Cavalleria Rusticana

Meet The Cast

Salvatore Chiarelli , Tenor (Turiddu) A New York city native with a spinto tenor voice was trained in opera in both Italy and Manhattan. He has sung opera, concert, television and radio in the United States and Europe. After only ten months of vocal training, he was asked to sing as a soloist in a five-week concert tour of Italy. Upon his return to Manhattan he made his operatic debut with Teatro Felice company's production of Madama Butterfly. Since then, he has performed as a soloist and as an ensemble leader in approximately thirty Italian opera productions that include twelve different operas. He has sung as a concert and church soloist for twelve years throughout the NYC metro area. He has also sung as a soloist on satellite television in Norway reaching seventy-five countries around the world.

In 2006 he recorded his first CD entitled "Due Terre, Un Cuore", which include fifteen tracks of opera, Neapolitan songs and Musical theater. He was a finalist in the New York State regional singing competition in 2006 and 2007. Mr. Chiarelli received his Masters Degree in Music Education at Hunter College and passed the NYS Teachers Exam. He has taught music in the New York Public School System at middle and high school levels. He is currently studying voice with the acclaimed and world renowned William Glazier in Manhattan. Mr. Chiarelli is excited to be making his debut with Brooklyn Repertory Opera and wants to thank them for this opportunity.

Conrad Chu (Conductor & Chorus Master) Conductor and pianist Conrad Chu returns to lead his third production with Brooklyn Repertory Opera, having conducted last year's acclaimed stagings of Cosi fan Tutte and Fidelio. He is a native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, from a Taiwanese American family. He began piano studies at age 8, and by the time he reached high school, he was concertizing regularly with local orchestras in the Lehigh Valley region, including solo appearances with the Allentown Symphony and the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra. Mr. Chu holds a pre-medical bachelor's degree from Yale University, and earned his master's degree in conducting at Mannes College of Music, as a student of Michael Charry, Samuel Wong and David Hayes. Since 1998, Mr. Chu has served on the faculty of Eugene Lang College, the New School for Liberal Arts, where he is choral director of a 20-member a capella choir and Music Director of the school's community orchestra, the New School Arts Ensemble. He is also in demand as a free-lance conductor of broad experience, having served as Assistant Conductor from 2001-2004 for the Bronx Opera Company, and Music Director of New York's oldest Chinese-American chorus, the Univoice Chorus of New York. In recent seasons, Mr. Chu has been tapped on multiple occasions for select master classes of promising young conductors, working with such distinguished maestros as Kurt Masur, Robert Spano, Leonard Slatkin, and Marin Alsop. He would like to thank the entire cast, orchestra and staff for their warmth, generosity and dazzling talent!

Barret Cobb (Mama Lucia) has performed as soloist with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Chorale, the Sine Nomine Singers and Baroque Orchestra, the AIMS Orchestra and the Orchester Landesteater Dessau. Operatic roles include Azucena, Suzuki, Gertrude (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Enrichetta (I Puritani) and Mrs. Trapes (The Beggar's Opera), among others. She has appeared extensively as a recitalist in the NY area and Europe.

Ms. Cobb's singing was "deeply moved and moving" Bernard Holland for The New York Times.

Ivy Frenkel (Santuzza) a native New Yorker, is a dramatic soprano specializ ing in Verdi and Verismo opera roles. Her repertoire includes such roles as Aida, Amelia (Ballo in Maschera), Leonora (Trovatore), Elisabetta (Don Carlo), Tosca, Santuzza, Giorgetta(Il Tabarro) and Maddalena (Andrea Chenier). She has sung lead roles with opera companies such as the Empire State Opera and New York Opera Forum. After joining the Wagner Program at Mannes College of Music, she sang Sieglinde with the Wagner Festival Orchestra under David Gilber t. Recently she was a finalist in the Liederkrantz Wagner Competition. In addition to opera, Ms.Frenkel has an extensive and wide ranging song repertoire (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian) and in 2007 she was a finalist in Cybersing an international song competition. In addition, to her singing, Ms. Frenkel has an established career as a psychotherapist and is an Associate Professor in family therapy.

Melissa Gerstein, Mezzo-soprano (Lola) Melissa Gerstein, Mezzo-soprano (Lola) has performed extensively throughout the New York classical music scene. Having recently appeared with the One World Symphony Orchestra singing the role of Auntie (Peter Grimes), Ms. Gerstein is excited to be making her debut with the Brooklyn Repertory Opera reprising the role of Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana). Last year, some of her operatic appearances included Meg Page (Falstaff ) and Lola, both with the famed Amato Opera Theatre, and Seibel (Faust) with the dell'Arte Opera Ensemble. She has also performed with such ensembles as the Opera Company of Astoria, Harmonia Opera, Chelsea Opera, the Remarkable Theatre Brigade, The Westchester Philharmonic and The American Classical Orchestra. In June, she will return to the Amato stage as Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte). A finalist in the Queens Opera Competition, Ms. Gerstein earned her masters degree at the Manhattan School of Music.

Jay Gould, Bass-Baritone (Alfio), has a career in opera, oratorio and musical theater. He has appeared as a soloist in Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City and other major concert venues, in performances of Handel’s The Messiah and the St. John’s and St. Matthew’s Passions of Bach, the Requiems of Fauré, Mozart and Brahms, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. He has performed as soloist with the Masterwork Chorus, Long Island Choral Society and the Taghkanic Chorale. He has also appeared as bass soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Japanese Beethoven No. 9 Society in Carnegie Hall. Mr. Gould appears as soloist on a recording of the Grand Mass in B-flat minor of Amy Beach, re-creating his solo appearance in that work at Carnegie Hall. His opera repertory includes the roles of Amonasro (Aïda), Renato (Un Ballo in Maschera), Marcello (La Bohème), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Alfio (Cavalleria Rusticana), Rodrigo/King Philip II/Grand Inquisitor (Don Carlo), Dr. Frodhi (The Eglantine), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Tony (The Most Happy Fella), Oroveso (Norma), Tonio (I Pagliacci), Scarpia (Tosca), Sarastro/First Priest/First Slave/Man in Armor (Die Zauberflöte), and the title role in Falstaff (Martina Arroyo’s “Prelude to Performance” production in June, 2006, conducted by Willie Anthony Waters). In July 2007 he sang the role of Fafner in Das Rheingold with the Mannes Wagner Theater Project conducted by David Gilbert; in August he played the title role in Gianni Schicchi with Empire Opera.

Hellgate Harmonie (Orchestra) originally formed as a wind ensemble in the summer of 2005 to perform classic 18th and 19th Century Viennese and Bohemian Harmoniemusik, including transcriptions of Mozart operas and Wenzl Sedlak's famous Beethoven sanctioned nonet reduction of Fidelio. Hellgate Harmonie plays regularly at beer gardens, bars, restaurants and similar establishments and is honored to be joined by excellent string, brass and percussion players for its performances with the Brooklyn Repertory Opera.

Kathleen Keske (Santuzza & Artistic Director) A native of Chicago, Ms. Keske has sung with opera companies and symphony orchestras over wide areas of the United States and abroad. Her operatic appearances have included such leading roles as Bruennhhilde in Siegfried and Goetterdaemerung, Ariadne, Leonore (Fidelio), Sieglinde, Desdemona, Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, and a wide range of other roles in five languages. Kathleen has made previous appearances with BRO in the roles of Senza Bliss in AFRAID and Leonore in Fidelio. Ms. Keske now resides in New York City and was a semi-finalist in The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a finalist in the Liederkranz Foundation Competition. Kathleen is very happy to be working with such a fine and dedicated cast in this production of Cavalleria Rusticana.


"Three gave outstanding performances... Soprano Kathleen Keske eased her way into a remarkable rendition of the title role (Fidelio). She and Ward received numerous bravos for their efforts."

Anchorage Daily News

Karmen Kluge, Soprano (Lola) was first cast in Brooklyn Repertory's original production of "A.F.R.A.I.D." as Kathleen O'Leary shortly before the close of the production and is excited to be appearing on the Lyceum stage as Lola. She has also performed with the Bronx Opera and received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from NYU. A few of her opera and stage credits include Carmen, Le Nozze di Figaro, La Traviata, Camelot, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, among many others. Her recent film and television credits include Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Baby Momma, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Wedding Date, Law and Order: CI, and 30 Rock. Karmen is a former Miss Five Boroughs and was 4th runner up to Miss New York, in addition to being the overall state talent winner. She studies voice with Myra Cordell, whom she would like to thank for her unending support and encouragement in pursuing her dream of performing.

Yoon Jae Lee (Conductor) enjoys a multi-faceted career as conductor, arranger, and pianist. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of Ensemble 212, an exciting new orchestra comprised of young freelance musicians from the New York area. Under his baton, Ensemble 212 has performed works ranging from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony to Schwantner's Sparrows. In addition to conducting, Mr. Lee maintains an active accompanying and teaching schedule. In January 2008, he joined the faculty of City College of New York (CUNY). Mr. Lee has made highly acclaimed chamber versions of Debussy's Prlude l'aprs-midi d'un faune and Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Following the September 11 tragedy, his orchestration of the theme "New York, New York" was performed at Salzburg's Cathedral (Dom) during a special benefit concert for St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan.

A native of New York City, Mr. Lee began studying the violin at age 5 and piano at age 6. At age 17, he started conducting and 2 years later, participated in a masterclass by Kurt Masur at Alice Tully Hall. He received degrees in piano and conducting from the Mannes College of Music studying conducting with Samuel Wong, David Hayes, Michael Charry and received the N.T. Milani Memorial Conducting Fellowship and the Peter M. Gross Fund. Mr. Lee also studied at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria under the tutelage of Dennis Russell Davies. During that time, he appeared as guest conductor with the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Bruckner Orchester Linz, and was Assistant Conductor to the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie.

Among the music festivals he has attended include the Aspen Music Festival, where he studied with David Zinman, Murry Sidlin, and conducted a staged performance of Benjamin Britten's, "The Turn of the Screw" and the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, where he studied Baroque performance practice.

Francis Liska, Tenor (Turiddu) Started his career in musical theater at 15 years old as Artful Dodger in OLIVER! After graduating from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC on Scholorship, he went on to study voice for his new love; opera. Moving to California, he performed in many of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas in the comedy lead roles. La Scala Mezzo-Soprano, Gloria Lane was his voice teacher in Los Angeles. When he returned to New York, he continued his studies with noted voice teacher, Sam Sakarian. Among the roles he has performed are; Siegmund, Lohengrin, both Siegfrieds, Calaf, Roland (Esclarmonde),Radames, and most recently, Floristan with BRO. He has been tenor soloist in oratorio in THE MESSIAH, ELIJAH, and ST PAULUS. He has sung with Fullerton Civic Opera and Glendale Opera in California. Trintity Church Concert Series, West Side Opera, Magic Circle Opera, La Serenata, Music Friends of Westchester, St Ceclia Chamber Consort as well as tenor soloist for several churches in New York. He is very happy to be returning to BRO with such an excellent group of artist.

Leslie Middlebrook Mezzo-Soprano, (Lucia) has been winning recognition and acclaim throughout the United States and Europe from critics and audiences alike. She appeared at The Bach to Bartok International Music Festival in Imola, Italy where she made her recital debut at the historic Palazzo Tozzoni, and was alto soloist in Rossini's Stabat Mater and Verdi's Requiem. Her European opera debut was in Bremen, Germany in the title roles on a double bill of Menotti's The Medium and The Old Maid and the Thief. She also performed in Austria with Vienna Kammeroper. In the U.S. she has sung with the Virginia, Berkshire, Des Moines, NJ Verismo and Harrisburg Operas, among others in roles ranging from Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus and Amneris in Aida to La Principessa in Suor Angelica and Katisha in The Mikado. Ms. Middlebrook's frequent concert and oratorio engagements include her Carnegie Hall debut as alto soloist in the U.S premiere of Sir Eugene Goosen's re-orchestration of The Messiah, with The New England Symphonic Ensemble, alto soloist in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with the St. Thomas More Chamber Orchestra, Harvey Burgett conducting and Rossini's Petite Messe Solonelle with the Brooklyn Philharmonia. She sang the world premiere of Margarita Zelenaia's Mother's Lamentations for Mezzo-Soprano and Strings with One World Symphony which was also broadcast on international satellite television. In recent seasons Ms. Middlebrook has emerged as a Wagnerian Mezzo, having performed all the major mezzo roles in The Ring Cycle, as well as other operas with the Wagner Festival Orchestra of New York, David Gilbert, conductor. She appears with "La Serenata" in concert and A Victorian Evening of Romance Poetry & Song on tour. With extensive musical theatre credits, Ms. Middlebrook has appeared Off-Broadway, in regional theatre and with the NY Pops Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. She received her Masters of Music From Manhattan School of Music.

Brett Wynkoop (Executive Director) - Before starting on the path of computer consulting with Wynn Data Limited, www.wynn.com, he was part of the the New York Renaissance Festival in the early 1980's, ran lights and video at Chippendales & took a turn at screen acting in "The Squeeze", 1987 (Michael Keaton). He was Technical Director for the world premier of A.F.R.A.I.D at the New York Fringe Festival, where he made his musical debut by playing the first note of the opera on computer generated bells. He is pleased to be working with such a wonderful group of artists on Cav.

Matthew Yohn, (Alfio) with a national performing career that began at age ten and with twenty years of technical stage experience, enjoys a lifelong dedication to music and stagecraft. Mr. Yohn’s performance breadth includes a growing opera repertory, musical theater, classical theater and concert works which he has performed throughout the United States, and in France, Germany and the Czech Republic. His operatic credits include Donner (Das Rheingold), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Schaunard (La Boheme), Publio (La clemenza di Tito), Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea), Sprecher and geharnischter Mann (Die Zauberflote), Cesare Angelotti (Tosca), Lorenzo (I Capuleti ed i Montecchi), Marquis de la Force (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Samuel (Un ballo in maschera) and notable excerpts from Baron Ochs von Lerchenau (Der Rosenkavalier), Hollander (Der Fliegende Hollander), Mephistopheles (Faust) and Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro). He completed a Master of Music degree at the Mannes College of Music in New York City.

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