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Marie's Orchard




Shira Renee ThomasSHIRA RENEE THOMAS Marie Shabata

Shira Renee Thomas made her triumphant debut with Townsend Opera Players in Modesto, CA as Juliet in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet in 2010. Her “vibrant portrayal” and “vocal fireworks” as the tragic heroine were hailed by critics. Shira Renee Thomas as Marie ShabataShe also made her East Coast debut in 2010, thrilling enthusiastic audiences as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto with Opera Company of the Highlands in New York. Thomas has delighted audiences in many diverse leading roles including Marguerite in Faust, Gilda in Rigoletto, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Violetta in La Traviata, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Adina in L'elisir d'amore, Micaela in Carmen, Fiordiligi in Cosí fan tutte, Fanny in Rossini's La Cambiale di matrimonio, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Papagena in The Magic Flute, and the dual characters Isabelle/Madeline in The Face on the Barroom Floor (Mollicone). Ms. Thomas also debuted the character of Pieta in the world premiere, staged version of Eric Whitacre’s groundbreaking work, Paradise Lost - Opera Electronica.

Ms. Thomas portrayed the role of Mrs. Hayes in Floyd's Susannah, and covered soprano Nicole Cabell in the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at Orange County, CA's Opera Pacific. As a resident artist of that company, Thomas was a featured soloist in numerous events, including “Opera in the Park” and “Opera Under the Stars.” Marie and EmilShe also performed the role of Pamina in the Pacific Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings presentation of The Magic Flute.Thomas was a Festival Artist with the Utah Festival Opera Company in 2009, where she was a soloist on two different orchestra concerts, singing “Deh vieni non tardar” from Le nozze di Figaro, as well as “June is Busting Out All Over” from Carousel, both with the UFOC orchestra conducted by Maestro Barbara Day Turner.  In addition, she covered the roles of Micaela in Carmen and Yum-Yum in The Mikado, and was chosen as a finalist in the Concorso Lirico International Opera Competition.

Among the numerous awards and scholarships earned by Ms. Thomas, she was awarded 1st prize in the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Vocal Solo Competition in North Wales.  The Musical Eisteddfod has hosted such competitors as Luciano Pavarotti and Bryn Terfel in past years.



Benjamin BunsoldBENJAMIN BUNSOLD Emil Bergson

Benjamin Bunsold is making waves in the bel canto repertoire as a charming, young tenor with a natural musicality and solid top register. Last season he performed Alfred in Die Fledermaus at Opera Delaware and the Arbor Opera Theater, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte at the Shreveport Opera and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at Opera Tampa. Mr. Bunsold’s active 2008 performance schedule included the role of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera Company of North Carolina, Il Duca in Rigoletto with New Opera St. Louis, Laurie in Little Women for Opera Delaware, Gastone in La Traviata for Opera Memphis with Maestro Michael Ching and Camille in The Merry Widow for Opera New Jersey.

In other recent seasons Mr. Bunsold sang the roles of Fenton in Falstaff at Fort Worth Opera, Nemorino in L’Elisir d’amore and Il Duca in Rigoletto for Opera in the Heights with Maestro William Weibel. His repertoire also includes Alfredo in La Traviata which he performed for Asheville Lyric Opera, Opera in the Ozarks and covered at Fort Worth Opera. In Mark Adamo’s new opera Lysistrata, Benjamin Bunsold as Emil Bergsonhe sang Nico in a concert presented by the composer with the Van Cliburn Foundations’ Cliburn at the Modern series in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Benjamin Bunsold has been accepted to several prestigious resident artist/apprenticeship programs. In 2005 and 2006 he participated in the Glimmerglass Opera Young American Apprenticeship Program. The previous year he was engaged by the The Utah Festival Opera, and from 2004 - 2006 he was a Resident Artist with Fort Worth Opera. In 2007 and 2008 he worked with Sherrill Milnes and Maria Zouves at VOICExperience in Tampa, Florida and at the Tampa Opera.

Benjamin’s future engagements include Beppe in Il Pagliacci at Opera Columbus and Carmina Burana at the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra.



Abdiel GonzalezABDIEL GONZÁLEZ Frank Shabata

Puerto Rican baritone, Abdiel González, has been praised for his “rich, lush baritone” and for having a “superb voice, which commanded the stage.”  Abdiel Gonzalez as Frank ShabataRecently Mr. Gonzalez was excited to make his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic soloing in Stravinsky’s Renard under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Roles performed include Mercutio in Roméo et Julliette, Shrike in the West Coast Premiere of Miss Lonelyhearts, Athanaël in Thaïs, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Pandolfe in Cendrillon, Morales in Carmen, Guglielmo in Cosí fan Tutte, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Ko-Ko in The Mikado, The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, and Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha

Mr. González is proud to have performed lead roles in 3 Zarzuelas, an art form which he loves dearly.  These include the title role in Luis Alonso, Paquiro in Goyescas and Don Pedro in El Barberillo de LavapiesAbdiel Gonzalez as Frank Shabata

The concert stage has seen him as a soloist in Händel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Fauré's Requiem, Rutter's Mass for the Children, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem and Mass in c minor, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, Vaugh William's Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Five Mystical Songs, Lizst’s Via Crucis, Brahms’ Requiem, and Britten’s War Requiem.

González was a first place winner in the San Diego District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as in the Opera 100 Competition.

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Jay StephensonJAY STEPHENSON Anthony Chevalier

Jay Stephenson regularly performs both in the United States and in his native country of Canada and is much sought after for his rich, sonorous baritone voice.  Jay Stephenson as Anthony ChevalierIn November 2009, he flew to Canada to sing Schaunard in La Boheme (Opera Kitchener). 

Most recently, he performed Dr. Grenvil in both Santa Monica and in Long Beach after understudying the role with Opera Santa Barbara in March.  In 2009, he received a glowing review for Gernot in the North American staged-premiere of Wagner’s first opera, Die Feen (Lyric Opera of Los Angeles). 

Anthony and AngeliqueOther recent roles include: Guglielmo, Belcore, Valentin, Germont, Don Alfons, and Gianni Schicchi.  Mr. Stephenson previously sang Barone Douphol and Rigoletto for Center Stage Opera and was honoured to mark his third production with the company creating the role of Anthony Chevalier in the world premiere of Philip Westin’s Marie’s Orchard.



Adrien RobertsADRIEN ROBERTS Angelique Chevalier

Adrien Roberts has her Master's degree from Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Roberts recently covered the role of Roberta in Tobias Picker's opera, An American Tragedy. Ms. Roberts has sung leading opera roles including: Marguerite in Faust, Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Marie in The Bartered Bride, Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore, Violetta in La Traviata, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Giulietta in Verdi's Un Giorno di Regno.Adrien Roberts as Angelique Chevalier

She has also performed in the Opera Buffs 2009 Spring Showcase, in LA Opera's education short, Tanis in America and is currently performing with O.C. Opera's children's outreach program. In 2010, Ms. Roberts won the A.E.I.O.U. Vocal Competition.

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E. Scott LevinE. SCOTT LEVIN Bill the Bartender

E. Scott Levin, a native of Galveston, Texas, now lives in Los Angeles, where he obtained a graduate certificate from the University of Southern California. There he performed the roles of Leporello in Don Giovanni and Capellio in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Scott has sung with many companies in the Los Angeles area including the Sacristan in Tosca and KoKo in The Mikado with Intimate Opera, Falke in Die Fledermaus with Center Stage Opera, Gianni Schicchi with Celestial Opera, and Leporello with Pacific Opera Project. He is also a member of the LA Opera Chorus.

Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts from Washington University in St. Louis in 2003. Roles performed there include the title role in Kirke Mechem’s Tartuffe, George in Floyd's Of Mice and Men, and Tony in The Most Happy Fella, among others. In addition, for the last ten seasons, Scott has appeared with Union Avenue Opera in Saint Louis in the roles of Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Hortensius in La Fille du Regiment, Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow, Le Dancaïro in Carmen, Marco in Gianni Schicchi, Benoit and Alcindoro in La Boheme, Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Pistola in Falstaff, the Mandarin in Turandot and the Jailor in Tosca to name a few.


Nathan Baglyos as the PreacherNATHAN BAGLYOS Preacher and Bar Scene Friend 2

Nathan Baglyos is a recent graduate of Northwestern University where he was a student of Sunny Joy Langton studying voice performance alongside German and musicology. In addition to his role as Frank in Center Stage Opera’s production of Die Fledermaus, Nathan has had minor roles in The Ghosts of Versailles, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fluddle. Mr. Baglyos is a frequent recitalist; performances include Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin in Vienna and Chicago, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte, and Andrew Jamieson’s The Missing Piece, which he premiered.

Nathan was the Guest Director of Opera for the recent scenes program at California State University Bakersfield, where he also has a small studio of private voice students. In addition to performance interests, Mr. Baglyos is the composer of several choral pieces, a Requiem, and The Lightspeed Dutchman—A Rock Opera.

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Carl DarchukCARL DARCHUK Bar Scene Soloist

Carl Darchuk spent the first half of his acting career on the boards, playing leads in Carousel, The Fantasticks, Endgame, and parts like King Carl Darchuck as Bar Scene SoloistHenry in A Man for all Seasons. After moving to Los Angeles, he had roles in Gilmore Girls, Buffy (a minor part which ended up on the cutting room floor), and numerous detectives and low-lifes in Indie films. He played director Gus Van Sant in a cool short called Ben and Matt spoofing Damon and Affleck.  

In addition, he was featured in one of the sketches on The Tonight Show. He played a Russian in Galatea, a university professor in Beyond Honor, and a mad film director in Near Death. This past year not only did he play the lead in the feature film Tringled, but he ventured into opera, playing a drunk in Marie’s Orchard. He is a soloist for First Lutheran Church in Van Nuys and LIFEhouse in Northridge.



Jacqueline Crist-FranzenJACQUELINE CRIST-FRANZEN Wedding Scene Soloist

Jacqueline Crist-Franzen as Wedding Scene SoloistJacqueline Crist-Franzen has performed lead and supporting/chorus roles in operas such as Turandot,The Magic Flute, The Duchess of Gerolstein, Bluebeard, Regina and The Marriage of Figaro for Opera Pacific, Long Beach Opera, Riverside Opera and Center Stage Opera. Her career thus far spans more than ninety operatic productions and concerts, sixty-three of them fully-staged productions with Opera Pacific.

Ms. Crist-Franzen has studied with Arpine Pehlivanian, Marion Cooper and Vivianne Thomas and has coached with James Low, Hans Lampl and Henry Holt. After graduating with honors from California State University Dominguez Hills with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance, she continued her education by participating in workshops at Long Beach Opera and California State University Long Beach. She later attended the Aspen Music Festival, the Elizabeth Marion Vocal Institute in Santa Barbara and the Mozart OPera Studies Institute in San Francisco. Ms. Crist-Franzen has enhanced her vocal performance by studying acting for three years and has performed lead roles in productions of Crimes of the Heart, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Tartuffe.



Violin Soloist Steven HuberSTEVEN HUBER Violin Soloist

Steven Huber is a Juilliard graduate and former violin student of Dorothy DeLay and Sally Thomas. He has enjoyed a successful career as a symphony violinist in such orchestras as the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in Texas, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de São Paulo (OSESP) in Brazil, and, as concertmaster, the Orquestra Filarmonica de Lima in Peru. After writing his first orchestra piece Genesis Overture at age 17 which was performed by the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, he received the Boosey and Hawkes Young Composer Award honoring Aaron Copland by the ASCAP Foundation. His compositions have been performed by the Key West and Fort Worth Symphonies.

Steven has performed and recorded as an improvising violinist and keyboardist in such styles as Afro-Peruvian, salsa, rock, blues, new age, jazz and bluegrass with artists such as Keith Emerson, Susana Baca, Spyro Gyra, Jerry Brown, Munyungo Jackson, Marcus Belgrade, Haakon Graf, New York Voices, Absolute Ensemble, John Nitzinger, Hijos del Sol, Julio Andrade, Frágil, Nito Mestre of Sui Generis, Gian Marco, Santino, Elvis Schoenberg’s Orchestre Surreal, Tina Guo, and Randy Jackson of Zebra. He is a member of the acclaimed pirate rock group “The Pirates Charles.” Steven wrote the music and lyrics for Pot! The Musical, which was performed in several venues in Los Angeles. He also recently wrote his first film score for the short film Shorty & Morty. Recent projects include arranging music for Indian pop star Salim Merchant as well as the Air Force Strings.


KIRK GARNER Bar Scene Friend 1

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David Brinck, Chorusmaster

Rebecca Ahia, Nathan Baglyos, Mara Bloomfield

Center Stage Opera Chorus in "Marie's Orchard" premiere

Alexandra Borboa, David Brinck, Jacqueline Crist-Franzen

Center Stage Opera ChorusCarl Darchuk

Kirk Garner

Jessica Grams

Shannon GrayMembers of the Center Stage Opera Chorus

E. Scott Levin

Jessica Mamey

Rodney McCormick

Linda Smith

Kelsey Springsted





Annaliisa, Annamaria, Arieanna, and Jacklyn LepistoSUPERNUMERARIES

Annaliisa Lepisto

Annamaria Lepisto

Arieanna Lepisto

Jacklyn Lepisto

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Tawnee Lillo, Orchestra Manager

Members of the Center Stage Opera Orchestra

(Partial Listing)

Nick Alvarez, April Cap, Nick Daley

Joshua Davis, Mike Deautch, Shelby Fannan,

A.J. Fanning, Bryan Gonzales, Hiro Goto

Rhea Hosanny, Steven Huber, Erick Jovel

Andrew Leanord, Shigeru Logan, Frank Marino,

Marlyse Martinez, Alicia Mastromonaco,

Lisa McCormick, Lance Merrill, Myka Miller,

Amy Tatum, Pauline Yi

String players from the Center Stage Opera OrchestraCenter Stage Opera Orchestra in performance

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