Following the success of our 2019 world premiere, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, composer Joe Illick and librettist Mark Campbell have teamed up once again for Stone Soup, a new family opera with an enduring message of kindness. Led by a resourceful young hero named Sally, this timely tale teaches the value of sharing and collaboration.
STONE SOUP (WORLD PREMIERE)
Artwork by Sarah Green
Music by Joe Illick
Libretto by Mark Campbell
Sung in English
Filmed entirely on green screens with full costumes, set, and props, Stone Soup is FWO’s first foray into the world of cinema, and will be streamed on the company’s website in October. Initially set to take the stage this fall, the opera’s live performances were hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. FWO Manager of Education Sheran Goodspeed Keyton (Virtual project producer), Producer Charles W. Bush of Appointed Productions (Film Producer), and FWO Head of Music Charlene Lotz (Music Producer) have teamed up to create something infinitely more imaginative for the inaugural production of FWO’s 75th anniversary season.
Under the direction of Theatre Arlington’s Executive Producer Steven D. Morris, five talented singers were filmed individually, then seamlessly edited together to bring Illick and Campbell’s charming opera to life. Starring 2020 District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, soprano Flora Wall as Sally, Australian bass-baritone Christopher Curcuruto as Max, and mezzo-soprano Kayla Nanto as Edna, this Texas-themed work also features FWO Lesley Residents artists Darius Thomas and Megan Koch as Stan and Delia.
Stone Soup will be available for booking to view after October 1, 2020. As with all of Fort Worth Opera’s Arts in Place educational programming, a detailed study guide will accompany the performance piece. Virtual story time and Stone Soup book distribution are also available for title I kindergartners within Fort Worth.
Bring this world premiere film to your school, community, or private event.
Contact Sheran Goodspeed Keyton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flora Wall recently was a 2020 District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. She has accepted a contract with Kentucky Opera for their 2020-2021 season where she will be performing roles in Puccini’s La bohème (Musetta), Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Sandman), and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Euridice). Flora is currently performing as a returning artist with Shreveport Opera for their 2019-2020 season where she will be performing the lead soprano role in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (Susanna) and performing in Leigh's Man of La Mancha (Antonia). She was invited to perform at the 2018 Fort Worth Opera Gala. Flora was a winner of the 2019 Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition. In 2018, she received her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Houston where she also performed roles in Ward’s The Crucible (Sarah Good), Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Sigretto (Carolina), Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges (Princess Ninetta), and Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri (Elvira), and premiere the leading role in Nelson’s The School for Scandal (Lady Teazle). Flora looks forward to continuing to pursue her career as an Opera Singer.
Christopher Curcuruto is from Sydney, Australia and is in his second year of a Graduate Artist Certificate in Opera at UNT. This summer Christopher performed with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera where he was one of ten singers selected to participate in the Mastersingers Project for Young Dramatic Singers under internationally renowned Wagnerian soprano, Jane Eaglen. An alumnus of the Pacific Opera Young Artist Program, Christopher graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with a Graduate Diploma of Music (Opera Performance) and holds an Honours degree in Theatre Performance from the University of New England. Christopher is also a member of the Opera Australia Chorus. He is a voice student of Stephen F. Austin and is the recipient of the David L. Shrader Opera Scholarship and sponsorships from the Wagner Society in NSW and the Sydney Savage Club. Recent role credits include the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Parson (The Cunning Little Vixen), and Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte).
Mezzo-Soprano Kayla Nanto completed her Master of Music in Vocal Performance at University of North Texas and Bachelor of Music at University of Northern Colorado. She is a Performing Artist with The Dallas Opera's Education and Outreach program, which performs children's operas weekly at elementary schools throughout the DFW area. Her most recent engagements include Fileno in Clori, Tirsi, e Fileno with American Baroque Opera, Alto soloist in Messiah with the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra, Alto soloist in Petite Messe Solennelle with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Choral Union, Suzuki (cover) in Madama Butterfly with Opera Ft. Collins, and Ulisse in Orchestra of New Spain’s world premiere of Achillo in Sciro. During her studies, she performed the roles of Siébel in Faust, Petra in A Little Night Music, and Flora in La Traviata at University of North Texas, and the title role in Carmen, and Angelina in La Cenerentola at University of Northern Colorado.
Tenor Darius Thomas continues to make his presence known in the world of opera with his clear and rich voice. In the 2020-2021 season, Thomas will perform throughout DFW as a Fort Worth Opera Lesley Resident Artist, and be featured online through the company’s digital platform FWO Green Room, where he will perform the role of Stan in the world premiere film of Joe Illick and Mark Campbell’s Stone Soup. Last season, he made a partial role debut as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in Knoxville Opera’s touring production, and was previously the tenor in residence for the Mary Ragland Emerging Artists program with Nashville Opera. There he performed the roles Dauber in The Cradle Will Rock, and Nathanael/Cochenille in The Tales of Hoffmann. Mr. Thomas pursued graduate studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville where he studied with American Tenor Andrew Skoog and served as a graduate teaching assistant. Mr. Thomas holds a Bachelors of Music Degree in Voice Performance from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. When he is not on the stage, Thomas can usually be found with his family in his hometown of Sherman, Texas.
Soprano Megan Koch returns to Fort Worth Opera as a Lesley Resident Artist in 2020-2021, as part of the company’s 75th anniversary season. Ms. Koch was part of the FWO Studio Artist program, and premiered the role of Marianna and Grandmother in composer Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s family opera, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World. With UNT Opera, she recently debuted the roles of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Zan in Regina. In 2019, she was invited to the Czech Republic to sing in the modern premiere of two lost operas by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer in the Olomouc Baroque Festival. Megan was a Division Winner in the UNT Concerto Competition, a finalist in the Classical Singer Competition and Lewisville Lake Symphony International Voice Competition in 2019. She earned her Master of Music in Voice Performance in 2019 and is currently studying with Carol Wilson while pursuing her Graduate Artist Certificate in Opera at the University of North Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University.
The work of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell is at the forefront of the contemporary opera scene in this country. Mark has written 38 opera librettos, lyrics for 7 musicals and text for 5 song cycles and 2 oratorios. His best known works are Silent Night, Sanctuary Road, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, As One, Elizabeth Cree, Stonewall, Later the Same Evening, The Manchurian Candidate, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, and Songs from an Unmade Bed. Mark also mentors future generations of opera composers and librettists through such organizations as the American Opera Project, American Lyric Theater and the American Opera Initiative and recently created the first prize in the history of opera designated specifically for opera librettists, called the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize.
Joseph Illick is the Artistic Director of Fort Worth Opera, having served for fifteen seasons as Music Director and Principal Conductor. From 2007 to 2017 he served as Executive and Artistic Director of Performance Santa Fe. He has also served as the Artistic Director of the Lake George Opera Festival and Shreveport Opera, Interim Artistic Director of Greater Miami Opera (now Florida Grand Opera), and Music Director of the Pittsburgh Opera Theater. As a composer, he is the recipient of the Van Someren Award in the United Kingdom for the composition of a song cycle. Maestro Illick's work Ulysses was premiered in Italy, his monodrama Emma was performed on public television, and excerpts from his one-act comedy Gunpoint have been performed with orchestra in New Mexico, New York, and Washington. He has written the operas Feel the Tango (libretto by Susan Westfall), UnShakeable (libretto by Andrea Fellows Walters), and Bliss. In June of 2019, his delightful musical for young performers, Color Planet, was performed during Fort Worth Opera's two-week summer intensive, Opera FUNatics, and his opera Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World (libretto by Mark Campbell) premiered during Fort Worth Opera’s 2019-2020 season.
Sheran Goodspeed Keyton
Producer and Manager of Education
Sheran Goodspeed Keyton began her career more than 25 years ago as a performer of stage, commercial, radio and film locally, nationally, and internationally. She has since gone on to add Director, Producer, Writer and Educator to her list of many talents. Since 1996, she has written, directed, produced, and/or coordinated educational or community outreach programming for many organizations in DFW. Sheran intends to continue her work in the community, and to assist with the development of innovative and interactive arts integrated programs through her position as Manager of Education and Community Engagement at Fort Worth Opera.
Steven D. Morris is the Executive Producer of Theatre Arlington. Steve started performing with Theatre Arlington in 1981 and has done over 70 shows here as an actor, director and writer. Steve is thrilled to be the Executive Producer at Theatre Arlington and working with such a great staff and Board of Directors. Steve received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Speech and Theatre) from UTA and Master of Arts (Theatre) from the University of Houston. Most recently Steve acquired his Non-Profit Management Certification. Steve was recently honored with an Arlington High School Distinguished Alumni Award for 2020.
Music Director of Children's Opera Theatre
Charlene Lotz has been an active performer since her debut solo recital at the Fourth Bela Bartok International Piano Festival in Lima, Peru at the age of 14. She has played both solo recitals and concerto performances in the United States, South America, and Europe, and is highly sought-after as a collaborator. In 2019, Charlene was awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Texas Christian University, studying with John Owings.
Scenery and Prop Designer
Ellen Doyle Mizener (Scenic Design and Props Design) debuts with Fort Worth Children’s Opera Theatre with this world premier of Stone Soup. Also a production designer for film, Mizener has designed throughout the metroplex and abroad. She designed the United States National Exhibit for the Prague Quadrennial 2019 (Czech Republic). Previous opera credits: Jérusalem (design assistant to Jean Guy Lecat; Opéra Royale de Wallonie, Liege, Belgium); Manon Lescaut (design assistant to Jean Guy Lecat, unrealized to date). Favorite stage designs include: Animal Farm, The Musical, Murder Ballad, Playboy of the Western World, A Few Good Men, The Woman in Black, and Twelfth Night. Mizener holds an MFA in Theatre/Scenic & Costume Design from the University of Houston.
Karen's work has been seen in various theatres and film festivals across the country. She is a designer for theatre, opera, film and television. Her current costume designs at Theatre Arlington were Hooray for the Holidays and The Best Little Whore House in Texas. She currently works as an Assistant Professor for Texas Wesleyan University. She worked for the California Institute of the Arts as a Costume Shop Manager and Adjunct Faculty. She lives with her two children and husband in Fort Worth, TX and works throughout the country and in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Rick Morrison has been designing and building sets, and managing stage crews across Dallas-Fort Worth for over 40 years. He has served as the Technical Director for Fort Worth Opera for 7 seasons and has been the Head Carpenter on numerous productions for Casa Mañana. Rick currently works various roles for All Saints Episcopal School Fort Worth, Kids Who Care Musical Theatre, Circle Theatre, and The Littlest Wiseman.