COSÌ FAN TUTTE
Opera Arlington proudly presents its inaugural opera production with Mozart's passionate comedy, Così fan tutte (Women Are Like That)!
A new production by Bree Nichols and Eliza Escalante steps up the intrigue, transporting the action to vivacious 18th-century Venice during Carnival. Don't miss a cast of DFW's rising opera stars in this tale of disguises, deception, and tested fidelity. Performed in the original Italian with English supertitles, with piano accompaniment by Principal Pianist, Colleen Mathew.
MAY 12 & 13, 2023
FRIDAY & SATURDAY4201 Little Rd, Arlington, TX 76016
Tate Springs Baptist Church
Duration: approx. 2 hours, plus one 15-minute intermission
TICKETSADULTS: $27KIDS (12 and under): $9
NOTE FROM THE DIRECTORS
We hope you enjoy our colorful reimagining of Mozart’s Così fan tutte!
Historically, many directors have taken liberties with the story of Così, and this production is no different. Instead of Naples, we have set it in Venice during the colorful and magical season of Carnival, a pre-Lenten period of merry-making which concluded with Mardi Gras. Setting Così in the “Las Vegas” of historical Europe, with its culture of masked faces, jives well with a plot filled with disguises, trickery, and strolls by moonlight. After all, what better way to hide your identity than with a mask? Mask-wearing in 18th-century Venice was not only for parties, but also served as an important tool in their socially progressive society: blurring the lines between classes through anonymity, and even preserving the propriety of married women at public functions. So when our soldiers depart, supposedly for the battlefield, the masks they place on their ladies’ faces are a symbol of the virtue that they are certain the women will display in their absence. Who will be unmasked in tonight's story, and what lies beneath their disguises?
When viewed through our contemporary lens, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s Così fan tutte can come across as problematic. It is easy to write off the perceived sexism and humorous misogyny as a relic of 18th-century society. However, one does not have to look too deeply to see that the rigid and heavily-gendered expectations of DaPonte’s comedic libretto still echo through our world today. The intention of this production is to not only highlight the absurd lengths a person will go to prove their point; it also shows the growth that people experience when their status quo is disturbed. Far from a condemnation of women, our “Women Are Like That” reclaims the independence and agency of the ladies, holding up a mirror to the actions of the male characters toward them.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us at Opera Arlington’s inaugural opera production. Please enjoy the show!
Bree Nichols & Eliza Escalante
Sara Kennedy is a soprano from Austin, Texas who specializes in both classical and musical theatre repertoire. Sara is known for her lush, colorful sound, commanding stage presence, and powerful interpretations of Mozart’s heroines. In addition to her debuts with Opera Arlington and Shreveport Opera (Annina in La traviata) this spring, Sara makes two more company debuts this season with Camerata Bardi Vocal Academy and Painted Sky Opera, performing the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Last summer, she attended Sewanee Summer Music Festival as an Opera Fellow, where she was named a winner of the Jacqueline Avent Concerto Competition. Sara also joined Sarasota Opera as an Apprentice Artist for the 2022 Winter Season. Other recent opera credits include Ruth Baldwin (Later the Same Evening), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), and Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte). Sara holds an M.M. and Graduate Artist Certificate from the University of North Texas.
Korean-American mezzo-soprano Rachel Moon has appeared on the stages of Fort Worth Opera, The Dallas Opera, Opera Naples, Red River Lyric Opera, Opera Breve, Bass Performance Hall, the Irving Symphony Orchestra, the historic opera theater of Cagli in Italy, and many more. She is currently a Studio Artist at Fort Worth Opera, where she covered the role of Toypurina in the world premiere of Zorro. Rachel is also a former Apprentice Artist at Miami Classical Music Festival; there she performed the role of Le Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon to critical acclaim for her “standout performance” (Lawrence Budman, South Florida Classical Review): “Noble in bearing, this exceptional young mezzo easily conquered the role’s high tessitura.” She was recently heard as High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and the Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul with Spotlight on Opera. Rachel has served as an Educational Artist with The Dallas Opera and participated in training programs such as Miami Music Festival, VOICExperience, Opera Naples, OperaWorks, and Opera in Concert in Italy. Rachel’s repertoire also includes Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Ruggiero (Alcina), Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette), Romeo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), and Nicklausse (Les contes d'Hoffmann).
Brianna Clancy, mezzo-soprano, is a DFW-based performer and vocal educator who has recently returned to the stage in Fort Worth Opera's 2022–2023 season, appearing in the chorus of Amahl and the Night Visitors, An African American Requiem, and Aida. Her roles include La Principessa (Suor Angelica), La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), Olga (Eugene Onegin), and Charlotte (Werther). Brianna has been heard on the stages of Opera Viva! in Verona, Italy, the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, Christ the King Singers, The Firehouse Theatre, Diversità Opera, and North Texas Opera on Tap. In Spring 2020, she performed with the Orchestra of New Spain in the American premiere of El imposible mayor en amor, la vence amor, a Spanish operetta by Sebastián Durón. She served as a Graduate Opera Fellow and completed an M.M. in Opera at the University of Oklahoma in 2017, where she participated in masterclasses with great American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. Brianna teaches private voice and music theory at her home in McKinney.
Korean tenor Wonjin Choi made his opera debut in 2020 singing Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème at Kim Sun International Opera Company (Seoul, South Korea). He has recently appeared as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, the Sailor in Dido and Aeneas, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Fadinard in Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, and Hermosa in The Island of Tulipatan. In 2022, Wonjin won First Prize of the Edward Baird Singer of the Year Award at Texoma NATS, and received an encouragement award from The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition (Minnesota District). This season, he looks forward to performing as the Governor in Bernstein’s Candide with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra in Louisiana. Wonjin is a 2016 alumnus of the Riccardo Muti Academy, where he performed in Verdi's La traviata. He is completing his Master of Music at Texas Christian University on a full scholarship, and is a graduate of the Korea National University of Arts.
A native of Albuquerque, tenor Nathaniel Catasca is currently a Hattie Mae Lesley Resident Artist at Fort Worth Opera. He completed his Master's studies at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and has appeared on the stages of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Central City Opera, Florentine Opera Company, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Finger Lakes Opera, Music Academy of the West, and Toronto Summer Opera. His roles include Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and the Prince in Rusalka.
Erik Danielson is an up-and-coming bass-baritone artist who most recently sang the role of Silvio (Pagliacci) with Opera West. Erik has performed with Florida Grand Opera, the Fort Worth Symphony, Geneva Light Opera, Janiec Opera Company, Grand Street Music Festival, and more. He has performed as Escamillo in Carmen, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress, and Leporello as well as the Commendatore in Don Giovanni. He holds a B.M. from Texas Christian University in Vocal Performance and Piano Performance, and an M.M. in Vocal Performance and Conducting from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After his studies, Erik was a member of the Opera Institute at Boston University until 2021. Growing up, he was a member of the Texas Boy’s Choir for nine years, with whom he toured throughout the United States and Europe. In addition to Erik's vocal and acting work, he is an accomplished church musician and a skilled collaborative pianist with over twenty years of experience.
Nolan Brown, baritone
Praised for his “remarkable ease” and “lovely lyric” baritone, Nolan Brown is an emerging classical singer and Iowa native who most recently performed the role of Odysseus in the world premiere of Rachel Lanik Whelan’s opera, Stateside. His other recent engagements include Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas); Joe Harland (Later the Same Evening); Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor); and Yamadori (cover) in Madama Butterfly. In 2017, Nolan was involved in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Emmy award-winning production of Billy Budd. His concert repertoire includes the baritone solos in both Fauré’s Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana. As a recitalist, Nolan's most recent events include “Musica Navidena” at Trinity Las Américas, and “Written in Britain and Ireland,” which featured Joan Trimble’s rarely performed song cycle, The County Mayo. Nolan has also intepreted Ravel’s Don Quichotte à Dulcinée, Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. He holds an M.M. from the University of North Texas.
Long Island mezzo-soprano Sabatina Mauro performs throughout the DFW Metroplex, bringing with her a penchant for the florid vocal lines of bel canto and early music. This season, Sabatina will return to The Dallas Opera as a young artist for various engagements, and will debut the roles of Madame M and PVS in the world premiere of Gerard Noir, Episode 1 in Edinburg, Scotland. Sabatina has recently appeared as Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Orfeo (Orfeo ed Euridice), the title role in Blitzstein’s Regina, Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas), and Bianca (The Rape of Lucretia). She debuted the titular role of Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Red River Lyric Opera in 2019 and appeared as Portman’s The Little Prince and Kaylee in Ching’s Speed Dating, Tonight! in 2018. Sabatina has joined the Taos Opera Institute as the mezzo artist of the Cantos Ensemble, debuted as a guest artist with Amarillo Opera and at UTSA Lyric opera in the role of Madame de la Haltière (Cendrillon), and can be heard on recordings of and in performances with Dallas Bach Society, the Highland Park Chorale (soloist), Pasiόn RGV, Dallas Chamber Choir, The Antique Harmoniums, and the Flower Mound Symphony Orchestra, where she will make her solo debut in Carmina Burana this season. She received her M.M. and G.A.C. from the University of North Texas.
Ashley Townsley, soprano, is widely applauded by audiences for her sparkling high notes and equally effervescent stage presence. Currently based in Texas and a Houston native, Ashley has already made a significant debut with the Houston Grand Opera, giving the world the premiere of Jake Heggie’s Pieces of 9/11 Memories from Houston in 2012. Other stage credits include: Stella (A Streetcar Named Desire), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Amor (Orfeo ed Euridice), Johanna (Sweeney Todd), and Madame Goldentrill (The Impresario). Ashley has also distinguished herself in concert repertoire as a consistent and reliable soloist, appearing in works including Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with various orchestras and ensembles including the UNT Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Choral Foundation, and the Lake Charles Messiah Chorus. Ashley earned her M.M. from the University of North Texas, where she is completing her Graduate Artist Certificate as a recipient of the Bill & Margot Winspear Opera Scholarship.
Obsessed with musical storytelling, Tres Hunter, bass, has brought characters to life on stages around the globe. Recognized for his performance talent at a young age, Tres began performing across the U.S. during his teenage years and soon after made his international debut as a performer at Hong Kong Disneyland at the age of 22. In the U.S., Tres sings at The Dallas Opera as an Educational Artist and is a member of Verdigris Ensemble. He is known for his wide breadth of operatic roles, ranging from Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia to the Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Tres also performs frequently with Red River Lyric Opera, where he recently appeared as Alidoro in La Cenerentola. Off the stage, Tres Hunter currently lives in the DFW Metroplex with his partner, their pug, and orange tabby cat and he enjoys fishing on the weekends.
Originally from China, soprano Haichen Peng has performed throughout the United States and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of North Texas. Her operatic roles include Pamina (The Magic Flute) with Manhattan Opera Studio, Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito) with Chicago Summer Opera, Oberto (Alcina) with Boston Conservatory Opera, and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with Greve Opera Academy. She also performed with Connecticut Lyric Opera during the 2017–2018 season. Haichen earned a Graduate Performance Diploma in Vocal Performance from Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and a Master of Fine Arts from JiangXi Normal University, Nanchang, China.
Founder and General Director of Opera Arlington, Bree Nichols is an Arlington-based soprano, vocal educator, and arts professional who has performed across the United States and internationally. An innovator in community opera initiatives, Bree founded Stafford Opera Troupe in her hometown of Stafford, Virginia in 2016, where she created the Summer Opera Program offering free training and performance opportunities to emerging singers. At Stafford Opera Troupe, she served as General Director and Music Director for three seasons, conducting operas like Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Viardot's Cendrillon. In addition to her work with Opera Arlington, Bree currently serves growing musicians on the faculty of NTX Vocal Arts Exchange. A Fulbright grantee to the Czech Republic in 2021–22, Bree is known for her interpretations of Czech vocal music in addition to a diverse operatic repertoire. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of North Texas and a Master of Music degree from University of Georgia.
Eliza Escalante is an Iowa-born, Dallas-based singer and director. She received her Bachelor of Music from Iowa State University in 2015 and her Master of Music from the University of North Texas in 2018. After graduating, she worked as a stage and film director, event manager, and artistic director most notably with Lumedia Musicworks, where her short films won international recognition at the World Music Festival and the International Music Video Awards. As a director, she values cultural currency, diversity, and innovation as tools to share human themes through performance. She is heavily inspired by oral folk tradition and sci-fi fantasy literature. Her primary goal is to create safe and structured environments that foster creativity on and off the stage and result in fantastical performance experiences for audiences and artists alike. This is her first production with Opera Arlington.
A 2020 National Finalist for the American Prize in Solo Piano, J. Bradley Baker’s performances have been heard in concert halls throughout the United States, France, and Canada. He has been recorded by the Navona Records and Centaur Records labels and broadcast on public radio stations throughout the United States and United Kingdom. Baker has served as opera pianist and coach for The Glimmerglass Festival, Chicago Summer Opera, Opera Naples, Wichita Grand Opera, Natchez Festival of Music, NATS Intern Program, and Opera Birmingham. Baker serves as the Executive and Music Director of Music On Site, an opera company in Central Kansas. He has performed at numerous national and international conferences and festivals, including those of the National Opera Association, International Double Reed Society, and Music Teachers National Association, The North American Viola Institute and Hot Springs Music Festival. Dr. Baker is Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. He studied at North Dakota State University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and The University of Alabama. Primary teachers were Sandra Siler, Robert Groves, Daniel Shapiro, and Noel Engebretson, with additional study with Paul Schenly and Robert Roux.
Colleen Mathew is a Dallas-based pianist with a particular interest in opera and vocal coaching. Colleen has actively performed with Opera Arlington since its inception and is thrilled to serve as Principal Pianist for OA’s inaugural opera production of Così fan tutte. Educated at the University of North Texas (M.M. 2019) and Ave Maria University (B.A. 2016), Colleen served as repetiteur for the Miami Music Festival’s productions of The Magic Flute and L’incoronazione di Poppea in 2019. She founded Duo Floreciente with soprano Amy Canchola in 2019, and frequently coaches and records with singers in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. Colleen previously served as staff pianist at Southern Methodist University and at her alma mater, Ave Maria University. She has taught piano to students of all ages since 2009. Her training includes several years of vocal and organ studies, and she has held several church positions as an organist in the DFW Metroplex and her native Southwest Florida.
This production would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. Thank you for being a part of our mission to empower artists and enrich our community through music!