Karen Archbold, mezzo-soprano, After receiving a Bachelor of Music Performance, Karen Archbold continued her studies in Bremen, Germany at the Hochschule fur Kunste. In 2017, Karen won first prize in the Fox Valley Rising Stars Competition. In 2016, she was the Sinfonietta Bel Canto's Voice Competition First Place Winner in the Emerging Artist Category. She was a 2014 and 2015 finalist in the American Prize Competition Vocal Division and runner-up in the American Prize Chicago Music Theatre Award. She has appeared as Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw, Buttercup in HMS Pinafore, Abuela in La Vida Breve and Berthe in Barber of Seville. Karen’s solo appearances include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, John Rutter’s Magnificat, Lili Boulanger’s Psalm Profundis, the Verdi Requiem, and the Mahler Kindertotenlieder. She currently performs with the Belle Ensemble and with Duo Striata. She also gives weekly concerts as a part of Music for the Mind, a music therapy program for people with Alzheimer's. Karen is currently pursuing a 2 year certification with Total Vocal Freedom, a holistic approach to singing incorporating the discoveries of F.M.Alexander.
Nicholas Barootian, Artistic Director; baritone, a Racine native, has studied voice with Gregory Berg, former King’s Singers Anthony Holt, and Richard Sjoerdsma. He sang with the Ensemble Singers of VocalEssence under Philip Brunnelle during their 40th Anniversary tour of England, and is a regular member of the Florentine Opera Chorus, for which he has also been engaged as a soloist in summer outreach programs. His stage credits include Giuseppe in The Gondoliers, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, and Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and he created the role of Dance Captain for the Florentine’s world premier performance of Sister Carrie by Robert Aldridge. Nick has appeared as soloist and conductor with Southeast Wisconsin Performing Arts, music-directed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the University of Wisconsin at Parkside, and composed music for the Case High School original production he also music-directed, #DarkSideoftheRainbow. Since 2015, Nick has served as Director of Liturgy and Music for St. Francis Xavier and St. John the Baptist Catholic Parishes in Brighton and Paris, Wisconsin. In 2015, Nick founded the Belle Ensemble, a vocal and choral chamber music group aimed at bringing first class vocal performance to Racine and its neighbors, while developing collaborations among talented vocal musicians and other artists in the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor.
Aaron Bolden completed his MM at Northern Illinois University, and earned a BM in Voice Performance; Teacher's Certification for vocal music (K-12); and a minor in Spanish from the University of Iowa. Recent opportunities have included consecutive years with the young artist program OperaMaya In the Yucatán peninsula in Riviera Maya region of Mexico in both the summers of 2018 and 2019.
He was featured as King Balthazar in "Amahl" with Petite Opera Productions in 2011, and was also featured in the title role of The Mikado in 2012. Current roles for Aaron have included performing in Jane Austen's "Persuasion" overseas with Chamber Opera Chicago/Chamber Opera Tours in England (2014), Scotland (2015); another recent UK performance in both Scotland and England (2016, 2017); and also in Canada (2018). With the aforementioned opera company, he has been featured as King Balthazar (cover/principle) in "Amahl" (2008-18); Guadalupe in the world premiere (English) of Lecuona’s "Maria La O" (2010); Juan in "Man of La Mancha" (2009); and also Samuel (cover) in "Pirates of Penzance" with Light Opera Works/Light Opera Theatre (2009).
Other opera credits include "Elixr of Love"; "La Cenerentola"; "La Boehme", "Patience", and "The Magic Flute". Additional Training Programs include Voices of the Millennium (2007, 2009) in Chicago, Illinois; and Voci D’Estate (Voices of Summer) in Verona, Italy (2007). In the realm of music theater, Aaron has performed the role of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. with four different productions in Rockford, Wilmette, Kankakee and Peoria. He was the recipient of The Starlight Theatre Stellar Performance Award during his performance stint of “Ragtime” in 2007, and was also named a semifinalist in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition as recent as 2020, and also in 2011. For more information, please visit his website at www.aaronbolden.com
Ami Bouterse, soprano, has recently performed with Milwaukee Opera Theatre, Racine Symphony Orchestra, and the Racine Concert Band. Last year, Ami, was a featured panelist regarding the singing of Norwegian art songs at the Grieg Festival in Sarasota, FL. She and her musical family, namely husband and daughter, have formed the group Potpourizzi, which presents a variety of musical theater and light opera material for concert venues and private gatherings. At the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Ami is an Associate Professor of Music where she teaches private voice and other related courses, including directing the Opera Workshop. She received voice and opera theater performance degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Carnegie Mellon University respectively. In addition, Ami earned Level III Certification in Jeanne LoVetri’s Somatic VoiceworkTM, which featured contemporary commercial music vocal pedagogical technique at Shenandoah University. Ami also maintains the AB Voice Studio for children and adults at all levels. Visit www.abvoicestudio.com.
Bryan Chung is a graduate of Carthage College, where he received his B.A. in Vocal Music Performance and K-12 General and Vocal Music Education degrees. He is a general music educator at Milwaukee Sign Language School, the music director at Somers Community UCC, and frequent music director with the Lakeside Players at the Rhode Center for the Arts (Kenosha). Outside of the Belle Ensemble, Bryan has also been performing in the Southeast Wisconsin area with organizations and ensembles such as the Parkside Community Master Singers (Kenosha), the Over Our Head Players (Racine), the Kenosha Chamber Choir, and the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus/Orchestra.
Matthew Hunt, baritone, has performed with vocal ensembles in the United States, England, and Italy, with a focus on oratorio works. In addition to frequently performing as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Matthew’s oratorio credits include Mozart's Requiem, Carmina Burana, and the roles of Lucifero in Alessandro Stradella’s Esule dalle Sfere, Pilatus in Bach's St. John Passion, and Lucifero in Handel's La Resurrezione. He performed the role of Le Surintendant in the 2015 Resonance Works production of Cendrillon and also performed in the 2016 production of Falstaff and the 2014 production of L'elisir d'amore. As a member of the professional core of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh he has performed as a soloist in Giacomo Carissimi's Jephte, Beethoven's Mass in C, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, and Durufle's Requiem. In Milwaukee, Matthew has performed as a soloist and ensemble singer with Present Music as part of the Hearing Voices octet, Milwaukee Chamber Choir, Belle Ensemble, and the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus.
Ashley McHugh, soprano, currently performs with Fresco Opera, Pop Factory Players, Belle Ensemble, and Once Upon a Dream Performances. She is the Choral Program Director, Musical Theatre Program Head Advisor and Choreographer, General Music and Collegiate Music Theory Instructor at Mineral Point Unified Schools. Ashley is a Registered Adjudicator for WSMA and Classical Singer, and teaches private lessons in her home studio. She earned a MM in Classical Voice and an Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy fromÂ New York University Steinhardt, and a MA in Vocal Performance and a BM in K-12 Vocal Music Education from Eastern Illinois University. Ashley taught as an Adjunct Instructor of Voice Lessons at NYU, performed with NY Lyric Opera Theatre at Carnegie Hall, and studied with Music in the MarchÃ© and Midwest Institute of Opera. Some of her favorite roles include NoÃ©mie (Cendrillon), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Hodel (Fiddler on the Roof), and Madame de la Grande Bouche (Beauty and the Beast). For more information, please visit: AshleyECMcHugh.weebly.com
Edson Melendez, Associate Director; Local tenor Edson Melendez is excited to be participating in this performance. Edson holds a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Arizona State University, where he studied voice with Robert Barefield, and a M.M. in Vocal Performance from DePaul University under the guidance of famed Metropolitan Opera Tenor Michael Sylvester. Edson can be seen regularly as a member of the Florentine Opera chorus where he has also been seen as a featured soloist in the summer concert series and as Giuseppe in La Traviata. He has also performed with Milwaukee Opera Theater, and Milwaukee Chamber Theater. Edson has been a soloist with SEWPA, Racine Choral Arts Society, Kenosha Master Singers, North Shore Opera Hour, and Candid Concert Opera.
Shelly Melendez, soprano, a Racine native, earned her BFA in Music Theater from Viterbo University, MM in Opera Performance from Arizona State University, and a Performance Certificate in Opera Performance from DePaul University. Shelly is a board member of Brew City Opera, and has also performed with many local groups including Florentine Opera, Opera on Tap and Kenosha Chamber Choir. Shelly enjoys performing in both Musicals and Operas; a few favorites include Frenchy (Grease,) Cinderella (Into the Woods,) Sr. Constance (Dialogue of the Carmelites,) and Lucia (Rape of Lucretia.) Shelly's most recent performances include Serpina (La Serva Padrona) with Belle Ensemble, and Micaela (Carmen) in Brew City Opera's inaugural performance.
Kirstin Roble, Administrative Director; Mezzo-Soprano, maintains a busy career in opera, musical theatre, and recital. Most recently, she has been seen on stage in productions and concerts with Madison Opera, Madison Savoyards, Belle Ensemble, Kohl's Wild Theatre, Opera on Tap- Wisconsin, National Women's Music Festival, and Fresco Opera Theatre. She made her international performing debut in Salzburg, Austria, singing the role of Zweite Dame in Die Zaüberflöte with the Franco American Vocal Academy. Some of her favorite roles include Zerlina (Don Giovanni,) Maria (The Sound of Music,) Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) Third Wood Sprite (Rusalka,) and Mary Todd Lincoln (American Spring- Wisconsin premiere of the opera.) Outside of stage performances, Ms. Roble is a busy performer in oratorio and concert works. Recently, she sang the Alto solos for Mozart's Coronation Mass and Vivaldi's Gloria. In addition, Kirstin works as a church musician in Milwaukee and Madison, WI areas. Currently, she is the Alto section leader and Scholarship Quartet member at Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, WI. More information about Ms. Roble's past and upcoming performances can be found at www.kirstinroblemezzo.com
Cameron Smith has been an active member of Wisconsin classical music performances throughout the state for over 10 years. He has performed twice with the Belle Ensemble, as a chorus member and soloist in the Echoes of the Abbey program and as Prince Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Cameron has previously been a featured soloist with Bel Canto Chorus, as well as the Kettle Moraine Symphony, Brew City Opera, South Shore Chorale, UW-Milwaukee's Concert Chorale, Kalliope Vocal Arts as well as a plethora of student recitals, weddings, private concerts, and charity events. He has completed a year study abroad program in Germany, bringing a host of musical experiences and opportunities in the heart of classical music in Europe. Also an enthusiast for sacred music, he sings with the North Shore Congregational Church Choir directed by Richard Kieffer. Cameron was a semifinalist in the national Classical Singer competition, the New York Lyric Opera Theatre competition, and the Wisconsin National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. Completing his studies at UW-Milwaukee in 2014 under the direction of Dr. Connie Haas, Cameron looks forward to further supporting the arts in Wisconsin and bringing classical music to those who appreciate it.
John A. Stumpff, tenor, is an active performer and teacher in the Milwaukee and Chicago region. Credits include Parpignol in La Boheme, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Don Jose in Carmen, and King Kasper in Amahl and the Night Visitors. He has also been a part of two Grammy winning recordings, Aldridge's Elmer Gantry and Davis' Rio de Sangre. This season, Mr. Stumpff will sing with the Florentine Opera for their Gilbert and Sullivan concert as well as in their production of Prince of Players. He is also the tenor section leader and soloist at Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago and this season he will be featured as a soloist in their McGlynn Concert as well as the Basilica’s concert of Messiah.
Mr. Stumpff is also the Education and Community Engagement Manager for the Florentine Opera, in which he coordinates and organizes the education tour, the Young Singing Actor Intensive, as well as creates the resource guides for Teachers, High Schoolers, and Mainstage audiences. Mr. Stumpff is also an active teacher maintains a voice and piano studio in Milwaukee. Mr. Stumpff earned his Masters from the University of Iowa in voice performance and his Bachelors from Cornell College in Music and Business.
Erin Sura, mezzo-soprano, has been praised for her “vocal warmth and depth, emotional heart” and for her “powerful polished vocal work” by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for singing “with formidable power” by Milwaukee Magazine, and Clevelandclassical.com said her “role was memorably sung and acted” and described her as “indefatigable.” Ms. Sura’s ampleness of voice and range have made her desirable in a wide variety of roles. Recent performances include Second Lady in Magic Flute with Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Lawrence Opera Theatre, Jo in Adamo’s Little Women with Nightingale Opera Theatre, Fatme in Zemire et Azor, several roles in The Skylight Ring an adaptation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and performances in both the world premiere and the Thailand premiere of Somtow Sucharitkul’s The Snow Dragon, all with Skylight Music Theatre, The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Southwestern Suburban Symphony and Music by the Lake, and the Mother in Hansel and Gretel with Main Street Opera. Upcoming performances include the 2nd Lady in the world premiere of Jordan Jenkin’s Queen of the Night with Fresco Opera Theatre spring 2018.
Ryan Garrett White, baritone, is a native of the Milwaukee area. In his career he has had the pleasure of performing such roles as: Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, William Williamson in Bolcom's A Wedding, and Pandolfe in Massenet's Cendrillion. In edition to singing with the Belle Ensemble, Ryan can be heard singing with Opera on Tap's Milwaukee chapter and in the Madison Opera Chorus. He holds a B.M. from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he studied with Brian Leeper, and a M.M. from the University of Nebraska Lincoln where he studied with William Shomos. Ryan is currently studying with Karen Brunssen.
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