November 18, 2007

Bella Voce Cabaret

A Singer’s “Gypsy Life”

Erin Barnes soprano
Jim Goodell bass-baritone
Pablo Pomales-Ojeda tenor
Rhonda Nus Tinnin soprano
Regina Torres mezzo-soprano
Ileana Fernandez piano

BIZET : Habañera (from Carmen)
ARLEN : Over the Rainbow (from The Wizard of Oz)
PUCCINI : O mio babbino caro (from Gianni Schicchi)
Ms. Barnes

HEGGIE : Animal Passion
PONCHIELLI : Stella del marinar! (from La Gioconda)
Ms. Torres

ROTA : Parla più piano (Love theme from The Godfather)
Mr. Pomales-Ojeda

MOZART : Là ci darem la mano (from Don Giovanni)
Ms. Tinnin & Mr. Pomales-Ojeda

VERDI : La donna è mobile (from Rigoletto)
Mr. Pomales-Ojeda

MENOTTI : Monica's Waltz (from The Medium)
TESORI : The Girl in 14G
Ms. Tinnin

MOZART Soave sia il vento (from Cosi fan tutti)
Ms. Barnes, Mr. Goodell & Ms. Tinnin

MOZART : Non più andrai (from Le nozze di Figaro)
BOCK : If I Were a Rich Man (from Fiddler on the Roof)
Mr. Goodell

VERDI : Drinking Song (from La traviata)

PROGRAM NOTES, by Ed Lein, Music Librarian

As a precocious youngster, Georges Bizet (zhahrzh bee-ZAY, 1838-1875), entered the
Conservatoire de Paris a couple of weeks before his tenth birthday and seemed destined for
great things, excelling both as a pianist and as a composer, and winning the prestigious Prix de
Rome in 1857, but his adult life was plagued by one setback after another and he never enjoyed
the success his great talent should have afforded. His final work, Carmen (1875), has become
one of the most beloved operas of all time, but the 37-year-old Bizet, weakened by complications
from acute tonsillitis (i.e., quinsy, the same affliction that did in George Washington), died of a
heart attack three months after his masterpiece premiered to a decidedly lukewarm reception at
Paris’s Opéra-Comique, without a clue as to the ultimate popularity his swan song would gain.
The perceived immorality of the story, by French author Prosper Mérimée (may-ree-MAY, 1803-
1870), beginning with smoking factory girls (shocking!) and ending with a sexually-charged murder,
was a tad racier than the family-friendly theater was accustomed. The theater management
even went so far as to insist that the ending be rewritten—it is to Bizet’s credit that he refused to
compromise his artistic vision, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Believing it was an anonymous folksong, Bizet borrowed the melody of Carmen’s Habañera
from a popular piece called El Arreglito, but the famous tune is actually by the Basque composer
Sebastián de Yradier (say-bahs-tee-AHN day ee-rah-thee-EHR, 1809-1865). The librettists, Henri
Meilhac (ahn-REE mee-YAK, 1831-1897) and Ludovic Halévy (lü-doh-VEEK ah-lay-VEE, 1802-
1883), best known for their satirical writing in the operettas of Jacques Offenbach (zhahk AH-fun-
BAHK, 1819-1880) never took Carmen very seriously, and Bizet had to rewrite the lyrics of the
Habañera several times himself because his librettists couldn’t get it quite right. In the opera, as
“Carmen” sings she shamelessly flirts with a hapless soldier, “Don José,” and he is hopelessly
smitten—but you can’t say she didn’t warn him.

A preeminent composer of American popular song, Harold Arlen (1905-1986) began life as
Hyman Arluk in Buffalo, New York, but changed his name in 1928, three years after he moved to
The Big Apple to play piano for vaudeville acts. He delivered his first big hit as a songwriter in
1929 with Get Happy, and didn’t stop until his catalog had over 400 entries and many standards,
including Stormy Weather, That Old Black Magic, and The Man That Got Away. Despite such
stiff competition, Over the Rainbow, from the beloved movie musical, The Wizard of Oz (1939),
is far and away the best-known and best-loved of his many hit songs—in addition to winning an
Oscar®, it tops the Recording Industry of America’s “Songs of the Century” list as well as the
American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Songs." Singing lyrics by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (1896-
1981), a 16-year-old Judy Garland (1922-1969), starring as the resourceful “Dorothy Gale,” introduced
what would become her signature song, and became a showbiz legend in the process.

Giacomo Puccini (JAH-koh-moh poo-CHEE-nee, 1858–1924) came from a long line of
Italian church musicians, and it was assumed he’d inherit the “family business” in Tuscany. But a
fateful trek from Lucca to Pisa to see Verdi’s Aïda convinced Puccini to give up organ pedals for
footlights, and he became the only real successor of Verdi in the realm of Italian opera. When he
died of throat cancer the whole of Italy went into mourning, and no opera composer since has
enjoyed the same kind of sustained international following that Puccini still has.

The one act of Gianni Schicchi, Puccini’s only comic opera, was first performed in 1918 at
New York’s Metropolitan Opera, along with his two other one-act operas, Il tabarro (“The Cloak”)
and Suor Angelica (“Sister Angelica”). Together the three short operas comprise Il trittico (“The
, and the composer insisted that they should only be performed as a group—but even
during his lifetime this wish was ignored. Fleshed out from a few cryptic lines in Dante’s Inferno,
Gianni Schicchi, the most popular of Il trittico, tells the tale of a crafty Florentine lawyer who helps
a dishonest family fake a counterfeit will when the lately deceased head of their clan bequeaths
his fortune to the local monastery rather than to his greedy distant relatives (and who could
blame him?). Gianni’s plot ultimately benefits the reprobate heirs, but in his scheming he also
tricks them out of the deceased’s mansion and favorite mule for himself (and who could blame
him?). At first Gianni is unwilling to assist the disagreeable bunch, but he finally relents at the
behest of his beloved daughter, “Lauretta,” who otherwise will be unable to marry the nephew of
the elderly cousin of the deceased patriarch. Of all Puccini’s soprano arias, Lauretta’s tuneful
entreaty, O mio babbino caro, has become perhaps the most familiar (at least among non-opera
goers), thanks in large part to its inclusion in the 1986 Academy Awarding®-winning film, A Room
with a View
. Who could deny a daughter who sings so beautifully?

Although he was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, composer and pianist Jake Heggie
(b.1961) was raised in Ohio and California, spent some time studying in Paris, and now lives in
San Francisco. As Composer in Residence with the San Francisco Opera, he wrote and premiered
his most famous composition, Dead Man Walking (1998-2000), which this year alone has
had 50 performances scheduled around the globe. Other operas include The End of the Affair
(2003-05), and To Hell and Back (2006), with more opera commissions from Houston, Dallas,
San Francisco and The Metropolitan in the works. Heggie’s output also includes over 200 songs,
and as an accompanist he performs with some of the leading singers around, including Frederica
Von Stade, Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw and Thomas Hampson. Animal Passion is the second
song from his 1997 cycle, Natural Selection, with lyrics by the contemporary California poet
(and wife of the managing director of the San Francisco Opera) Gini Savage.

Amilcare Ponchielli (ah-meel-KAHR-ray pong-KYEL-lee, 1834-1886) was an unassuming
but influential Italian composer and teacher whose students included Puccini, Pietro Mascagni
(1863-1945), and Umberto Giordano (1867-1948). Ponchielli’s most famous work is the opera, La
Gioconda (“The Happy Woman
,” 1878, revised 1880), and especially its ballet music, The Dance
of the Hours
, which was choreographed for tutu-wearing hippos in Disney’s aminated feature,
Fantasia (1940), and which also provided the tune for comedian Allen Sherman’s chart-topping
paean to summer camp, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (1963). Based on the play, Angelo, tyran
de Padoue
(1835) by Victor Hugo (1802-1885), and with a libretto by Arrigo Boito (1842-1918),
La Gioconda is a complicated soap opera set in Venice against a backdrop of the 17th Century
Roman Inquisition: “Gioconda” loves the exiled “Enzo” who, however, loves “Laura,” and Laura
returns Enzo’s love—but since Enzo’s banishment Laura has been forced into an arranged marriage
with “Alvise,” the local Inquisitor (and this isn’t even the complicated part…). Enzo has
sneaked back into Venice, and Gioconda overhears him plotting to elope with Laura, so naturally
Gioconda at first decides to stab Laura to death, but then opts to rat her out to Laura’s villainous
spouse, Alvise. Aboard Enzo’s ship (and just before she is rudely interrupted by a disguised
Gioconda), Laura prays for safe passage in Stella del marinar! (“Star of the Mariner!”).

Will Gioconda have a change of heart when she realizes that it was Laura who saved her
mother from being burned as a witch? Will Laura trick her husband by drinking a sleeping draft
instead of poison? Will Gioconda end up in the arms of Alvise? Check out La Gioconda, on CD or
DVD, for the answers to these and many more questions! (TIP: Two of these questions are true.)

Italian composer Nino Rota (NEE-noh ROH-tah, 1911-1979) “wrote-a” plenty of music for
the stage and concert hall, but he is best known for his numerous film scores, especially those
composed for Federico Fellini (1920-1993), and for Francis Ford Coppola (b.1939), for the epic
Godfather films. The “Love Theme” from The Godfather (1972) was purely instrumental in the
movie—but it appears that in the early seventies there was an unwritten rule that movie tunes
would become instant hits if Andy Williams sang them (apparently he was the Céline Dion of his
generation), so lyrics by Larry Kusic were added to Rota’s music and the song was released the
same year, as Speak Softly Love — and it indeed became a big hit for Andy! In The Godfather
Part III (1990), the sung version finally made its film debut, only in Italian (Parla più piano).


Austrian-born Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (VOOLF-gahng ah-muh-DAY-oos MOHT-sahrt,
1756–1791), unquestionably one of the greatest composers in history, began his career touring
Europe as a 6 year-old piano prodigy, and he absorbed and mastered all the contempory musical
trends he was exposed to along the way. Mozart wrote 16 operas, including, The Marriage
of Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), Cosi fan tutte (1790), and The Magic Flute (1791), as
well as 40 symphonies (turns out that “No. 37” is really by Michael Haydn), over 40 concertos,
chamber music, sonatas, and choral pieces, all together totaling more than 600 works.
Of all the different versions of the Don Juan legend, Mozart’s comic opera, Don Giovanni, on
a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (loh-RENT-soh duh PAHN-tay, 1749-1838), is among the best
known and most discussed. The Don is an unrepentant rake who lives solely for his own selfish
pleasures, with utter disregard for how his behavior might affect others. Mozart’s opera picks up
as Giovanni’s luck begins to fade and his past begins to catch up with him. He is on the run after
killing the father of a would-be romantic conquest when he spies a party of peasants celebrating
the upcoming nuptials of the pretty “Zerlina” and her jealous fiancé, “Masetto.” Don Giovanni
manages to get Zerlina alone, and in the beautifully seductive La ci darem la mano he is almost
successful in adding another conquest to the reportedly over 2000 already under his belt. As a
comedy, the opera has the required happy ending—for everyone, that is, except the amoral Don!

Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) is the foremost Italian composer of Grand Opera. Among his
early successes are the ever-popular Rigoletto (1851), Il Trovatore (1853) and La Traviata
(1853), and by the time of Aïda (1871) all the elements of his earlier style had reached full maturity,
and his achievement seemed unsurpassable. But after a 16-year hiatus, Verdi astonished
everyone and topped himself with the stunning masterpieces of his old age, Otello (1887, when
Verdi was 73) and Falstaff (1893, when he was 80), attaining a power, subtlety, and brilliance
that distinguish them as the culmination of the genre.

In Rigoletto, on a libretto by Verdi’s friend and frequent collaborator, Francesco Maria Piave
(frahn-CHEHS-koh mah-REE-ah pee-YAH-vay, 1810-1876), and based on Victor Hugo’s play, Le
roi s’amuse (1832), the title character is the spiteful court jester to the “Duke a Mantua.” The
Duke routinely seduces the wives and daughters of his courtiers, and Rigoletto takes great pleasure
in humiliating the wronged noblemen. But when one of them hurls a father’s curse at him, the
superstitious jester is horrified. Later, a group of the mocked noblemen discover Rigoletto in the
company of “Gilda,” a beautiful young woman whom they incredulously believe to be Rigoletto’s
mistress. As revenge, they decide to kidnap Gilda and deliver her up to the Duke, and they convince
Rigoletto to join them by pretending they are abducting a countess from the neighboring villa.
Rigoletto realizes too late that he has been duped into helping them steal that which is most
precious to him—Gilda is not his mistress, she is in fact his over-protected daughter! No longer
finding his boss’s dissolute behavior the least bit amusing, Rigoletto hires an assassin to do in
the Duke, but the various plots and counterplots become hopelessly tangled when both the naïve
Gilda and the assassin’s worldly sister fall for the Duke’s superficial charms and separately work
to redirect the assassin’s blade (oh, curses!). The Duke’s Act III canzone, La donna è mobile, is
one of Verdi’s most recognizable tunes, and it perfectly demonstrates the Duke’s charming exterior
that obscures his underlying contempt for others, and most especially for women.

By the time Italian-born composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti (jahn KAHR-lo muh-
NAHT-ee,1911-2007) immigrated to America at age 16 he had already written two operas (the
first at age 11), and before he turned fifty he had composed the first-ever opera for radio (The
Old Maid and the Thief, 1939), had won two Pulitzer Prizes, for The Consul (1950) and The Saint
of Bleeker Street (1954), and had written the libretto for Vanessa (1956-57), the Pulitzer Prizewinning
opera composed by his longtime friend and companion, Samuel Barber (1910-1981).
Menotti also wrote the first opera for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951), and one
would be hard pressed to name another English-language opera that is better known than this
perennial Christmas favorite. Mr. Menotti, who once quipped about critics, “They often spoil my
breakfast but never my lunch,” passed away this past February, at the ripe old age of 95.

The hour-long and darkly-dramatic The Medium (1946) was the work that first brought
Menotti international fame—coupled with the composer’s sunny comedy, The Telephone (1947),
the pair of operas ran on Broadway for over 200 performances. In The Medium, “Madame Flora”
is a moribund charlatan (in need of an intervention) who uses her daughter, “Monica,” and a mute
orphan, “Toby,” to fake the seemingly supernatural effects her séance customers witness—until
alcohol, guilt and fear ferment into a deadly brew. In Monica’s Waltz, the isolated daughter, as
innocent as her mother is creepy, playfully enacts a mock-romantic exchange between herself
and Toby. But as Monica gives voice to what she imagines Toby might say to her, she tenderly
realizes it’s not just a game.

New York’s Jeanine Tessori is a versatile composer, arranger, record producer and conductor
who is best known for the new music she composed for the 2002 Broadway production of
Thoroughly Modern Millie, and for her original musicals, Violet (1997), which won an Obie Award,
and Caroline, or Change, which won the 2004 Drama Desk Award (Outstanding Music). With
lyrics by Dick Scanlan, The Girl in 14G (2000) was written especially for Kristen Chenowith, star
of television (The West Wing; Pushing Daisies) and Broadway (You’re a Good Man, Charlie
Brown; Wicked), to show off the actress’s vocal versatility as it moves from a musical comedy
style through operatic and jazz idioms.

Così fan tutte (roughly, “All Women Are Like That”), follows Le nozze di Figaro and Don
as Mozart’s third (and last) opera on a libretto by Da Ponte. The story revolves around
“Fiordiligi” and “Dorabella,” two sisters who are each engaged to army officers. The officers enter
into a wager with “Don Alfonso,” a cynical old philosopher, to test the fidelity of the sisters—the
officers, never doubting their brides-to-be, pretend they are called off to war, but they plan to
reappear disguised as foreigners, and each will then try to get the other’s fiancé to break their
engagements. In the exquisite trio, Soave sia il vento, the sisters and Don Alfonso bid the soldiers
a safe farewell. As the opera progresses, the soldiers ultimately loose their bet, but in the
end they all reconcile and everyone rejoices at their ability to forgive and laugh at their mistakes.

In 1786, Mozart and Da Ponte first began their collaboration, with the comic opera, Le nozze
di Figaro (“The Marriage of Figaro”)
, based on the French farce, La Folle journée, ou Le Mariage
de Figaro (“The Crazy Day, or The Marriage of Figaro”)
, by Pierre Beaumarchais (boh-mahr-
SHAY, 1732-1799). The play, which pokes wicked fun at the aristocracy, was banned in 1781 by
Louis XVI, but a much revised version was finally performed in Paris in 1784. Even though the
play was still banned in Vienna two years later, Da Ponte adapted it for Mozart, keeping the
satire but removing the politics, and the madcap opera had a successful Viennese premiere.
“Figaro,” formerly a barber in Seville, is now the valet to “Count Almaviva.” Figaro is about to
marry “Susanna,” the maid to the “Countess,” so he becomes understandably outraged when the
Count makes inappropriate advances toward his fiancé—eventually the bride and groom team up
with the wronged Countess to outwit the old philanderer, but in the meantime, “Cherubino,” a
household page (and hopeless flirt), has developed a schoolboy crush on the Countess. When
the Count gets wind of it—well, what’s good for the gander isn’t good for the goose, so Almaviva
decides to get rid of the young nuisance by drafting him into the army. In Non più andrai (“No
More Gallivanting”
), Figaro shamelessly teases the youth about having to give up his current
occupation (of chasing skirts) for the “glories” of mortal combat.

One of Broadway’s most successful pairings has been composer Jerry Bock (b.1928) with
lyricist Sheldon Harnick (b.1924), who had their first big hit together with Fiorello! (1959), and for
which they won both a Tony Award (Best Musical) and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But without a
doubt their best known collaboration is Fiddler on the Roof (1964), which won nine Tony’s and
broke box office records, as well as spawning a motion picture. Loosely based on the Yiddish
stories, Tevye the Milkman, by Ukrainian author Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916), Fiddler centers
on a beleaguered peasant trying to keep his headstrong daughters true to the old Jewish traditions
while simultaneously trying to ignore the social upheaval they face in the tsarist Russia of
1905. As he drags his dairy wagon around the village when his horse is taken lame, Tevye daydreams
of how things might be... If I Were a Rich Man. And really, who would it hurt?

Following Rigoletto, Verdi and Piave scored big again with La traviata (“She Who Strayed”),
based on La dame aux Camélias, by Alexandre Dumas, fils (a-lehk-SAHN-druh dü-MAH fees,
1824-1895), only “La dame” is apparently holding a different bouquet in Verdi’s adaptation.
“Violetta,” a courtesan-with-a-heart-of-gold, sacrifices happiness to save the reputation of her
young paramour, “Alfredo,” all at the secret urging of Alfredo’s father (although it’s really more for
Alfredo’s sister, who never even sings a note). But the opera at least starts happily enough: At a
party Violetta is throwing to celebrate her (temporary) recovery from a recent illness, Alfredo
offers a joyous toast with the Brindisi (“Drinking Song”), having finally just met Violetta (but
whom he’s secretly been stalking, uh, admiring from a distance for quite some time). Cheers!


Bella Voce Cabaret ( is a theatrical production company that creates
and performs corporate, charitable, and private entertainment across the musical genres of
opera, Broadway, Neapolitan folk song, and jazz and pop standards.

Erin Barnes began training for the musical stage at the University of Northern
Colorado, where she studied acting and appeared in theatrical productions including
Cabaret and Edward Albee's Finding the Sun. She received her Bachelor
of Music degree from Jacksonville University, graduating summa cum laude and
earning the Dean's Choice Award for Excellence in Music, while also winning
honors in musical theater and chorus. Erin, who was a singing server at Bravo!
Ristorante for several years, created the role of "Cathy" in Rachel Clifton's musical
adaptation of Wuthering Heights at JU, and performed in the local touring
production of Gene Nordan's The Piano Bar. She appeared in Side by Side by
and He was a Stranger, an original musical by Deborah Lucas, for Players by the Sea,
and has participated in several "Spring Fling" fundraisers at that theater. As "the artist formerly
known as Erin Brehm," she treasures her leading roles as wife to Bella Voce cast member Matt
Barnes and mother to sons Ethan and Cason. Erin spends much of her time teaching piano and
voice to both children and adults, and enjoys the chance to share her love of music and performing
with future generations of actors and singers.

The versatile singer-actor Jim Goodell is the founder and producer of Bella
Voce Cabaret, and his multiple talents are in constant demand. Jim was a
featured soloist for the Music for Hope benefit concert for the CHILD Cancer
Fund, and in addition to recital performances, recent appearances include bass
soloist for Handel's Messiah in St. Augustine; "Smuggler/Soldier" in the Jacksonville
Symphony Orchestra's production of Carmen; "Mario/Roberto" in the
premier of Debra Lucas's comedic melodrama, He was a Stranger; "Raoul" in a
concert performance of The Phantom of the Opera; and, "Mr. Gobineau" in
Menotti's The Medium, with the Cassadaiga Opera Company. His appearances with the First Coast
Opera have included the roles of "Prince Yamadori" in Madama Butterfly, "Dick Deadeye" in Gilbert
& Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, and "King Balthazar" in Amhal and the Night Visitors, as well as numerous
musical theater roles for their Lighter Side series at St. Augustine's Limelight Theatre, including
"Harold Hill" in The Music Man. For a recent Friday Musicale performance of Stravinsky's A Soldier's
, Jim received well deserved acclaim for his rich and varied vocal characterizations of all
the spoken parts, including the Narrator, the Soldier, and the Devil. Mr. Goodell, who began his
professional training at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Virginia, and continued
with private studies in New York and Florida, can be heard weekly on WFCF 88.5 FM St. Augustine
hosting a radio program celebrating the classically-trained voice. His commercial work has aired
locally, and he is the telephone voice for several Jacksonville-based businesses.

Tenor Pablo Pomales-Ojeda earned his music degree from the Conservatorio
de Música de Puerto Rico. The numerous operatic roles he performed in his
native Puerto Rico ranged from "Monostatos" in Mozart's Die Zauberflote to
"Kaspar" in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, and performances With
Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico included Haydn's Missa Sancti Nicolai and
Domenico Zipoli's Mass in F. He also served as chorus master for Opera de
Puerto Rico's productions of La Traviata and Carmen. In Shreveport, Louisiana,
Pablo was guest soloist for The Times Fourth of July Celebration, and with the
Shreveport Opera he demonstrated his versatility by tackling such diverse roles
as "Peter" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, "Benvolio" in Gounod's Romeo et
, and "The Second Nazarene" in Richard Strauss's Salome. Upon arriving in Jacksonville,
Mr. Pomales-Ojeda joined the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's production of La Boheme as
"Parpignol." In addition to commitments with Bella Voce Cabaret, Pablo is a soloist with The Palm
Court Society Orchestra.

Because of her impressive vocal agility soprano Rhonda Nus Tinnin is often called
upon to interpret florid Baroque masterworks, but she is equally at home with the sustained
lyricism of an Italian opera aria and the energetic exuberance of a Broadway
show tune. The diverse roles she has enjoyed range from "Lucy" in a Boston production
of Menotti's The Telephone, to "Lisetta" in a staged performance of Bach's Coffee
for Italy's Studio Lirico. Of her "Mimi" in Puccini's La Bohème, the Italian publication
Corriere Aretino called her portrayal "... interpreted with a rare naturalness seldom
associated with an operatic performance." In addition to appearances in Chicago,
Boston, Providence, Seattle, Denver, Honolulu, and Cornwall, England, Ms. Tinnin has
performed opera, oratorio, and musical theater revues with numerous New York City companies. She has
toured with Crescendo Brass, and is a founding member of Serafini Brillanti, which specializes in works for
soprano, trumpet and piano. A singer-of-choice for composers, she has premiered works by Bradley Detrick,
and was invited to perform Eric Ewazen's To Cast a Shadow Again at the famed Juilliard School. Recent
local appearances include J.S. Bach's Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (BWV 51) with the Chamber Music
Society of the Church of the Good Shepherd, and Bach's Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) for Friday Musicale.
She also has been a featured performer in A Musical Tribute to Breast Cancer Survivorship at the University
of North Florida's Lazzara Performance Hall, and sang a benefit concert for the Raymond and Crystal Key
Humanitarian Initiative. Additionally, her speaking voice is featured in story board exhibits on children's health
issues, such as asthma and childhood obesity, in museums and schools throughout the United States.

Described as a "tour de force of vocal virtuosity married to a fabulous stage presence"
(Captain Classics, WFCF St. Augustine), mezzo-soprano Regina Torres excels in
portraying larger-than-life heroines, comedic villans and angelic souls in opera and musical
theater productions, and she is a similarly commanding presence as soloist in oratorio
peformances. A Jacksonville native, Ms. Torres received her Bachelor's degree from
the University of Florida, and appeared with the Gainesville Civic Chorus and the prestigious
Willis Bodine Chorale as soloist in large-scale choral works including Elijah, Messiah,
Mozart's Requiem, Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy.
Early musical theater credits include The Secret Garden, Brigadoon, Into the Woods, and The Sound of
. While completing graduate studies in voice at Indiana University, Regina's Mainstage operatic roles
included "La Zelatrice" in Puccini's Suor Angelica, "Mrs. Gleaton" in Floyd's Susannah, and "Ludmilla" in
Smetana's The Bartered Bride. She also performed music from outside the western art tradition as a soloist
with IU's International Vocal Ensemble, and it was during this time that she made her European operatic
debut with Music Theater Bavaria as "Donna Elvira" in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Upon returning to Northeast
Florida, Ms. Torres became an easy favorite with First Coast Opera audiences as the gingerbread-gobbling,
broomstick-wielding "Ogress" in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, and she brought down the house as the
curses-rapping "Witch" in Sondheim's Into the Woods. Her comedic talents make her a natural for Gilbert and
Sullivan, and she has delighted as "Counsel for the Plaintiff" in Trial by Jury, "Duchess of Plaza-Toro" in The
, and, of course, as "Little Buttercup" in HMS Pinafore.

Pianist Ileana Fernandez is well-known to First Coast music lovers as the principal
keyboardist for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, as a noted solo recitalist, and as a
frequent collaborator with some of the area's finest musicians. Since joining the JSO in
1981, she has enjoyed working closely with guest artists from the international stage,
and she herself has been a featured soloist with the Symphony. Ms. Fernandez, who is
also the rehearsal pianist for the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus, includes among favorite
career highlights her performance with the JSO of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy for
piano, vocal soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra. Cuban-born Ileana began formal
piano studies at age 11 after moving to this country, and since has earned Bachelor of
Music Education and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Jacksonville University, and a Master
of Music in piano performance from Florida State University. She has a Master of Arts degree in Spanish
from Middlebury College in Vermont, and joined the full-time faculty of Florida Community College at Jacksonville
in 1979, teaching Spanish. She is now Director of Piano Studies at FCCJ's South Campus where
she teaches music theory and ear training,