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2021-22 Resident Company

During these unprecedented times, your support has truly never meant more. Give a gift of any amount in support of these artists to ensure that the vibrancy of their craft is shared with every opera-lover in our community.

Teresa Castillo, Soprano

Costa Rican-American Soprano Teresa Castillo, has been hailed by the San Francisco Gate as a “standout, bringing [vocal] power and florid elegance,” and by Opera News for exhibiting “a clean, concentrated sound, and a lovely, intelligent musicianship.” Ms. Castillo’s 2021/22 season include several house debuts including the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she will cover the role of Königin der Nacht, Opera San Jose in the roles of Frasquita (Carmen) and Maria (West Side Story) and Opera Lafayette in their production of Gretry’s Silvainin the role of Lucette. She will also be making her debut with White Snake Productions as Circe/Siren/Greek Chorus in the premier of A Survivor’s Odyssey: The Journey of Penelope and Circe. Her 2019/20 Season included engagements at Knoxville Opera in the title role of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, a Carnegie Hall concert under the baton of John Rutter, and a recital with Pittsburgh Festival Opera (both cancelled due to Covid-19).Ms. Castillo recently competed as a Finalist and won an Encouragement Award from the George London Foundation. Other season competition highlights included a Finalist in Opera Columbus’ Cooper-Bing Competition, Third Prize Winner at the Opera Index Competition, Third Prize Winner at The Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, and the First Place and Audience Favorite at the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition. Her most recent award was the Second Prize Winner of the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition which will include a dedicated performance at The Vatican’s Pontifical Hall for Sacred Music in Vatican City. She was also a semi-finalist in the McCammon Voice Competition with Fort Worth Opera this year, which was cancelled due to Covid-19.Recent opera engagements include several role debuts performing Chiang Ch’ing (Nixon in China)at The Princeton Festival, Rosina (Barber of Seville)with Opera Theatre St. Louis, Königin der Nacht(Die Zauberflöte)with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Manhattan Opera Studio, and The Occasional Opera Company, Yum-Yum in (The Mikado)with Loveland Opera Theatre, Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro) with Emerald City Opera, Lamont Opera Theatre, Elsie Maynard (Yeomen of the Guard) with Empire Lyric Players, The Dew Fairy (Hansel and Gretel) with Lamont Opera Theatre, Drusilla (L’incoronazione di Poppea) with Metropolitan State Opera Ensemble, and Adele (Die Fledermaus) with Rocky Mountain Chamber Opera. Ms. Castillo has been a Young Artist at San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program as #1 in Conrad Susa’s Transformations, a Herndon Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera covering the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor and Tytania in a Midsummer’s Night Dream, and a Resident Principal Artist in the inaugural season of Teatro Nuovoas Creusa in Mayr’s Medea in Corinto, having prior been a Young Artist at Bel Canto at Caramoor covering Adele (Il Pirata).

Jared V. Esguerra, Tenor

Filipino-American tenor Jared V. Esguerra is a dedicated performer of vocal works ranging from opera to concert repertoire and musical theater. The Chicago native has been praised for his “pleasing tenor” voice and continues to be in high demand. In addition to his role debut as Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff at the Crested Butte Music Festival in 2018, he has portrayed Miles in The Turn of the Screw with Chicago Fringe Opera and Ferrando in Cosìfan tutte with the Floating Opera Company. He has also sung Pirelli in Sweeney Todd with the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center, the Messenger in Il trovatore at Sarasota Opera, as well as the Englishman in Angélique, Luiz in The Gondoliers, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, all at DePaul University, of which he is an alumnus. On the concert stage, Jared recently appeared as the tenor soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Now Let’s Sing and with Chicago Sinfonietta in its MLK Tribute concert series. After a sold-out run of West Side Story as A-Rab at the Edinburgh International Festival, Jared returned to Chicago Opera Theater in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Freedom Ride in 2020. He also covered the role of Giovanni in COT’s live-streamed production of Daniel Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini in April 2021.

Noah Stewart, tenor

Since exploding into the public consciousness in 2012 with his Classical Brit-nominated, chart-topping, debut album (Noah, DECCA Records), the handsome and charismatic Noah Stewart has become a regular and welcome performer on UK screens and stages. He has performed three sold-out solo tours of the UK for Kennedy Street, toured with the John Wilson Orchestra (Hooray for Hollywood), performed with the Royal Opera Covent Garden (Miss Fortune, Madama Butterfly), English National Opera (The Indian Queen), Opera Holland Park (Iris), Opera North (Madama Butterfly) and Scottish Opera (Carmen) and   been   a regular guest with the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Halle, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He has twice appeared at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. Noah Stewart has forged a successful and enduring relationship with the BBC. He  has  performed  as  part of  the  BBC  Proms  on  three  separate  occasions,  has appeared  on  Radio  2  (including  several  performances on Friday Night  is  Music  Night);  Radio  3  (In Tune)  and Radio   4   (Desert   Island   Discs, Saturday Live).He   has appeared  on  BBC  One  (Songs  of  Praise,  BBC  Breakfast) and BBC Two (Cardiff Singer of the World 2015).He   has   performed   throughout   the   United   States (Atlanta   Opera,   Florentine   Opera   of   Milwaukee, Glimmerglass, Michigan Opera   Theater and San Francisco Opera) and with major European theatres such as the Bolshoi, the Bregenzer  Festspiele, the Götesborg  Operan,  the  Teatro  Real  Madrid  and  the Wexford Festival.

Noah was last at Opera San José for our acclaimed 2019 production of Moby Dick!

NIKOLA PRINTZ, mezzo-soprano

Nikola Printz is an artist and performer known for their dark,velvety voice, charismatic stage presence, and artistic fearlessness. They most recently were seen in La Voix Humaine with Magic Circle Opera, as well as the premiere of a song cycle by Jake Heggie, “Intonations,”at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, with members of the SF Opera Orchestra as part of the Violins of Hope festival presented by Music at Kohl Mansion. Other recent titular role debuts include Orfeo ed Euridice (West Edge Opera) and Carmen (Opera Modesto), as well as Rosina, Cherubino, and Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri with Opera Memphis, where they spent two years as a company resident artist. It was also in Memphis where they became an aerialist, training specifically in the Static and Dance trapeze medium—premiering a new act singing the final aria of Strauss’s Salomeon a trapeze. Nikola was also seen at the Opera Modesto Gala in 2018 doing an original routine on dance trapeze singing Lehár’s “Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiß” with orchestra. Since then Nikola has cultivated several operatic aerial acts sung and performed live,such as Carmen’s “Habanera,” Dido’s Lament, and such art songs as Strauss’s“Morgen”and Libby Larsen’s “Cowboy Songs.” During 2020, Nikola devoted themself to creating new music, recording countless self-produced and self-written songs, as well as participating in several workshops and virtual performances, including Fort Worth Opera’s workshop of a new modernized adaptation of Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea, sung in English with rock band accompaniment. They also contributed to a new recording of Erling Wold’s A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, and sang the role of Susan (“Miz Stacks”) in Lisa Mezzacappa’s new podcast opera, The Electronic Lover. Nikola also participated in the Banff Centre’s “Opera in the 21st Century”module—focusing on bringing more diversity and equity into the opera world. In the summer of 2021, Nikola participated in San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, and was featured in the opera film Back Home: Through the Stage Door, appearing in works by Handel and Mozart. Nikola is a 2013 graduate of the vocal program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where they studied with Patricia Craig. They attended University of Memphis (in a dual resident program with Opera Memphis) to obtain their Artist Diploma in Opera Performance. They have also studied under the tutelage of Sheri Greenawald. In their free time, Nikola practices and teaches Aerial Arts, studies piano and photography, goes cycling, and rides their motorcycle—for which they have been featured in arts campaigns such as Arts Memphis in 2017 and Motorcyclist Magazine in 2019.

Maya Kherani, soprano

Praised for her “rich, soaring soprano” and “crystalline tone” (Opera News) in repertoire from the Baroque to the modern, Maya Kherani is currently a Resident Artist at Opera San José. Career highlights include starring in the title role of Handel’s Partenope with Opera NEO; Beatrice in Three Decembers opposite Susan Graham at Opera San José, and Meera in the premiere of Jack Perla’s The River of Light, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera. Upcoming role and house debuts include Belinda in Dido and Aeneas at Opera San José, Drusilla/Fortuna (Poppea cover) in L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Messiah with Boston Baroque, and to be announced engagements with Glyndebourne and the Vancouver Symphony. Favorite roles include the title role in Semele, Despina in Così fan tutte, Marie in La fille du régiment, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Poppea in Agrippina, and Gilda in Rigoletto. She received First Place and Audience Favorite at the James Toland Vocal Competition (Tier II), the McGlone Award from Central City Opera, two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and last year, was the only American soprano to compete as a Semifinalist in the international Glyndebourne Opera Cup. She will be traveling next week to compete as one of seven finalists in the international Handel Aria Competition. Ms. Kherani graduated with honors with an MM in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and prior to her singing career, graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a BSE in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

 


Sponsored in part by: Profs. John Heineke & Catherine Montfort

Christopher James Ray, Conductor

Conductor Christopher James Ray returns to Opera San José for a second consecutive year in the company’s resident ensemble. In 2017 he joined the music staff of the renowned Bayreuth Festival, where he worked on productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Tristan and Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal. Christopher made his professional debut leading a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci with Mississippi Opera in 2014. Past conducting credits with Opera San José include Il trovatore, Hansel & Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Moby Dick, and Pagliacci. As assistant conductor, Ray has worked with the San Francisco Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Salzburg State Theater, North Carolina Opera, and Sarasota Opera. A protégé of American composer Carlisle Floyd, Ray is a sough-after interpreter of Floyd’s works. In addition to serving as the assistant to the composer, he recorded an album of Floyd’s songs with the celebrated mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer.

Sponsored in part by: Michael McGinley

Eugene Brancoveanu, baritone

Growing up in Romania and Germany, baritone Eugene Brancoveanu studied at the Academy of Music in Transylvania, Romania and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria before pursuing a successful international career, earning critical acclaim throughout North America and Europe. Career highlights include receiving a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre for his participation in the principal ensemble (as Marcello) in Baz Luhrmann’s innovative Broadway production of Puccini’s La bohème, and his performance in the title role of Shostakovich’s Orango with the Los Angeles Symphony under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen and Peter Sellers, which was recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. Known for his robust voice and superior stagecraft, Brancoveanu was an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera for two seasons, directly following his critically acclaimed summer 2004 performances of Tarquinius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with the Merola Opera Program. Discovering Opera San José’s European style Resident Artist program, Brancoveanu was immediately drawn to the organization and appeared as a guest artist as early as 2014. During the 2019-20 season Brancoveanu became a Resident Artist, performing in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (as Eisenstein),  Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Father), and Verdi’s Il trovatore (Count de Luna). Since then he has appeared in Opera San José’s Heiman Digital Media Studio offerings of Dichterliebe and Love & Secrets.

Sponsored by: Elizabeth F. Adler

Efraín Solís, baritone

Baritone Efraín Solís returns to Opera San José for a second season. A recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship and alumnus of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, he has been applauded by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “theatrical charisma and musical bravado.” Solís was a Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2013, as well as a finalist in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition and the Loren L. Zachary Society for the Performing Arts National Vocal Competition. Solís has been seen with opera companies throughout the nation, including Utah Opera, Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera, West Edge Opera, Opera Saratoga, Livermore Valley Opera, and Opera Memphis.

Sponsored in part by: Jan & Don Schmidek

Nathan Stark, bass-baritone

Bass-baritone Nathan Stark returns as Resident Artist for the 2020-21 season. Praised by The Washington Post for having a voice of “unearthly power,” by the Houston Press as a “blow-away singer,” and The Mercury News as a “natural comic actor,” he has performed with opera houses throughout the United States including the Metropolitan Opera, Atlanta Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Arizona Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Stark was the 2006 Southern California District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition, and First Place winner of the Los Angeles Classical Singers Association, in addition to awards from the Palm Springs Opera Competition, Fort Worth Opera Competition, the Brentwood Artist of Cultivating Brilliant Artistry Tomorrow Competition, The Opera Buffs Competition, The Pasadena Opera Competition, The Columbus Opera Aria Competition, and recipient of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Corbett Opera Scholarship.

Sponsored by: Mary & Clinton Gilliland

Tara Branham, Director

Tara Branham is a director of opera and theatre. Last season as the Resident Director with Opera San José, Tara directed Three Decembers by Jake Heggie featuring world-renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and Love & Secrets: A Domestic Trilogy which included Il Segreto di Susanna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Four Dialogues by Ned Rorem, and The Husbands by Tom Cipullo. She also directed and co-created the musical pastiches The Parting Glass and Sing for Your Supper. Most recently, she assistant-directed Highway 1, U.S.A.at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where she is the Resident Assistant Director. An avid supporter of the development of new work in theatre and opera, Tara assisted James Robinson on the world premiere of Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones at OTSL which will be the first opera composed by a Black person produced by the Met. Branham was also the assistant director for Grammy Award®-winning soprano Patricia Racette on her directing premiere of La Traviata at OTSL. Her direction of the U.S. premiere of octagon, starring Kiki Layne at Jackalope Theatre, received a sold-out extension. This was a culmination of three years of development and collaboration with playwright and television writer Kristiana Rae Colón (Showtime’s The Chi). She also directed and co-produced the sold-outworld premiere of good Friday by Colón. The play has gone on to be produced at colleges across America to raise awareness of the complex intersection of gun violence and rape culture. Tara graduated cum laude from Ball State University.www.tarabranham.com