Maestro Jay Meetze
Maestro Jay Meetze (pronounced Mets) is founder/artistic/music director of OCB. Meetze has conducted more than fifty operas across the globe including Austria, England, Germany, Israel, and Italy. Opera News lauded Meetze for his “passionate and undeniably impressive command of performances” and “sympathetic leadership.” Meetze’ innovative vision has been featured on Jeopardy, Good Morning America, CNN and National Public Radio.
Meetze has also conducted the CD Divas (2006), which Opera News named Critic’s Choice and Top-10 of the Year. The recording features music by American composer, Thomas Pasatieri, whose well known for his work in film which includes orchestrations for Fried Green Tomatoes and The Little Mermaid. The CD includes his most famous opera Signor Deluso and a reworking of La Divina, an opera supposedly based on Maria Callas.
Baritone Bin Peng is OCB’s Director’s Assistant and earned a Masters in Music & Voice from Manhattan School of Music (MSM) in 2016 and a Bachelor’s in Musicology from Beijing’s Capital Normal University in 2014. He performed Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at MSM as part of Mignon Dunn’s Operatic Role Class as well as the lead in Le Nozze di Figaro in Beijing. Peng has performed songs including Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Liederkreis and Schubert’s Winterreise. Peng has sung nationwide with the Beijing Festival Chorus. From 2012-2015 he was a soloist in the Opera Festival in Beijing’s National Center for Performing Arts.
Noam Aviel is OCB’s Assistant Conductor. She conducted this season’s Carmen on August 27 and has been appointed as Assistant Conductor at OPERA San Antonio. She also works with the performance program Angels Vocal Art. Aviel holds a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Illinois State University, as well as two Bachelor of Music degrees in Voice Performance and Orchestral Conducting from Tel- Aviv University. She has conducted in the ISU opera productions in 2016, and served as Music Director in the 2015 Illinois Festival Opera. Aviel has also sung as a choir member in various programs with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta.
Eric Hickam first started listening to opera at an OCB performance while going to university in New York City and has been hooked on it ever since. He generally prefers lighter fare like Berg or Kirchner to anything serious, but tries to keep an open mind. Eric currently resides in Portland, OR and is working on his writing when he isn’t trying to play a piano or banjo.
Debbie Poon volunteers at the Opera Company of Brooklyn with her knowledge in data systems and analytics, media relations, web design and other digital projects. Debbie also contributes her expertise on Video Game Tidbits, a video game media website. She received her Bachelors of Arts from Hunter College in 2014 and currently resides in New York City.
Anthony Palazzo is OCB’s Board Member and Videographer. At the age of five, Tony played drums and has since performed with Patti LaBelle, David Sanborn, Joe Beck, The Laughing Dogs, Henry Gross and others. Mr. Palazzo received lessons from Tony Williams, drummer for Miles Davis and studied theory at Lehman College and played with the Drum and Bugle Corp of Sea Cadets. After 33 years of service to the United Nations, he is happy to provide his video and editing skills with OCB.
Steve Witting is OCB’s Director of Productions. He began his career in opera as a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera House. He was discovered by John Dexter in the crowded masked ball scene in Verdi’s opera and went on to create the lead mime roles in Parade (a french triple bill) and the Stravinsky triple bill. For the next four years he was mentored by Dexter in the craft of directing opera and theater; studying the productions of Billy Budd, Lulu, The Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny and The Dialogue of The Carmelites. He directs plays at The Weathervane Repertory Theater and opera with Trill Vocal Productions, New York Lyric Opera and The Opera Company of Brooklyn.
Lighting Designer, Keithlyn Parkman
Assistant to the Director of Productions, Renée Rogers
Mexican Conductor and Pianist Abdiel Vásquez conducted Simon Boccanegra on September 10 and Dialogues des Carmelites on October 8 with OCB this 2016. He also served as Pianist for Simon Boccanegra. He has an extensive international career. Hailed by the press in Mexico as “a national treasure,” he has also worked with singers like Javier Camarena and Maria Katzarava in recitals, concerts, and opera companies. His new Wagner/Verdi album “Love & Death” has been praised by the international press for displaying “virtuoso hands, the mind of a conductor, the imagination of an orchestrator, the spirit of an improviser, and the heart of a singer.”
Richard Barrett conducted the OCB performance of Ariadne auf Naxos on September 24 and has produced the American Premiere of Darius Milhaud’s opera Christopher Colomb. The New York Times praises, “Mr. Barrett’s conducting was precise and well paced-drawing a beautiful sound from his players.” From 1993 to 2000, as Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for Fort Worth Opera, Maestro Barrett christened Bass Performance Hall with Denyce Graves and conducted the hall’s first opera: La Bohème. His film of Aaron Copland’s The Tenderland won a Telly award for Outstanding Production. After 32 years of service, he will retire from Brooklyn College.
Henco Espag has conducted OCB’s performance of Der Vampyr on October 29. He is originally from South Africa and is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, having studied film scoring/composition. He is an active composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, accompanist, music director and vocal coach. Henco was part of the faculty for the Musical Theatre Department at Westminster College of the Arts and is now the newly appointed Music Director for Judson Memorial Church and Music Director for the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band. Henco was the resident MD for Surflight Theatre’s 2013/14 seasons, and is currently working with Librettist, John Olin as composer for a new American opera.
Susan Morton, conductor, coach, pianist, linguist, long associated with Italian language and culture, has served as Conductor and Pianist for La Clemenza di Tito with OCB on November 12. She is also Director/Founder of Sing Through Central at the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Festa Lirica Italiana in Italy, a role study and language seminar. She has spent ten summers with the award-winning Opera Festival di Roma. Her US credits include: New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera. Posts at Hofstra University, Florida State University, Westminster Choir College, Manhattan School of Music, Opera Colorado, Connecticut Opera, Sarasota Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Martina Arroyo Foundation, Augusta Opera. She maintains a busy studio in New York City.
Justin Pambianchi will be OCB’s conductor and pianist for Le Comte Ory on the upcoming performance on Saturday, December 3. He is a young and versatile conductor from Montreal at the outset of his professional career. He has served as a répétiteur and assistant conductor for productions of Don Giovanni, La bohème, La gazza ladra, Sweeney Todd and other operas in North America and Europe. He has also played continuo in operas and instrumental works by Handel, Campra and others. A strong advocate of contemporary music, he has recently collaborated with Donald Crockett and James Mobberley. A former Glimmerglass young artist, Justin will be on Sarasota Opera’s music staff for their 2017 season.
Robert Whalen was Assistant Conductor for OCB’s production of Simon Boccanegra on September 10, 2016. He was personally selected by Lorin Maazel to be his Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor at the 2014 Castleton Festival, and has worked as Assistant Conductor of the WDR Funkhausorchester in Cologne. Whalen is a passionate advocate for contemporary composers. Whalen recently conducted the Collide-o-Scope Ensemble in a Milton Babbitt Centennial concert at the Tenri Cultural Center in Manhattan. A native of New York, Whalen holds degrees from Cornell University, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and the University of Minnesota.
Pianist & Coach, Eric Malson’s has performed Der Vampyr, Carmen and Ariadne auf Naxos with OCB in the 2016 season. He has appeared with Deborah Voigt, Eva Urbanová, Thomas Studebaker, Lawrence Brownlee, Ravinia, Tanglewood, Wexford, Caramoor, Seattle Opera, Washington Opera at Kennedy Center, The Dallas Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the Cleveland Opera. Malson has served as a faculty member at Juilliard, the Mannes College, the Curtis Institute of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Malson enjoys acting as official accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions, Carnegie Hall International American Music Competition and the Eurovision Young Musicians Competition. His CD released by Lyrichord features Brahms’ Magelone songs.
Lucas Barkley is a New York based pianist that performed for OCB for Dialogues des Carmelites on October 8, 2016. He has worked with Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with Pittsburgh Opera. He has curated and accompanied numerous art song recitals such as 1815: A Schubert Song Bicentennial.