In 1869, Pyotr Tchaikovsky composed an opera called Undina, about a community that disrespects the sea and experiences catastrophic flooding. Tchaikovsky was highly self-critical, and he destroyed the finished opera. When he died in 1893, all that survived of the opera were some sketches and some fragments in the form of orchestral parts used for a concert of excerpts. Tchaikovsky recycled some of the music intended for Undina into some of his most famous works, including Swan Lake.
Queen City Opera Artistic Director Dr. Isaac M. Selya has spent the last three years reconstructing the opera using other works by Tchaikovsky to devise a world premiere pastiche completion, producing an 85-minute opera focusing on ocean conservancy and sustainable energy production.
New Libretto by Rebecca Whitehurst, edited by Simon Barrad
Dramaturgy by Rebecca Whitehurst and Rebecca Herman
Stage Direction by Rebecca Herman
Set design and construction by Kenneth Shaw and Bob Doak.
With full orchestral accompaniment, conducted by Isaac Selya
Tickets at https://undina.brownpapertickets.com/
Saturday, October 7, and Sunday, October 8, 2023, each at 4.00 pm
Finneytown Performing Arts Center, 8916 Fontainebleau Terrace, Cincinnati, OH 45231
Presented in collaboration with Green Umbrella and the Cincinnati Nature Conservancy.
Soprano Erin Keesy is currently based in Cincinnati, OH. She received her Masters degree and Artist Diploma in Opera from the College-Conservatory or Music in Cincinnati. She has made solo appearances with the Cincinnati POPS orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, Butler Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Queen City Opera and Cincinnati Opera. She made her international solo debut last year in Seoul, South Korea singing the soprano solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Seoul Oratorio Festival. Some of her recent role and concert work includes Marzelline (Fidelio) with Queen City Opera, Soprano soloist (MAMMOTH-Abrams) with The Louisville Orchestra, Sheila (The Righteous-Spears) and Soprano 2 (The Knock-Vrebalov) with Cincinnati Opera.
Raised in Rochester, NY, Tess is a singing actress, stage director, and choreographer, with over 22 years of formal training. Tess incorporates elements of dance and body awareness into her work. She just completed her role debuts of the title role in Handel’s Agrippina and of Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmélites. This Spring, Tess choreographed a musical review for Oldenburg Academy and sang the role of Ruth in Opera Fusion: New Works Workshop with Santa Fe Opera in Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith’s The Righteous. This summer, she returned to the Cincinnati Opera Chorus and stage directed the Bach Coffee Cantata for Queen City Opera. She looks forward to associate directing Chicago Summer Opera’s production of Handel’s Rinaldo and her role debut of Third Lady with Luke Housner Summer Opera this Summer. This Fall, Tess will sing the title role in CCM’s production of the Rape of Lucretia.
Some other recent credits include Core Chorister for Cincinnati Opera, Dorothée in Chevalier de Saint-George’s L’Amant Anonyme and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro. She also debuted the role of Turnspit in LAH-SOW’s production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, the title role in Bizet’s operas Carmen and Djamileh at CCM’s Opera Bootcamp, and Suzy in CCM’s production of La Rondine. Some of Tess’s other roles include Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Musetta in La Bohème.
Tenor M. Andrew Jones captivates global audiences with his resounding voice and captivating performances. Demonstrating the epitome of modern operatic excellence, his artistry leaves an indelible impression, earning critical acclaim and fervent praise.
After a temporary hiatus due to the pandemic, Jones made a triumphant return to the stage, showcasing unwavering commitment and artistry. Notably, his portrayal of Lenski in a concert with Queen City Opera, mesmerized audiences with his “firm, heroic” sound full of depth and emotion.
Renowned for his remarkable interpretations, Jones has left an indelible mark on the operatic landscape. Acclaim followed his portrayals of Max in Der Freischütz and Mime in Siegfried at Valhalla Productions in San Francisco, solidifying his reputation as a versatile and technically adept artist. Notable performances include Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Queen City Opera, as well as roles such as the 1st Armored Man/Second Priest in Die Zauberflöte with Dayton Opera, The Messenger in Aida, and the Innkeeper in Der Rosenkavalier with Cincinnati Opera.
Jones has embraced diverse musical experiences, including portraying Benny “Kid” Paret/Benny Jr. in Champion and the vibrant character of Sellem in The Rake’s Progress, collaborating with the esteemed Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. His talents have been recognized by Cedar Rapids Opera Company, where he portrayed Spoletta in Tosca, and CCM Summer Opera, where he powerfully embodied the complex and troubled Don José in Carmen.
Jones holds a Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music, studying under the renowned Kenneth Shaw and a Bachelor of Arts in Music under the esteemed Ed Andereck at Luther College.
Struj: Mike Young
Mike Young, baritone, is an Ohio native based in Cincinnati. Mike performs a wide variety of repertoire, from Bach to Wagner, on the operatic and concert stages. Recent operatic performances include Alberich in Wagner’s Siegfried, Marcello in Puccini’s La Boheme, Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, George Milton in Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, Enrico in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and the titular roles in Verdi’s Macbeth and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Concert performances include the title role of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Baritone Soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Israel in Egypt, and Bach’s B Minor Mass, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, St. Matthew Passion, and St. John Passion. In addition to his solo work, Mike is a member of The Bach Ensemble at St. Thomas, Collegium Cincinnati, and Coro Volante. Mike also serves on the voice faculties of both Northern Kentucky University and Thomas More University.
Rebecca Herman, Artistic Producer of Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) in Austin, TX & opera stage director is a storyteller who thrives on surprising, exciting, & moving audiences large & small. She is the Associate Director for Tomer Zvulun’s production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, recently seen at Calgary Opera and Utah Opera. In the 23-24 season, she is excited to be joining Colorado Opera as assistant director for Don Giovani, Opera Omaha as assistant director for La Traviata, and returning to Austin Opera to direct Carmen.
Notable LOLA productions include: La Femme Bohème (La Bohème cast with all treble voices); La Clemenza di Tito: a Retelling (told through the eyes of Berenice of Cilicia, Tito’s lover through added monologues spoken between musical numbers instead of the traditional recit); We Might Be Struck By Lightning (a devised work using classical Art song to tell two interwoven stories performed by 2 singers and 4 dancers); and Lardo Weeping (a chamber opera featuring Dinah LeFarge “a rather large, sexual, woman of independent means,” who invites the audience into her living room for an evening of stories, musings, ranting, and ultimately physical transformation).
Rebecca loves to collaborate with living composers and librettists. In the last several years, she has been able to facilitate the development of 4 new works: Lardo Weeping (Stopschinski, Galloway); Good Country (Allegretti, Raker); Undine Speaks (Allegretti, Herman) and Un Cuento des Luces y Sombras (Cordero, Barboza). She finds working with living composer/librettist teams exhilarating, challenging, and rewarding.
Rebecca Whitehurst is a writer and interdisciplinary artist. She works with dance, theatre, and opera companies throughout the U.S. Rebecca also teaches as Professor of Practice at Northern Arizona University, where she teaches acting and playwriting. Rebecca is honored to work with Isaac Selya and Queen City Opera! Rebecca began writing at an early age, winning the Texas Young Playwright’s Award for Paperdoll Army. She has studied under Natalie Goldberg, Abe Koogler, Winter Miller, and Abe Louise Young. One of her favorite projects was writing for Rebecca Herman’s groundbreaking production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, produced by LOLA (Local Opera Local Artists). Rebecca has a BA in philosophy from Stanford and an MFA in acting from IATT at Moscow Art Theatre/American Repertory Theater at Harvard.
Lizzy DuQuette (she/they is a multimedia artist living in Price Hill. She has worked on numerous past productions QCO production, including Mozart’s Abduction, Wagner’s Siegfried Act II and III, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and Weber’s Der Freischütz (The Magic Bullets). She created illustrated projections for QCO’s Israel in Egypt at the Mayerson JCC. Lizzy makes puppets with Theodora Skipitares, MoonBull Studio, and Queen City Opera, and has performed at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and with Bread + Puppet. Lizzy is co-founder of Show of Hands Puppet Festival happening in October 2023.
Lighting Design: Lawrence Csernik
Lawrence Csernik is lighting designer for theatre, dance, and opera. Originally from Louisville, KY, Lawrence is a Cincinnati based lighting designer who finds his passion in collaborating with the many artists the local region has to offer and beyond.
Some of his recent most noteworthy credits include The Full Monty, Willy Wonka, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Joseph…Dreamcoat, George Remus (The Carnegie in Covington); |S|P|A|C|E|, I, Modern Mix, Rojo/Nightcap, Pulp and Variations in a Brainstorm (Mutual Dance Co). Past work also includes acting as the Contemporary Dance Theatre of Cincinnati’s Technical Director for their annual Area Choreographer Festival (16’-21), a multi-decade transition ending with the company’s merger into Mutual Dance Co. in 2021.
Locally he also occasionally designs for many high schools and colleges including Thomas More (Almost Maine, Macbeth, Frankenstein, Godspell, Little Women, The Crucible, Urinetown) and his alma mater, Northern Kentucky University ‘15 (Mud Nostalgia, Angels In America: Part 1, and several past dance concerts (DANCE ‘14/5/8/9/21).
Lawrence first joined QCO’s creative team in 2017 for Don Giovanni and has since also designed for La Cenerentola, Iolanta, Der Freischtz, and Fidelio.
Outside of his freelance career, he also works as a Production Specialist for Vincent Lighting Systems, a company that specializes in entertainment lighting and rigging.