent performer of opera, musical theatre, and song. Recent credits include Mabel in Pirates of Penzance (Opera Grand Rapids), Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel (West Michigan Opera Project), Cunegonde in Bernstein’s Candide (Power Center, Ann Arbor), Mabel in Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, Chicago), Proserpine in Charpentier’s La descente d’Orphée aux enfers, Susanna (cover) and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro (Janiec Opera Company), Lucy in Menotti’s The Telephone, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, Maria in The Sound of Music (Shadblow Theatre), and ensemble in NOAH and Miracle of Christmas (Sight & Sound Theatres).
In addition to performing, Reyes works for the Holland Chorale as Operations Manager, teaches voice at Hope College, and runs a small private voice studio. Reyes is an alumna of The University of Michigan (M.M. Vocal Performance) and Wheaton College (B.M. Vocal Performance) and she currently resides in Holland, Michigan with her husband Eric. She is grateful to return to Opera Grand Rapids for their 2023-2024 season and to YOU for your support of the arts!
Nicholas Nestorak | Pedrillo
Nicholas Nestorak is a tenor on the rise since joining the Metropolitan Opera roster in 2021 and débuting in leading roles around the country.
At The Met, he has covered Pang in Turandot, Tanzmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Bardolfo in Falstaff. Other recent engagements include a different member of the Turandot trio, Pong, with Opera Grand Rapids; Borsa in Rigoletto with Pacific Symphony; Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos for Lakes Area Music Festival; Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Antonin Scalia in Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg, and Monsieur Vogelsang in Der Schauspieldirektor all at the Princeton Festival; and Beppe in Pagliacci with Opera San Antonio. This season, Mr. Nestorak will be returning to The Met to cover Pang for another season, and he will sing Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opera Grand Rapids and Prunier in La rondine with Opera on the James.
Recently, Nicholas performed Goro in Madama Butterfly with Knoxville Opera and Florida Grand Opera, Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte with Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel with Brava! Opera Theater, and Grant Wood in Strokes of Genius, a new work about Cedar Rapids native Grant Wood, with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater. He also made his début as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Roanoke to critical acclaim.
Mr. Nestorak delighted audiences at the Glimmerglass Festival as Tobias in Stephen Sondheim’s gruesome favorite, Sweeney Todd, after he made his début at the festival as Monastatos in Die Zauberflöte the season before. He appeared in the title role of Albert Herring and Jupiter in Semele at Opera MODO; and as Lord Geoffrey in The Picture of Dorian Gray at Opera Fayetteville. Additional operatic engagements include the Physician in The Fall of the House of Usher; Borsa in Rigoletto and Spoletta in Tosca with Wolf Trap Opera; Pang in Turandot with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, the role of Gastone in La Traviata with Austin Lyric Opera, and a performance in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins.
As a Benson Young Artist at Palm Beach Opera, Mr. Nestorak’s assignments included Tonio in La fille du régiment, Spalanzani and Nathanaël in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Oronte in Alcina, George Gibbs in Our Town, and Malcolm in Macbeth. He is also an alumnus of the Young Artist Program at the Crested Butte Music Festival where his assignments included Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Harlequin in Der Kaiser von Atlantis.
Also maintaining an active concert calendar, Mr. Nestorak’s credits include Händel’s Messiah and Alexander’s Feast, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Beethoven’s Mass in C major and Choral Fantasy, and Mozart’s Mass in C major. Nestorak regularly earns accolades on the competition circuit including recognition by Classical Singer Magazine, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Crested Butte Music Festival, and the Marcello Giordani International Voice Competition.
Mr. Nestorak holds a Master of Music degree in Voice from the University of Michigan, where he appeared as Der Tanzmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. He also earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Hillsdale College, where his credits include Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors and The Beast in Beauty and the Beast. Nestorak’s training also includes time at the Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar where he performed Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.
Kevin Thompson | Osmin
He “possesses a voice with extraordinary range, depth, color combined with a commanding stage presence…a mountain of a voice, with resonance from the Escorial of Philip II to the throne of Boris Godunov, and the majestic court of Sarastro…” (San Francisco Classical Voice).
This season, Thompson has house debuts with Washington National Opera in Elektra, as both Der Pfleger des Orest and Ein Alter Diener, and with Fort Worth Opera in Aida as Il Re. Thompson goes on to perform Sparafucile in Utah Opera’s Rigoletto and the role of Canterbury in Saint-Saëns’ Henry VIII at Bard College. In concert, Mr. Thompson will return to Opera Omaha for an Opera Outdoors Concert with scenes from Boito’s Mefistofele as Mefistofele; with Roanoke Opera for their Opera Gems Gala Concert; Eureka Symphony for Verdi’s Requiem; and finally, with Odyssey Opera for Rachmaninoff’s Troika: as The Old Gyspy in Aleko, Ivan in The Miserly Knight, and The Ghost of Virgil in Francesca di Rimini. Future engagements include house debuts with Opera Colorado and The Dallas Opera.
In the previous season, Thompson performed the role of Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni with San Antonio Opera; the Old Hebrew in Samson et Daliah with Bob Jones Opera; Sparafucile in Rigoletto with Nashville Opera; the First Nazarene in Salome with Tulsa Opera; Oroveso in Norma with Festival Opera; and was seen in the world premiere of Southern Crossings by Zaid Jabri at Barnard College in New York City. Concert engagements included Johnson City Symphony Orchestra for Verdi’s Requiem, with Roanoke Opera, and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with The Florida Orchestra.
In the pandemic season of 2020/2021, Mr. Thompson made his debut in Bulgaria with Ruse State Opera singing the role of Polonius in the world premiere of Hamlet by Joseph Summer. In the same season, Thompson was seen in Rigoletto twice: as Sparafucile with Shreveport Opera, and as Monterone with Tulsa Opera. Thompson also joined Tulsa Opera for their Greenwood Overcomes concert, in addition to engagements with Pocono Mountains Music Festival and Opera Omaha.
Mr. Thompson has performed in opera houses and concert venues throughout the world, under the baton of many an esteemed conductor, including Austria, Bulgaria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, South America, Switzerland, and the United States. Thompson has made debuts with New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, New Orleans Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Carolina, Bard Opera, National Philharmonic, The Florida Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, Odyssey Opera, Hannover Staatsoper, Fundación Teatro Nacional Sucre in Ecuador, Teatro Verdi Trieste, Hong Kong Opera, Teatro Regio Parma, Ruse State Opera, Theater Kiel, the Gasteig in Munich, and the Wexford Opera.
Many of Mr. Thompson’s previous roles include: Ramfis and Il Re (Aida); Osmin (Die Entführung as dem Serail); Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte); Mephistophélès (Faust); Oroveso (Norma); Sparafucile and Monterone (Rigoletto); Grand Inquisitor (Don Carlos); Banco (Macbeth); Lodovico (Otello); Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni); Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor); Don Basilio (Il Barbiere di Siviglia); The Old Gypsy (Aleko); Colline (La Boheme); Judge Turpin (Sweeney Todd); Ned (Treemonisha); El Captain (Florencia en el Amazonas); Hans Schwartz (Die Meistersinger); and Stefano Colona (Rienzi). As a concert soloist, Thompson’s engagements have included Verdi’s Requiem; Mozart’s Requiem; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Missa Solemnis, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater; Haydn’s The Creation and the Lord Nelson Mass; and Stravinsky’s Les Noces.
Mr. Thompson was born in Washington, D.C. He is an alumnus of The Juilliard School in New York, San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Program, and the Santa Fe Opera Program. Recordings include Verdi’s Requiem with Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra, Haggadah shel Pesach by Dessau with the American Symphony Orchestra, Thy will be done by Rice with the National Choral Society, Polonius in Joseph Summer’s Hamlet and as King Soliman in Gounod’s La Reine de Saba with Odyssey Opera.
Christopher Weaver | Pasha Selim
Christopher Weaver has lived and acted in West Michigan for 24 years, but this is his first collaboration with Opera Grand Rapids.
He couldn’t be more thrilled! Regionally, Christopher is a frequent narrator for the Grand Rapids Symphony, perhaps best known for narrating The Snowman around the holidays and Ferdinand the Bull for countless numbers of school children. Christopher has also performed in numerous Shakespeare plays for the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival and for Heritage Theater. He counts among his favorites: Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, Jachimo in Cymbeline, and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Christopher also sings bass in The Original Dickens Carolers, who can be seen performing acapella yuletide songs at Meijer Gardens during the Christmas season. In his spare time, Christopher is a full-time math teacher for Grand Rapids Public Schools.