The Falling and the Rising
Zach Redler is an award winning music theater composer whose work has been performed in concert halls, opera houses, and theaters around the world. Some of his favorite works are: The Memory Show, Loving Leo, Windows, A Song for Susan Smith, ADAM, Movin’ Up In The World, and The Falling and the Rising. Zach is currently working on a one-woman theater piece for Tanya Bird Torres, a chamber opera for Houston Grand Opera, and a new piece with Jerre Dye for the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Jerre Dye is a Chicago-based librettist and playwright. He is the recipient of the Award for Dramatic Literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Current opera commissions include: an upcoming commission for Opera Philadelphia with composer Jennifer Higdon ; Taking Up Serpents for Washington National Opera with composer Kamala Sankaram; The Falling and The Rising for the U.S. Army Field Band Chorus, Seattle Opera, Arizona Opera, San Diego Opera, Texas Christian University, and Opera M phis with composer Zachary Redler; Chautauqua Stories for Chautauqua Opera; BY/IN for Opera M phis with composers Kamala Sankaram, Sam Shoup, Zach Redler, and Robert G. Patterson; and The Parksville Murders, a filmed, episodic, virtual reality opera for Opera On Tap/New York with composer Kamala Sankaram. In 2014, Dye completed the libretto for Ghosts of Crosstown, a new short opera cycle in collaboration with Opera M phis; Movin Up in the World with composer Zachary Redler (subsequent performances at the National Civil Rights Museum and Missouri State University); Abandoned with composer Kamran Ince (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in San Francisco as part of the New Works Sampler 2014); Ivonne with composer Nathaniel Stookey (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in D.C. as part of the New Works Sampler 2015); and Mitch and the Moon with composer Jack Perla. Dye play, Cicada, had its Chicago premiere in 2014 with Route 66 Theatre Company while Distance, premiered in 2016 with Strawdog Theatre Company; both works were Jeff nominated. Other works for the stage include: Short/Stories, Threads, The New Adventures of Hansel and Gretel, Wild Swans, and Live Studio Audience. His adaptation of Stravinsky's A Soldier Tale with Iris Orchestra was praised by the San Francisco Classical Voice for music that harnesses considerable expressive power.
Conductor Michael Sakir has been praised for his "artistic authority," "fluidity of expression," and "great delicacy of feeling." He serves as the Artistic Director of Intermountain Opera Bozeman which was recently praised by the London-based Opera News magazine as "a small but thriving opera company that it not restrained by convention." He recently completed his fourth and final season as Music Director of Opera Memphis with whom, in addition to conducting nearly two dozen production, he was deeply involved in the company's groundbreaking civic practice programs, community partnerships, and commissioning projects.
In the 2021-2022 season, Sakir conducts The Barber of Seville and Le nozze di Figaro with Intermountain Opera Bozeman and Tchaikovsky's rarely-heard masterpiece The Maid of Orleans with the Opera Company of Middlebury. He makes his guest debut with Opera Idaho conducting Carmen and with Temple University conducting Le nozze di Figaro.
In the 2019-2020 season, Sakir made his Seattle Opera debut conducting Jerre Dye and Zachary Redler's The Falling and the Rising - a new opera co-commissioned with the United States Department of Defense and based on interviews with wounded American veterans.
Other recent conducting engagements include the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Bernstein's Candide, Carlisle Floyd's Susannah, and Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Opera Company of Middlebury in Bernstein's Candide, Massenet's Cendrillon, Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire, and Puccini's Il tritti-co, Des Moines Metro Opera in Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei and Mark Campbell, Kimberly Reed, and Laura Kaminsky's As One, Opera Orlando in Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Mozart’s The Impresario, and Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias, Shreveport Opera in Mozart's The Magic Flute, Eugene Opera in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Northwestern University for Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, American Opera Projects for As One, Opera in the Ozarks for Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Opera North (NH) for Copland's The Tender Land.
Sakir has held chorus master, assistant conductor, and coach positions for nearly three dozen productions with Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Boston.
Sakir holds bachelor degrees in Piano Performance and Music History from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a graduate degree in Orchestral Conducting from The Boston Conservatory. He was a participant in the 2017 OPERA America Leadership Intensive. He is a native of Northern California.
Dennis Whitehead Darling is an award-winning Stage Director working in both opera and theatre in the Unites States and Europe. In 2018, he was selected by Opera Memphis as their Inaugural McCleave Fellow in Directing, a fellowship dedicated to fostering the careers of Stage Directors and Music Directors of color.
His recent directing credits include: World Premiere of Paul Moravec/Mark Campbell’s Grammy nominated oratorio Sanctuary Road (North Carolina Opera), Die Zauberflöte (Pensacola Opera), World Premiere of The Secret River (Opera Orlando), La Bohème (Opera Columbus), World Premiere of Marian’s Song (Houston Grand Opera), Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Carnegie Mellon University), The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Red Mountain Theatre), Independence Eve (Opera Birmingham), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Hattiloo Theatre/Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Jelly’s Last Jam (Hattiloo Theatre), The Parchman Hour (Hattiloo Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Intimate Apparel (University of Memphis), Movin’ Up in the World (Opera Memphis), Sunset Baby (Hattiloo Theatre), James and the Giant Peach (Circuit Playhouse), Blue Viola (Opera Memphis), Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting (Hattiloo Theatre), Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (Hattiloo Theatre). Associate Directing credits include: AITAF on Broadway (Studio 54), The Last of the Love Letters (Atlantic Theatre), Light’s Out: Nat “King” Cole (Geffen Playhouse), Skeleton Crew (Geffen Playhouse).
Upcoming productions include: World Premiere of Why I Live at the P.O. (UrbanArias), The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Hattiloo Theatre), The Falling and the Rising (Arizona Opera), and a TBD opera with Manhattan School of Music.
Throughout his career, Dennis has expressed one major goal, "to tell emotionally engaging and provocative stories that challenge the viewer to see the world from a different perspective." For more information, please visit his website at www.denniswhiteheaddarling.com.
Mario Pacheco is an emerging Canadian stage director hailing from Hamilton, Ontario. He is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program and is currently pursuing the University of Toronto’s Artist Diploma in Operatic Stage Direction under the mentorship of Michael Albano. Assistant directing credits include This is Prophetic with Against the Grain Theatre/UofT Opera, La bohème with Brott Opera, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Opera NUOVA, and Le nozze di Figaro with Western University Opera. Most recently, Pacheco directed Il segreto di Susanna, The Bear, and Bon Appétit! for the University of Toronto Opera Division. Future engagements include directing the student composer collective, Disobedience, as well as assisting on Il barbiere di Siviglia and Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land, directed by Tim Albery for The University of Toronto Opera Division.
Noted for her “particularly soulful” interpretations (L.A. Times) and a "captivating combination of skilled singing and magnetic acting" (Pioneer Press), soprano Tess Altiveros is equally at home in a wide range of repertoire from the 17th century to the 21st.
Recent roles include Angela in In Real Life (Opera Memphis), Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Kentucky Opera), and Female Soldier in The Falling and the Rising (Seattle Opera), a portrayal described as “a triumph” by Classical Voice North America and “enthralling” by the Seattle Times. Other recent credits include E in Seattle Opera’s O + E, L'enfant in L'Enfant et les Sortilèges (Pacific Symphony), Clorinda in Seattle Opera's acclaimed production of The Combat, Fiordiligi in Così fan Tutte (Skylark Opera Theatre), Hannah in The Merry Widow (Inland Northwest Opera), Pamina in Die Zauberflöte (Pacific Symphony), Maria in West Side Story (Central City Opera/Boulder Philharmonic), Musetta in La Bohème with Mo. Andrew Litton (Colorado Symphony), Miss Jessel in Turn of the Screw (Eugene Opera), and Elle in La Voix Humaine (Vespertine Opera).
On the concert stage, her voice has been hailed as “darker, creamy, sensuous…sprezzatura personified” (Opera Today) and “pure gold” (Opera Magazine). Engagements have ranged from the American Prize-winning world premiere of Muehleisen’s Borders at Carnegie Hall to the critically acclaimed West Coast tour of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo with Grammy winning conductor Stephen Stubbs. Ms. Altiveros has been featured with the Colorado Symphony, Pacific Symphony, the Boulder Philharmonic, Portland Baroque, Early Music Vancouver, Shreveport Symphony, San Francisco Early Music Society and the Vancouver Bach Festival, to name a few.
During these unprecedented times, Ms. Altiveros has had the pleasure of singing for a number of virtual performances, including an at-home recital for Seattle Opera’s Songs of Summer series, an appearance on Long Beach Opera’s Artist Afternoons, Navidad with Pacific MusicWorks, and Rodas Recordada (Music of Remembrance), as well as virtual concerts with the Whidbey Island Music Festival and Opera on the James. Full digital productions include Giannetta in L’Elisir d’Amore (Seattle Opera), and the role of Rockstar in Resonance Works & Decameron Opera Coalition’s Tales from a Safe Distance, a project described by The Wall Street Journal as “ingenious” and ranked fifth on Operawire's "Best of 2020: Top 11 Industry-Defining Moments of the Year”.
Upcoming engagements include Le Nozze di Figaro (Intermountain Opera), the world premiere of Romeo (Orpheus Project), and appearances with Evansville Philharmonic, Opera on the Lake, Harmonia Orchestra, Symphony Tacoma, the Great Bend Center for Music and a recital of new compositions with The Aria Institute in Paris.
A native Seattleite, Ms. Altiveros has been a regular anthem singer for the Seattle Mariners for over a decade, and was proud to be among the first to sing the national anthem for Seattle’s Kraken in their inaugural NHL season this November.
Audrey Babcock is an award-winning mezzo-soprano who has gained notoriety for her commanding, powerful performances as Carmen and her dark, hypnotic portrayals of Maddalena in Rigoletto. Ms. Babcock made her French debut as Carmen with the Festival Lyrique-en-Mer and has performed the role with Florentine Opera, Nashville Opera, Florida Grand Opera, New York City Opera, San Antonio Opera, Knoxville Opera, Opera Delaware, Toledo Opera, Anchorage Opera, Dayton Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, and Utah Festival Opera where The Salt Lake Tribune wrote “Audrey Babcock's performance as Carmen was a spellbinding tour de force...from the moment she took the stage her self-assured characterization was mesmerizing ...Babcock's caramel-hued mezzo was a pleasure…her supple tones caressed the notes, radiating earthy allure.”
Widely recognized as a choice singer for new works, Ms. Babcock has premiered several new operas including Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin (NY Premiere - Dicapo Opera), With Blood, With Ink (World Premiere - Fort Worth Opera), La Reina (American Lyric Theater, NY & Prototype Festival), The Poe Project (American Lyric Theater), and appeared as Mother in Winter’s Tale with Beth Morrison’s Prototype Festival in NYC in 2015. Last season’s engagements included the title role in The Tragedy of Carmen with Opera Santa Barbara as well as a cancelled concert with the Santa Barbara Symphony. Ms. Babcock’s engagements for the 2021-2022 season include Lily; her life, his music with Marble City Opera, Toledo in The Falling and the Rising with Opera Carolina, Verdi’s Requiem with the Reading Symphony Orchestra, and the title role in Carmen and Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha with Utah Festival Opera.
Recent engagements have included her Seattle Opera debut as Baroness Nica in Yardbird, bringing her show Beyond Carmen to Opera Delaware, Maddalena (Rigoletto) with Palm Beach Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Omaha, Tulsa Opera, Florentine Opera and Nashville Opera, where Broadway World wrote “Mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, as the manipulative and cunning Maddalena, very nearly steals the show in her third act appearance, giving audiences a mere glimpse of what we can expect from her Carmen. . . She gives a stunningly full-throated performance of the sexy and sensuous Maddalena and the senses reel in anticipation of her Carmen.” Ms. Babcock portrayed title role in Maria de Buenos Aires (San Diego Opera), Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible (Opera Santa Barbara) Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (New Orleans Opera), Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha (Utah Opera), Mrs. Mister in Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock (Opera Saratoga), Erika in Vanessa (Sarasota Opera), Suzuki in Madama Butterfly (Opera Santa Barbara and Tulsa Opera), and Jo in Little Women with Utah Opera and Syracuse Opera, where she won Artist of the Year. She played the Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte with Spoleto Festival, USA, and the Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul (Long Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, and New Jersey Opera). She has also sung Dorabella in Così fan tutte (Opera Idaho), Lola in Cavalleria rusticana (Utah Festival Opera and Washington Concert Opera), The Third Lady in The Magic Flute (Opera Pacific), Flora in La traviata (Cincinnati Opera), and Carmen in The Tragedy of Carmen (Opera Delaware, Opera on the James, and Florida Grand Opera). She has performed with New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and The New World Symphony and was also featured in a televised concert of Russian music with world-renowned singer, Regina Resnik.
Her concert and recital engagements include Verdi’s Requiem (Dayton Symphony, Charleston Symphony and West Virginia Symphony), Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Eugene Symphony Orchestra), Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica), Viva Verdi! (Mobile Opera), Murder and other Operatic Mayhem (National Symphony Orchestra), and Where the Boys Are with musical director, Steven Blier. Musical Theater works include Aldonza/Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha with Shreveport Opera, Lyric Opera of San Diego and Utah Festival Opera, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (Wolf Trap Opera) and the music of Kurt Weill with the World Premier of Lily; her life, his music (Dicapo Opera), a one-woman fictional melodrama written and produced by Ms. Babcock. She is the recipient numerous awards including “Artist of the Year” for her portrayal of Jo in Mark Adamo’s Little Women (Syracuse Opera), the George London Award, the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation award, and the Opera Index and Sullivan Foundation Encouragement Award. Recording under the name Aviva, Ms. Babcock has released an album of Ladino pieces called Songs for Carmen, a collection of works sung in Ladino and Arabic, inspired by the character Carmen.
Praised for his “healthy and soaring tenor voice” (The Herald Times), Korean American Brad Bickhardt is a vibrant and versatile performer in both the operatic and musical theatre canon. Highlight performances have included Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore), Tony (West Side Story), and Alfredo (La Traviata), as well as originating the role of Colin in We Wear the Sea Like a Coat. Additional 2021-22 appearances have included filming Stone Soup for Tri-Cities Opera, appearing in recital with Chelsea Opera and Maryland Opera, and as a guest artist at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory. Bickhardt has previously appeared with Opera Saratoga in their critically acclaimed production of Man of La Mancha under the baton of Broadway conductor, Laura Bergquist, as well as in Opera Naples’ productions of West Side Story and La Traviata. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was on the roster of The Glimmerglass Festival in productions of Wagner’s Die Feen as well as The Sound of Music, and in 2019, was a member of the prestigious Wolf Trap Opera Studio in which he covered and performed principal roles in L’heure espagnole, Lîle de Merlin, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and Ariadne auf Naxos. On the concert stage, he has appeared as the tenor soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, and Mozart’s Miss Brevis in Bb. Bickhardt received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Vocal Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he appeared in 13 productions with IU Opera Theater as well as serving as an Associate Instructor of Voice. His graduate thesis consisted of compiling an anthology of musical theatre repertoire for undergraduate tenors and their pedagogical applications, and he was named an Encouragement Award from the Central Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Bickhardt is a proud alumnus of the rosters of Tri-Cities Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Naples, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Charlottesville Opera. His primary vocal instruction has been under renowned baritone Andreas Poulimenos and husband and wife team Kevin and Heidi Grant Murphy.
Schyler Vargas, Mexican-American baritone, is establishing himself as a versatile young talent, bringing interdisciplinary performances to the operatic, theatrical, and concert stage. Noted as a “distinguished” (Washington Classical Review) and “powerful baritone,” (Washington Post) his recent work in the new dramatic song cycle UNKNOWN by Shawn Okpebholo and commissioned by UrbanArias has been featured on PBS News Hour and NPR, among other publications.
In 2021, Schyler made his Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opera Edwardsville debut as Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and a baritone soloist, respectively. Previously, he has been seen in main stage roles at The Atlanta Opera, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The Glimmerglass Opera Festival, Dayton Opera, and the Château de Versailles Spectacles in France. Schyler’s notable roles include: Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro by W. A. Mozart, Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus by Richard Strauss, Maximilian in Candide, and Riff, Diesel, and Chino in West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein with original Jerome Robbins choreography, and Frank Schultz in Show Boat by Jerome Kern, among others. On the concert stage, Schyler has performed as the baritone soloist for Orff’s Carmina Burana, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, Schubert’s Mass in Ab, and Mark Hayes’ Requiem.
An award winning performer, Schyler has seen success in competitions with notable awards including: 1st place in Tri-Cities Opera’s first Virtual Vocal Competition, Rocky Mountain District Winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, 2nd place and Audience Favorite in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition, and 2nd place at the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Aria Competition, and District Winner in the Dorothy Lincoln-Smith Voice Competition.
Prioritizing new music in his career, Schyler has worked with Cincinnati Opera’s Opera Fusion, workshopping new operas including Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian and Tobias Picker’s Awakenings. At The Glimmerglass Festival, he sang the title role of Nicholas Benavides’ Gilberto and while at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he had the opportunity to take part in the New Works Bold Voices Lab which presented three world premieres.
Schyler received his Master of Music degree from the renowned University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of William McGraw and his Bachelor of Music with a minor in Business Administration from Colorado State University.
Thomas Cannon has been acclaimed for his “focused tone, keen dramatic sense and vocal powerhouse”. Skilled across diverse genres, he has performed works by Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Gounod, John Corigliano, Meredith Wilson and George Gershwin.
Recent: Thomas Cannon was Scarpia at Opera Roanoke; sang the role of Figaro in Ghost of Versailles with the Miami Music Festival; was Senator Potter and General Arlie in George Spears’ Fellow Travelers with Arizona Opera; Porgy in Porgy and Bess at Fort Worth Opera; and was guest soloist with The Lied Society of Minneapolis. This season: Sharpless with Indianapolis Opera; Germont with Orlando Opera; Porgy to Rhiannon Gideons’ Bess with Greensboro Opera with symphony engagements with the Colorado Symphony and Walla Walla Symphony. He is the Colonel and the Doctor in Arizona Opera’s The Rising and the Falling next season.
He has been heard as Albert in Werther at Merkin Hall and has sung the role of Escamillo with Music Academy of the West. Among the roles in his repertoire include; Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Giorgio Germont (La traviata), Count di Luna (Il trovatore) Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Ford (Falstaff), Sprecher (Die Zauberflöte) and Nettuno (Idomeneo). Mr. Cannon has sung extensively with Arizona Opera where he was engaged as a young artist. In addition, he has been a member of The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera and Music Academy of the West young artist programs.
Thomas Cannon regularly appears on the concert stage. In 2019 he performed Haydn’s Harmonie Messe at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and Mozart’s Requiem at the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria; was soloist with the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt in Die Schöphfung (The Creation) under the baton of Richard Zielinsky and sang Messe des Lebens by Frederick Delius with the American Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leon Botstein. Additional concert repertoire includes; Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah.
Mr. Cannon has been honored for his artistry by The Dallas Opera Guild, Chautauqua Opera, The Anna Sosenko Foundation, West Palm Beach Opera, Opera Birmingham, and The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
He is a graduate of Baylor University where he earned a Bachelor of Music; The Juilliard School, Master of Music in Voice; and most recently a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Oklahoma University. Notable teachers including Nico Castel, Mignon Dunn, Marlena Malas, Dr. John Van Cura and Marilyn Horne and Kim Josephson of the Metropolitan Opera.