The UW School of Music partners with Vespertine Opera and Philharmonia Northwest to present Gabriel Fauré's rarely performed opera Pénélope (1913). Fauré's elegant lyricism and refined expression shine through this original treatment of Homer's timeless Odyssey. The production, directed by Dan Miller and conducted by Dean Williamson, features a cast of veteran professionals including Julia Benzinger, Clayton Brainerd, Nerys Jones, and recent UW alumnus Eric Neuville.
Showtimes: Performances of Pénélope are Thurs. and Sat. Oct. 22 and 24, 7:30 pm and Sun. Oct. 25 at 2 pm. Click the "Buy Tickets" link on this page to purchase advance tickets for all three performances.
Sung in French with English titles.
Dan Wallace Miller is the founder and Artistic Director of Vespertine Opera Theater, a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) non-profit company that strives to present operas in unique spaces that are both innovative and dramatically engaging. He and his company have produced Purcell’s Dido and Aeneasand Holst’s Savitri in the University of Washington’s outdoor Sylvan Grove Theater, an English version of Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine in the intimate blackbox Stone Soup Theater, and Puccini’s La Bohéme in the three-quarters round at the Chapel Performance Space in the Good Shepherd Center. Most recently, he is directing and producing the US premier of Benjamin Britten’s English, two-piano adaptation of Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias at the Columbia City Theater. In addition to his work with Vespertine Opera Theater, Dan Wallace Miller has worked at Seattle Opera for their productions of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and Trisan und Isolde, Verdi’s Atilla, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program productions of Massenet’s Werther and Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. Dan Wallace Miller graduated from the University of Washington, and assisted their production of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, as well as their Opera Scene Workshop.
Dean Williamson is the artistic director of Opera Cleveland, where he has conducted Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro, Verdi’s Falstaff, Humperdinck’sHänsel und Gretel, Puccini’s Bohème, and Rossini’s Barber of Seville. Prior to joining Opera Cleveland, Williamson was the principal coach and pianist for Seattle Opera for 12 years and music director of the company’s Young Artists Program for five years, conducting all of the program’s productions from 1999 to 2007. He made his mainstage conducting debut at Seattle Opera with Offenbach’s Contes d’Hoffmann and returned last season for Le nozze di Figaro. In 2011, he will conductThe Barber of Seville. Williamson has conducted Don Giovanni at Opera Colorado and Spokane Opera, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at Minnesota Opera, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Rossini’s Barber of Seville at Wolf Trap Opera, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Opera Festival of New Jersey, Puccini’sBohème at Washington East Opera, and Bizet’s Carmen at Rimrock Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Other credits include Don Pasquale for San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Rossini’s Italiana in Algeri at Boston Lyric Opera, Verdi’sTraviata at Washington East Opera, and Stephen Sondheim’s Passion at Minnesota Opera.
JULIA BENZINGER, PÉNÉLOPE
Hailed by the International Herald Tribune for her “luscious mezzo” and Der Tagesspiel for “her impressive, metallic dramatic soprano”, American mezzo-soprano Julia Benzinger is enjoying a career in both opera and concert throughout Europe and the United States.
The 2014-2015 season sees Ms. Benzinger return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Il Musico in Puccini's Manon Lescaut. In November, Julia will be seen with Music of Remembrance in Songs and Satire from Terezin. She made her Pacific MusicWorks debut in May (Die Zauberflöte) under the musical direction of Stephen Stubbs. She made her Vespertine Opera Theater debut as Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia.
Ms. Benzinger was a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2007-12, during which she performed a large and varied repertoire, highlights of which include Der Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), Flosshilde (Das Rheingold) and the title role in Gnecchi's Cassandra under the baton of Donald Runnicles, Meg Page (Falstaff) conducted by Enrique Mazzola, and Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel) under Evan Rogister, Olga (Eugene Onegin), Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Tisbe (La cenerentola), Der Page (Salome), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Bersi (Andrea Chenier), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), Flora (La Traviata), Rosalia (Tiefland), Saint Margarete in Walther Braunfels’ Szenen aus dem Leben der Heiligen Johanna, and Alkmene in Strauss’ Die Liebe der Danae.
Former Seattle Opera and Sarasota Opera Young Artist, Benzinger has been the recipient of many awards including the Deutsche Oper Curt Engelhorn Award, the Anne O’Donnell Outstanding Apprentice Award, and scholarships from the Wagner Society of Northern California, and Seattle Opera Guild.
ERIC NEUVILLE, ULYSSE
Seattle-based tenor Eric Neuville is equally at home on both the operatic and concert stage. His 2015 season has included performances of Don Jose in La tragédie de Carmen with The Washington Idaho Symphony, The Prince in Rumpelstiltskin (Baber) with Opera Fairbanks, Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos and Abdullo inNabucco with Seattle Opera, as well as his debut with Madison Opera as Laurie in Little Women (Adamo). This marks his Vespertine Opera Theater debut.
On the concert stage, he has most recently been heard as the tenor soloist in Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Seattle Symphony and Conspirare, Carmina Burana with the Austin Symphony, Handel's Messiahwith the Tacoma Symphony, Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Conspirare and the Victoria Bach Festival, Haydn's Creation with the Bainbridge Chorale, and Cary Ratcliff's Ode to Common Things with Conspirare. Upcoming performances include Carmina Burana with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Messiah with the Portland Chamber Orchestra, John Muehleisen's Pietá with the St. Olaf Choir, and in recital with Sonja Tenblad and Michelle Schumann to launch the new Conspirare Recital Series. Dr. Neuville is a graduate of St. Olaf College, The University of Texas at Austin, and The University of Washington, as well as Seattle Opera and Chautauqua Opera's Young Artist Programs.
NERYS JONES, EURYCLÉE
Nerys Jones was born and educated in Mid Wales and studied at both the Royal Scottish Academy and Guildhall schools of music and drama. In 1994 she joined English National Opera where she was a company mezzo-soprano for six seasons, roles including Cherubino, Despina, Zerlina, Second Lady, Melissa (Princess Ida), Bird (Blond Eckbert), Proserpina (Orfeo), Flora (La Traviata), Pitti Sing (Mikado), Mercédès (Carmen), Nursing Sister (Suor Angelica), Rosette (Manon), Kitchen Boy (Rusalka), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Flower Maiden and Second Squire (Parsifal), and Sister Mathilde (Dialogues des Carmélites). She has performed with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Scottish Early Music Consort and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, St John’s Smith Square, London. Other appearances include Cherubino, Rosina and Dorabella for Grange Park Opera, Dryad in a concert performance of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Barbican Concert Hall, Stewardess(Flight) with Reisopera in Holland, Vlaamse Opera and the Adelaide Festival, the title role La Cenerentola for Opera Zuid and Pitti Sing (The Mikado) for La Fenice in Venice.
Since moving to Seattle she has worked with Vashon Opera, PNB, and Seattle Opera. Later this year she has concerts in Wales and Vancouver BC, and will be singing the role of Smeton, Anna Bolena (PSCO), Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus (Tacoma Opera), Beethoven 9th, Philharmonia Northwest. This marks her debut with Vespertine Opera Theater
BRETT SPRAGUE, ANTINOÜS
Tenor Brett Sprague’s recent credits include Die Zauberflöte (First armored man, Tamino cover), the world premiere of Lori Laitman’s The Scarlet Letter-Abridged (Dimmesdale), Madama Butterfly (Registrar, Pinkerton cover), Carmen (Don Jose, Remendado), and Rigoletto (Borsa) with Opera Colorado; Hansel and Gretel(Witch), Romeo and Juliet (Romeo), and Barber of Seville (Almaviva) in the Opera Colorado touring productions; Susannah (Little Bat, Elder Gleaton) and Fiddler on the Roof (Mordcha) with Ash Lawn Opera; and Peter Grimes (Rector Adams) as a Studio Artist with Chautauqua Opera. Other credits include performances at Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, the Verdi Square Festival for the Arts, the American Landmarks Festival, the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, and the Idyllwild Arts Festival Ensemble. He received third place honors at the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Rocky Mountain Regional finals. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Chapman University and a Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music. This marks his Vespertine Opera Theater debut.
JARED GUEST, EURYMAQUE
In his 2014-2015 season, baritone Jared A. Guest performed the roles of Escamillo in Carmen and Marullo inRigoletto with Opera in the Heights and as a Young Artist at Opera Colorado. Jared’s credits also include Yamadori in Madama Butterfly with Opera Colorado and Figaro in The Barber of Seville with Opera Colorado Outreach, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Opera in the Ozarks, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana with Kingwood Opera, and the title role in Hans in Luck by Omari Tau with Lonestar Lyric Opera. While earning his Masters degree from the University of Houston, Jared performed the roles of Ford in Falstaff, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Herr von Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier, Paul in the Southern premier of Daron Hagen’s opera Amelia, and Di Cosimo in Daniel Catan’s Il Postino. As a Chautauqua Opera Studio Artist last summer, Jared performed the roles of Yamadori in Madam Butterfly and Third Dandy/Politician in The Ballad of Baby Doe. This marks his debut with Vespertine Opera Theater.
CLAYTON BRAINERD, EUMÉE
This Portland, Oregon born, award-winning baritone has amassed a wonderful list of accolades and successes in the last decade singing leading roles with the major orchestras and opera companies of the world. Highlights of the past few seasons include Mahler 8th Symphony, Missa Solemnis, Mozart requiem, & Beethoven 9th with the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz conducting, Les Troyens at Tanglewood with James Levine, Oedipus Rex with the Boston Symphony under the direction of von Dohnanyi, Walküre Wotan (cover) on the MET tour of Japan, Hans Sachs (cover) in Die Meistersinger von Nürnburg at the MET, and the American Premier of the opera Sophie's Choice by Nicholas Maw at the Washington Opera.
Previous seasons included Elijah, Saul, Mozart Requiem, Mahler 8th Symphony, & Creation with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Messiah & Oedipus Rex with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and a return to New Orleans Opera for performances of Siegfried. Mr. Brainerd sang Wotan in Die Walküre at the Scottish Opera’s second installment of their internationally acclaimed Ring Cycle, and the role of Amonasro in the production of Aida with the Scottish Opera.
Mr. Brainerd has also made his debut at the Paris Opera (Bastille) in La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa on the podium, a debut in Madrid singing the title role in performances of a newly discovered opera Merlin by Isaac Albeniz, Wotan in Die Walküre with the New Orleans Opera and performances of Messiah at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Brainerd replaced James Morris as Wotan in Die Walküre at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. Mr. Brainerd has sung Kurvenal in a performances and recording of Tristan und Isolde at Carnegie hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York and Scarpia in Tosca with Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao, Spain. He also debuted with the New Zealand Symphony as Wotan in five concert performances of Wagner's Das Rheingold - a role in which he won critical acclaim with the Arizona Opera Ring Cycle. This marks his debut with Vespertine Opera Theater.
Julia Tai, Music Director
Cecilia Archuleta, concertmaster
Ann Dwyer Rackl
Linda Vogt, principal
Torsten Grabs, principal
Rumei Mistry, principal
Brent Armstrong, principal
*denotes UW students