Who’s Who 2018 Amahl & the Night Visitors

Kevin CryslerKevin Crysler, M.B.A. (Director/Production Manager) 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. 

Jordan Randall SmithJordan Randal Smith (Maestro) is an award-winning conductor and the Music Director of Symphony Number One, Music Director at Hunt’s Church, and was recently appointed Assistant Conductor at Hopkins Symphony Orchestra at the Johns Hopkins University. Smith was formerly Co-founder and Artistic Director of the Dallas Festival of Modern Music and Assistant Conductor of the Peabody Opera Theater. Smith was lauded for being “an attentive partner” by the Baltimore Sun. His leadership of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony was praised by the Sun’s Tim Smith: “The third movement, in particular, was quite sensitively molded.” Conductor Alan Gilbert called Jordan’s conducting of Boulez’ Le Marteau sans Maître, “impressive.” In 2016, Jordan was named a Baltimore Social Innovation Fellow for his work with Symphony Number One. He was the recipient of a Bruno Walter Fellowship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in 2010 where he studied with Marin Alsop, Gustav Meier, and Jennifer Higdon and conducted the festival orchestra in concert. An active supporter of new music, Jordan has a discography spanning six commercial releases and a history of commissions, leading over 50 world premieres. Jordan is also a student of early music, having formerly served as Apprentice Conductor of the Dallas Bach Society Orchestra and Chorus.

Smith has mentored hundreds of young musicians in ensembles across the country including the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra. He is currently the conductor of the Frederick Regional Youth Orchestra Symphonia. A Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in Conducting at the Peabody Conservatory, Smith was a student of Gustav Meier, Markand Thakar, and Marin Alsop. An enthusiastic advocate for classical music, Jordan was invited to give a TED Talk at TEDxMidatlantic 2017 and is a contributor to Baltimore Magazine.

Aejin KimAejin Kim, (Rehearsal/Concert Pianist) was born in Seoul, South Korea, began studying piano at the age of five and started accompanying at the age of 12 with prominent musicians. She received bachelor of music and master of music in piano performance and instrumental accompanying from Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance (Philadelphia, PA). At Boyer, she studied with world-renowned Lambert Orkis. While at Temple, she accompanied over 50 recitals, juries, and numerous lessons. She taught college level piano as a graduate teaching assistant and a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. She was an accompanist for “University Singers,”—one of the big choirs of Temple University. As a very talented accompanist, she had many concerts in central Philadelphia including Kimmel center, Billy Graham Center, Tomlinson Theater, Lincoln center, and so on. She joined the committee for student hospitality for annual piano competition at Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA). She managed this big event every year successfully with Dr. Harold Protsman from 2004 to 2007. As a piano teacher since the year 2000, she knows how to make lessons both educational and interesting for individual students. She was elected by both students and parents as a best teacher in Symphony school of music, PA (2011). She obtained Master degree and Graduate Performance diploma in vocal accompanying major at Peabody conservatory in Johns Hopkins University. She played in Towson University for solo and ensemble music festival and Howard Community College for “Hansel and Gretel” opera. In addition, she performed and did a vocal coaching for Falstaff, Cendrillon, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Magic Flute, Il barbiere di Siviglia. Currently, she is a member of MTNA and HCMTA. 

Elena Patricia WenderothElena Patricia Wenderoth, (Soprano, Amahl on December 16, 21, and 22, Evening) is a young girl at Wilde Lake Middle school. Miss 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. She won a first Soprano post with the Maryland All State Choir.

Skyler BetzSkyler Betz, (Soprano, Amahl on December 22, 23 and  5 January, Matinée) is honored to have been chosen to help tell this beautiful and timeless story. Her previous roles include Death (Vivere et Morire ad Musicam), The Fairy Godmother (Cinderella), Mrs. Potts (Beauty and the Beast), and Betty Rizzo (Grease). Miss Betz won the Best Vocalist Award with the Baltimore Opera Camp in 2018. Words can not express the gratitude and awe felt towards her fellow artists in the cast and crew for their dedication and commitment to their craft and the creation of this show. Special thanks to her family (especially her parents, Rob and Heather), her ever-supportive friends (Sienna, here’s looking at you), Diana (her beautiful stage mother, mentor, and daily source of inspiration), Kevin (his vision, humor, and joviality put all others to shame), and finally… YOU, the audience, for your support and patronage of the arts. Thank you, and enjoy the show!  

Diana CantrelleDiana Cantrelle, MM, (Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano, Mother, Artistic Director) is at home in opera, oratorio, TV & film. Critical reviews say, “Cantrelle is Carmen…sounds & looks great in the role…superb acting & singing.” “Her deep rich voice gives new meaning to the words and her voice has vibrant vocal color & style.” “Cantrelle’s interpretation of French repertoire, Verdi & Oratorio provides high points to performances where she shows delicate vocal warmth as well as her acting talent.” “Cantrelle’s Amneris is a powerful performance, with great emotion & passion.”  Diana Cantrelle has performed at the Hippodrome Theatre; Vocalypse Productions in Nova Scotia; The Lyric in Baltimore; Wolf Trap; Peabody Opera Theatre; Kennedy Center; Washington Savoyards; L’Alliance Française; Divertimento Orchestra in Canada; Silesian State Theatre in Czech Republic; Cincinnati Opera; Capitol Operas NY & PA; Townsend Opera Players; Pittsburgh Undercroft Opera; Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Pacific; Pacific Symphony. 

Recent works include: Witch in Hänsel und Gretel; Amneris in AÏDA, Sir Roderick Venomin Jolly Roger; Mother in Amahl & the Night Visitors; The American Prize for Opera & Oratorio 2017-18; Carmen in Carmen-Vive la Liberté; Vive la France—A Celebration of France & Friendship CD Release/Recital; Azucena in Il Trovatore; Madame Flora (Baba) in The Medium; Adalgisa in Norma.

Miss Cantrelle studies with Dr. John Van Cura, Carmen Balthrop; Voice Over with Melissa Leebaert. Coaches with Susan Morton, Michael Adcock, François Loup & William Sharp. Acting with Tom Todoroff, John Astin, Roger Brunyate, and Garnett Bruce. Cantrelle earned a Masters of Music in Voice Performance/Vocal Pedagogy with Composition Studies from Peabody Conservatory of Music in 2012  www.dianacantrelle.com  

Leroy Andrew SmithLeroy Andrew Smith, (Tenor, King Kaspar) born and raised in Baltimore City where he currently resides. Mr. Smith received a Bachelor of Arts in Voice from the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. He currently teaches first-grade special education at DCPS in Washington DC. Leroy is known for his eclectic and diverse musical background encompassing classical music, gospel, R&B, jazz, and alternative music. Some of his former roles include Indio in West Side Story, Goro and Prince Yamadori in Madama Buttlerfly, and the Sailor in Dido and Aeneas. He is a member of Opus Concert Theatre and the Baltimore City College Alumni Master Chorale where he enjoys singing with his fellow musicians. Leroy believes that music is both an experience and the bond that holds together societies. 

Matthew OgdenMatthew Ogden, (Baritone, King Melchior), is an active and versatile freelance musician in the Washington DC area, performing regularly on both the opera stage (as a baritone) and in the orchestra pit (as a bassoonist), as well as working as a choir director and church organist. Recent engagements include a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto at Wolf Trap Opera, as well as a solo appearance both as singer, and as piano accompanist for his wife, Meghan Ogden (a mezzo-soprano), at Constitution Hall in Washington DC, at the opening ceremonies of the Daughters of the American Revolution national convention. He received his voice training from the acclaimed Antonella Banaudi, an Italian dramatic soprano who has shared the stage in leading roles with such notable singers as Luciano Pavarotti. 

Matthew also currently serves as principal bassoonist with the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, and performs regularly with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Greater Washington, Frederick Symphony, Loudoun Symphony, Catholic University Symphony, and the Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture in New York City. He began his bassoon studies with Scott Cassada, bassoonist with the Maryland Symphony. He later attended Indiana University School of Music, where he studied bassoon performance with renowned bassoon pedagogue Kim Walker. Matthew Ogden teaches voice, bassoon, and oboe on the faculty of The Catoctin School of Music, where he also serves as the Operations Manager and Director of Outreach. In addition, Matthew works as choir director and organist at Saint John’s Catholic Church in Westminster, MD.

Dimitri TchiegnaDimitri Tchienga, (Bass, King Balthazar) From the great land of Cameroon, my family and I migrated to the United States in September 2012. My older brother’s, Hans, participation in a choir inspired me to join one in 2008. Two years later, he introduced me to opera music, and I fell in love with it. Therefore, one day I made a wish to have a major role in an opera piece. In 2018, baby Jesus through Amahl and the Night Visitors granted my wish.  

Stanley LivengoodStanley Livengood, (Page, Bass Section Leader) is primarily a music educator and conductor. Dr. Livengood has sung in and conducted numerous school, community, and church choirs. He is artistic director/conductor of the NoVA Lights Chorale in Falls Church, VA and occasionally sings with the Advent Project in Rockville, MD. He was a featured soloist with the Fort Smith (Arkansas) Chorale and also for the Fort Smith Symphony’s performance of Handel’s Messiah. For the Opus Concert Theatre, he recently portrayed the part of Ramphis the High Priest in a concert version of Verdi’s Aïda. With a love of the theatre, Dr. Livengood has acted in plays and musicals in Illinois, Arkansas, and Maryland. In recent years he has appeared as Merlin in Camelot, Third Officer Pitman and musician Wallace Hartley in Titanic: The Musical, as Alphonse Frankenstein in the drama Frankenstein, in a workshop production of a new musical called Do It Now! in Baltimore, and as a featured extra in House of Cards fourth season. He has performed with suburban D.C.’s Wolf Pack Theatre Company in the comedy Love, Sex, and the IRS, in the world premiere drama Dancing at Midnight, and in the world premiere musical Memories and Legends. For the latter show, he also served as the Music Director, which earned him a “Take a Bow” nod from the D.C. Metro Area Theatre Arts group.

Sarah RobinsonSarah Robinson (Soprano, Ensemble/Dancer/Section Leader) is excited to be making her Opus Concert Theatre debut. An actress as well as a singer, she appeared most recently as Clarissa Hailsham-Brown in Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Earlier this year, she played the handmaid Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor with Center Stage Opera PA, and the crackpot medium Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab drama club. She holds a PhD in electrical engineering, and crunches numbers by day.

Valerie SmithValerie Smith, (Soprano, Costume Designer) 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, which included 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.  She sang in the chorus in a production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 2016, and Carmen in 2017, both with Opus Concert Theatre in Columbia. Valerie continues to hone her singing skills as a regular student of Diana Cantrelle, and sings soprano in the ensemble of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors this winter.  She is an active member of her church choir at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Crownsville, MD.

Emily ZimmerEmily Zimmer, (Soprano, stage manager) is thrilled and honored to be performing once again for the Opus Concert Theater. April of 2016 she played the part of the Second Witch for the opera Dido & Aeneas. In 2017, she was in the ensemble for Carmen, as well as in December she played a shepherd in Amahl and the Night Visitors. In 2018, she performed in the ensemble for AÏDA. 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. Emily is currently studying voice with Diana Cantrelle. 

Mattie Newgent

Mattie Newgent, (Alto, Dancer) is a young singer and actress. Her performances include Amahl and the Night Visitors, Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, High School Musical, AÏDA and she will be in the Columbia Center for Theatrical Art’s summertime production of Newsies. Mattie participates in her middle school’s Chamber Choir and is a member of Toby Orenstein’s Young Columbians.

Krista Newgent, (Alto) another beautiful singer from the Newgent family, Krista and Mattie enjoy singing together when they are not performing on stage.

Chrissy UpdikeChrissy Updike, (Alto) is a very musically inclined individual. She has a long history in the realms of performance and music. She played in Carroll County’s All-County as a Bassist, and was in a production in her 7th grade year called CSI Neverland with stage crew. Chrissy is an aspiring vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with her EP album, “A Summer Well Spent” Debuting in Spring 2018. Chrissy brings a wealth of musical aptitude to the show. She performed in Opus Concert Theatre’s production of AÏDA earlier this year. 

Jeff HoustonJeff Houston, (Tenor) made his debut in the ensemble of Opus Concert Theater’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors in 2017 and performed in AÏDA in June 2018. Jeff has had a love for music and singing that goes back to his earliest memory. In his spare time, he enjoys participating in endurance sports and hopes to run two marathons in 2018. He is also an accomplished nature photographer having won numerous awards. However, his favorite activity is volunteering as a foster parent with the Maryland SPCA, raising orphaned kittens—sometimes from the day of birth then up until they are ready to be adopted. He also volunteers with the LIVESTRONG Foundation as a LIVESTRONG Leader, raising awareness of cancer programs available to all those affected by cancer.

Inge HyderInge 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 is enjoying singing with Opus Concert Theatre.

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

David SmithDavid Smith, (Basso Profundo, 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 WenderothJered Wenderoth, (First Bass, Second Tenor) 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 performs in the bass section of the ensemble of the Opus Concert Theatre in productions such as Carmen: Vive la Liberté and Amahl and the Night Visitors 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.

Amanda HedgecockAmanda Hedgecock (violinist) was raised in Old Bethpage, NY, and is an active violin soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral performer. She is an alumna of Duke University where she graduated with Distinction in Music Performance and a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy. New to the Baltimore area, Amanda’s recent international performances include appearances at Peking University and Renmin University of China in Beijing, China and the Conservatorio di Benedetto Marcello in Venice, Italy. In addition, she conducted musicology research at the Schachter Institute for Arts and Humanities in the Czech Republic where she studied the music written in concentration camps throughout World War II.

Niall CaseyNiall Casey (oboist) is a burgeoning young oboist in the greater Baltimore area. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in oboe performance at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, he returned to the Peabody Institute for a masters degree, which he plans on completing in the coming year.

Niall regularly plays in the Baltimore and DC area on the baroque oboe as well as the modern oboe alongside esteemed groups such as the Musicians of St. David’s church, the Thrive recital series, and Symphony No. 1. As a lover of opera, Niall is thrilled to perform Amahl and the Night Visitors for his first time. Hopefully, the first of many to come.

Elisabeth DavisElisabeth Davis (Cellist) Born at Womack Army Hospital, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Elizabeth Skola Davis grew up moving frequently. Under the tutelage of her mother, she studied voice before moving on to the piano, organ and cello, then earned a B.M. in cello performance from the University of Evansville (Indiana). While pursuing a master’s degree at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA), she shifted majors from performance to music theory, then ultimately to music composition. As a student of Dr. Dinos Constantinides, Miss Davis earned several awards including third prize in the 1989 ASCAP Victor Herbert Young Composers competition and one of seven honorable mentions in the 1991 contest. Davis currently resides in Columbia, MD, where she is principal cellist of the Columbia Orchesta and teaches strings privately, through a local music school, and at a Catholic high school in Laurel, MD.

Alan McLaineAlan McLaine (Bassist) has been playing his bass since high school. He has been a member of The Columbia Orchestra for 25 years, and has been principal bass for 15 years. Recent performances have been with the Howard County Ballet Orchestra, The Howard Community College Music Institute, The Heritage Players Titanic pit orchestra, The Baltimore Symphony Academy for community musicians, and various chamber music ensembles. Al is excited to part of the Opus Concert Theatre’s performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors.