The Mikado

Gilbert & Sullivan

Friday, November 1, 2019 – 7:30 PM | Saturday, November 2, 2019 – 7:30 PM
St. Cecilia Music Center

About the Composer Gilbert and Sullivan
G&S’s beloved satire on Imperial British politics and institutions comes to life on the intimate stage of St. Cecilia Music Center. The poor wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo is in love with the lovely Yum-Yum, the ward of the Lord High Executioner, who has designs on her himself. The town swirls with satirical chaos when the Emperor (The Mikado) reveals that if no one is executed in the town, it will be reduced in stature to a village. Heads will comically roll in this Topsy-Turvey world.

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Meet the Production and Cast

Ace Edewards | Conductor

As a conductor, Ace Edewards is known for his passionate lyricism and scholarly informed programming. Recent engagements include performances with Victory Hall Opera, Charlottesville, VA, and cover conductor duties for the 2018 Winter Festival at Sarasota Opera.

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In the city of Knoxville where he resides, Dr. Edewards has conducted critically acclaimed productions of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Pasatieri’s La Divina and Moore’s Gallantry with Marble City Opera, and worked as assistant conductor for Knoxville Opera’s production of Boito’s Mefistofele. In three seasons as assistant/cover conductor for Opera in the Ozarks, Edewards conducted performances of Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Cenerentola, La traviata, Pagliacci, and Il tabarro. After conducting its premiere, Ace was invited to lead Alfonso Molina’s opera Illegal Alien at the Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in Àlamos, Sonora, México. Dr. Edewards was a finalist in the 6e Concorso Internazionale Per Direttori d’Opera “Luigi Mancinelli” in Orvieto, Italy, with Verdi’s Il trovatore as repertoire. Other conducted works include productions of Carmen, L’ivrogne corrigé, La canterina, Die Zauberflöte, Così fan tutte, La bohème, Die Fledermaus, La traviata, and a reprise of Marble City Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.

As a symphonic conductor, Ace Edewards is the founding conductor of the Scruffy City Orchestra, a community ensemble in Knoxville, TN. From very humble beginnings, this ensemble has grown quickly in size and ability and in November 2019 joined the Cathedral Concert Series at the beautiful Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In his programming, Edewards is committed to creating performances that are enjoyable as well as educational. As a guest conductor, Ace has led performances with the Civic Orchestra of Tucson, the Sierra Vista Symphony, and the Summerville Orchestra.

As a choral conductor, Dr. Edewards is the Music Director at the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, TN.

A fluent French speaker, Ace created French Diction for Singers, a series of videos to help those singing Mélodies. As soon as he finds time in his busy schedule, he plans on expanding the list of videos to include more titles as well as opera arias.

Edewards earned his doctorate in orchestral conducting at the Fred Fox School of Music in Tucson, AZ, where he conducted the Arizona Symphony Orchestra and led the University of Arizona Philharmonic. At the Lamont School of Music in Denver, CO, Ace Edewards concurrently earned a dual emphasis masters in vocal performance and choral conducting, and an artist diploma in orchestral conducting. While at Lamont, he directed the first student-led production of a chamber opera/musical; led the first vocal chamber ensemble to win the university’s chamber competition; and was awarded the Leon Guide Outstanding Conductor Award and Frank Toth Memorial Award by the music faculty. Ace was also the Mark Sheldon Conducting Intern with the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Denver’s only professional choir.

Edewards is an accomplished vocalist, having earned a Master of Opera from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow; pursued postgraduate studies in voice at Le Centre d’études supérieures de musique et de danse in Toulouse, France; and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the California State University in Sacramento.

As the son of missionaries, Ace grew up in France, where he received his Baccalauréat Série Scientifique with honorable mention.

Ace currently lives in Knoxville with his wife Ruth, a violinist in the Knoxville Symphony and Suzuki violin teacher. Together, they love trying new restaurants, cooking new recipes, and hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains. They enjoy life with their two aptly named orange Tabbies: Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings.

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Eve Summer | Director

Hailed “a rising star of stage directing [whose] approach to directing 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.” In the 2018-19 season Ms. Summer directs The Little Prince at Tulsa Opera, The Pearl Fishers at Opera Tampa, The Tales of Hoffmann at Opera Orlando, Aida at Boheme Opera New Jersey, The Magic Flute at Opera in Williamsburg, and serves as Staging Advisor at the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a concert performance of Suor Angelica at Symphony Hall starring Kristine Opolais.

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Selected directing credits include Trouble in Tahiti at the Glimmerglass Festival, Così fan tutte at Connecticut Lyric Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor at Boheme Opera New Jersey and Commonwealth Opera, Xerxes at Connecticut Early Music Festival, Carmen at MetroWest Opera, The Magic Flute for University of Hartford, L’elisir d’amore for Opera del West, the world premiere of Larry Bell’s opera Holy Ghosts at the Berklee Performance Center, Suor Angelica for Boston Opera Collaborative, and Le nozze di Figaro for dell’Arte Opera Ensemble and Kaliope Opera.

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”. Her style is naturalistic and modern and rooted in the visceral truthfulness of stage plays where she started her directing career. Her theater productions have included The Merry Wives of Windsor, Extremities, A Midsummer night’s Dream, The Woolgatherer, ‘Art,’ Two Gentlemen of Verona and her own play Neighbors, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Thomas Berger.

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 for 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’s notable assisting engagements also include Francesca Zambello on the world premiere of Ben Moore’s Robin Hood at The Glimmerglass Festival, Julia Pevzner on her widely acclaimed production of Shostakovich’s The Nose at Opera Boston, and Tim Albery on Janáček’s Katya Kabaonova at Boston Lyric Opera.

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Steven Condy | Ko-Ko

Steven Condy enjoys a career filled with notoriety and acclaim for his creative portrayals of the great “buffo” roles, and is admired not only for his robust and nuanced voice, but also for his natural acting ability.  The Washington Times enthused that he has “the comic timing of John Candy and a voice that remains flexible, rich and true through every intricacy,” and Anthony Tomassini of the New York Times offered that he would “vote the prize for the most naturally clear diction of the cast to the hardy baritone Steven Condy.”

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Recently, Mr. Condy will performed the role of Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Boston Lyric Opera and Manitoba Opera. He will also return to the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Gianni Schicchi after his successful appearance there last season for La boheme. Upcoming performances include Ko-Ko in The Mikado with Opera Grand Rapids, and Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera on the James.

Renowned for his interpretation of Dr. Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, recently, the Boston Music Intelligencer raved of his “most delightfully surprising and truly brilliant performance…the agility of his voice, not only in negotiating the vocal roller-coasters, but also in creating comically nuanced coloring, combined with his clumsily agile physicality and an edgy-but-not-threatening delivery of the role as a whole, stole the show. Based on his performance, the opera might well be re-titled Don Bartolo.”  He performed the role at Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Toledo Opera, Portland Opera, Madison Opera, Opera Memphis, Virginia Opera, Sarasota Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and Lyric Opera Baltimore among many others. Most recently, he performed the role in his house début at Opera Carolina.

The title role in Verdi’s Falsaff is another signature role in Mr. Condy’s repertoire, which he performed at companies such as Utah Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera San José, and most recently, Opera Delaware. Of his Falstaff, Opera News hailed: “Dominating the proceedings was Steven Condy’s hilariously larger-than-life yet totally believable and sympathetic Sir John. Condy never let his skillful embodiment of the fat knight’s physical and behavioral grotesqueries affect the inherent beauty of his singing; his warm, manly tone, fine legato and ready mezza voce reminded one just how squarely within the bel canto tradition the role of Falstaff lies.” He is also in demand as Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, a role he performed at Madison Opera, Portland Opera, Opera Delaware Utah Opera, Memphis Opera, Florentine Opera, Lyric Opera Kansas City, and Austin Lyric Opera.

Other notable engagements from his extensive career include: Sacristan in a new production of Tosca with the Houston Grand Opera; Betto in Gianni Schicchi in a new production with Los Angeles Opera directed by Woody Allen, followed by his European opera début in the same production with the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi; the title role in Don Pasquale with Opera New Jersey, Utah Opera, Calgary Opera, Opera on the James, Opera Naples, and Edmonton Opera;  Benoit/Alcindoro in La bohème with Dallas Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia; Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore with Chautauqua Opera, Washington National Opera, Arizona Opera, and Lyric Opera of Guatemala among others; Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow with Washington National Opera; Sulpice in La fille du régiment with the San Francisco Opera and Opera Lyra Ottawa; Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte with Arizona Opera and Hawaii Opera Theater; Tevya, the lead role of Fiddler on the Roof with Shreveport Opera; and Major General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance with Arizona Opera.

As a concert artist, Condy graces stages throughout the country earning critical acclaim. From his recent appearance as a soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Lincoln Symphony, The Lincoln Journal Star wrote: “Baritone Steven Condy… began the poem that inspired the Ninth, his powerful voice booming through the hall.” He later performed the bass solo again with Asheville Symphony. Additional highlights of concert appearances include Händel’s Messiah with the Columbus Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, Masterworks Chorus at Carnegie Hall, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and La Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Oviedo, Spain; the role of Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro with the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Tate; Belshazzar’s Feast and Gordon Getty’s Plump Jack with New Mexico Symphony Orchestra; and gala concerts with the Indianapolis Symphony and the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Mr. Condy earned accolades and awards from some of the industry’s most prestigious organizations including: The Luciano Pavarotti International Voice competition, The Sullivan Foundation, The Richard Tucker Music Foundation competition, Pope Foundation competition, MacAllister Award competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and the Mario Lanza Institute Scholarship competition. Mr. Condy holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Hartford and a Master of Music degree from Yale University’s School of Music. He is also the Artistic Director of the Cairn University Opera Theater in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

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Drake Dantzler | Nanki-Poo

Drake Dantzler is a frequent performer of Opera, Oratorio and song. Mr. Dantzler was hailed in Opera News as “a real find: he has a voice of molten silver, immaculate musicianship and an expressive stage persona.” Mr. Dantzler appeared as Nanki-Poo in The Mikado with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis where he was praised for his “dashing and earnest” performance and his “soaring high notes.” Mr. Dantzler has also been seent with the Opera Theater of the Rockies as Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and as Gérard in Lakmé and with Arbor Opera Theater as Rodolfo in La Bohème and Alfredo in La Traviata, where Encore Michigan lauded “Drake Dantzler’s tenor vocals were marvelous, bright and evocative.”

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Other opera credits include Rodolfo, as well as Almavia in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Live@First concert series, leading roles with the Ohio Light Opera in KismetThe Count of LuxembourgThe Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and the Duke of Dunstable in Patience, which was recorded and released on Albany Records. Mr. Dantzler has also appeared with Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, the Breckenridge Music Festival, Des Moines Metro, Opera Iowa, and The Austin Lyric Opera among others.

Concert engagements for Mr. Dantzler include Tenor Soloist in Handel’s Messiah with organizations such as the Calvin Oratorio Society, Adrian Symphony, Detroit Metropolitan Chorus, Haydn’s The Creation with the Ann Arbor Cantata Singers, the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Pontiac Oakland Symphony, Oakland Chamber Orchestra and the Adrian Symphony. Other concert credits include Evangelist in Bach’s St. John’s Passion across the United StatesVaughan Williams’ Hodie, Haydn’s Lord Nelson’s Mass, Beethoven’s Symphony #9, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina Burana among others. Mr. Dantzler is at home with Golden Age musical theater, having performed Rodgers and Hammerstein galas with the Toledo Symphony and Warren Symphony. Other concert performances include appearances with the Macomb Symphony, Rochester (MI) Symphony Orchestra, and Canton Symphony, as well as Verrada in Sousa’s El Capitan  and Nanki-Poo in The Mikado with the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.

As a recitalist, Mr. Dantzler has performed across the United States and Canada. He has been a guest recitalist at Vanderbilt University, Skidmore College, Tulane University, and the University of Texas. Mr. Dantzler is an ardent supporter of contemporary music, and tours a recital with pianist Victoria Shively of music written after the year 2000. Another current project is pairing a staged version Janacek’s Diary of One who Disappeared with a work by newly-composed Benjamin Fuhrman entitled Needle Point for tenor, prepared piano, and adaptive computer.

Mr. Dantzler is an associate professor at Oakland University, where he directs the opera program.  Mr. Dantzler has been a guest artists and teacher at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, the Vancouver International Song Institute, and currently co-directs the Toledo Opera Summer Camp. Mr. Dantzler holds degrees from Vanderbilt University, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Texas.

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Rachel Mills | Yum-Yum

Rachel is a Grand Rapids native who has performed in operatic performances in the United States, Europe, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. This season, Rachel has performed a series of recitals with pianist Katalin Zsubrits in Budapest, Sopron, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Grand Rapids, MI and Fairfield, CT. She also participated in the BBC Proms in Dubai at Dubai Opera with the BBC Symphony in March.

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Rachel made her Opera Grand Rapids debut in 2018 singing Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro and joined Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids in October last year singing Papagena in The Magic Flute. In 2016, Rachel appeared as a guest soloist at New York University Abu Dhabi, performing Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiraswith French cellist Yan Levionnois.

In 2015, Rachel made her debut with Welsh National Opera singing the role of First Boy in The Magic Flute. She was the soprano soloist in Janacek’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared with tenor Adrian Thompson and pianist Michael Pollock as part of the Cardiff Singer of the World week, and sang Bachianas Brasileiras with the Welsh National Opera orchestra and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, both performed at Dora Stoutzker Hall. Rachel completed the Opera course at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in summer 2015, sponsored by the Leverhulme award. She studied with Suzanne Murphy and Michael Pollock.

In 2013, Rachel sang Bastienne in Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne with The Comic Intermezzo in a collaborative project with Ravinia in Chicago. She also travelled with Castleton Music Festival in their 2012 production of La Boheme, conducted by the late Lorin Maazel, at Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman. 

Other major operatic roles include Polly Peachum The Beggar’s Opera (Opera’r D’draig), Papagena Magic Flute (Northwestern University), Anne A Little Night Music (Castleton Music Festival), and Maria West Side Story (Arizona State University).

Rachel enjoys contemporary and experimental music, and has worked with students at the Art Institute of Chicago in a light and noise installation called within IMMITANCE. She sang Elliott Carter’s Of Challenge and Of Love as well as Joseph Schwantner’s Two Poems of Agueda Pizarro in recital at Lutkin Hall in Evanston, Illinois.

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Andrew Potter | Poo-Bah

A bass vocalist of increasing demand who towers at an imposing and athletic 6’10”, Andrew Potter is a true Basso who has been welcomed by audiences and critics across the country for a larger‐than‐life stage presence with a voice to match. “With his huge, all‐encompassing bass voice and precise comic timing he nearly stole the show,” (Maria Nockin, Opera Today, February 2017).

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With years of studying under renowned teachers such as Dr. Wayne Kompelien, Rick Christman, and Braeden Harris; Andrew made a name for himself standing out in mainstage roles at several of the nation’s most prestigious Young Artist programs such as Des Moines Metro Opera, St. Petersburg Emerging Artist Program, and the Tyler Young Artist Program. He has since performed across the country proficiently demonstrating the vocal power and sonority to sing such roles as Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust  and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, the range and physicality to perform buffo roles like Don Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Don Magnifico in Cenerentola; and the flexibility and agility to sing challenging Handelian roles including Zoroastro in Orlando, Ariodate in Serse, and Argante in Rinaldo.

Having proven his vocal diversity on stage performing roles spanning from basso roles like Osmin in Die Entführung, to varying Bass‐Baritone roles such as Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen, his is truly a vocal range of rare versatility ‐ making him stand out among the growing community of low voices.

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Donald Hartmann | The Mikado

Celebrating 40 years of singing on operas stages, bass-baritone, Donald Hartmann began his professional career in 1978 with the Stadttheater Regensburg, and later with the Vereinigte Städtiches Bühnen Krefeld/Mönchengladbach in Germany. Donald continues to be an active performer with regional and national opera companies. He has been described as possessing a, “big, rich voice with an amazing timbre;” interpretative abilities as “hearty and dramatic;” vocal resonance as “ringing,” “sepulchral,” “richly focused;” and “… his flair for comedic bel canto is major-league-worthy.”

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Having performed in over 160 operatic productions, in over 60 operas singing over 70 different roles, he is “one of the best character singers on any opera stage anywhere.”  Engagements have included appearances with Opéra de Montreal, Madison Opera, Toledo Opera, Opera Carolina, Michigan Opera Theater, Nashville Opera, Piedmont Opera, Opera Delaware, North Carolina Opera, Opera Roanoke, Greensboro Opera, Arizona Opera, Florentine Opera, and Virginia Opera Association.  His 2015-2016 season included and two very important national debuts: William Jennings Bryan in the 60th anniversary production of Ballad Baby Doe for Central City Opera in Colorado, and the Sacristan in Tosca in the historic reopening of New York City Opera’s return to Lincoln Center!  His 2018-19 season included performances as the Sacristan in Tosca, North Carolina Opera; Dr. Bartolo, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Opera North (company debut); Bonze, Madame Butterfly, Greensboro Opera; and Zaretsky, Eugene Onegin with Opera Carolina.  His 2019 -2020 season includes a return to Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera, and Opera Carolina. Donald Hartmann is a Professor of Voice in the School of Music at UNCG.

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Diane Schoff | Katisha

Diane Rae Schoff, Mezzo-Soprano, is a regular character on stage with regional companies throughout Michigan and around the country. Diane is thrilled to join Opera Grand Rapids for her third consecutive season in their 2019 production of The Mikado.

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Diane recently received high praise for her company and role debuts with Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids as Marcellina in their joint production of Le Nozze di Figaro. Opera News said “It would be hard to imagine a better portrayal of Marcellina, both physically and vocally than that of Diane Schoff.” In the 2018/19 season, Diane had return engagements with Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids as the Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and also returned to Opera Carolina as the Duchess of Crackenthorpe in La Fille du Regiment and as Mme Larina in Eugene Onegin. Career highlights include her work with Michigan Opera Theatre as the second maid in Elektra 2014, Natalia Trotsky in Frida 2015, the Second Lady in The Magic Flute 2016 and as Aunt Cecilia in Little Women 2017; with Toledo Opera as the Old Baroness in their 2017 production of Vanessa where she earned where she earned acclaim for her “look that could drop a horse at 50 feet” —Toledo Blade. An avid performer of concert, oratorio, and classical works with orchestra, she recently sang the alto solos in cantatas 12 and 106 J.S. Bach and debuted with Orchestra Sono as the alto soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson mass. Diane holds the honor of being a National Semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera Competition, and is a graduate of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola apprentice program.

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