Jaime De Angelo (Author) began his career at the University of California, Berkeley in the early 1920s. During this period he and his wife lived among many native Californian tribes, often becoming fully integrated into their daily lives, in an attempt to study their cultures, languages and music. As a linguist he contributed to the knowledge of more than a dozen native Northern Californian and Mexican languages and music-systems. De Angulo was particularly interested in the semantics of grammatical systems of the tribes he studied, but he was also a skilled phonetician and a pioneer in the study of North American ethnomusicology, particularly in his recordings of native music. Much of his fictional work attempted to recognize and embrace the native "coyote tales", or the trickster wisdom inherent in native storytelling. Ezra Pound called him "the American Ovid" and William Carlos Williams "one of the most outstanding writers I have ever encountered." De Angulo also went on to tutor numerous famous authors including Jack Spicer in linguistics, and Robert Duncan in North American shamanic sorcery; he appears as a character in Jack Kerouac's books.
Lisa Scola Prosek (Composer) was raised in Rome, Italy and has the fortune of having both European and American sensibilities in her music and her libretti. A graduate of Princeton University with a degree in Music Composition, Ms. Scola Prosek studied under Edward Cone and Milton Babbitt, and privately with Lukas Foss in New York. She also studied singing with Margherita Kalil of the Metropolitan Opera, and composition with composer Gaetano Giani-Luporini in Florence, Italy where she attended the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini. To date, Scola Prosek has composed seven operas, with librettos in Italian and English. Her most recent full-length work premiered at the Thick House Theater in August 2012. DAUGHTER OF THE RED TZAR was written for acclaimed tenor John Duykers and was based on Churchill’s midnight meeting with Stalin and his daughter Svetlana in the Kremlin, as narrated in Churchill’s auto-biography The Hinge of Fate.
Louise J. Miranda Ramirez (Libretto) is Esselen, Chumash and Yaqui. She is an enrolled member of the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation, from the Greater Monterey County, (Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Castroville, Salinas, King City and Los Padres National Forest) and the current Tribal Chairwoman. Her goal as a linguist is to work to return the Esselen language, which she says, “Has been sleeping for over 100 years.” In 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012, through scholarships with the Advocates for California Indigenous Language Survival (ACILS), she attended the Breath of Life Program and Language is Life Conference. ACILS supports research, for California Indian Languages with no speakers that is held at the University of Berkeley. She was assigned to work with the linguist David L. Shaul as her partner to work at reviving the Esselen Language. After the first conference they created a dictionary translated from oral stories and prayers. For the second year they worked to continue to expand Ramirez’s understanding of her ancestral language, after which Ramirez used the dictionary they had created to translate Esselen stories, prayers and speeches for special events. She has subsequently made pamphlets and books in the Esselen language. Ramirez’s goals include building a cultural center to be able to hold classes where all Esselen Tribal Members can learn the language. As Tribal Chairwoman she is also centrally involved in the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation’s ongoing struggles for Federal recognition and the demand for the return of land to allow for reburial with dignity of ancestral remains.
Jim Cave (Director) has worked in all aspects of theater in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past twenty years. His directing credits include the premiere production of A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil; Lauren Elder’s Handless Maiden; Exit, Vacaville and Xibalba for Möbius Music; The Crimes and Confessions of Kip Knutsen by Deke Weaver; and The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad by Bayram Beyzaie for Shotgun Players and Darvag Iranian Theater. He received the Bay Area Critic's Circle Award with co-designer Jack Carpenter for the 1991 production of Angels in America for the Eureka Theater.
Sara Jobin (Conductor) is a Grammy-nominated opera conductor who has a passion for American and new music. She recently conducted the world premiere of The Secret Garden for San Francisco Opera, based on the beloved children's book. Since 2004 when she made history as the first woman to conduct mainstage subscription performances for that company, she has also led them in performances of Tosca, Der fliegende Holländer, Norma, the world premiere of Philip Glass' Appomattox, and a production of Rachel Portman's The Little Prince. As Music Director of the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, she returns to Avignon, France this June conducting William Mayer's "A Death in the Family" in a production that swept all the awards at the Armel Opera Festival in Hungary last October. She also premiered and recorded Michael Dellaira's the Secret Agent for CCO in New York, Szeged and Avignon.
Desirae Harp (Ashia-Kxi, The Esselen Girl) is an enrolled member of the Mishewal Wappo Tribe of the Alexander Valley. She is a multi-talented, singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and dancer. Her songs include themes of environmentalism and indigenous language and pride. She sings with numerous groups including Audio Pharmacy and is a community activist and mentor for urban youth programs. She is also one of the authors of a report titled “Language Revitalization in Northern California: Awakening the Wappo Language.” Desirae graduated from San Francisco State University in 2012.
Philip Skinner (Fray Luis) has enjoyed an ever expanding and successful career on the operatic stage and in the concert hall. He has sung in Aida and Billy Budd with Dallas Opera and in Salome with San Diego Opera. Concertgoers heard him in Handel Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and as Tiresias Oedipus Rex and as Ramfis Aida, both with the San Jose Symphony Orchestra. During the past five seasons he has been a regular guest with Opera de Nantes, performing roles such as Goryanchikov From the House of the Dead, Il Conte Le Nozze di Figaro, Hagen Götterdämmerung and La Roche Capriccio for Opéra de Nantes. He appeared with the Spoleto Festival in Charleston as Besso Giasone by Cavalli, with Dallas Opera as Tom Un Ballo in Maschera and sang Raimondo Lucia di Lammermoor for Walnut Creek Festival Opera.
Mark Hernandez (Ruiz Berenda a.k.a. Kinikilali) has been performing professionally since 1990. Opera News has acclaimed him for his "winning physicality and unceasing attention to character, anchored by secure, attractive vocalism," and the San Francisco Chronicle has described his voice as "burnished gold.” Other critics have called him “top drawer” (Talkin Broadway), “a strong and rich tenor” (San Francisco Bay Times), and “a marvelous singer as well as a splendid actor” (Napa News). Mark has appeared in dozens of roles with Northern California companies such as Berkeley Opera, Mendocino Music Festival, Pocket Opera, Thick Description, and West Bay Opera, to name a few. In addition, he has sung with the San Francisco Opera Chorus for several seasons.
Joe Raymond (Fray Bernardo) is a highly sought after West Coast tenor with projects ranging from Verdi to Weill with many other stops along the way. Over the past five years, he’s turned his attention to the leading roles of the lyric stage. The Duke in Rigoletto, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Ferrando in Cosi fan Tutte, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Hoffmann in The Tales of Hoffmann, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Camille in The Merry Widow, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicci and Alfred in Die Fledermaus are just of a few of the roles for which he is becoming known. Within the confines of the classical music business, the tenor has been involved in so many different productions in so many different capacities as a singer that to say ”Lyric Tenor” really only captures where he is and doesn’t reflect on where he has been and some of the roles which have defined him as an actor/singer in the opera world.
Clifton Romig (Hualala) Cliff Romig’s bass voice has been heard on bay area opera stages since he moved to San Francisco in 1992. A former apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera and resident artist with Opera San Jose, Cliff has performed with many bay area opera companies such as West Bay Opera, Berkeley Opera and Pocket Opera. Recent engagements include Don Giovanni and Romeo and Juliette with Pocket Opera and Sarastro in Berkeley/West Edge Opera's adaptation of Mozart's Magic Flute - AKA The Manga Flute. Cliff is a regular with the San Francisco Opera Chorus, having performed in numerous operatic productions since 2005 and has also been a teaching artist with the SanFrancisco Opera Guild’s educational outreach program, performing opera for school children throughout the bay area. Cliff is a founding board member of the Sing for America foundation, an innovative fundraising organization dedicated to supporting the arts and other community non-profits. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and Indiana University and lives with his wife, Susan, in San Francisco’s Richmond District. Cliff is an avid cyclist, rower and photographer.
Maria Mikheyenko (Sister Inmacolada) has performed roles that include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Lucy in The Telephone (Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute), Ida in Die Fledermaus (Bay Shore Lyric Opera), La Poésie in Les Arts Florissants (Opera Lafayette), Drusilla in L’incoronazione di Poppea (BASOTI), Second Woman and First Witch in Dido & Aeneas, Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, (which marked Ms. Mikheyenko’s European debut), Second Touriere in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, (Berkeley Opera), and Saffi in Johann Strauss’ operetta, Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron), with the Austrian American Mozart Academy in Salzburg. In the world of contemporary opera, she has portrayed vastly different but equally fascinating characters. In Tom Dean’s White Darkness, with the Oakland Opera Theater, Ms. Mikheyenko sang the role of Mary Ann White. She has also had the opportunity to premiere several roles written for her, in chamber operas by Bay Area composer Lisa Scola Prosek: Salai in Leonardo’s Notebooks, Lucifer in Machiavelli’s Belfagor, a War Contractor in Iraq in Trap Door, and most recently, Alexandra Andreyevna in Daughter of the Red Tzar.