Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ten Questions with Nathaniel Hill

Ten Questions With...

Nathaniel Hill, baritone
Mr. DashwoodLittle Women


1.  Where were you born / raised? 
Defiance, Ohio.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
It's difficult to say.  Maybe an actor, or maybe a director.  Maybe a vagrant.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
The Carmen chorus with Toledo Opera when I was about fifteen.  I was instantly hooked.

4.  My favorite opera is...
It's constantly changing.  Right now maybe Dead Man Walking or Sweeney Todd.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
Pizza or pasta or something carb-dense.  But definitely a beer after the show.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
Either that I have seven older sisters or that I am an avid NBA fan.

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
I loved Tolkien when I was young.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
Recently I've been listening to Kishi Bashi, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Falstaff, and Sir Thomas Allen.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?
The worst costume was definitely from this summer when I wore a fat suit as Gregorio in Roméo et Juliette.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It's an incredible adaptation of a book that everyone has read, and it's certainly one of the most-performed new works of the last twenty years.

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  How is your first winter in Madison going?
A:  Cold... very cold....

Don't miss the chance to see Nathaniel in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ten Questions with Rick Henslin

Ten Questions With...

Rick Henslin
, baritone

Gideon March iLittle Women



1.  Where were you born / raised? 

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
I currently work for GE Healthcare.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
Rigoletto chorus with Madison Opera.

4.  My favorite opera is...
Carmen.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
A nice lightly-breaded perch or walleye.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
I didn't step on the stage for 18 years while my kids were young.  I returned to the stage in 1996.

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
Anything by Stephen King.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
John Hiatt, Paul Thorne, Bruno Mars, Frank Sinatra, Banda.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?
The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It is a wonderful introduction to contemporary opera if you have only heard traditional pieces.


Don't miss the chance to see Rick in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ten Questions with Kelsey Park

Ten Questions With...

Kelsey Park, mezzo-soprano
Quartet, Little Women



1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born in Pullman, Washington and raised in Hickman, Nebraska.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
Medical field, lawyer, or interior designer.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
Die Fledermaus!

4.  My favorite opera is...
Gounod's Faust (first professional opera I ever saw).

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
Pre:  Gatorade / water, bananas, and a good sandwich.
Post:  Any pub-style food!

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
I was in Future Farmers of America in high school and am a huge Huskers fan!

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
Any mystery novel.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
Diana Krall, Sara Groves, Andrew Peterson, Bach Cello Suites, various arias.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?  Or if no such costume, what was the best costume?
At Moody (undegrad), I was in Così fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro.  The costumes for both of those productions were handmade by a student's mother.  They were amazing.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It's a modern classic!


Don't miss the chance to see Kelsey in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ten Questions with Alexander Elliott

Ten Questions With...

Alexander Elliott, baritone
John Brooke iLittle Women




1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born in Lexington, Kentucky and grew up in Florence, South Carolina.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
I was going to be a nurse or a firefighter before I got into music school.  I think I'd also like something where I got to work with my hands.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
I was in the chorus of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah at Florida State University.

4.  My favorite opera is...
Usually whatever I am currently staging.  Onegin, Bohème, and A Midsummer Night's Dream are always near the top, though.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
Pre-show I like something light.  A sandwich is great.  Post-show, give me burgers, beer, or whatever I can get my hands on!  I also like to snack a lot during performances.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
I am actually pretty shy.  I get uncomfortable if I have to perform as myself.  I think the reason I love opera so much is because I get to wear a costume! 

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
The Harry Potter series.  The first book came out when I was 12 or so, and I got totally hooked.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, The Beatles, Nick Offerman's audiobooks, and tons of holiday music. [Ed. note: He answered this question in December.]

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?
I played a mouse for an outreach show.  I had to put on and take off this really heavy and sort of scary makeup (along with a healthy layer of skin) twice a day.  My costume was a brown thrift store suit.  It was pretty terrible.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It's an excellent example of how powerful a familiar but fine work of literature can be when set to music.  I think people seeing it for the first time will be floored by how endearing and stirring the interactions of these characters become.

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  Would you like to talk about the new Star Wars film?
A:  YES!  I loved it.  As of Christmas, I have seen it twice.  I felt like I was 10 years old again.  So fun. 

Don't miss the chance to see Alexander in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Nine Questions with Kyle Knox

Nine Questions With...


Kyle Knox
Conductor, Little Women




1.  Where were you born / raised? 
Born in Somerville, New Jersey and raised in a nearby town called Raritan.

2.  If you weren't a conductor, what profession would you be in?
If I weren't a musician, I would have gone into movies or writing.

3.  The first opera I ever played in was...
When I was in Youth Orchestra, we performed Act I of Die WalküreI've come to love that music, but as a 17 year-old the experience was lost on me.

4.  My favorite opera is...
Britten's Billy Budd.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
Sushi.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
I was last chair clarinet in my middle school band in 6th grade. 

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
Frank Herbert's Dune.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
Little Women - Houston Grand Opera / Summers.

9.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
In addition to Mark Adamo's fantastic score, which I love, the story is full of interesting and highly-related characters, especially Jo.  In her view, she and her sisters are "perfect as they are," so her story is about understanding and accepting the inevitability of change.  I find Jo's struggle for permanence highly relatable. 

Don't miss the chance to hear Kyle conduct Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ten Questions with Courtney Miller

Ten Questions With...
Courtney Miller, mezzo-soprano
Meg, Little Women

1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  We moved to Madison / Middleton when I was three and I grew up in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
HGTV has convinced me I would be really good at flipping houses.  In addition to performing, I considered majoring in graphic design, arts administration / music business, or becoming an event planner.  I really like spreadsheets.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
I was in the chorus of The Bartered Bride my sophomore year at the University of Michigan; the only Czech opera I've ever done!

4.  My favorite opera is...
Strauss, Ravel, Weill, and Sondheim are my favorite composers.  Ariadne auf Naxos and Der Rosenkavalier are two of my favorites.  I am also a big advocate for modern opera and have been fortunate enough to have been part of Heggie's Dead Man Walking and Weinberg's The Passenger - two tremendously important works of the 20th century based on true stories of, respectively, a death row inmate and his spiritual advisor, and the lives of prisoners and guards in Auschwitz.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
I used to be convinced I sang best after a Diet Coke and a chocolate chip cookie or gummy snacks and potato chips.  Post-show, I'll never turn down a good whiskey.  Or cookies.  Or chips.  Or gummies.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
After that last question?  That I'm a healthy eater!  I've dabbled in veganism, but now generally eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
I was big into mysteries (Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children), historical fiction, and Harry Potter.  I used to read a lot.  Now I'm addicted to podcasts.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
Freakonomics, Radiolab, The Sporkful, This American Life, Note to Self...  I really like podcasts.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?
I was in a production that custom-made all new 1890s dresses for the chorus women...  and then they dyed them.  They shrunk.  We could barely lift our arms and half of us had midriffs showing despite the hooks to keep the bodice and full skirt together!  I'm also allergic to wool and am given some sort of wool garment about 25% of the time.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It's a growing-up story most people know, but told in a different way.  Plus, it's in English!

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  I have this little house on a couple acres of wooded land with puppies, goats, chickens, and an alpaca - can I give it to you all for free?
A:  Why yes, thank you!

Don't miss the chance to see Courtney in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ten Questions with Jeni Houser

Ten Questions With...



Jeni Houser, soprano
Amy iLittle Women







1.  Where were you born / raised? 
Born in Richland Center, Wisconsin.  Raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
I WISH I could be a dancer, but realistically, probably a teacher.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
Dido and Aeneas, playing Belinda.

4.  My favorite opera is...
Der Rosenkavalier, unless I happen to be listening to Peter Grimes or Falstaff.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...
Pasta and veggies.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
I once broke my toe during the final dress rehearsal of an opera when the leading tenor fell on it. 

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
A Wrinkle in Time.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
David Bowie, Harry Connick, Jr., Ingrid Michaelson, Lake Street Dive, and Ella Fitzgerald.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?  Or if no such costume, what was the best costume?
My most recent costume (as the Queen of the Night with Minnesota Opera - in the Komische Oper Berlin production) was basically a sleeping bag.  We called it the cocoon, and it had to be put on just before I appeared onstage because I couldn't walk in it.  Its function was to be a background for projected images, so the effect was great, but backstage I looked hilarious.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
The book is such a classic, and the opera has become one as well.  It is a timeless story of growing up and family, and Adamo's music brings the characters to life in a wonderful way.

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  What do you think about on the toughest days, when it seems like nothing is going right, your whole life is collapsing, and depression is inevitable?
A:  DOGS.  And then everything feels alright again. 


Don't miss the chance to see Jeni in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ten Questions with Cassandra Koob

Ten Questions With...

Cassandra Koob, soprano
QuartetLittle Women



1.  Where were you born / raised? 
Minnesota born and raised!  Specifically born in Edina and raising in Bloomington.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
My senior year of high school, I had two paths... Music at University of Minnesota or architecture at College of St. Benedict.  So I almost went to college to design buildings.  It's probably a good thing that I didn't go into that.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
Freshman year of college, I was a chorister in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

4.  My favorite opera is...
That's so hard!  I'm partial to French repertoire:  Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, Massenet's Manon and Werther.  Adamo's Little Women is becoming a new favorite!

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...

Healthy food pre-show.  Fried food post-show.  And beer!

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
I'm legally blind without my contacts.  So if I'm woken up at night, I may hit whoever is doing the waking (even if it's my fiancé... because I can't see!)

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
Harry Potter!

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
Adamo's Little Women, Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment, Adele's 25, Postmodern Jukebox.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?
In college, I played Papagena in The Magic Flute.  The "old lady" costume was only a black cloak, basically with football padding sewn in.  I was a black bob!

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It's a beautiful story and there won't be a dry eye in the house!

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
I am recently engaged, so...
Q:  Would you like a $10,000 bonus for your dream wedding?
A:  YES!

Don't miss the chance to see Cassandra in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ten Questions with Elizabeth Hagedorn

Ten Questions With...



Elizabeth Hagedorn, soprano
Alma MarchLittle Women





1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I am a Milwaukee native, my dad was a mailman.  I went to UW-Stevens Point and got a degree in Music Education, and accidentally ended up singing opera in Germany for 25 years.  It's wonderful to be back in Wisconsin, sharing what I've learned with the young singers at UW-Madison.

2.  If you weren't a singer, what profession would you be in?
I've always liked science, that could easily have happened.  Teaching is wonderful; I feel very honored to be able to be a potential catalyst for so many people.

3.  The first opera I was ever in was...
As a teenager, in the chorus of La Traviata for Music Under the Stars in Milwaukee.  My dad was assistant choral director for Florentine Opera, so I had an "in."  My first role in college in Boulder, Colorado, was Musetta in La Bohème, and my first professional role was Violetta in La Traviata - in German!

4.  My favorite opera is...
Oh no, really?  Salome, for sure.  No, Tosca.  And Ariadne.  Wait; LohengrinTraviata?  Or Don Giovanni.

5.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is...

At three o'clock, pasta and a boring sauce.  Snickers bar in the intermission, if it's a tough sing, and lots of food afterwards.

6.  People would be surprised to know that...
Little Women was a scary book for me as a child.  My family called me Beth, I was the little musician in the family, and I'd even had scarlet fever.  I cried buckets when the "me" in the novel died, and wondered if my sewing needle would get too heavy someday.

7.  My favorite book to read growing up was...
A novel called Jade by Sally Watson.

8.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists / songs would we see on you recently-played list?
I'm not a headphone fan, no ipod.  I listen mostly to standard jazz singers and chamber music.

9.  What is the worst costume you've ever worn?
There was a time when paper costumes were a fad in Germany, and they were awful!  They were stiff, hot, slippery, and rustled with every move.

10.  Everyone should see Little Women because....
It is like stepping into a time machine.  You get to re-live some of the most wonderful and poignant scenes in the novel, filtered through the perspective of Jo.  Love, loss, and lessons in accepting change, reconciling with ambivalence.

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  Are you a published scientist?
A:  Well, as a matter of fact, yesI worked in my brother Henry's entomology lab - measuring the amount of yolk in unlaid mosquito eggs (I am not making this up) - and was credited in the publication in the Journal of Insect Science.

Don't miss the chance to see Elizabeth in Little Women, as this beloved American classic comes to vivid musical life!  Performances are February 5 and 7 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.