Meet the Cast of Joseph’s Gift

Music at St. Matthew’s is thrilled to have such an outstanding cast of talented singers.

Joseph Zachary Angus
Aaron, husband of Naomi Ricky Feng Nan
Mary Hillary Esqueda
Naomi, cousin of Mary Margaret Izard
The Angel of the Lord Alexadra Olsavsky
Cornelius, a Roman Centurion   Karlos Piñero-Mercado
Marcus, a Roman Legionary Gabriel Di Gennaro
Seeress Angela Torres-Kutkuhn
First Acolyte Rachael Long
Second Acolyte Abigail Grosch
Quintus, a Roman Magistrate Ivo Suarez
Soprano Narrator Alexandra Kassouf
Alto Narrator Mallory Harding
Tenor Narrator Nicholas Metzger
Bass Narrator Ian McGuffin
Ensemble Soprano Angela Born, Joelle Kross , Sara Wheeler
Ensemble Alto Carl Alexander, Katarina Bakas , Kimberly Reuter
Ensemble Tenor Timothy Ferguson, Alexander Fruin, Michael Ryan
Ensemble Bass David Banasiak, Benjamin Finer , Noel Taylor

Hailed as “exceptional...[with] a beautiful and powerful voice,” by The Harlem Globe, Carl Alexander (Ensemble/Acolyte 2 cover/Alto Narrator cover) is a budding American countertenor known for his captivating performance incorporating informative literature. A graduate of Morehouse College, he was featured frequently as a soloist with the Morehouse College Glee Club and as a member of Morehouse Quartet. He currently is pursuing a Master’s degree in Voice and Opera Performance from Northwestern University, and is studying with W. Stephen Smith. His 2015-2016 season included the alto solos in Bachs Magnificat and Schubert’s Mass in C along with the tenor solo in Orff’s Carmina Burana with the West Suburban Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Peter Lipari. He has recently placed 1st in the Chicago National Association of Negro Musician’s (NANM) Voice Competition and 2nd in the North Regional NANM Voice Competition.
Praised for his "strong yet agile voice," baritone Zachary Angus (Joseph)  has in recent seasons found success in new works. He appeared last season as Friedrich Bhaer in Eugene Opera’s production of Mark Adamo’s Little Women . As a Featured Artist with the Fourth Coast Ensemble, Mr. Angus worked with composer Lita Grier to mount performances of her acclaimed song cycle Songs from Spoon River , a concert which also included selections from Ned Rorem’s masterwork Evidence of Things Not Seen. He has also recently appeared in more traditional repertoire, as Claudio (Béatrice et Bénédict, Eugene Opera), Captain Corcoran (HMS Pinafore, The Savoyaires of Evanston), and Pangloss/Cacambo/Martin (Candide, Opera Notre Dame). He is immensely pleased to be taking on the role of Joseph in this world premiere.
Katarina Bakas (Ensemble/Naomi cover) is a mezzo-soprano from Miami, Florida. She recently appeared in productions of The Reformed Drunkard, Princess Ida, and L’incoronazione di Poppea. At the Miami Music Festival she sang the role of La suora infermiera/ Suor Angelica and La tasse chinoise/ L’enfant et les sortilèges . This year she will be singing the role of Gentle Reader/Miss Manners on Music, Second Maid/ Amelia Goes to the Ball , and L’enfant/ L’enfant et les sortilèges at Roosevelt University. She received her Bachelor of Music at the University of Vermont and is currently working towards a Masters degree at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Bass-baritone David Banasiak (Ensemble) is delighted to play a part in the premiere performances of Joseph’s Gift. As a child growing up in Chicago, he has played every male role in church nativity plays except baby Jesus and a shepherd. He is glad to be able to cross one more off the list. He recently concluded an appearance in The Savoyaires’ 2016 production of Thespis. He also appeared as Antonio in The Gondoliers, and Bob Beckett in H.M.S. Pinafore . He thanks his family and friends for their support.
Commended for her fire and conviction on stage, soprano Angela Born (Ensemble/First Acolyte cover) made her Chicago debut as Monica in Third Eye Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of The Medium and was recently seen in the title role of Princess Ida with the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company. Passionate about performing new works, Ms. Born is thrilled to participate in the world premiere of Joseph’s Gift.  Ms. Born most recently appeared as Lucinda in the Midwestern premiere of Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters with Third Eye Theatre Ensemble. Ms. Born has also workshopped Libby Larsen’s new opera A Wrinkle in Time as Meg Murry with the composer in residence, as well as Lori Laitman’s new opera Ludlow. Other roles include Despina/Così fan tutte,  Musetta/La Bohéme,  Beth/Little Women, Suor Genovieffa/Suor Angelica, Mrs. Hayes/Susannah, and Barbarina and (cover) Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. Other passions include pairing performance works with social justice. Recently, Ms. Born performed a new art song by Mohammed Fairouz that examines the life of war-torn refugees. Ms. Born also partners with VisionTrust International, and recently traveled to Cruz Blanca, Guatemala to lead music at a school for underprivileged Mayan children. Ms. Born received her B.M. from Illinois Wesleyan University and her M.M. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Ms. Born currently studies with Theresa Brancaccio. More...

Known for her floating high notes and rich middle range, Hillary Esqueda (Mary) is a versatile, young lyric soprano. Originally from Oak Park, IL, where her love of music began, she moved to New York to pursue her passion at NYU. Hillary went on to perform throughout the NYC area, singing roles such as Marie (La Fille du Régiment) and Sophie (Werther) with New York Opera Forum, First Lady (Magic Flute) with Amore Opera, and Musetta (La Bohème) with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater.  She returned to the Chicago area in 2014 to work towards her Master’s Degree at Roosevelt University’s CCPA, which she completed earlier this year. While there, she performed the roles of Drusilla ( L’incoronazione di Poppea ) and Popelka (Comedy on the Bridge). In summer 2016 Hillary was honored to be one of just 31 singers selected for OperaWorks’ Advanced Artist Program in L.A. Since returning, Ms. Esqueda has performed with Clef Note Productions in a concert of Latin-inspired music, and is currently in preparation for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Roosevelt Alumni Chorus. She would like to thank the production team of Joseph’s Gift for allowing her the chance to work on such a beautiful piece of new music, as well as her talented colleagues for their dedication and enthusiasm. More...

Bass-baritone Ben Finer (Ensemble/Bass Narrator cover) has delighted audiences with various operatic and choral performances over the past five years. He made his debut with the Los Angeles Opera Summer Program under the baton of Maestro James Conlon with a double bill as Joseph in Friedl as well as Dog Fido in Brundibár, both of which were composed in WWII concentration camps. Mr. Finer performed in numerous roles and choruses during his studies at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music at Chapman University. Highlights of his partial roles include Don Pasquale, Alidoro, and Frère Laurent. He had the privilege of playing Dr. Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Chapman. During the Britten Centenary, Mr. Finer was a part of the War Requiem with performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as Segerstrom Hall, once again with Maestro Conlon. He is currently earning his Masters Degree in Voice at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University studying with Bruce Hall. Roles with CCPA include Buff in The Impresario and Le Fauteuil/Un Arbre in L’enfant et les Sortilèges this upcoming spring. Ben is so excited to be a part of Joseph’s Gift !

Tenor Timothy Ferguson (Ensemble) has been working on and around the stage for most of his life, beginning in 1967 at Chute Middle School in the chorus of The Dot and the Line . He has since worked for Chicago’s Improv Olympic, where he studied under Del Close, Charna Halpern, and Michael Gelman. On stage, he has appeared in productions of Knatt Scatt Private Eye, A Man for All Seasons , What the Butler Saw, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead , and Arsenic and Old Lace . He toured the country with the Boston Chamber Theatre, performing multiple roles in short-story adaptations for high school students in 25 states from Massachusetts to California. For 15 years he played the Lord Mayor of Bristol at Wisconsin’s Bristol Renaissance Faire. Tim’s most recent stage appearance was as Preposteros in The Savoyaires production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Thespis.

Tenor Alex Fruin (Ensemble/Tenor Narrator cover) is a native of Mattawan, Michigan where he attended Mattawan High School, graduating with excellence in Fine Arts and a Detroit News Scholar for the Performing Arts nominee. Additionally, Mr. Fruin has placed in numerous competitions across the Great Lakes region, including being featured in concert live on 102.1 WMUK in Kalamazoo Michigan. This fall, he made his professional debut with the Bach and Beethoven ensemble of Chicago singing Symon in The Gentle Shepherd. Mr. Fruin is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where he studies with world-renowned countertenor Mark Crayton.

Baritone Gabriel Di Gennaro (Marcus) was born and raised in the square mile borough of Woodbury Heights, New Jersey. Since transitioning into a Chicago urbanite in 2011, he has performed the roles of Mr. Gedge in Albert Herring, Schaunard in La Bohème, and Florian in Princess Ida , among others. Recent young artist programs include Chicago Summer Opera, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, where he covered the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni.

An avid supporter of new music, Gabriel has performed several regional, American, and world premieres on both the operatic and concert stages, including close collaborations with New York City-based composer Scott Wasserman. Additional unique performance experiences include Golaud, in a lecture recital of Pelléas et Mélisande presented by Richard Stilwell, and The Dance Master/Mars in Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade, the first of many times he would be featured as both a singer and a dancer in an opera.

In 2012, the Young Singers Foundation selected Gabriel as one of 17 national recipients of their Bev Sellers Memorial Scholarship, helping to further his education at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. In addition to Roosevelt, Gabriel is an alumnus of the University of Delaware, OperaWorks, and the College Light Opera Company. He looks forward to bringing Joseph’s Gift into this world, swaddled in warm colleagues and lying in good music.

Abigail (Abby) Grosch (Second Acolyte) is a young mezzo-soprano who loves to perform. In March she performed the Merry Widow with Pacific Opera Project, and in April performed one of her favorite roles as Nicklaus in Tales of Hoffman . Her passion for music started in elementary school and became a lifelong pursuit of opera six years ago. Abby sang the Monitor and covered the Princess in Suor Angelica for the International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy, where she was awarded full scholarship as a “Star” of their program, one of only seven given. Other awards include a level 4 achievement award from the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory. This summer she was honored to be chosen to sing for tenor Vittorio Grigolo in a masterclass series hosted by Angels Vocal Arts. Abby moved from Los Angeles to Chicago in August to attend Roosevelt University. She plans to pursue a classical singing career.

Mezzo-soprano Mallory Harding (Alto Narrator/Seeress cover) is a student of Winifred Faix Brown and was most recently heard singing as Hansel in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel with New Moon Opera Company.  Mallory also sang the role of the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with New Moon Opera in 2015.  Other roles include Line/Maskarade (Nielsen), Peep Bo (cover)/The Mikado, Valencienne/ The Merry Widow , Tisbe/La Cenerentola, and Madame Altina/La Divina.  Future engagements include the role of Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti with New Moon Opera in 2017.  Mallory received her BA in music education and K-12 teaching certification from North Central College, and her M. Mus. in voice at the University of Missouri-Columbia with a full assistanceship teaching voice.

A resident of Chicago, IL, Margaret Izard (Naomi) is an aspiring mezzo-soprano. In addition to this world premiere performance as Naomi, Ms. Izard’s 2016-2017 season includes the title role in Miss Manners on Music and the roles of Maman and Un Pâtre from L’enfant et les Sortilèges . Past roles include Hänsel/ Hänsel und Gretel and Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni. During her time as a resident artist at Dicapo Opera Theate, Ms. Izard performed the roles of Tisbe/La Cenerentola, and Zita/Gianni Schicchi. Ms. Izard has also performed the role of Zita alongside director and performer Alfonso Antoniozzi. Other work includes covering the role of Spring Beauty/Snegurochka. Ms. Izard’s premieres include the role of Magic Mirror/The Magic Mirror by Polina Nazaykinskaya and covering the role of Roma/ The Fiddler and the Old Woman of Rumelia by Ketty Nez, both with Juventas New Music Ensemble.

Other interesting premieres include the chamber piece for string quartet, mezzo-soprano and dance company, Dry Bones: Resurrection of the Living , composed by Cheryl Krugel-Lee and commissioned by the Sydney Schiff Dance Project. Although Ms. Izard loves the world of opera, she is also very interested in symphonic works and song. Ms. Izard has been the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Cantata 79 and Bach’s Cantata 126. Ms. Izard also has a strong interest in art song and co-founded the salon concert company, Artful Song. Ms. Izard received her BA Emory University and is currently completing her MM in Voice at the Chicago College of Performing Arts where she studies with Judith Haddon. More...

Lyric soprano Alexandra Kassouf (Soprano Narrator) has demonstrated her versatility as a performer, showing particular facility for early music and new works. Recent season highlights include the premiere of a song cycle by British composer Michael Csanyi-Wills with the Constella Festival and premiering the role of Clara Schumann in Fresco Opera Theater’s Clara. She performed as both a singer and a dancer in a collaborative new work for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Dance Theater.

She has sung with the Cincinnati Chamber Opera, taking on the roles of Bubikopf (Der Kaiser von Atlantis) and the Cat (Brundibar), and covering the role of Galatea (Acis and Galatea). Their 2014 production of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, in which Ms. Kassouf portrayed the silent personification of La Musica, was heralded as “highlight of the Cincinnati Early Music Festival.&dsquo; She has delighted audiences in the roles of Musetta (La Bohème), Helena ( A Midsummer Night’s Dream ), Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Drusilla (The Coronation of Poppea). Touring with Opera Columbus, she amused children and educators with her improvised rhymes in their Opera Improv and played an excitable Little Red in Little Red’s Most Unusual Day. Concert appearances include Handel’s Messiah (Part I), Fauré’s Requiem, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

Ms. Kassouf earned a Master of Music degree from College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), where she had the pleasure of choreographing The Cunning Little Vixen. Her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she also studied dance. She is currently pursuing certification in the Alexander Technique.

Coloratura soprano Joelle Kross (Ensemble/Angel cover) recently completed an MM in Voice Performance at Roosevelt University. Praised as “a vocal knockout” ( Hub Review ) and “petite, spritely, and utterly delightful in every scene” (Theater Mirror), Joelle has appeared in Chicago with Main Street Opera and the Floating Opera Company, and in her hometown of Boston with Boston Midsummer Opera, MetroWest Opera, Lyric Stage, Gloucester Stage, Wheelock Family Theatre, and Reagle Music Theatre. As a Young Artist with Emerald City Opera this past summer, she sang Belinda in Dido and Aeneas and covered Mavis the Tractor in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Other favorite roles include Le Feu/Le Rossignol in L’enfant et les Sortilèges , Amore in L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music. A frequent collaborator on new music, in the 2015-2016 season she created the role of the Fairy Maiden in Heidi Joosten’s Connla and the Fairy Maiden, and premiered Patrick Greene’s Year of Glad, a song cycle in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest.

Soprano Rachael Long (First Acolyte/Mary cover) has most recently performed the role of Countess Almaviva in Portland Summer Opera Workshop’s production of Le nozze di Figaro. She has also graced the stage at Chicago College of Performing Arts as both Corinna and Delia in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims as well as La dame in Poulenc’s La dame de Monte Carlo .  Ms. Long received the Bella Voce award from the Bel Canto Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. She received her MM from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University (CCPA) and her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. Long has performed in masterclasses with Marlena Malas, Patricia Craig and Armen Guzelimian, and was a founding member of Forte Chicago, Chicago’s premier opera improv troupe. She is a Pittsburgh native, but currently resides in Chicago.

Baritone Ian McGuffin (Bass Narrator/Marcus cover/Quintus cover) is an American classical voice performer and new music collaborator. Ian has worked with many composers and performers to bring works to a new light and create works that entertain and inspire. Ian’s operatic ventures include Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with the Miami Summer Music Festival, Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème in the Tuscia Opera Festival of Viterbo, Italy, King Melchior in Campbellsville University’s Opera Workshop presentation of Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the opera ensemble for Gounod’s Roméo and Juliette with the Kentucky Opera. You will not only find Ian on the operatic stage but also performing in the media of oratorio and recital work, including Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Campbellsville University, benefit recitals for the Agape National Academy of Music, Liberia, a recital of composition and arranging by esteemed composer Dr. William David Hedrick. Ian finished his Bachelor of Voice Performance at Campbellsville University where he studied under classical voice teacher Dr. William David Hedrick and is currently pursuing his Master of Voice Performance in Opera at Roosevelt University’s College of Performing Arts Conservatory with internally acclaimed artist Mark Crayton. Ian is currently working as a freelance artist in Chicago, enjoying the vast Chicago culinary culture and the vibrancy of the arts. Being a Kentucky-born native, he is also a passionate Bourbon purveyor and comfort food enthusiast.

Tenor Nicholas Metzger (Tenor Narrator/Aaron cover) is excited to appear in the premiere performances of Joseph’s Gift. He is currently a student pursuing a BM in voice performance at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, where he studies with Mark Crayton. He has appeared in several roles both in school and in the Chicagoland area. Most notable appearances include Hillary in Sunday Excursion, Bill in A Hand of Bridge, and Cymon in Thespis. Recently in October, he was featured as a soloist in J.S. Bach’s Magnificat with the CCPA Baroque Orchestra with guest artists Il Giardino d’Amore. His repertoire includes works such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Schubert’s Mass in Ab major, Schubert’s Mass in G major, and Jacob TV’s Mountaintop. Nicholas is a native of Elgin, IL. Besides singing, he also takes great interest in composition and possesses an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Welding Fabrication.

Tenor Ricky Feng Nan (Aaron) is a native of Guangzhou, China. This past summer, Nan sang the role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Miami Summer Music Festival. He made his professional opera debut as Car man in Tri-Cities Opera’s production of Speed Dating Tonight in 2015. Other previous roles include Elder Hayes (Susannah) and Silvio (Doctor Miracle) with Northwestern University, Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance) with the Peking University Opera Center, and Fenton/Dr. Caius (Falstaff) with Binghamton University. Nan also enjoys balancing his work with the field of theatre and film. Most recently, he performed the role of Hanks Jr. (Where am I) with Beijing Haidian Theatre. The microfilm Fall in New York, in which he starred, was selected for the finals of the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. Nan received his undergraduate training at SUNY Binghamton. He is currently a second-year master’s student in voice and opera studying with W. Stephen Smith at Northwestern University.

Alexandra Olsavsky (The Angel of the Lord) is a Seattle-born, Chicago-based soprano, praised for her “gleaming tone, mastery of pitch, and naturalness in phrasing” (Vocal Arts Chicago). As a collaborator and soloist, she has performed with many acclaimed ensembles, including the Bach and Beethoven Ensemble, Baroque Band, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Opera Playhouse, Chicago Sinfonietta, CUBE Ensemble, Haymarket Opera Company, Lakeside Singers, Lira Ensemble, Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, Oriana Singers, Savoyaires, and as a member of the backing ensemble for the Rolling Stones’ “50 and Counting” tour. Notable highlights from the upcoming 2016-2017 season include: an international debut and CD release of the music of John Dowland alongside Italy’s acclaimed early music fusion ensemble, La Chimera; an appearance in the Saluzzo Music Festival in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen; a Midwest tour with Chicago’s leading female a capella trio, Artemisia; a Boston tour with virtuoso pianist and composer Eric Genuis; and the U.S. premiere of Scotland’s first opera, The Gentle Shepherd, with the Bach and Beethoven Ensemble. More...

Puerto Rican tenor Karlos Piñero-Mercado (Cornelius) is a Chicago-based perfomer. He recently performed The Lover in Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball, and will perform La théière in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges. Recent performances include: Eisenstein in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Dr. Cajus in Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Brother in Weill’s The 7 Deadly Sins, and the tenor soloist in Händel&rsquo7;s Messiah (Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra). He debuted as Jean Valjean in Lés Miserables by Boublil & Schönberg with Music Theatre Bavaria in 2013. He was a 2015 finalist for the Central Region NATS qualifying him as a semi-finalist at the NATS National Convention. He received 2nd place at the Chicago NATS competition in 2016. He is pursuing his master’s degree in music at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, studying under renowned countertenor Mark Crayton.

Mezzo-soprano Kimberly Reuter (Ensemble) is thrilled to be a part of the world premiere of Joseph’s Gift! Kim is a graduate of Manchester College with a BA in voice. She has performed in regional theatres such as Barksdale Theatre, Thunder Bay Theatre, and Snow Camp Drama; national tours with Cornerstone Chorale and Brass and Theatre IV; and locally with Citadel Theatre, Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Co.,  and the Savoyaires. Kim would like to thank her family and friends for their enduring love and support.

Tenor Michael Ryan (Ensemble) has appeared previously as a shepherd in Fury Theatre’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors and is happy to take on a similar role in Joseph’s Gift. He has also appeared in the men’s ensemble of several local Gilbert & Sullivan productions with both the Savoyaires and Hyde Park’s Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, including The Grand Duke, The Yeomen of the Guard, Princess Ida, and Thespis. An accomplished dancer with tap dance skills, Michael has participated in competitive ballroom dance since 2014. For the better part of the last decade, he has sung in the DePaul Community Chorus when he wasn’t appearing on stage somewhere.

Bass-baritone Ivo Suarez (Quintus/Joseph cover) earned his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Iowa and his master’s from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Mr. Suarez has been fortunate enough to perform in a multitude of productions, appearing as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte , Colline in La Bohème, Don Alfonso in Cosí fan Tutte, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream , and most recently, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro. Mr. Suarez resides in Chicago, actively engaging in all facets of performing and constantly seeking to advance himself as an artist.

Baritone Noel Taylor (Ensemble) has made numerous appearances with the Savoyaires Gilbert and Sullivan opera company, appearing most recently as the Boatswain in their 2015 production of H.M.S. Pinafore. Noel’s other roles with the company include Giuseppe (The Gondoliers), King Paramount (Utopia Limited), and the Pirate King (The Pirates of Penzance). Beyond G&S, Noel continues to sing with the men’s vocal a cappella group “The Rookery‘ and with his own Russian folk choir, Golosá, which this year celebrates its 20th season. Noel thanks his friend Francis Lynch and the directors of this production for the privilege and pleasure of participating. He dedicates these performances to his wife Margot, to whom he proposed without hesitation.

As a native of Michigan, mezzo-soprano Angela Torres-Kutkuhn (Seeress) was a familiar face on Ann Arbor stages before moving to Chicago in 2011, having performed with University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Comic Opera Guild, and Arbor Opera Theater. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Iowa, a Masters in Music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts, and also studied the culinary arts at Schoolcraft College in Michigan. Since moving to Chicago, she has been privileged to sing in Jake Heggie’s Again, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Daron Hagen’s Amelia (Chicago premiere), Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Menotti’s The Consul, Verdi’s Falstaff, the American premiere of Mountaintop by Jacob TV, and as back-up for The Rolling Stones. She has appeared with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Main Street Opera, as a featured soloist with the choruses at CCPA, is a staff singer here at St. Matthews, and is a founding/core member of Forte Chicago, an all female opera sketch comedy troupe. Ms. Torres-Kutkuhn is incredibly thrilled to be a part of this adventure with Music at St. Matthews and honored to be singing this premiere! More...
Sara Wheeler
Sara Wheeler (Ensemble/Soprano Narrator cover) just finished performing in Thespis with the Savoyaires in Evanston (with orchestration by Francis Lynch) and is excited to be working in another production with the composition talents of Mr. Lynch! Sara recently sang The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute with Park Ridge’s Petite Opera Company, and reprised the role in concert with Chicago’s Clef Note Productions. Other recent roles include Judy in This Is the Rill Speaking and Mimi (excerpts) in La Bohème. Sara is the director of Glenview’s Dynamic Music Youth Show Choir and is also releasing a full album of all-original music with the Rubicons before the year’s end. A true crossover singer, Sara enjoys infiltrating her classical influences into her pop/rock originals, as well as her jazz performances with the Mitch Straeffer Quartet at Chicago’s Gallery Cabaret.