Artists and Production

Karen Early Evans - Rosalinda - Karen Early Evans (Soprano) makes her debut with Vashon Opera. 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. Upcoming engagements for Ms. Early Evans has her singing the Countess with Tacoma Opera and Rogue Opera.

Gino Lucchetti - Alfredo - Gino Lucchetti (Tenor) has performed roles with Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, Tacoma Opera, Kitsap Opera, Bellevue Opera, Lyric Opera Northwest, Hans Wolf Memorial Operetta, Everett Opera, Seattle Concert opera, Puget Sound Concert Opera, Black Box Theater, and the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Recent roles include The New Papa for the world premier of Daren Hagan’s “The Cradle Song,” Rodolfo (La Bohème), Manrico (Il Trovatore), Canio (I Pagliacci), The Duke (Rigoletto), Faust (Gounod’s Faust), Pollione (Norma), Turridu (Cavalleria Rusticana), Don Jose (Carmen), Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor), Alfredo (Die Fledermaus), Florestan (Fidelio), Dick Johnson (La Fanciulla del West), Macduff (Macbeth), Lindoro (L’Italiana in Algieri), Guglielmo “The Tenor” (Viva la Mamma), Kaspar (Amahl and the Night Visitors). Has performed all the major Gilbert and Sullivan lead tenor roles.

Wesley Morgan - Eisenstein - Wesley Morgan (Tenor) has been praised by conductors, stage directors and audiences for his "ringing tenor" and "gift for suave phrasing"(Greenville News), and "leaving the audience swooning" with his "flawless performance" as described by The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Mr. Morgan made his international debut this December as the tenor soloist in Messiah for the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario. The rising tenor returned to Atlanta Opera last season as Gastone in La Traviata, in which Opera News described him as “a natural comedian.” As an Atlanta Opera Studio Artist he starred in the company's touring shows as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, and appeared on the mainstage as Mayor in Cold Sassy Tree, and 1st Priest in Die Zauberflöte. For St. Petersburg Opera's Emerging Artist program, Wesley has sung the roles of Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Nemorino in l'Elisir d'Amore. Other roles include Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (Jubal's Lyre Opera), Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (Capitol City Opera), Nanki Poo in The Mikado (Atlanta Lyric Theatre & Greenville Light Opera Works), the title role in Candide (Georgia State University Opera), The Son in Les Mamelles de Tirésias (Vespertine Opera Theatre), and Rodolfo in La bohéme for El Paso Opera, where he returned this fall to sing Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus. Last summer Wesley sang the role of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte as a young artist with Ash Lawn Opera. This is Wesley’s third production of Die Fledermaus this year.

Ksenia Popova - Adele - Ksenia Popova (Soprano) has been recognized as a “graceful and very elegant performer.” Her recent roles include Queen of the Night and First Lady in Portland Opera’s outreach tour of The Magic Flute, Musetta in La bohème with Vespertine Opera, and Soprano Soloist in An Evening with Kurt Weill with Tacoma Opera. Ms.Popova is a frequent soloist for Seattle Opera Guild’s Preview Groups, where she has performed excerpts of Fidelio as Marzelline, and Orfée et Eurydice as Eurydice. In concert, Ms.Popova appeared as the Soprano Soloist for Carmina Burana with Sammamish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro R. Joseph Scott. A MONC Regional Third Place winner, Audience Favorite, and District winner and Encouragement Award winner recipient, Ms.Popova has also recently been awarded grants from Opera Plus and Seattle Opera Guild. Other roles in Ms. Popova’s repertoire include Fiorilla in Il Turco in Italia, Madame Goldentrill in The Impressario, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Clarine in Platée, Lily in The Secret Garden, and Hélène in Une Éducation Manquée. Ms. Popova has received praise for Opera on Tap Seattle, a non-profit which focuses on bringing opera to the masses via unconventional spaces, which she is a founder and “Managing Diva” of. Upcoming engagements include Antonia/Olympia/Giulietta in excerpts of Les contes d’Hoffmann for Seattle Opera Guild Previews, and Opera on Tap Seattle’s The Big Show.

Charles Robert Stephens - Dr. Falke - Charles Robert Stephens (Baritone) returns after performing Michele and Marco in Vashon Opera's production of Il tabarro/ Gianni Schicchi and Prince Gremin in Vashon Opera’s Eugene Onegin. He 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 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 include Marcello (La bohème), Frank (Die Tote Stadt), Sharpless (Madame Butterfly), and Germont (La Traviata). He has sung at Carnegie Hall with Opera Orchestra of New York, the Oratorio Society of New York, the Masterworks Chorus, and Musica Sacra. 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, and many others. In Seattle he has sung with Seattle Symphony, Tacoma and Spokane Symphony and Opera Companies, Portland Chamber Orchestra and joined the roster of Seattle Opera for the premiere of Amelia. Upcoming performances include concerts with Stephen Stubbs: Handel’s Esther and Monteverdi Vespers, Seattle Symphony in “Opera Festival,” Boston Early Music Festival: Steffani’s Niobe, Queen of Thebes and 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, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs.

Barry Johnson - Frank - Barry Johnson (Baritone) returns to Vashon Opera as Frank in Die Fledermaus. He has attracted national attention among leading conductors, directors, and opera companies as a versatile singing actor. Mr. Johnson is a frequent guest with companies throughout the country including Seattle Opera, Tacoma Opera, Opera Colorado, Anchorage Opera, Portland Opera, Central City Opera, Las Vegas Opera, and the Wildwood Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas. Notable roles in his repertoire include the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Marcello in La bohème, Dancairo in Carmen, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Prince Ottokar in Der Freischütz, Baron Douphol in La Traviata, Angelotti in Tosca, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Fleville in Andrea Chenier, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, and Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld. On the concert stage, Mr. Johnson has been a soloist with orchestras throughout the Northwest including Seattle Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, American Sinfonietta, Yakima Symphony, Northwest Sinfonietta, and Orchestra Seattle. Concert engagements have included Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Frahm’s War Cantata, Bach’s Magnificat, Mozart’s Requiem, and Faure’s Requiem. Mr. Johnson’s professional stage directing credits include Puccini’s La Boheme, Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Puccini’s Tosca, Bizet’s La Tragedie de Carmen, Menotti’s The Telephone, Bizet’s Dr. Miracle, and Pasatieri’s La Divina, with Tacoma Opera.

Cheryse McLeod Lewis - Orlofsky - Cheryse McLeod Lewis, Mezzo-Soprano, is an accomplished performer in opera, concert, and recital. This fall, she will join the National Broadway Tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess as Bess Understudy & Swing. This national tour kicks off in San Francisco in November and will travel to major cities across the US through next July (including Seattle next June at the 5th Avenue Theatre). Visit porgyandbessthemusical.com for additional information. Commended for her “stunning vocal power” (Asheville Citizen Times) and “rich lyric mezzo sound” (Opera News Online), some of Ms. Lewis’ previous leading roles include the title role in Carmen (Capital Opera Raleigh; Asheville Lyric Opera); Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Asheville Lyric Opera, Mansfield Symphony, Central Georgia Opera Guild); Hansel in Hansel and Gretel (Connecticut Opera; Greensboro Opera); The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors (Opera Carolina; Connecticut Opera); and Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (Greensboro Opera). In concert, Ms. Lewis has performed as a soloist with Orchestra Seattle, Gettysburg Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Ballet Bellevue, EMMA Concert Association, Greensboro Symphony, New Britain Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Mansfield Symphony, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, MOJA Festival, and Greensboro Oratorio Society. Ms. Lewis is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (BFA in Voice Performance), The University of NC at Greensboro (MM in Voice Performance), and The AJ Fletcher Opera Institute of The University of NC School of the Arts (Professional Artist Certificate in Opera). A proud native of Greensboro, NC, Ms. Lewis is currently based in Seattle, WA. Her debut solo CD is entitled Spirituals. Learn more at CheryseMusic.com.

Joseph Farmer - Dr. Blind and Chorus master - A native of Southeast Missouri, Joe Farmer (Tenor) has participated in several Vashon Opera productions including Il Tabarro (Venditore di Canzonetti and chorus master), Gianni Schicchi (Pinellino), Così fan tutte (chorus master), Eugene Onegin (soloist), Carmen, Madama Butterfly, and The Tender Land. Joe recently performed the role of Frederick, the pirate apprentice in Gilbert and Sullivan's, The Pirates of Penzance with Vashon's Drama Dock. 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 has performed as a soloist with Vashon Island Chorale and the Seattle Men's Chorus and was a founding member of 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. He owns and operates a graphic design business on Vashon Island.

Gordon Millar - Frosch - Gordon Millar 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.

Emily Belshaw - Ida - Emily Belshaw (Soprano) has appeared regularly with Vashon Opera since her move to the island in 2010. She sang the role of Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Mrs. Splinters in The Tender Land, and also appeared in Così fan Tutte, Eugene Onegin and Carmen. In 2010 she performed the mezzo-soprano solo of Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio with the Vashon Island Chorale. Opera roles in San Francisco with Golden West Opera and S.F. Lyric Opera include Gerhilde (Die Walküre), Mercedes (Carmen), First Touriere (Suor Angelica) and Countess Ceprano (Rigoletto). Solo concert performances include works by women composers, works by John Dowland and German Lieder, as well as her original compositions. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance and Composition from Bennington College in Vermont, where she studied with Frank Baker.

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 Il Barbiere di Siviglia (stage director, conductor and arranger), Madama Butterfly (stage director) and Carmen (stage director, conductor and arranger), Eugene Onegin (conductor and arranger) and Cosi fan tutte (stage director, 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 (all PLU Opera), La Boheme (Bellevue Opera) and a critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd (Lakewood Playhouse). Upcoming productions for James include Massenet’s Werther with Vashon Opera and Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream 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.

Karin Choo - Violin - Karin Choo holds Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the New England Conservatory, where she studied violin performance with James Buswell, and Tufts University, where she studied economics. She teaches and performs as a free-lance artist throughout the greater Seattle area, and is currently serving as Music Director of the Vashon-Maury Chamber Orchestra. She worked previously as Executive Director of The American String Project and as Operations Manager and Assistant Artistic Administrator at the Seattle Symphony.

Mary Manning - Violin/Viola - Mary Manning is a Tacoma native and a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, where she studied both modern and baroque performance with Marilyn McDonald. While there she was a concerto winner and was awarded the Kaufman Prize for an Outstanding Violinist. Ms. Manning is principal second violin of the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Tacoma Opera Orchestra, and freelances extensively. She has served as guest concertmaster for Northwest Sinfonietta and Seattle Pro Musica. As a chamber music player she has performed on many series throughout the Northwest including the Governor’s Mansion, Second City Chamber and Gallery Concerts. Her work as a baroque orchestral musician has included being a member of the Seattle, Portland, and Pacific Baroque Orchestras as well as appearing with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra of San Francisco, Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra of Washington DC, and the Carmel Bach Festival in California. As a baroque chamber musician, Ms. Manning co-founded the Tomasini String Quartet, the Northwest’s first period (“historically informed”) instrument quartet. She has toured in Austria and China with baroque ensembles and helped found the Puget Sound Consort, Tacoma’s ensemble for early music. More unique work has included appearing, as a violinist, in a television commercial for Folgers coffee, recording a soundtrack for a silent movie (The Showoff, Turner Classic Movies) and playing backup for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on their 1995 tour. She has taught violin at Pacific Lutheran University since 2008 and is a member of the faculty string quartet, the Regency. Mary lives in Gig Harbor and is a private violin and viola teacher.

Douglas Davis - Cello - Douglas Davis held principal positions with St. Louis Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Pasadena Symphony. Davis also played principal cello at Oregon Bach Festival and Bach Academy in Stuttgart. He has played for film scores, including John Williams' Jurassic Park and James Horner's Apollo 13. He currently performs as guest principal cello for Seattle Symphony Orchestra. To the delight of Vashon Island chamber music aficionados, Hammill and Davis are entering their third year as artistic directors for Vashon Allied Arts’ popular Chamber Music Series.

Jennifer Rhyne - Flute - Jennifer Rhyne serves as Affiliate Artist and Senior Lecturer in Flute at Pacific Lutheran University where she teaches flute, directs the Sølvvinden Flute Ensemble, and performs with the Camas Woodwind Quintet. She is also a member of the Tacoma Symphony. Before joining the faculty of PLU, Rhyne taught at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. She studied at the Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Michigan, Stony Brook University, and at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. She has been a prize winner in competitions sponsored by the National Flute Association, the Texas Flute Society, the Albuquerque Flute Association, and the Washington, DC Flute Society and has performed at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden in New York. She has performed as a soloist with the PLU Wind Ensemble, the Fort Hays Wind Ensemble, the Stony Brook Orchestra, and the Charlotte Symphony. A dedicated pedagogue, her articles have been published in School Band and Orchestra Magazine and Flute Talk, and she has been a featured lecturer and masterclass clinician at the Kansas Music Educators Convention, the University of Oregon, Cornish College of the Arts, Ohio University, and Columbus State University in Georgia.

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.