Ermonela was born in Albania, and is a graduate of Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
This performance marks the talent’s WNO debut, although she has already wowed audiences around the world in the role of Cio-Cio-San—from London to Paris to Berlin.
A notable moment: Ermonela worked very hard to become an internationally acclaimed soprano. After entering a conservatory at 17, she was invited to study in Italy. At the end of her two-month study trip, Ermonela was determined to stay in Italy because it “is the home of bel canto,” and because Albania restricted her access to foreign operas. To continue pursuing her art—and to afford her new life in Italy—she became an au pair and lived in a hostel run by nuns.
Arthur was born in New York City and raised in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He originated the role of Emile Griffith in the premiere of Champion at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to critical acclaim.
Fun fact! Arthur traveled the world as a student of opera. After spending two years at New York City Community College, he moved to Bologna, Italy to study at Giovanni Battista Martini Conservatory. There, he sang in an Italian rock band on the side! After leaving Italy, Arthur returned to New York City to finish his studies at Mannes College of Music.
Arthur’s most notable roles include Porgy in Porgy and Bess, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Banquo in Macbeth, Rocco in Fidelio, and Dick Hallorann in the world premiere of The Shining, based on the novel by Stephen King.
Bass-baritone. Young Emile in Champion.
Aubrey grew up in Tuscon, Arizona and originally discovered singing at church. After high school, he attended Grand Canyon University for his undergraduate degree, Indiana University for graduate school, and was a member of The Juilliard School‘s Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program.
This performance is Aubrey’s WNO debut.
Aubrey spent over 5 seasons with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. His first part—while a member of the Gerdine Young Artist program—was as a customs official in La bohème. With each season, his roles grew and ranged from Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin to the Mad Hatter in the U.S. premiere of Alice in Wonderland.
Fun fact! In 2013, Aubrey originated the role of Young Emile at his beloved Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. The bass-baritone deeply connected with his character, saying, “I feel like the role was written for me.”
A native of Queens, New York, Dimitri is a graduate of The Metropolitan Opera‘s Lindemann Young Artist Development program.
This production marks Dimitri’s WNO debut as well as his debut in the role of Pinkerton.
Some of Dimitri’s most notable roles include Rodolfo in La bohème, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Macduff in Macbeth, the title role in Don Carlo, and Nemorino in The Elixir of Love.
Fun fact! The life of an opera singer is unlike any other. It’s unpredictable and nonstop and exciting—and this story from Dimitri encapsulates it perfectly. This year, while preparing to travel to Virginia from South Carolina for Passover, Dimitri received a call asking him to replace an ill tenor in an Opera Philadelphia production of The Elixir of Love. Always ready for the stage, Dimitri was forced to forgo his family trip and travel to Philadelphia instead. With only days to rehearse before the premiere, Dimitri saved the day.
Brian is a graduate of The Purchase College’s Conservatory of Music as well as the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera.
While Brian has graced many stages—from the Royal Opera House to the Teatro San Carlo—this production marks his WNO debut.
Fun fact! Brian studied computer science and business in college for two years before deciding that singing was “the coolest thing I’ve ever done.” He was then accepted into music school as a tenor, but because of the colors of his voice and the training methods used by his instructors, it was decided he was a baritone. He studied and performed for ten years as a baritone before meeting with a tenor teacher. There Brian was told—officially—that he is, in fact, a tenor.
Mezzo-soprano. Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking.
A Texas native, this Grammy Award winner is a graduate of Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music.
When Dead Man Walking had its world premiere in San Francisco in 2000, Susan portrayed Sister Helen Prejean, the lead female role that was written especially for her. She returns to this new production from WNO to captivate audiences as Mrs. De Rocher, the mother of the death row inmate.
Mezzo-soprano. Emelda Griffith in Champion.
A D.C. native, Denyce attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and was later awarded a scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Denyce’s title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila have made her particularly well-known to opera audiences. In fact, the last time she appeared with WNO, she played the beloved and timeless Carmen. For Champion, she reprises her role as the mother of boxing legend Emile Griffith, following the opera’s world premiere at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Mezzo-soprano. Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking.
Originally from Virginia, Kate is a graduate of Indiana University, and was a student of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. Since entering the program, Kate has performed over 80 times at the Met.
This performance marks Kate’s WNO debut.
Acclaimed performances include Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Wellgunde in The Ring, and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel.
A notable moment: In 2012, Kate was featured in Vogue magazine alongside fellow opera singers Susanna Phillips and Isabel Leonard. In the feature, they discuss what it means to be an opera singer in the modern world.
Originally from Cut and Shoot, Texas, Michael is a graduate of the University of North Texas.
This performance is Michael’s WNO debut.
Some of Michael’s most recent and celebrated roles include Sharpless in Madam Butterfly, the title role in Don Giovanni, as well as the title role in Rigoletto.
Fun fact! While this is Michael’s WNO debut, the role of Joseph De Rocher is one that has garnered him great acclaim already. Michael and his self-proclaimed “homeboy”, composer Jake Heggie, have teamed up for many operas, including Three Decembers, Great Scott, and For a Look or a Touch. Michael attributes much of his success to Jake’s partnership, saying “he’s given me the career I have today.”
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Lawrence decided to pursue opera after a spectator approached him following a high school singing competition and encouraged him to try the art form. The advice stuck, and Lawrence went on to study at Anderson University and Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music.
Lawrence was last seen at the WNO in 2009 as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville.
The role of Tonio requires Lawrence to sing a succession of nine high Cs. About the difficult sequence, Lawrence says, “They need to be nine bull’s-eyes. They can’t be nine B naturals. But I feel secure. It’s an aria I’ve lived with. I’ve done it a bunch of times.”