The WSC Wagner Studio’s goals are:

  • To promote the music of Richard Wagner, operatic performance, and classical music in general; and
  • To assist singers who sing in the Wagner repertoire and the Romantic repertoire by providing performance venues to refine their craft and exposure to further their careers.

We invite established, accomplished, and aspiring singers to participate in our musicales and other musical projects that we promote. In the future, we plan to expand the role of the WSC Wagner Studio to be more involved in our local music community.

We’d love to add you to our WSC Wagner Studio and help promote your career! Interested singers and accompanists should contact our Creative Director.

Current WSC Studio Members

Gustav Andreassen, Bass

Gustav AndreassenNorwegian-American bass Gustav Andreassen has performed with major opera companies and orchestras throughout North American and Europe, to great acclaim. For his recent portrayal of Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Opera News stated: “The extraordinary potent bass of Gustav Andreassen was all black tone—sonorous, distinctive, with fine musicianship and dramatic flair.”

Gustav Andreassen’s roles include Leporello in Don Giovanni at Arizona Opera, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opéra Atelier (Toronto). He sang as soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, in Mozart’s Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony, and in an appearance with the South Dakota Chamber Orchestra in a vocal showcase concert through Sounds of South Dakota. He has appeared in concert as Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin with the National Symphony Orchestra, as Mercury and Ghost of Hector in Berlioz’s Les Troyens with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under James Levine at Tanglewood, and performances of Schoneberg’s Gurre-Lieder at the Aspen Music Festival.

Mr. Andreassen’s prolific opera career has included successes at leading opera houses throughout the world. He is a frequent presence at Utah Opera, having performed Daland in Der fliegende Holländer, Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, and King in Aida; and has sung several roles at Arizona Opera, including Daland, Blitch in Susannah, and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. He has performed as Sourin in Pique Dame and as Prince Gremin with San Francisco Opera, Osmin with both Boston Lyric Opera and Glimmerglass Opera, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Wolf Trap Opera, as well as Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Boston Baroque, Florida Grand Opera, and Cincinnati Opera, among others. Internationally Mr. Andreassen has appeared with Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Hamburgishe Staatsoper, De Vlaamse Opera, and in Lucca, Italy, in such roles as Ferrando in Il trovatore, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, and King Philip II in Don Carlos.

In addition to winning the Heinz Rehfuss Singing-Actor Award at Orlando Opera, Mr. Andreassen received three prestigious awards while a graduate student at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music: the Italo Tajo Award, the Norman Treigle/New York City Opera Award, and the Corbett Award. While an undergraduate at the University of Arizona he was awarded first place in the Amelia Rieman Competition and placed second in the Western Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Pedro A. Arroyo, Tenor

Pedro A. Arroyo, TenorGerman-born Puerto Rican tenor Pedro Arroyo began singing at age 9, but began formal training at age 24 with soprano Zoraida López at the PR Conservatory of Music, obtaining a BM in Vocal Performance in 2013. There he performed roles in Britten’s Albert Herring (Mayor Upfold), Verdi’s Falstaff (Dr. Cajus) and Vives’ Doña Francisquita (Fernando). In 2015, he obtained a MM at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he will pursue a DMA. He currently studies with tenor Thomas Baresel.

Arroyo has been featured as a soloist in recitals for Cincinnati’s Music for all Seasons concert series; in Ariel Ramírez’s Misa Criolla for the Bach Society of Dayton; in Mozart’s Requiem at Hyde Park CUMC. He has also performed as a young artist at Opera in the Ozarks (Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, 2014), Halifax Summer Opera Festival (The Prince in Dvořák’s Rusalka, 2014), and was a member of the Cincinnati Opera chorus in 2015. In a review for his performance of Strauss’ Op. 27 for Music for all Seasons, Mary Ellyn Hutton praised him for being “possessor of a voice with real heft” and “displaying winning luster.”

Timothy J. Bruno, Bass

Timothy BrunoHailed as “impressive” by Opera News and “a vocal triumph” by KDHX, St. Louis, young bass Timothy J. Bruno is quickly becoming a sought after performer in the United States. This season Bruno will be joining Central City Opera’s prestigious Bonfils-Stanton Training Program as an Apprentice Artist, covering Warden Benton in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and performing the role of Dr. Bartolo in the family matinee of Le nozze di Figaro. Soon thereafter Bruno performs the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Per Tutti and makes a return to Wagner as Der Wanderer in Queen City Chamber Opera’s Siegfried. This is followed by a return to Toledo Opera as Elder Ott and covering the legendary Samuel Ramey in the role of Olin Blitch in Susannah and a return to Opera Columbus as Dr. Bartolo in their The Marriage of Figaro.

Recent seasons have included such powerhouse roles as Méphistophélès in Faust and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Winter Opera St. Louis, Colline in La Boheme with El Paso Opera, The Bonze in Madama Butterfly with Opera Columbus and his Wagnerian debut as Wotan in Die Walküre with Union Avenue Opera, for which he was hailed as having an “outstanding voice, big and opulent…” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has been blessed to share the stage with some of Opera’s biggest stars as Curio in Giulio Cesare with David Daniels in the title role, Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville next to Lawrence Brownlee as Count Almaviva, Count Ceprano in Rigoletto with Sarah Coburn as Gilda and covering Eric Owens as The Storyteller in John Adam’s A Flowering Tree. Bruno has also received high praise for his interpretation of buffo in the form of “comedic perfection” by for Don Basilio and “hilarious” for his Antonio the Gardner in Le nozze di Figaro by

Bruno is a recent alumnus of the Master of Music program at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, where he studied with William McGraw and the Bachelor of Music program at Bowling Green State University. He was also an Apprentice Artist at Opera Saratoga where he covered Sparafucile in Rigoletto and performed Berthold in Offenbach’s Le 66, a Resident Artist with Michigan Opera Theater where he performed Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro, and a Young Artist with Cincinnati Opera as Count Ceprano in Rigoletto and the 2nd Armored Guard in The Magic Flute. He currently is a student of AVA’s William Stone.

Ric Furman, Heldentenor

Ric Furman, HeldentenorRic Furman made his successful debut with Seattle Opera singing the role of Florestan in their Fall 2012 production of Fidelio, where he earned international acclaim “with a mellifluous tone … he demonstrated a much more beguiling sense of dynamic shading, and he was thoroughly compelling in his evocation first of utter despair and eventually of exultant joy.” (Seen and Heard International). Mr. Furman was praised for his “big voice of beautiful timbre, he also had no difficulty with Florestan’s vocal part, and his acting was the more convincing.” (The Sun Break)

A vibrant and powerful tenor voice in combination with an electrifying stage presence has led Mr. Furman to a variety of roles on stages everywhere. In New York he triumphed as Tito in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito with Opera Company of Brooklyn and he received critical acclaim as Don Jose in Springfield Regional Opera’s Carmen. “In-charge” as Dancaïre with Cincinnati Opera (American Record Guide) and “… a strong vocal and dramatic presence” as Rinuccio in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Tribune Review), he has also appeared with Dayton Opera, Dicapo Opera, Indianapolis Opera, and Opera Omaha, among others. A return trip to Cincinnati Opera showed Mr. Furman as Augustin Moser in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, a first of what promises to be many forays into Wagner!

Already established in the lyric rep, Mr. Furman is now making waves in the Heldentenor repertoire. He has been heard in concert singing excerpts of Siegfried in both Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, where he earned the praise, “Furman seemed eminently capable of walking off the stage into a production of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ at any time,” and “Furman, who looks, acts and sounds like a Siegfried of the future, sang Wagner’s hero with heft and beauty, yielding nothing to Thompson’s formidable Brunnhilde, and leaving one wishing to hear more from him.” (Music Cincinnati)

Past roles included Rodolfo in La Boheme, Alfredo in La Traviata, the Duke in Rigoletto, both Roméo and Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, Detlef in The Student Prince, Beppe in I Pagliacci, and notable roles in Aïda, Don Carlo, Ainadamar, Carmen, Salome, Samson et Daliah, Il viaggio a Reims, The Marriage of Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Così fan tutte, The Tender Land, and Die Zauberflöte.

Mr. Furman won two State National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competitions and one Regional NATS Competition, as well as winning honors at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, placing third at the Regional level. He’s also had the honor of perfoming as a Young Artist with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Omaha.

Mr. Furman is a proud alumnus of The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Western Illinois University.

Jessine Johnson, Soprano

Jessine Johnson, SopranoJessine Johnson, soprano, has just completed her Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School, where she covered the role of Tatiana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Female Chorus in Britten’s Rape of Lucretia. She also participated in Brian Zeger’s Songfest in Alice Tully Hall and in an opera scenes program (Fiordiligi, Cosi fan tutte; Konstanze, Abduction of the Seraglio; Violetta, La Traviata; and Marschallin, Der Rosenkavalier). While at Juilliard, she studied with Sanford Sylvan.

This past July, she attended the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices (IYDV) with Dolora Zajick in the American Wagner Project (AWP), headed by Luana DeVol and Thom Christoff. She has also been a young artist at Songfest 2012 in Los Angeles at The Colburn School as well as the CCM Spoleto program in Italy, where she performed in two public recitals, masterclasses, and an opera scenes program (Elettra in Idomeneo and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte). She completed her Bachelor of Music at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music (CCM) under the tutelage of Dr. Gwen Coleman Detewiler, where she performed the role of Contessa Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. Jessine was honored to be a part of the Wagner Society of Cincinnati’s “New Voices” Showcase in September 2015, where she “displayed a radiant soprano top to bottom in ‘Dich, teure Halle’ from Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

M. Andrew Jones, Tenor

M. Andrew JonesMr. Jones recently performed the role of The Messenger in Aida as well as the Innkeeper in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with Cincinnati Opera. Performances of other roles include The Banker in Jennifer Jolley’s The Bubble, First Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte, Andrea Cipriani in Evan Mack’s The Secret of Luca, Benny “Kid” Paret/Benny Jr. from Champion, Sellem from The Rake’s Progress with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Spoletta from Tosca with Cedar Rapids Opera company, and Monastatos in The Magic Flute. Mr. Jones holds an MM in Vocal performance from the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, where he performed the roles of Lennie in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men and Bardolfo in Verdi’s Falstaff. He received his BA in music from Luther College.

Jesse Leong, Pianist and Conductor

Jesse LeongWith repertoire ranging from Rossini and Wagner to Rodgers & Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim, pianist and conductor Jesse Leong is a musician of unique versatility. He is the Assistant Conductor of the Queen City Chamber Opera and a fourth-year Piano Performance major at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He studies piano with Elisabeth Pridonoff, collaborative piano with Donna Loewy, and conducting with Mark Gibson. He is the Principal Keyboardist of the CCM Orchestras, including appointments with the CCM Philharmonia, Concert Orchestra, and Café MoMus. Past piano studies and master classes have been with Sonia Vlahcevic, John O’Conor, Christopher Harding, Donna Lee, and Dmitri Shteinberg. Mr. Leong has attended the Brevard Music Center and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Piano Academy. He has participated in three CCM Conducting Workshops on the music of Beethoven, Rossini, and Verdi. He has also studied conducting with Ken Lam and Erin Freeman.

Mr. Leong was a Resident Artist Pianist at the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh in the summer of 2014, playing Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. Following the highly successful collaboration between Queen City Chamber Opera and the Wagner Society of Cincinnati in May of 2014, Die Walküre, Act I he joined the Wagner Society as its Studio Pianist. He has played for both CCM Opera and CCM Musical Theatre. In the winter of 2013, he made his professional conducting debut conducting tenor Marco Panuccio in O Holy Night ~ An Evening of Holiday Song, and will reprise this performance this winter. Originally from Richmond, VA, Mr. Leong also enjoys travel, nature, and food and wine.

Valerie Pool, Pianist

ValeriePoolValerie Pool, pianist, is currently enrolled in the Artist Diploma in Opera Coaching program at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She recently completed her Master’s Degree in Collaborative Piano at the University of Georgia, and was a staff accompanist at Kennesaw State University, where she previously received her Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance. Valerie has participated in the collaborative piano programs at SongFest at Pepperdine, the International Performing Arts Institute (Germany), Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Asolo Song Festival (Italy), the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz (Austria), and Brevard Music Center. In the spring of 2011, she was the pianist and music director for the Nashville Opera Mary Ragland Young Artist Program, and in 2010, she was the pianist and music director for the Atlanta Opera Studio Tour.

Ian José Ramirez, Tenor

Tenor Ian Ramirez

Praised for a voice with “melodic ease and legato rarely heard in young singers,” tenor Ian José Ramirez has already established himself as fine musician and dynamic actor. Recently he closed the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music’s opera season as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola, marking his fourteenth production with the institution. Other CCM credits include Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Pelagio in Haydn’s La Canterina, Pluto in Orpheus in the Underworld, Office Voice 4 in the Midwest premiere of Lowell Liebermann’s Miss Lonelyhearts, and many others. In addition to these experiences, he has performed in venues across the globe, from the Teatro Nuovo in Spoleto, Italy to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. The 2012-2013 season will mark his professional opera debut with Dayton Opera as Don Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro, as well as a member of their Artist in Residence program.

Last fall, Mr. Ramirez had the opportunity to perform as the tenor soloist in the “monumental” and “moving” staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the St. Peter and Chains Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has appeared as soloist with Musica Sacra, the Octoberfestival Choir, and the Clermont Philharmonic Orchestra. His repertoire includes Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Theresienmesse, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass, and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.

As a recitalist, Mr. Ramirez has sung at the Music on the Avenue Recital Series with St. John United Church of Christ in Bellevue, Kentucky, the Lunch and a Song Recital Series as a member of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program with Central City Opera, and the Valley Concert Series with the Presbyterian Church of Wyoming in Cincinnati, Ohio. A lover of 20th and 21st century music, he has performed works by Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten, Tom Cipullo, Jake Heggie, and John Musto. This summer, he will be a participant in the Marlboro Music Festival in Marlboro, Vermont.

Mr. Ramirez has received awards from the National Opera Association, the S. Livingston Mather Scholarship Competition, and recently won 2nd place at the Orpheus Vocal Competition in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has been a Studio Artist with Opera Saratoga (formerly Lake George Opera) and Central City Opera. A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Mr. Ramirez received his bachelor’s degree in music, graduating summa cum laude, as well as his master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. He currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he studies with Dr. Barbara Paver. Visit Ian online at

Stacey Rishoi, Mezzo-Soprano

Stacey RichoiMezzo-soprano Stacey Rishoi has garnered an international reputation for the beauty and power of her instrument. Following her debut as Adalgisa in Norma, the Washington Post stated, “It was Rishoi’s Adalgisa, however, who nearly stole the show with a performance that was convincing and unwavering from start to finish… Rishoi commanded the stage with a lustrous voice graced with natural expression and a surprising clarion projection.”

Stacey Rishoi’s 2012-13 season engagements include Dalila in Samson et Dalila with Opera Grand Rapids; singing as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; in Verdi’s Requiem with the Binghamton Philharmonic; in Mozart’s Requiem with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta, also with Springfield Symphony; and in Springfield Symphony’s Opera Gala. In the 2011-12 season she sang as Amneris in Aida with Opera Tampa, joined the roster of Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of Aida, and sang as soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Symphony No. 9, both in a return to Jacksonville Symphony. She also returned to Opera Omaha in “This is Opera”, to Cincinnati Opera as La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and as Flora in La traviata, to Kentucky Symphony Orchestra as Dalila in a semi-staged performance of Samson et Dalila, and to Bel Canto Chorus as soloist in Dvorák’s Stabat Mater. In season 2013-14, she returns to the roster of Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Recent highlights include her return to Calgary Opera to sing Amneris; to Cincinnati Opera to sing Maddalena in Rigoletto and Madama Larina in Eugene Onegin; to the Virginia Symphony Orchestra to sing Messiah, JoAnn Falletta conducting; performing the role of Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos with Toledo Opera, also Calgary Opera; appearing as soloist with Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and Kalamazoo Symphony orchestras, also with Bel Canto Chorus and Choral Arts Society of Washington, DC in Verdi’s Requiem; with the Toledo Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic and Springfield Symphony orchestras in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Florida Orchestra; in an evening of opera highlights with Kentucky Symphony Orchestra; as soloist in Cincinnati Opera’s 90th Anniversary Gala concert; in Messiah with the Pacific and Jacksonville symphony orchestras; De Falla’s El Amor Brujo with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra; Mozart’s Requiem with Jacksonville and Atlanta symphony orchestras; Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Buffalo Philharmonic; Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with West Virginia Symphony; and an appearance with South Dakota Chamber Orchestra in a vocal showcase concert, which included Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’ete, through Sounds of South Dakota.

Ms. Rishoi also added the role of Waltraute in Götterdämmerung to her repertoire at Seattle Opera, as well as Fricka in Die Walküre with the Canadian Opera Company. In addition to her many opera roles, she has performed on many concert stages throughout America.

Ms. Rishoi is a winner of the 1999 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Norman Treigle Award from New York City Opera. She has served as artist in residence at Festival Dos 100 Dias in Portugal and at the Beaumaris Festival in Wales.

Kara Shay Thomson, Soprano

Soprano Kara Shay ThomsonEngagements for Ms. Thomson during the 2010–11 season included the role of The Woman in Schoenberg’s Erwartung in her debut with New York City Opera, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Kentucky Opera, the title role in Tosca with Opera on the James, and an appearance as soloist in Dvorak’s Te Deum with the Cinncinati May Festival. She also appeared in recital with both the Cincinnati May Festival and Bethune-Cookman University. In summer of 2011, she sang as soloist in Rachmaninoff’s The Bells at Ravinia Festival under James Conlon, and returned to Emerald City Opera as Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus. The 2011-2012 season also marked a role debut as Vanessa in Sarasota Opera’s new production.

“From the first phrases sung by Kara Shay Thomson, a compelling American soprano with a plush, vibrant, powerful voice, you do not know whether to pity or fear her…Ms. Thomson was marvelous.”
– The New York Times

In the 2009-10 season, she sang Santuzza with Sarasota Opera, the title role in Tosca with Opera Delaware, returned to New York City Opera for Hugo Weisgall’s critically acclaimed Esther, and performed the role of Zemphira in Aleko with the Cincinnati May Festival. In the summer of 2010 she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera North.

“In the role of Zemfira, the gypsy who spurns her old lover, Aleko, soprano Kara Shay Thomson was the most exciting debut of the season. She projected an alluring presence and a luxuriant lyric voice that remained smooth all the way to her powerhouse top notes. Her love duet with the Young Gypsy…was one of the opera’s high points.
” – The Cincinnati Enquirer

Recent performances include Tosca with Sarasota Opera, Marietta in Die tote Stadt with Summer Opera Theater, Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Toledo Opera, Utah Festival Opera and Pensacola Opera, Madama Butterfly with Emerald City Opera and Musetta in La Bohème with Glimmerglass Opera. The success of her debut as Female Chorus in the Rape of Lucretia with Chicago Opera Theater led to her return as Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw and as Fortuna in Monteverdi’s Il Coronazione di Poppea.

Other recent engagements include Die tote Stadt at New York City Opera, Adina with DiCapo Opera and Tosca with Central City Opera and Opera North. Additional roles performed include Fiordiligi, Iris, Mimi, Micaela, Regina, Violetta, Arminda, The Daughter in Strawberry Fields, First Lady, and Marietta in the World Stage Premier of Il Padrone.

Equally at home in concert, Miss Thomson has performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall, Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915 with the Muncie Symphony and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. Other concert appearances include Mozart’s Requiem, Brahms Requiem, Strauss’ Vier Letzer Lieder, Orff’s Carmina Burana and her Carnegie Hall Debut in Bach’s Magnificat.

Ms. Thomson resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, and received her Graduate Diploma in Performance from The New England Conservatory of Music.

Isaac Selya, Conductor/Pianist/Vocal Coach/Cellist/Baritone

isaac_headshot_128x85A musician of remarkable versatility, Isaac Selya is a conductor, pianist, vocal coach, cellist and singer. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Queen City Chamber Opera. In this capacity, he has coached and conducted Der Schauspieldirektor, Bastien und Bastienne, Zaide, Abu Hassan and L’amore dei tre re.

At CCM Opera, he served as coach and conductor for productions of El Amor Brujo and La Tragédie de Carmen. In April of 2013 he conducted a CCM Mainstage Series performance of Die Zauberflöte that received acclaim in international press. As the Assistant Conductor to the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, he conducted a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors in December 2013.

Outside of Cincinnati, Isaac was the assistant to Metropolitan Opera conductor Joseph Colaneri at Mannes Opera, where he assisted on productions of Così fan tutte, Falstaff, and The Saint of Bleecker Street. He conducted Mozart’s Requiem and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in Cuenca, Ecuador and excerpts from Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly in Spoleto, Italy.

Equally at home in the symphonic repertoire, Isaac has conducted the Shippensburg Symphony, the Chelsea Symphony, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Mannes Symphony, the CCM Philharmonia and the Jonathan Edwards College Philharmonic, where he served as music director for three years.

For more information, visit

Matt Tschimperle, Heldentenor

Matt TschimperleHeldentenor Matt Tschimperle was our Siegfried in the October 2014 joint WSC and Queen City Chamber Opera (QCCO) collaborative project of Wagner’s Siegfried, Act I (with orchestra). Matt comes from New Prague, Minnesota, and holds a Masters of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati: College Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Luther College. He has performed in Aida, La Traviata, I Pagliacci, Otello, and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Cincinnati Opera. During the summer of 2014, he performed as Sir Galahad in the Showbiz Players production of Spamalot, and as the Harmonica soloist in Kevin Puts’ new opera Silent Night.

Blythe Walker, Soprano

Blythe WalkerSoprano Blythe Walker is internationally acclaimed for her performances in recital, opera, concert, and musical theater. In a varied and distinguished career, her beautiful voice and sensitive musicality, her comedic gifts and powerful dramatic acting, her inquisitive approach to the repertoire, and her dedication to her craft have made her a favorite with audiences, colleagues, leading conductors, directors, and composers.

Known particularly as an an adventerous and compelling recitalist and dedicated to keeping the art of the song recital alive, Ms. Walker was presented in her New York recital debut at Weill Concert Hall by the Liederkranz Foundation in 1990 and is an affiliate of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. A Metropolitan Opera National Council Winner in 1987, Ms. Walker made her Metropolitan Opera company debut in 1988 as Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos, under the baton of James Levine. In addition to the Met, Blythe has performed leading roles with the New York City Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, Munich Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, NY Public Theater, Cincinnati Symphony, on Broadway, and with many other opera companies, orchestras, festivals and theaters in the US and abroad.

Career highlights include collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach), as well as performances with James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Paul Gemingnani, James Conlon, Erich Kunzel, and Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Ms. Walker has been a featured performer on PBS Great Performances and on NPR, and can be heard in recording on the TELARC, RCA, Chandos, and Painted Smiles labels.

A respected teacher, coach, and director, many of Blythe’s students have placed in important competitions and have been accepted into respected collegiate voice, opera, and musical theater programs. The 2007 University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Undergraduate Opera Project production of LíEnfant et les Sortileges, directed by Blythe, won First Place in its category in the National Opera Association competition.

Allison Watson, Soprano

Allison Watson received her Bachelor of Music in Voice from Indiana University where she studied with Martina Arroyo. While at Indiana University, she performed the roles of Zita in Gianni Schicci, Giovanna in Rigoletto, and Mrs. Ott in Susannah. In the summer of 1999, she attended the German for Singers program at Middlebury College. Allison received a Fulbright grant to study in Duesseldorf, Germany where she had the opportunity to study at the Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik. While she was in Düsseldorf, she coached Lied with Matthias Goerne and studied voice with Jeanne Piland. Allison was a young artist at Central City Opera, Merola Opera Program, and Music Academy of the West. Allison is currently in her first year in the Master of Music in voice program at CCM and is a student of Thomas Baresel.

Dr. Amy Louise Yekel, Soprano

Amy YekelDeemed “Born to sing Turandot” by the Toledo Blade, Dramatic soprano Amy Louise Yekel made her professional debut in 2012 with Toledo Opera. The Toledo Blade exclaims “Her buttery smooth soprano voice seems effortless in delivery, yet her power actually was enough to reverberate off the staid old stone walls…sending a palpable thrill to those listening.” Other operatic roles include Sieglinde in Die Walküre, Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos, Lia in L’enfant Prodigue, The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Terentia in Captain Lovelock.

Amy has also appeared on several occasions in concerts and oratorio performances which include Verdi’s Requiem with Toledo Symphony, The Messiah with Marietta College, The Schumann Requiem with River Cities Orchestra, The Harmony Mass with the University of Akron, and The Duruflé Requiem, Te Deum, the Nelson Mass with Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton, Isolde’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene from Götterdӓmmerung in concert with The Canton Symphony Orchestra. Future engagements include: The Mozart Coronation Mass with The Akron Symphony, Nelson Mass, and Handel’s Messiah as a guest artist at Marietta College.

Dr. Yekel received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Akron, Master of Music from Arizona State University where she also completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts. She has received awards from The Wagner Society of New York and The Wagner Society of Ohio. Dr. Yekel is a former first place winner of Palm Springs Opera Scholarship Competition, Arizona Lyric Opera Scholarship Competition, The Canton Civic Opera Scholarship Competition, Akron Symphony Chorus Scholarship, Tuesday Musical Club Scholarship, Mary S. Bower’s Scholarship, The John MacDonald Scholarship, and The McDowell Scholarship. She was also a Liederkranz finalist in 2012.

Shareese Johnson Arnold, Soprano

Soprano Shareese Arnold is an Alabama native.  No stranger to the stage, Mrs. Arnold has been privileged to sing some exciting and beautiful works, including the title roles of Suor Angelica and Madama Butterfly, as well as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Arnold’s performance as Donna Anna was reviewed as “precise and lovely, even ethereal” by the Herald Times.

In addition to the operatic stage, Mrs. Arnold is an avid performer of sacred works and song recitals.  She was a featured soloist in Brahm’s Ein Deutches Requiem, and Britten’s World of the Spirit while at Indiana University. Her performance was described by Peter Jacobi of the Herald Times, “[Arnold’s] soprano supplied rhapsodic splendor for the inspired music Brahms gave to passages from the Gospel of John, promising that, following sorrow, ‘Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy shall no man take from you.’”  Last year, Shareese premiered an arrangement of Strauss’s Vier Letzte Lieder for piano and string quartet by pianist and composer John Greer. Future concert repertoire will include The Poet’s Echo by Britten, Wagner’s Wesendonck LiederSieben Frühe Lieder by Berg and the songs of Schoenberg, Marx and Rachmaninov.  Arnold is also the recent recipient of the Ursula Springer Endowment Award from the Wagner Society of New York.