Who’s Who 2017 Carmen, Vive la Liberté

Douglas Brandt Byerly, (Conductor/Concert Pianist) As a music director, Doug has worked with professional, community and academic companies in productions of opera, operetta and musical theater (over 100 productions to date). He has over 30 years of classroom experience, having taught elementary, middle school, high school (including music magnet and arts schools) and college. Doug is a Professor of Music at Anne Arundel Community College, where he is Director of Choirs and Voice and the Artistic Director of OPERA AACC. In addition to teaching at AACC, he is the Director of Music at St. John the Evangelist Church in Hydes, and the former Director of Music for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Doug serves on the Board of Trustees for the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, and is a past board member of Annapolis Opera. He holds his Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music from Western Michigan University. Doug lives in Towson, Maryland with his beautiful wife, Christine, his two awesome children Adam & Emma, and his quirky cocker spaniels, Molly & Sophie.

Nonna Kaler-Slutsky, (Ensemble Maestra/Concert Pianist) the musician of multiple fields is a pianist, conductor, teacher, singer, and narrator. She is also founder/artistic director of the concert series “East-West Musicales” (“EWM”) and the “New Opera Theater with puppets” (2009). With over 40 years of performing and teaching experience, Mrs. Kaler-Slutsky founded “Piano Performance School of Music” in 1993. As a professor of the piano performance and as an accompanist, she worked at the Peabody Conservatory of JHU, Baltimore School for the Arts, UMBS, CCBC. For the past 8 years, Mrs. Kaler-Slutsky has hosted, performed, and narrated more than 100 concerts. The guests of the series “EWM” were all distinguished musicians well recognized in U.S. as well as abroad. Nonna Kaler-Slutsky immigrated from Moscow, Russia in 1991 where she graduated with DMA/MM from The Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory and with BM from The State Gnessin College of Music in Moscow, performed at some of the best venues in Russia. 

Joseph Regan, (Don José) Joseph Regan is a successful singer and voice teacher based in the Mid-Atlantic region making appearances throughout the east coast. A regular performer at the Strathmore, Meyerhoff, and Kennedy Center Concert Halls, Mr. Regan has been privileged to sing under the batons of Marin Alsop, Christian Eschenbach, Masaaki Suzuki, Emil de Cou, Martin Issep, and many others. Joseph can be seen on the opera stage where he has performed the roles of Fenton from Verdi’s Falstaff, Tamino from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Jenik from Smetana’s Bartered Bride and many more. Mr. Regan is also an accomplished performer of musical theatre. His credits include: Henrik in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Loesser’s Guys and Dolls, and has performed a number of cabaret and recital programs dedicated to the style. In addition to his work in opera and musical theatre, Mr. Regan is well known for his work in the field of oratorio. He has sung Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Rossini, and is particularly notable for his expertise singing Bach. He has performed the St. John Passion solos on multiple occasions and has performed more than a dozen of Bach’s Cantatas. Mr. Regan is also a highly sought after ensemble singer and sings regularly with top choral groups in the region, with whom he has toured much of the Eastern seaboard. Joseph is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Bowie State University.

Diana Cantrelle, MM, (Carmen) is at home in opera, oratorio, TV and film. Critical reviews say, “her deep rich voice gives new meaning to the words and her roles have vibrant vocal color & style.” Her interpretation of French repertoire, Verdi and Oratorio provides, “high points to performances where she shows delicate vocal warmth as well as her acting talent.” “…she is a smart choice with her ability to give emotional depth to the opera’s score.” 

Ms. Cantrelle has performed at the: Hippodrome Theatre, Vocalypse Productions in Nova Scotia, Canada; Wolf Trap; Peabody Opera Theatre; Kennedy Center; Washington Savoyards; L’Alliance Française; Divertimento Orchestra in Canada; Silesian Theatre in the Czech Republic; Cincinnati Opera; Capitol Opera; Townsend Opera Players, Elysium, German Tour; Pittsburgh Undercroft Opera; and Opera Santa Barbara. Some favorite roles are: Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera; Witch in Hänsel und Gretel; Azucena in Il Trovatore; Suzuki in Madame Butterfly; Charlotte in Werther; Aldonza  in Man of La Mancha; Mother in Amahl & the Night Visitors; Baba (Madame Flora) in The Medium; Adalgisa in Norma; Rusty the Pirate in All that Glitters; and Ino/Juno in Semele. In 2012, Ms Cantrelle created a new children’s opera Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots) based on the original Charles Perrault beloved fable, with a New Orleans Jazz twist. Learn more by visiting: www.puss-and-boots.com She studies composition with Judah Adashi and is a recipient of a Peabody Career Development Grant. Ms Cantrelle studies voice with International Soprano Carmen Balthrop and coaches with Susan Morton, Michael Adcock, Ju Young Lee, International Baritones François Loup and William Sharp. Diana Cantrelle studies acting with John Astin, Roger Brunyate, and Garnett Bruce. She earned a Masters of Music in Voice Performance/Vocal Pedagogy with Composition Studies from Peabody Conservatory of Music in 2012.

Kevin Crysler, M.B.A. (Narrator) is the president of Opus Concert Theatre. Previously, he had an extensive career as an actor, director, designer and producer in opera, theatre, television and film. He has narrated concerts for the Atlanta Opera and The Atlanta Symphony, and was the preview lecturer for Opera Pacific in Orange County California for nine years. He has taught acting for singers in the MFA program at Cal State Long Beach and has taught opera appreciation courses at University of California, Irvine and Saddleback College. He is currently the owner of Mr. Handyman in Anne Arundel County and a resident of Columbia. 

Melissa Jean Chavéz, (Micaëla, soprano) is pleased to make her debut with Opus Concert Theatre. Acclaimed by the Washington Post for her “voluptuous voice” and “cooly exemplary production,” Ms. Chávez regularly performs throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Upcoming roles and performances include Mimi (La Boheme), Cendrillon (Cendrillon), Strauss Four Last Songs, as well as performances at Strathmore Mansion and Stillwaters Studios and other venues. Information about upcoming performances can be found atwww.melissajeanchavez.com. Ms. Chávez is a 2015 graduate of Shenandoah Conservatory and an alumna of the Castleton Festival. 

Mr. Albert Niedel, (Escamillo,Toreador)is a Lyric-Dramatic Verdi baritone who is a USA citizen born in Budapest Hungary. Mr. Niedel holds a Bachelor’s of Arts from Bowie State University with academic Honors and Master of Arts/Music from Morgan State University. Albert Niedel is a winner of various competitions including NATS Advanced College, which consisted of participants from Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as the Baltimore Music Club competition winner in professional vocal category. Most recently Albert Niedel was selected as the finalist for the Edward M. Murray Vocal Competition in Ithaca Opera Company NY. Over the years Mr. Niedel has served both as cantor at jewish congregations and as opera singer performed with various opera companies in North America and Europe as well as worked with internationally acclaimed conductors and singers such as Christian Badea, Michel Plasson, Inessa Galante, Jason Stearns, Lois Alba and also featured in number of master classes by world-renowned singers like Wei Song, Sylvia Sass, Simon Estes and Madame Montserrat Caballe who personally invited and selected Mr. Niedel to participate in her final master class and Opera Gala concert in Zaragoza Spain in September of 2011. In addition, Mr. Niedel has been previously featured at the French and German embassy as well as performed a solo operatic recital at the State Department in Washington DC. Mr. Niedel was among selected guests to perform at the house of the President of Israel, Governor of Louisiana, Mayor of Long Island and others. Among some of his roles are Rigoletto, Onegin, Gianni Schicchi, Figaro in the Barber of Seville, Tonio and Silvio in Pagliacci, Amonsaro in Aida, Count Di Luna in IL Trovatore, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, Gerard in Andrea Chenier, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermmor, Zurga in the Pearl Fishers, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, the villains in Tales of Hoffman and others. For more information please visit www.albertniedel.com

Simone Brown, (Frasquita) is a second year Masters in Voice at Peabody Conservatory in the Studio of Denyce Graves. Ms Brown received her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance Magna cum laude from Xavier University of Louisiana. In her time at Xavier Simone participated in both the Concert Choir and University Chorus as Soprano section leader and soloist. Simone Brown also participated in the Opera Workshop scene productions singing scenes from The Medium, L’elisir D’amore and Le Nozze di Figaro. Simone also sang the role of Laeticia in The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti. In her first year at Peabody Ms Brown participated in the Opera Outreach production of Papageno! singing the role of Pamina. Simone also participated in the Opera Etudes program singing the role of Yolanda in the short opera composed by Connor Elias Way Meeting at the Fence. In her second year at Peabody, Simone Brown sang the role of Barbarina in the spring production of Le Nozze di Figaro. 

Rachel Pomeranz, (Mercédès) is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Vocal Performance.  During her time at UD, she performed extensively with the University of Delaware Opera Theatre (UDOT), taught French Diction, and competed internationally with the UD Chorale. Some of her favorite roles with UDOT include Charlotte (Werther), Alma (Little Women), Frugola/Zita (Il Trittico), Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Edith (The Pirates of Penzance). She also participated in UDOT’s opera scenes workshop as Romeo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) and Meg (Falstaff). In addition to her roles with UDOT, Rachel appeared as Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte under the direction of Martin Katz (UD Master Players Concert Series), and Ingenue in the world premiere of a new opera, Death and the Drifter (Still Breathing—New Music Ensemble). In 2010, she spent a summer performing the role of l’Opinion publique (Orphée aux enfers) with the Franco-American Vocal Academy in Périgueux, France. Rachel resides with her husband in Delaware, where she serves as a cantor and alto section leader at St. Anthony of Padua Church, a play instructor at Gymboree Play and Music, and the enrollment manager for the Delaware Choral Academy. She would like to thank her parents and Bubbie for their years of unwavering support, her teachers and friends at UD for challenging and inspiring her, and Tristan—for proving to her that real love sets you free.  

David Artz, (El Remendado) is a native of Oswego, NY and holds music degrees from Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music (BM) and Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins (MM). He currently lives in Baltimore.  A “powerful” high lyric tenor with a “clear and passionate” extended range, David performs frequently with many regional companies in Maryland and DC including Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Washington Concert Opera, and Baltimore Concert Opera. His budding career also includes prior and upcoming engagements with Civic Morning Musicals, Oswego Opera Company, Operafestival di Roma, Syracuse Opera Company, Syracuse University Opera Theatre, Accademia Europea dell’Opera, Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Peabody Conservatory Opera Theatre, Singers’ Theatre of Washington, Opera Delaware, Bel Cantanti Opera Company, the Young Victorian Theater Company, Opera AACC, the Silver Finch Arts Collective, and AIMS in Graz. David also frequently sings for the professional liturgical choirs of Washington National Cathedral, as well as the Cathedral’s out-of-house choir series, “Cathedra.”

Gregory Scott Stuart, (Le Dancaïre) sings several opera roles each year in addition to engagements as a stage director, actor and church musician. He has sung numerous leading or supporting roles in operas with local and regional companies. A soloist in world premieres of Paul Leavitt’s Cantata Emmanuel, his Magnificat and in premieres of his Requiem in Washington, Paris and at Lincoln Center, NYC and on CD, he has concertized with Symphony of Arlington and for the Society of the Cincinnati. As an actor, he played in the Helen Hayes nominated ensemble of Optimism or Voltaire’s Candide at Spooky Action Theatre and has a slew of Shakespeare roles to his credit with Shakespeare Opera Theatre, Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, Seacoast Repertory Theatre, New England Shakespeare Festival; he has tread the boards at DC’s Studio Theatre, and in musicals with Pittsburgh Playhouse, Bay Theatre & Ithaca Opera, including a national tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He directed the US premiere of a French musical, Bigoudi, several operas, world premieres of Phillip Freund’s Jocasta and Sean Pflüger’s opera Children in the Mist. He is the Manager of External Affairs for Vocal Arts DC. He teaches singing, theatre and yoga. Also this month, he sings Silvio in I Pagliacci and David in L’amico Fritz with Center Stage Opera in PA, then acts in two productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Later, he directs The Tragedy of Madame Butterfly for Loudoun Lyric Opera, where he serves on the board of directors.

Shanna Balman, (Section Leader, Frasquita Cover) holds a Master’s degree in vocal performance from Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. She is at home in many varied styles, performing at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, in Baltimore, Maryland, as a semi-finalist in the Billie Holiday Vocal Competition; with Dell’Arte Opera Company in New York City; and the West Virginia Symphony singing Ralph Vaughn Williams’, Serenade to Music. She has also performed in master classes with famed baritone, Nathan Gunn and Pittsburgh Opera Company. In recent years, she has performed the roles of Gennariello from Salvator Rosa, Marchesa from Un giorno di regno and Zerlina from Don Giovanni in Philadelphia.

Elena Patricia Wenderoth, (soprano) is a 14 year old girl at Wilde Lake Middle school. Eleana Wenderoth has been a part of many choirs and plays. In grades 4 and 5, she was in the Howard County Children Choir, and in grades 7 and 8, she was part of Howard County Gifted and Talented Choir. She has been in plays such as Oliver, in which she played the part of Nancy, and Annie, as the part of Miss Hannigan. 

Valerie Smith, (soprano) and pianist has sung in church and secular choirs all her life. Since moving to the United States from Canada in 1984, the highlights of her singing activities have included St. Andrews College Park Episcopal Church choir from 1984 to 1989, including a week as choir in residence at Westminster Abbey in August, 1985; the University of Maryland Chorus under Dr. Paul Trayver in collaboration with the Baltimore Symphony chorus in a production of Verdi’s Requiem in 1992; and in 2016 sang in the chorus in a production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneaswith Opus Concert Theatre in Columbia. Ms. Smith continues to hone her singing skills as a regular student of Diana Cantrelle, and will sing soprano in the ensemble of Bizet’s Carmen: Vive La Liberté this spring with Opus Concert Theatre. She is an active member of Encore Chorale in Columbia as well as her church choir at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Crownsville, Maryland.

Emily Zimmer, (soprano)is honored to be performing once again for the Opus Concert Theater. Last April she played the part of the Second Witch for the opera Dido & Aeneas. Emily is also a chorus member and soloist with Showtime Singers in Ellicott City. They perform throughout Maryland and every other year in Colonial Williamsburg. Emily has been performing since she was in 6th grade. In college, she performed in a variety of operas and ensembles. She completed the Peabody Preparatory Certificate as a high school student. In college, she performed in a variety of operas and ensembles. Emily is currently studying voice with Diana Cantrelle. She is thrilled to be singing the beautiful French lyrics of Carmen as a member of the ensemble. 

Ginny Morgan Arey, (Section Leader, Mercedes cover) Virginia Morgan Arey is a mezzo-soprano and music teacher in the Baltimore metro area. She received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin Conservatory and her master’s degree from the American Kodaly Institute at Loyola University in Baltimore. She has performed with the Annapolis Opera, HUB Opera Ensemble and the Young Victorian Opera Company. She is the Alto section leader and soloist at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton and has sung with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in the symphonic, full and chamber ensembles and has been featured as a soloist. Ginny lives in Sykesville with her husband, Jim and two children.

Ellen Ehrenrelch, (alto) Ellen is thrilled to be in the chorus of her second Opus Concert Theatre production! She enjoys singing in the alto section of Columbia Pro Cantare and taking voice lessons with Diana Cantrelle. Thanks to family and friends for their support, especially her loving husband, Mark! 

Amanda B. Leininger, (Manuelita, alto) originally from Rochester, MN, currently resides in Baltimore, MD. A full-time nonprofit marketing and communications professional, she is thrilled to be part of her second production with Opus Concert Theatre, previously appearing in Dido and Aeneas in spring 2016. She holds a B.A. in psychology with a minor in theatre and a M.A. in communication from Johns Hopkins University. Her favorite roles in the theatre have included Pope Joan in Top Girls, Reuben’s Wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Sonia (billed as Amanda)/choreographer in Godspell and dance captain in Oklahoma. She would like to thank her vocal coach Diana for always believing in and challenging her, Nonna for her patient help through rehearsals and the rest of the musicians, cast and crew for their commitment and dedication. Lastly, she would like to thank her family, friends and roommates for their ongoing support and tolerating her craziness and singing/humming these past few months.

Michael Wu, (El Remendado Cover) recently graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Voice Performance from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). A recipient of a full-tuition UMBC Premier Scholarship, he has performed with the UMBC Opera Workshop in scenes as Bill (Hand of Bridge​), Colonel Fairfax (​The Yeoman of the Guard​), and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni). Mr. Wu has also performed the role of Ferrando (Così fan tutte) with the Little Patuxent Opera Institute, and returned to perform the role in the UMBC Opera Workshop’s spring production. Mr. Wu currently studies under the direction of James Bailey, and looks forward to pursuing graduate studies in voice performance.

Leroy Smith’s (tenor) Leroy’s musical influences are just as diverse and dynamic as his repertoire. They include musicians like: Patti LaBelle, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, Michael Jackson, Richard Smallwood, Johannes Brahms, Rogers and Hammerstein, Giuseppe Verdi, Keith Urban, and so many more. Leroy is known for his commitment to the lyrics, his dynamic range, and his ability to connect on an emotional level with all of his listeners. Leroy attended the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College from 2008 until 2012, where he studied with the renowned tenor Jeffery Fahnestock and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Voice. Currently, he is a student of Carol Westcott of the Voice Within Studio within Baltimore City. During his undergraduate career, Leroy sang the music of the composers/arrangers Brahms, Verdi, Schubert, Schumann, Bach, Handel, Haydn Massenet, Ellington, Blake, Bernstein, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Purcell, Burleigh, Hawkins, Smallwood, and more. Leroy played the roles of Goro and Prince Yamadori in Verdi’s Madama Butterfly, Indio in Bernstein’s West Side Story, and the Sailor in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Leroy served as the vocal coach for actors in Aishah Rahman’s play Unfinished Women Cry in No Man’s Land while a Bird Dies in a Gilded Cage. 

Inge Hyder, (tenor) began singing practically non-stop since she met Bill, her husband-to-be, in the chorus of The Mikado at Queens College in New York in 1948. Many years later she and Bill were active members of the Comic Opera Company of Baltimore, putting on Gilbert & Sullivan operas annually for many years. Inge has also sung with the Handel Choir, the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, the Laurel Oratorio Society, the Columbia Choral Society, and the Columbia Pro Cantare. Presently she is a member of Encore Chorale, the UUCC (Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia) choir, and the Bain/HCC chorus. She’s enjoying being in a staged production again. She’s a tenor, so you’ll see her surrounded by tall men.

Benjamin Walker, (tenor) I’m a graduate from the University of Maryland at College Park, having received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater. While in college, I performed with the Gamer Symphony Orchestra in the chorus, as well as the Kreativity Diversity Troupe, having worked as an actor, writer, and director in the group. My primary focus was on costume making, with my work having appeared in several plays and operas, including La Bohème, Miss Havisham’s Fire and Rent, all of which were performed at the University of Maryland. I have sung with the opera Opus Concert Theatre once before as well, having sung in the chorus for their performance of Dido and Aeneas last year. It is my dream to one day become a professional singer and songwriter, a goal I have been practicing to achieve since graduation. My primary influences in my singing style include the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Freddy Mercury of Queen, and Chris Martin of Coldplay.

Les Gesell, (bass) in the Carmen: Vive La Liberté ensemble, has sung in a number of choruses of high quality. These include singing, as an undergraduate, in the Capital University Chapel Choir. Mr. Gesell has recently sung with Columbia Pro Cantare Chamber Singers as well as in the full chorus. He currently sings with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society which frequently sings in concert with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Gesell is currently taking voice lessons from Diana Cantrelle, as well as from James Bailey at Howard Community College.

Clark Pickett, (bass, Section Leader) Clark Pickett has been involved in musical activities practically since birth. He participated in both vocal and instrumental music activities from elementary through high school. He also played French horn in the Flint, MI Youth Symphony Orchestra for several years. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal School Music from Michigan State University in 1971. Following college, he taught public school vocal music for one year, where he directed the choral portion of the school musical production of Mame. He then began a 42 year career with the Social Security Administration in offices in Michigan, and, from 1986 until he retired in 2015, at SSA headquarters in Woodlawn. Since moving to the Baltimore area, he has sung in several musical groups. For 8 years, he sang in the Christian ensemble “Joy and Devotion.” For the last 4 years, he has been a member of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, where he has sung in the Symphonic Chorus, Full Chorus, and Chamber Chorus. Mr. Pickett also regularly sings in the choir and worship team at his church, as well as acting in a number of musical productions there over the years. 

David Smith, (bass, Assistant Stage Manager) was an enthusiastic participant in choral singing and musical theatre through high school. He allowed life to intervene until recently, when he resumed singing in his church choir. Dido and Aeneas was his first foray into opera and now he enjoys singing in Carmen, Vive La Liberté and helping his fellow singers.

Jered Wenderoth, (bass, Assistant Stage Manager) is an amateur opera and work commute singer from Columbia, Maryland. He has been described as “one of the top four singers in the Wenderoth household.” Mr. Wenderoth is performing in the bass section of the ensemble of the Opus Concert Theatre production of Carmen: Vive la Liberté in order to support and spend time with his musical prodigy daughter Elena. He previously performed in the Opus production of Dido & Aeneas also to support his amazing daughter and to be able to shock people with his claim of having performed in an opera. Jered has no other current productions in the works and no plans to go professional ever.

“I see where Elena get’s her talent,” says Ms. Cantrelle. “Jered has a beautiful, clear baritone voice!”

Anne M. Ballenger, PhD (stage manager) is an active Opus Concert Theater Board Member. She has been active in musical theater since 1980 and performed as actor/singer at the collegiate level under the direction of Michael Ellis-Tolaydo and Larry Vogt at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. After earning her doctorate in anthropology from Catholic University of America in 2009 and opening a floral business, Ballenger Floral Design, in 2015, Dr. Ballenger has returned to her love of theater as stage manager for Opus Concert Theatre’s productions.

Sally Stunkel, (Acting Coach) we offer a special note of gratitude.