The Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff is an arrangement by John Davies. A fun-filled, short family-friendly opera, it uses famous opera tunes by Mozart, Rossini and Donizzeti.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff was produced by Prelude Opera in 2019 and was made possible in part with funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC. 

UMEZ enhances the economic vitality of all communities in Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance. LMCC empowers artists by providing them with networks, resources, and support, to create vibrant, sustainable communities in Manhattan and beyond.

Photos and Videos by Cursive Films | Artwork by Laura Winslow

Christine Pulliam Melamed – Music Director

BSpierman Headshot Large

Benjamin Spierman – Stage Director

Benjamin Spierman is glad to return to Prelude Opera for a third time. His direction of Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera San José was hailed by Opera Today as “riveting stuff, faultless in its dramatic structure.” Ben is General Director at Bronx Opera, where he directed NYC premières of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals, Vaughan Williams’ The Poisoned Kiss, Rossini’s L’equivoco strtavagante, and the Weber/Mahler Die drei Pintos, in addition to leading the company’s community teaching programs. Other work in and around New York City has included Verdi’s Falstaff, Massenet’s Cendrillon, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury (all for Rutgers University, the first two winning National Opera Association prizes), and a Blackbox production of Ariadne auf Naxos for New York City’s dell’Arte Opera Ensemble (winner of the American Prize for Opera), and Sondheim’s Passion for Utopia Opera. Regionally, he led acclaimed productions of The Merry Widow (Indianapolis Opera), Don Giovanni (Dayton Opera), and La bohème (Syracuse Opera). Pre-pandemic, he directed and appeared in a “Trumpdated” Mikado (Oswego Opera), and directed Der Freischütz (Bronx Opera) and Le nozze di Figaro (Rutgers). During the pandemic he directed Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Opera in Williamsburg, VA) and Mozart’s The Impresario for Bronx Opera; upcoming, he’ll direct The Bartered Bride with Bronx Opera, H.M.S. Pinafore with Oswego Opera, and the world premiere of Andrew Ager’s Angel with New Opera Lyra in Ottawa.  He is a graduate of Lehman College, and is a native and resident of The Bronx, where he lives with his wife, soprano Hannah Spierman.

Sara Henry – Mezzo-soprano

Hailed by the Jerusalem Post as “A Magnificent Dramatic Voice” versatile mezzo-soprano Sara Henry has sung leading and supporting roles in over 40 operas, and has been seen in concert throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Ms Henry began her formal vocal studies at La Scuola di Musico di Sesto in Florence, Italy, and later went on to graduate from Sarah Lawrence College, where she made her debut as the alto soloist in Bach’s Weinachts Oratorio,with the Sarah Lawrence College Orchestra, under the baton of Grammy winning composer, George Tsontakis. Highlights of her career have included the roles of Semiramide (Semiramide), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Orfeo (Orfeo ed Euridice) Diana (La Calisto), Adalgisa (Norma), and Giovanna Seymour (Anna Bolena), as well as a host of Handelian heroes, including the title roles in Xerxes, Ariodante, and Giulio Cesare. She is also the mom of a soon-to-be four year old.

Brian Alvarado – Baritone

Singing with ‘a liquid baritone of great charm,’ a ‘highly attractive legato,’ and ‘precise patter elocution’ (Parterre Box), Brian J. Alvarado is a performer of known, unknown, and new vocal repertoire. Recent favorite traditional roles include Leporello in Don Giovanni with hometown companies Bronx Opera and Lighthouse Opera, both The Magic Flute’s Papageno with Opera Theatre of Montclair and the Speaker with Barn Opera, Schaunard in La bohéme with Amore Opera, Regina Opera, and Opera New York, Dandini in La Cenerentola with Opera Theatre of Montclair and Bay View Music Festival, Sciarrone in Tosca with Long Island Lyric Opera, and Amore Opera, and the title roles in both The Sorcerer with Utopia Opera, and in Sweeney Todd with City Island Theatre. In concert, he has sung bass solos in Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s BWV 147, Keiser’s Markuspassion, Haydn’s Missa Sancti Nicolai, Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore, Schubert’s Mass in G, and Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass. He has additionally premiered new roles with Thompson Street Opera Company, Nahant Music Festival, Susquehanna New Music Ensemble, New Camerata Opera, OperaRox Productions, and Trilogy Opera Company at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, among others. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University.

Elizabeth Westerman Yoder – Soprano

Hailed as a “soaring, vibrant sound,” soprano Elizabeth Westerman Yoder is recognized as a versatile singing actress with thrilling high notes and a strong commitment to character.  She is very happy to be singing in her neighborhood with Prelude Opera.

With regard to new music, Dr. Yoder enjoys collaborations with current composers.  She has workshopped the operas of Veronica Krausas’ (The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth, Lady Macbeth) and Joe Illick (Bliss, Edda St. Juste).  Elizabeth has worked with composer/conductors Tania Leon and Polina Nazaykinskaya on original works.  Additionally, composers Joe Illick and Kyle T. Jones and poet Yvonne Strumecki have written original works for Dr. Yoder’s voice.

Recently, Elizabeth has enjoyed a return to more oratorio performances, singing as the soprano soloist in the Saint-Säens Christmas Oratorio, the Rutter Requiem, the Brahm’s Requiem, Peter’s Psalm of Joy, Charpentier’s Te Deum, Handel’s Messiah and many other sacred works.  In the operatic realm, Elizabeth has sung mainstage roles with Performance Santa Fe (Pamina), covered roles with Fort Worth Opera (Zerbinetta, Ariadne and Marie, Daughter of the Regiment) and Opera New Jersey (the Foreign Woman, the Consul).  At ONJ, she performed scenes as Lucia and Sophie, and sang in concert and on recital.  As a Resident Artist with the Seagle Colony, she was seen as Tallulah in Pasatieri’s Hotel Casablanca.  Here in New York City she has performed as Juno and Spring in Purcell’s Fairy Queen with Dell’Arte Opera and with VHRP LIVE! in the company of Eileen.  Other performance credits include the roles of Cleopatra, Adele, Gretel, Mademoiselle Silberklang, Le Rossignol, Gianetta and Rapunzel.

Past successes have lead Elizabeth to other leading roles and young artist positions with Orlando Opera, Opera Fortunata, the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center, the Asolo Music Festival, and Seaside Music Theater.  Awards include the Osgood/Dell’Arte Audition Prize, Patrice Munsel Scholar, Brown-Dilworth Scholar, Asolo Scholar, and the Central Florida Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Award.  

Jay Lucas Chacon – Baritone

Jay Lucas Chacon is a NYC based opera singer originally from Phoenix AZ. Jay has worked as a teaching artist for the Bronx Opera, presenting classes and discussions of music as well as drama classes to a range of people from children and teenagers to special needs. Jay has also been a member of New Camerata Opera’s branch of childrens operas, Camerata Piccola, performing MacGregor in Peter Rabbit and the King in Rumpelstiltskin.

Jay recently made his international debut in Montréal CA as a guest artist with the Institut Canadien;Art Vocal singing Rodolfo in the Leoncavallo La bohème. Career highlights have included creating the role of Sandrino in Salieri’s forgotten opera La cifra with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, the Count in Capriccio with Apotheosis Opera, Inkeeper/Governor in Man of La Mancha with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and covering Schaunard in La bohème with Saint Petersburg Opera Company.

Other performances include the Soldier in a reading of Scott Wheelers opera The Sorrows of Frederick with Center for Contemporary Opera, Schaunard with Long Island Opera Company, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana with Brooklyn Philharmonia Chorus, George Page in Sir John in Love with Bronx Opera, and Figaro in the Paisiello Il Barbiere di Siviglia for his debut with dell’arte Opera Ensemble.

Later this fall, Jay will tap into his Hispanic roots joining New Camerata Opera for their production of the zarzuela El Barbero de Sevilla in the role of Benito. Jay will also workshop his one-man show I Am Figaro in a collaboration with The Curiosity Cabinet, written and directed by Bea Goodwin. Jay has spent 3 summers with the Austrian American Mozart Academy in Salzburg, Austria where he sang Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus. Jay also spent time in Austin TX performing with Cindy Sadlers program Spotlight on Opera where he sang the title role of Gianni Schicchi, Alfio in Cavalleria Rusticana, and Sam in Trouble in Tahiti.

Jay has studied with Dr. Glenn Bennett and Met tenor William Lewis and currently studies with Alexandra LoBianco.

April M. Bartlett – Set Designer

April is a visual artist specializing in storytelling. She is inspired by the limitless potential of an undefined space. April is a freelance designer; projects include theater and opera design, television art direction, merchandising and exhibit design. She is an Art Director for The Today Show and an adjunct professor at Pace University and NY Tisch. Selected NY credits: A Pound In Your Pocket (A Charles Strouse NY Premiere); Wrap Your Heart Around It (Best Production NYC Solo Festival); The Adventures of Boy and Girl (NYC Fringe); Sousepaw, Font of Knowledge (Shelby Company); Megs New Friend, The Most Damaging Wound (The Production Company).  Love to DM&MB. Proud member of USA829. BFA, Emerson College / MFA, Carnegie Mellon.

Holly Thomas – Stage Manager

Donetta Riley – Make-Up

Sara Henry – Costumes