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Hunter Opera Theater, National Opera Association & The American Opera Project present the NOA Eastern Regional Conference
and Earth Day Celebration

Hunter Opera Theater in collaboration with National Opera Association & The American Opera Project present masterclasses with Brandon McShaffrey and Miriam Charney followed by a concert reading of PRECIPICE, a new chamber opera by Susan Zeeman Rogers (Concept & Design), Rima Fand (Music) and Karen Fisher (Libretto).

Structuring Emotional Velocity through Movement and Improvisation

9:30 - 11:00 AM

Structuring Emotional Velocity through Movement and Improvisation - with Director, Choreographer, and Professor Brandon McShaffrey. Using Michael Chekhov technique to work with inner and external movement to merge vocal and physical expression which will bring together the skill sets of the singing actor, composer, and director. Working pure emotional impulse on our feet, working with breath to analyze and interpret text and music, and finding depth in emotional possibilities in new and exciting ways that can easily be applied to all of your performance needs.

Contemporary Opera: Study of Vocal Methods & Strategies

11:30 - 12:30 PM

Contemporary Opera: Study of Vocal Methods & Strategies - with Assistant Conductor and Pianist Miriam Charney.  The master class will explore how singers first approach an opera that is not only new to them, but also new to the world? How does one develop the musicianship skills needed to approach, study, learn quickly, interpret, and perform this music with confidence and enjoyment? How do we learn how to organize the material into a memorable whole?

Employing various vocal exercises and techniques, this participatory master class will explore the skills needed and then apply them to music new to the singers. Finally, we will discuss how to find arias which are personally comfortable, beautiful, and usable for auditions and performance, and learn how to distinguish between what's appropriate for each circumstance and what's best for the individual singer.



2:00 - 3:30 PM

A concert reading of a new chamber opera by

Susan Zeeman Rogers (Concept & Design),

Rima Fand (Music)

and Karen Fisher (Libretto)

followed by a Q&A with Dr. Susan Gonzalez,

the creative team, and director Mallory Catlett

More Info About PRECIPICE


Ana finds freedom in the forest, but as a child of the 1950’s her wild spirit is crushed, and her voice is stolen by adults who disregard and punish her. Rather than marry a man who expects only beauty and docility, she finds her way to the precipice of her dream, and leaps. She wakes to find herself in a surreal wilderness in which she must fight to find her voice and power as a woman, and to create a world worth returning to.


Told as an object theatre/chamber opera, Precipice sets an intimate story against epic natural landscapes, created with hand-made paper dioramas and live feed video. This contemporary fairy tale has music by Rima Fand, libretto by Karen Fisher, design by Susan Zeeman Rogers and direction by Mallory Catlett. By drawing parallels between environmental and emotional damage, Precipice looks at how we are silenced and exiled, and at how we find our way back to connection, both with each other and the natural world.


Ana (8, 24 and 34 years old)

Alice Tolan-Mee, mezzo

Ana's mother, Earth Spirit

Daisy Press, soprano/alto

Ana's father

Damian Norfleet, baritone

Developer, Fiancée's father, Mother Tree

Rocky Sellers, bass-baritone

Fiancée's mother, Spirit Voice

Berit Bassinger, soprano*

Developer's wife, Spirit Voice

Lian Kelmann, soprano*

Raven Child, Ana's daughter (8 years old)

Willow Macol, soprano*


Joseph Stroppel, tenor*

*indicates a current student at Hunter Opera Theater


Shani Baker, mezzo soprano
Duquingna,  soprano
Marc Gross, baritone
Samantha Jones, soprano**
Anais Leal, soprano
Eric Li, baritone
Donna Paysepar, soprano
Dawn Ressy, mezzo soprano
Hannie Ricardo, mezzo soprano
Alejandra Rodriguez, mezzo soprano**
Maya Sequira, soprano**
James Worley, tenor
Yichen Xue, baritone**

**indicates a cover role


Mila Henry, piano

Leah Asher, violin

Jasmine Goley, violin*

Tyran Ferone, cello*

Vitor Sampaio, mandolin*

*indicates a current student at Hunter College


Susan Zeeman Rogers, Creator & Designer

Rima Fand, Composer

Karen Fisher, Librettist

Susan Gonzalez, Artistic Director of Hunter Opera Theater

Mila Henry, Music Director

Lana Norris, Assistant Music Director & Coach



Charles Jarden, Interim General Director 

Mila Henry, Artistic Director
Joel Kalow, General Manager
Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas, Head of Development & Greater Impact 
Caitlin Mead, Grant Writer, Social Media, and Marketing

W. Wilson Jones, Resident Stage Manager 

Rosamund Dyer, Administrative Assistant 


Susan Gonzalez, Director of Vocal Studies and Hunter Opera Theater
Corinne Schaefer, Production Manager 

Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie, Tech Director & Sound Engineer 
Eric Li, Stage Manager 
Shani Baker, Administrative Coordinator  
Karen Yamaguchi, Administrative Assistant


Gordon Ostrowski, Regional Governor & Organizer for National Opera Association Eastern Conference



Anthony Roth Costanzo

Sarah Moulton Faux

J. David Jackson

Charles Jarden

W. Wilson Jones

Cassondra Joseph

Mark Kalow

Christina B. Murphy

Norman Ryan

Precipice is made possible in part from the Howard Gilman Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. The commissioning of Rima Fand for Precipice was made possible by OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The commissioning of Susan Zeeman Rogers for Precipice was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.


Precipice is currently in development with The American Opera Project. Participating organizations that have helped to develop Precipice are New Georges and Paper River, LLC.


Thank you to Precipice's many generous individual donors (as of 4/21/23), including those who donated $100 or more: AOP Board (In Honor of Mila Henry), Randi Benton, Rima Fand, Sarah Moulton Faux (In Honor of Mila Henry), Celine French, Helen Henry, Charles Jarden (In Honor of Mila Henry), Cassondra Joseph (In Honor of Mila Henry), Greg Papazian, Ben Provenzano, Martha Robb, Robert Rogers, Susan Zeeman Rogers, Gregory Schneiderman, Sara Valentine, and the additional generous donors listed here


4:00 PM

The NOA Eastern Regional Conference and Earth Day Celebration was made possible by

Hunter Opera Theater, National Opera Association & The American Opera Project.

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