Blythe Gaissert, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert has established herself as one of the preeminent interpreters of some of the brightest stars of new classical music. A true singing actress, she has received critical acclaim for her interpretations of both new and traditional repertoire in opera, concert, and chamber repertoire. “Gaissert gave a dramatically powerful, vocally stunning portrait of a woman growing increasingly desperate and delusional from lack of contact with the outer world. Gaissert’s development of Loats’s personality was utterly believable, and she gave a virtuoso performance of this very challenging music’ (Arlo McKinnon, Opera News for The Echo Drift). Known for her warm tone, powerful stage presence, and impeccable musicianship and technical prowess…."Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert was impossible to ignore as the headstrong Mother Marie. She has a pure, powerful and appealing voice and a forceful stage presence to match." (Denver Post)
Madison Leonard, soprano
Rising young soprano Madison Leonard is a 2018 winner of the Metropolitan National Council Auditions, at which she sang arias from Rigoletto and Hänsel und Gretel with Bertrand de Billy conducting. In the 2020-21 season, she makes a return to Seattle Opera as Adina in a filmed version of L’elisir d’amore and makes her international, role, and house debut with Garsington Opera as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier. In the 2021-22 season, she will make her debut with Utah Opera as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance; return to the role of Chrisann Brennan in Bates’ The [R]evolution of Steve Jobs with Austin Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Matthew Plenk, tenor
American tenor Matthew Plenk holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Hartt School of Music, a Master’s degree from Yale University and is a Samling Scholar. He is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and has sung several roles with the company, including Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Tamino in The Magic Flute, and Janek in The Makropulos Case.
Recent appearances for Mr. Plenk include the world premiere of Drew Hemenger’s Ozymandias – To Sell a Planet with the Boulder Philharmonic, Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) and Alfred (Die Fledermaus) with Central City Opera, Bruckner’s Te deum and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Colorado Symphony, and Die Schöne Müllerin with Keith Ward at the University of Denver.
During the 2020-21 season, Matthew was scheduled to return to the Cleveland Orchestra, Denver Philharmonic (Donizetti, Beethoven, Mozart), and debut with the Rogue Valley Symphony – all cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matthew Plenk has been seen on the operatic stages of Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Virginia Opera, Atlanta Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Des Moines Metro Opera. In concert, he has appeared with the Cleveland, Boston, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Baltimore, Houston, Colorado and Hartford Symphonies, University Musical Society, Aspen Music and La Jolla Summerfest festivals, and with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.
In 2005 Mr. Plenk was one of sixteen singers invited to work with Naxos Records and Yale University in a collaborative project to record the complete songs of Charles Ives. Amongst a number of awards and recognitions, he was a Grand Finalist in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Matthew Plenk is the Artistic Director of Lamont Opera Theatre at The University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, where he also serves Assistant Professor of Voice.
Efraín Solís, baritone
The San Francisco Chronicle exclaims, “For theatrical charisma and musical bravado, it would be hard to top the performance of baritone Efraín Solís.” He is a graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship where he sang his first performances of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dandini in La cenerentola, Schaunard in La bohème, Silvano in Un ballo in maschera, Sciarrone in Tosca, and Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. In the 2020-21 season, he joins Opera San Jose and Florida Grand Opera as Charlie in Heggie’s Three Decembers and Utah Opera as Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen. Future engagements include Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera San Jose and a return to Opera Southwest, originally scheduled for this season. Last season, he returned to Utah Opera as Lieutenant Audebert in Puts’ Silent Night and Virginia Opera as Di Cosimo in Catán’s Il postino. His debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as the Peasant in Schönberg’s Gurrelieder and return to the role of Schaunard in La bohème with Fort Worth Opera were unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent seasons he joined Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, and El Paso Opera as Mark in Martinez’s Cruzar la cara de la luna, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette with Utah Opera, Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, and Toledo Opera, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Memphis and Livermore Valley Opera, Slook in La cambiale di matrimonio with Nicholas McGegan conducting Philharmonia Baroque, El Payador in Piazzola’s Maria de Buenos Aires with Opera Southwest, Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande and Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox with West Edge Opera, Fiesque in Maria di Rohan with Washington Concert Opera, Gaspar in Rita with the New Century Chamber Orchestra, and Dick in Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock with Opera Saratoga.