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Vocal Theatre Works: Vinkensport 

Friday, April 22, 2022 - 7:30pm
Saturday, April 23, 2022 - 7:30pm
  • Vinkensport finch

Students from the UW Vocal Performance program present Vinkensport, a comic one-act opera with music by David T. Little and libretto by Royce Vavrek. Stage direction by Kelly Kitchens. Daren Weissfisch conducts.

Masks are recommended in all indoor spaces. Proof of vaccination remains a requirement for everyone 12 and over at Meany Hall and all ArtsUW Ticket Office events, including Meany Center, DXARTS, Dance Department, School of Drama, and School of Music. Individuals unable to be fully vaccinated, including people with a medical or religious exemption, must have proof of a negative provider-administered COVID-19 test (taken within 72 hours of the performance). UW staff will check for proof of vaccination and negative COVID tests at the doors as a condition of entry. Proof of negative test result must come from a test provider, a laboratory or a health care provider. Home or self-administered tests will not be accepted.  Details of these policies and procedures are at 

Cast & Roles

Farinelli's Trainer: Sarah Santos
Sir Elton John's Trainer: Mallory McCollum
Holy St. Francis's Trainer: Karen Dunstan
Hans Sachs's Trainer: Kenneth Foster
Hans Sachs’s Trainer: Zach Rude
Prince Gabriel III of Belgium's Trainer's Son: Will Schlott
Atticus Finch's Trainer: Limuel Forgey
Referee/Butler: Kenneth Foster; Zach Rude

School of Music Team

Kelly Kitchens, Stage Director
Daren Weissfisch, Conductor
Rhonda Kline, Music Preparation/Opera Coach
Andrew Romanick, Music Preparation/Opera Coach; Pianist
Trevor Cushman, Meany Studio Theater Stage Technician/Lighting Designer


Flute/Piccolo/Alto flute
Megan Hutchison
Clarinet/Bass clarinet
Megan Rideout-Redeker
Andrew Romanick
Dalma Ashby
Selina Siow
Eugene Chin
Young Kim
Double bass 
Alejandra Heringer 


A motley assortment of contestants participate in their annual finch-sitting competition, a Belgian folk competition that pits chaffinches (and their owners) against each other in a battle to see who has the most melodious bird. The contest is run as such: a man waves a flag and each of the competitors sits in front of a box containing one of their fellow contestants’ birds. Every time a bird makes a proper call (a susk-e-wiet, as it’s called in these circles) they receive a tally mark. The bird with the most points wins, bringing much pride to its trainer. Although a seemingly simple and gentle competition, access to the competitor’s inner monologues and flashbacks to their preparations reveal deception, deep-seated rivalries, painful loneliness, and blossoming romance.

Press Quotes for Vinkensport

Wall Street Journal

“As it explores the motivations of the six competitors—who are identified only as “Trainers” of their wittily named birds (such as Hans Sachs and Farinelli)—their egotism, competitiveness, guilt, exhibitionism and, most of all, loneliness become the story. Through Mr. Little’s deft vocal characterizations, adroit pacing, and colorful orchestration, one comes to understand them all.”

“Little’s assured writing is vibrant and driving”

“the final aria, sung by the lonely Garrett Obrycki to his bird Atticus Finch, is a blessing by composer David T. Little. The piece is poignant, telling…these few finishing moments gave value to the entire production.”

Daily Gazette
"The Finch Opera" was bold, brash and eccentrically novel about a little known Belgian "sport."
“The audience laughed throughout the show, and screamed and yelled its approval at the end.”

The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches 
the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations.


Kelly Kitchens

Kelly Kitchens is professional director, actor, and arts educator based out of Seattle, Washington. 

Her honors include: three-time nominated and two-time recipient of the Gregory Falls Award for Outstanding Director; winner of the Broadway World Critics Picks for Best Direction of a Play; two time winner of Seattle Theater Writers award for Best Direction of a Play; Broadway World nominee for Best Direction of a Musical; named Best Director by the Seattle Weekly Readers Poll; named in Seattle Magazine’s inaugural list of “Top 20 Most Talented People in Seattle”; and a nominee for the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Mayor's Arts Award.

Some past projects include: directing Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and for Kentucky Opera; directing the NYC workshop of Esther, a new dance musical; directing the US Premier of Meek (Denizen Theater, NY); stage directing O+E, a new adaptation of Gluck’s ‪Orfeo ed Euridice‬ (‪Seattle Opera‬); stage directing The Tender Land (Seattle Opera Academy); directing The Light in the Piazza (Showtunes Theatre Company); directing The Thanksgiving PlayHand to God (Gregory Award recipient for Outstanding Production), Ironbound (Gregory Award nominee for Outstanding Production), GroundedOn Clover Road, The Other Place, Christmastown (Seattle Public Theater);  directing MedeaAs You Like It, and The Tempest and performing the roles of Jaques in As You Like It and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew (‪Seattle Shakespeare Company‬); directing ‪Pride and Prejudice‬ (THEATERWORKS, Colorado); adapting and directing She's Come Undone (Book-It Repertory Theatre).

Some upcoming projects include directing Orfeo ed Euridice for Kentucky Opera in collaboration with the Louisville Ballet as well as directing productions for The University of Washington and Book-It Repertory Theatre. 

 Kelly is a Guest Lecturer in vocal performance at the University of Washington, a member of Actor's Equity Association, and a member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Kelly earned her B.A. from Vanderbilt University and her M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Graduate Student Daren Weissfisch

Daren Weissfisch has conducted professional and student ensembles in the United States, Mexico, and Europe for over a decade. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Washington under the tutelage of Dr. David Alexander Rahbee where he is the conductor of the Campus Philharmonia Orchestras, the assistant conductor of the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra, and conductor of the University of Washington Modern Music Ensemble and Opera Theater Works Orchestra. Daren was recently named House Conductor of the Tacoma Opera and he previously conducted the University of Washington’s opera production of Vinkensport by David T. Little and Joseph Haydn’s opera Philemon und BaucisDaren has also served as cover conductor for the Harmonia Orchestra Seattle and the Issaquah Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2013 to 2019 Daren was the Artistic Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca Sinaloa, which is an El Sistema based youth orchestra and choir in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. While in Mexico he was the assistant director for the 2016 production of Charles Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet with the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes under Sinaloense conductor Enrique Patrón de Rueda and the same year he collaborated with French guitarist Jean Bruno Dautaner to record the guitar concerto Tres en Raya by Spanish composer Antonio Ruíz Pipó under the AdLib MusicMX record label. In 2017 Daren conducted the Sinaloa premier of Horizontes, a work by Mexican composer Samuel Zyman, again with the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes, and for the 2017 Sinaloa Cultural Festival Daren founded the ensemble Sinaloa Players which presented Stravinsky’s masterpiece Histoire du Soldat in collaboration with renowned Mexican choreographer Mauricio Nava. Daren was a conducting student of Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux Festival and School for several summers and he also studied with many notable conductors including Ludovic Morlot, Donald Schleicher, Kensho Watanabe, Lior Shambadal, Edward Cumming, Charles Olivieri-Munroe, Gábor Hollerung, Linus Lerner, Carlos Spierer, Sandro Gorli, Glen Adsit and Timothy Salzman among others.

Daren is also an oboist and was the second/assistant principal oboist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes in Sinaloa, Mexico from 2010-2019 as well as soloist playing oboe concertos by Mozart, Strauss and Bach. He is also a substitute player in the Seattle area with the Bainbridge Island Symphony Orchestra, Harmonia Orchestra Seattle and the Lake Union Civic Orchestra among others.

Rhonda Kline is Artist in Residence and Director of Collaborative Piano at the University of Washington School of Music. An accomplished and versatile pianist cited as a “tour de force at the piano” (Klarinet), Rhonda’s passion is collaborating with others in sharing music. International highlights included a weeklong residency at the American University of Sharjah near Dubai in partnership with baritone Victor Benedetti and soprano Juliana Rambaldi;  and a recital tour with Metropolitan Opera soprano Joyce Guyer, performing in Florence, Budapest, and Kyiv. Current projects include music direction for one-act operas by local composer Sterling Tinsley, Tacoma Opera online presentations, and a performance with Bellingham Chamber Chorale of Mozart’s Requiem arranged for piano duet (partnered with pianist Emily Gantt). Passionate about fostering both the young emerging professional and veteran performer, Rhonda serves as general director and music director for Northwest Opera In Schools, Etc. (N.O.I.S.E.,, an opera education program serving elementary schools and retirement communities in Washington state. Summer months find her in Italy, where she is a pianist and coach with Canta in Italia, a program for singers to study opera and Italian language and culture. Her operatic coaching repertoire includes more than 60 titles, including traditional operas, contemporary works, and musical theater.

Pianist Andrew Romanick (’18 DMA, Piano)

Andrew Romanick performs in the Seattle area and beyond as a collaborative pianist and opera coach. On faculty at the University of Washington School of Music, he instructs Opera Workshop and Collaborative Piano. This year Romanick has performed and premiered with soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw a number of pieces in Seattle and St. Paul by contemporary composers: Linda Tutas Haugen, Kate Soper, Jocelyn Hagen, Juliana Hall, and Karen P. Thomas. In January, Romanick also contributed to the reconstruction and performance by UW Opera of Joseph Haydn's Philemon and Baucis, or Jupiter comes to Earth. Previous professional performances have taken place virtually with Seattle soprano Chérie Hughes in the Barcelona Festival of Song; with Broadway and Metropolitan Opera Baritone Zachary James in the Hoku concert series in Kona, Hawaii; in the Canto Opera Festival in Louisville, Kentucky; in the Music in the Marche Opera Festival in Mondavio and Fano, Italy; and solo in the Gijón Piano Festival in Spain. Romanick earned his Doctorate of Musical Arts from University of Washington in 2018 in the studio of Robin McCabe.

Karen Dunstan, MM student in Vocal Performance
Karen Dunstan (she/her) is a soprano hailing from Ypsilanti, Michigan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and in 2023 completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Washington. Dunstan has performed in many opera productions, including La Boheme, Dido and Aeneas and L’Elisir d’Amore. She is most proud of her performance of Grimgerde in a production of the “Flight of the Valkyries” scene from Die Walküre