At-a-Glance

Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
The Importance of Being Earnest

March 17 & 18 at 7:30pm

Conducted by Gil Rose
The Wimberly Theatre
Calderwood Pavilion at
the Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street
Boston, MA  02116

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either…” —Algernon Moncrieff to Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest

Continuing Odyssey Opera’s 2016-2017 Season, Wilde Opera Nights, we offer a tale of deception, disguise, and misadventure with plot twists and characters that satirize Victorian values in only the best ways possible—The Importance of Being Earnest. In his final opera, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco sets Oscar Wilde’s most famous play, capturing the comical intrigue and quick-witted social commentary of the period—that apply even today.

Conducted by Gil Rose

John Worthing (Jack) — Neal Ferreira
Algernon Moncrieff — Stefan Barner
Cecily Cardew — Jeni Houser
Gwendolen Fairfax — Rachele Schmiege
Lady Bracknell – Claudia Waite
Rev. Chasuble – James Demler
Miss Prism – Christina English
Lane – J.T. Turner
Merriman – Colin Levin

The Importance of Being Earnest is a three act chamber opera for 8 singers, 2 pianos and percussion based on the play of the same name by Oscar Wilde. Performed in English.


Neal Ferreira

Neal Ferreira

Praised for his “rich, powerful voice” and “bravura-filled stage presence,” Neal Ferreira is a promising lyric tenor with a handsome, masculine tone quality to which he brings a cultivated vocalism and eloquent expression. Most recently he made his Boston Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Hall debut as Ein Tierhändler in Der Rosenkavalier under the baton of Maestro Andris Nelsons. Last season Mr. Ferreira performed the role of the Visitor in Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony at the Cyclorama, for which the Wall Street Journal called him “poignant” and the Boston Globe lauded his “firm yet sweet tenor.” In the spring of 2015 he debuted the role of Ferdinand in the world premiere performance of Joseph Summer’s The Tempest with the Shakespeare Concerts, and he can be heard on the original cast recording recently released on Albany Records. He has also appeared with Florida Grand Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Colorado, Virginia Opera, Anchorage Opera, Opera Boston, American Repertory Theatre, Guerilla Opera, and Emmanuel Music. Photo // Tim Gurczak

Stefan Barner

Stefan Barner

Stefan Barner is a vocal standout, with a vibrancy of tone and an exciting delivery that serve notice he is a gifted lyric tenor with a big future ahead. Recently finishing his first year as an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera, Mr. Barner made his role and company debut singing Beppe in I Pagliacci and the Younger Brother in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins. Highlights from 2016 include singing Steve Hubbel in A Streetcar Named Desire with Tulsa Opera; Rudolph in Evangline with The Longfellow Chorus; the title role in Faust with Boston Opera Collaborative (BOC), and the title role in Idomeneo, again with BOC, for which he was praised for his masterful command of both style and technique. Mr. Barner has previously performed with a number of opera companies across the United States and abroad including Nashville Opera, Tulsa Opera, Knoxville Opera, Opera Columbus, Glimmerglass Opera, Greater Worcester Opera, Boston Midsummer Opera, Monadnock Music Festival, and Des Moines Metro Opera. Notable international performances include a return to the Glimmerglass Festival in 2012 as Jacey Squires in the company’s touring production of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, which performed at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. Mr. Barner made his international debut in 2009 singing B. F. Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy. Mr. Barner also enjoys being active on the oratorio stage. Recent performances include Handel’s Messiah with Bartlesville Choral Society and the Signature Strings where he was last seen as the tenor soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana.

Jeni Houser

Jeni Houser

Opera News lauds Jeni Houser’s performances as “commanding and duplicitous, yet also vulnerable. She has a bright future above the staff.” This season, she sings the Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte in her debut with Cincinnati Opera and also joins the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of the same title. Ms. Houser returns to Minnesota Opera for a workshop of William Bolcom’s new opera, Dinner at Eight, and, in the summer, joins the Berkshire Opera Festival as Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos. Engagements in coming seasons include her debut with Austin Opera as Zerbinetta, and debuts with Central City Opera and Dallas Opera. With Minnesota Opera in 2015-16, she performed Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, and Mrs. Grady in the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s The Shining. Other recent roles include Amy in Adamo’s Little Women and Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Madison Opera, Johanna in Sweeney Todd with Mill City Summer Opera and Madison Opera, and Susanna in Marcos Portugal’s The Marriage of Figaro with On Site Opera in her New York City debut, as well as Carmina Burana with the Madison Symphony. Previous seasons found Ms. Houser making her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in The Magic Victrola, where she sang Olympia’s aria from Les contes d’Hoffmann, singing Frasquita in Carmen and covering Zerbinetta with Virginia Opera, covering Zerbinetta while singing Najade with Fort Worth Opera, and singing Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore with Opera Saratoga.

Rachele Schmiege

Rachele Schmiege

Rachele Schmiege has been praised for her “powerful, pure, soaring voice” and “absolutely thrilling” portrayals. This season, she appears as Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest with Odyssey Opera and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Salt Marsh Opera.  On the concert stage, Ms. Schmiege will be singing Soprano solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah (Pioneer Valley Symphony and Chorus), Ein Deutsches Requiem (Nashoba Valley Chorale), James Whitbourn’s Annelies (Newburyport Choral Society), and Mahler 4 and Canteloube Songs (MidCoast Symphony). Recent appearances include: Anne Truelove, The Rake’s Progress (Pacific Opera Project); Lucette, Cendrillon (Resonance Works); Soprano II, Hydrogen Jukebox (Nashville Opera); Elle, La Voix Humaine; Amy, Little Women (Opera on the James); Violetta, La Traviata (Hubbard Hall Opera Theater); Gilda, Rigoletto (Cape Cod Opera); Valencienne, The Merry Widow (Opera Providence); Dortchen Wilde, The Brother’s Grimm (Nashville Opera, US premiere). Recent concert appearances include: Soprano soloist, Requiem, Verdi (Cape Cod Symphony, MidCoast Symphony and Pioneer Valley Symphony); Ein Deutsches Requiem, Brahms (Chatham Chorale); Mass in C minor, Mozart (Newburyport Chorale Society); new work in collaboration with composer Mohammad Fairouz.

American soprano Claudia Waite is an active principal artist at the Metropolitan Opera. Since her debut with the company almost two decades ago, she has participated in such diverse productions as Die Zauberflöte, Hänsel und Gretel, Dialogues of the Carmelites, War and Peace, Der Rosenkavalier, Nabucco, Don Giovanni, Elektra, and The Nose. She has been a guest artist with Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Orchestra New York, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, Opéra de Lyon, New Israeli Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Houston Philharmonic, and many other major opera companies and orchestras around the world. Ms. Waite’s repertoire includes some of opera’s most dramatic leading ladies, including Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Leonora (Fidelio, Il Trovatore), and Turandot, as well as the comedic roles of Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus), Fata Morgana (L’Amour des Trois Oranges), and the titular character of La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein. Busy as a recitalist and concert artist, the soprano’s repertoire includes Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, most memorably at the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, under the baton of Maestro Seiji Ozawa. Her discography includes An American Voice: Music of Robert Nelson (Albany) and her videography includes Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Nose, Macbeth, and Elektra, all Live in HD broadcasts from the Met.  Ms. Waite made her Odyssey Opera of Boston debut in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

James Demler

James Demler

Baritone James Demler is known for his versatile range of repertory, spanning the operatic, oratorio, concert, and popular music genres. 2015-16 season engagements include the role of Dikoj in Katya Kabaonova by Janacek with Boston Lyric Opera, Pistol in Ralph-Vaughn Williams Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera, and Le Bailli in Massenet’s Werther, also with Boston Lyric Opera. In the summer of 2016 he was a guest artist at the Fredericksburg Chamber Music Festival in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and was bass soloist in Verdi’s Requiem in Brugges and Ypres, Belgium, with the Arkademia Sinfonika. Mr. Demler has also recently sung the role of Don Alfonso in Così Fan Tutte with the Tuscia Opera Festival in Viterbo, Italy, and since 2009 has made three guest appearances as soloist with the Boston Pops. Additionally, he made his film debut as Noah in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which opened the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and was also a guest Public Address Announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in June, 2012. Mr. Demler has made debuts with Houston Grand Opera, where he appeared as Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte and Peter in Hansel and Gretel, and as soloist with the Houston Symphony, where he sang the role of Maestro in a concert version of Salieri’s rarely performed opera Prima la musica, poi le parole. Other roles include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Edmonton Opera, Danilo in the Merry Widow with Palm Beach Opera, and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Arizona Opera. He made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Opera Orchestra of New York as Dikson in Boieldieu’s La Dame Blanche alongside Renee Fleming, and has returned to that venue singing prominent roles in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux and Catalani’s La Wally. James Demler has been a full-time member of the voice faculty of Boston University College of Fine Arts since 2005.

Christina English

Christina English

Known for her “agile mezzo-soprano voice” and “striking” presence, Christina English has a versatile career spanning the opera, concert, chamber ensemble,and musical theater genres. This season she appears with Beth Morrison Projects, Boston Baroque, Boston Art Song Society, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Odyssey Opera, Chorus Pro Musica, and Lorelei Ensemble. She recently appeared with St. Petersburg Opera (FL), Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Guerilla Opera, Boston Midsummer Opera, Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Lorelei Ensemble, Boston Baroque, and Handel & Haydn Society Outreach.Christina is a core member of Lorelei Ensemble, a vocal chamber group known for its “pristine vocal tone” and unfailing display of the “elegance, power, and grace of the human voice.” Recent and upcoming highlights with Lorelei include David Lang’s Love Fail at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall; and Ligeti’s Clocks and Clouds at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music.

J. T. Turner

J. T. Turner

J.T. Turner is an award winning actor with credits on stage, and in TV, radio, and film. His stage work includes the roles of Alfie in My Fair Lady, Dysart in Equus, Benjamin Franklin in 1776, Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men, Henry II in The Lion In Winter, Noah in Two by Two, Innkeeper in Man of LaMancha, Lear in King Lear, Pitkin in On The Town, Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, and The King in Big River. J.T. has appeared in many feature films, including Ghostbusters, American Hustle, Mystic River, Meet Joe Black, The Game Plan, Dan In Real Life, The Crucible, and A Civil Action. For T.V., he has worked on episodes of The Sopranos, Body Of Evidence ,and The Brotherhood. J.T also serves as the Descriptive Narrator for many PBS shows, including Martha Speaks, Arthur, Frannie’s Feet, and episodes of Mystery!. He has toured with throughout the Northeast in Beyond The Wardrobe, a play about C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare’s Ghost as William Shakespeare, and in his newest work Robert Frost, Light and Dark.

Colin Levin

Colin Levin

Baritone Colin Levin continues to explore a diverse array of vocal literature, ranging from the very physical character roles of opera to the ambitious vocal writing of the concert repertoire. Recent seasons have witnessed him performing the lyric baritone roles of Mozart, Rossini, Puccini, and Britten while also participating in the creation of new American works. The 2016–2017 season witnessed a series of important role debuts for Mr. Levin: Marullo in Rigoletto and Papageno in The Magic Flute, both with Opera on the James, and Silvio in Pagliacci with the Martha Cardona Opera under the baton of Metropolitan Opera conductor Gregory Buchalter. An active concert artist, Mr. Levin’s performances during the 2016–2017 season included Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and Barber’s Dover Beach as Artist-in-Residence with the Concord Academy Symphony and Chorus. A frequent presence in the Boston classical performing arts scene, Mr. Levin made his Jordan Hall debut in 2012 as Manfred Lewin in the East Coast professional premiere of Jake Heggie’s theatrical song cycle For a Look or a Touch. He began his particularly rewarding relationship with the former Opera Boston as a cover artist for demanding roles in two rarely-heard masterpieces, Don Alfonso di Pardo in Donizetti’s Maria Padilla and the title role of Hindemith’s Cardillac, and has continued that relationship through the company’s present incarnation as Odyssey Opera, appearing in the leading role of Thomas Brown in their production of Sullivan’s The Zoo.

All photos credit: Kathy Wittman of Ball Square Films

Photo of the cast of The Importance of Being Earnest, an opera by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

(L-R) Ms. Houser, Mr. Barner, Ms. English, Mr. Demler, Mr. Ferreira, Ms. Schmiege, Ms Waite.


Mr. Ferreira and Mr. Barner.

Mr. Ferreira and Mr. Barner.


Mr. Ferreira as John Worthing (Jack).

Mr. Ferreira as John Worthing (Jack).


Mr. Ferreira and Mr. Barner.

Mr. Ferreira and Mr. Barner.


Ms. Houser as Cecily Cardew

Ms. Houser as Cecily Cardew


Ms. Schmiege as Gwendolen Fairfax

Ms. Schmiege as Gwendolen Fairfax


Ms. Waite as Lady Bracknell

Ms. Waite as Lady Bracknell


Ms. Houser and Mr. Barner

Ms. Houser and Mr. Barner


Mr. Ferreira and Ms. Waite

Mr. Ferreira and Ms. Waite


Mr. Ferreira and Ms. English

Mr. Ferreira and Ms. English


Mr. Demler and Mr. Ferreira

Mr. Demler and Mr. Ferreira


Mr. Turner as Lane

Mr. Turner as Lane


Gil Rose, Artistic and General Director, Odyssey Opera

Gil Rose, Artistic and General Director, Odyssey Opera