Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale opera Iolanta premiered in 1892 as a double bill alongside his famous Nutcracker. Come hear the Ohio premiere of this amazing piece. It will be presented in collaboration with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (which will be providing a display table with information about services for people who are blind or visually impaired at the event). Sung in the original Russian, with projected English translations. With full orchestra, conducted by Isaac Selya.


Since 1911, CABVI provides counseling, rehabilitation, information and employment services to people of all ages in the Greater Cincinnati region. Through all of its programs and services, it strives to help those who are blind, visually or print impaired lead full and independent lives. CABVI provides services to approximately 5,000 people each year.

For more information about CABVI, please call (513) 221-8558 or visit our website at

Friday May 25th 2018 at 8.00 pm

Sunday May 27th 2018 at 8.00 pm

Iolanta: Raquel González

Hailed as a “true artist” (Opera News), Soprano Raquel González from Lawrence, Kansas recently completed three seasons as a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist at Washington National Opera, where she appeared as Cio Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Micaëla (Carmen), and Mimì (La bohème). During the 2016-17 season she also sang Tatyana in Syracuse Opera’s Eugene Onegin, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Lansing Symphony. In the 2017-18 season Ms. González makes her debut with Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Tatyana in a new production of Eugene Onegin, then performs with the National Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein’s Songfest. She sings Verdi’s Requiem with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra before appearing in Washington National Opera’s The Little Prince. She also returns to Syracuse Opera as Violetta (La traviata) Ms. González first sang at The Glimmerglass Festival as First Lady in The Magic Flute, and then returned as a guest artist in 2016 as a Mimì which was acclaimed as “remarkable.” She made her role debut as Desdemona (Otello) with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2015.

Marta: Melissa Bonetti

Mezzo-Soprano, Melisa Bonetti, has been hailed by Opera Today as “a warm, supple mezzo that struck all the right impressions” and as “commanding a wonderful presence in the lower middle voice but also easily soaring heavenward with a well-schooled top.” Ms. Bonetti’s 2018 season kicks off with her Richmond Symphony debut, which will include selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. She will then continue her Virginia Opera residency, covering the role of Hermia in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and singing Alisa in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. She is thrilled to return to Cincinnati, after singing Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Queen City Opera last season. Melisa will be featured in a recital with Music for all Seasons in Cincinnati. Her 2017 engagements included Tyler (Three Way) at Nashville Opera & American Opera Projects, Mozart’s Requiem with the Dayton Philharmonic, Mercedes (Carmen) at Nashville Opera and then Opera Columbus, the Witch (Hansel und Gretel) at Union Avenue Opera, Dalila cover (Samson et Dalila) with Virginia Opera, Carmen cover for Nashville Opera, and Wowkle (Fanciulla del West) at Virginia Opera.

Brigitta: Shareese Arnold

Shareese Arnold is an Alabama native. No stranger to the stage, Ms. Arnold has been privileged to sing some exciting and beautiful works, including the title roles of Suor Angelica and Madama Butterfly, as well as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Her Donna Anna was reviewed as “precise and lovely, even ethereal” by the Herald Times. Her appearances as Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier), Agathe (Der Freischütz), Bess (Porgy and Bess) and The Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas) with Converse Opera Theatre drew unprecedented audiences. Ms. Arnold is also an avid performer of sacred works and song. She was a featured soloist in Brahm’s Ein Deutches Requiem, and Britten’s World of the Spirit at Indiana University. During her tenure at Converse College she was fortunate to be the soprano soloist for their performance of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. Last spring, Shareese premiered an arrangement of Strauss’s Vier Letzte Lieder for piano and string quartet by pianist and composer John Greer. Future concert repertoire will include The Poet’s Echo by Britten, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, Sieben Frühe Lieder by Berg and the songs of Brahms and Rachmaninov. Arnold is also the recent recipient of the Ursula Springer Endowment Award from the Wagner Society of New York.

Laura: Lauren McAllister

Lauren McAllister is a lyric mezzo-soprano based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her upcoming appearances include the alto soloist with Collegium Cincinnati in Vivaldi’s Gloria, traveling with Conspirare for their tour of Considering Matthew Shepard, and performing with Cincinnati Soundbox as an artist-in-residence, where she will premiere works by both San Francisco and Cincinnati-based composers. This past year, Lauren appeared as Lazuli (l’Étoile, Sin City Opera), Melanto (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Opera Louisiane), and as the mezzo soloist for the Duruflé Requiem with the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble. She also returned to the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble as the alto soloist in the Bach Ascension Oratorio, and she sang as the alto soloist for Handel’s Messiah with both Collegium Cincinnati and the Mennonite Choral Society of Berne, IN. Lauren covered the roles of Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) and The Maid (The Witches of Venice) at Opera Saratoga and performed the title role of La Perichole with Sin City Opera. In December of 2015, Lauren took first place in the Nebraska District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Bertrand: Junbo Zhou

Junbo Zhou, baritone, from Jinan China, has recently performed with Opera San Jose, Sarasota Opera, Nickel City Opera, CCM Philharmonia, and Lebanon Symphony Orchestra. His roles include John Brooke in Little Women, Schlémil in Les contes d’Hoffman, Badger in Cunning Little Vixen, and Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He was also featured as soloist in several concert and oratorio performances including Joan of Arc at the Stake, Ein Deutsches Requiem, Fauré’s Requiem, and Yellow River Cantata. Mr. Zhou’s award and grant include grants from the Atlanta Opera Guild, 3rd prize at the China National Opera Competition hosted by the China Conservatory of Music, an encouragement award at the China National Italian Art Song Competition hosted by the Central Conservatory of Music, and 1st place at the Georgia NATS competition. Mr. Zhou was a young artist at Sherrill Milnes’ Studio, VOICExperience Orlando Disney, Harrower Summer Program and an apprentice artist at Sarasota Opera. Mr. Zhou received a Master degree in Voice from University of Cincinnati College –Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2016.

Almeric: Travis Pearce

Tenor Travis Pearce is a recent graduate of Miami University where he attained his Masters Degree. Whist there, he was seen in Così fan tutte as Ferrando, Street Scene as Sam Kaplan & Lippo Fiorentino, and Martian Chronicles as Mr. EEE. Travis is a former recipient of the Harold Heiberg Leidersanger Prize from the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

King René: Stefan Egerstrom

Bass Stefan Egerstrom makes his QCO debut as King René in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Stefan received his Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance from Lawrence University, and his Master’s degree in Voice from The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. A resident of Minneapolis, Stefan has performed with The Minnesota Opera in the world premieres of Puts’ Silent Night and Moravec’s The Shining. While at CCM, Stefan was seen as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Siroco in L’étoile, Carlino in Don Pasquale, and Bass Soloist in Bach’s Johannes-Passion. As part of the Opera Fusion: New Works intiative between Cincinnati Opera and CCM, Stefan performed in workshops of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star and Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers. He has also been a Young Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, covering the roles of Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin and Il commendatore in Don Giovanni. Other operatic roles include Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Dottore Grenvil in La traviata, and Kecal in The Bartered Bride.

Ibn-Hakia: Adam Cioffari            

Bass-baritone Adam Cioffari sang the role of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte in a return to the Teatro Municipal de Santiago as well as the role of Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Columbus, Colline in La bohème with Knoxville Opera, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Austin Opera, and Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos at The Glimmerglass Festival. Recent debuts include the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Theatre Capitole de Toulouse. Future engagements include return appearances with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the Akron Symphony. He recently joined the Staatstheater Stuttgart for a number of roles. He also joined Komische Oper Berlin as a member of its studio from 2010-2012. A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, he created the role of Stanley in the world premiere of Previn’s Brief Encounter, a recording of which has been released on the Deutsche Grammophon label. Other performances with the company include Elviro in Xerxes, both Angelotti and the Jailer in Tosca, and Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Robert: Simon Barrad

The versatility of “gorgeous voiced” baritone, Simon Barrad, has been heard across the United States and Europe in opera, Lieder, and oratorio. His favorite repertoire include Dandini (La Cenerentola), Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Owen Wingrave, Kaiser Overall (Der Kaiser von Atlantis), Carmina Burana, and Sibelius’ Kullervo Symphony. His recent engagements include the Tanglewood Music Center, Cincinnati Opera, the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Bach Festival.   
As a Fulbright scholar in Helsinki and in subsequent concert tours, Simon has received wide acclaim for his side-by-side interpretations of Finnish and American music, headlining venues including the Berlin Philharmonie, Helsinki’s Musiikkitalo, and Finland’s National Opera House. Recently, his gift for creative recital programming led to a residency as Songfest’s very first Recital Fellow. In the realm of new music, he has consistently championed new works, giving first performances of works by John Harbison, David Lang, and many others, as well as performing at the John Duffy Institute for New Opera under the direction of Libby Larsen. Simon is looking forward to a seven-week summer residency at the Marlboro Chamber Music Festival starting this June.

Vaudemont: M. Andrew Jones

Tenor M. Andrew Jones return to Queen City Opera after his breathtaking performances in Siegfried as Mime, a role that he reprised at Valhalla Productions in San Francisco. His other performances include Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, both with Queen City Opera, 1st Armored Man/Second Priest in Die Zauberflöte with Dayton Opera, The Messenger in Aida as well as the Innkeeper in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with Cincinnati Opera, Benny “Kid” Paret/Benny Jr. from Champion, Sellem from The Rake’s Progress with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Spoletta in Tosca with Cedar Rapids Opera company, and Don José in Carmen at CCM Summer Opera.
Mr. Jones has a Master’s of Music in Vocal performance from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, where he performed the roles of Lennie in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men and Bardolfo in Verdi’s Falstaff. He received his Bachelor of Arts in music from Luther College where he performed the role of Monastatos in Die Zauberflöte.

Stage Director: Rebecca Herman

Rebecca Herman splits her time between directing and assistant directing at numerous companies around the country. She is looking forward to joining the Des Moines Metro Opera Directing staff for a third summer directly following Iolanta. She is the Founding Artistic Producer at LOLA Local Opera Local Artists, where she recently directed We Might Be Struck By Lighting, and an innovate all-female production of La bohème called “La Femme Bohème.” Her upcoming productions there include La Clemenza di Tito: A Retelling. Other credits include directing Don Giovanni and The Daughter of the Regiment at Austin Opera; Assistant Directing Turandot, The Magic Flute, and Rigoletto at Michigan Opera Theatre; and directing The Damnation of Carmen at Lawrence Opera Theatre.

Production Designer: Lizzy DuQuette

Lizzy DuQuette is a multimedia artist living in Price Hill. This is her sixth time working with Queen City Opera. Past productions include design for Mozart’s Abduction, Wagner’s Siegfried Act II and III, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. She created illustrated projections for QCO’s Israel in Egypt at the Mayerson JCC. Lizzy is interested in small and large scale puppetry and has apprenticed with the legendary Bread & Puppet Theater in Glover, VT.

Lighting Design and Technical Director: Larry Csernik

Larry Csernik is lighting designer for theatre and dance. Originally from Louisville, KY, Larry is a local lighting designer who stayed in Cincinnati after attaining his BA in Theater at Northern Kentucky University. At NKU he has designed many shows including Mud Nostalgia, The Divine VisitorDance, The Wedding Singer, BirdsYears: A Musical, As You Like It, The Heidi Chronicles, and most recently Angels in America: Part I. For the past four years he has designed for both The Commonwealth Theatre Company as well as The Contemporary Dance Theatre of Cincinnati. Other recent productions include The Full Monty and Willy Wonka (The Carnegie in Covington), the premier performance of Soldier’s Christmas (Blueline Editorial), and numerous shows at Thomas More College. He is pleased to return once again to Queen City Opera after designing for Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Rossini’s Cinderella.