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Bios for The Orpheum Sessions – A Night at the Opera

New Orleans Opera and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

Virtual Premiere, April 9, 2021

Jasmine Habersham, Soprano

American soprano Jasmine Habersham is a versatile and dynamic performing artist whose voice has been hailed as “exquisite” by Broadway World and possessing a “well-controlled, silvery tone had an alluring presence” by Opera Today. Her 2019-2020 season included Calaveras 2 in Frida with The Atlanta Opera, and her return to Minnesota Opera as Sarah Ruth in Edward Tulane. This season, she performed in Opera in the Park Online with Madison Opera, is a Company Player with The Atlanta Opera where she sings The Girl in Der Kaiser von Atlantis and Micaela in Carmen and makes her debut with Seattle Opera as Zerlina in their filmed Don Giovanni. Additional recent performances for Ms. Habersham include Pip in Moby Dick with Opera San Jose and Utah Opera, Katie Jackson in the world premiere of Joel Puckett’s The Fix with Minnesota Opera, Clara in Porgy and Bess with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Utah Festival Opera, Adina in L’elisir d’amore with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Pamina in The Magic Flute with Opera Theatre of St. Louis: Opera on the Go, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte with Cincinnati Opera, and Yum-Yum in the The Mikado with Kentucky Opera. 

Betsy Uschkrat, Soprano

Soprano Betsy Uschkrat is a two-time Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winner of several operatic competitions including Mobile Opera’s 2016 Competition, Shreveport Opera’s 2009 Singer of the Year, Birmingham Opera’s 2009 Competition, and the Fielder Grant of Austin, Texas. Past performances include The Kennedy Center in Washington D. C., New Orleans Opera, Opera Idaho, Shreveport Opera, Pensacola Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Opéra Louisiane. Past roles include the title characters of Susannah, Manon, Roméo et Juliette, as well as Carmen (Micaela), Dialogues of the Carmelites (Blanche), Don Giovanni (Donna Anna), L’elisir d’amore (Adina), Die Zauberflöte (Pamina), Tabasco (Fatima) and Carousel (Julie Jordan). Ms. Uschkrat is a graduate of the University of Houston, Indiana University and Louisiana State University. She competed in the Miss America Pageant as Miss Indiana 2006.

Casey Candebat, Tenor

Casey Candebat, a native of New Orleans, has been hailed by the L.A. Times as having “the big, straightforward Italian sound” and by the San Francisco Chronicle as being one of the up-and-coming stars of opera. A recent two-time participant in the illustrious Merola Opera Program, Mr. Candebat performed the role of Il Podestà in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, covered the role of Mr. Owen in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, and sang scenes from Werther and La Rondine to high acclaim on the Merola Grand Finale. He returned to Merola Opera in 2014 to perform the role of Mitch in Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire and a highly acclaimed scene from Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz. Recently, Mr. Candebat has been heard as George in Der Vampyr with New Orleans Opera and Mitch in A Streetcar named Desire with Opera Grand Rapids. He was also featured in New Orleans Opera’s productions of Salome, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Il Trittico, Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, and Turandot.  Mr. Candebat was a young artist at Chautauqua Opera in their 2009 and 2010 seasons. He was also a young artist at Opera North where he performed the role of Dr. Cajus in Verdi’s Falstaff. Equally at home in concert work and oratorio, Mr. Candebat recently performed Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the New West Symphony in Los Angeles. He has also performed the tenor solos in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and Schubert’s Mass in E-flat, to name a few. Mr. Candebat has won several prestigious vocal competitions, including the Grand Prize in the Bel Canto Foundation Voice Competition, 2011, a four-time regional finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the Chautauqua Opera Guild’s Encouragement Award, 2010. Mr. Candebat is a graduate of Northwestern University and Loyola University New Orleans.

Dennis Jesse, Baritone

Dennis Jesse has performed in a variety of genres both nationally and internationally. Beginning on the musical theater stage, he moved to operetta and then a twenty-year career in grand opera. He frequents the stages of many of America’s opera houses. Last season he was scheduled to appear in productions with New Orleans Opera, Opéra Louisiane, Sinfonia da Camara and Pensacola Opera. On the concert stage, he appeared with Acadiana Symphony, Lawrence University, and with the Pensacola Choral Society, and, on the recital stage, he appeared at Stephen F. Austin State University and Young Harris College. Recently, he has been seen in productions with Central City Opera, Opera Ithaca and Opera Orlando. Mr. Jesse is an Associate Professor at LSU and he is the General and Artistic Director of a summer abroad program sponsored by LSU in Orvieto and Rome, Italy titled “Opera Festival di Roma.” For eleven years, he has served on the international faculty of La Musica Lirica, an intensive summer abroad program for young opera singers.

Thomas Wilkins, LPO Principal Guest Conductor

Thomas Wilkins is Music Director of the Omaha Symphony; a position he has held since 2005. Additionally, he is Principal Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and holds the Germeshausen Family and Youth Concert Conductor Chair with the Boston Symphony. In August of 2017 he assumed the Henry A. Upper chair of Orchestral Conducting established by the late Barbara and David Jacobs as a part of Indiana University’s “Matching the Promise Campaign.” Past positions have included resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony and Florida Orchestra (Tampa Bay), and associate conductor of the Richmond (VA) Symphony. He also has served on the music faculties of North Park University (Chicago), the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Devoted to promoting a life-long enthusiasm for music, Thomas Wilkins brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages. He is hailed as a master at communicating and connecting with audiences. Following his highly successful first season with the Boston Symphony, the Boston Globe named him among the “Best People and Ideas of 2011.” In 2014, Wilkins received the prestigious “Outstanding Artist” award at the Nebraska Governor’s Arts Awards, for his significant contribution to music in the state. And in March of 2018, the Longy School of Music will award Thomas Wilkins the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society.