Click each cast name to see their picture, bio, and more information!
Norman Robinson is the senior news anchor for WDSU News. Recently semi-retiring from his daily assignments, he is currently anchoring the 6pm news. He is also the moderator for the awarding winning Hot Seat broadcast, which has held politicians and policy makers accountable and the public informed since Hurricane Katrina. Robinson has been part of the journalistic landscape in New Orleans since 1976. His awards are numerous: covering crime, politics, tragedy and humor. The most coveted: The prestigious Nieman Fellowship award to Harvard University, where he is currently a member of the Nieman Fellowship advisory board. Most recently he received the “Golden Mic” award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters and the lifetime achievement award from the New Orleans Press Club.
Robinson was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1951. He was raised in Toomsuba, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked for broadcast outlets in Southern California, Mobile, New Orleans, New York City and Washington, D.C. where he was a member of the White House Press Corps as a Correspondent for CBS News. He has interviewed news subjects from presidents to paupers.
American bass Arthur Woodley recently won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Emille Griffith in the world premiere of Terrance Blanchard’s Champion at the Opera Theater of St. Louis. He has appeared with prestigious companies all over the U.S. including San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. His many roles have included Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffman, Kuno in Die Freischütz, Banquo in Macbeth, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Rocco in Fidelio, Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Angelotti in Tosca, Achillas in Guilio Cesare, and Dansker in Billy Budd. Mr. Woodley has a distinguished history with the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess, singing the role in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, and on tour in Italy. In staged performances, he has appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Indianapolis Opera, Opera Colorado, the Bregenz Festival, the Savolinna International Festival in Finland, and the Catfish Row Opera Company of Charleston, South Carolina, in a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opera’s debut.
Grammy nominated Metropolitan Opera star Victoria Livengood has been hailed as “one of the leading singer-actresses of her generation.” Since her acclaimed Met debut with James Levine in 1991, she skyrocketed onto the opera scene, known for her dynamic portrayals in more than 100 Met performances, including the title role of Carmen opposite Plácido Domingo. She has sung over 75 roles with opera companies around the world, including Barcelona, Madrid, Salzburg, Buenos Aires, Taipei, Las Palmas, Monte Carlo, Nice, Santiago, Cologne, Vancouver, Montreal, and at Italy’s Spoleto Festival. Nevertheless, it is in America that this Dixie Diva bases her career, having sung leading roles with the companies of Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Washington DC, Seattle, Houston, Boston, Baltimore, Portland, Miami, Fort Worth, Anchorage, Hawaii, and with the New York City Opera. Upcoming performances include a return to the Metropolitan Opera in Arabella, returns to Houston and Hawaii, and her debut with the Utah Opera in Salome, as well as the Lincoln Center Music Festival.
Kameron Lopreore, a tenor from Lacombe, Louisiana, is a senior vocal performance major at Loyola University under the tutelage of Professor Philip Frohnmayer. He has performed a variety of roles including the title character from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide as well as Prince Paul from Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. He looks forward to perform Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in January. Kameron has also been a featured soloist in a number of choral works including Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and Bach’s Magnificat. He has been a proud New Orleans Opera chorister for three seasons and he is very excited to sing the role of Sem, especially because of his deep love for Benjamin Britten and all of his works.
Baritone Rahim E. Mandal, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a recent graduate of Loyola University of New Orleans’ College of Music (’13) where he was awarded the Most Outstanding Voice Student Award under the tutelage of Loyola professor and alumni Dreux Montegut. This past summer, Mr. Mandal studied under Maitland Peters in Manhattan School of Music’s Summer Voice Festival where he sang the role of Nerone in Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. This is Rahim Mandal’s first role with New Orleans Opera and third season as a chorister. Mr. Mandal has done solo work all around New Orleans recently chosen to cantor the Baccalaureate Mass and sing the national anthem at his own commencement ceremony. Mr. Mandal has been a soloist in several concerts including Mozart’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor but most notably performed at Plácido Domingo’s Gala in New Orleans Opera’s last season where he sang the role of Maximilian in the Finale of the operetta Candide by Leonard Bernstein. He would later get to perform the role with Loyola Opera the following spring. Previous work that Mr. Mandal has done include The Rape of Lucretia (Tarquinius), Martha (Plunkett) and Lucrezia Borgia (Don Apostolo Gazella). Rahim Mandal is excited to perform his first role on stage with New Orleans Opera and hope it to be the first of many.
Taylor Miller is a graduate of Loyola University where he majored in Music – Vocal Performance and studied voice under Philip Frohnmayer. As a student at Loyola he appeared in Lakmé, The Magic Flute, The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.
As a child soloist Taylor appeared with the New Orleans Opera in Tannhauser, and The Magic Flute. As an adult he has appeared with NOOA as a chorus member and as a soloist in Salome (Second Nazarene), Carmina Burana, and Madama Butterfly (Registrar). This season he performed with the chorus in Der Vampyr, and is scheduled to play the role of Master of Ceremonies in Massenet’s Cendrillon. Earlier this year, Taylor appeared in a rarely heard opera burlesque, Tabasco by George Whitefield. In 2012, his work with the 9th Ward Opera production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Cox and Box was nominated for a Gambit “Big Easy” award. Taylor would like to dedicate this performance to his mentor and voice teacher Philip Frohnmayer.
Susan Ruggiero is an active performer and educator based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is the recipient of several prestigious opera awards including the Shreveport Opera’s Singer of the Year Competition, the Mozart Award in the National Orpheus Vocal Competition, and district winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2007 and 2009). She has sung with New Orleans Opera, Natchez Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera South, Kentucky Opera, Wildwood Opera, Blue Lake Opera, Opéra Louisiane, and she was a Fellow at Tanglewood. An active recitalist, Ms. Ruggiero performs regularly as a soloist, and with Accento Trio a group she founded with flutist Danilo Mezzadri and pianist Elizabeth Moak. Susan teaches at The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University, and she is a performing faculty member at both the Festival Música nas Montanhas in Poços de Caldas, Brazil, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. Ms. Ruggiero has a bachelor’s degree in music from Michigan State University, a double master’s degree in voice and flute performance from the University of Michigan, and a DMA from Louisiana State University.
Soprano Melanie Gardner, making her New Orleans Opera debut, is a recent participant of the International Performing Arts Institute’s Opera Studio in Germany and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she received her M.M. in Vocal Performance. As a student, she performed the roles of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, Margot in The Merry Widow, and Shepherdess and Cat in L’enfant et les sortileges. Recent engagements include the title role in Suor Angelica with Operafestival di Roma, The Mikado with the Natchez Festival, and The Marriage of Figaro with Mississippi Opera. Ms. Gardner frequently performs musical theatre and has appeared as the Beggar Woman in USM’s production of Sweeney Todd, and Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, Maria Elena Holly in Buddy, the Buddy Holly Story, and Sister Berthe in The Sound of Music with the Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera.
Veronica Sharkey, mezzo-soprano, is a New Orleans resident and second-year graduate student in vocal performance at Loyola University. Most recently, she was a Resident Artist at the International Performing Arts Institute in Germany. She has also been seen as Miss Charm-Strange in Quantum Mechanic by John Bilotta and as the Third Witch in The Mortal Thoughts of Lady MacBeth by Veronika Krausas with New Fangled Opera, and as the Old Lady in Loyola Opera’s production of Bernstein’s Candide. She has been a member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus since 2010. This is her first role with the company.
Rinda Coleman holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s in church music, both with emphasis in voice. She currently sings with the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale, the Jefferson Chorale, and, for about twenty-five years, the New Orleans Opera Chorus. She has sung solo work in numerous oratorios and concert works. A teacher for over thirty years, Rinda is currently the choral director at the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy in Federal City.
Ms. Givonna Joseph, mezzo-soprano, is founder and director of OperaCreole, an international concert soloist specializing in the music of 19th Century New Orleans Free Composers of Color, and an Artist Educator. She was recently featured on (NPR) National Public Radio for her contributions as one of New Orleans’ cultural standard bearers. Ms. Joseph also sings and is an artist educator with New Orleans Opera, and a Master Teaching Artist for Young Audience of Louisiana. She enjoys teaching young people to sing in her private vocal studio.
The mezzo-soprano has performed in Paris, France, Rome, Italy and throughout the country. During her Katrina exile she sang with Houston Grand Opera’s Chorus. Prior to Katrina she was Director of Education for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms Joseph’s diverse career includes singing for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and opening for Ray Charles. Givonna and her daughter Aria Mason, mezzo-soprano, recently made New Orleans Opera history as the first mother and daughter in solo roles in the same production. She reprised the role of “Lily” and her daughter sang the role of “Annie” in New Orleans Opera’s October 2010 production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Ms. Joseph can be reached through her website at www.givonnajoseph.com, or through www.operacreole.com
Jennifer Mitchell, an upcoming classical vocalist, has a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of New Orleans and is currently working on her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Ms. Mitchell, a soprano, began her vocal training at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and also studied at Loyola University. While At Loyola she participated in a number of productions including: Lakme, The Godoliers and Orpheus in the Underworld. She also has done the role of Rosalinda from Die Fledermaus, while studying in Houston, TX. Ms. Mitchell is currently the choir director for the U.N.O Gospel Choir. She has been actively singing with New Orleans opera chorus since 2009. Her greatest desire is to honor God with the gifts He has given her.
JeAnne Moniz Swinley spent several years in the New York metropolitan area, singing as a professional soloist for several orchestral groups as well as serving as cantor and soloist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A graduate of Loyola University New Orleans and the Hartt School of Music, JeAnne is thrilled to have recently made her home in New Orleans. JeAnne is an ongoing professional soloist with St. Charles Presbyterian Church and participates regularly with local theaters and festivals including Tulane Summer Lyric and the annual New Orleans Fringe Festival. For more information, please go to www.jeanneswinley.com.