Artists and Production

Wesley Rogers - Werther - Wesley Rogers (tenor) is hailed by the San Francisco Classical Voice as possessing the “kind of tenor that pours forth powerfully, effortlessly, seemingly for any length of time.” Mr. Rogers is making his mark on the international operatic and concert stages. His plans in 2013-2014 include Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie (Liege), under the baton of Christophe Rousset, Ferrando in a new production of Così fan tutte at the Opera de Montpellier, Belmonte at the Prinzregententheater in Munich, and the tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. As a recent member of Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program, the tenor performed the role of Peter Quint in Britten’s Turn of the Screw. Performances on the Seattle Opera mainstage include: Maintop in Billy Budd, Trin in Fanciulla del West, Fourth Jew in Salome, and the Commanding Officer in the premiere of Hagen’s Amelia. Also with the company, Mr. Rogers understudied the roles of Pylade in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride, the Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, Froh in Das Rheingold, the Steersman and Melot in Tristan und Isolde, and Dodge and Icarus in Hagen’s Amelia. Recent collaborations have included groups such as Mark Morris Dance Company, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival, Capella Romano, The Tudor Choir, Opera Memphis, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Lake Chelan Bach Festival, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Melina Pyron - Charlotte - Melina Pyron (mezzo-soprano) is a graduate of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center, with whom she created the role of Lucy Cross in the world premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s Chautauqua Variations. Most recently, she performed the Mahler: Symphony No. 2 with Lubbock Symphony in Texas and the role of Maddalena in Rigoletto with Skagit Opera. Other performances in the past year include Stephano in Roméo et Juliette with Intermountain Opera in Bozeman, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Opera Idaho in Boise and a Christmas concert with Bozeman Symphony which included Rutter's Magnificat and selections from Bach and Handel. She has performed with numerous opera companies in the Northwest and across the country, including Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera and the Sarasota Opera. Other solo appearances include Mozart's Grand Mass with Sir Andrew Davis at the Blossom Festival in Cleveland, Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with James Conlon at the Ravinia Festival and Bernstein’s Songfest with Andreas Delfs and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared with the Illinois Symphony, Austria’s Brück an der Mur Orchestra, Orchestra Seattle, the Northwest Sinfonietta, the Bellevue Philharmonic, the Thalia Symphony and the Everett Symphony Orchestra. She has previously been a guest soloist on the nationally broadcast Paul Harvey Show, the Dame Myra Hess Recital Series in Chicago, the Exhibition of Catalan Masters at the Tacoma Art Museum, the Ladies’ Musical Club Recital Series in Western Washington, and the Musician’s Club of Women in Chicago.

Courtney Ruckman - Sophie - Courtney Ruckman (soprano) makes her debut with Vashon Opera. She recently performed as Gilda (Rigoletto) with both Skagit Opera and the Seattle Opera Guild Previews and covered the role with Opera Coeur d’Alene. Entertainment News, NW said her “voice quality was superb…her solos were magnificent.” Ms. Ruckman has also appeared as Maria (The Sound of Music) with Opera Idaho, as both Pauline (The Toy Shop) and the title character (Little Red Riding Hood) for outreach tours with Opera Coeur d’Alene, as Héro (Béatrice et Bénédict) with the Puget Sound Concert Opera, and as the First Lady (Die Zauberflöte) with the Astoria Music Festival. Equally at home on the concert stage, she recently performed Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate with the Skagit Symphony and the soprano solos in Handel’s Messiah with the Bel Canto Performing Arts Society. A regional finalist in the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and an encouragement award winner in 2012, Ms. Ruckman also won the 2013 Coeur d’Alene Symphony Young Artist Competition, received the 2008 Ruggiero Morigi Artist Award, and won the 2007 Sue Goetz Ross Memorial Competition.

Ryan Bede - Albert - Ryan Bede (baritone) returns to Vashon Opera as Albert after previously appearing as Fiorello (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Prince Yamadori (Madama Butterfly). Other recent engagements during the 2013-2014 season include Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with Skagit Opera, Pirate King in The Pirates Of Penzance with Tacoma Opera, Samuel Barber's Dover Beach with the Bella Sala Quartet, and baritone soloist in Handel's Dixit Dominus with the Byrd Ensemble. He has been a featured artist in the Jacobsen Recital Series at the University Of Puget Sound, where he recently performed Schumann's Spanische Liebeslieder. Some other favorite roles include Schaunard in La Bohème (Tacoma Opera, Vespertine Opera, Kitsap Opera, Lyric Opera Northwest), Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro (Astoria Music Festival, Lyric Opera Northwest), and both Marquis d'Obigny and Baron Douphol in La Traviata (Tacoma Opera, Lyric Opera Northwest). He was an Apprentice Artist with Opera New Jersey, where he performed the role of the Boatswain in HMS Pinafore during the summer of 2012. As a past participant of the Next Generation Artist Program with Tacoma Opera, his roles included Ben in The Telephone and Commendatoreador in The Stoned Guest. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound, where he now teaches voice on the Community Music faculty.

Barry Johnson - La Bailli - Barry Johnson (baritone) returns to Vashon Opera as Le Bailli in Werther after having sung Frank in Vashon Opera’s 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 Roméo et Juliette, 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 Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 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 Bohème, 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.

Derek Sellers - Schmidt - Derek Sellers (tenor) is honored to make his debut with Vashon Opera. Mr. Sellers is a Washington native who enjoys pursuing a number of varied passions, principal of which is the study of the voice. Some of his most recent appearances have been in The Gondoliers (Marco), HMS Pinafore (Ralph Rackstraw), and Ruddigore (Dick Dauntless) for the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society, My Fair Lady (Freddy Einsford-Hill) with Lyric Light Opera, and in Mozart’s Idomeneo (Arbace) for Puget Sound Concert Opera. He has also performed with numerous local arts groups in the area including Seattle Opera, The Seattle Symphony Chorale, The Inverse Opera, Opera On Tap, The Seattle Mandolin Orchestra and many others. Mr. Sellers currently studies with Janeanne Houston, and recently spent some time under the tutelage of renowned tenor Vinson Cole at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Prior to that he received his Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Seattle Pacific University. When not singing opera, Derek works as an IT professional at the University of Washington and otherwise cannot seem to sate his passion for learning about the stars.

Eric Henry Olson - Johann - Eric Henry Olson (baritone) is excited to be making is debut with Vashon Opera. Eric, originally from the frozen tundra of Fargo North Dakota, is currently a student at Pacific Lutheran University, studying vocal performance and philosophy. Eric recently performed the role of Nick Bottom in PLU Opera’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and will be performing the role of Figaro for PLU Opera’s Summer Workshop production of Il barbiere di Siviglia. In his free time, Eric enjoys cycling and tap dancing.

Gary Koch - Brühlmann - Gary Koch (tenor) returns after playing Dottore Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi. He is a frequent soloist with the Vashon Island Chorale and in local recitals and benefits. Gary’s opera roles include Captain Petrovich in Eugene Onegin, the Captain in The Barber of Seville, Mr. Splinters in The Tender Land, and Parpignol in La Bohème with Vashon Opera. He has also sung the roles of Tamino in The Magic Flute, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Ben in The Telephone, and Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas. Musical theatre roles include Tommy in Brigadoon, Strephon in Iolanthe, Freddy in My Fair Lady, Koko in The Mikado, Ralph in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Tito in Lend Me a Tenor. Gary studied with the late William Eddy.

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 Così 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 Bohème (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.

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.