Artists and Production

Allison Pohl - Blanche de la Force - Allison Pohl (soprano) has performed widely in the United States as well as in Italy and China, drawing positive reviews for her “sparkling voice” (outerstage.com) and “exuberant” performances (Opera News). Of her performance in L'elisir d'amore at Virginia Opera, The Washington Post wrote: “Allison Pohl stood out with a ripe, flavorful soprano and ample character." This season, she will perform Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites at Vashon Opera and Tatyana in Eugene Onegin at Tacoma Opera. Ms. Pohl made her debut as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of Maestro Stephen Lord at Boston Lyric Opera. Recent performances include Frasquita in Carmen and Clorinda in La Cenerentola with New York City Opera's education and touring programs, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel at Opera in the Heights, Yum-Yum in The Mikado at Opera Providence, Giannetta in L’elisir d’amore at New Rochelle Opera, and concerts with the Canton Symphony Orchestra and Richmond County Orchestra. Among the many operatic roles she has brought to the stage are Nannetta in Falstaff, Norina in Don Pasquale, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She also performs with the cello and soprano duo Soprello. Ms. Pohl holds degrees from Boston University and SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. www.allisonpohl.com

Janeanne Houston - Madame Lidoine - Janeanne Houston (soprano) has been praised by the Seattle Times as a “radiant voiced and very communicative” singer, by Gramophone as “Unfailingly responsive and dedicated”, by Classical Voice of North Carolina as a “magnificent singer” with “a beautiful voice and stunning interpretive skills” and The Journal of Singing remarked “such praiseworthy singing” and “a flawless sense of style.” She returns to Vashon Opera after singing the role of Donna Anna in Vashon Opera's production of Don Giovanni. Ms. Houston's other recent opera roles have been Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Konstanze in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio. Other recent performances include Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Oregon Symphony, multiple performances of Verdi’s Requiem in the region, Messiah Festival in Kansas, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, and Brahms’ A German Requiem. She has been a guest artist with many distinguished choral and orchestral organizations including Seattle Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Northwest Sinfonietta, Eugene Symphony and Opera, Great Falls Symphony, Helena Symphony, Spokane Symphony, and Walla Walla Symphony. She sang the Mater Gloriosa in the first Oregon performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony with Eugene Symphony in 2002. Previous roles have included Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Violetta in La Traviata, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Micaela in Carmen. Her recordings are on Naxos, Albany, and Elmgrove. She has been a finalist and a second place winner in the Northwest Regional Metropolitan Opera auditions. Born in Kansas City, Ms. Houston spent her childhood in Myanmar, India, and the Philippine Islands. She is a member of the voice faculty at Pacific Lutheran University.

Beth Madsen Bradford - Madame de Croissy - Beth Madsen Bradford (mezzo soprano), has been praised by critics for her “lovely, vibrant tone” and “gutsy” portrayals of some of opera’s greatest characters. She returns after singing the role of Florence in Vashon Opera's production of Albert Herring. She performs regularly throughout the West Coast, where her roles encompass the dramatic and comedic repertoire. Recent highlights include Mrs. Grose (The Turn of the Screw), Filipyevna (Eugene Onegin), Juno/Ino (Semele), Miss Todd (The Old Maid and the Thief), the title role in Carmen, Princess Eboli (Don Carlo), Zita and Zia Principessa (Il Trittico) and The Witch (Hansel and Gretel), as well as several of Gilbert and Sullivan’s favorite operetta roles: Phoebe (Yeomen of the Guard), Little Buttercup (H.M.S. Pinafore), Dame Hannah (Ruddigore) and Ruth (Pirates of Penzance), for which Beth won the Portland Area Musical Theater Award for Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress. Beth has appeared with Portland Opera, Oregon Symphony, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Tacoma Opera, Skagit Opera, Aspen Opera Theater Center, Juneau Symphony, Opera Theater Oregon and Walla Walla Symphony, among others. She received training with the International Vocal Arts Institute, the Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Program and Aspen Opera Theater Center. Beth makes her home in Portland.

Jessica Milanese - Soeur Constance - Jessica Robins Milanese (soprano) is critically acclaimed for the depth and sparkle she brings to her performances on the concert and opera stage. With the Northwest Sinfonietta, The News Tribune stated “Jessica Robins Milanese's performance of the well known Exsultate, Jubilate by Mozart was all that could be wished for. Milanese’s voice rang like liquid gold, and she produced some goose-bump coloratura.”  She returns to Vashon after singing the role of Miss Wordsworth in Vashon Opera's production of Albert Herring. Ms. Milanese has performed with many of the regions leading arts organizations such as Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nothwest Sinfonietta, Tacoma Opera, Tacoma Symphony and Orchestra Seattle. On the opera stage, Susanna, (The Marriage of Figaro), is one of Ms. Milanese's favorite and most frequently performed characters. She has performed the role with Tacoma Opera, Washington East Opera, Skagit Opera and Opera Pacific. Other memorable roles include Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Héro (Béatrice et Bénédict) , Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Norina (Don Pasquale), Marie (Daughter of the Regiment), Pamina (The Magic Flute), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel). Along with singing the role of Ms. Wordsworth (Albert Herring) at Vashon Opera this spring, Ms. Milanese will keep busy by performing the soprano roles in Seattle Opera’ s production of Our Earth, she will record and perform with the Seattle Symphony’s Lullaby Project and continue her teaching as a faculty member at Pacific Lutheran University.

Brendan Tuohy - Le Chevalier - Brendan Tuohy (tenor) was recently seen singing the role of Albert in Vashon Opera's production of Albert Herring and singing operatic highlights in Vashon Opera's May production of Pagliacci Palooza. 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 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 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 performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. As a former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio program, 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 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.

Michael Delos - Le Marquis - Michael Delos (bass-baritone) has appeared with the New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Vancouver Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Hawaii, and many other opera companies throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is especially noted for his Mozart roles – both the Don and Leporello in Don Giovanni, the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and the Speaker in The Magic Flute. Other roles include Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, Colline in La Bohème and Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, the role of his triumphant European debut with Operá de Monte Carlo, Monaco. An active recording and voice over artist, Delos’ voice can be heard on scores of Video Games, Motion Pictures and Commercials. He features prominently in the ‘Halo’ series, and also ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘World of Warcraft’,‘The Elder Scrolls’ and ‘Shadow of Mordor’. His Motion Picture soundtracks include ‘Novocaine’ with Steve Martin, ‘John Q’ with Denzel Washington, ‘Ghostrider’ with Nicolas Cage and most recently a collaboration with 8 time Oscar winner Alan Mencken in ‘Mirror, Mirror’ with Julia Roberts. Mr. Delos serves on the voice faculty of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and currently is the bass soloist with Seattle’s Temple Beth Am.

Julia Benzinger - Mère Marie de L'Incarnation - The 2016-17 season sees Ms. Benzinger (mezzo soprano) return to Vashon Opera, making a role debut as Mére Marie in Dialogues of the Carmelites. In November, she returns to Seattle for an evening in celebration of John Cage, performing his radical compositions Aria, 5 Songs for Contralto, and Sonnekus. Later in the season she will take the stage with Pacific MusicWorks, under the musical direction of GRAMMY award winner Stephen Stubbs, as The Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas. The 2015 season brought Julia back to Vespertine Opera Theatre as the title character in Fauré's Pénélope. Earlier in the season, the former Seattle Opera Young Artist made her Pacific MusicWorks debut in Die Zauberflöte. Recent Seattle-area performances include Songs and Satire from Terezin with Music of Remembrance, Lucretia (The Rape of Lucretia) with Vespertine Opera Theatre, La Frugola (Il tabarro) and Zita (Gianni Schicchi) with Vashon Opera. Ms. Benzinger was a soloist with the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2007-13, during which time she performed a large and varied repertoire, highlights of which include Der Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), Flosshilde (Das Rheingold), the title role in Gnecchi's Cassandra, Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Olga (Eugene Onegin), The Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Der Page (Salome), Bersi (Andrea Chenier), and Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro). Julia makes her home on Bainbridge Island with her partner, two young sons, Donner the blue shar pei, and Chaplin the rescued stray cat.

Wesley Morgan - L'Aumônier - Wesley Morgan (tenor) has been praised by conductors, stage directors and audiences for his “ringing tenor” and “gift for suave phrasing” (Greenville News). Of Wesley’s Opera in the Heights debut as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, BroadwayWorld.com said “Wesley Morgan’s polished tenor instrument is put to great use with this score.” Wesley reprised the role of Edgardo at the Belleayre Music Festival. After a New York City debut with Teatro Grattacielo on a gala concert featuring Aprile Milo, Wesley returned last season as Alexis in Siberia. Opera news said of his performance “Wesley Morgan’s clear tenor made one wish Giordano had given Alexis more to sing.” Mr. Morgan made his international debut in Messiah for the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario and returned to Atlanta Opera as Gastone in La traviata. As an Atlanta Opera Studio Artist he starred as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Mayor in Cold Sassy Tree, and 1st Priest in Die Zauberflöte. Wesley is thrilled to be returning to St. Petersburg Opera this season as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. He is an alumni of SPO’s Emerging Artist program in which he sang Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Nemorino in l’Elisir d’Amore.  Other roles include Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (Ash Lawn Opera), Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (Capitol City Opera), The Son in Les Mamelles de Tirésias (Vespertine Opera Theatre), Rodolfo in La Bohéme (El Paso Opera), Eisenstein and Alfred in Die Fledermaus (El Paso Opera, Vashon Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera). Recent and upcoming concert engagements include the Albany Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Choral Society (Schubert Mass in Eb), Savannah Philharmonic, the Helena Symphony Orchestra (St. Matthew’s Passion), the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra (Mozart Requiem), and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra.

John Marzano - 1er Commissaire - John Marzano (tenor) was born and raised in Tacoma, WA. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance at Pacific Lutheran University studying under baritone Barry Johnson. Mr. Marzano has also studied at the New England Conservatory under tenor Bradley Williams. Mr. Marzano is a frequent performer with PLU Opera, Vashon Opera and Seattle Opera. Recent opera roles include Ferrando in Mozart’s Co fan tutte, Count Almaviva in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Rinuccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Jupiter in Handel’s Semele, Mr. Upfold in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, and Remendado in Bizet's Carmen. He is also an Associate Chorus Member with the Seattle Opera and has been involved in their productions of Turandot '12, La Bohème '13, The Flying Dutchman ’16, Le Comte Ory ‘16. Mr. Marzano has received numerous awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council including District and Regional Encouragement Awards and was also named the Northwest District Winner in 2013 and 2015. Mr. Marzano frequents the concert stage as well. He has performed with groups such as the Pacific Lutheran University Orchestra, Tacoma Youth Symphony, Seattle Opera, PLU Choral Union, PLU Choir of the West, PLU University Chorale.

Ben Kramer - 2e Commissaire - Ben Kramer (baritone) is a transplant to Seattle, who hails from all over quite literally, having been born in the UK and moved to the states where he was raised in Texas, Florida and California. After studying in central and southern Italy for two years, he returned to complete his Bachelors in Music: Vocal Performance, at Brigham Young University under the tutelage of Darrell Babidge. While at BYU he performed such roles as Pooh Bah (The Mikado), The Pirate King (The Pirates of Penzance), and leading roles such as Dr. Falke (Die Fledermaus) and Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro). Outside of performing at BYU, Ben has also performed with the Utah Lyric Opera as a chorus member in La traviata and as Betto in the Utah/Idaho Performing Arts Company's production of Gianni Schicchi. Past engagements of the 2015-16 season included his professional debut with Lyric Opera Northwest in Verdi's Rigoletto, as Marullo, Macbetto in scenes from Verdi’s Macbeth with UW Opera Theatre and the ensemble in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer with the Seattle Opera. Before making his debut with Vashon Opera as the 2nd Commissioner, Ben had the privilege of attending AIMs in Graz under full fellowship this summer. In addition to his debut to Vashon this season, Ben will also be a part of the ensemble in Seattle Opera’s production of The Magic Flute, spring of 2017. He currently studies with Gustavo Halley, who is based in Kansas City.

Michael Dunlap - 1er Officier & Le Geôlier - Michael Dunlap (bass-baritone) is originally from Pasadena, California, where he embarked on his musical journey as a violist. He later studied composition at Western Washington University with Roger Briggs where he focused mainly on instrumental music. After college he started singing more, performing roles in musical theater and singing in choirs. Michael now performs regularly with Seattle Opera and has appeared in other local venues such as Northwest Opera in the Schools, Seattle Opera Guild Previews and most notably as Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville for Tacoma Opera and Colline in La Bohème for Kitsap Opera. Michael returns to Vashon Opera after singing the role of Masetto in Vashon Opera's production of Don Giovanni. Other Vashon Opera credits include Marco in Gianni Schicchi and Colline in La Bohème.

Nerys Jones - Mère Jeanne - Nerys Jones (mezzo soprano) was born and educated in Mid Wales and studied at both the Royal Scottish Academy and Guildhall schools of music and drama. She returns to Vashon Opera after singing Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and Larina in Eugene Onegin. 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), 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 Seattle Opera, PNB, Seattle Chamber Society, Tacoma Opera, Philharmonia Northwest, Northwest Sinfonietta and Vashon Opera. Nerys' future engagements include soloist in the Mozart Requiem with the Northwest Sinfonietta.

Samantha Gorham - Soeur Mathilde - Samantha Gorham (soprano) is a graduate of Northern Arizona University.  She returns to Vashon Opera after singing the role of Giannetta in Vashon Opera's Production of The Elixir of Love and as a soloist in Pagliacci Palooza. She also studied at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where she performed in the world premiere of The Tale of Lady Thi Kinh as part of the chorus. Most recently, Samantha performed as the Mother in the Pacific Lutheran University’s Summer Opera Program performance of Hansel and Gretel, and Adina in L'elisir d'amore in the same program.

Rick Turner - Le Medécin - Rick Turner (baritone) is delighted to be involved in just his second Vashon Opera production, after appearing in the chorus of Pagliacci Palooza this past May. A five-year resident of the island, he has sung in numerous stage musicals here in the northwest as well as in Arizona; some of his favorites have been The Music Man, Damn Yankees, Oklahoma, and Once Upon a Mattress. Rick has also freelanced as an actor and voice talent over the past 25 years, appearing in the TV series Northern Exposure, Grimm, and Leverage, and has the good fortune to appear onscreen with the likes of Robert DeNiro, Melissa Leo and Darren Burrows. So how does the opera stage compare? “I consider opera singers to be like world-class athletes, in that they can do amazing things the rest of us only dream of. To have the privilege of sharing the stage with them is — and here the word truly applies — awesome.”

Hugh Davis - Thierry - Hugh Davis (baritone) is a senior at Vashon High School. He studies voice with Holly Boaz and violin with Leonid Keylin. Hugh was the High School Classical Male 2nd place winner of the 2016 Northwest Region NATS student auditions and was chosen to attend the Westminster Choir College High School Solo Vocal Artists Intensive in Princeton this summer. He played the role of Billy Crocker in Vashon High School’s Anything Goes this past spring and is excited to be performing his first ever operatic role with Vashon Opera.

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 Pagliacci Palooza, 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 include Tosca in May with Vashon Opera, conductor and stage director for Carmen with Pacific Northwest Opera (formerly Skagit Opera) and a world premiere opera, Fiery Jade- Cai Yan (Youtz) with PLU Opera. 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.

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, Werther, Die Fledermaus, Albert Herring,The Elixir of Love, and Pagliacci Palooza. 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.

Joseph Farmer - Chorus Master - Joe Farmer has participated in many Vashon Opera productions 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 Pagliacci Palooza, 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.