2017 OPERA

The fully staged comic opera Don Pasquale by Donizetti will be performed in English with a San Francisco Pocket Opera translation. Featuring a richly talented national cast of professional opera singers and ten instrumentalists, Don Pasquale’s hilarious plot and sublime music combine to bring this comedic masterpiece to life. Performed for the first time in southern Oregon, Don Pasquale is the perfect gift for families and romantics alike. Sparkling with virtuosic singing, this boisterous comedy pits the miserly Don Pasquale against his nephew Ernesto and Ernesto’s sweetheart, the crafty young Norina. True love wins the day when the penny-pinching Pasquale tries to force his nephew to marry for money—and learns a lesson he’ll never forget.

Friday, March 17, 8:00pm


Sunday, March 19, 3:00pm

Mountain Avenue Theater

201 S Mountain Ave, Ashland 97520

Performed in English with the Donald Pippin libretto (Pocket Opera San Francisco)

Director Willene Gunn
Conductor Martin Majkut


ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, WILLENE GUNN served as a member of the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for 30 years, as Director of the Conservatory Opera Program. Upon her retirement in the spring of 2005 the Conservatory conferred upon her the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. Ms. Gunn taught voice at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and staged operas in workshops at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Nevada.  She directed over 90 major works by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein and other major composers for Nevada, Sacramento, Arizona Operas, Rogue Opera and the San Francisco Opera Center and other companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.  A graduate of the San Francisco Opera Merola Program, Ms. Gunn performed extensively on the West Coast as a dramatic mezzo-soprano with the San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Oakland and Nevada Opera companies in Aida, Falstaff, Peter Grimes, The Medium, The Consul and numerous others. Her symphonic repertory included Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. She performed in operetta, musical comedy and legitimate theater, in roles ranging from most of the mezzo-soprano roles in Gilbert and Sullivan, the alto leads in The Sound of MusicCarousel, and South Pacific, and as Hecuba in The Trojan Women.  She produced and directed over 35 productions at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and in 2000 the Conservatory awarded her the Sarlo Award for Excellence in Teaching. While at the Conservatory, she directed over 100 scenes a year in the opera workshops. 


In southern Oregon, Ms. Gunn served as Artistic Director of Rogue Opera from 2006-2009 directing the highly-acclaimed Merry Wives of WindsorThe Magic Flute and La Bohème. She co-created Rogue Opera’s Opera in the Schools program OperAntics! and created, directed and produced three Opera Workshop with Voices from the Valley Opera Scenes Concerts during her tenure. Ms. Gunn’s textbook, Teaching Opera, The Role of the Opera Workshop …With Scene Catalogue, written in partnership with Kathryn Cathcart, was published by Leyerle Press in February, 2008.

CONDUCTOR, MARTIN MAJKUT Conducting in North America and Europe, dividing his time between symphonic music and opera and possessing doctorates from institutions in Europe and the United States, Martin Majkut’s career has been defined by dualities.


Music Director of the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra (RVSO) in Ashland, Oregon since 2010, Martin Majkut was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). He graduated from the State Conservatory in orchestral conducting and piano performance and served as Assistant Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic while earning his Ph.D. in conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts. Majkut’s relationship with the Slovak Philharmonic opened doors for him to additional Slovak orchestras – the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Slovak State Philharmonic and the Slovak Sinfonietta, among others.


Under the leadership of Dr. Majkut, the RVSO has experienced a remarkable renewal. Majkut has attracted new talent to leadership positions and the ensemble has grown to over eighty musicians. The orchestra is enjoying an unprecedented level of support and enthusiasm in the community, which has enabled the RVSO to inaugurate a summer series of open-air concerts in 2013. The symphony’s educational offerings have significantly expanded and currently include four different programs. Through the efforts of Dr. Majkut and the Board, the RVSO budget has remained balanced while growing over fifty per cent since 2010.


Majkut came to the University of Arizona as a Fulbright scholar in 2003. He earned a D.M.A., his second doctorate in conducting, in 2008, along with the Distinguished Graduate Student Award. While in Tucson, he served as the Resident Conductor of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Opera Studio Artist in Conducting. Dr. Majkut studied with Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy and Salvador Mas Conde at the Wiener Meisterkurse in Vienna, Austria.


Recent guest-conducting engagements include Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2014 as well as the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (Beverly Hills, CA) the same year. The 2015/16 season includes Majkut’s return to the Slovak Sinfonietta and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice with Brava! Opera Theater.


Majkut’s recording credits include the 2001 recording of Slovak orchestral music with the Slovak Sinfonietta and the 2007 recording of Bach’s Magnificat and Charpentier’s Te Deum with the early music orchestra Solamente Naturali. He has also recorded Medieval and Renaissance music with his early music choir Voci Festose.

Aaron Sorensen is a rare young bass known not only for his powerful and rich sound, but also his commanding stage presence. Last season Sorensen returned to Gotham Chamber Opera for productions of Comedy on the Bridge and Alexandre bis; débuted with Huntsville Symphony as Judge Barnett/Officer Jimmy in the world première of Gregory Vajda’s Georgia Bottoms: A Comic Opera of the Modern South, based on the best-selling novel by Mark Childress; sang Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Peabody Opera Theatre and with Houston Symphony Orchestra; and débuted with Nashville Opera as the Sergeant of Police in Pirates of Penzance. This season he will appear at Huntsville Symphony Orchestra as Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Neptune/Antinoo in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria with West Edge Opera.

Recently, Mr. Sorensen débuted with Fort Worth Opera as Benoit/Alcindoro in La bohème and returned as the French General in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night; made a début with Gotham Chamber Opera for their productions of Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse, Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel, Hindemith’s Hin und Zurück, and Milhaud’s L’enlèvement d’Europe; performed the role of Angelotti in Tosca with Austin Lyric Opera; sang in the National Symphony’s concert performance of Der Rosenkavalier under Christoph Eschenbach; and appeared as Colline in La bohème at Bar Harbor Music Festival and Opera Theatre of Connecticut.

In prior seasons, Mr. Sorensen appeared with Wolf Trap Opera, where he sang the roles of Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Father Trulove in Stravinky’s The Rake’s Progress, and subsequently returned as Don Prudenzio in Rossini’s Il viaggio a Reims and Pistola in Falstaff. He also performed in multiple seasons with The Glimmerglass Opera Festival where he portrayed such roles as Zuniga in Carmen and Angelotti in Tosca. Also a favorite with Des Moines Metro Opera, he joined the company in recent seasons for their productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Die Zauberflöte, Tosca, and The Rake’s Progress

Other performances include Oroveso in Norma, Ferrando in Il trovatore, and Banquo in Macbeth with Opera in the Heights; Bob Beckett in H.M.S. Pinafore and Juan Pablo in the world première of Bloodlines with Opera Omaha; and the title role in Don Pasquale with Opera Iowa on tour. Mr. Sorensen also performed the roles of Argante in Rinaldo, Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Hermit in Der Freischütz, Mr. Jaggers in Miss Havisham’s Fire, La Cuisinière in L’amour des trois oranges, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, the Sorcerer in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto, from which he was hailed as a “sinister and snarly voiced villain.”

In concert, engagements include Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens as part of the GRVU – Fall Arts Series; Wonderful Town with Orchestra Verdi di Milano; a Masterworks Concert with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major with the Baton Rouge Symphony. Mr. Sorensen is a graduate of the prestigious Yale Opera Program.


With a voice described as "robust" and "standout" by the Denver Post and with a "lively" stage presence reviewed by Opera News, Patrick McNally has a varied operatic repertoire, from Gianni Schicchi to John in Summer and Smoke. Drawing from his extensive performance experience, Patrick is equally at home on the opera, musical theater and recital stage.

Making several house debuts this 2015-2016 season, Patrick has been seen in the roles of Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte and the Baritone in Hydrogen Jukebox with Nashville Opera, The Young Soldier in Falling Angel and Freud in Sabina Spielrein with The Center for Contemporary Opera, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with New York Opera Exchange, and Robert in Iolanta with New Opera NYC. 

Mr. McNally has performed at houses across the United States as well as internationally. Recent highlights include appearances at Des Moines Metro Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera North, Dayton Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Opera Louisiane, Bronx Opera, Hubbard Hall Opera, Opera New Jersey, and Die Eutiner Festspiele. He has also been a winner of multiple awards including the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation. 



Soprano Lindsay Ohse continues to illuminate four centuries' worth of repertoire with her "dazzling and crystal clear" voice. A vivid stage performer, she has become a frequent presence with such opera companies as Opera Southwest, Portland Opera, Resonance Works (Pittsburgh), Brava Opera Theater, Santa Fe Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Sarasota Opera.

An assured interpreter of Handel and Mozart, Ms. Ohse notably appeared in Portland Opera's Rinaldo as an Armida who "steals the show". Regarding her Donna Anna in Opera Southwest's Don Giovanni, critics remarked that "Ohse's singing carries an ardent sensuality, even turning vocal ornamentation into characterization". She has also enjoyed great success in performances of Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Great Mass in C minor and Requiem. Earlier in her career, Ms. Ohse had also performed the Königin der Nacht at Sarasota Opera and Santa Fe Opera.

Ms. Ohse's repertoire embraces the Italian belcanto repertoire (Donizetti's romantic heroines Adina in L'elisir d'amore, Norina in Don Pasquale, Marie in La fille du régiment, and Viclinda in the early Verdi opera I Lombardi), 20th-century opera (the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Thérèse/Tirésias in Les mamelles de Tirésias, Sister Constance in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Ann Putnam in The Crucible), and contemporary works. Ms. Ohse has covered the role of Lu Mu-zhen in the American premiere of Huang Ryo's Sun Yat-Senwith Santa Fe Opera and has performed the leading role of Marie Celeste in the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass's Galileo Galilei with Portland Opera. As Lydia Larkspur in the East Coast premiere of Kirke Mechem's The Rivals, "her voice soared over the orchestra" and she "inhabited her role with charm and gusto". Ms. Ohse received great acclaim as Magnolia Hawks in Portland Opera's production of Showboat.

During the summer of 2016, Ms. Ohse made her Opera North debut in her role reprise as Marie in La fille du régiment. That autumn, she makes her role debut as the heroine Amenaide in Rossini's opera seria Tancredi in a joint production between Opera Southwest and Baltimore Concert Opera.


As a member of the Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program in 2015–2016 season, David sang in the world premiere of Paul Moravec's The Shining, in which Opera News described his portrayal of Delbert Grady as "casual charm and suavity." Other roles last season included Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos, Spoletta in Tosca, which the Post Bulletin called “striking", Tamino in The Magic Flute in Duluth which The Duluth New Tribune noted his “clean, clear voice of the hero.” 

In the summer of 2016 he made his Glimmerglass Festival debut as Parpignol in La bohème, and Alberto in Rossini's L'occasione fa il ladro, participating in their Young Artist Program. In 2015 he performed as a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, covering “Matthew Gurney” in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline, and singing Belmonte from Die Entführung aus dem Serail in their Center Stage Concert. He also toured “Azor” in Gretry’s Zemire et Azor with Opera for the Young. 

David was a finalist in the Upper Midwest region for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Recent concert highlights include the tenor soloist in Handel's Messiah with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and Mendelssohn's Lobgesang with Lipscomb University.

As a member of the Minnesota Opera chorus in 2014-2015, he portrayed Il Postiglione in La fanciulla del West and Ed Mavole in the world premiere of The Manchurian Candidate. He has sung Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and Marco in The Gondoliers with the Ole Miss Opera Theatre in Oxford, Mississippi and also has appeared as Tamino (The Magic Flute) and Ernesto (Don Pasquale) with Atlantic Music Festival. He spent three years with the Cantus Vocal Ensemble in Minneapolis. 

He returns to the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera in 2016–2017 singing the roles of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and Silvio in Diana’s Garden.


SOPRANO IN SOLO QUARTET, JENNIFER MATSUURA is a graduate of SOU with degrees in Psychology, Music, and a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. She also went on to complete a post-bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy at Arizona State Universtiy. In 2007 she received the AAUW’s Outstanding Woman Graduate in Music Performance award. Her operatic appearances include: the First Spirit in The Magic Flute, chorus in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the Newspaper Woman in The Breasts of Tiresias. She will also sing in Brava! Opera’s 2017 production of Don Pasquale in the solo quartet. In her educational outreach work, she has performed in two seasons of Rogue Opera’s Opera in the Schools program, and two seasons with the SORS choral Outreach Program. Jennifer can also be seen performing with her contemporary Hawaiian band, Ha’ena, and as the soprano cantor for Trinity Episcopal Church.

MEZZO-SOPRANO IN SOLO QUARTET, MICHELLE CIPOLLONE earned her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.  While attending PLU, Michelle was a member of the Choir of the West, which toured the United States, as well as Europe. While singing with PLU Opera, she performed the roles of La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi) and Ino (Semele), as well as taking part in scenes for the PLU Opera Workshops in 2011 and 2012.  She has also been involved with Brava! Opera Theater, singing in the Opera Workshop in 2014 and Master Classes in 2015 and 2016, as well as being a chorus member in The Breasts of Tiresias (2014).  She also performed the lead role of Kathie in Sigmund Romberg’s Operetta The Student Prince with JCCCA (2016).  She recently performed in the ensemble of South Pacific at the Camelot Theater (2016-2017). Michelle is in her third year singing with both the Rogue Valley Chorale and the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers. In addition to performing, Michelle also serves as a Music Educator in the Rogue Valley.  She served as the interim director for the Rogue Valley Discovery Chorus for the 2014-2015 Season, and served as the Music Director for Medford First Christian Church. She also enjoys teaches private voice and piano lessons to students of all ages.

TENOR IN SOLO QUARTET, CRAIG BLACKARD joins Brava! Opera Theater for the first time in Don Pasquale. After a career teaching and performing in Colorado, Craig is now in private practice as a therapist in Ashland. He earned his Master’s Degree in Music Performance from Colorado State University in Fort Collins Colorado and his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Southern Oregon University. Professional roles include Parpignol in La Boheme, Ralph in H.M.S Pinafore, Borsa in Rigoletto, Gastone in La Traviata, Spoletta in Tosca, and Ruiz in Il Trovatore. In addition, Craig also worked to create and premiere two new multi-disciplinary works for Luminous Thread Opera Theater in Denver. One was a non-literal, staged rendering of 19th century Lied, and the other was a steampunk operetta highlighting themes of climate change and environmental stewardship. During his time at Colorado State he sang many leading roles as a student, specializing in the leggero tenor repertoire: mostly Mozart and Rossini. Craig is also passionate about teaching the art and the craft of singing and lives with his partner and their dog in Ashland, Oregon.

BARITONE IN SOLO QUARTET, MICHAEL WING has spent twenty years in the Rogue Valley music community as a performer and director. Retired as music teacher at St. Mary’s School, he has been involved in musical theater, oratorio, and opera productions. Music directing credits include 42nd Street, 1776, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Producers, Jekyll and Hyde, and A Chorus Line. He has appeared in principal roles in Les Misérables, Sweeney Todd, 1776, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Oratorio solo roles include the Requiems of Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, and Faure, as well as Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. On the opera stage, his principal roles have included Mr. Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Alcindoro in La Bohème, and Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Rogue Opera.