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2023 Verdi and Puccini


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. Alan is very excited to finally begin his career as a Tenor, where he has already performed tenor roles such as Arnalta in Capitol Opera of Richmond’s 2022 production of L’incoronatione di Poppea as well as Manrico in Commonwealth Concert Opera’s January 2023 production of Verdi's Il Trovatore. He has also appeared in the RVA Art Song Series presentations of Brahms' "Die schöne Magelone", CCO Unleashed's "Spooktacular!", and Commonwealth Concert Opera's "Scenes and Arias from Operas by Richard Wagner."

Cannon West


Cannon West is a software engineer and VCU Computer Science alum that spends his free time pursuing his passion for singing anyway he can. Growing up in Northern Virginia, he began classical vocal training in high school, pursuing interests in small group singing and musicals, before moving to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. Today, studying under James Taylor, he relishes any opportunity to sing locally. As a member of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, he has sung on the Carpenter Theatre stage on a wide range of projects. Cannon enjoys living in downtown Richmond and raising two wonderful cats with his partner Julia in their apartment.

Erik DeMario


Erik DeMario is a graduate of 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. He has performed 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. Erik recently appeared in the CCO Unleashed presentation of "Spooktacular!", as Ruiz in Commonwealth Concert Opera’s January 2023 production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and will be performing the role of Tamino in VCU opera’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in April 2023.

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 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 roles 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".

Charles Staples


Charles Staples’ playing has been described in the Richmond Times-Dispatch as “forceful…but unforced, as natural as breathing.” A native of Alabama and honors graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, Staples won the Van Cliburn full tuition scholarship to the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and went on to receive his master’s and doctoral degrees at Stony Brook University, training under David Bar-Illan, Martin Canin and Bernard Greenhouse. He won prizes in the MTNA Southern Division Competition, the Bryan Young Artist Competition, the Five Towns and Sunwood competitions, and has performed on public radio in Cincinnati, New York and Richmond. Staples has been soloist in concertos with the the Richmond Symphony as well as the CCM Concert Orchestra, the Congress of Strings, the North Carolina Symphony and University of Richmond Orchestra. He recently performed the Brahms 1st Piano Concerto with the Richmond Philharmonic and will make his 6th appearance with them this fall playing the Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto. He has also performed recitals in New York's Town Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He teaches on the piano faculties of VCU and the Greenspring International Academy as well as being director of music ministries at Trinity United Methodist Church.

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. 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."

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