Thais – Saturday February 27 at 7pm
Thais Synopsis – ACT I – Egypt, fourth century A.D. Athanaël lies awake and has a vision of Thaïs. He prays for strength and, as dawn breaks, wakes his brothers, telling them he must journey back through the desert and save Thaïs’s soul. Palémon repeats his warning as Athanaël leaves for Alexandria. Athanaël arrives in the city of his birth, whose luxury and learning he left behind to pursue a spiritual life (“Voilà donc la terrible cité”). He comes to the house of the wealthy Nicias, a friend of his youth, who tells him that Thaïs is his mistress of the moment, but that he will soon lose her since he has run out of money. Athanaël replies that he has come to convert Thaïs. Nicias laughs at this and warns him that Venus will take revenge for it, but he agrees to introduce Athanaël to her. He asks his slave girls to dress the monk in new clothes. Thaïs appears, saying goodbye to Nicias after a week of love. Athanaël confronts her and announces his intention, which she dismisses lightly, asking him why he denies his true nature and doesn’t give in to love. As she is about to take off her clothes, he leaves in horror, declaring he will wait for her at her own house.
ACT II – Thaïs, alone in her bedroom, suddenly realizes the superficiality of her life. Looking into a mirror, she asks herself what will happen once her beauty fades (“Dis-moi que je suis belle”). Athanaël enters and she warns him not to love her. He replies that there is a kind of love she doesn’t know and that this love will lead to eternal life. The voice of Nicias, heard from outside, reminds Thaïs of her past. Rejecting both her life of luxury and Athanaël’s God, she collapses in despair. Athanaël says he will wait for her outside the door until daybreak. After a night of soul-searching (Orchestral interlude: “Méditation”), Thaïs appears from her house to tell Athanaël that she is ready to follow him. He explains that he will take her to the convent of Mother Albine, but before they leave she must burn her palace and all her belongings. She agrees, asking to keep only a statue of Eros, but Athanaël smashes it and leads her back into the house. Nicias enters with his friends. He has gambled and won and now wants to keep Thaïs as his mistress a while longer. After a dancer has performed a ballet, accompanied by the singing of Nicias’s slave girls, Thaïs and Athanaël reappear from the palace. When the monk announces her conversion, the crowd threatens to stone him for taking Thaïs away. Nicias distracts them by throwing money around and Athanaël and Thäis escape as her palace goes up in flames.
ACT III – Thaïs and Athanaël rest at an oasis near Mother Albine’s settlement. Thaïs is exhausted and feels unable to continue, but Athanaël demands that she ignore her physical weakness. Only when he sees that her feet are bloody does he feel pity; he goes off to get water. Thaïs praises his kindness and thanks him for having brought her to salvation (Duet: “Baigne d’eau mes mains”). At the convent, Albine and the nuns welcome Thaïs. When she says goodbye to Athanaël, he realizes with horror that he will never see her again. Back at the monks’ retreat, Palémon remarks that Athanaël seems like a dead man since his return. Athanaël confesses that, in spite of all his fasting and prayer, the image of Thaïs’s beauty still haunts him. Palémon once again repeats his warning not to get involved with the affairs of the outside world. In his sleep, Athanaël sees Thais, first as a temptress, then as a saint about to die in the monastery. Waking, he cries he must go to her and runs into the desert and an approaching sandstorm. Thaïs lies dying after three months of penance. Albine welcomes the distraught Athanaël, and Thaïs gratefully remembers how he saved her. The monk replies that she has converted him to worldly love. Thaïs, in a trance, doesn’t understand his passionate confession and dies with a vision of angels greeting her in heaven. Athanaël, shattered, is left alone, begging God for mercy
Lucas Barkley is a pianist and coach who recently relocated to the New York City area from Pittsburgh, PA, where he was a staff pianist at Duquesne University and accompanist and vocal coach for Undercroft Opera (Carmen, Norma, The Magic Flute, Die Fledermaus, Madama Butterfly). He was also an accompanist and coach for CO-OPERA, a collaboration between Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University featuring the premieres of five one-act chamber operas by student composers. He has also curated and accompanied numerous art song recitals, most recently 1815: A Schubert Song Bicentennial in May 2015. Lucas holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Duquesne University and a master’s in collaborative piano from Carnegie Mellon.
Irish-American Soprano Brittany Cusack is thrilled to return to OCB as Crobyle (Cover) in Thais. Upcoming engagements include the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Nedda in I Pagliacci, and Patrica in G Train the Musical. Ms. Cusack has performed Freia in Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Kate Pinkerton (Cover) in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Ensemble in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Grisette in Puccini’s La Rondine, Dorothée in Massenet’s Cendrillon, Sandman in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Nella in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Niobe in Offenbach’s Daphnis et Chloe, Ensemble in Saint-Saëns’s Hélène, Ensemble in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, 1st Voice in Rorem’s Fables, and Ensemble in Little’s Vinkensport.
Soprano Rachel Anne Hippert has recently performed with the Opera Company of Brooklyn (“Elettra” in Mozart’s Idomeneo), the New York Opera Exchange (“Fiordiligi” in Così fan tutte), and the New York Evangelic Choir (“Mother” in Amahl and the Night Visitors). In concert, Ms. Hippert has performed twice in collaboration with the Schiller Institute and the Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture as the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah. She also recently made her NYC recital debut at Middle Collegiate Church last November, and serves as the resident soprano soloist with Brooklyn Philharmonia Chorus. Ms. Hippert earned her B.M. in voice performance from Boston University, is an alumna of Ann Baltz’s Operaworks Advanced Artist Program, Sherril Milnes’ V.O.I.C.Experience!, and Simon Estes’ Young Artist Performance Program. She studies with Metropolitan Opera tenor Dr. Dana Tally.
Madison Marie McIntosh has been a young artist of the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro and appeared as Delia (Il viaggio a Reims) with the Rossini Opera Festival. This summer, she will be a Bel Canto Apprentice Artist at Caramoor. As a soprano, she sang Mademoiselle Silberklang (Der Schauspieldirektor), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Lucy (The Telephone), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Serpina (La serva padrona), Bastienne (Bastien und Bastienne), Suor Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), and other roles with companies in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. This year, she performs Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Marzelline (Fidelio), and Semiramide.
Maestro Jay Meetze is Opera Company of Brooklyn’s Founder, Artistic & Music Director. His vision, on Jeopardy quiz show, is to reach “nontraditional” patrons. “Magic is wielded in the hands of Meetze.” American Record Guide. Artists who know & support his work: Martina Arroyo, Carlisle Floyd, Itzhak Perlman, Frederica Von Stade and Francesca Zambello. Meetze graduated from Michigan State University, majoring in vocal music education and received a Master’s of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music on a full scholarship.
Mezzo-soprano Shawn Palmer has been on stage in various forms since she was three years old. She began in ballet and progressed through musical theater and straight theater before joining the Connecticut Lyric Opera. Career highlights include creating the title role in the children’s opera Mambo (world premier in March 2015); being invited to reprise Ravel’s cycle “Sheherazade,” first performed in her Master’s recital, in May 2015; and singing Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with the New York Opera Theater.
Korland Simmons, tenor is a recent transplant to the NY/NJ area. Recent operatic engagements include Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (Basilio/Curzio) and Hiram Titus’ Rosina (Mendoza) with Dell’ Arte Opera Ensemble; New York City Opera/BAM co-production of “Anna Nicole: The Opera”; Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha (Remus); La Boheme (Rodolfo) and Trouble in Tahiti (Tenor/Trio). As well, he has covered roles in Offenbach’s La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein (Baron Puck) and Hindemith’s Cardillac (Kavalier). His oratorio credits include a number of works including the Mozart Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s Magnificat in D. As a frequent interpreter of new works, he has premiered Shawn Jaeger’s The Generals, Richard Webster’s Empathy, and sang the role of Conrad in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Goose Girl. Korland currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and studies with Neil Semer.
Mezzo Kristin Starkey is currently working towards her D.M.A. in Vocal Performance at Stony Brook University. She has recently been seen as La Principessa (Suor Angelica) and Grimgerde (Die Walkure) with New York Lyric Opera, and as a featured soloist with One World Symphony singing Field of the Dead. Repertoire includes roles as Alisa (Lucia di Lammermoor), Mrs. Grose (Turn of the Screw), Dalila, Carmen, Cenerentola, Octavian, La Voix, Third Lady, and Arsamene, Musette (Leoncavallo), Hermia, and Dorabella. Upcoming roles include: Il Tebro (O come chiare e belle) with Stony Brook Opera and Erda, Myrtale, and La Cieca with OCB.
Scott B. Thomas, lyric baritone, lives, performs, and teaches voice in the Washington, D.C., area. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Arizona, where he performed such roles as Dr. Bartolo in the Barber of Seville, Mr. Kaufner in The Consul, Papageno in Die Zauberflote, and Don Pedro in La Perichole. He obtained his Master of Music in Voice at the University of Kentucky as an Alltech and T.J. Freeman Graduate Scholar. Scott has performed to critical acclaim in several Washington metropolitan area productions (“Scott Thomas has a smooth baritone that’s very powerful,” DC Metro Theater Arts) Publio in La Clemenza de Tito, Achilles in an original opera, A Fire in Water, and as Dortch in Norton, A Civil War Opera. Scott is honored to return to Opera Company Brooklyn this year to sing Belcore in Elixir of Love, Count in Le Nozze di Figaro and Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress. www.scottbthomas.com
Soprano Jessica Vadney performed most recently with Opera Guadalajara as Suor Angelica and the Monitor in Suor Angelica, as soloist in multiple televised orchestral galas on Mexican Television, and as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Vivace Vancouver. Upcoming appearances include Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with New York Opera Theater. Past engagements include; Elle in Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Dorabella (Così fan tutte), La Suora Infermiera and Suora Dolcina (Sour Angelica), First Woman (Die Zauberflöte), and with OperaWorks in Los Angeles premier of The Cloud. Concert performances include; soloist with Distinguished Concerts International NY, soprano soloist in Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, Mozart C minor mass, Faure Requiem, and with Rutger’s Presbyterian Church at all seasonal concerts.
Soprano Emily Woodruff performs standard and contemporary vocal repertoire across the U.S. and abroad. Favorite roles include Mimi (La Boheme), Donna Anna and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro), Anna Bolena, and Violetta (La traviata). Emily has appeared on the Composer’s Voice Concert Series (Manhattan), and the Brooklyn College Electro-Acoustic Music Festival. She premiered the role of Geraldine in Christabel, a chamber opera by Jennifer Bellor, and looks forward to singing her first Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore) this spring. Also an actress, Emily appears in film and commercials in Western New York, represented by NY Model Talent.