by George Frideric Handel

Friday, February 14, 2014, 7:30PM
Sunday, February 16, 2014, 2:00PM

Orpheum Theater


Delve into the sordid private lives of some of history’s most notorious figures. Agrippina is the ambitious and seductive wife of Emperor Claudius, who through shocking, and often darkly comic, machinations places her volatile teenage son, Nero, on the throne. Jeweled with Handel’s glorious melodies, Agrippina is the composer at his most theatrically visceral and musically stunning.

This striking new Opera Omaha production premieres an original edition of the opera by early music specialist and conductor Stephen Stubbs, and stage director James Darrah. This progressive creative team leads a charismatic cast of singers, nearly all of whom will make their Opera Omaha debuts!

By Conductor, Stephen Stubbs

Handel’s second and last opera for Italy, Agrippina, is in many ways the musical culmination of his Italian years (1705-1709). Already with his first surviving opera, Almira, written at the age of 17 for Hamburg, he had demonstrated his precocious genius and his life-long manner of sifting through the best musical ideas of his time and place and creating something greater than the capabilities of his contemporaries. Almira put the finishing stroke to his apprenticeship as an opera composer in Hamburg, and simultaneously left his mentors there, Keiser and Mattheson, with an example of their own genre which they could never match. Similarly his stay in Rome, musically dominated at that time by Alessandro Scarlatti, produced in him the ambition to outdo that master in his native genres of cantata and oratorio. Again, the astounding production of Handel in those years produced over a hundred exquisite cantatas and culminated in the great first oratorios Il trionfo del tempo and La Resurrezione. When given the opportunity to write for the Venetian stage, and given a first rate libretto by the librettist Vincenzo Grimani, he again rose to the occasion with a quintessentially Venetian opera including almost all of the most powerful music he had written during his Italian sojourn. Again he had composeed a Venetian opera of a standard that could not be challenged by his contemporaries. The difference however, between writing the “best Hamburg opera to date” and writing the “best Venetian opera of its time”, was that the latter was truly placed on the world stage. Anyone who could afford the journey wanted to be in Venice at Carneval time, and this became synonymous with opera season where the sons and daughters of Europe’s aristocracy were the avid and demanding aficionados.

Handel’s life-long habit of creative self-borrowing (as well as borrowing from other composers) has been a well-known and much-debated phenomenon of Handelian research. He always had an acute sense of the psychologically satisfying way to re-deploy his best materials, but in the case of Agrippina this is more than just a historical curiosity. It was the stage director, James Darrah, who first brought to my attention the intimate connection between Agrippina and the magnificent oratorio Il trionfo del tempo, which he had written two years earlier. In particular, James found the original “deus ex machina” happy ending for Agrippina to be a disappointment compared to the rest of the work and proposed to borrow the sublime final aria of Il trionfo to create a new ending for Agrippina. We had the chance to make this experiment in a production at UCLA and were both completely convinced by the results. After that production my curiosity was piqued to gain a more intimate acquaintance with Il trionfo, and I programmed it for concert performances in Seattle the following year.  It was through this experience that I began to see that the borrowings from Il Trionfo for Agrippina were much more than simply an assembly of “greatest hits” placed in their emotionally appropriate places in the new work – it was in fact based on a connection in Handel’s thinking between the characters of the two pieces. In a nutshell, Handel borrowed from the allegorical figure of Bellezza (Beauty) to supply arias for Poppea, from the figure of Piacere (Pleasure) to supply Nerone, and from Disinganno (Truth) for Ottone. At a superficial level, these connections are fairly obvious – Poppea is obviously the “Beauty” of Agrippina as the object of desire for most of the male characters in the plot, Nerone is equally obviously a self-involved pleasure seeker and Ottone’s character stands out as the only entirely admirable and “truthful” one in the play. Beyond this, the situation of Poppea, awakening lust in Claudio and Nerone and love in Ottone, parallels the situation of Beauty in the earlier work in which Pleasure argues that youth, beauty and pleasure can last indefinitely, while Truth reveals that Time will eventually bring an end to all that, thus leading Beauty from fleeting earthly delights toward the eternal “beauty” of the faithful soul. Likewise, Poppea, hotly pursued by Nerone and Claudio, finally perceives the “truth” of Ottone’s love for her – while Nerone remains on his self-involved, self-serving path as he prepares to become the next Emperor. In the current production we have underlined the connection between Ottone and “Truth” even further by replacing the “parody-aria” Vaghe fonti with its original form Crede l’huom from Il Trionfo.

And what of Agrippina and Claudio in this equation? These two characters seem more closely connected to Handel’s second great Roman oratorio La Resurrezione, with Claudio borrowing an aria from Lucifer there and Agrippina borrowing lock, stock and barrel (that is, text as well as music!) an aria which had been sung by Margherita Durastanti there and now revived as she portrayed Agrippina for Venice.

Knowing the artistic background which I have described here to Handel’s creation of Agrippina is not necessary to the enjoyment of that work in its own right, but for us, in creating this production of the work, it has enriched our understanding of some of the psychology and even philosophy which Handel brought to bear to expand the witty human comedy of Grimani, to an artwork of wider dimensions and deeper significance.

By Director, James Darrah

Immediately before I was about to submit a seemingly usual director’s note on Agrippina full of academically and historically considered points of view for this program, I deleted it all. I find myself instead suddenly struck by a desire to write about why Handel occupies space in my mind. I talk about his music all of the time. What is it that deserves to be heard?

I wish I could recall the first Handel opera that had hooked me on the composer’s unmistakable sound. It’s an unapologetic and ongoing sonic obsession that, while I’m unable to trace its genesis, has me consistently enthralled. It’s then quite arresting to feel a limitless level of possibility within the constant excavation of character and the playing of text through this sound. The seven characters of Agrippina each journey through a well-crafted arc of musical and personal development that results some exquisitely crafted examples of human connection. That’s quite a big statement from me, but I think it truly holds firm even for this work’s constantly scheming Roman Royals.

The trajectory of Nero in this opera is worthy of more words than I can devote to him here, but presents the most striking example. At first glance, Handel’s depiction of the young emperor-to-be in Agrippina emerges as a lazy, sullen, maternally dependent teenager. Given voice through his musical arc, the role instantly transcends expectation and appears as quite the crafted depiction of maturation and discovery of self. What begins for him musically as smoldering, layered hesitation then spends time drifting through indecisive and foreboding sonorities. Nero searches for his own identity while constantly wading through murky dance-like rhythms. The love of his mother, inability to clearly motivate or jumpstart his own ambition, the confusion of desire—it all smolders and churns musically until he erupts in part two as a tempestuous and now fiery, dangerous being. His is a new lust and an even more unruly ambition.  Add to this that the role even allows a great utilization of current performance practice and convention. The androgynous, gender bending of casting a mezzo-soprano bolsters the dramaturgy of the troubled young man. By all accounts, Nero was quite a unique individual. Experiencing him as a teenager, singing 18th century arias that rumble slowly toward a frightening end, played in a vein of gender-neutrality by a woman all somehow seems to fit perfectly.

With this in mind, Handel’s work as a dramatist has been incredibly exciting to parse for every character and certainly also in our design phase for this new production. The fantastic text and score has led our entire production team toward a timeless ever-shifting landscape of burgeoning imperial power, interiority, and desire.  The scenic design has evolved out of the aim to create a space that could feel at once intimate and labyrinthine for palatial settings, but transparent, crumbling and exterior for the more transformative garden scenes of part two. Whatever the decrees may be in plot’s end: the intrigue happens only on the grounds of the imperial palace, intentionally hidden away from the public eye.

In preparing the score’s performance edition, Stephen Stubbs and I have attempted to preserve the dramatic momentum of the text and piece but also trim some of the excess away to provide a sharper clarity for the reintroduction of early opera to Omaha. Cuts were made to the libretto not to achieve a shorter length, but only where we both agreed they would provide focus and specificity. Foremost was the desire to honor the work’s deftly penned libretto at every juncture.

Handel’s Agrippina certainly makes no claim toward historical accuracy, but rather uses what would have certainly been salacious fictionalized history in Handel’s time as a foundation. We’ve intentionally kept the ages of Claudius and Agrippina younger for this production. They are volatile, attractive personalities capable of engaging in quite a dangerous psychological game. The rest of the court is left to scramble in their wake as strong-willed people each vying for their own superiority. Handel gives his human beings extraordinary moments of thought, interior contemplation, and then action.

PerhAps it is fitting I can’t remember what opera of Handel’s I first heard. It’s beyond the point. His music is infectious and seems as though it’s consistently, perhaps always, been part of my blood. It inexhaustibly powers a desire to hear it live, see it played, and feel wrapped in its potential on stage. I believe this remarkable cast shares that same blood and pulse, and I hope there are moments tonight in which Handel’s brilliance invades your heart as well. Once there, it doesn’t leave. This sentiment was echoed when, several years into our friendship and collaboration I asked conductor Stephen Stubbs, “What is it about early music that made you love it and devote your life and career to it?” His answer was “I don’t know exactly.”—with a knowing smile that brimmed with possibility and excitement…

Act 1

The ImperIal Bedroom, Rome

Roman Emperor Claudius fights in Britain without having named a proper heir to the Empire; all eagerly await his announcement of a proper successor back in Rome. Agrippina, the wife of Claudius, wakes to news that the Imperial Navy has been caught in a violent storm and the Emperor has drowned at sea.

Agrippina wastes no time in ensuring that Nero, her son by a previous marriage, takes the throne. She readies him for the tasks ahead and sends him outside as to gain support by giving freely to the poor. Agrippina sends separately for court members Pallante and Narciso, seducing them with promises of money, sex, and power if they agree to voice and build support for Nero.

Pallante and Narciso confirm they will back Nero and Agrippina prepares to ordain her son as heir. As the group conspires and plans the coronation, they hear trumpets outside announcing the arrival of the Imperial Navy.

Pallante announces that Claudius is, in fact, alive. He has been saved by Ottone, the Commander of the Roman Fleet. When Ottone reaches the inner palace, he declares that Emperor Claudius has rewarded his bravery by nominating him as his successor to the throne. Nero, Pallante, and Narciso lament the news.

In a private conversation with Agrippina, Ottone reveals that he actually loves the beautiful courtesan Poppea more than the prospect of being Emperor. Agrippina comforts Ottone while fully aware that Claudius keeps Poppea in the palace as his personal courtesan.

Poppea sneaks into the Imperial bedroom but is discovered by Agrippina, who warns that Ottone has betrayed her. She tells Poppea that Ottone has abandoned her to Claudius in exchange for the throne.

Agrippina suggests Poppea obtain revenge and make Claudius jealous. She tells Poppea to convince Claudius that Ottone, emboldened by his new status, has ordered Poppea to refuse the Emperor’s advances. When
Claudius arrives, Poppea executes Agrippina’s plan and makes Claudius swear revenge on Ottone.

Having realized that Agrippina has deceived them, Pallante and Narciso decide to form an alliance. Ottone enters in the midst of their scheming, apprehensive about the imminent public celebrations of being named the heir. The Imperial family arrives and tensions run high with the impending arrival of the Emperor. Claudius re-enacts his victories abroad. Ottone approaches the Emperor who accuses him of conspiracy and treachery. To his dismay, Ottone is shunned by all.

Act 2

The ImperIal Gardens

Poppea doubts Ottone’s guilt. Seeing him approach, she pretends to be asleep; but Ottone sees her and protests his innocence. Realizing that she has been a pawn in Agrippina’s plans, Poppea swears to be avenged and hatches a plot involving the humiliation of both Claudius and Nero. Nero arrives in the garden and is immediately swept up in Poppea's plans.

Ever ambitious, Agrippina has been plotting further to make Nero the heir and appeals in a ritual to the Gods for assistance. She commands Pallante to murder Ottone and Narciso; and then asks that Narciso murder Ottone and Pallante. She tells Claudius that Ottone is seeking revenge on him for the loss of the succession and persuades him to suppress Ottone’s dissent by declaring Nero as heir.  Impatient to have Poppea, Claudius agrees.

Poppea continues her plan for revenge. She hides Ottone, telling him not to be jealous of anything he overhears. Nero returns, eager to seduce Poppea; but she pretends that Agrippina is expected at any moment and convinces him to hide. Claudius enters and Poppea complains that he does not truly love her. Claudius reminds her of all he has done for her, including Ottone’s punishment. At this Poppea claims he misunderstood her: it was Nero, not Ottone, who constantly harassed her. After she also hides Claudius, Poppea calls to Nero, who resumes his lustful pursuit of her. Claudius is enraged, interrupts and confronts Nero.  Poppea frees herself of Claudius, and she and Ottone, reconciled, swear their eternal love.

Nero recounts his disgrace to Agrippina and begs her to protect him from Claudius’s rage. Dismayed by all the treachery, Pallante and Narciso reveal Agrippina’s conspiracy to Claudius but are banished when Agrippina outsmarts them.

Agrippina realizes her schemes are now in jeopardy; she claims that she acted only in Rome’s best interests, and accuses Claudius of paying undue attention to Poppea. She also reveals that Ottone loves Poppea. Claudius lays the blame for his actions on Nero, whom he commands to marry Poppea, and names Ottone as his successor.
Immediately, Ottone renounces the throne in order to reclaim his love of Poppea.

Endorsing Ottone's desires to the delight of Agrippina, Claudius agrees to name Nero his heir, with dangerous consequences...


Stephen Stubbs, Conductor*

After a thirty year career in Europe, musical director and lutenist Stephen Stubbs returned to his native Seattle in 2006. Since then he has established his new production company, Pacific Musicworks, and developed a busy calendar as a guest conductor specializing in baroque opera and oratorio.

With his direction of Stefano Landi's La Morte d'Orfeo at the 1987 Bruges festival, he began his career as opera director and founded the ensemble Tragicomedia. Since 1997 Stephen has codirected the bi-annual Boston Early Music Festival opera and is the permanent artistic codirector.  BEMF’s recordings have garnered three Grammy nominations.

Besides his ongoing commitments to Pacific MusicWorks and the Boston Early Music Festival, other engagements have recently taken Stephen to Bilbao’s opera house in Spain to conduct Handels’ Guilio Cesare and Gluck’s Orfeo as well as Handel’s Guilio Cesare in Murcia, Spain.  In 2007 he returned to the Netherlands Opera, Amsterdam, where he directed Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. Following his successful debut conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2011, he was invited back in 2012 to conduct the Symphony’s performances of Messiah. He will also debut with the Edmonton Symphony in Messiah this season.

Stephen has an extensive discography as conductor and as a solo lutenist of well over 100 CDs.  To cultivate the singers and players of the next generation he founded an early opera course called the Accademia d’Amore in 1997 now in Seattle at the Cornish College of the Arts, and also heads a faculty for early music at Cornish.

Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Poppea

In the 2011-12 season, Jamie-Rose sang the role of Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Wolf Trap Opera Company, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte with Austin Lyric Opera, Maria Celeste in Galileo Galilei with Madison Opera, Cis in Albert Herring with Los Angeles Opera, and  Xanthe/Aphrodite in Lysistrata with Fort Worth Opera. She was a featured soloist in the 2011 Christmas Spectacular with Madison Symphony Orchestra, and Brahms’ Requiem with the Santa Fe Orchestra.  In the 2012-2013 season she reprises her Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for both Florentine Opera and Austin Lyric Opera. Engagements in the 2012-13 season included Papagena with Opera Omaha and her debut with Memphis Opera as Judy Atkins in Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking.  With the Santa Fe Opera Ms. Guarrine has appeared as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro,  Papagena in Die Zauberflöte and Cis in Albert Herring.  Additional recent highlights include Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with Kentucky Opera, Susanna in Utah Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro, Nella in Gianni Schicchi and the roles of Fire, Nightingale and Princess in L’Enfant et les Sortileges with Opera Company of Philadelphia, and concert appearances with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica. 

James Darrah, Director*

Los Angeles based director, production designer and visual artist James Darrah’s recent work includes directing the world premiere of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen for the tenth anniversary of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a San Francisco Symphony debut with direction and production design for Ibsen and Grieg's Peer Gynt conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, collaborations with Peter Sellars in staging John Adams’ new The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a short film to accompany Schoenberg’s Book of the Hanging Gardens for the Theater@Boston Court in Los Angeles, and two new productions for Chicago Opera Theater directing, designing and choreographing Handel's Teseo and Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Médée

He was a resident artist with the Croatian National Theater in direction and design and his theater work ranges from adaptations and new translations of Aeschylus' Oresteia to new productions of the plays of Caryl Churchill. Upcoming projects include a Lincoln Center debut with Handel’s Radamisto for The Juilliard School, a new production of his original performance edition of Handel's Agrippina for Opera Omaha with frequent collaborator and conductor Stephen Stubbs, a debut with Pacific MusicWorks in Seattle directing and choreographing Handel's Semele, Peter Grimes with San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas as well as a new production of Don Giovanni for the Merola Opera Program of San Francisco Opera.

He has taught performance and theater for the Adler Fellowship of San Francisco Opera and directed and designed six new productions for the University of California, Los Angeles including the west coast premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight. MFA: UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where he was the recipient of the George Burns/Gracie Allen Directing Award.

He has been awarded the James Pendleton Foundation Grant and the national Princess Grace Award in Theater.

Nathan Medley, Ottone*

Nathan Medley is rapidly becoming one of the leading countertenors of his generation. In the 2012-13 season he made his New York City Debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as debuts at the Barbican, London; La Salle Pleyel, Paris; The Lucerne Festival, Lucerne; and Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. In May 2012 he premiered John Adams new Oratorio, ‘The Gospel According to the other Mary’ with Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel. His performing career has taken him around the United States and Europe singing recital, oratorio and opera repertoire.


Upcoming performances include Chicago's Ravinia Festival, Handel's Semele with Pacific Musicworks, Agrippina with Opera Omaha, artist-in-residence with Miami Bach Society, numerous recital concerts, and the 2013-14 season with Echoing Air, as a core artist. His opera credits include the roles of Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Dema in Cavalli's L'Egisto, Le Peinture in Charpentier's Les Arts Florissants, the title role in Charpentier's Acteon, Narrator 3 in John Adam's Gospel According to the other Mary, and Ottone in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. As Ottone, Medley won praise from Cleveland critics for an interpretation "sung with baroque perfection." Mr. Medley has worked under the direction of Markus Stenz, Gustavo Dudamel, Stephen Stubbs, Umberto Finazzi, Peter Sellars, Sally Stunkel, Jonathon Field, Webb Wiggins, and Danielle Patelli.

Hadleigh Adams, Claudio*

A first year Adler Fellow and graduate of the 2012 Merola Opera Program, the New Zealand native was a PWC Dame Malvina Major Emerging artist with the New Zealand Opera from 2006 to 2008, before relocating to Australia in 2009 on a full scholarship to The Opera Studio - Melbourne, during which time he was awarded second prize at The Australian Singing Competition, and was a national finalist in the Opera Australia Young Artist auditions.  Hadleigh forged a strong career as an oratorio soloist through Australasia, including performances of The Messiah with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic. In 2010 he was awarded the Dame Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonygne scholarship.  In 2010 he relocated to London to take up a full scholarship to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama opera course.  Here he studied under Rudolf Piernay, and Janice Chapman, gaining a Masters of Music with first class honors.  During his time in London he made his debut with the Royal National Theatre in 2011 in the role of Christ in Jonathan Miller's award winning staged production of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. He has performed in recital at St. Martins in the Field, and the Wigmore Hall in the Voiceworks recital series. In 2012 he performed in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Barbican Theatre under the baton of Stephen Barlow

Douglas Williams, Pallante*

Bass-baritone Douglas Williams has collaborated with leading conductors including Helmut Rilling, Sir Neville Marriner, John Nelson, and Christoph Rousset in such prestigious venues as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Stuttgart’s Mozart-Saal, and the Frankfurt Alte Oper.

Last season, he made his European stage debut at Opéra de Nice singing the role of Orcone in Scarlatti’s Tigrane; reprised in New York a role he premiered as a Tanglewood Fellow in It Happens Like This, by Charles Wuorinen; and sang Compère in Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts with the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Apollo in Purcell's Apollo e Dafne for Pocket Opera.

Douglas’s “superb sense of drama” (The New York Times) is as apparent on the concert stage as it is in opera. Highlights include Handel’s Messiah with the Detroit Symphony; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Cathedral Choral Society; Bach’s St. Matthew Passion for the Chicago Bach Project; and Bach’s St. John Passion with Les Talens Lyriques.

Peabody Southwell, Agrippina*

American mezzo soprano, actor and cabaret artist Peabody Southwell has been described by Opera News as “…displaying a rock-solid lower range, clean and controlled tone and a wide expressive range”. She will bring her “…arresting María, passionate, sexy, vulnerable and tragic” (LA Times) to Chicago Opera Theater in the title role of Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires as her debut for the company this season. The LA native will also make her debut with Los Angeles Opera in 2013 under the baton of Plácido Domingo in the World Premiere of Lee Holdridge’s new opera Dulce Rosa at the Broad Stage, as part of the company’s new Off Grand series. Also in 2013, she will be conducted by James Conlon in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia as a guest artist of Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program at Zipper Hall.

Future projects include the title role in Handel’s Agrippina with Opera Omaha and Juno/ Ino in Handel’s Semele with Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks, both conducted by Stephen Stubbs, Stravinsky with New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas in Miami and the US Staged Premiere of Schoenberg’s Book of the Hanging Gardens with James Darrah and Mark Robson at Boston Court.

Other recent work includes performances of Peer Gynt with San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, Theater@Boston Court with the new multimedia work Voces en el Polvo, a Kurt Weill cabaret in Maine with pianist/singer Edwin Cahill, her role debut as The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors and solo appearances with both the Los Angeles “Pacific Standard Time” art and culture exhibition and The Geffen Contemporary/MOCA. She made her Central City Opera debut in 2011 as Anna in Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden concurrently with Zita in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, lauded by The Denver Post as the “standout performer from the lineup [with] the self-assurance and polished technique of a well-established veteran…”

She made her professional debut with Long Beach Opera as The Fox in Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen in 2009 immediately following her graduation from UCLA. Subsequent engagements with LBO have included more than ten principal roles in the past four seasons, notably Federico García Lorca in Golijov’s Ainadamar, María in Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires and the staged US Premiere of Gavin Bryars’ The Paper Nautilus. She made her role debut as Carmen with Peter Brook’s famed adaptation of Bizet in La tragédie de Carmen as a professional fellow at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and returned for Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato in a genre-bending staged production by James Darrah and Stephen Stubbs. Orchestral credits include Steven Loza’s America Tropical, Dalbavie’s Sextine Cyclus, Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été and the World Premiere of Mark Popeney’s Harvest Moon featuring the poetry of her great grandmother: award-winning poet and playwright Jospehine Preston Peabody. Committed to contemporary music, she has premiered and recorded many works by modern composers, recently for composer Patrick Leonard and The White Oak Dance Project. Trained at NYC’s Herbert Berghof Studios; her work as a voiceover actor can be heard on PBS.

She was a Western Region finalist in the 2012-13 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a prize winning Western Region finalist in the MONC of 2010-11 after winning the Los Angeles District both years. She won the 2009 Atwater Concerto Competition and was a finalist in the 2011 Lotte Lenya Competition. Additional upcoming projects include a recording of the songs of Eric Zeisl with Piano Spheres’ Mark Robson and creating the title role in Emilie Schindler, a new opera by Thomas Morse and Ken Cazan set to premiere in Germany in 2016.

Zachary Wilder, Narciso*

Zachary Wilder, tenor, has worked with many ensembles on the international stage including the Boston Early Music Festival, Cappella Mediterranea, Festival D'Aix en Provence, Handel & Haydn, Les Arts Florissants, Mercury Ensemble, and Pacific Musicworks. He is a former Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Tanglewood Fellow, Britten-Pears Fellow at Aldeburgh, Lorraine Hunt-Lieberon Fellow at Emmanuel Music, and an Adam's Masterclass Fellow at the Carmel Bach Festival. Favorite roles include Grimoaldo in Händel's Rodelinda, Peter Quint in Britten's Turn of the Screw, Renaud in Lully's Armide, and the Evangelist in Bach's Matthäus-Passion.

Jennifer Rivera, Nerone*

Jennifer Rivera has earned a spot as one of the most sought after lyric mezzo-sopranos of her generation by consistently delivering exceptional vocalism, superb musicianship, and a powerful stage presence.  Ms. Rivera returned to Innsbruck for the title role in Stellidaura Vendicante during summer of the 2012. The 2012-2013 season included a return to the Berlin Staatsoper and an appearance at the Salle Pleyel in Paris for Agrippina, Mrs. Williamson in The Difficulty of Crossing a Field with Nashville Opera, and a debut with Central City Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Future seasons see Ms. Rivera in a return to Central City Opera, debuting the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking, and as Penelope in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria with Boston Baroque. 2011 saw the release of two recordings: Nerone in Agrippina for Harmonia Mundi and Licida in L'Olimpiade for Sony Music.




GALA 2014


Friday, February 14, 2014, 7:30PM
Sunday, February 16, 2014, 2:00PM

Orpheum Theater
Map Location


Asst. Director: Matt Soson*
Principal Accompanist/Harpsichord: Michael Sponseller*
Continuo Cello: David Morris*
Scenic & Lighting Designer: Cameron Jaye Mock*
Scenic & Properties Designer: Emily Anne MacDonald*
Projection Designer: Adam Larsen*
Costume Designer: Sarah Schuessler*
Makeup & Hair Design: Elsen & Associates Inc.
Stage Manager: Angela Turner

* Opera Omaha Debut


The Agrippina set is available for rental!  Click here for more information.


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