Lyric Opera of Chicago

The Elixir of Love Bios


Giuseppe Filianoti(Nemorino)
Lyric Opera debut
Also this season:   Lucrezia Borgia, Teatro delle Muse (Ancona);  Don Giovanni, Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich);  Les contes d’Hoffmann, Opéra National de Paris.

“Nemorino’s spirit is kindness and simplicity of heart,” says the Italian tenor. “He’s more simple than comic in the way he falls in love with Adina. He can’t sing ‘Una furtiva lagrima’ if he doesn’t have a degree of seriousness in his character. This is Donizetti, not Rossini – we should remember that. I hope to give him a certain sensibility while also making the public laugh.” This season alone Filianoti has starred as Nemorino at Los Angeles Opera, the Opéra National de Paris, and Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper. He has previously sung the role at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. The Reggio Calabria native studied at La Scala’s academy before completing his training with Alfredo Kraus.  Bel canto  has been his career’s cornerstone since his 1998 professional debut in Bergamo (Donizetti’s  Dom Sébastien ) and early successes in Rossini’s  Tancredi  (Pesaro) and  Moïse et   Pharaon  (La Scala under Muti). He subsequently portrayed Dom Sébastien at Covent Garden. A frequent guest at La Scala and Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, Filianoti has triumphed in a varied repertoire embracing Mozart ( La clemenza di   Tito, Turin,  Idomeneo, La Scala);  bel canto  ( Lucia di Lammermoor, San Francisco, Vienna, Met); French operas ( Les contes   d’Hoffmann,  Hamburg;  Faust,  Toulouse); Verdi ( Don Carlo, Zurich,  La traviata, London,  Rigoletto, Met), Puccini ( La rondine, Met); and Stravinsky ( The Rake’s   Progress, Palermo). Filianoti prides himself on his musical curiosity: “Tenors don’t necessarily want to do Mozart’s Tito or Idomeneo, the attitude being that it’s easier to sing successfully, say,  Rigoletto. But I must say, I’m also especially looking forward to my first Rodolfo in  La bohème, which I sing next season in Brussels.”

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Frank Lopardo(Nemorino – Feb. 7-22)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Ten roles since 1988-89, most recently Lt. B. F. Pinkerton/ Madama   Butterfly  (2008-09); Lensky/ Eugene Onegin  (2007-08); Duke of Mantua/ Rigoletto  (2005-06).
Also this season:  Beethoven’s  Symphony   No. 9, Cleveland Orchestra; Rachmaninov’s  The Bells, San Francisco Symphony.

The American tenor, who starred as Nemorino during Lyric’s 1999-00 season, asserts that this opera’s comic element “comes from the drama laid out by the librettist. To superimpose a  buffo  manner on top of a  buffo  opera is excessive. The comedy comes forth from the writing, and from your intellectual involvement in the piece, not because people are doing sightgags onstage.” His character in  Elixir  brings to Lopardo’s mind a line spoken by the hero of the movie  Forrest Gump: “He says, ‘I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.’ Nemorino, too, knows what love is and what he feels for Adina is love, as best he can define it.” Last season included Lopardo’s return to Pittsburgh Opera as Rodolfo. Puccini’s Pinkerton has brought him to Pittsburgh (role debut) and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh Opera audiences previously heard his first Gustavo/ Un ballo   in maschera, a triumph repeated at Opera Colorado. Other signature roles are the Duke of Mantua (nine major houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna, and Paris) and Edgardo (Met, Paris, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, São Paolo). In addition to 13 leading roles at the Met, Lopardo has starred at La Scala, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, Aix-en-Provence, Naples, Amsterdam, and Madrid. Among his recent concert appearances are the Verdi  Requiem  (Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco symphony orchestras) and Beethoven’s  Symphony   No. 9  (Grand Teton Festival). The latter work, with Franz Welser-Möst conducting the Cleveland Orchestra, is the latest addition to Lopardo’s discography, which includes the Berlioz  Requiem  (Grammy winner),  Carmina Burana, and operas of Mozart, Donizetti, Rossini, and Verdi. He can be seen on DVD in  Falstaff,   La traviata,  and Mozart’s  C minor Mass.

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Nicole Cabell(Adina)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Seven roles since 2002-03, most recently Leïla/ The Pearl Fishers  (2008-09); Musetta/ La bohème  (2007-08);title role/ The Cunning   Little Vixen  student matinees (2004-05).
Also this season:  Mahler’s  Symphony No. 4, Chicago Symphony Orchestra;  La bohème, Metropolitan Opera; Mahler’s  Symphony   No. 2, tour with orchestra of La Scala.

The Californian soprano declares that, in playing Adina, “I just have to think about having fun all night. She only gets serious for about ten minutes! One challenge is her duet with Dulcamara, which goes nonstop. Except for some moments at the beginning of it, there’s actually no time for your voice to bloom. Another big task is to make the opera’s text conversational – you have to spit those words out  and  do justice to them. This role is about character, about acting, with a few moments where you really have to sing  very  well – for example, the first duet with Nemorino, and then in the Act Two aria.” The Ryan Opera Center alumna ascended to international prominence after winning the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. She has starred as both Adina and Pamina (debut) at the Metropolitan Opera. Recent role debuts include Eudoxie/ La Juive  (Covent Garden), the  Figaro  Countess (Cincinnati), and Micaëla (Deutsche Oper Berlin, where Cabell previously triumphed as Ilia/ Idomeneo,  Juliette, and Pamina). Cabell has brought her Musetta to Covent Garden, Munich, Santa Fe, Washington, and Detroit. Other operatic successes includeJuliette (Spoleto USA) and Adina (Montpellier). Cabell has appeared in recital in Tokyo and throughout North America, including Carnegie Hall and the Ravinia Festival. Her prestigious concert appearances include the Edinburgh Festival, London’s BBC Proms, Santa Cecilia in Rome, and the Hollywood Bowl. She debuted with the CSO under Sir Andrew Davis, who conducted her award-winning debut CD, “Soprano.” Her discography includes  La bohème  (which she has also filmed),  Porgy and Bess, and Donizetti’s  Imelda de’ Lambertazzi.

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Susanna Phillips(Adina – Feb. 7-22)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Six roles since 2005-06, most recently Rosalinde/ Die Fledermaus  student matinees, Juliette/ Roméo et Juliette, Diane/ Iphigénie en Tauride  (all 2006-07).
Also this season:  The Magic Flute, Metropolitan Opera; Mahler’s  Symphony No. 4,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; New York solo recital debut, Alice Tully Hall/Lincoln Center.

“I think Adina needs a lot of warmth in her sound,” says the Alabama-born soprano. “A little more meat in the middle of the voice can bring a beautiful color to the role. I don’t want to play her as a coquette – she’s a fun, flirtatious young girl. There has to be something that Nemorino loves about her, something real. I love her aria in Act Two, although, coming so late in the opera, you really have to plan! When you reach that point, you need to know that you have enough buoyancy in your voice and your energy to sustain the music.” The Ryan Opera Center alumna first attracted wide attention in 2005 by winning four vocal competitions: Operalia, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the MacAllister Awards, and the George London Foundation competition. Since then her major debuts have included the Metropolitan Opera (Musetta), Dallas Opera (Mozart’s Countess), and Minnesota Opera (a triumph in the formidable role of Elmira/Keiser’s  Croesus ). In  Don Giovanni  she has portrayed Anna (Boston, Salt Lake City) and Elvira (last summer in Santa Fe, where she previously sang the Countess, Fiordiligi, and Pamina). Phillips has made recent role debuts with the opera companies of Madison (Musetta), Louisville (Blanche/ Dialogues of the Carmelites ), and Birmingham (Violetta). She has also been heard with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Oratorio Society of New York, New York Pops (Carnegie Hall debut), and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic. Prestigious recital venues that have welcomed her include New York’s Weill Recital Hall (Wolf’s  Spanisches Liederbuch  with baritone Wolfgang Holzmair) and Washington’s Vocal Arts Society.

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Gabriele Viviani(Belcore)
Lyric Opera debut
Also this season:
 La traviata Les Troyens, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (Valencia);  La bohème, Covent Garden.

The Italian baritone, who portrayed Belcore in Bologna and Malatesta/ Don Pasquale  in Turin last season, finds that “these Donizetti operas make you smile. People come to the theater and have fun – therefore I love this music! More than in  Don Pasquale, Donizetti in  Elixir  achieves a genuine completeness between character, music, and action. The characters are so well written. As Belcore, it’s wonderful for me to be onstage listening to Adina, Nemorino, and Dulcamara.” Viviani made his American debut last season in a very different Donizetti role, Enrico/ Lucia di Lammermoor, opposite Natalie Dessay at San Francisco Opera. Trained initially as a bassoonist, Viviani made his presence known as a winner in vocal competitions in Cagliari and Treviso. Important engagements in his young career have included leading roles in operas of Bellini ( I puritani, Vienna), Gounod ( Faust, Valencia), Verdi ( La traviata, Verona; Ford/ Falstaff,  Brussels), andPuccini ( Le villi, Genoa;  Madama Butterfly  in Trieste, Tokyo, Genoa, and under the baton of Lorin Maazel at Milan’s La Scala). Brought up in Lucca, Puccini’s birthplace, Viviani has found his greatest satisfaction performing Marcello/ La bohème  (Bologna, Verona, Valencia, Torre del Lago, at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, “and in 2008 in Parma I sang my 100th performance of that opera, which made me very emotional”). The baritone chooses his repertoire with great care: “I can’t sing  Trovatore  or  Ballo  yet! Until 2013 I’m engaged for Belcore, Malatesta, and once in a while I’ll do  Traviata,  which helps me to mature. You have to try the difficult things because if you only do what comes very easily, then you don’t get anywhere.”

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Alessandro Corbelli(Dulcamara)
Previously at Lyric Opera: Four roles since 1986-87, most recently Magnifico/ La Cenerentola  (2005-06); Belcore/ The Elixir of Love  (1991-92); Ford/ Falstaff  (1988-89).
Also this season:  Gianni Schicchi,  Metropolitan Opera;  La fille du régiment,  Covent Garden;  The Barber of Seville,  La Scala.

The distinguished Italian baritone is widely regarded as today’s preeminent exponent of the Italian comic style: “The agility and the articulation of the words I had naturally, but of course, you have to study, taking the  sillabati  [patter] passages very slowly and then increasing the speed, like an instrumentalist. I’ve lost my place many times, but I’ve been able to get back on track – the music keeps going, so you just mumble something and eventually you catch up!” Dulcamara is “a  type, a stereotype of a charlatan. You’d find characters like him in the old days at country fairs. He’s the equivalent of people you see nowadays selling stuff on television.” Corbelli sang his first Dulcamara in Madrid (1998), later reprising the portrayal at the Metropolitan Opera, in Leipzig, Barcelona, San Francisco, and this season in Houston. Among other triumphs in Donizetti has been Sulpice /La fille du régiment, first in the premiere of Laurent Pelly’s highly praised production at Covent Garden and then at the Met (including HD transmission). Corbelli, who began 2009-10 as the Marquis/Donizetti’s  Linda di Chamounix  at Covent Garden, has also won acclaim there in  La Cenerentola  (as both Dandini and Magnifico),  Don Pasquale Il turco in Italia, and  The Barber of Seville. He recently starred at Paris’s Théâtre des ChampsÉlysées as Verdi’s Falstaff and at Glyndebourne ( La Cenerentola ), Munich ( Il turco in Italia ), and Torre del Lago ( Madama Butterfly ). Corbelli appears in eight roles on DVD, with recent releases including  La fille du régiment  (Covent Garden) and  Gianni Schicchi  (Glyndebourne). His discographyencompasses more than 15 operas, including works of Mozart, Rossini, and Donizetti.

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Angela Mannino(Giannetta)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Four roles since 2008-09, most recently Shepherd Boy/ Tosca  (2009-10); Blonde/ The Abduction from the Seraglio, 15-Year-Old Girl/ Lulu  (both 2008-09).
Also this season:  The Marriage of Figaro, Lyric Opera;  Lulu, Metropolitan Opera.

Last season at Lyric the New Orleans native, currently in her second year with the Ryan Opera Center, was thrilled to perform in  Manon  with Natalie Dessay and to go on as Blonde for opening night of the new  Abduction from the Seraglio. This season “I’m busy from start to finish,” says the soprano, “with great things to perform and great things to understudy. It’s like a dream contract for me.” Mannino recalls that “I sang Giannetta in English in the first opera I was ever in, as an undergraduate at Loyola University. All I was used to at that time was singing in musicals and plays. I had no preparation for how you were supposed to conduct yourself in opera, and that you needed everything memorized before getting into staging – nobody told me. I feel I’ve come a long way since then!” Mannino earned her graduate degree at Indiana University, where she portrayed Mozart’s Despina and Blonde, Puccini’s Musetta, and Miss Titmouse/Edwin Penhorwood’s  Too Many Sopranos.  She is a former apprentice artist with Central City Opera (2005, performed in Britten’s  Paul Bunyan ) and Santa Fe Opera (2006, 2007, performed in Strauss’s  Daphne ). In 2006 she debuted as Mozart’s Barbarina at New Orleans Opera, returning as Genovieffa/ Suor Angelica  and Lauretta/ Gianni Schicchi. Concerts include Fauré’s  Requiem  (Missoula Symphony ).  Mannino has been a first-place winner of the Mobile Opera Rose Palmai-Tenser Vocal Competition and an awardwinner in the Gulf Coast Regional Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Angela Mannino is  s ponsored by  Mrs. C. G. Pinnell.

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Bruno Campanella(Conductor)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  La Cenerentola  (2005-06);  I Capuleti e i Montecchi  (2001-02).
Also this season:  The Elixir of Love, San Francisco Opera;  The Barber of Seville,  Opéra National de Paris;  La fille du régiment,  Covent Garden.

The Italian conductor is celebrated internationally as a performer and scholar of  bel canto  opera: “If a phrase occurs in a certain tempo, the singer won’t be able to breathe,” he explained to  Opera News. “So what do you do? You have to be flexible. You use an  accelerando  to help the singer not to take a breath. And then the economy of the music leads you naturally from there into a  rallentando, so that everything retains a sublime equilibrium. Many singers say, ‘But,  maestro, it’s not written that way.’ Of course it’s not written, because the composers – Donizetti, Rossini, Bellini – knew very well that instinctively the singers of that period would hurry up and slow down at certain moments, also to reflect the meaning of the words.” Last season Campanella led  Elixir  in Florence and at Covent Garden. Other recent successes include Donizetti’s  Roberto Devereux  (Trieste),  Lucrezia Borgia  (Turin), and  Maria Stuarda  (Venice); Rossini’s  The Barber of Seville  (Munich) and  L’italiana in Algeri  (Trieste, Turin, Naples); and Bellini’s  Norma  (Palermo). Italian repertoire performed last season also included  Medea  (Palermo) and  Ernani  (Turin). Campanella began his career in Spoleto leading Donizetti’s  Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo. Six years later he debuted at La Scala. In America he has led performances at the Met, Houston, and San Francisco. Closely associated with the Opéra National de Paris (nine works to date), he also regularly conducts at the major Italian houses (including Turin’s Teatro Regio, where he is principal guest conductor), and in Paris, Vienna, Geneva, and Leipzig. He has recorded many  bel canto  works, and on DVD he leads  La Cenerentola, Barber, and  La fille du régiment.

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Giulio Chazalettes(Original Production)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Six productions since 1976, most recently  I Capuleti e i Montecchi  (2001-02);  The Elixir of Love  (1999-00, 1991-92);  Die Fledermaus  (1989-90).

The Italian director, a native of Verona, studied humanities in Turin before joining Giorgio Strehler’s Piccolo Teatro in Milan, with which he acted for seven years. He received a diploma in composition from Florence’s conservatory before turning to stage direction. He made his directing debut with Roberto Lupi’s  Persefone  in Florence, where he eventually staged works of Monteverdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Prokofiev, and Britten. Chazalettes has brought many rarely heard works to light, among them Donizetti’s  Parisina  and Respighi’s  La campana sommersa. He has directed at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper and is responsible for many of the most memorable productions presented by the Spoleto Festival. Besides directing frequently at the major houses of Trieste and Catania, Chazalettes has enjoyed a lengthy association with La Scala; he debuted there in 1976 with  Werther,  and subsequently his repertoire for the company has ranged in style from Cimarosa’s  Il marito disperato  to Bruno Maderna’s  Satyricon. In addition to his successes at Lyric, his work in America has included a triumph at Santa Fe Opera withMassenet’s  Chérubin  and other productions for Spoleto USA and the Dallas, Houston,and San Francisco opera companies.

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Vincent Liotta(Stage Director)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Madama Butterfly
 (2008-09, 2003-04, 1997-98);  The Elixir of Love  (1999-00).
Also this season:  A Light in the Piazza La rondine, both at Indiana University.

The American director has remounted the Chazalettes/Santicchi  Elixir  production both at Lyric and in Washington: “This production presents the work as very pastoral. I want to retain that feeling, while making adjustments to show the singers to best advantage. This is an opera in which the underdog triumphs, which audiences always love. The piece is also about innocence – everything happens to Nemorino with no conniving or guile on his part. Giulio Chazalettes talked a lot about how he saw Nemorino as someone who looks at life without any prejudice or sarcasm. It’s his genuineness that makes everybody like him  and  like the opera. Everyone in the show is likeable.” Liotta currently heads the opera stage-directing program at Indiana University, where his nearly 50 productions have included Ned Rorem’s  Our Town  (world premiere), William Bolcom’s  A Wedding  (second production), and most recently Adam Guettel’s  A Light in the Piazza  in its collegiate premiere. For Kansas City Lyric Opera he has directed  Coyote Tales  by Henry Mollicone/Sheldon Harnick (world premiere), plus operas of Wagner, Strauss, and Barber. Liotta has also directed for the major companies of San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Los Angeles, as well as at the Vienna Staatsoper. He has revived Harold Prince’s  Madama Butterfly  production in Chicago, Houston, and Buenos Aires. Recent productions include  Candide  (Romanian National Opera) and  Madama Butterfly  (Hungarian National Opera). In 1993, Liotta co-founded Utah Festival Opera where his many productions include Victor Herbert’s  Naughty Marietta,  for which he rewrote the book. He directs each summer at North Carolina’s Brevard Music Center.

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Ulisse Santicchi(Set and Costume Designer)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Five productions since 1976, most recently  Die Fledermaus  (2006- 07, 1999-00);  I Capuleti e i Montecchi  (2001-02);  The Elixir of Love  (1999-00).

The Italian designer’s association with director Giulio Chazalettes began at La Scala with  Werther Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and Bruno Maderna’s  Satyricon. His work has been seen throughout Italy, including the Spoleto Festival ( Falstaff ) and Florence’s Maggio Musicale ( A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Barber of Seville ). Santicchi has designed a large number of unusual works, including Mascagni’s  Guglielmo Ratcliff  (Catania) and Donizetti’s  Parisina  (Florence). Among his most important credits outside Italy are productions for the Vienna Staatsoper and the Bayerische Staatsoper. In this country Santicchi’s designs have graced productions of The Dallas Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and The Santa Fe Opera. His sets and costumes for  I Capuleti e i Montecchi, a great success at Lyric in 1985 and 2001-02, were seen at San Francisco Opera in 1991.

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Jason Brown(Lighting Designer)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Associate lighting designer,  Katya Kabanova  (2009-10).
Also this season:  Die Fledermaus,  DePaul Opera Theatre.

“The composer and librettist are very specific as to how  Elixir  should look onstage,” says the American lighting designer. “There are a lot of references to time of day: the first scene is at midday, with the villagers cooling themselves under the tree. There’s an interesting subtlety in the libretto, with the group talking about the burn of love, referring to the burning sun and how love can burn you. That sets up the tone of the whole piece, this man being so in love with this woman that he’s easily burned, if you will, by her. We work our way into sunset by the end of Act One. The party at the beginning of Act Two starts as evening working its way into night. The story resolves the next morning with the dawn and the sunrise.” Brown has also worked locally as an associate and assistant lighting designer with many companies including the Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass, Court, Redmoon, About Face, and Chicago Children’s Theater. In addition to Lyric’s  Katya Kabanova  this season, recent credits as associate designer include  Iphigénie en Tauride  at San Francisco Opera. He has been associated with several opera productions at the DePaul University School of Music. Brown is a member of the adjunct faculty of the Theatre School at DePaul: “It’s an out-of-body experience to go back to university within ten years of graduating and be part of the faculty! Having been a DePaul student, I see where the program was, the steps needed to make it even better in the future. It’s nice to be a part of that process.”

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Nally(Chorus Master)
Previously at Lyric Opera:
 Chorus master since 2007-08.
Also this season:  First season as music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble; commissioned premieres of David Lang, Lansing McLoskey, and Paul Fowler with The Crossing, Philadelphia.

“In his tragedies,” says Lyric’s chorus master, “Donizetti employed the chorus to comment on the action and heighten the dramatic impact of the moments of shock, grief, and celebration (think, for example, of the sextet from  Lucia ). But in his comedies, the chorus is part of the community: gullible, beautiful, laughing and laughable. Donizetti obviously adores this crowd – its innocence and recognizablity – fashioning them after his neighbors in Bergamo. Like Nemorino, they are guided by love.” Nally received the 2009 ASCAP/Chorus America National Award for Adventuresome Program with The Crossing. The ensemble’s recording of Kile Smith’s  Vespers  was released last April. Former chorus master of Welsh National Opera, Nally conducted that company on tour in major cities throughout England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. While in the U.K., Nally often guest-conducted London’s Philharmonia Chorus and collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru of Wales, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He was previously based in Philadelphia as chorus master at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, director of music at Saint Mark’s Church, and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia. He also collaborated regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pennsylvania Ballet. Among the many composers whose works he has premiered are John Musto, Jonathan Harvey, and Jake Heggie. Nally was for many years chorus master at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. He has worked with many major conductors and directors, including Gian Carlo Menotti, Richard Hickox, Sir Charles Mackerras, Richard Jones, and Giulio Chazalettes.

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Jarvie(Wigmaster and Makeup Designer)
Previously at Lyric Opera:  Wigmaster and makeup designer since 2000-01; supervisor of the wig department and principal makeup artist, 1982-2000.

Lyric’s wigmaster and makeup designer served in both of those positions for Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater from 1989 to 2000. He has previously served as wigmaster for Minneapolis’s Tyrone Guthrie Theatre and wig/makeup supervisor for the Tom Patterson Theatre of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada. Later this season he will design wigs and makeup for  The Magic Flute  at Atlanta Opera and  The Ghosts of Versailles  at Northwestern University. He currently teaches at both Northwestern and DePaul University.

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