Benjamin Spierman, Stage Director
Before beginning work as a freelance director, Spierman worked for the Bronx Council on the Arts as their Grants Coordinator and as the Founding Director of their Business Center for the Arts. He subsequently began working across the country as a Stage Manager and Assistant Director. In those capacities, he worked for Central City Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Light Opera Oklahoma, Mississippi Opera, Mobile Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Palm Beach Opera, Rogue Valley Opera, and Virginia Opera. Most notably, he was the Assistant on the Saint Louis’s Lewis and Clark Bicentennial premiere production of Dream of the Pacific, and on Central City’s American première production of Britten’s Gloriana.
Spierman currently serves as General Director at Bronx Opera, where he has directed numerous productions, included among which are critically-acclaimed New York première productions of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals, Vaughan Williams’ The Poisoned Kiss, the Weber/Mahler posthumous collaboration Die drei Pintos, Marc Blitzstein’s American Verismo opera Regina, and Puccini’s Il tabarro in a joint production with North Shore Music Festival, where he also serves as Resident Stage Director and has led productions of The Elixir of Love, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, Pagliacci, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and a double-bill of Il tabarro and Gianni Schicchi. Also a frequent guest director at companies throughout the United States, Spierman’s recent engagements include Madama Butterfly and The Merry Widow at Indianapolis Opera; Turandot and Don Giovanni at Dayton Opera; Tosca and The Pirates of Penzance at Imperial Symphony Orchestra; Norma and Roméo et Juliette for St. Petersburg Opera; Die Zauberflöte for Opera Idaho; Carmen at Northern Lights Music Festival; Les contes d’Hoffmann and Die Fledermaus at Opera in the Heights; Hansel and Gretel and Gianni Schicchi / Buoso’s Ghost at Amarillo Opera; and La bohème with Syracuse Opera. Other work in and around New York City includes Verdi’s Falstaff and Massenet’s Cendrillonfor Rutgers University (both winners of National Opera Association prizes); Amahl and the Night Visitors for Opera Company of the Highlands; and a blackbox production of Ariadne auf Naxos for the NYC’s dell’Arte Opera Ensemble (winner of the American Prize for Opera). Upcoming, he will
A sought-after dramatic coach, Spierman has worked with singers at the Westchester Summer Vocal Institute, the Buck Hill-Skytop Music Festival, and the Opera Breve Vocal Intensive, in addition to coaching privately. Also an adept singer and actor, his recent stage appearances include King Hildebrand in Gilbert & Sullivan’s romping comedy Princess Ida at Utopia Opera, Reverend Hale in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with the City Island Theater Group, and Frosch in his own production of Die Fledermaus at Opera Idaho. Mr. Spierman is a native of New York City and resides in The Bronx with his wife and frequent artistic collaborator, soprano Hannah Spierman.
Sean Kroll, Bass-baritone
Hailed as “…a showstopper” (Saint Petersburg Times), bass-baritone Seán Kroll’s 2017 highlights include Marcello in La Bohème with Capitol Opera Laguna and a premier with Prelude Opera in a Mozart pastiche entitled, The Three Little Pigs. 2015- 2016 highlights include the King in Opera Fayetteville’s The Little Prince, Figaro with Dell’Arte Opera. Previous engagements include his return tour to the People’s Republic of China as soloist with the South Shore Orchestra, the roles of Achilla in Handel’s Cesare in Egitto, Ariodate in Handel’s Serse, King Rene in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Le Bailli in Massenet’s Werther. and his New York debut shows off-Broadway starring in Roboff & Newman’s Carmen’s Place: A Fantasy at the Castillo Theater on 42nd Street.
Kroll has sung across the United States, in Europe and Asia. Highlights include: the title role of Don Giovanni, Escamillo and Zuniga (Carmen), Colline and Marcello (La Bohème), Papageno (Magic Flute), Don Alfonso (Cosi fan Tutte), Dulcamara (L’Elisir d’Amore), Ewald (Lehár’s Springtime), Melchior (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Sam (Trouble in Tahiti) and in the realm of music theater, Cinderella’s Prince, the Mysterious Man, the Narrator and the Wolf (Sondheim’s Into the Woods).
Concert credits include opening the Galena Summer Music Festival and a gala for the Jeffrey Arnold Foundation, the Second Saturday Recital Series at the treasured landmark Quigley Chapel in Chicago with opera arias by Handel and Mozart, Schubert and Strauss lieder, Fauré chanson and classic Broadway hits; as soloist for Chicago Opera Theater (Poulenc’s Le Bestiaire), Music by the Lake Singers (Bach’s Magnificat), Opera Santa Barbara, Music Institute of Chicago (Mozart’s Requiem), Sonic Inertia (Berkhout’s Uphill).
An alumnus of the Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Santa Barbara and Saint Petersburg Opera artist development programs, Kroll graduated with a degree in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and trained at the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy and continues studies with Bill Schuman in New York City.
Brittany Fowler, Mezzo-soprano
Noted for her lyrical pathos as well as her comedic flair, mezzo-soprano Brittany Fowler has been praised by the New York Times for her “dynamically fluid characterization”. Recent engagements include Larina (Eugene Onegin) with Utopia Opera and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the Elysium String Ensemble in Pennsylvania. A champion of early baroque vocal works, in 2015 she was a Young Artist with the Boston Early Music Festival, covering the role of Melanto in their new production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and singing in the 1988 concert revival, Three, Four, and Twenty Lutes. Her baroque operatic roles include Ottavia (L’incoronazione di Poppea), La Calisto (La Calisto), Second Witch
(Dido and Aeneas), and La Musica (L’Orfeo). She has sung frequently with the New York Continuo Collective since 2011, performing works by Strozzi, Saracini, Caccini, du Bailly, and Cavalli in concert. Additionally, Brittany has collaborated in several contemporary and modern productions, most notably originating the role of Soon-Yi in Morningside Opera’s critically-acclaimed production of ¡Figaro! (90210). With the Brooklyn Philharmonic she sang Slobodke in Misha Dutka’s Liebovar and appeared with Opera North in New Hampshire as Meg (Mark Adamo’s Little Women) and the
Woodpecker (Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen). She recently recorded Peter Andreacchi’s Words Come Too Late, a new piece for bass flute and mezzo-soprano.
Brittany received her BA in Music and Italian Studies from Wesleyan University; her training includes two seasons as a Young Artist with Opera North as well as studies at the University of Bologna in Italy. She is a student of Mark Oswald.
Joshua Simka, Tenor
Joshua Simka, of Pompano Beach, Fla., has sung excerpts from the roles of Tamino, Tonio, Nemorino, and Lurcanio. At Opera America, he sang the role of Rudi in a presentation of scenes from a new opera called Steal a Pencil for Me by Gerald Cohen. Simka has also sung in opera choruses and given shared and solo recitals. He sings with choirs and as a soloist at churches throughout New York City. Also a writer, Simka is the assistant editor at The Juilliard Journal and has written a number of articles on opera and song. He has also contributed to the industry
publication Musical America. Simka studied voice with Edith Wiens and Marlena Malas while completing his undergraduate degree at Juilliard and his teachers also include Ruth Golden and Greogry Lamar. He has studied orchestral conducting with Mark Shapiro.
Jonathan Morales, Baritone
Baritone, Jonathan Morales, has been highly praised with his work on the operatic stage, slowly establishing himself as a brilliant stage artist and intensely emotional singer, with a warm versatile voice that has turned the eyes of several critics and reviewers. He was most recently seen as Atzuko in the highly acclaimed Figaro! 90210 at the Duke Theater on 42nd St. Being regarded by WQXR (New York’s Classical Radio Station) as “…destined for larger stages…” In his performance of La Rondine, Jonathan was heralded as “…a scene-stealer as poet Prunier. Though he
had ease in the tenor’s upper register—particularly in the famous aria Chi bel Sogno di Doretta—there were the darker shades that hinted at his past tangos with roles like Papageno and Werther’s Albert. His resonant, assured tone balanced both the braggadocio inherent to the character with an underlying, poetic sweetness that went down like a strong glass of port. Prunier’s two arias coincide almost back-
to-back in the first act of Puccini’s ode to Viennese operetta and Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, stretching the tenor’s top range but also making ample use of the lower register. It’s no mean feat for any singer, but Morales rose to the challenge…Morales elicited a large amount of laughs and applause for his witty
and urbane take on Prunier.” Other publications such as Colorado Daily Camera painted Jonathan in the world premiere of Opera Colorado La Curandera as ““…Most impressive of the group…and…a baritone and gifted actor whose future in opera would seem secure." As he continues pursuing his career in New York, he looks forward to future engagements including the Annual Showcase Gala with Chelsea Opera, the Sailor in Dido and Aeneas with Morningside Opera, and his full length operatic directorial debut with Kurt Weill Seven Deadly Sins with Mannes College. He continues to look forward to entering his 3rd year of cantoring duties at Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, located in the heart of New York
City Lincoln Center, Jonathan has performed over 40 roles from operas including Carmen, Falstaff, La Rondine,
The Merry Widow, Die Zauberflote, Werther, Gianni Schicchi, Hansel and Gretel, The Pirates of Penzance, The Tender Land, The Face on the Barroom Floor, Le Comte Ory, The Consul, La Boheme, Iolanthe, The Elixir of Love, The Impressario, Gallentry, Lucia di Lammermoor, Le Nozze di Figaro, and La Traviata. He has performed with various companies and organizations such as The Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Martina Arroyo Prelude to Performance, Morningside Opera, Chelsea Opera, The Living Opera, Colorado Light Opera, Mannes College, Florida State University, Rice University, and Granbury own The Granbury Opera House. Jonathan awards include being a winner in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Winner in the National Association of Teaching Singing Competition (Texas/Oklahoma), Best
Performance in a Male Lead with Opera in the Ozarks, and winner in the Houston Area NATS Vocal Competition. In December 2013, Jonathan was a featured soloist on CBS’s A New York Christmas to Remember, hosted by Regis Philbin, featuring the National Children’s Chorus and puppets created by famed puppeteer, Jim Henson. Jonathan was most recently seen singing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in celebration of Pope Francis’s visit to New York. Jonathan has Professional Studies Certificate at The Mannes College of Music. He also received his Master of Music from Florida State University, and Bachelor of Music from Rice University in Houston, TX.