Artists and Production

Limmie Pulliam - Canio in I Pagliacci and Palooza Soloist - American tenor Limmie Pulliam has been praised for his captivating stage presence as well as his “stentorian, yet expressive,” voice. Canio (I Pagliacci) marks his role and company debut with Vashon Opera. Mr. Pulliam, who trained at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with the late renowned pedagogue Richard Miller, is a former artist-in-residence with Cleveland Opera, Opera Delaware and Memphis Opera. He has appeared in such roles as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, Romeo in Roméo et Juliette, Don José in Carmen among others. Since his return to singing in 2012, Mr. Pulliam has appeared numerous times as a guest soloist with the internationally renowned Gloriae Dei Cantores, most recently as tenor soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah and previously in concert featuring the works of Gerald Finzi. He has also appeared throughout the United States as a member and featured soloist of the American Spiritual Ensemble. Mr. Pulliam was the 2012 Grand Prize Winner of the National Opera
Association's National Vocal Competition where he was also presented with the Todd Duncan Legacy Award. He was also selected as a finalists in the 2012 Wagner Division of the Liederkranz Vocal Competition. In 2013, Mr. Pulliam was a winner in the 3rd Annual Concorso Internazionale di Canto della Fondazione Marcello Giordani in Catania, Sicily.

José Rubio - Tonio in I Pagliacci and Palooza Soloist - Internationally acclaimed baritone José Rubio has quickly established himself performing at major and regional venues across the country. Equally comfortable in the concert hall as on the operatic stage, Mr. Rubio made his Carnegie Hall Recital Debut which was met with great acclaim. Mr. Rubio's recent engagements have included Falke in Die Fledermaus with Tacoma Opera, company debuts with Asheville Lyric Opera singing Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Skagit Opera singing Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. Internationally he was seen on tour in China with the ISING! Internatioal Festival in 2014.  Other engagements this season have included a return to Portland Opera singing Morales in Carmen, a reprisal of Le Mari in Les Mamelles de Tirésias with Brava! Opera Theater, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia with Vespertine Opera, the title role in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Tacoma Opera, and as the Baritone Soloist in Carmina Burana in Seattle with the Spectrum Dance Theater.  In past seasons was seen with Cincinnati Opera in Galileo Galilei, Guglielmo in Così fan Tutte for Tacoma Opera, Bob and Ben in The Old Maid and the Thief, and The Telephone with Brava! Opera Theater, Marcello in La Bohème and Le Mari in the US premiere of the Benjamin Britten adaptation of Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias with Vespertine Opera, and Portland Opera for the West Coast Premiere of Galileo Galilei, by Philip Glass. He also made his New York City operatic debut to great acclaim in Angel of the Amazon by Evan Mack, a world premiere production with Encompass Opera. He received his Artist Diploma and Master’s degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and holds a Bachelor’s from the University of Washington. Mr. Rubio has been a two time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Competition. He is featured in two of Philip Glass's operas that were recorded on the Orange Mountain Music label: Orpheé and Galileo Galilei. He can also be heard on Albany Records' world premiere recording of Evan Mack's American Opera, Angel of the Amazon.

Jennifer Krikawa - Nedda in I Pagliacci - Jennifer Krikawa (soprano) was seen recently singing the role of Donna Elvira in Vashon Opera's production of Don Giovanni. She has sung for numerous opera companies such as New York City Opera, Virginia Opera, Connecticut Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera North, Augusta Opera, Annapolis Opera, Central City Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Israel Vocal Arts Institute. Jennifer's roles include: Fiordiligi (Così Fan Tutte), Mimi (La Bohème), Micaela (Carmen), Musetta (La Bohème), Laurie (The Tenderland), Gretel (Hansel und Gretel), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Frasquita (Carmen), Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffman), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Giorgetta (Il tabarro) and Madama Butterfly. Mrs. Krikawa has appeared at Carnegie Hall as the soprano soloist for Scarlatti's Dixit Dominus, Vaughan William's Benedicite, and Poulenc's Gloria and has appeared at Benaroya Hall as soloist in Mozart's Requiem and Soprano II in Mozart's Mass in C Minor. She pursued contemporary music studies at The Banff Centre for the Arts and she holds a Masters degree from The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Her awards include First Place NATS winner, First Place Opera Theater of Connecticut Amici Competition, Olga Berzins Vocal Scholarship Award, Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Finalist in Boston and Metropolitan Opera National Council Honorable Mention in Connecticut. She has recorded a CD titled "Songs of Walt Whitman" composed by Malcolm Peyton with Centaur Records. Upcoming Ms. Krikawa will perform A Valentine's Day Concert with her husband, Andrew Krikawa, for Classical King FM, soloist for St. John Vianney's upcoming concert Stabat Mater and Sacred Songs, soprano soloist for Carmina Burana with Vashon Island Chorale and Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmélites with Vashon Opera in September 2016.

Andrew Krikawa - Silvio in I Pagliacci and Palooza Soloist - Andrew Krikawa (baritone) was recently seen singing the role of Sargeant Belcore in Vashon Opera's production of The Elixir of Love. He has sung for numerous companies including New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Virginia Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Nashville Opera, Annapolis Opera, Central City Opera, Pensacola Opera, Eugene Opera, and DiCapo Opera Theatre. Andrew’s most performed roles include Marcello (La Bohème), Sharpless (Madame Butterfly), Germont (La Traviata), Albert (Werther), Silvio (I Pagliacci), and Guglielmo (Così fan tutte). Career highlights have also included appearances with Pittsburgh Opera as Albert in Werther and performances of Così fan tutte with the world renowned Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Mr. Krikawa is a Sullivan Foundation award winner and a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant. He holds a Masters degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Mr. Krikawa helped found Vashon Opera with his wife Jennifer and participates in much of the day to day work for the company. He was seen in the Vashon Opera productions of La Bohème as Marcello, The Tender Land as Top, The Barber of Seville as Figaro, Così fan tutte as Guglielmo, Sid in Albert Herring and the title role in Gianni Schicchi and Eugene Onegin. Upcoming Mr. Krikawa will perform A Valentine's Day Concert with his wife, Jennifer Krikawa, for Classical King FM and baritone soloist for Carmina Burana with Vashon Island Chorale.

Anthony Webb - Beppe in I Pagliacci - Anthony Webb (tenor) was recently seen as Mayor Upfold in Vashon Opera's production of Albert Herring. Praised by OPERA NEWS for his “fine comic flair and well-schooled voice,” Anthony is in demand throughout the country in both opera and concert. Recent career highlights include his Carnegie Hall debut as Jack Prence in Merry Mount under the baton of Michael Christie, Goro (Madama Butterfly) with Opera Colorado, Harold “Mitch” Mitchell (A Streetcar Named Desire) with Union Avenue Opera, Sam (Susannah) with St. Petersburg Opera, Blausius/Gavin in the world premiere of Hugo Kauder’s Merlin, and Count Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Crested Butte Music Festival. Anthony made his role debut as Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Union Avenue Opera and sang the role with Tacoma Opera this past fall. He has performed the tenor solo in Carmina Burana with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Anthony holds a Bachelor of Music from Pacific Lutheran University, and a Master of Music from Indiana University. Anthony will return to sing the role of L'Aumônier in Vashon Opera's upcoming production of Dialogues of the Carmélites, September 2016.

Brendan Tuohy - Palooza Soloist - Brendan Tuohy (tenor) was recently seen singing the role of Albert in Vashon Opera's production of Albert Herring. Mr. Tuohy's roles with Vashon Opera also include Ferrando in Così fan tutte and Martin in The Tender Land. He spent most of the 2014-2015 season performing with several companies in France. Mr. Tuohy performed his role debut of Tito in Mozart’s final operatic masterpiece La Clemenza di Tito with Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier. This season also included his role debut as the title role in Mozart’s Idomeneo with OONM as well as several performances singing Diomede in Cavalli’s recently rediscovered opera Elena with l’Opéra d’Angers-Nantes and l’Opéra de Rennes. This role has been a staple for him the past two seasons after he performed it with Festival d’Aix en Provence in the summer of 2013. Mr. Tuohy in 2013 and 2014 when not in Europe had the opportunity to sing Male Chorus with the Vespertine Opera, he made his hometown Tacoma Opera debut as Alfredo Germont in La Traviata, he made his Opera Memphis debut as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and was the tenor soloist in Oregon Symphony’s and Seattle Symphony’s sold out performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. As a former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio program, Tuohy had several opportunities to perform with this amazing company. Tuohy performed the roles of Conte Almaviva in HGO’s new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia, 1st Prisoner in Fidelio, Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Goro in Madama Butterfly, Tchaplitsky and the Major Domo in Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame, and made his debut with the company as the 1st Noble in Wagner’s Lohengrin. Tuohy completed his academic training at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) with a Masters Degree in Vocal Performance. In 2008, he had the honor of singing and competing in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Semi Finals in New York. Brendan will return to sing the role of Chevalier de la Force in Vashon Opera's upcoming production of Dialogues of the Carmélites, September 2016.

Karen Early Evans - Palooza Soloist - Karen Early Evans (soprano) returns to Vashon Opera after her debut with the company as Rosalinda in Vashon Opera's production of Die Fledermaus. She has performed the role of Fiordiligi with Utah Opera and Tacoma Opera. She was most recently heard singing Bach's Peasant Cantata with Yakima Symphony and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Bellevue Opera, where she has also performed the role of the 1st Lady in their production of The Magic Flute. She sings regularly with the Seattle Opera chorus and was recently invited to sing the roles of Nurse and Trang in a workshop for Amelia, a newly commissioned work for Seattle Opera. Ms. Early Evans performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Northwest Sinfonietta as soprano soloist and has also been a soloist with Tacoma Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Utah Symphony and Eugene Concert Choir. She has performed roles with Lyric Opera Northwest, Skagit Opera, Opera Idaho and Glimmerglass Opera. Ms. Early Evans has been honored as a Finalist in the Metropolitan National Vocal Competition as well as the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. She was chosen as the audience favorite in both the Eleanor Lieber competition and the Bella Voce competition. Recently Ms. Early Evans sang the role of the Countess with Tacoma Opera and Rogue Opera. Ms. Evans was seen this past fall with Tacoma Opera as Donna Anna (Don Giovanni).

Christina Kowalski - Palooza Soloist - Christina Kowalski (soprano) was recently seen singing the role of Lauretta in Vashon Opera's production of Gianni Schicchi. She is a native of Germany, she earned her Master’s Degree in Music and Drama from the Hochschule für Musik und Kunst in Frankfurt am Main. Ms.Kowalski appeared in productions by the Frankfurt Opera Studio as the Governess in Turn of the screw and Parascha in Stravinsky’s Mavra. She toured with the Febi Armonici under Maestro Michael Schneider throughout Germany and appeared as Amore in Poppea at the Stadttheater Eisenach and the Berlin Philharmonic. Ms. Kowalski held an all-Schubert Recital in Vienna, and was a member of the Lied-Klasse of Professor Charles Spencer in Frankfurt, Kammer Saengerin Gundula Janowitz in Vienna and Ms. Elena Lazarska in Salzburg. Ms. Kowalski made her Debut in the United States as Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Mark Theater in Portland. Since then she has performed, among others, with Portland Opera, the Portland Summer Fest, Kitsap Opera, Skagit Opera, Washington East Opera, the Metthow Valley Chamber Music Festival, the Seattle and Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestras, Seattle Concert Opera, Bravo Vancouver Orchestra, Vashon Opera, Sinfonia Concertante and Coeur D’Alene Opera. With Coeur d’Alene Opera alone she has portrayed Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Adina in L'elisir d'amore, the Contessa in The Marriage of Figaro, Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Mimi in La Bohème. Her most recent engagements include a critically acclaimed performance of the Wesendonck Lieder by Wagner with the Vancouver Symphony (WA), an appearance as a featured artist at the Interharmony International Music Festival in Tuscany, Italy and the role of Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Tacoma Opera. Ms. Kowalski's 2016 engagements include the role of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte and the title role of Norma with Skagit Opera, as well as an appearance as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Opera Coeur D'Alene's "Opera on the Lake". Ms. Kowalski-Holien has been a member of the Affiliate Artist Faculty at the University of Puget Sound since 2005 and is a 3rd year doctoral student at the University of Washington. Her CD The Seven is available on CD Baby and Amazon.com.

Julia Benzinger - Palooza Soloist - Mezzo soprano Julia Benzinger had enjoyed performing on opera stages throughout the world. This season saw Ms. Benzinger return to Vespertine Opera Theater as the title character in Fauré's Pénélope. Earlier in 2015, the former Seattle Opera Young Artist made her Pacific MusicWorks debut in Die Zauberflöte. Recent Seattle-area engagements have included Songs and Satire from Terezín with Music of Remembrance, Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia) with Vespertine Opera, La Frugola (Il tabarro) and Zita (Gianni Schicchi) with Vashon Opera. Ms. Benzinger was a soloist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2007-14, during which time she performed a large and varied repertoire, highlights of which include Der Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), the title role in Gnecchi's Cassandra, Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Olga (Eugene Onegin), Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Angelina (La cenerentola), Meg Page (Falstaff), Der Page (Salome), Bersi (Andrea Chenier), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), Flosshilde (Das Rheingold), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte). Future engagements include performances with Music of Remembrance, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, and a role debut as Mère Marie in Dialogues des carmélites with Vashon Opera in September 2016.

Charles Robert Austin - Palooza Soloist - Charles Robert Austin (bass-baritone) has been described by critics as a "Possessor of a strikingly beautiful voice" and "Completely commanding on stage". He was seen with Vashon Opera singing the role of Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. On the operatic stage his successes include returns to the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Cleveland Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Virginia Opera, Madison Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Canadian Opera Company, and Opera Pacific portraying such roles as King Mark, Rocco, Duke Bluebeard, Daland, King Henry the Fowler, Wotan, Figaro, Sarastro and Hunding. He created the role of King Hrothgar for the world premiere of Grendel for LA Opera. Recent concert performances include Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the Seattle Symphony and Canton Symphony; Mozart’s Requiem with the Cleveland Orchestra; Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra; Handel’s Messiah with the San Diego Symphony; a Wagner gala evening with the Canton Symphony Orchestra; Berlioz Romeo et Juliette with the Louisville Orchestra; Verdi’s Requiem with the Dayton Philharmonic. His recordings include, for Naxos - Peter Ibbetson, The Execution of Stepan Razin, Merry Mount, for Milken Archives - The Eternal Road, for Chandos - The Consul, for Phillips - Tosca, and for Arabesque - La Fedelta Premiata.

James Brown - Conductor, Stage Director, Musical Director, and Orchestral Arranger- James Brown enjoys an eclectic career of singing, teaching, stage direction and conducting. His work has been seen at Vashon Opera in The Elixir of Love, Carmen, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Così fan tutte, Die Fledermaus, Werther, and Don Giovanni as stage director, conductor and arranger, Albert Herring (stage director & conductor), Madama Butterfly (stage director)  and Eugene Onegin (conductor and arranger). Other productions as stage director include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Handel’s Semele, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (all PLU Opera), La Bohème (Bellevue Opera) and a critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd (Lakewood Playhouse). Upcoming productions for James with Vashon Opera include Dialogues of the Carmélites in September of 2016 and Tosca in May of 2017. He is the Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University where he directs the opera and oversees a large voice program. James holds degrees from Loyola University/New Orleans, The Juilliard School and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Gary Cannon - Conductor, Vashon Island Chorale - Dr. Gary D. Cannon is one of the Northwest’s most versatile choral personalities, active as conductor, singer, and musicologist. Since 2008 he is Artistic Director of the Vashon Island Chorale and of the Cascadian Chorale, a prominent chamber choir in Seattle’s Eastside suburbs. At the invitation of the Early Music Guild, he founded and directed a Renaissance choir, Sine Nomine (2008–15). He has twice conducted for Vashon Opera: in The Tender Land (2010) and Madama Butterfly (2011). Equally comfortable with amateur and professional ensembles, Dr. Cannon has conducted Anna’s Bay Chamber Choir, Choral Arts, Earth Day Singers, Kirkland Choral Society, and the Northwest Mahler Festival. As a tenor, he has appeared with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Philharmonic, and the Auburn, Eastside, Rainier, and Sammamish Symphony Orchestras, and well as Byrd Ensemble, Choral Arts, Master Chorus Eastside, Seattle Bach Choir, and Tudor Choir. He has sung with Seattle Opera Chorus, Kronos Quartet, and members of the Tallis Scholars. He lectures for Seattle Symphony and has provided written program notes for choirs across the country. His independent musicological research spans music of six centuries, with special emphasis on William Walton and other twentieth-century English composers. A California native, Dr. Cannon holds degrees from the University of California at Davis and the University of Washington. 

Evan Stults - Rehearsal Pianist - Evan Stults is an accomplished vocal accompanist whose experience spans opera, recital, musical theatre, choral music, and cabaret. Evan is the founding musical director of the Vashon Opera, and accompanied island productions of The Magic Flute, La Bohème, The Tender Land, The Barber of Seville, Carmen, Eugene Onegin, Albert Herring and The Elixir of Love. Since 1986, Evan has been the principal accompanist for the Seattle Men’s Chorus. He has played for the Seattle Opera and Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theatre, toured the US and Canada for Columbia Artists and Community Concerts Association, and played for dozens of musicals in professional and community theatres and off-Broadway. Evan’s accompanying career includes international tours and performances in Carnegie Hall, Benaroya Hall, and leading concert halls across the US. He has accompanied artists as diverse as Frederica von Stade, Renee Fleming, Kristin Chenoweth, and Harvey Fierstein, and has played for premieres of new works by composers David Diamond, Gian-Carlo Menotti, and John Corigliano. Upcoming he will accompany Jennifer and Andrew Krikawa for A Valentine's Day Concert with Classical King FM and play one of the two pianos for Vashon Island Chorale's performances of Carmina Burana in April/May 2016. Evan has a degree in semiotics from Brown University, and lives on Vashon with his partner Joe Farmer.

Joseph Farmer - Chorus Master - A native of Southeast Missouri, Joe Farmer has participated in many Vashon Opera productions as an artist (tenor) including Die Fledermaus (Dr. Blind), Il tabarro (Venditore di Canzonetti), Gianni Schicchi (Pinellino), Eugene Onegin (chorus soloist), The Tender Land and The Music Shop (Ivan). He has acted as chorus master for Vashon Opera's productions of The Elixir of Love, Die Fledermaus, Così fan tutte, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Il tabarro and Don Giovanni. Joe has also performed the role of Frederick, the pirate apprentice, in Vashon’s Drama Dock production of Gilbert and Sullivan's, The Pirates of Penzance. In 2011, he was a countertenor participant in Pacific Musicwork’s, “L’Accademia d’Amore”, a 10-day workshop at Cornish College of the Arts focusing on the musical and dramatic aspects of early Baroque Opera. Joe is currently the assistant director of Vashon Island Chorale and has performed with Illumni Men’s Chorale, the Seattle Men's Chorus, Philandros and The Esoterics. He has studied voice with Holly Boaz, Nancy Zylstra and Elizabeth Ripley. Joe holds a Bachelor of Interior Architecture degree from Kansas State University and owns and operates a graphic design business on Vashon Island.