As the second half of a unique performance event, Pietro Mascagni’s gorgeous Cavalleria Rusticana will radiate through the Vashon Center for the Arts. Known for its exquisitely beautiful orchestral intermezzo, Mascagni’s symphonic mastery will shine as Vashon Opera’s acclaimed orchestra performs at stage level amidst the story’s characters and chorus. As a prelude to Cavalleria Rusticana’s dramatic tale, you’ll be serenaded by a gala of opera's greatest hits — arias, duets and masterworks for orchestra.
Meet the artists
Gala Concert Soloist Limmie Pulliam
Gala Concert Soloist Marie Masters Webb
Gala Concert Soloist Melissa Plagemann
Gala Concert Soloist Andrew Krikawa
Gala Concert Soloist Soon Cho
2 hours, 35 minutes (including one 25-minute intermission)
It’s Easter morning in a Sicilian village. A tenor voice is heard in the distance. It’s Turiddu, returning from war, singing of his love for his fiancé, Lola. He soon learns that while gone, Lola married Alfio, a local wagon owner. Heartbroken, and looking for a way to provoke Lola’s jealousy, Turiddu rekindles a relationship with Santuzza, an old girl friend. He promises to marry her. This gets Lola’s attention and with Alfio often out of town on business, she begins an adulterous affair with her former fiancé. Now it’s Santuzza’s turn to be jealous. This tangled relationship is the prologue to the opera.
The curtain rises on the tavern owned by Turiddu’s mother, Mamma Lucia. She tells Santuzza and Alfio that her son is out of town on a wine-buying trip. Not true. Turiddu’s still around and Santuzza runs into him in town. “What were you doing near Lola’s house last night?” she asks.
The leading characters head to church for Easter Mass. All except Santuzza who’s been barred from church by the clergy for her illicit romance.
First comes Turiddu’s mother, Mamma Lucia. Santuzza asks Lucia to pray for her. Next Lola, who sneers at her rival. Santuzza begs Turiddu not to abandon her, revealing that she’s pregnant with his child. Heartlessly, Turiddu turns his back and follows Lola into church. When Alfio appears, late for Mass, Santuzza’s rage boils over and she tells him about Lola’s affair. Alfio is livid and Santuzza immediately regrets the disclosure.
After Mass, Turiddu invites his friends to gather at his mother’s tavern. He toasts Lola. When Alfio arrives, Turiddu offers him wine but Alfio, with barely disguised rage, says it might be poisoned. The two men struggle and Turiddu bites Alfio’s ear, a ritual challenge to a duel.
Turiddu says he’ll marry Santuzza to save her reputation. Sensing that the duel, a knife fight, may not end well, he asks his mother to care for Santuzza and departs to his fate. Lucia and Santuzza wait for the outcome. The crowd stirs, and someone shouts that Turiddu is dead. Santuzza collapses at the news and Turiddu’s mother falls into the arms of village women.
- Performance notes by Eugene Carlson
About the composer
Queen Victoria, speaking for opera fans everywhere, said it best: “Signor Mascagni, when will you give us another Cavalleria?”
The Queen had just listened to excerpts of Pietro Mascagni’s romantic comic opera L’amico Fritz in a performance at Windsor Castle. She found it cloying, so unlike Mascagni’s earthy, tragic, Cavalleria rusticana, a smash hit wherever it played. We want more of that, Victoria said, not mincing words.
That Mascagni failed to deliver on this popular wish is the poignant theme that runs through his career. He wrote 15 operas, an operetta, and a potpourri of songs and orchestral works, but nothing came remotely close to achieving the critical and popular success of his debut opera.
The harsh verdict of history is that Mascagni was a one-trick pony, much like his contemporary Ruggero Leoncavallo, another great musical talent, famous for the one-act tragedy Pagliacci and little else. There was, however, a major upside for Mascagni. The box office success of Cavalleria rusticana lifted him out of poverty and made him famous and seriously wealthy.
He was born in 1863 in the Tuscan city of Livorno. His father was a baker and wanted his son to study law. The youngster recognized his own musical talent — at 13 he was working on an opera — and rebelling against his father’s wishes, he enrolled at the Milan Conservatory. His roommate was Giacomo Puccini.
The Cavalleria jackpot was a stroke of luck. Engrossed in composing a large opera, Guglielmo Ratcliffe, Mascagni learned of a competition for a one-act production by a Milan music publisher. He was teaching piano on the side and badly needed the prize money. He dashed off a score in eight days, mailed it in and won first prize, besting 72 other entries. He was 26 years old. Quite the career jump start.
Cavalleria was an instant hit, performed all over Italy and then throughout Europe and in South America. Gustav Mahler conducted a performance in Budapest. In short order, the young composer was an international music celebrity.
After the success of Cavalleria, Mascagni continued to compose operas, some well received, others not. He also had a busy career as a conductor, eventually succeeding Arturo Toscanini as music director of Milan’s La Scala opera house.
His persona was large. He had a leonine head of hair, was seldom without a strong Tuscan cigar, collected pens and watches, and was a compulsive card player. When Time magazine put him on the cover in September, 1926, the photo showed him not with a baton or a musical score but holding a hand of cards.
Sympathy for striking workers in Livorno, his home town, got Mascagni labeled a Bolshevik. He renounced this belief in the early 1930s, and convinced authorities of his loyalty by joining Italy’s Fascist party and kowtowing to Benito Mussolini, who gave him the jingoistic title, National Composer. His final opera, Nerone, in 1935, was a veiled homage to the Italian dictator. “I am not at all happy with you,” a displeased Mussolini reportedly told the composer. “Did you have to pick Nero in particular for a subject?”
On a happier note, Mascagni lived long enough to conduct a recorded performance of Cavalleria rusticana with the great tenor Beniamino Gigli. His final appearance as a conductor, in February, 1944, was, fittingly, a production of Cavalleria in the Rome auditorium where the opera debuted 54 years earlier. He died a year later at age 81, his reputation much diminished and abandoned by many friends because of his fascist sympathies.
- Performance notes by Eugene Carlson
About the opera
The runaway success of Mascagni’s one-act masterpiece, Cavalleria Rusticana, marked the start of a new opera genre. Gritty, real-life musical storytelling that came to be called verismo, from the Italian vero, “truth.”
Mascagni’s short work turned the tables on nearly three centuries of romantic tradition where operas dealt with the larger-than-life problems of mythological gods, royalty and the upper class. In later years, frothy comedies by Rossini, Donizetti and others were part of the mix.
Then came Mascagni’s breakthrough opera and audiences began clamoring for productions closer to their own experience. Hard-boiled stories with commonplace characters that showed the passionate side of life, with emotional music to match.
Composers, music publishers and opera companies met the public’s taste for earthy realism with new productions — Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Giordano’s Andrea Chénier and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda, among them. Giacomo Puccini rode the realism bandwagon to acclaim with wrenching melodramas like La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly.
Cavalleria rusticana translates as “Rustic Chivalry.” The story is based on a short novel by the popular writer Giovanni Verga. There’s irony in the title, since the manners of the small town citizens are decidedly unchivalric.
The plot in brief: In a village in 19th century Sicily on Easter Morning, four people are caught in a web of adultery, jealousy and revenge. Crude, lascivious behavior leads to death on Christianity’s holiest day, carried out in the shadow of the village church.
The formidable conductor Ricardo Muti, a champion of Italian opera, tries to put the dark story of small town betrayal in the best possible light.
Says Muti: “Cavalleria rusticana requires a certain knowledge of the culture of Sicily, which is a culture that is a little bit, as you say in English, tribale, “tribal.” There are certain elements in the opera that are full of blood, of violence. But it is never vulgar; there is a dignity, always. A sense of honor.”
For the dual reasons of audience appeal and brevity, Cavalleria and Pagliacci — the latter with the famous “Laugh, clown, laugh” aria made famous by Enrico Caruso — are often paired together by opera companies in a double bill. “Cav-Pag” in theatrical shorthand. It’s a natural fit since they are each one-act, and thematically and musically similar. They can even be performed with the same cast.
Highlights of Mascagni’s memorable score in Cavalleria include the siciliana tenor aria sung offstage at the top of the show and the majestic choral Easter hymn, Regina Coeli. Best of all is the four-minute orchestral Intermezzo that sets the stage for the finale. Lush strings playing a calm, comforting interlude, all the more powerful because of its contrast with the brutality to come.
No surprise that film directors have grabbed this swooning melody to underline movie scenes of pending or actual violence. Martin Scorcese’s "Raging Bull", the violent life of boxer Jake LaMotta, opens and closes with the Intermezzo. And in a piece of genius filmaking, Francis Ford Coppola ends "The Godfather, Part III", by inserting characters of the Corleone family into a silent, staged finale of Cavalleria rusticana, filmed in Sicily, on the steps of the Palermo opera house.The characters howl and cry as the Intermezzo softly plays a coda to the life of this infamous crime family.
Boxers and mobsters. What’s more verismo than that?
- Performance notes by Eugene Carlson
See some photos
Turiddu & Gala Concert Soloist
Rising dramatic tenor Limmie Pulliam has thrilled audiences with his captivating stage presence and his “stentorian, yet beautiful,” sound. Mr. Pulliam’s 2021-2022 season included his widely lauded company and role debut with Los Angeles Opera as Manrico in Il Trovatore and continues with his much-anticipated return to Vashon Opera as Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, a company debut with Livermore Valley Opera as the title role in Otello, and the INSeries for a revised Otello in conjunction with Toni Morrison’s Desdemona. He also appears in concert with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for a night of opera’s greatest hits, in recital with pianist Mark Markham, and joins the Memphis Symphony for their rescheduled Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In the 2020-2021 COVID-affected season, Mr. Pulliam’s original engagements included his role debut as Florestan in Fidelio with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (cancelled), and a return to the Memphis Symphony Orchestra as the tenor soloist for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (postponed). During the shortened 2019-2020 season, he appeared with the Springfield Regional Opera for their 40th Anniversary Gala (performed) and made his debut with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra (performed) for a gala concert. Additionally, he was slated to join the Newport Music Festival during the summer for a concert of Verdi selections (cancelled). Mr. Pulliam was the 2012 Artist Division Winner of the National Opera Association’s Vocal Competition, and in 2013, the 3rd Annual Concorso Internazionale di Canto della Fondazione Marcello Giordano in Catania, Sicily.
Marie Masters Webb
Santuzza & Gala Concert Soloist
Hailed by The New York Times as “immensely likable” with a “warm, fresh soprano,” Marie Masters Webb continues to be recognized for her command of both standard and under-performed works, along with her dynamic acting abilities. Marie is delighted to return to Vashon Opera as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana after singing Lady Billows in Albert Herring with the company in 2015. Marie sang Lady Billows in Albert Herring with Utopia Opera in 2019, she was a 2019 Lorin Maazel Castleton Institute Artist, and she covered the role of Lady Macbeth in Macbeth as a 2019 Resident Artist at Opera North. She will cover Adina in L’Elisir D’Amore for Israeli Opera in their 2022-23 season. Additional career highlights include the lead role of Stephana in Giordano’s Siberia with Teatro Grattacielo and the title role in the New York premiere of Hiram Titus’s Rosina with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble. Marie created the role of Jeanette in the newly discovered classical opera L’Amant Anonyme with Little Opera Theatre of New York, and returned to LOTNY as Tess in Carlisle Floyd’s Markheim.
Mamma Lucia &
Gala Concert Soloist
Praised by the press for her “clear, burnished voice” and “mezzo rich with an alto’s strength and a soprano’s shining top edge” (Tacoma News Tribune), Melissa Plagemann’s busy performing schedule spans opera, concert, and chamber music stages. She has recently appeared in concert and recital at the Banff Summer Arts Festival, the Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Festival, the American Harp Society National Conference, the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Second City Chamber Series, the Tacoma Symphony, and the Everett Philharmonic, among others. As a winner of the Ladies’ Musical Club competition, she was featured in recitals throughout Washington State. Recent operatic performances include Suor Angelica (Novice 1), Turandot (Handmaiden), Katya Kabanova (Žena), and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Designer 1) with Seattle Opera, Le Comte Ory (Isolier) with Tacoma Opera, Madama Butterfly (Suzuki) with Vashon Opera, and La Traviata (Flora) with Skagit Opera, as well as productions of Hansel and Gretel (Hansel), Die Zauberflöte (Second Lady), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Nicklausse/La Muse), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina), and Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira). Later this season, she will sing the role of Giovanna Seymour in Donizetti's Anna Bolena with Sky Opera, and will return to the Bellingham Chamber Chorale for performances of Mozart's Requiem. Melissa received degrees in music from the University of Victoria (Canada) and Indiana University, and has been a recipient of awards from the Banff Centre, the Sun Valley Opera competition, and the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society, among others. She lives in Shoreline with her husband and daughter, and teaches on the voice faculties of Pacific Lutheran University and Western Washington University.
Gala Concert Soloist
Andrew Krikawa (baritone) was most recently seen by Vashon Opera audiences singing the role of Marcello in La Bohème and Papageno in Vashon Opera's 2018 production of The Magic Flute. 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 master’s 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 Pagliacci Palooza as Silvio, The Tender Land as Top, The Barber of Seville as Figaro, Così fan tutte as Guglielmo, Albert Herring as Sid, The Elixir of Love as Sargeant Belcore, and the title role in Gianni Schicchi and Eugene Onegin.
Gala Concert Soloist
Soon Cho (lyric mezzo-soprano) is thrilled to return to Vashon Opera after her debut as Flora in La Traviata. Cho has been hailed by Opera News for her “potent presence” and praised by the Cincinnati Post as “regal in bearing, with vocal endowments to match… tears were listener response to her heart-wrenching performance” as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Cho has gained recognition for her sensitive artistry and winning execution on the recital, concert and opera stages, and has performed in Australia, Belgium, China, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea and all over the United States. Operatic roles include Der Komponist (Ariadne auf Naxos), Dorabella (Cosi fan tutte), Costanza (L’Isola Disabitata), Mao’s 2nd Secretary (Nixon in China), Adalgisa (Norma), Mercedes (Carmen), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), Mother Goose (The Rake’s Progress), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), L’Enfant (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges), Mother Marie (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Vera Boronel (The Consul). Currently a member of the voice faculty at Pacific Lutheran University, Cho received the Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice and Artist Diploma in Opera from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Future engagement includes Dinah in Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti with Reno Chamber Orchestra in Nevada.
Gala Concert Soloist
This Portland Oregon born, award-winning baritone has amassed a wonderful list of accolades and successes singing leading roles with the major orchestras and opera companies of the world under the baton of conductors including Seiji Ozawa, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, Charles Dutoit, Jeffery Tate, Jesus Lopez-Cobos Christophe von Dohnanyi and James Levine. His imposing stage presence and magnificent voice have electrified audiences in Europe, New Zealand, Canada, North and South America, Korea and Japan. Recently Mr. Brainerd was recently seen as King in Aida and Monterone in Rigoletto with Seattle Opera and highlights of the past few seasons include performances with the Seattle Symphony including Missa Solemnis, Mozart Requiem and a recording of Beethoven 9th and Mahler 8th, Les Troyens with Levine conducting with the Boston Symphony and at Tanglewood, Walküre Wotan (cover) on the MET tour of Japan and Sachs (cover) in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the MET. Mr. Brainerd has sung Wotan around the world including Scotland, New Zealand, Argentina and across America and his versatility encompasses not only the Wagnerian repertoire, but also many roles in the Italian and French operatic repertoire, including Scarpia in Tosca, Falstaff, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Villains in Hoffman, Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande and Mephistopheles in The Damnation of Faust. He is also in great demand as a concert artist throughout the world singing a vast repertoire from the Baroque to Modern!
Gala Concert Soloist
Jennifer Krikawa (soprano) was recently seen singing Blanche in Vashon Opera’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire and Musetta in Vashon Opera's 2019 production of La Bohème. 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 Tender Land), Gretel (Hansel und Gretel), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Frasquita (Carmen), Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffman), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Giorgetta (Il tabarro), Nedda (I Pagliacci), Tosca 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 with the Vashon Island Chorale. She pursued contemporary music studies at The Banff Centre for the Arts and she holds a master's 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. Ms. Krikawa looks forward to leading Vashon Opera into its 12th Season with Cavalleria Rusticana and The Merry Widow.
Gala Concert Soloist
Kayla Linquist is a soprano from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU). She is currently a senior in pursuit of a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and is expected to graduate in May 2022. Born in Anchorage Alaska, Miss Linquist and her family have lived in many different places, but she recognizes Puyallup Washington as her home. Miss Linquist gained her love for singing from her parents, who met in the Military Chorus. She began singing in her church’s gospel choir at the age of 6 years old. She began her choral experience at 10 years old at Wildwood Elementary. She then continued her choral experiences at Ferrucci Junior High and then at Emerald Ridge Highschool. During her time at Emerald Ridge, Miss Linquist was very active in choral activities, musical theater, and solo repertoire competitions. She began taking voice lessons at the age of 16 and set her heart on becoming an opera singer. After graduating high school in 2017, Miss Linquist studied two years at community college and then transferred to Pacific Lutheran in 2019. During her collegiate years Miss Linquist has had many performance opportunities. In 2018 she placed as a finalist in the Nationwide Hall Johnson Spiritual Contest in Las Vegas. While at PLU she has actively participated in the opera program. She recently enjoyed singing roles such as Adele from Die Fledermaus and The Queen of the Night during the Summer Opera Workshop.
Gala Concert Soloist
Hugh Davis is a dedicated young baritone aspiring to make a career in both Opera and Art song. He has studied voice under Cesar Ulloa of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Prof. William McGraw of The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is currently studying at Pacific Lutheran University under Prof. Holly Boaz. He was recently a semi-finalist in the 2021 National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition. He has also won second prize in the Schmidt Competition at the University of Washington and was a semifinalist in the 2019 James Toland Vocal Arts Competition. Hugh has just finished performing the role of Jupiter in an english version of Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at the Utah Vocal Artists Academy. Hugh has spent two consecutive years at the prestigious summer program Songfest where he's performed in Schubert masterclasses and concerts curated by Graham Johnson, one of the world's leading experts in Art Song. While attending Pacific Lutheran University, Hugh has sung the roles of the Forester in Leoš Janáček's opera The Cunning Little Vixen directed by Dr. James Brown and Dr. Falke in Strauss’ opera Die Fledermaus directed by Prof. Barry Johnson. He has also recently performed in Pacific Lutheran University's production of The Pirates of Penzance as the Pirate King directed by Prof. Barry Johnson. Hugh has performed many times with his hometown’s opera company Vashon Opera. There he has sung roles such as Thierry in Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Jailer in Tosca, and Marchese d'Obigny in La Traviata.
Gala Concert Soloist
A committed young soprano, Mackenzie Taylor is thrilled to make her professional operatic debut with Vashon Opera. She is currently studying with Dr. Soon Cho at Pacific Lutheran University as a recipient of the Agnes Berge Smith Music Scholarship. She was honored to be named a quarterfinalist in the 2021 National Association of Teachers of Singing Student Competition last year. Before and during college, Mackenzie has enjoyed performing in Seattle with the 5th Avenue Theatre, singing in their productions of The Sound of Music and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. During her time at Pacific Lutheran University, Mackenzie has been selected to work with prestigious members of the opera community such as sopranos Lisette Oropesa and Tamara Wilson. She has sung the roles of Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, The Vixen in an English version of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, and Rosalinda in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, directed by both Dr. James Brown and Barry Johnson. She has also served as the Department Music Tutor for three years. As a proud member of The Choir of the West conducted by Dr. Richard Nance, Mackenzie was selected to solo in the International Chamber Choir Competition held in Marktoberdorf, Germany, in 2019. She most recently sang the role of Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro with the Utah Vocal Arts Academy, during which she performed for soprano Deborah Voigt and mezzo soprano Jennifer Larmore. Mackenzie is currently applying for graduate schools with hopes of pursuing a career in music.
Conductor, Stage Director, Musical Director, and Orchestral Arranger
James Brown enjoys an eclectic career of conducting, concertizing as a singer, stage directing, and voice teaching. He is the Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University where he directs the opera and oversees a large voice program. His voice students have gone on to study at graduate programs such as Indiana University, The Juilliard School, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and Yale University. As a tenor, James sang in many professional opera productions under the batons of such conductors as James Conlon, John DeMain, Richard Hickox, Julius Rudel, and Robert Spano. As the regular conductor and stage director for Vashon Opera, James has led productions of Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Carmen, Cosi fan tutte, Les Dialogues des Carmélites, Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, Madama Butterfly, I Pagliacci, Tosca, and Werther. Other notable productions as stage director include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Handel’s Semele, La Boheme and a critically acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd (Lakewood Playhouse). Recent productions for James include Die Fledermaus and Die Zauberflöte at PLU Opera. After Cavalleria Rusticana for Vashon Opera, James will travel to Reno, Nevada to stage direct Trouble in Tahiti for the Reno Chamber Orchestra. James was a Resident Artist at The Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and holds degrees in voice from Loyola University/New Orleans, The Juilliard School and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Performance & 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 A Streetcar Named Desire, La Traviata, The Magic Flute, La Bohème (2009 & 2018), The Tender Land, The Barber of Seville, Carmen, Eugene Onegin, Werther, Die Fledermaus, Albert Herring, The Elixir of Love, Pagliacci Palooza, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Tosca and Lucia di Lammermoor. Evan recently completed a distinguished run as the principal accompanist for the Seattle Men’s Chorus since 1986, retiring from that position this year. 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.