Our Faculty
Our Faculty

Louisa Panou, Founder
Founder of Operafestival di Roma, Dr. Louisa Panou passed away in her home in Charlottesville, Virginia, on January 16, 2006. The cause was pancreatic cancer. Read more.

Francesco Carotenuto, Conductor
Having begun his professional career as a violinist with the “Virtuosi di Roma.” Maestro Carotenuto has since been internationally recognized for his conducting and compositional achievements. A protegèe of Franco Ferrara and Goffredo Petrassi, he holds degrees and honors from the Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia, the Conservatory of Music in Rome and the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena. He founded the International Chamber Ensemble in 1980 and has created and conducted literally hundreds of concerts in the ensemble's 25 years of activity in Italy and around the world. He is frequently invited to appear as guest conductor with major symphonic and chamber orchestras throughout the world. He is a member of the faculty at the Conservatory of Music, Santa Cecilia in Rome where he is a Professor of Composition. He is also the master teacher of the "Young Conductors' Workshop," sponsored each year by the International Chamber Ensemble.

William Welty, Managing Director
Dr. Welty is a former Associate Dean of the Graduate Business Program at Pace University in New York City where he was for many years the Director of Executive Programs. He is now Professor Emeritus of Management at Pace University. A nationally known expert in case method teaching and environmental aspects of management, Dr. Welty is responsible for the administrative aspects of Operafestival di Roma and offers direction to participants interested in arts management.

Melanie Day, Artistic Director/Principal Coach
As a coach-accompanist, Ms. Day’s performances span from Boston’s Athenaeum to New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall to the French Embassy and The National Cathedral in Washington, DC to such international locations as Austria, Italy, Costa Rica and South America, where she completed a five-week concert/masterclass tour as a 1994 United States Artistic Ambassador. She holds Masters degrees in Piano and in Vocal Coaching/Accompanying from Boston University, and a Diploma from the Franz-Schubert Institut in Austria. She has served  on the faculty of Boston University's Opera Department, as coach and chorusmaster for Boston Concert Opera and coach for the Tanglewood Music Festival.  For two seasons Ms. Day was invited to teach lecture courses in affiliation with the Santa Fe Opera.  Ms. Day serves as Director of Opera Theatre VCU in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she also teaches History of the Art Song and serves as Vocal Coach. A frequent masterclass presenter, Ms. Day’s former students are now singing in opera houses throughout the world.

Peter Atherton, Artistic Director, Stage Director, Voice
Bass-baritone Peter Atherton has had the joy of performing over forty roles ranging from Seneca in The Coronation of Poppea to Frederick in A Little Night Music. His operatic credits include performances with the Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Baltimore Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Wolf Trap Opera, Virginia Opera, San Francisco Opera Touring Division, Opera Atelier, Cairo Opera, as well as Operafestival di Roma. He has also performed six different roles in the Phantom of the Opera in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. He holds the Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Juilliard School of Music, Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Southern California, and Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles. Currently he is Director of Operatic Studies and Professor of Voice at Chapman University.

Roland Karnatz, Associate Managing Director, Technical Director
A faculty member at Longwood University in Virginia, Dr. Karnatz has recently completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Louisiana State University majoring in Clarinet Performance and minoring in Electro-acoustic Composition. His projects have involved collaboration with other arts, sound design for theatre, and recording. He has taught at both LSU and Virginia Commonwealth University as well as in his native Australia, and he has performed in Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, and the US. Roland is also a skilled driver with an encyclopedic knowledge of the many byways of metropolitan Rome.

Marilee Mortarotti, Administrative Manager (Italy), Violin
Born and raised in a family of musicians in the San Francisco bay area, Marilee Mortarotti studied violin with her father until the age of 18 when, having moved to Rome for a year with her family, she was able to continue her musical studies at the Conservatorio of Music S. Cecilia. Ms. Mortarotti holds a BA in Music Performance and an MBA in Arts Administration from UCLA. She held administrative positions with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Opera, and the San Jose Symphony before moving to Italy and joining the International Chamber Ensemble as Administrative Director and violinist.

Ivy Dale Austin, Costumer
Ms. Austin holds a BA in Theatre, with a concentration in Costuming from Bowling Green State University.  She has 33 years professional experience in design and production of costumes for Theatre, Dance, and Film.  These  include Theatre Virginia and Theatre IV, Richmond Ballet, VCU Opera and costumes for Royal Caribbean Productions. She is a partner in The Costume Shop, an independent production studio in Richmond, VA.

Judith Auer, Voice, Opera Scenes Director
Dr. Auer holds Masters degrees in French and Voice from Indiana University and a Doctorate in Vocal Performance from the University of Colorado. She has performed with the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program, the Zurich International Opera Studio, the Stadttheater St. Gallen in Switzerland, and with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Dr. Auer served as Assistant Professor of voice and Director of Opera Theater for the University of Tulsa. In addition, for several years, she served as Director of the School of Music. She has staged scenes and opera productions for Tulsa Opera Apprentice program, the University of Kentucky, the Colorado Opera Troupe, Lyric Artists of the West and the Chongqing Opera Company in China. This Fall Dr. Auer will return to China and give vocal Masterclasses in Shanghai and for the Chongqing Opera. She currently resides in Boulder, Colorado where she maintains a private voice studio.

Robert Barefield, Voice
Baritone Robert Barefield is a frequent performer in opera, oratorio, and recital. He has performed with organizations throughout the United States and abroad, including the New Orleans Opera, the Arizona Opera, the Central City Opera, the Ohio Light Opera, Operafestival di Roma, and the Mississippi Symphony.  His roles have included Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Germont in La Traviata, Sid in Albert Herring, and John Proctor in Robert Ward's The Crucible.  As an oratorio soloist, Barefield has performed works by Orff, Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams and Handel.  An accomplished recitalist, Robert Barefield has presented programs throughout the United States and in Europe. His wide-ranging repertoire encompasses major works such as Schubert's Winterreise, and he has given multiple premiere performances of art songs by living composers.  He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he was a Corbett Opera Scholar.  He is a member of the voice faculty at Arizona State University.

Giuliano Bisceglia, Violin
Born in Ascoli Piceno, Mr. Bisceglia holds conservatory degrees in both violin and viola and has studied with many recognized teachers such as Ferraris, Hurwitz and Levine. He was the winner of several national and international violin competitions including the “Francesco Tosti” in 1985, the “Citta` di Stresa” in 1986 and the “S. Carlo” in Naples in 1987. In addition to his position, held since 1998, as Associate Concertmaster of the International Chamber Ensemble, he has appeared as concertmaster/soloist with many of the most prestigious orchestras and concert organizations throughout Italy. He is also the violinist in “Cuartetango”, an extremely popular quartet dedicated to Italian-Argentinean music and with whom he has performed extensively in throughout the world and recorded numerous CDs. Mr. Bisceglia teaches violin at the Conservatory of Music in Salerno, Italy.

Mark Calkins, Voice
Professor Calkins has appeared in leading roles with opera companies throughout North America and Europe.  He has performed Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Lindoro in L’Italiana in Algeri, The Prince in La Cenerentola, The Count in Le Comte Ory and Oreste in Ermione with Opera De Nantes, France; Dublin Grand Opera, Ireland; Cologne Opera, Germany; The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Birmingham Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Castleward Opera, Northern Ireland; Kentucky Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Toledo Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Omaha, Mobile Opera, Central City Opera and Dayton Opera.  A former member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s young artist development program, Mark was featured as Cassio in Otello on an A&E nationwide production of Spotlight Colorado and starred in a National PBS Television broadcast and World Premiere of Robert Greenleafs’ Under the Arbor, available on DVD.  Concert engagements include appearances in Europe’s Music festivals in Salzburg, Bregenz, Villach, Austria; Merano, Italy and Bremen, Germany.  He has appeared throughout the U.S. in Broadway touring productions of Phantom of the Opera.  Professor Calkins joined the faculty of Centre College, Danville, KY in 2009.  His recent collegiate students include many statewide NATS competition winners and perform leading roles in the college operas/shows, soloists and section leaders in the college choirs.  His students have been awarded Graduate Assistantships in prominent programs such as I.U. Bloomington and Denver University.  Mark maintains a private studio of young professional singers and teaches master classes in performance at the pre-professional level across the country and in Italy.   In January of 2009 Mark and his wife, Cynthia Lawrence, appeared in recital at the 4th International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

Mark was born and raised in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, earned a B.M. in K-12 Music Education from Concordia College, Moorhead, an M.M. in Voice Performance & Pedagogy from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  He is a recipient of the Ted & Roberta Mann and Berneking Fellowships from the University of Minnesota where he is near completion of his DMA.

Elizabeth Dodd, Voice, Opera Scenes Director
Elizabeth Dodd holds a MM in vocal performance from the University of Tulsa where she taught for 15 years. Currently she is assistant professor at the University of Evansville where she teaches Opera Workshop, Diction, Vocal Pedagogy, and Voice. She has studied German lied with Ely Ameling and Mozart opera with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. She sings regularly in opera, operetta, and oratorio. Her students participate in major graduate schools, professional opera companies, and on Broadway. She has been a member of the Operafestival di Roma since 1998.

Antonio Fazzini—Stage Direction, Stage Movement, Italian Language
Born in Florence, Italy, Sgr. Fazzini obtained an Italian degree in Art history and was thereafter awarded a two year fellowship at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa where he studied singing with Aldo Reggioli, chamber Music with Marina Boesch, and Opera Buffa with Herbert Handt. He has sung with I Madrigalisti Fiorentini and The Jubilee Shouters. As an actor he was trained by Bob Marchese and Fiorenza Brogi, co-founders of the famous Gruppo della Rocca, one of the first Italian experiments in popular theatre. He was a student of Giorgio Albertazzi, one of the most eminent Italian actors. He has done many readings in museums and institutions in Italy, such as Galleria dell’Accademia , Casa Buonarroti, and Villa I Tatti: The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. He has worked in television (RAI, the Italian State Television Network). He directed La Serva Padrona by Giovan Battista Pergolesi in the 2005 season of Operafestival di Roma.

Laura Friesen, Coach
A Canadian born pianist, Laura is currently in her fourth year with the Virginia Opera as Principal Coach and Spectrum Resident Artist Music Director.  Prior to her engagement with the Virginia Opera, Ms Friesen served four years as Pianist and Vocal Coach with the Pittsburgh Opera. In addition to her tenure in Pittsburgh, Ms Friesen was a member of the faculty at the University of Toronto, Opera Division, and has been under contract with the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto, Canada, and the Des Moines Metro Opera.  As a recipient of a much sought-after grant from the Canada Council of the Arts, Ms Friesen has also enjoyed the privilege of additional Operatic work in Italy and England.  In addition to operatic work, Ms Friesen has also done extensive vocal recital work in both Canada and the United States.

Patricia Gee, Voice
Ms. Gee has been a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, where she has performed such works as Menotti’s The Telephone, Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor, and Coronation Mass, Resphighi’s Laud to the Nativity,  Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater,  and Britten’s Noye’s Fludde.  She has also been a member of Disneyland’s “Dicken’s Carolers” and has been seen on NBC as a soloist in its “Tribute to John Wayne.” Patricia can also be heard as a featured soloist demonstrating 20th Century vocal techniques in the accompanying CD for the book The 21st Century Voice by Michael Edward Eggerton.  In addition to performing, Ms. Gee has been music director for opera and music theatre performances throughout California. She was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Redlands Friends of Music and currently is an artist professor at both the University of Redlands and Chapman University.  She has made an extensive study of Irish folk music specifically for women’s voices and is now a regular judge for many vocal competitions, including the LA Music Center Spotlight Awards.

Sarah Grady, Costume Design
Sarah is the Assistant Costume Shop Director for Theatre IV, the second largest Children’s touring company in the US, and the Barksdale Theatre in Richmond, VA.   Her many duties include, designing, shopping, sewing and getting the right actor into the right costume..  Sarah has created many looks for Theatre IV tours including, Hugs and Kisses, Harriet Tubman, Twas the Night Before Christmas and the upcoming premiere of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  During the summer she teaches makeup and costumes for Barksdale’s Stage Explorers.  Recent designs include A Christmas Story at Theatre IV’s Empire Theatre, Disney’s High School Musical at the Steward School, and Brooklyn Boy at the Barksdale Theatre.  Other design credits include; Beehive and Grease at the Steward School, Scapino and Patchwork at the Barksdale Theatre as well as designs for Dogwood Dell and the Richmond Shakespeare Company.   Sarah has a B.F.A. in Technical Theatre from Longwood University.  Before working at Theatre IV/Barksdale, she worked at TheatreVirginia for six seasons as their Wardrobe Supervisor.

Beverly Hay, Voice, Opera Scenes Director
Dr. Hay has performed as a soloist with major orchestras and conductors, has sung more than 20 leading operatic roles, and presented more than 40 entirely different recitals throughout the world. In 1991 she was invited to present a lecture on Mozart sopranos at the Bicenntennial Mozartkongress in Salzburg. She has taught voice at Southern Illinois University and Memphis State University and presently is the Daniel Professor of Voice at Converse College. Her new singing translation of Le nozze di Figaro is being performed this season by the Converse Opera Theater. She holds a BA and MM in Music from the University of South Carolina and a DM in Vocal Performance from Indiana University where she studied with Jean Deis, Martha Lipton, and John Wustman. Her students have performed in opera at the Metropolitan, La Scala, Paris, Hamburg, and Covent Garden, as well as the Santa Fe, Houston and Sarasota Apprentice programs.

Richard Harrell, Stage Director
Rick Harrell is Director of Opera Studies at the San Francisco Conservatory.  Previously, he was the administrative director of the Juilliard Opera, director of the San Francisco Opera Center, including the Merola Opera Program, and artistic advisor and head of faculty for the training program of the New National Theatre in Tokyo. He is an active regional stage director and has been a stage director, voice teacher, and guest master class instructor at universities and training programs including Yale, Indiana University, Chautauqua Institution, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Loyola University, Mannes School of Music, and the University of Florida. As well as being a frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, his essays on artist training and the business of opera appear in many Opera America publications. As a vocalist Mr. Harrell has recorded with performed with Deutsche Grammaphon and he performed with various national and international opera companies and symphony orchestras.

Joseph Hopkins, Voice
Mr. Hopkins has concertized throughout the United States, Africa, Europe, and Canada. His professional stage experience includes leading roles with the Dallas Lyric Opera, Operafestival di Roma, and Artist-in-residence at the Wildwood Opera Theatre and Performing Arts Center. Mr. Hopkins has performed as soloist at the Sacred Music Festival of Spain, the Festival of Majorca, and the International Choral Festival of Nis, Yugoslavia. Recent performances include Mozart's Requiem with the St. Petersburg State Orchestra and the State Orchestra of Russia in Moscow, the world premiere of Sydney Hodkinson's most recent cantata, recitals in England, and a performance tour with composer Richard Faith. He recently joined the Converse College faculty as Dean of the Petrie School of Music.

Karen Knight, Assistant Director, Stage Movement, Voice
Ms. Knight has been a principal singer and actress for the Sight and Sound Millennium Theatres in Lancaster, PA for five years. She is currently the Vocal Music Specialist for the theater where she directs the music for the stage shows. Karen has also performed leading roles for the Spring Mountain Resort Theatre, the Soundstage Theater Company, Shenandoah Players, and the Mill Mountain Theater where she premiered the role of Lois in the original musical Soup. Soap, and Salvation. An accomplished director and choreographer, she founded Showstoppers, a Children's Musical Theater Workshop in Charlottesville, VA.

Maryann Kyle, Voice, Opera Scenes
Dr. Kyle has sung leading roles with the Chattanooga Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Mississippi Opera the Southern Arts Festival Opera, the University of Illinois, East Tennessee Opera, LSU Opera, and Gulf Coast Opera. She has also sung the role of Micaela opposite internationally known mezzo-soprano, Denyce Graves and tenor, Carl Tanner, and as a guest soloist of the Miami Festival opposite famed bass-baritone William Warfield. Her major opera roles have included Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Violetta in La Traviata, Pamina in Die Zauberflote, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, Mrs. Ford in Falstaff, the Countess and Susannah in Le nozze di Figaro, Micaela in Carmen, Musetta and Mimi in La Boheme, the title role in Floyd’s Susannah.  Dr. Kyle’s involvement in collaborative efforts includes her continuing relationship with the Mississippi Arts Commission as a touring artist. Kyle and pianist Theresa Sanchez make up the duo Bellescanto and perform throughout the year presenting recitals and educational outreach performances. She is also actively involved in the professional vocal group known as the Mississippi Vocal Arts Quartet.  Dr. Kyle is currently Director of Southern Opera and Music Theatre Company’s Outreach and Workshop program and AssociatePprofessor of voice at The University of Southern Mississippi. In addition, she is the director of the apprentice artist program with Mississippi Opera. Dr. Kyle is a much sought after coach and teacher whose students are actively involved in performance of both opera and musical theatre, and have garnered numerous awards including state and regional Metropolitan Opera National Council audition winners, Birmingham and Lynam opera competition finalists, NATS regional and state award winners, NATS Governor’s Award winners, apprenticeships with Seattle Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, Aspen Festival, and Operafestival di Roma. Her students continue to pursue their studies in major conservatories and schools including, Indiana University, San Francisco Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, and Oklahoma City University.

Noemi Lugo, Voice
Noemi Lugo, soprano, is a native of Caracas, Venezuela. She received a Vocal Performance Diploma from the José Angel Lamas National Conservatory of Music. While in Venezuela, she performed with major orchestras and choral organizations, soloing extensively throughout the country and Europe with Schola Cantorum de Caracas under the direction of Alberto Grau. She performed with the Opera Metropolitana de Caracas and Opera Teresa Carreflo, Madison Civic Opera, University of Wisconsin Opera, and University of Colorado Opera. Dr. Lugo’s operatic roles include Oscar in Ballo in Maschera, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, Norma in Don Pasquale, Adina in L’Elisir d’amore, Susanna in La Nozze di Figaro, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, and Amelia in Amelia al Ballo.  She remains active, presenting many recitals and lecture recitals of Art Songs from Spain and Latin America. In January 2003, Dr. Lugo traveled to South East Asia to offer concerts in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Hong Kong.  The summer of 2003 took her to Bolivia where she participated as a performer and scholar in the first “Songs Across The Americas Festival.” Dr. Lugo has taught for the Kentucky Institute for International Studies and Middlebury College, She served as chair of the Vocal Area at the University of Kentucky’s School of Music from 1997 to 1999 and as Director of Latin American Studies Program from 2002 to 2004. She teaches a course for the Freshman Discovery Seminar on “Musical Understanding through Music.”

Christopher Mooney, Voice
Mr. Mooney has appeared nationally with New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Opera Theatre, Opera Northeast, Connecticut Grand Opera, State Repertory Opera of New Jersey and the Caramoor Festival. While a student at Julliard, Mr. Mooney was chosen to appear with Vivica Geneaux in La Cenerentolaat the Caramoor Festival.  He made his Carnegie Hall debut in Opera Orchestra of New York’s production of Lucrezia Borgia.  Recent New York engagements included a return to Carnegie Hall in Adriana Lecouvreur, and Polydorus with Sir Charles Mackerras in L’Enfant du Christ.  Mr. Mooney received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Master’s Degree from The Julliard School. He regularly sings with the Virginia Opera, the Virginia Symphony and the Norfolk Chamber Consort, as well as a popular yearly Broadway “pops” event at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg to benefit the Youth Orchestra. Recent local events have included Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance and Tosca with the Virginia Opera and The Messiah with the Virginia Symphony, as well as Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and Dvorak’s Te Deum with the Virginia Symphony and Chorus.  Professor Mooney sang the role of Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Operafestival di Roma 2009.

Brian Neilson, Italian Language
Brian Neilson took his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California and did his graduate study in Italian and taught at the University of California.  For the past 21 years he has taught Italian and English and served as an Italian coach at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has lived, worked, and studied in Italy, and has acted in numerous plays, most recently in the role of the narrator in the 2008 Operafestival di Roma production of the Die Zauberflote.

Anthony Offerle, Voice
Dr. Offerle is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado where he studied with Carl Gerbrandt and Thomas Poole and a Dieterle Scholarship recipient at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he was a student of Andrew White.   He is an active performer having sung with Cincinnati Opera, Columbia Symphony, Dayton Opera, Detroit Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. He has performed numerous roles throughout the world in the operatic, oratorio and musical theatre repertoire.  He has twice been a Metropolitan Opera regional finalist and was one of only ten Americans selected to compete in the Marian Anderson International Vocal Competition. Dr. Offerle teaches voice and is director of the opera program at the University of Florida-School of Music.

Todd Queen, Opera Scenes Director
Dr. Queen received his MM and DMA from Eastman School of Music and his BM from Brigham Young University. A tenor, he has sung with Lyric Opera of the West, Sacramento Opera, Opera Fort Collins, the Portland Opera Repertory Theatre, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He is currently Artistic Director of Opera Fort Collins and is an Associate Professor of Voice at Colorado State University.

Antonio Ramous, Cello
Graduated with honors from the Conservatory of Music “S. Cecilia” in Rome and student of renowned cellist Nicola Sarpe, Mr. Ramous has won numerous solo competitions including the “Stresa” and the “Citta` di Genova”. He has served as Principal Cellist for the Alessandria Theatre Orchestra, for the National Orchestra of Cyprus and for the Lazio Regional Orchestra and has performed extensively in chamber ensembles such as the “Sestetto Italiano”,“Vox '900”, the Rubio Quartet and the St. Ivo Piano Quartet. He currently teaches chamber music at the Conservatory of Music in Vibo Valentia and serves as Principal Cellist with the International Chamber Ensemble, a position he has held since 1991.

Sam Savage, Voice
Dr. Savage is a tenor whose performance experience includes opera, oratorio, musical theatre, and recitals. He has appeared with the New York City Opera National Tour, the Virginia Opera, the Sarasota Opera, the Maryland Opera Studio, the Western Plains Opera, the Pittsburgh Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. He has won the A. Eli and Esther Nisenfeld Award for Outstanding Tenor, the Virginia Music Teachers Concerto Competition, and was a finalist in the Richard Tauber International Competition for Tenors. Dr. Savage received his DMA degree from the University of Maryland and now teaches voice and vocal pedagogy at Indiana University—Fort Wayne. He has studied with the late Maestro Franco Corelli, as well as with Linda Mabbs and Kenneth Bowles.

James Smith-Parham, Accompanist/Coach, Voice, Opera Scenes Director
James has had a varied career singing opera, oratorio, musical theater, as well as conducting, teaching and coaching voice. He has sung with Virginia Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Memphis Opera and was assistant conductor of Opera Memphis and of  Southern Opera Theater and has done music direction for Hartford Opera Association's touring company.  Mr. Smith-Parham has sung under conductors Max Rudolph, Anton Guadagno, Michael Tilson Thomas, Richard Woitok, Peter Mark and Lucinda Carver and was a student of  the opera buffa legend, Italo Tajo, at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.. He has musically directed more than 20 musical theater/operetta productions in the Richmond area including Nunsense,  Pirates of Penzance, Mikado, and The Magic Flute. He has also directed the Opera Workshop for the University of Richmond.  Mr. Smith-Parham teaches on the voice faculties of Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond .

Lou Szari, Lighting Designer.  He is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Virginia. He is the Head of the Lighting Design Program and he  supervises Theatre Education program. He holds two Masters degrees, Scene/Lighting Design from the University of Texas and Acting/Directing from Kent State University. In 1964 he represented the United States at the ‘Prague Czechoslovakia Quadrennial design exhibition. He has worked with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Company as a roadie, ran his own Design company in Boston designing Operas, musicals and straight plays. Professor Szari is one of the very few individuals to have ever achieved simultaneous professional membership in the Acting, Stagehand, and Design Theatrical unions.

Mark Trawka – Chorus Master/coach
Mark Trawka is in his sixth season with Pittsburgh Opera and third season as chorus master. He continues his duties as director of musical studies for the Pittsburgh Opera Center, the prestigious resident artist training program. He coaches and performs with the resident artists of the Opera Center and has also accompanied renowned mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti in her Pittsburgh recital appearances. Mark has been a member of the music staff at Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, and Portland Opera (Oregon), where he was principal pianist and assistant chorus master. He has served as coach/accompanist at Chautauqua Opera and at Glimmerglass Opera for many summer seasons. In the summer of 2006 he was director of the resident artist program at Berkshire Opera. Educated at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Southern California, he began his operatic career in the Houston Opera Studio and in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.

Thomas Williams, Voice, Scenic Designer
Thomas A. Williams, bass-baritone, has performed with Operafestival di Roma in 1999, 2006 and 2007. Thom retired after the 2006-2007 academic year from Longwood University in Virginia where he was chair of vocal studies.  He has been the music director of Richmond Choral Society from 2002 to the present. He has performed widely in regional opera and musical theatre.  One of the highlights of his singing career was soloing with Robert Shaw in Schubert’s Mass in G, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Boito’s “Prologue in the Heavens” from Meiestofele, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 “Symphony of a Thousand” with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. 

Leslie Winn, Costumer
Ms. Winn is a partner in The Costume Shop, an independent production studioin Richmond, Virginia.  She has over 30 years experience in the design and production of costumes for Theatre, Dance, and Film, including work for Royal Caribbean Productions, Richmond Ballet, and Theatre Virginia and Theatre IV.  She has served as costumer for Operafestival di Roma productions of Don Giovanni and Suor Angelica (2007).  Ms. Winn is a proud graduate of Virginia Tech.

Brenda Witmer, Voice
Ms. Witmer has performed an extensive range of music styles throughout the United States and Europe. She has recently performed as Lily in The Secret Garden, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, and as a soloist as part of the Cesky Krumlov Music Festival in the Czech Republic. A member of the College Music society and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, she was a recipient of the 1993 NATS Internship Award and is a frequent adjudicator of voice competitions. She presently teaches vocal performance at James Madison University.

Kenneth Wood, Voice
Tenor, Kenneth Wood has appeared in leading or supporting roles with such companies as Western Opera Theater (San Francisco), Texas Opera Theater (Houston), Lyric Opera of Dallas, Fort Worth Opera, and Austin Lyric Opera.  Concert engagements include solo performances with Austin Choral Artists, Austin Chamber Music Festival, Fort Worth Ballet, Austin Symphony, Sacramento Symphony, and the Festival at Round Top.

In competition, he was named a “Certified Classical Singer” for 2006-07 by Classical Singer magazine, was a 2003 finalist in the International Opera Singers Competition in New York, and was a past finalist in the International Opera Competition of Wisconsin.  He was twice a district finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. He was the vocal division winner of the Hemphill-Wells Sorantin Competition, and was an invited participant in the Marian Anderson International Vocal Arts Competition in 1999.

As a teacher, Dr. Wood is currently on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University.  He taught previously at the University of Central Missouri, maintained a private studio in Texas for over 10 years, and served as a teaching assistant during both of his graduate degrees.  He received the Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with the renowned soprano Gilda Cruz-Romo.  He also holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of North Texas, is a graduate of the Merola Opera Program of San Francisco, and is a certified music educator.

Linda Zoolalian, Coach/Accompanist
Dr. Linda Zoolalian enjoys an active career as a pianist, vocal coach, and teacher in both America and Europe. In 1996, she joined the music faculty of Pasadena City College where she teaches several classes in addition to accompanying the College’s Chamber Singers. Since 2003, she has been on the staff of Los Angeles Opera where she cues the supertitles for mainstage productions, as well as playing for the company. This fall she began her second year working at Pomona College of the Claremont Colleges where she is teaching musicianship, giving private lessons, and accompanying the choirs and student recitals. Since 2001 she has worked as music director, coach, pianist, and teacher of accompanying for the Operafestival di Roma in Italy. In the past, she has served on the faculties of the Opera Institute at California State University of Long Beach, American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria, Operaworks, Songfest and Idyllwild Arts. Awarded a  Bachelor of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in Piano Performance, Dr. Zoolalian pursued a Master’s and Doctorate in Keyboard Collaborative Arts from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she studied with Dr. Alan Smith and graduated with honors. She is proud to be one of the first graduates of the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, where she still enjoys visiting to play recitals and give masterclasses.