Palm Beach Opera is dedicated to producing live opera at an international standard of excellence and to enriching the life of the communities it serves with a diverse offering of educational programs.
Founded in 1961, the fully professional Palm Beach Opera presents mainstage performances at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach and is a proud member of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
Guest artists come to Palm Beach Opera from both the US and abroad, and have performed at all major opera houses worldwide. The Palm Beach Opera Chorus consists of up to 50 local singers who are committed to the highest musical values. The Palm Beach Opera Orchestra was created by the Board in 1993 to enhance the artistic quality of the company’s offerings, and includes musicians who have worked with major professional orchestras both nationally and internationally.
Palm Beach Opera maintains a Young Artist Program for emerging professional opera singers. The 5 month residency provides strong performance opportunities while allowing young artists to develop and polish essential stagecraft and performance skills, aided by the Palm Beach Opera Music & Artistic staff. Young Artists are featured in the company’s One Opera in One Hour Series, giving the public a taste of opera in a non-traditional setting at the Harriett Himmel Theater, which seats up to 400 people.
Palm Beach Opera is committed to arts education and offers a variety of educational programs for all ages and levels. Throughout the season, middle school and high school students are invited to watch working dress rehearsals as part of Opera Rehearsal 101. The PBO Studio brings high school students who are enrolled in a theater or vocal program in direct contact with opera professionals, giving them behind-the-scenes access to performances and rehearsals, interaction with artists and stage personnel, voice lessons with Palm Beach Opera’s artistic personnel and visiting artists and hands-on technical production experience. Concerts in the Classroom allows students to experience the magic of opera without leaving the classroom. Palm Beach Opera’s Young Artists sing arias and ensembles from favorite operas and discuss elements of opera with students, while adjusting the repertoire to conform to curriculum requirements. Adults enjoy an informative and entertaining look at the upcoming productions at the popular Lunch & Learn Series, first launched during the 2007-2008 season and immediately selling out, or at the Curtain Warmers prior to each performance at the Kravis Center.
The Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition was established in 1969 to assist the careers of aspiring opera singers and became one of the most prestigious national contests for young singers. Accomplished finalists competed for cash awards, before a distinguished judging panel of experts from the opera world, and have gone on to illustrious international careers in the opera world. The competition was last held in 2011.
Palm Beach Opera is governed by a 25-member Board of Directors, under the leadership of Board Chairman Dennis Williams. The company’s operating budget is $4.1 million. The company has a full-time staff of 10, seasonally growing to a staff of 20 under the leadership of General Director Daniel Biaggi. The Palm Beach Opera Guild provides volunteer and financial support for the company and its educational programs.
Dennis Williams, Chairman
Sanford H. Fisher, Vice Chairman
Gladys Benenson, Vice President
Dr. David I. Kosowsky, Vice President
Ari Rifkin, Vice President
Marc S. Solomon, Vice President
Sanford M. Baklor
Dr. Elizabeth Bowden
John A. Domenico
Annette Y. Friedland
Paul A. Goldner
Peter A. Hoffman
Dr. Marsha Laufer
Mary M. Montgomery
John J. Pohanka
RADM Philip Whitacre
Helen K. Persson*
M. Mac Schwebel
Daniel Biaggi, General Director
General Director of Palm Beach Opera since 2009, Daniel Biaggi is committed to expanding the company’s civic impact by presenting highly engaging opera productions as well as a broad variety of education and outreach programs. He works closely with the Board of Directors, leads all artistic programming, staff activities and organizational events, and has served as Host and emcee for the company’s 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee concerts as well Grand Finals Concert of the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition.
Under his leadership, the company presented its first free annual Opera @ the Waterfront concert in addition to three fully staged opera productions at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. Opera @ the Waterfront attracted over 2,500 community members, and was selected as winner of a Knights Arts Challenge Matching Grant for the 2014-2015 season. The Gala recital series has brought international opera stars including Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, Joyce DiDonato, and Thomas Hampson to Palm Beach Opera. Daniel expanded the company’s Young Artist and Education Programs, initiated a collaboration with Lynn University Conservatory of Music to present the company’s first performance of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and added Baroque, American and 20th Century repertoire to the One Opera in One Hour series. Palm Beach Opera’s commitment to developing new audiences and new works is resulting in the company’s first world-premiere of an American opera, Enemies, A Love Story in February 2015.
In collaboration with his team, Daniel has reinvigorated fundraising campaigns and innovative marketing initiatives including digital efforts which resulted in several surplus audits during his tenure, including for the past two consecutive years. Last season, the Board of Directors launched a major endowment campaign to secure and grow Palm Beach Opera’s programs after a successful restructuring of the board and turn-around of the company based upon a strategic analysis in 2011-2012.
Daniel currently serves on the Board of Opera America, and is Chair of the Cultural Executive Committee of the Cultural Council of the Palm Beaches. A frequent vocal competition judge, Daniel has served as jury member for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Competition, the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, among others, and has participated in panel discussions for Opera America and Opera Europa. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership and Artistic Excellence of the National Society of Arts and Letters.
Prior to his engagement at the Palm Beach Opera, Daniel Biaggi was Associate Director at Guy Barzilay International Artist Management in New York, co-managing the careers of over 40 singers worldwide. He has served on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, and Sarah Lawrence College in New York, coaching singers in operatic and art song repertoire with an emphasis on languages and diction. Daniel Biaggi has given master classes and performance seminars at the Juilliard School of Music as well as the Chautauqua Voice Institute. He has worked extensively for the Metropolitan Opera Guild, giving pre-performance introduction lectures and participating in the organization’s various Teaching Artist Programs as performer and educator.
Daniel is a classically trained singer and has performed operatic roles and recitals in the US as well as Europe. He holds a Post-Graduate and Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, a Bachelor of Music Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a Certificate of Musicology from the University of Berne, Switzerland. Most recently, he received certification as Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy from The American College of Financial Services, and received a full scholarship to attend the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program “Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management”.
In his free time, Daniel Biaggi enjoys sports, especially tennis and snowboarding, loves flying and occasionally jumping out of planes, and loves cooking and fine wine.
Daniel, aka Swiss D, oversees all artistic planning, organizational events and staff activities, and is spokesperson for the organization in private and public affairs. He loves casting operas as much as raising money, and tries to emulate American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest as Host of the PBO Vocal Competition Grand Finals Concert. Prior to coming to PBO, Daniel was Associate Director at Guy Barzilay International Artist Management in New York, served on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, and Sarah Lawrence College, and worked extensively for the Metropolitan Opera Guild, giving pre-performance introduction lectures and participating in the organization’s various Outreach Programs. A classically trained singer, Daniel has performed operatic roles and recitals in the US and Europe. In his spare time, he loves playing sports, cooking up a storm, and anything that has to do with air travel, including jumping out of planes. Email Daniel
Managing Director – Productions & Facilities
Greg joined Palm Beach Opera as Director of Production for the 2011-2012 season after a 30-year absence. He is responsible for the planning and execution of all productions, and for developing existing and new facilities for Palm Beach Opera. Prior to PBO, his multifaceted career includes nearly 400 productions divided between opera, theatre and television. A sampling includes: Director of Production—Portland Opera (Jenůfa, Sweeney Todd); —San Diego Opera (Boris Godunov, La Bohème). Production Manager—Dallas Opera (Götterdämmerung, La Fanciulla del West), Tulsa Opera (The Flying Dutchman, Tosca). In musical theatre, he has worked with such luminaries as Ann-Margret, Raul Julia, Richard Kiley, Robert Goulet, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Yul Brynner. As a lighting designer for opera and musical theatre, Greg has received two Drama-Logue awards, and the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and Emmy awards. He serves as a Stage Manager Councilor of Actors’ Equity Association. Email Greg
Director of Artistic Operations
Scott is excited to begin as the Director of Artistic Operations at PBO! Previously, he was the Artistic Administrator of Washington National Opera since 2006. Here at PBO he will work with Daniel on all things artistic, including the Young Artist Program. He was selected by OPERA America to be part of the Leadership Intensive 2012. Originally from Johnstown, New York, he received a B.A. with honors in Vocal Performance from the State University of New York College at Geneseo in 2001 and later earned a M.A. with distinction in Arts Management from American University in 2004. He was a bartione soloist for four years at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and was a singer, soloist and board president of the Thomas Circle Singers in Washington, D.C. In 2012 he became a member of the Board of Trustees of The Point Foundation where he and a group of friends in Washington created “Wig Night Out”- a silly night of wearing wigs for a good cause. A huge fan of the beach, he is looking forward to grabbing the few off hours in a week to relax and enjoy the Palm Beach sun. Email Scott
Associate Conductor & Chorus Master
Greg (aka G$) has been Chorus Master for over 19 productions with Palm Beach Opera and conducts our Family Opera performances. He is also the Assistant Conductor at Opera Theater of Saint Louis and has been on the music staff at Wexford Festival Opera, Dallas Opera, Central City Opera, and Virginia Opera. Originally from Kentucky, he is also noted concert pianist and has performed throughout Europe and the United States. Greg is an avid golfer, Kentucky basketball fan, and likes to unwind with a glass of premium scotch. Email Greg
Katy joined our Stage Management team in 2012, and relocated from Honolulu (Aloha!) to work as our Company Manager for the 2013 Season! She is a native Texan, and has worked in all four corners of the US as a Scheduler and Stage Manager. She has a BFA in Design from Baylor University, and an MFA in Stage Management from the University of California, San Diego. Katy loves sailing, gardening, and spoiling her little black panther, Manny, as much as possible. Email Katy
Director of Finance and Administration
Joe’s knowledge and experience in accounting comes from over 15 years of working as a controller, manager, business analyst, and senior level accountant for several multi-million dollar corporations, including Compass Group, Fidelity National Title, and Club Corp International. Having pursued a well-rounded education in both business and liberal arts, Joe holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Houston, and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. Joe is also an advocate for adoption causes and has worked closely with the Adoption Coalition of Texas on their Heart Gallery of Central Texas project. Although he spent most of his life in Texas, Joe is a native Floridian originally from Orlando. In his spare time, Joe enjoys spending time with his family, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing the beautiful coastal waters of Florida. Email Joe
Lisa L. Huertas
Director of Philanthropy
Lisa came to the Opera as Director of Philanthropy in 2012 after spending 3½ years in the world of science at Scripps Florida. She serves as a volunteer on the boards of Miami City Ballet, Career Transition for Dancers, the Association of Fund Raising Professionals-Palm Beach Chapter, and the Yale Club of the Palm Beaches. She is a Sustaining Member of The Junior League of the Palm Beaches and a member of the Planned Giving Council of Palm Beach County. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in the History of Art from Yale and an MBA in Arts Administration from SUNY-Binghamton, she started her career in philanthropy in 1980s. She loves the arts and also is a fan of the Florida Panthers ice hockey team. Go Cats! Email Lisa
Patron Engagement & Grants Manager
Kristina is a development professional with 4 years of nonprofit and grant writing experience. At Palm Beach Opera, Kristina works closely with donors and also writing and maintaining all grants. A Florida native, Kristina received a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a concentration in International Studies from the Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University. In her spare time, Kristina enjoys gardening, ballet class, and sunset picnics. Email Kristina
Ann E. Baskind
Guild & Patron Relations Liaison
Ann Baskind has been with Palm Beach Opera since 2000. After starting as a Box Office Associate and becoming Box Office Manager, she is currently the Donor Relations Coordinator working with our high-end donors and special events. Ann is also the Palm Beach Opera Liaison for the Opera Guild. Born in New York City, she is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. Ann is the founder and treasurer of SAD SAC Inc., a no-kill animal rescue group. She enjoys tennis, sharp cheeses, and is an avid animal activist. Email Ann
Director of Communications
Ceci is the arts marketing go-to gal! She specializes in the integration of digital marketing and technology into traditional marketing methods. A self-professed digital marketing nerd, Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and is a die-hard Steelers fan. She graduated with a degree in music from West Virginia University (Let’s Go Mountaineers!)and is on the National Arts Marketing Project Advisory Committee, is the Chapter Leader of Girl Develop It West Palm Beach which is a nonprofit that teaches women how to code, and is the OPERA America Marketing Network Chair. Email Ceci
Amanda is Palm Beach Opera’s Communications Manager. She joined the non-profit world after spending a couple years producing newscasts for a local TV station. As a South Florida native, Amanda graduated with honors from Florida Atlantic University with a double major in Multimedia Journalism and Art & Humanities. In her free time she loves to travel, ride her bike around town, read, and eat. Amanda also enjoys spoiling her Dachshund, Scout and kitten, Finch. Email Amanda
Audience Services Manager
Jennifer (also known as Jenna) joined PBO in the beginning of Fall in 2008 as a Box Office Systems Administrator. What is that you ask? Jenna’s responsibilities include database management, ticketing management and reporting, customer service and ticketing sales. Opera was introduced to Jenna as a small child by her late father who blasted Luciano Pavarotti throughout the house before there was surround sound. Jenna’s interests span from Asian-themed art & design to relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Palm Beach. She dislikes frogs and flying but loves a soft smooth sounding melody especially from the 80’s! Email Jenna
Audience Services & Group Sales Associate
Christina (affectionately called Xtina) joined our Box Office in the Spring of 2009. She is the youngest member of our team and her friendly personality makes her perfect for assisting our patrons on a daily basis. Christina coordinates all Group Sales, helps to execute various administrative tasks, and even hops on stage as a Supernumerary! As well as being a part of the Palm Beach Opera team, Christina has spent the past two summers working on staff at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. Born and raised in South Florida, she enjoys the ocean and warm summer weather. She loves theme parks, floral print, and her dachshunds Jillian and Jake! Email Christina
Jourdan Laine Howell
Education & Community Engagement Manager
Jourdan Laine Howell is jazzed to be a member of the Palm Beach Opera team! Prior to her position at PBO, Jourdan served as the Director of Education and Community Engagement for Amarillo Opera. Jourdan holds a Doctoral Degree in Vocal Performance with a focus in Opera Production and Direction from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Outside of performing and directing, Jourdan’s greatest thrill has been traveling throughout the country via railroad with the Ringling Bros. Circus! Jourdan enjoys Zwischen Fach arias, pop culture colloquialisms, and witty repartee. She is over the moon about her move to West Palm Beach and is looking forward to many beach trips with her husband Elijah and their pups Doodle and Roo. Email Jourdan
GREG RITCHEY – Associate Conductor & Chorus Master
Greg Ritchey presently serves as Assistant Conductor & Chorus Master at Palm Beach Opera. During his time at PBO, he has been Chorus Master for nineteen productions including Turandot, Don Giovanni, Thaïs, Fidelio, Otello, Pagliacci, Madama Butterfly, La Traviata, La Boheme, L’Italiana in Algeri, L’elisir d’Amore, Nabucco, Orfeo ed Euridice as well as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Verdi’s Requiem. He has also conducted the Family Performances of Carmen and Così fan tutte.
Mr. Ritchey also serves as Assistant Conductor at Opera Theater of Saint Louis where he recently conducted performances of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Hans Krasa’s Brundibar. He was also Chorus Master for the European premiere of Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket at Wexford Festival Opera. He was Principal Coach for the American premiere of Rudolf Schecter’s Der Ferne Klang at the Bard Music Festival and also at Dallas Opera’s opening gala performance at the new Winspear Opera House and for their production of Otello. He previously held music staff positions at Central City Opera, Virginia Opera, Sarasota Opera and Kentucky Opera. As the Music Director of the Dallas Gilbert & Sullivan Company he conducted performances of The Yeomen of the Guard, Pirates of Penzance, The Gondeliers, and a gala performance Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. He has been guest conductor for Chamber Symphony of the Metrocrest, Southwest Opera Company, assistant conductor for El Paso Opera, conductor/coach for Des Moines Metro Opera and Opera North. His diverse conducting repertoire includes Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte, and Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges.
As a chamber musician, he has performed in recital with members of the Dallas Symphony in Mexico, in the US with renowned flautist Susan Milan and has twice appeared at the Vysočina Music Festival in the Czech Republic with soprano Lynn Eustis. As a concert pianist Mr. Ritchey has performed in Scandinavia, throughout Europe and the United States. This summer, he returns to the Amalfi Coast Music Festival where he will conduct Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi and later will return to Ireland to appear in concert with the Wexford Festival Orchestra.
Mr. Ritchey holds a BM degree from the University of North Texas and the MM degree from the Juilliard School of Music where he was the recipient of the William Petschek Scholarship. His primary piano teachers were Larry Walz, Martin Canin, and Pamela Paul and he studied conducting with Anshel Brusilow. He has been on faculty at University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, and Louisiana State University and was the 2009 honoree of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Charles MacKay Career Development Fund.
TIMOTHY CHEUNG – Head Coach Young Artist Program
Pianist Timothy Cheung is excited to join Palm Beach Opera for the 2014 season as Head Coach for the Young Artist Program. Mr. Cheung is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company (COC) Ensemble Studio, where he served as music staff, intern coach, celesta player, and music director for school tour productions. He has worked as music staff at Houston Grand Opera and will return to the COC later this season.
Mr. Cheung was a two-time participant in the San Francisco Opera-affiliated Merola Opera program, where he was an apprentice coach and chorus master. He trained as a vocal pianist and répétiteur at Music Academy of the West, Canadian Operatic Arts Academy, Queen of Puddings Theatre Program and the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop.
Mr. Cheung holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and a master’s degree in collaborative piano from the University of Western Ontario. He was a coach and assistant conductor for the university’s opera program and a winner of the university’s concerto competition.
IRINA NEDELCU – Young Artist Pianist
First-generation Romanian-American pianist Irina Nedelcu coaches and accompanies as a freelance artist for many opera singers, opera companies, and festivals throughout North America.
Recently, Ms. Nedelcu was a Mary Ragland Young Artist at Nashville Opera where she served as the music director and tour manager for the outreach program. Prior to this position, she was a resident artist at Shreveport Opera (Il Barbiere di Siviglia, I pagliacci, Rigoletto) in Louisiana, where she was the rehearsal pianist and chorus master for their main stage season and music director for the outreach program.
Ms. Nedelcu served as a staff pianist/coach at companies such as Amarillo Opera (Amahl and the Night Visitors, Threepenny Opera), OperaWorks, Chicago Summer Opera (Die Zauberflöte), Mill City Summer Opera (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Opera in the Ozarks (A Little Night Music, L’enfant et les sortileges), Bay View Music Festival (Gianni Schicchi, Buoso’s Ghost), and the Interlochen Summer Arts Academy. During these productions, she worked with renowned conductors such as Michael Ching, Brian DeMaris, Jerome Shannon, Emanuele Andrizzi, Codrut Birsan, and Adam Boyles. In 2014 she completed an Artist Residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada to prepare for these various assignments.
Ms. Nedelcu served as music director for operas such as The Impresario, La cenerentola, and Face on the Barroom Floor, and as a head coach for Michigan State University’s 2013 production of The Magic Flute.
As a soloist, Ms. Nedelcu participated in the Asolo Song Festival in Italy, Chopin-Gorecki Festival in Poland, and the Indiana University-Bloomington Piano Academy. She performed Rhapsody in Blue with the Augsburg Symphonic Band in a Romanian tour. As a collaborator, she held regular recitals and concerts with organizations such as Baroque Artists of Shreveport, Shreveport Symphony, HORA-MN (Heritage of Romanian-Americans in Minnesota), and Tallahassee Music Guild. Ms. Nedelcu was the 2012 Phi Kappa Phi Artist of the Year.
She earned a Master’s of Music degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor’s of Music from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Additionally, she attended the George Enescu High School of Music in Bucuresti, Romania and received an Artist Diploma Award during her training at the MacPhail Center of Music in Minneapolis.
Chorus Master: Greg Ritchey
2014-2015 SEASON PALM BEACH OPERA CHORUS
Anette Yasmin Glaser
Nancy Saint Pierre
Shanna Nolan Gundry
Darren Craig Littman
Corey Nile Wingard
*Palm Beach Opera Young Artist
2015 SEASON PALM BEACH OPERA ORCHESTRA
Eliot Chapo, Concertmaster
Laura Hilgemann Miller, Co-Concertmaster
Rafael Elvira, Associate Concertmaster
Susan Padgitt Schwab
Elizabeth Bonta Moll
Christopher H. Glansdorp*
Karen Fuller Dixon*
Michael L. Singer*
Michael A. Ellert
* – Principal Player
** – Assistant Principal
^ – Leave of absence
^^ – one year substitute
*+ – one year Principal substitute
**+ – one year Assistant Principal substitute
Click on the linked operas to see photos from the production!
Dialogues of the Carmelites
Lucia di Lammermoor
The Tales of Hoffmann
The Merry Widow
Un Ballo in Maschera
La Fanciulla del West
The Flying Dutchman
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Cavalleria Rusticana / I Pagliacci
Cosi fan tutte
Samson and Dalila
L’ Elisir d’Amore
Le Nozze di Figaro
The Merry Widow
Lucia di Lammermoor
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
The Magic Flute
L’Italiana in Algeri
La Forza del Destino
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Samson et Dalila
Lucia di Lammermoor
The Magic Flute
Andriana LecouvreurvGianni Schicchi
Così fan tutte
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Un ballo in maschera
La Fille du Regiment
The Merry WIdow
Cavalleria Tursicana/I Pagliacci
Hansel and Gretel
Le Nozze di Figaro
Tales of Hoffmann
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Lucia di Lammermoor
Tales of Hoffmann