Biographies

Alan
Chavez

Alan is a Richmond native and has been consistently performing since his debut at VCU in 2011, becoming a familiar face in opera around the Richmond area ever since.

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Alan is very excited to finally begin his career as a Tenor, where he has already secured multiple performances for the remainder of the year, including Arnalta in Capitol Opera of Richmond’s recent production of L’incoronatione di Poppea as well as Manrico in Commonwealth Concert Opera’s upcoming production of Il Trovatore. He most recently appeared in the RVA Art Song Series presentation of Brahms' "Die schöne Magelone" and Commonwealth Concert Opera's "Scenes and Arias from Operas by Richard Wagner."

James
Lynn

James Lynn, a native of Richmond, VA, holds a BFA in Music from Carnegie Mellon University and a Masters degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

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He has enjoyed performance experiences from San Francisco to Lisbon, Portugal for such companies as Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Virginia Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, and San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theater. He has performed a wide variety of repertoire from beloved standards such as The Marriage of Figaro, Rigoletto, and The Elixir of Love, to more modern opera such as Wozzeck and the world premieres of Emmeline and Seasons in Hell. He recently created the role of Dr. Bortigali in the world premiere of the new Baroque opera, Julie, Monster, produced by RVA Baroque and The Firehouse Theater. 

Helena
Nuckols

Helena Nuckols is a young artist with a passion for Opera and art song. Helena recently earned a Bachelor's degree in Music Performance at

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Music and plans to continue pursuing a career in Classical Voice Performance and attend Graduate School.

Helena has worked on a number of solo and collaborative performances with VCU Opera, The Defiant Requiem Foundation and The Tuckahoe Woman's Club. She recently appeared as Despina in Commonwealth Concert Opera’s production of Cosí fan tutte.

Elizabeth
Robideau

Elizabeth Robideau studied vocal performance at Duquesne University of Pittsburgh. She has performed in oratorio, opera, operetta and recital. Her oratorio performances as soloist include Handel’s "Messiah", Mozart's "Requiem", Bach's "Magnificat" and "Mass in B minor" and Vivaldi's "Gloria". Operatic roles include Maura in Riders to the Sea by Vaughan Williams, Lucilla in Rossini's La scala di seta, Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and the title role in Benjamin Lees’ Medea. She has also appeared in many Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, such as The Yeomen of the Guard" (Phoebe) and The Pirates of Penzance (Edith).

A native of England, Ms. Robideau has also performed as Mad Margaret in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore at Gawsworth Hall in Macclesfield, UK. She is currently studying with James Taylor.

Cheryl
Van Ornam

Cheryl Van Ornam is the organist at First Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.  She has given recitals on the Midmer-Losh Organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City; in Los Angeles at First Congregational Church

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and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels; Busch Hall and King’s Chapel in Boston; and Northwestern University’s Alice Millar Chapel. In Virginia, she has performed recitals at Bruton Parish Church (Colonial Williamsburg), St. John’s Episcopal Church, Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, and the 25th Anniversary of the Installation of the Dobson organ at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. In addition to recitals, she has been privileged to play the organ at All Saints' Church in Wittenberg (where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses), and the Trost organ at Altenburg Castle, which J.S. Bach played. She has participated in two “Organ Spectacular” concerts, one in Chicago and one in Richmond; and, participated in the 40th annual Bach Marathon at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She has made a CD with Tracey Welborn, tenor, and William Balz, pianist. An organ duet performance was featured on Pipedreams Program No.1752 where she performed “Balboa Bolero” by Joe Utterback with Elizabeth Melcher Davis. Further study has been at Haarlem Summer Organ Academy, Smarano Organ Academy, Leipzig Organ Academy, and McGill Summer Organ Academy.  She has been active with the American Guild of Organists in Chicago, Boston and Richmond, where she was the Dean. 

Reese
Williams

Reese Williams has been a voice actor for over 25 years. She enjoys this work because it allows her to be obnoxiously animated, yet socially acceptable.

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She’s lent her talent to live radio, animation, mobile apps, voicemails, commercials, corporate videos and backup singing vocals. She’s Head of Business Development for In Your Ear Studios in Richmond, so now she gets to run her mouth about her beloved audio industry for a living. She hosts the live stream concert series Shockoe Sessions Live, and its companion podcast, "This Room Sounds Great." She also produces and hosts her own podcast titled "Spying on Humanity."

Erik
DeMario

Erik DeMario is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he performed as Bob in Menotti's The Old Maid and the Thief and as the title role of Mozart's The Impresario.

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He was also seen in VCU Opera's 2021 Scenes Gala playing Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, and Nemorino in The Elixir of Love. As an actor, his performances have included Orsino in Twelfth Night, Ensemble/Mr. Marks (u/s) in Intimate Apparel, several roles in Firehouse Theatre's War in Pieces, and Orcus/Ronnie in She Kills Monsters.

In July 2022, he debuted with Capitol Opera of Richmond in their production of L'incoronazione di Poppea. 

Hannah
Magnelli

Hannah Magnelli is rapidly establishing herself as one of opera's brightest young stars. She is equally comfortable in opera, musical theatre, the concert hall, and the recording studio.

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She made her European debut singing Malika in Lakme with Bel Canto Tuscany in the Summer of 2019, and her New York debut as Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi with conductor, Richard Nechamkin. 

She has worked and interned with many great musicians, such as Daniel Barenboim and musicians from the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Sebastian Weigle at the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, pianist, Lauren Green, and musicians from the Staatskapelle Berlin. Further studies include Bel Canto in Tuscany in Greve in Chianti where she worked with acting coach, Dona D. Vaughn, Paolo Pecchioli, Elizabeth De Trejo, Will Crutchfield, and Danielle Orlando. She continues her studies with tenor, James Taylor, and Giovanni Reggioli, vocal coach/conductor for the Washington National Opera. 

Catherine
Pelletier

Catherine Pelletier has studied as a vocal performance major at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied with voice teacher Dr. Kenneth Wood and vocal coach Melanie Kohn Day.

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She is currently a voice student of James Taylor of James Taylor Studios.

She has performed in a variety of genres at a variety of venues, but her favorite has always been opera. Favorite past performances include Ms. Todd in Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (partial role), Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (partial role), Leonora in Donizetti’s La Favorita (partial role), Princess Ida in Gilbert & Sullivan's Princess Ida, and Nick Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Catherine sings as the alto section leader and soloist at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church. While she is primarily a classical singer, she  but teaches and performs many musical genres. She has taught voice and piano at School of Rock, Chester Performing Arts Studio, Brilliant Summer, and Music & Arts, where she currently teaches. She also works as assistant
stage director and production stage manager for VCU’s award-winning opera department. 

James
Taylor

James Taylor, M.M. (Yale University), is an internationally celebrated performer. At home in opera, concert, recital, and musical theatre, he has appeared with numerous opera

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companies, symphonies, and theatres, including the New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Carolina, Göttigen Handel Festspiele, Theatre Augsburg, and the Nederlandse Reisopera.

In his earlier roles as a baritone, Mr. Taylor performed the title roles in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Le Nozze di Figaro, Marcello in La Boheme, as well as thirty-three others. As a tenor, his performances have included Siegmund in Die Walküre, the title role in Lohengrin and Parsifal, Don Jose in Carmen, Manrico in Il Trovatore, Cavaradossi in Tosca, and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. His many concert performances include Handel's "Messiah", Bach's "Magnificat", Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Mozart's "Requiem".

An avid recitalist, Mr. Taylor has presented programs in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Breda, and Groningen in the Netherlands, Munich, Augsburg, and Dusseldorf in Germany, Klagenfurt, Linz, and Vienna in Austria, and Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as well as several universities and colleges across the United States.  He has sung Schubert's "Winterreise", "Die schöne Müllerin", and "Schwanengesang", Schumann's "Dichterliebe", "Liederkreise" Op. 24 & Op. 39, Brahms' "Vier ernste Gesange", "Ziguenerlieder" and "Die schöne Magelone", and Wagner's "Wesendonk Lieder".

Leilani
Fenick

Leilani Fenick is a professional pianist, and vocal coach in the Richmond area. She has collaborated with professional vocalists, performing throughout the US, China, Italy, and Mexico.

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Mrs. Fenick is actively involved in the Richmond professional theatres as a music director and pianist and also teaches in her private studio. Some of her most recent shows as music director include GABRIEL (Assistant Musical Director/Firehouse Theatre), KISS ME, KATE (Ft. Lee), THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG (Ft. Lee), PASSING STRANGE (Firehouse), DAMES AT SEA (Swift Creek Mill), GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL (Quill Theatre), LEGALLY BLONDE (VCU), and TOP OF BRAVERY (Quill).   

Many of her shows have been nominated by the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle for several awards including Best Musical and Best Musical Director and was awarded Best Musical Director for her work in RENT (Firehouse).  

Mrs. Fenick holds a Master's degree in Piano Performance from VCU. She studied with Dr. Sonia Vlahcevic and Prof. Melanie Day.