Artists and Production

Charles Robert Stephens - Michele / Marco - Charles Robert Stephens (Baritone) has enjoyed a career spanning a wide variety of roles and styles in opera and concert music. His performances have shown “a committed characterization and a voice of considerable beauty.” (Opera News, 1995) At the New York City Opera he sang the role of Professor Friedrich Bhaer in the New York premiere of Adamo’s Little Women, and was hailed by the New York Times as a “baritone of smooth distinction.” Other New York City Opera roles since his debut as Marcello in 1995 include Frank in Die Tote Stadt, Sharpless in Madame Butterfly, and Germont in La Traviata. He has sung on numerous occasions at Carnegie Hall in a variety of roles with Opera Orchestra of New York, the Oratorio Society of New York, the Masterworks Chorus, and Musica Sacra. In his twenty years in New York City Mr. Stephens has sung as guest soloist with most of New York’s premiere ensembles including Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, Ascension Music, L’Opera Francais de New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and many others. Now based in Seattle he has sung with Seattle Symphony, Tacoma and Spokane Symphony and Opera Companies, Portland Chamber Orchestra and many other the orchestras and opera companies in the Pacific Northwest. He joins the roster of Seattle Opera in 2010 for the premiere of Amelia by Daron Hagen. Upcoming performances include two concerts with Stephen Stubbs: Handel’s Esther and Monteverdi Vespers a return engagement with Seattle Symphony in “Opera Festival,” a debut with Boston Early Music Festival in Steffani's Niobe, Queen of Thebes and a return engagement with the American Classical Orchestra as Jesus in Bach's St. Matthew Passion at St. John the Divine in NYC. Locally he sings Carmina Burana, Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.

Jennifer Krikawa - Giorgetta - Jennifer Krikawa (Soprano) 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 most performed roles include: Fiordiligi (Così Fan Tutte), Mimi (La Bohème), Musetta (La Bohème), Micaela (Carmen), Gretel (Hansel und Gretel), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Susannah (Susannah), Frasquita (Carmen), Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffman),and Yum Yum (The Mikado). 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. 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. Jennifer has been seen as a soloist with The Vashon Island Chorale for the past five years and cantors at St. John Vianney Church.

Ernest Alvarez - Luigi / Rinuccio - Ernest Alvarez (Tenor) makes his Vashon Opera debut singing the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Other operatic credits include The Prince of Persia/ Calaf (cover) in Turandot with West Bay Opera. Sargente (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Parpignol/ Rodolfo-cover (La Bohème), the Messenger (Samson et Dalila), and Prince of Persia (Turandot) with Opera Pacific; Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) at the Operaestate di Roma festival; the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto) with Center Stage Opera; Rodolfo (La Bohème) in Urbania, Italy; Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Requiem and Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Orange County Catholic Chorale; and Beadle Bamford (Sweeney Todd) at El Camino Center for the Arts. Mr. Alvarez was also a part of the Aspen Music Festival’s 60th Anniversary season where he revisited the role of Rodolfo under the tutelage of famed tenor Vinson Cole.

Tim Janecke - Tinca / Gherardo - Tim is a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest and is enjoying his 2nd production with Vashon Opera. He has been recently heard playing the roles of Benedict in Benedict et Beatrice for Puget Sound Concert Opera, Parpignol in La Bohème for Seattle Opera, Incredibile in Andrea Chenier for Puget Sound Concert Opera, and the tenor soloist for the Verdi Requiem with Sammamish Symphony last spring at Benaroya Hall. Past roles include Goro (Madama Butterfly), Gerard (Lakmé), Ferrando (Così Fan Tutte), Nemorino (L'elisir d'amore), Alfredo (La Traviata), Don Basilio (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni). He has performed for several operetta companies as well, playing Tricolet in Cloclo for Chicago Folks Operetta and Achilles in Beautiful Helen of Troy for Light Opera Works. In addition to his busy solo career, Tim is an experienced ensemble singer. Currently, he performs with Seattle Opera, Musica Sacra, and First Presbyterian Church of Bellvue. In the past Tim performed extensively with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Grant Park Symphony Chorus. Tim resides in Woodinville and would like to thank his family for all their support.

David Stutz - Talpa / Simone - David Stutz (Bass) is a singer, composer, and recording artist whose forays into staged musical works range from medieval mystery plays to puppet opera. He is very pleased to rejoin Vashon Opera, where he has previously appeared as Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville and as Grandpa in Copland’s The Tender Land. Besides his interest in opera, he is a specialist in chant and early music, and is currently a member of two highly regarded Northwest vocal ensembles that specialize in these genres: The Tudor Choir and Cappella Romana. He sings regularly with other Northwest early music ensembles such as Seattle Baroque, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Byrd Ensemble, and Pacific Musicworks. David has sung, composed, and/or produced incidental music for plays, ballets, and films. He performs and records his own electro-acoustic compositions, in which he uses computers and mathematical structures to process field recordings of natural sounds; his most recent project in this vein was a full-length experimental theater piece about the life of Alan Turing, which was performed for the centennial of Turing's birth.

Julia Benzinger - La Frugola / Zita - Hailed by the International Herald Tribune for her ‘luscious mezzo’, Julia Benzinger (Mezzo-soprano) makes her Vashon Opera debut as La Frugola in Il tabarro and Zita in Gianni Schicchi. She returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in the 2011-2012 season for performances as Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, and Meg Page in Falstaff. Previous roles with the company include Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, The Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen, Olga in Eugene Onegin, Flosshilde in Das Rheingold, Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Rossweisse in Die Walküre, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, Flora in La Traviata, Annina in Der Rosenkavalier, Rosalia in Tiefland, Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte, St. Margarete in Walther Braunfels’ Szenen aus dem Leben der Heiligen Johanna and the title character in Gnecchi’s Cassandra. As a member of the Sarasota Opera Young Artist Program, Julia was awarded the Anne O’Donnell Award for Outstanding Apprentice for her work as Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia as well as her interpretations of Dorabella in Così fan tutte and Le Prince Charmant of Cendrillon. Other roles for which she has gained success include the title role in Carmen, Angelina in La cenerentola, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, Maddalena in Rigoletto, and The Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas. When not singing, you can find her enjoying the outdoors with her toddler son, Fox, and her two dogs, Freya and Donner.

Christina Kowalski - Sopranino di Voce / Lauretta - Christina Kowalski (Soprano) 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. She most recently performed Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly with the Seattle Opera Guild , Nedda in I Pagliacci with Skagit Opera and Beethoven's 9nth with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra. Her future engagements include Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Rogue Opera and Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder with the Vancouver Symphony. Her CD The Seven is available on amazon.com.

Andrew Krikawa - Gianni Schicchi - Andrew Krikawa (Baritone) moved to Vashon Island from New York City nearly seven years ago. While based in New York he sang 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 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, and The Barber of Seville as Figaro.

Holly Boaz - Nella - Holly Boaz (Soprano) has appeared with the Seattle Symphony, Aldeburgh Festival, Hartford Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, Connecticut Opera, Tacoma Opera, The Russian Chamber Music Foundation of Seattle, the Bellevue Philharmonic, and Opera Quad Cities, among others in recent seasons. She is a recent member of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, where she sang Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff and Micaëla in The Tragedy of Carmen. She is a winner of the LMC Seattle Competition, and awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, The Richardson Awards, and Sun Valley Opera. She was a fellowship recipient at the Aspen Music Festival and Music Academy of the West and holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the Hartt School. She can be heard as the Sparrow in Krasá’s children’s opera, Brundibar, with Music of Remembrance and Gerard Schwarz on the Naxos label.

Michael Dunlap - Betto di Signa - Michael Dunlap (Bass-baritone) is originally from Pasadena, California where he first learned to play the viola. He 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. As a composer and conductor, he premiered his setting of Psalm 8 for chorus and piano at Peace Lutheran Church in February 2009.

Nerys Jones - La Ciesca - 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. Early soprano roles include Karolka (Jenufa) and Marzelline (Fidelio) for Scottish Opera with the American director Stephen Wadsworth and Norina (Don Pasquale) with Welsh National Opera on the BP Tour. In 1994 she joined English National Opera where she remained 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), Nursing Sister (Suor Angelica), Rosette (Manon), 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 at the National Eisteddfod. Recitals include the North Wales Music Festival with the pianist Malcolm Martineau, and a celebration concert for the composer, Geoffrey Bush, at 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 conducted by the late Richard Hickox, Lisetta (Il Mondo della Luna) and Pippo (La Gazza Ladra) at Garsington, 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. Hansel with Reisopera in Holland and Prince Charmant in Cendrillion for Puget Sound Concert Opera and understudied at the Seattle Opera on their World Premier piece “Amelia”. Last spring, Nerys made her Vashon Opera debut singing the role of Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin. Nerys lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters Celyn and Mali.

Gordon Millar - Uncle Buoso - Gordon Millar (Actor) emigrated from his homeland, Scotland, in 1968 to join the Boeing Company and moved to Vashon in 1977 where he soon became involved with Drama Dock, performing in many plays and a few musicals: Anything Goes, Honk, Wizard of Oz as the wizard and last year played the Pirate King in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Pirates of Penzance. His Scottish heritage also led him to an interest in Celtic folk music causing him to take up the penny whistle. For several years he played and sang with the Vashon band Geordie’s Byre which he co-founded. He also co-founded and serves as president of the Vashon Burns Society which annually celebrates the birthday of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns with a traditional supper and concert of his poetry and songs. Gordon’s first appearance with Vashon Opera was in the comedic role of Ambrogio in The Barber of Seville followed by the inn keeper, Lillas Pastia in Carmen. Last Christmas he performed the role of the evil Mr. Potter in Drama Dock’s radio play version of It’s A Wonderful Life. He is happily married to theater director and actress Patricia Kelly.

James Brown - Conductor, Stage Director, Musical Director, Orchestral Arranger - Jim Brown enjoys an eclectic career of singing, teaching, stage direction, conducting and composing. His work has been seen at Vashon Opera in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (stage director, conductor and arranger), Madama Butterfly
(stage director), Carmen (arranger, stage and music director), Eugene Onegin (conductor, arranger and musical director) and Co fan tutte arranger, stage and music director). Other local productions as stage director include and The Magic Flute (PLU Opera), Handel’s Semele (PLU Opera), La Bohème (Bellevue Opera), Sweeney Todd (Lakewood Playhouse) and Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina (producer) for Cornish School of the Arts. Upcoming productions for James include Il tabarro/Gianni Schicchi (arranger, stage and music director) with Vashon Opera and The Magic Flute (stage director) with PLU Opera. As a singer, Jim has distinguished himself on the opera and concert stage. The tenor has appeared with Seattle’s world-renowned community of early music specialists in concerts and operas at Seattle’s Town Hall, St. James Cathedral, Intiman Theatre and the Moore Theatre. At the Moore Theatre, Jim performed with Tony award winners Handspring Puppet Company under the direction of celebrated artist William Kentridge. Jim has appeared as concert soloist at the Aspen Music Festival, Ravinia Festival and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He recently sang the tenor solos in the 2011 Messiah with the Tacoma Symphony under the baton of Geoffrey Boers. Jim has sung with New Orleans Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Rogue Opera, Skylight Opera Theatre and Tulsa Opera. He is the Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University where he directs the opera and oversees a large voice program. Jim holds degrees from Loyola University/New Orleans, The Juilliard School and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Evan Stults - Rehearsal and Performance 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, and Eugene Onegin. 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. Evan has a degree in semiotics from Brown University, and lives on Vashon with his partner Joe Farmer.