Julio Agustin (he/him)
Choreographer - Dance, Librettist, Stage Director
New York, New York / Greensboro, North Carolina
Julio Agustin (Director-Choreographer) has staged and/or choreographed productions at Theatre Under the Stars, Geva Theatre, Hangar Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, and others. He is a nationally recognized director-choreographer and librettist with a Broadway background. He specializes in Radical Inclusivity (Re-envisioning the Classics with Contemporary Practices).
Award recognitions include an Audelco nomination for Best Director (La Dulce Caridad, a Latina adaptation of Sweet Charity @ New Haarlem Arts Theatre, NYC) where he also served as Associate Artistic Director; a Best Choreographer nomination by the Houston Press Theatre Awards (Guys and Dolls @ Theatre Under the Stars, TX); and a Syracuse Area Live Theatre nomination for Best Choreographer (In the Heights @ Hangar Theatre). He has also been recognized for his advocacy for disability access and inclusion as well as received diversity research grants.
Upcoming projects: Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue (ENT Center for the Arts, Colorado), On Your Feet! (North Carolina Theatre), and Sister Act (GEVA Theatre). Julio has performed on Broadway in the original companies of Fosse, Steel Pier, Never Gonna Dance, Bells Are Ringing revival (“Carl”), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (“Ambite”), and was featured opposite Bebe Neuwirth in Chicago, the musical.
He conceived and wrote the book to Out of Line, with music and lyrics by John Franceschina. The musical picks up where A Chorus Line left off and had its world premiere at Pennsylvania Centre Stage with a cast of Broadway veterans. It will soon be available for rental.
Nehprii Amenii (she/her)
Nehprii Amenii is a director, playwright, Production Designer, Puppeteer and educator. She's worked with Bread and Puppet Theatre, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, La Mama, The Public, New York PhilHarmonic, and more. She's enjoyed 20 years of teaching and curriculum development, which includes using the arts to help newly arrived immigrants share their stories and mentoring educators in cross curricular uses of theater, puppetry and storytelling. Nehprii is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors lab, the Stage Directors and Choreographer’s Society, invited U.S. delegate of the Women's Playwright International Conference, and is recipient of the Lipkin Prize for playwriting. She's been awarded by the International Rotary Club, Puffin foundation, Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Jim Henson Foundation. This year, she's received two awards from the NEA for her research on traditional African Theatre and her upcoming production of HUMAN. Nehprii is Artistic Director of Khunum Productions, a platform for creative anthropology.
Melanie Bacaling (she/her)
Producer, Stage Director, Stage Manager
Originally from Chicago, IL, Melanie Bacaling is an active director, stage manager, and producer in the opera industry. She was named an Emerging Artist for Boston Lyric Opera’s 18/19 and 19/20 seasons. Boston Lyric Opera also appointed Ms. Bacaling as the Company Intimacy Advocate, where she is developing protocols for consent-based practices in the opera rehearsal room. Ms. Bacaling has held production engagements with Santa Fe Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Omaha, Washington Concert Opera, Aspen Opera Center, Sun Valley Music Festival, The Boston Conservatory, and Longy School of Music. Her upcoming engagements include joining the staging staff at LA Opera for the spring 2021 season. She is currently producing a podcast for BLO called at its (s)core, which seeks to delve into the inner workings of the opera industry and highlight voices of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities. Also a vocalist and pedagogue, Ms. Bacaling holds a MM in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the Boston Conservatory. Her preferred pronouns are she/hers, and she identifies as a member of the BIPOC community.
Bruno Baker (he/him)
Stage Director, Stage Manager
New York, NY
Bruno Baker is a latinx NYC based American/Brazilian multidisciplinary stage director and stage manager specializing in Theatre and Opera.
This past season, he worked as the assistant director at Boston Lyric Opera and Madison Opera on their productions of Fellow Travelers, as well as the Production Stage Manager at the Park Avenue Armory for Maria Vespers, and on stage management for Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Baker’s New England directorial debut with Guerilla Opera on two pieces scheduled for spring 2020, is momentarily postponed. With NYU, Mr. Baker has directed The Glass Menagerie, Thyestes, Strange Interlude (NYU).
Select assistant directing credits include: Kiss me Kate and the Complete works of William Shakespeare (Summer Theater of New Canaan) dir. for Allegra Libonati; World Premiere production of Micheal Weller’s play Jericho (Attic Theatre Co.); Brooklyn based opera company LoftOpera.
In addition to directing, Mr. Baker was a guest teaching artist at Pace University and held a previous title as resident artist at the Attic Theater Company.
For the past 3 years, he has enjoyed being a studio associate at Noulin-Mérat Studio where he worked on over 30 productions.
Mr. Baker is currently a proud member of both Stage Directors & Choreographers and American Guild of Musical Artist unions.
Gregory Boyle (he/him)
Born in Santiago, Chile, and adopted at birth, Gregory is grateful to have lived and traveled all around the US to pursue his passion for opera. Recently, he has worked at the Academy for Vocal Arts directing a new production of La Favourite. He has worked with the Bonfil-Stanton Foundation Artist at Central City Opera as a director giving young artists the opportunity to explore and develop new roles in opera through a scenes program. Additionally, Gregory worked with young professionals at programs including the Apprentice Artists of the Santa Fe Opera and the Herndon Foundation of Emerging Artists at the Virginia Opera.
Previously, Gregory has held associate and assistant director engagements at companies including Opera Philadelphia, the Santa Fe Opera, The Dallas Opera, Central City Opera, and Virginia Opera among others.
Gregory has gained substantial experience in Stage Management and Production Management holding various positions at companies including Opera Philadelphia, the Santa Fe Opera, The Atlanta Opera, Opera Memphis, and North Carolina Opera.
Gregory is an alumni of The Professional Development Program at The Juilliard School in New York City in addition to graduating Cum Laude from The College of New Jersey with a degree in Music Education in Voice Education.
Nicole Brooks (she/her)
Composer, Librettist, Producer, Stage Director - Asah Productions Inc.
In the performing arts world, Nicole Brooks is beyond a triple-threat. Her extensive accomplishments include filmmaker, director, performer, singer, playwright, composer, curator, teacher and ‘art-ivist’. Brooks has devoted over 20 years producing innovative content (for the stage and screen), with a focus on narratives that illuminate the peoples of the African Diaspora. In 2012, Brooks officially added playwright to her list of talents. Her debut theatrical work Obeah Opera - which she created, wrote, composed and performs in - has been staged in various incarnations from festivals to staged workshop productions in Toronto between 2009 and 2014. Honoured with a Dora nomination for Outstanding New Opera/Musical in 2012 and with continued development thereafter, an updated version of Obeah Opera premiered in August 2015, as a prestigious commission from the cultural arm of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games. Its final incarnation mounted in June 2019 as part of the critically acclaimed roaster of the Luminato Festival in Toronto and was honoured with two additional DORA nominations in 2020 (Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Feature Performance). On the heels of this accomplishment and success, the work is now projecting to launch its international tour in South Africa during their Women's Month and Barbados to celebrate their ‘We Gatherin’’ celebrations inviting the diaspora back home.
Walteria Caldwell (she/her)
Singer, Stage Director, Voice Teacher, Executive Director - Diversitá Opera Arts Company
Walteria Caldwell is a professionally trained mezzo-soprano, pianist, and music educator who tours around the country and abroad.
She is also the Executive Director of Diversitá Opera Arts Company, a non profit organization that provides a diverse cast of performers through opera/classical music on stage along with artistic shows throughout the United States. They also provide music education to schools, scholarships to deserving students, and performance opportunities for the youth.
In the field of opera, Walteria has been in several productions as the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors as well as both Hansel and the Gingerbread Witch from Hansel & Gretel. In Bizet's opera Carmen, Walteria has performed Carmen in concert and Mercedes on stage. From Verdi's repertoire, Walteria has sung Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Quickly and Meg Page from Falstaff, Azucena in scenes from Il trovatore, and Amneris from Aida in concert. In newly composed work, she debuted the role of Sylvia in the opera Wading Home (composed by Mary Alice Rich which is based on the successful novel by Rosalyn Story), and performed as the Juggler/Opera Singer in Sid the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing by Malcolm Fox. She has also performed additional roles along with working as a concert soloist with various choirs/orchestras for oratorio works such as The Messiah and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor.
Juan Cantú (he/him)
Composer, Conductor/Music Director, Librettist, Singer, Stage Director, Choreographer - Dance
Juan Cantú works as a director, actor and singer. He has directed at Universal Studios Japan, Walt Disney World, Viking Cruise Lines, Sea World, Busch Gardens, the Orlando Fringe Festival and Mad Cow Theatre (Avenue Q, Ain't Misbehavin'). Juan performed in “Tarzan Rocks!” and “Finding Nemo the Musical” at Walt Disney World. Juan has recorded vocals for Disney, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean as well as various television jingles. In Las Vegas, he was in “Starlight Express,” and various other shows. He was on the creative team that brought the musical adaptation, “El Wiz” to Central Florida.
Ras Dia (he/him)
Co-Founder - ffflypaper; Creative Producer (Breathing Free) - Heartbeat Opera, Line Producer - Little Island; Assistant Producer, Live in HD - The Metropolitan Opera
New York, NY
Ras Dia is an arts administrator who specializes in opera, theatre, and social impact projects. He is the Creative Producer of Heartbeat Opera’s BREATHING FREE, a visual album which focuses on the intersection of race, carceral justice, reparations, Black queerness, and community-building, and was produced across LA, Chicago, and NYC during the COVID-19 pandemic (2020). Nominated for a 2021 Drama League Award, Ras devised screenings of the film to feature guest speakers from organizations including the Innocence Project, Color of Change, Carnegie Hall, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Police Department, Georgetown, Columbia, Smith, Amherst, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project, and the LGBTQ Freedom Fund. Ras is also the co-founder of ffflypaper, a production & imagination company, and FREEFEST, a Juneteenth festival presented in partnership with Domino Park, WQXR, National Sawdust, the African-American Roller Skate Museum, We Build The Block, and The Empire Marching Elite and more. He also serves as the Assistant Producer of the Metropolitan Opera’s Peabody- and Emmy-award winning Live in HD series seen in movie theaters in 70 countries worldwide.
As Line Producer of Little Island, a new public park in Manhattan funded by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, he has produced performances by the American Ballet Theatre, Broadway Inspirational Voices, the inaugural Storytelling Festival curated by PigPen Theatre Co, and and the Island Music Weekend curated by the World Music Institute. Recent projects include the San Francisco Opera’s In Song, a digital series of multinational artist performance portraits, and MTT25: An American Icon, a virtual tribute presented by the San Francisco Symphony, in addition to producing TWO, a one-on-one concert experience presented by Prospect Park Alliance and Contemporaneous, Jessye Norman at 75: A Celebration, a digital tribute presented by the creators of Black Opera: The Film, featuring appearances by pioneering artists, luminaries, and cultural organizations, including Laverne Cox, Alicia Hall Moran, Darren Walker, Damien Sneed, Richard Smallwood and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as Cal Performances at Home, a livestream concert series featuring artists including Christine Goerke, Matthew Whitaker, Tessa Lark, Bria Skonberg, and the Dover Quartet. Ras also helped to produce the Jessye Norman Memorial Celebration for the Met and the Ford Foundation, with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Renée Fleming, Anna Deveare Smith, Gloria Steinem, and many others, gathering to pay tribute to the remarkable artist.
Ras has appeared as a guest speaker on equity and inclusion in the arts at Amherst College, and the Manhattan School of Music, and has served as a grant panelist for OPERA America. He is the former Managing Director of the New York City Master Chorale, and has worked in marketing, development, production, and administrative roles with the National Children’s Chorus, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Contemporaneous, Carnegie Hall, The New School’s MA TESOL Outreach Program, where he supported programs for immigrant, refugee, and survivor communities across New York City, and National Sawdust, the dynamic, artist-led, non-profit music venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he produced the Artists-in-Residence program, and co-created SAUCE, a series of artist sessions in partnership with Radeberger Pilsner and Sweet Reason, a hemp and cannabis beverage company.
He is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (M.Mus), SUNY Purchase College (B.Mus, summa cum laude), and the Boy’s Choir of Harlem.
Kaja Dunn (she/her)
Stage Director, Choreographer - Intimacy
Kaja Dunn, is assistant professor and the Head of Acting at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Department of Theatre and affiliate faculty for Theatrical Intimacy Education, and consults with Actor’s Equity on issues of race and theatre. Kaja is is an actor, director, intimacy coordinator and activist. She is a recipient of the Kennedy Center’s National Medallion for her work on theatre and race. She has performed nationally and internationally in over 40 productions most recently the title role in Pearl at Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit and directed several shows in the Southeast and California. She has published in the US and has a co-authored a chapter in Arden Research Companion to Shakespeare and Contemporary Performance as well as a forthcoming co-authored chapter on Black Motherschooling in Black Women and The ‘Rona (2021).
She has presented on issues of Equity and Diversity for Actor’s Equity as their racial consultant, The Women’s Theatre Festival, Blumenthal Performing Arts, MICHA, North Carolina Theatre Association (Keynote Panelist), Children’s Theatre Charlotte, Anti-Racism and Decolonization at University of London Goldsmiths, SETC and SETC Theatre Symposium, KCATF and The Association of Theatre in Higher Education, among other places. She is on the Executive Board of the Black Theatre Network . She teaches workshops and consults for universities and private corporations She was most recently interviewed in American Theatre Magazine around issues of Race and Theatre education.
Renee Fajardo (she/her)
Producing Intern - Against the Grain Theatre, Producer, Singer
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Born and raised in Manila, Filipino Mezzo-soprano Renee Fajardo has performed on both the opera stage and as a solo recitalist in the Philippines, the UK, Europe and Canada.
Winner of the Metcalf Performing Arts Grant, Renee is thrilled to join Against the Grain Theatre this season as Producing Intern. In this new role, she will further her commitment to building a more equitable, diverse and justice-facing industry for all historically-underrepresented identities in opera.
Equally passionate about performance and off-stage creative practice, Renee sings with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and is a mentor and provincial coordinator for Opera InReach where she co-develops supplementary opera curriculum materials for highschool students through the lens of equity, diversity and inclusivity. She also volunteers as an Institutional Giving intern with Boulanger Initiative, working on funding opportunities to support and advocate for works composed by women and marginalized gender composers.
As a settler of Filipino heritage, she is grateful to be currently based in T’karonto (Toronto), the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples; currently home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Renee recently completed her Masters in Opera Performance from the University of Toronto, and holds a first-class Bachelor of Music degree from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Federico Figueroa (he/him)
Dramaturg, Librettist, Producer, Stage Director
Born and raised in Chiapas (Mexico), he moved to Spain in 1997. He has directed opera, operetta, zarzuela and plays in his native country, Colombia, Cuba, United Kingdom and United States. In the last three years he has released four lyrical-theatrical works with texts of his authorship. At the beginning of this year his staging of the baroque zarzuela "Love conquers impossible love" in Dallas, garnered great critical and public success. He is currently working on the rescue of the text and the staging of the zarzuela "Romance slave", by Colombian authors, with the support of a grant from the municipal government of Bogotá.
Richard Frazier (he/him)
Choreographer - Dance, Lighting Designer, Projection Designer, Scenic Designer, Singer, Stage Director
Macon & Atlanta, GA
I have worked professionally as a Director/Choreographer for more than 15 years. I hold a BSED in Theatre Education which gave me the skills to direct, choreograph, and design. I have piloted numerous regional and world premieres.
Jerome Joseph Gentes (he/him)
Librettist, Producer, Playwright
Palm Springs, CA
Playwright, producer and executive director of TigerBear Productions, Jerome is a two-spirit Standing Rock Lakota and Fort Belknap A’aninin (Gros Ventre). He makes, builds, and presents stories through art, connectivity, and community. In 2014, he co-founded the Musical Cafe Showcase Series, a Berkeley, CA-based performance series. He co-produced Sheherezade’s Last Tales (2015 TBA Award for Outstanding Anthology) and PCSF PlayOffs (2016 TBA Finalist for Outstanding Anthology), and was a founding member of the Same Boat Theatre Collective. He works in software design and is on the boards of PlayGround SF and The 24 Hour Plays.
Find out more about him and his company at tigerbearproductions.com.
Michelle Moslemi Haché (she/her)
Singer, Stage Director, Voice Teacher
Michelle Moslemi Haché moved to Austin in 2009 after completing her Graduate Degree at the Juilliard School. Since arriving in Austin, she has received seven B. Iden Payne award nominations for both performance and directing, winning in 2010, 2013 for leading roles, and again in 2016 for Best Director with Gilbert & Sullivan Austin. Ms. Haché has been a reviewer for The Austin Chronicle and Broadway World, as well as a national adjudicator for the NATS and Hal Leonard Vocal Competitions. An award-winning vocal instructor for over 16 years, Haché is a lecturer specializing in crossover pedagogy and performance. Her students are national vocal competition winners, earning placement in leading conservatories and young artist programs, and continue to appear in Broadway productions. Ms. Haché is currently a stage director for Gilbert & Sullivan Austin, and she is the Director of Opera and Musical Theatre at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Kimille Howard (she/her)
Stage Director - Metropolitan Opera
Kimille Howard is a New York based director, deviser, writer and filmmaker. She is currently a Jonathan Alper Directing Fellow at Manhattan Theatre Club, a resident director at The Flea Theater, and a recent NYTW 2050 Directing Fellow. She is an Assistant Stage Director at the Metropolitan Opera and recently worked on the new James Robinson production of Porgy and Bess. Select directing credits include: The Fellowship Plays for the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation, A Light Staggering by Jeesun Choi (EST - Asking For Trouble), Tidwell: or the Plantation Play by Rodney Witherspoon II (Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival - winner), Low Power by Jon Kern (EST’s Marathon ‘19), BLACK GIRLS ARE FROM OUTER SPACE by Emana Rachelle (National Black Theatre), Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau (TheatreSquared) and TRIGGERED by Gabriel Jason Dean (Cherry Lane Theatre). Her work has also been seen at Queens Theatre, The Circle in the Square Theatre Circle Series, The Flea, The Lark, JAGFest, NYU, Sea Dog Theater, and Atlantic Acting School among others. Kimille was the assistant director to Des McAnuff on Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations on Broadway. She has worked with Rebecca Frecknall, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Des McAnuff, Emily Mann, Stephen Wadsworth, Jessica Stone, Jade King Carroll, Niegel Smith, Lorca Peress, and Melissa Maxwell. She has produced shows at the HERE Arts Center, FIAF, and more.
Briana Elyse Hunter (she/her)
Producer, Singer, Marketing and Communications Director for Bare Opera
New York, NY
Briana Elyse Hunter described by the NY Times as “a radiant mezzo-soprano” and Opera News as “a mezzo-soprano of astounding vocal and dramatic range,” is rapidly emerging as an artist to watch. Her previous credits include Blue (Mother), Carmen (Carmen, Mercédès), La tragédie de Carmen (Carmen), Little Women (Jo), Xerxes (Arsamenes), Die Fledermaus (Prince Orlovsky), As One (Hannah after), and La traviata (Flora). She won the 2018 EncoreMichigan Wilde Award for “Best Performance in an Opera” for her portrayal of Gertrude Stein in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27. She has been on the rosters of New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Santa Fe Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Knoxville Opera, UrbanArias in D.C., American Opera Projects, Opera in the Heights, I SING BEIJING, Sarasota Opera, El Paso Opera, and Music Academy of the West where she sang the title role of Carmen under the tutelage of the great Marilyn Horne. She recently made her Lincoln Center Theater debut in their gala performance of Camelot starring Lin Manuel Miranda. Next year she is poised to make her Kennedy Center debut with Washington National Opera as Mother in Blue by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson, and return to the role of Carmen at Opera Orlando in a brand new production set in Haiti. Lookout for her in Bare Opera's Fall 2020 virtual production in The Decameron Project.
Geovonday Jones (he/him)
Dramaturg, Stage Director, Acting for the Singer Coach
New York, NY
Geovonday Jones is a New York City based actor, director, and teaching artist/coach. He has an MFA in Acting from Brooklyn College and a BFA from Missouri State University. As a director, he most recently worked on The Motherfucker with the Hat and In the Blood. He has also directed or assisted on operas, including but not limited to: Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, The Bartered Bride, Carmen, to name a few. Also, he has served as an acting coach for many operas and concerts. Most recently, as an actor, he was a part of JAG’s Jagfest 4.0. Previous: Irondale Theatre’s production of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat (Brucie), Waterwell’s Ajax (Ensemble), which was a part of The Green Plays Festival, Ancram Opera House’s production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother Size (Ogun), New Works Brooklyn’s reading of Nambi Kelley’s Translation of Likes (Too Legit To Quit). Regionally, Geo has performed in several shows with Tent Theatre, including Peter and the Starcatcher (Captain Scott), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Senex), Rumors (Officer Welch), and Anything Goes (Henry T. Dobson). Other regional roles include Bobo in A Raisin in the Sun, Jose the Muleteer in Man of La Mancha, and Tinca in Puccini’s Il Tabarro. Among his educational roles, his favorites are Gabriel Pleasure in Mac Wellman’s The Lesser Magoo, Vanya in Uncle Vanya, Sly in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67, Father Luka/Eugene in Ambition Facing West, and Twilight Los Angeles, 1992.
Teiya Kasahara (their/theirs)
Librettist, Producer, Singer, Stage Director, Voice Teacher
Toronto, ON, Canada
First-generation Nikkei-Canadian settler Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) is a queer, gender non-binary, interdisciplinary performer-creator. Heralded as “a force of nature” (Toronto Star) and “an artist with extraordinary things to say” (The Globe and Mail) Teiya comes from a background of over a decade of singing both traditional and contemporary operatic roles across North America and Europe such as the Queen of the Night / THE MAGIC FLUTE (Essen, Vancouver, Edmonton), Flora Sandes / DEAD EQUAL (Edinburgh) and Fata Morgana / L’AMOUR DES TROIS ORANGES (Essen). Recent engagements include the title role in MADAMA BUTTERFLY (Windsor Symphony), performer-creator of dora-nominated THE WAGER (Theatre Gargantua), assistant director of ALL THE LITTLE ANIMALS I HAVE EATEN (Nightwood Theatre), and their first video series 19 VIDEOS FOR COVID-19 which garnered Teiya the nickname, “the balcony soprano” (Toronto Star).
Within their creation practice Teiya explores the intersections of identity through opera, theatre, electronics, and taiko, disrupting and reimagining the operatic canon through their works THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT (Confluence Concerts), 夜 YORU (in development), and THE QUEEN IN ME (Amplified Opera, Nightwood, Theatre Gargantua).
As a co-founder of Amplified Opera, a new initiative which is bringing the opera sector an “injection of [...] creativity & politics of inclusivity” (barczablog), Teiya works closely with young opera artists who are discovering new ways to decolonize their artistic practices.
Teiya is the founder/head coach of the Vocal Dōjō, and makes their home in Tkarón:to. Visit www.teiyakasahara.com for more information or follow @teiyakasahara.
Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas (she/her)
Composer, Conductor/Music Director, Dramaturg, Librettist, Producer, Singer, Stage Director, Voice Teacher
Singer, actress, creator, and facilitator, Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas has been praised by critics worldwide for her visually, and vocally, compelling performances. From leading roles with many storied institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera and Sydney Opera House to sharing the stage with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Wynton Marsalis, she is also a force on the stage and screen as evidenced by her magnetic performances with Broadway in Chicago and on HBO.
With a strong belief in education, creation, and community as evidenced by her recent partnerships with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she also brings with her 15+ years of experience as a Master Vocal Technician, Coach, Songwriter, and Arranger with a focus on holistically integrating and freeing the Artist’s Mind, Body, and Spirit. As a burgeoning Arts Administrator and Visionary, she brings this same international artistic view to enhance ones clarity of purpose and application of expression.
A performer since the age of two, and counting music legends McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield and Tina Turner among her relations, she consistently propels her vision of uniting tradition with innovation in all she creates.
Justin Lucero (he/him)
Choreographer - Intimacy, Dramaturg, Producer, Stage Director
Artistic Director - El Paso Opera
El Paso, TX
Justin Lucero (he/him) is Artistic Director of El Paso Opera and has stage directed such productions for El Paso Opera as Hänsel & Gretel, The Magic Flute, Trouble in Tahiti, Pagliacci, Bon Appétit! and the upcoming Frida, produced a remount of Houston Grand Opera’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, and has developed such original community initiatives as Giving Voice and #CurbsideOpera. He has served in over ten years of involvement with El Paso Opera, including as resident Assistant Stage Director (The Marriage of Figaro, Barber of Seville, La bohème, How Green Was My Valley, Carmen) and Associate Director for a Smithsonian Institute co-production of Opera Bhutan: Acis & Galatea, the first-ever Western opera performed in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.
Jess McLeod (she/her)
New York, NY
JESS MCLEOD (Director) specializes in risky new work about America, recently serving as Resident Director for the three-year run of Hamilton Chicago and releasing an EP for new musical Mill Girls to celebrate International Women's Day (www.millgirlsmusical.com). Regional credits include Paola Lázaro’s There’s Always the Hudson (world premiere, Woolly Mammoth**paused for COVID), Kate Hamill’s Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf), and Idris Goodwin’s Hype Man (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Chicago credits include Frances Pollock & Jessica Murphy Moo’s Earth To Kenzie (world premiere, Lyric Opera of Chicago); Stacy Osei-Kuffour’s Hang Man (world premiere), Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play (Gift Theatre); Suzan-Lori Parks’s Venus (Steppenwolf); Mara Nelson-Greenburg’s Do You Feel Anger?, Abe Koogler’s Fulfillment Center (A Red Orchid); Sharyn Rothstein’s Landladies (world premiere, Northlight); Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On (Haven); Short Shakes! Midsummer (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Kevin Coval’s L-vis Live! (world premiere, Victory Gardens), and a reimagined Marry Me A Little (Porchlight Music Theatre). New York credits include The Unauthorized Musicology of Ben Folds (NYMF Director of Programming, 2005-08) and work by Joyce Carol Oates, Rachel Axler and Harrison David Rivers. She was the Goodman’s 2017 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow and a 2018 Artistic Fellow at Victory Gardens.
A passionate advocate of community engagement through the arts, McLeod has also developed six operas with community groups through the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Resident Director, Chicago Voices), musicals with incarcerated teens through Storycatchers Theatre and Fire Fire Gentrifier!, an art/audio walking tour excavating social justice history for the National Public Housing Museum. In addition to Mill Girls, she is currently developing the multi-disciplinary Redline Project with Blu Rhythm Collective, Keep Your Head Down with singer/songwriter Ari Afsar, and ICANTKEEPQUIET with pop artist MILCK. Represented by Michael Finkle, WME.
Daniel Mesta (he/him)
Producer, Stage Director, Dramaturg
San Antonio, TX
Daniel Mesta is an actor, director and dramaturg who has primarily worked in the diverse arenas of theatre, radio and opera. Winner of a 2020 John F. Kennedy Center Fellowship in Dramaturgy for his work on "The Magic Flute", which he both translated and dramaturged, Mesta has also received awards and acknowledgements from LMDA, ATHE and the Irene Ryan Foundation. Mesta is currently based between San Antonio, Texas and St. Petersburg, Russia, where he is acts as a project associate for the Center for International Theatre Development.
Kym Moore (she/her)
Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director - Antigravity Performance Project
Kym Moore (Director/Educator/Playwright/Producer) is co-founder/co-artistic director of Antigravity Performance Project and Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. Moore’s directing style is grounded, yet imaginative and articulate. An interest in String Theory, Intersectionality, and Quantum Physics shape her approach to crafting performance. Her works are designed to reveal the multi-sensory, multi-dimensional, and mythic dimensions of reality. Moore is a highly skilled artisan and wily magician of theatrical expression. Her well-honed sense of craft and keen understanding of the materials of theater (actor, text, space, light, sound, etc.) grounds and elevates her work beyond the ordinary. Moore’s aesthetic is designed to feed all of the senses as she creates a multisensory experience for the audience that is hard to forget: “Your Romeo and Juliet changed my whole idea of what theater could be!” exclaimed a now professional lighting designer who had seen her production 30 years ago.
In a recent production of Miss Julie (Chain Theatre, NYC) critic Natalie Rine, OnStageBlog notes: “Overall Kym Moore’s direction is crisp and snappy with not a minute wasted. In Moore’s masterful hands, Miss Julie is a stirring invitation to wake up, an invigorating exploration of choice and consequence, gender and class, freewill and authority that you will want to lean forward in your chair to not miss a beat.”
Attention to detail, clear storytelling, imaginative and cohesive design is her hallmark. Experienced. Forthright. Authentic. And Committed to Justice for All! Let’s collaborate on something soon!!
Nola Nahulu (she/her)
Artistic Director - Hawai’i Youth Opera Chorus; Chorus
Chorus Master, Costume Designer, Singer, Stage Director, Voice Teacher
Artistic Director for 35 yrs for Hawai'i Youth Opera Chorus. Chorus Master for 30 yrs at Hawai'i Opera Theatre.
Matthew Ozawa (he/him)
Matthew Ozawa is a stage director, artistic director and educator whose international career spans all artistic disciplines. Ozawa is a master storyteller, whose “strikingly spare productions” (New York Times) are “a vivid demonstration of what opera is all about” (Opera News). His productions consistently “deliver brilliance on all fronts” (Chicago Tribune) and are filled with “breathtaking imagery” (Broadway World). Ozawa is the Founder and Artistic Director of Mozawa, a Chicago-based incubator advancing collaborative art and artists. Also a proponent of arts education, Ozawa served three years as Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Passionate about collaborative interdisciplinary performance, new work, and reigniting classics, Ozawa’s “stylish” and “intelligent” productions have been seen at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Wolftrap Opera, Opera Colorado, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Siam and Asia Society among many others. He is slated to direct a new production of Fidelio at San Francisco Opera.
Committed to new and modern operatic work, recent new production highlights include Ruo / Hwang’s An American Soldier (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Perla / Murphy’s An American Dream (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Hanlon / Fleischmann’s After The Storm (Houston Grand Opera), Sucharitkul’s Snow Dragon (Opera Siam), and Regan / Fries’ The Memory Stone (Houston Grand Opera).
Ozawa was raised in California followed by Singapore and is a graduate of United World College of South East Asia and Oberlin Conservatory.
Judith Rodriguez (she/her)
Producer, Singer, Voice Teacher
My time in Spain and here in the US has been dedicated to sharing with music lovers the inspired beauty, music, and culture from Spain and Latin America. After studying with the Spanish mezzo-soprano, Belén Genicio, I made it my mission to share the vast repertoire of Spanish songs, opera, and Zarzuela with all audiences. My journey has taken me to all corners of Spain, France, Mexico, Washington D.C., and Texas, showcasing the wonderful repertoire of Zarzuela. My goal is to share with as many people as possible my love of classical music in Spanish. I now have the opportunity of making my first compact disc in Spanish, which will showcase the masterful works of Francisco Asenjo Barbieri, one of Spain's greatest composers. The city of Arlington has taken note of my journey and featured a story in their "American Dream City" series, available on YouTube. I will be making my debut in Fort Worth Opera's premiere of Zorro, composed by Mexican composer, Hector Armienta.
Daphnie Sicre (she/her)
Dramaturg, Stage Director
Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Daphnie Sicre teaches Directing & Theatre for Social Change at Loyola Marymount University. Engaging in anti-racist and cultural competent theatre practices, she facilitates Theatre of the Oppressed workshops remixed with Hip Hop Pedagogy. When she is not teaching, writing, or conducting workshops, she can be found directing or serving as a dramaturge. She recently directed the following Zoom productions: “Talking Peace”by France-Luce Benson (Fountain Theatre) a stage reading of “Waiting for Godinez” by Daniel Olivas (Playwrights’ Arena) and a podcast reading of “Ash & Feather” by Sharon Francis’s. Her LMU debut was “In the Heights” and next year she will direct “Diversity Awareness Picnic” by Leah Nanako Winkler. Select New York City directing credits include: Jose Casas’s “14”, Shower Me” at the FringeNYC, “Stranger” for Stage Black, where she won Best Director and the AUDELCO nominated “Not About Eve”.
Otis Sallid (he/him)
Choreographer - Dance, Librettist, Producer, Stage Director, Film Director
“…SALLID KNOWS HIS BUSINESS…” Los Angeles Times
Born in Harlem, New York, Otis Sallid is an international Director, Choreographer, Writer, and Producer.
Not only style but substance is the benchmark of director Otis Sallid’s work. His close attention and a keen eye for detail always make something special out of everything he touches. As a producer, director, and choreographer in theater, television, and film, his accomplishments are known throughout the entertainment industry. Otis Sallid is a true renaissance man. He has worked with such industry legends as Christina Ricci, Jennifer Hudson, Patti LaBelle, Tony Bennett, Julio lglesia, Denzel Washington, Billy Crystal, Sam Jackson, Robert Sean Leonard, Gregory Hines, Spike Lee, Lawrence Fishbourne, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mariah Carey, Forest Whitaker, Helen Hunt, Prince, Vanessa Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Allen, Angela Bassett, James Ingram, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Don Cheatle, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah just to name a few.
Otis Sallid would like to bring all of his knowledge and expertise to the world of opera, hoping that he can create stories, music, and experiences that make a difference in creating an inclusive cultural experience for all.
Carlos J. Soto (he/him)
Costume Designer, Scenic Designer, Stage Director
Carlos Soto is a director, designer and performer based in New York City. Associate direction and design: Solange’s Nothing to Prove / Nothing to Say (Venice Biennial); Witness! (Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg / Sydney Opera House); When I Get Home (film and concert tour); Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube), Hammer Museum, LA; Scales (Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX). Sets and/or Costumes: Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, director Zack Winokur (Santa Fe Opera); The Black Clown with Davóne Tines, directed by Zack Winokur (ART, Mostly Mozart Festival); Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) by director Bryce Dessner, librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, director Kaneza Schaal, Roomful of Teeth (BAM, Holland Festival, Kennedy Center, UMS).The Mile-Long Opera, by Anne Carson, Claudia Rankine, David Lang, Ragnar Kjartarsson, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. With Robert Wilson (as designer and performer): Adam’s Passion, Der Messias (Salzburg Festival), Einstein on the Beach, Garrincha, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic, and Oedipus Rex. Upcoming: Perle Noire, Julia Bullock, Claudia Rankine, Tyshawn Sorey, director Peter Sellars (Théâtre du Châtelet); Intelligence, Jake Heggie, Gene Scheer, director Jawole Zollar (Houston Grand Opera).
Thaddeus Strassberger (he/him)
Lighting Designer, Scenic Designer, Stage Director
New York, NY
Thaddeus Strassberger is a native of Oklahoma and a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He earned a degree in Engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City; he received a Fulbright Fellowship to complete the Corso di Specializzazione per Scenografi Realizzatori at Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 2001. His German studies at the Goethe Institut were funded in part by Amerinda. In 2005, he won the European Opera Prize which helped launch his career in abroad. Since the he has created over 65 new productions in the USA, Europe, Russia and China, which have been seen at Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Theater an der Wien, Bolshoi Theater, NCPA Beijing, Den Norske Opera, Danish National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Ireland, LA Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Bard Summerscape New York, Ekaterinburg State Opera, Staatstheater Braunschweig, Staatstheater Kassel, Theater Augsburg, Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Tiroler Landestheater Innsbruck, L’Opera de Montreal, and many others.
Gregory Keng Strasser (he/him)
Librettist, Producer, Stage Director
Gregory Keng Strasser is director and writer based in Washington DC. Produced in Bangkok, Holstebro, DC, and Ann Arbor, Strasser’s work is globally-minded and epic in nature. He is the 2020 Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage, and the inaugural artistic apprentice at the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. Currently he serves as Producing Director for 4615 Theatre Company.
David Radamés Toro (he/him)
Stage Director, Voice Teacher, Acting Coach, Stage Movement Instructor, assistant director
David Radamés Toro applies his background in physical theatre and mime to direct a variety musical repertoire with an affinity for baroque and 20th/21st century works. He has worked at companies including Minnesota Opera, the Wexford Opera Festival, Washington National Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Opera Neo.
As a director, David is known for bringing honesty and humanity to the opera stage. In reviewing his production of Flight, The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote, “This staging showed that "Flight" has a beating heart, and something to say.” The San Diego Union Tribune described his 2019 production of La Calisto as “well sung and cleverly staged.” Most recently, David directed Opera Neo’s Virtual Magic Flute, a fully staged green screen opera filmed remotely from the singers’ homes.
An admirer of modern era opera, David has had the privilege of directing 21st century works such as Glory Denied (Opera Fayetteville, 2020) and Flight (Minnesota Opera, 2020), as well as assisting on world premieres such as Today It Rains (Opera Parallèle, 2019), Dinner at Eight (Minnesota Opera, 2017), The Shining (Minnesota Opera, 2016), and A New Kind of Fallout (Pittsburgh Festival Opera, 2015). Additionally, He directed the premiere of Rose Made Man: An Inside Out Opera for the Cohen New Works Festival in 2015.
David Radamés Toro holds degrees from The University of Texas (DMA, Opera Directing), The Ohio State University (MM/MA, Voice Performance and Pedagogy), and The University of Colorado at Boulder (BM, Voice Performance).
Giselle Ty (she/her)
I am a theater and opera director who specializes in interdisciplinary, experimental, and site-specific work. Challenging projects are something I look for, and I am committed to making work that is aesthetically visceral, intellectually rigorous, and emotionally unafraid.
I have directed projects for Houston Grand Opera (HGOco), Center for Contemporary Opera+National Sawdust, New York University, Harvard University, and created original theatrical installations for the Peabody Essex Museum’s historic houses and galleries. Previous engagements as associate/assistant include productions with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Boston Symphony, American Repertory Theatre, Boston Lyric Opera, Icelandic Opera, and l’Opéra National de Bordeaux.
A former orchestral musician, I have a strong foundation in classical music as well as an academic background in art history. I also have training in different styles of movement, dance, and theater (LeCoq, Suzuki/Viewpoints, Shakespearean text, ballet, action-based acting, etc). I grew up in a Chinese-Buddhist / Spanish-Filipino-Catholic household and have lived in four countries: US, UK, Philippines, and France. I am fluent in French and also speak German and Italian.
The HOW that drives the way we create is as important to me as the WHAT. I invest in collaborative, ensemble-driven processes. I believe that imagination and empathy are practices that share the same roots. I care much more for the real than the realistic and my sensibilities lean towards the poetic, otherworldly, and abstract...
TWINKLES: Musiktheater, collaborations with dancers, experimental texts, baroque, Berg, Beckett, R.Strauss, Charpentier, challenging heteronormative gender roles, Cavalli, Racine, Shakespeare, Greek Tragedy...
Dennis Whitehead Darling (he/him)
Theatre has the innate ability to convey feeling, provide enlightenment and inspire change. My goal as a director is to tell emotionally engaging and provocative stories that challenge the viewer to see the world from a different perspective. As an African American stage direcctor, I am very passionate about presenting transformative art that addresses issues of marginalization and challenges oppression, bigotry, and racism. Recent directing credits include: Marian’s Song (Houston Grand Opera), The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Red Mountain Theatre) Independence Eve (Opera Birmingham), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Hattiloo Theatre/Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Jelly’s Last Jam (Hattiloo Theatre), The Parchman Hour (Hattiloo Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Intimate Apparel (University of Memphis), Movin’ Up in the World (Opera Memphis), Sunset Baby (Hattiloo Theatre), James and the Giant Peach (Circuit Playhouse), Blue Viola (Opera Memphis), Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting (Hattiloo Theatre), Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (Hattiloo Theatre). Observerships/Associate/Assistant Directing credits include: English National Opera (Jack The Ripper - Daniel Kramer), world and regional premieres of Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole (Geffen Playhouse, People’s Light Theatre), Triumph of Honor (Opera Memphis). Please visit my website for more information.
Mo Zhou (she/her)
New York, NY
Mo Zhou is a Chinese-born stage director based in New York City. She conceived and directed the opera The Diary of John Rabe in 2019, which looks at the Rape of Nanking through a German businessman’s point of view. The production had a critically acclaimed run at NCPA in China, following with a successful European tour at Staatsoper Berlin, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Ronacher in Vienna. In addition, she has directed at Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, The Juilliard School, WP Theatre Pipeline Festival, The New School of Drama, to name a few. She has also worked as staff director at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, among others. She has received training as James Marcus Directing Fellow at The Juilliard School, two consecutive summers as the Directing Fellow at Wolf Trap Opera, a 2050 Artistic Fellow with New York Theater Workshop, a Time Warner Directing Fellow with WP Theater and as an Apprentice Stage Director at Merola Opera Program in San Francisco. An avid advocate for new work portraying female trajectories, she has developed new works with American Opera Project and NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. BA Bowdoin College, MFA Columbia University.