Palm Beach Opera Chief Conductor David Stern’s musical leadership is spread across three continents. He is the founder and director of the Paris-based opera company and period-instrument ensemble, Opera Fuoco, as well as artistic advisor and principal conductor of the Shanghai Baroque Festival and music director of opera at the Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado.
Stern is known for his extensive range of repertoire. In his time as music director of the Israel and the St. Gallen Opera houses, he championed 18th century opera and eclectic works such as Simone Mayr’s Medea, Berg’s Wozzeck, Britten’s Turn of the Screw and Weill’s Mahagonny. He has premiered four new operas since 2010 – Gil Shohat’s The Child Dreams at the Israel Opera, Nicolas Bacri’s Così fanciulli, commissioned by Opera Fuoco and performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Ben Moore’s Enemies, A Love Story in Palm Beach and Jan Sandström’s The Rococo Machine in Drottningholm, Sweden in June 2016.
Stern has enjoyed collaborations with many international stage directors. Stern is a frequent guest around the globe with symphonic and chamber orchestras. He is regularly invited to the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, the Shanghai and Guangzhou Symphonies, the China Philharmonic, the New Russian Symphony, the National Orchestra of Mexico, and has had recent appearances with the Vienna Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Since launching the Aix Festival Academy in 1998, David Stern has been committed to developing young voices. He created Opera Fuoco in 2003 as a platform to train young French singers in repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to John Cage, combining both an opera studio offering regular master classes and an opera company producing and co-producing larger concertante and staged productions. As artistic advisor of the Shanghai Baroque Festival, he involves singers from the Shanghai Conservatory and the Opera Fuoco Studio, and he works regularly with the Young Artist Programs in Palm Beach and Crested Butte, Colorado.
Stern received his Bachelor of Arts from Yale and his Masters of Music from the Juilliard School. He resides in Paris with his wife and two daughters.
David has experience managing successful fundraising, and assisting marketing, campaigns for arts organizations around the country such as the Glimmerglass Festival, Sarasota Opera, North Carolina Opera, Fort Worth Opera, and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
He regularly is a guest lecturer on the business of opera, and was invited to serve as a guest speaker at the 2012 Opera America Conference, the annual conference of administrative professionals from opera companies nationwide.
Prior to his arts administration career, Walker had an 18 year international singing career, performing with some of the most prestigious opera houses in the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich).
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Engineering, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance, and a Master of Arts in Arts Administration and a Master of Business Administration, both with an Arts Administration focus.
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Jeff Bruckerhoff joins Palm Beach Opera bringing over two decades of production experience gathered from work with companies as far flung as Montevideo, Uruguay to Tokyo, Japan and nearly everywhere in between. Following an early career in theater consulting for Schuler and Shook in Chicago, recent work has been concentrated on lighting design for opera and ballet with companies including The Washington Ballet, San Francisco Opera, The Kennedy Center, Washington National Opera, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and Tulsa Opera. Additionally Jeff has taught lighting at the University of Illinois and Northwestern’s Cherub program, and worked as director of production and resident designer for Roosevelt University. Recently he has taken on the managing director role for The Vermont Opera Project – a new summer event based in central Vermont.
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As Palm Beach Opera’s new Director of Artistic Administration, James Barbato oversees the company’s artistic planning and casting, manages all artistic personnel, and directs the Benenson Young Artist and Bailey Apprentice Artist Programs.
He joined Palm Beach Opera in 2015, serving for the past several years as Assistant Director of Artistic Operations. In that capacity, he was responsible for creating the daily and long-range artistic schedules, coordinating all artistic and production contracting, securing visas for international artists, managing housing and travel for all visiting personnel, and leading artist hospitality initiatives. He also played a key leadership role in the management and growth of the Young Artist and Apprentice Artist Programs, including development of the curriculum, recruiting and selecting singers and faculty, and restructuring the audition process which directly led to a 600% increase in annual applicants. Other major accomplishments include establishing a long-term hotel agreement with the Residence Inn Downtown CityPlace, and creating National Anthem partnerships with the International Polo Club and the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to provide a showcase for the company in front of thousands of people each season.
Concurrently with his position at Palm Beach Opera, he also served for four seasons as Assistant Director of the Rehearsal Department at The Santa Fe Opera, the largest summer opera festival in the United States, where he managed a daily schedule that encompasses five mainstage productions each season and the training activities of the renowned 40-singer Apprentice Artist Program.
Prior to focusing on the administrative side of the industry, he built his knowledge of opera by performing professionally as a tenor and studying with many of the industry’s leading voice teachers and coaches. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music, and continued his training as a member of the Boston University Opera Institute, where he was awarded a Performance Certificate. His career progressed through several distinguished Young Artist programs, including those at Florida Grand Opera and Central City Opera, while he gained onstage experience with roles in over 25 productions. From the traditional repertoire, he was an accomplished singer of Mozart’s principal tenor roles, and he also had the unique privilege of working directly with many prominent American composers in productions of their own works, including Tobias Picker, William Bolcom, Robert Ward, Jorge Martín, and Carlisle Floyd.
Beyond his credits in opera, he has extensive concert experience in chamber music, art song, and oratorio. He was twice a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and he performed in residencies with the Aldeburgh Festival’s Britten-Pears Programme, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence Académie européenne, and the Marlboro Music Festival. Among his recital appearances, most notable were his five-year collaboration as a guest of Cornell University’s Historical Performance program, where he annually performed song cycles of Schubert and Schumann with fortepianists Sezi Seskir and Malcolm Bilson. He was also a guest recitalist at Rutgers University for the Schumann Bicentennial, and he was honored to make three appearances on the monumental Schubert & Co. recital series – an endeavor held in New York which collectively presented Schubert’s complete solo Lieder in 35 concerts over eight months. As a concert soloist, he performed Mozart’s Requiem, Coronation Mass, and Mass in C minor, as well as Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and Handel’s Messiah, and he has been featured in Bach Cantatas with Boston’s Trinity Church at Copley Square, New York’s Church of the Transfiguration, and Palm Beach’s Royal Poinciana Chapel. Further career highlights include his Tanglewood debut as soloist in Stravinsky’s Les Noces conducted by Charles Dutoit.
In addition to his musical training, Mr. Barbato is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Rochester, having earned a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in Economics.
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In her role as Individual and Planned Giving Manager, Natalie oversees all annual fund, individual giving, and planned giving efforts. Natalie has experience working on successful fundraising campaigns for regional non-profit organizations including Boca Ballet Theatre, Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, and Alzheimer’s Association-Southeast Florida Chapter. She received her Bachelor of Science in Dance – Arts Administration from Butler University, and a Master of Non-Profit Management from Florida Atlantic University. Natalie is very active in the local arts community as a professional contemporary dancer and classical ballet teacher.
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As the Individual Giving and Grants Manager, Alexandra is responsible for the annual fund, individual giving, and foundation grants efforts for the opera. Prior to this position she worked at the American Heart Association in New York City where she managed the major gifts program. Born and raised in Palm Beach County, Alexandra has recently returned to the West Palm Beach area in order to work in the community she appreciates so much and be near her family. Alexandra has a background in classical piano and ballet and has a deep appreciation for all of the performing arts. Alexandra graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Public Relations and minor in Art History from the University of Florida.
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As the Special Events and Corporate Relations Manager, Loren oversees organizational events and the cultivation of corporate support for all events and programs. Loren graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism, and a minor in Communications. She began her non-profit career as the Special Events and Development Coordinator at the Armory Art Center based in West Palm Beach. After seven years, she left the Armory to pursue a career in social services fundraising as the Director of Development for Gulfstream Goodwill Industries. Loren is a native Floridian with a passion for the arts and is excited to be a part of the professional cultural community again as a member of the development team at Palm Beach Opera.
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As the Marketing and PR Manager, Rick oversees all marketing, communication, and promotion efforts. He has extensive experience in digital marketing, and has been a featured speaker, award-winning blogger, and celebrated travel writer. Locally, he volunteers with the West Palm Beach Downtown Neighborhood Association, teaches classes on the topic of Web Marketing, and serves on the advisory committee at Keiser University. He received his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Stetson University, and his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Loyola University of Chicago.
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James Clements manages educational and community engagement initiatives. His affection for the arts began when he followed in his grandmother’s footsteps by playing the organ for church services at a young age. He went on to study music in the secondary education program at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he focused on accompanying and conducting. After obtaining a Michigan Teaching Certificate, James spent the next 20 years building programs to help church members discover their artistic gifts and use them to enhance worship services and engagement activities. This included creating a comprehensive creative arts education program for kids, producing Broadway-style musicals, and hosting development and fundraising concerts.
Invested in his community and education, James was elected to his local school district’s board of education where he represented his constituency for 13 years. He earned respect from his colleagues as he served on multiple committees and spearheaded policy revision, committee restructuring and recommendations for a new system of evaluation. He was also involved in his community by serving as director or musical director for multiple community theater and high school drama club productions.
His personal quest to further his education and professional development included achieving awards from the Michigan Association of School Boards, studying media production and earning a master’s degree in arts administration from the University of Kentucky.
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Jennifer joined PBO in the beginning of fall in 2008 as our Box Office Systems Administrator and in 2014. Jennifer’s responsibilities include database management, ticketing management and reporting, customer service, and ticketing sales. Jennifer has over 15 years experience in providing excellent customer service and management . In 2000 Jennifer worked as a contractor for FPL (Florida Power & Light) as a mapping system software analyst for repairs and plant placement. This software is currently used in all FPL utility vehicles to locate and repair outages. Jennifer relocated in 2003 to Naples, Florida and worked in the real estate field as an executive assistant to two successful broker/owners of Florida Home Realty. Along with assisting the brokers, Jennifer managed an office of 10 employees and assisted over 80 realtors in getting started in their new real estate ventures from ordering business cards, inputting listings, to disbursing commission checks. Jennifer relocated back to West Palm Beach in the Summer of 2008.
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As the Marketing & PR Manager, Adina works with the Marketing & Advertising Manager in the development of all marketing, communication and promotion efforts, and manages Palm Beach Opera’s Young Friends program. A South Florida native, she has experience in digital marketing and sales, as well as a background in theater, competing as a Florida State Thespian and appearing in several Florida State University films. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Florida State University and completed a culinary arts program at Università degli studi di Firenze in Florence, Italy.
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As Palm Beach Opera’s Education and Community Engagement Associate, Abbey educates and engages the community through unique, interactive programming. Abbey serves as the primary instructor for Palm Beach Opera Studio, executes Palm Beach Opera’s Story Time Series events, and assists in managing and growing programs that engage K-12 students. Additionally, Abbey serves as a Vocal Consultant for A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts.
In her fourth season with Palm Beach Opera’s chorus, Abbey looks forward to performing in La traviata and Don Giovanni this season. Her favorite performing credits include Valencienne (Merry Widow), Tuptim (The King & I), Annina (La traviata), Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro), Amy (Little Women), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), and La Suora Inferma/Suor Osmina (Suor Angelica) in which she made her Carnegie Hall-Weill Recital Hall debut.
Abbey received her Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music and holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College Conservatory in Illinois.
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As an Audience Services Associate, Dennis assists with all box office and ticket sales initiatives. He has extensive customer service experience working with the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, and performance experience with arts organizations such as the Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Theater and the Arlington Friends of the Drama. Previously, Dennis was a contract negotiator for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, and received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, and his Master’s in International Relations from Schiller University, France.
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As Office Manager, Stephanie assists the Director of Finance and Administration, and provides administrative support to the Palm Beach Opera team.
Prior to this position, Stephanie was the Business Manager for the Palm Beach County Food Bank, where she was responsible managing all finance, administration, and human resources for the company.
Stephanie graduated from Mount Ida College in Newton, MA., and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design. Originally from Vermont, Stephanie relocated to Florida in 2012.
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Ann Baskind has been with Palm Beach Opera for 15 years. After starting as a Box Office Associate and becoming Box Office Manager, she is currently the Patron Relations Liaison working with donors and doing special events. Ann is also the Palm Beach Opera Guild Liaison. Born in New York City, she is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. Ann is the one of founders and treasurer of Ru4me Pet Rescue, a no-kill animal rescue group in Boynton Beach.
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A versatile musician on the podium and at the keyboard, conductor Gregory Ritchey has held positions with companies both in the US and internationally including the Wexford Opera Festival, Palm Beach Opera, the Amalfi Coast Music Festival and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Most notably in recent seasons, he has conducted productions of Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, The Turn of the Screw, Gianni Schicchi, Ariadne auf Naxos, and a workshop of Terence Blanchard’s opera, Champion. As the newly appointed Music Director of Gulfshore Opera, he has led performances of Madama Butterfly and Rigoletto, returning this season to conduct Don Pasquale and La traviata. He has also been for several years Associate Conductor at Palm Beach Opera, where after a recent performance on the Waterfront Concert series, for which he served as conductor and Music Director, the Palm Beach Arts Paper noted, “Mr. Ritchey is to be congratulated for leading such massive forces in a splendid and stirring performance. The audience rose to their feet with acclaim.” During his time at PBO he has also been Chorus Master for more than thirty-five productions.
A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Mr. Ritchey maintains an active chamber music, collaborative and solo piano career, performing throughout the United States and Europe. In a recent recital at the Wexford Festival, Opera News noted that Mr. Ritchey “partnered superbly at the piano.” Mr. Ritchey has previously held music staff positions with companies across the U.S. including the Dallas Opera, Central City Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Bard Music Festival, Virginia Opera, and Sarasota Opera. He has also been a faculty member at the University of North Texas, Louisiana State University, and Texas Christian University. In addition to the MM degree from the Juilliard School of Music, he also earned a BM degree from the University of North Texas.
Pianist Timothy 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.
Ksenia Lelëtkina recently received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music, where she now serves as coach for Eastman Opera Theatre and also teaches courses in Russian. In January of 2015, Ksenia was the Musical Director for the highly successful double bill of Menotti’s The Old Maid and theThief and Poulenc’s La voix humaine for Eastman Opera Theatre, and in January 2016, she will lead that organization’s double bill of Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Giordano’s Il mese Mariano.
Dr. Lelëtkina is an active promoter of Russian music and has just co-authored a book on Russian diction for singers, RUSSIAN AS THEY SING IT, with Benton Hess.
She has appeared as soloist with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, AmerKlavier Festival in Chicago, Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Grand Valley State University Orchestra and the chamber orchestra at the Grand Rapids Bach Festival. She has won prizes in competitions such as the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and the International Competition for Young Musicians in Russia.
An avid performer of new music, Ksenia has premiered works by composers including Erden Bilgen, Robert Bradshaw, Tom Davis, Eric Morales, and Jim Stephenson to name just a few, and as a collaborative pianist, Ms. Lelëtkina has partnered with a wide variety of musicians including Allen Vizutti, Jens Lindemann, Rex Richardson, Vince DiMartino, Dylana Jensen and many others. She made her recording debut on A Mild Fantasie (released in 2009 by Albany Records), featuring trumpeter Richard Stoelzel.
Pianist Anna Fateeva performed in Russia, Finland, Scotland, Austria, Bulgaria, and USA. She collaborated with distinguished artists such as Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, Vivica Genaux, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Amanda Crider, Simone Osborne, and Edward Parks among others. She appeared in numerous performances with Seraphic Fire, and was a pianist for their recorded album Reincarnations. Most recently, Ms. Fateeva was engaged in production of Eugene Onegin with Florida Grand Opera. Anna Fateeva holds DMA from University of Miami, Professional Studies Certificate from Manhattan School of Music (studio of Warren Jones), and MM from the St.-Petersburg State Conservatory in Russia.
Pianist, singer, and coach Cassie Makeeff joins Palm Beach Opera this season. Cassie is a recent transplant from Chicago, IL where she worked as an accompanist and assistant conductor for the DePaul Community Chorus. For the past 7 seasons, she also arranged opera scores for chorus, soloists, and 2 pianos. During the summer season, Cassie will return to Chicago to continue singing with the Grammy nominated Grant Park Chorus.
As both a pianist and singer, Cassie has had the privilege of performing in a wide variety of venues. Highlights as a mezzo-soprano soloist include performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, as well as a popular concert of Cole Porter music with the Southwest Symphony. As an accompanist, she has performed live on WFMT 98.7 FM, at the ACDA convention at Chicago Symphony Center and the Chicago Theater, Trinity Church in Boston, and solo piano performances in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has had the pleasure of working for Dupage Opera and Northwestern University as a repetiteur and pianist.
Cassie pursued her formal education in piano performance with Dr. Sylvia Wang at Northwestern University, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and earned her Master’s Degree at Indiana University in Piano Performance with Dr. Karen Shaw and Vocal Pedagogy with Timothy Noble. Her assistantship was in the IU Opera program as a rehearsal pianist and coach. She also studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia under Elena Shishko.
Hallie Dufresne is a costume designer and artisan who has spent decades honing her craft. She specializes in millinery and textile arts with a BFA in Costume Design and Technology from Florida State University. Hallie has a balance of creative artistry mixed with administrative level management experience and she has run costume studios and fostered artisans with all levels of experience throughout her career. Her work has been seen onstage from Los Angeles to New York and throughout Europe. Highlights include building the highly stylized masks and headpieces for Achim Freyer’s acclaimed Los Angeles Opera Ring Cycle, creating the hats and textile painting for the Los Angeles Opera 2016 production of The Ghosts of Versailles designed by Lindo Cho and her operatic costume design debut for Palm Beach Opera’s 2018 production of Candide starring Denyce Graves. She currently lives in a house that is over a century old in the urban core of Jacksonville, FL where she designs and makes hats using time-honored techniques on a little sewing machine that is older than her home.
Noted for his “gorgeously constructed stage pictures,” Josh Miller recently directed Leonard Bernstein’s Mass with the Austin Symphony, Ballet Austin and the Grammy-Winning Choral Ensemble, Conspirare. Other recent productions include The Turn of the Screw (Texas State University), La boheme (Spotlight on Opera), Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi (Portland State Opera), Le nozze di Figaro (Virginia Tech & The University of Texas at Austin), and Trouble in Tahiti (Alamo City Opera). Miller has served on the directing staffs of the Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera San Antonio and Austin Shakespeare.
An avid promoter of new music, Miller produced the fully-staged world premiere of Rose Made Man by Franklin Piland and Tegan McLeod as a part of the Cohen New Works Festival. This June he will direct the world premiere of Joseph González’s Sueños de Béjar with Opera San Antonio, as a part of the city’s tricentennial celebration. Miller’s production of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers was chosen as a winner of Opera America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase.
Jason Barroncini returns for his third season as Technical Director at Palm Beach Opera. Jason has worked in corporate and commercial entertainment for 22 years, including national Broadway tours, TV shows, and movies. Previously, he was Assistant Technical Director for the New World Symphony on Miami Beach, and Production Consultant for the openings of the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center in Lauderhill, Florida and the Pompano Beach Cultural Center in Pompano Beach, Florida. In the summer of 2018, Jason works with Des Moines Metro Opera for their 46th Festival Season, as well as on the inaugural production of Hansel and Gretel for Papermoon Opera at the Bar Harbor Music Festival.
Bryce Bullock is thrilled to join Palm Beach Opera in his first year as Production Stage Manager. He has stage managed and assist stage managed across the country for Florida Grand Opera, Central City Opera, SoBe Arts, Opera Tampa, Opera Naples, Opera Santa Barbara, Music Academy of the West, El Paso Opera, Opera Pacific, Opera New Jersey and other companies. A highlight of his career was stage managing the first opera presented in the Kingdom of Bhutan, which brought together artists from five continents and blended traditional Bhutanese song and dance with baroque opera in Acis and Galatea.
HAYLEY HUNT (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be at Palm Beach opera for the first time. Her previous opera credits include: Another Brick in the Wall, The Flying Dutchman, La Boheme, Fellow Travelers, Silent Night, among others (Cincinnati Opera); The Barber of Seville (Tulsa Opera, Inc); La traviata, La bohème, Macbeth (Opera San Antonio). Tours include: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Fame: The Musical, and The Lion (launched at MRT in Lowell, MA). Regional: Multiple shows at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, and Houston Shakespeare Festival. Hailing from Katy, TX, Hayley holds a B.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati- College Conservatory of Music (CCM).
Rachel has stage managed and assisted at opera companies, theatres, symphonies, and colleges across the country, including Central City Opera (Colorado), Des Moines Metro Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, the American Repertory Theatre (Cambridge, MA), Manhattan School of Music, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Geva Theatre Center (Rochester, NY). Most recently she returned for her second season as the Festival Production Coordinator for Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O18. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from the College at Brockport, State University of New York.
Kaitie Hughes starts her first season at Palm Beach Opera this year as Props Coordinator. She started her career in props at The Ohio Light Opera, working for two seasons as a props artisan and props runner. Since then, Kaitie has also done artisan work at Hartford Stage and toured for Feld Entertainment’s Marvel Universe LIVE!, managing special effects, running a show track, and assisting with logistics. Shortly before the PBO season begins, Kaitie will also have finished the NETworks tour of Elf the Musical as Head of Props.
Mikaela Baird is excited to be making her Palm Beach Opera Debut. Mikaela is a Brooklyn based lighting designer and assistant who earned her BFA in Production Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her recent credits include designing ‘Taylor Hicks in Concert’ and ‘Alex Boye in Concert’ at the Draper City Amphitheater, and assisting Jonathan Spencer on ‘You Are Mine Own’ at the 2018 Spoleto Festival.