2017 Artistic Staff & Guest Artists
Cheryl Hickman, Artistic Director
Cheryl Hickman has served as Artistic Director of Opera on the Avalon since 2009. Top prize winner in the George London Competition in New York, she debuted with Florida Grand Opera as Desdemona in Otello, sang the role of Mary in the New York City Opera’s Ballad of Baby Doe and starred in Saint-Saëns’ La Princesse Jaune for l’Opéra Français de New York conducted by Yves Abel. She was heard with the Canadian Opera Company as the Female Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, the Mother and the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel and covered the role of Senta in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer.
Other roles include Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which she performed at the Aspen Festival, Kathleen in Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea and Susan B. Anthony in The Mother of Us All. Other highlights include Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites for Calgary Opera and her engagement as the cover artist for Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder and The Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung with the Vancouver Symphony. She appeared in the Canadian premiere of Dead Man Walking for Calgary Opera and sang Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder for Orchestra Toronto and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia and Symphony No. 9 for Symphony Nova Scotia. In 2006-2007 she returned to Calgary for Clorinda in La Cenerentola. Dates with the Newfoundland Symphony include Dvorak’s Te Deum and an all Wagner programme including the Immolation Scene from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
Featured in Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi at New York City Opera, Ms. Hickman’s roles at City Opera include Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Fortuna in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and Eve in Drattell’s Lilith. In Alberta, Calgary Opera audiences heard her as Gertrude/die Hexe in Hänsel und Gretel and she debuted as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro for Pacific Opera Victoria. Ms. Hickman appeared in performances of Bernstein’s ‘Kaddish’ Symphony with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
She debuted with Manitoba Opera as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and sang Micaëla in Carmen for Pacific Opera Victoria and Marianne in Der Rosenkavalier for Vancouver Opera. Ms. Hickman received her Master of Music degree in voice from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music and was also a member of the Juilliard Opera Center where she was featured in Die Zauberflöte, Monsieur Choufleuri, A Hand of Bridge, Il Capello di Paglia di Firenze and Liasons. The St. John’s, Newfoundland native holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto and also received a Diploma from the Opera Division.
Judith Yan, Resident Conductor
Judith Yan is a Canadian conductor, born in Hong Kong. Equally adept at conducting opera, ballet, and symphony, her career has taken her internationally, conducting for major companies in Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, and the
United States. She is currently the Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra and Music Director and Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon. She has held Staff Conductor positions at the San Francisco Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, and the National Ballet of Canada.
Her professional career started in Canada at the Canadian Opera Company, where she served as the Conductor-in-Residence, a position created for her by then General Director, the late Richard Bradshaw. For the Canadian Opera Company, she conducted in
the Altamira-sponsored outdoor concerts, a workshop production of Alexina Louie’s The Scarlet Princess, and Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Critic Peter Dyson, in his review for UK’s Opera Magazine wrote: “The chamber orchestra, under Judith Yan’s energetic conducting, skillfully projected the score’s rhythmic variety…its striking harmonic shifts, always allied to and furthering the action on stage.” While at the COC, she also served as Rehearsal and Cover Conductor for productions of Xerses, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Il barbiere di Sivilglia, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Die verkaufte Braut, and Pel!éas et Mélisande. During her tenure with the Canadian Opera Company, she collaborated with members of Stratford Festival, Ballet Jorgen and the Toronto Symphony on a program of Prokofiev, Bernstein and Gounod in the Romeo and Juliet MODD project.
Her career continued in the United States, where she was appointed Staff Conductor of the San Francisco Opera. While with the San Francisco Opera she conducted the 2005 Merola production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, garnering critical acclaim. Critic Joshua Kosman, in his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote: “the evening’s principal hero was conductor Judith Yan, who led this daunting score with astonishing precision and fluency. She
never downplayed or regularized the score’s sharp edges, but she made them sound natural and even commonsensical, like poetry recited in the speaker’s own language.” The performances were later included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top Ten Classical Performances of 2005. Along with The Rake’s Progress, she conducted the world premiere of the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Lewis Spratlin’s Earthrise, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, and made her company debut in 2002 with Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. As a member of the San Francisco Opera music staff, she served as the cover and rehearsal conductor for productions of La Damnation de Faust, Otello, Falstaff, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Hänsel und Gretel, Samson et Dalila and Giulio Cesare, and assisted on productions of St. Francois d’Assise, Jenufa, Alcina and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Donna Fletcher, Stage Director: The Sound of Music
Donna Fletcher is an accomplished Singer, Actor, and Concert Performer with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre and symphonic work. Proud of her prairie roots, Donna received her early training in Winnipeg and earned a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts and a Master of Music in Performance from the University of Toronto.Donna has performed in principle roles with the Charlottetown Festival, the Drayton Festival, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Calgary, Stage West Calgary, the Belfry Theatre, the National Arts Centre, MTC, PTE, MTYP, Dry Cold Productions, Winnipeg Studio Theatre, Persephone Theatre, and Manitoba Opera.
Always seeking new challenges, Donna co-created Dry Cold Productions and has been directing and assistant directing across the country. Donna directed the Winnipeg premieres of the musicals Nine, The Light in the Piazza and Sweeney Todd for Dry Cold Productions. Most notably, Donna was the assistant director for the world premiere of the John Estacio/John Murrell Canadian opera Filumena (Calgary Opera/Banff Centre), Calgary Opera’s Sweeney Todd, Opera Ontario’s Susannah, Top Girls at the MTC Warehouse and Madama Butterfly, The Magic Flute and Lucia di Lammermoor for Manitoba Opera.
In the summer of 2012, Donna was inducted to the Rainbow Stage Wall of Fame and became the first Winnipeg female Director to helm a production (Annie) at the theatre.
Donna is part of the vocal faculty and directs the Musical Theatre Ensemble at the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music. She is actively teaching, coaching, adjudicating and conducting workshops across the country and, in addition to her teaching duties at the University of Manitoba, Donna teaches at the Theatre Department at the University of Winnipeg.
Kimberley-Ann Bartcak, Assistant Conductor: The Sound of Music
Kimberley-Ann Bartczak is quickly establishing herself as a sought after collaborative pianist in Canada. Born in Montréal, Québec, she is an alumni of Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program as vocal coach and repetiteur. Kimberley-Ann has joined the Opera on the Avalon staff team since 2014 as an assistant conductor, coach and pianist. Graduate of University of Toronto in collaborative piano, she also has extensive experience with conducting and accompanying choirs including the Quebec YouthChoir, the St-Lambert Choral Society, and Mississauga Festival Choir. Recent appearances include guest conductor with I Musici de Montréal Chamber Orchestra, conductor for Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortilèges at Opera on the Avalon, coach at Neil Semer Vocal Institute in Coesfeld, Germany, and french coach for Bizet’s Carmen at Vancouver Opera. Upcoming engagements include assistant conductor and repetiteur for Turandot at Calgary Opera, and Le Nozze di Figaro at Vancouver Opera.
Andrea Baggs, Stage Manager: The Sound of Music
Andrea is a Toronto based freelance stage manager. Raised in london Ontario with a vocal and orchestral musical background, Baggs moved to Toronto to complete her BFA from the Ryerson Theatre School in production. Recent credits include: Assistant Stage Manager; Canadian Stage Company: Constellations, Hamlet/ All’s Well That Ends Well, Botticelli in the Fire/ Sunday in Sodom, Domesticated, Tragedy of Caesar/ Comedy of Errors, 2 Pianos 4 Hands (Marquis Entertainment). Other: Stage Manager for TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Mara Bredovskis, Production Manager & Technical Director: The Sound of Music
Mara has been with Opera on the Avalon since working on both Sweeney Todd and Ours. Since arriving in St.John’s in 2013 she has worked for Artistic Fraud (Between Breaths), White Rooster Theatre (Hunger), Wonderbolt Circus (Bolt Out of the Blue, Circus Glorious), Double-Sure Theatre Co-op (PROUD), skc originals (Give Me Back), Atlantic Light Theatre (Spamalot, Sister Act), Theatre St.John’s (Mary Poppins, Little Mermaid, British Invasion). She spent four summers at the Grand Bank Regional Theatre (2012-2016), and the Spring 2016 season with the Canadian Opera Company.
James Marvel, Stage Director: 2017 Summer Festival
Internationally acclaimed stage director James Marvel has been praised for his “brilliant stage direction” and his “unforgettable and visually stunning new productions.” James made his Lincoln Center debut in 2008 for the Juilliard Opera Center, directing a highly acclaimed new production. James made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2011 and directed the U.S. premier of Cavalli’s Eliogabalo for the Gotham Chamber Opera in NYC.
Since his professional directing debut in 1996, James has directed over 100 productions and was named Classical Singer Magazine’s “2008 – Stage Director of the Year.” Recent engagements include La Traviata for New Orleans Opera, Rigoletto for Opera Tampa, and Tosca for Opera Grand Rapids. Upcoming projects include La Traviata for Opera Carolina, Nabucco for Opera Grand Rapids, La Traviata for Teatro Del Lago in Chile, and La Rondine in Sulmona, Italy. In 2014, James directed the world premier of Larry Delinger’s new opera Amelia Lost, which was created for Marble City Opera and performed at The National Opera Center in New York. The production was named “Most Memorable Operatic Performance of 2014,” by Arts Knoxville.
Career highlights include groundbreaking new productions for the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Opera Boston, Opera Santa Barbara, Syracuse Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, San Antonio Opera, Kentucky Opera, Virginia Opera, North Carolina Opera, Toledo Opera, Sacramento Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Indiana University, and the University of Southern California.
International credits include a new production of Carmen for Opera Africa in Johannesburg, which was hailed as “stupendous” by the local press and a new production of Die Zauberflote for the Seoul International Opera in South Korea. European credits include productions of La Boheme, Suor Angelica, L’elisir d’amore, and Cosi fan tutte in Sulmona, Italy. James made his Paris debut with the The Man of La Mancha at the Theatre des Varietes and returned to Paris a year later to direct The Beggar’s Holiday at Espace Pierre Cardin. His new production of La Voix Humaine and The Telephone premiered at the Alliance Francaise in New York City before traveling to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium. Other international credits include work in Canada, Scotland, England, Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.
James received his MFA in Acting from the University of Tennessee and his BA in World Literature from Sarah Lawrence College and Oxford University, England. He conducted additional studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. James studied violin from the age of seven and played violin for the Wadham Chamber Orchestra in Oxford, England. He has composed original music for several professional theatrical productions and has had his poetry, fiction, and critical writing published in a variety of national, international, and online journals. As an arts advocate, James has appeared numerous times on NPR and other radio and television outlets to discuss the art form and its relevance in modern society.
In 2011, James was named Director of Opera at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and remains active directing in the United States and abroad.