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Lidiya Yankovskaya, Music Director

Russian-born conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya will conduct Island City Opera’s production of two Rimsky-Korsakov operas in January 2018.

Yankovskaya’s work has been hailed as “superb,” “expert,” and “coax[ing] every possible expressive note from the instrumentalists.”  

Yankovskaya serves as Music Director of the Chicago Opera Theater.  Additional engagements this season include Wolftrap Opera, Flagstaff Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Beth Morrison Projects, American Lyric Theater, Opera Saratoga, Stamford Symphony, and as chorus master with Boston Symphony Orchestra & Boston Pops.

According to Yankovskaya, “Rimsky-Korsakov’s 16 operas represent the finest of Russian operatic masterworks. Rimsky-Korsakov was a most exciting dramatist, and, a master orchestrator endowed with an exceptional understanding of the capabilities of the human voice.”  She continued, “It is a shame that his operas have been largely neglected in the U.S. for so long.”

In Kashchey, the Immortal, we follow the greatest villain in Russian folklore, Kashchey, an evil wizard, and, his scheming daughter, Kascheyvna, as they plot to tear apart two lovers, Tsarevna and Prince Ivan.  Kashchey was composed towards the end of the composer’s career.  It exhibits his dynamic theatricality, and, colorful orchestral palate.   One of the highlights of the work is the aria by Kashchey’s daughter, in which Rimsky-Korsakov orchestrates the sound of her sharpening her sword, creating the musical equivalent of metal grinding on stone.

Mozart and Salieri, on the other hand, is a much more contemplative work.   It closely follows Alexander Pushkin’s original drama of the same name.  Unlike most of Rimsky-Korsakov’s work, the piece is intimate and on the scale of a chamber opera; a conversation between two artists.

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Alex Boyer is Kashchey the Immortal

Alex Boyer , tenor, is well known to Island City Opera patrons, performing first in 2014 as Manrico in Il Trovatore, then in 2015 as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, then in 2016 as Rodolfo in La Bohème and the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto.  Mr. Boyer will sing the title role Kashchey in January 2018’s North American premiere production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchey the Immortal.

Mr. Boyer is steadily gaining recognition for his commanding voice and dramatic portrayals of the lyric and spinto tenor repertoire.  Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for Festival Opera’s production of Pagliacci, Boyer “mustered a large, potent sound that brought a welcome measure of anguish and dark menace to the role of Canio; his delivery of the famous showpiece ‘Vesti la giubba’ lacked nothing in the way of grit and vocal power.”

Mr. Boyer made his San Francisco Opera debut as El Remendado in 2017 in Carmen. Then as the Abbot in Andrea Chenier the same year.  He has recently performed the roles of Marcello in Leoncavallo’s La Bohème and Alwa in Lulu with West Edge Opera, Lt. B.F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Livermore Valley Opera, and, Lensky in Eugene Onegin with Opera Idaho. During his residency at Opera San Jose from 2008 through 2013, Boyer performed the roles of Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. He has participated in the Merola Opera Program (2007) and Santa Fe Opera’s Apprenticeship Program for Singers.

Other recent engagements include covering the roles of Pollione in Norma, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and Ahab in Moby Dick with the Dallas Opera.

As a resident principal artist with Opera San José, he performed Manrico in Il trovatore, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Canio in Pagliacci, the title role in Faust, Cavaradossi in Tosca, the title role in Idomeneo, and many others. He is an alumnus of the Merola Opera Program, the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers, and is a recipient of the Mario Lanza Scholarship Award. A New York native, Boyer holds degrees from Boston University and Manhattan School of Music.

Rebecca Nathanson stars as Tsarevna

Rebecca Nathanson, soprano, makes her Island City Opera debut as the beautiful Tsarevna Nenaglyadnaya Krasa imprisoned by the evil wizard Kashchey in his gloomy kingdom.

Hailed by Opera News as “nothing short of orgasmic,” soprano Rebecca Nathanson joins the roster of the Santa Fe Opera this season as part of their prestigious Apprentice Artist program and to cover Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. Other highlights this season include a company and New York City debut with the Center for Contemporary Opera as Constance in Nicola Moro’s Love Hurts and a return to Orchestra Seattle for their Brahms Requiem after singing Poulenc’s Gloria last season. Last season she also debuted the title role in Roméo et Juliette at The Castleton Festival, for which The Washington Post praised her as an “emotional force” with a “dramatic sound…tapping a deep vein of despair.” 

Career highlights include international debut at the Royal Opera House Muscat under the baton of Lorin Maazel in La bohème, for which the Times of Oman praised her “delightful, fiery, independent Musetta” and “layered and decadent” singing; debuts at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Spain as Abra in Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans, Nannetta in Falstaff with Opera Santa Barbara; the title role in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Aspen Music Festival; and Myrtale in Thais with LA Opera, where she trained as aDomingo-Colburn Stein Young Artist as a mentee of world-renowned tenor Placido Domingo. While there, she was the understudy for Violetta Valery in La traviata, Marie Antoinette in the Grammy-winning west coast premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, Renée Fleming as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She has trained with Santa Fe Opera, where she also covered Marguerite in Faust and was an Apprentice Artist, Wolf Trap Opera as a Studio Artist, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist. 

Maria Briggs sings Tsarevna

Dr. Maria Briggs (nee Okunev) makes her Island City Opera as beautiful Tsarevna (Princess) Nenaglyadnaya Krasa imprisoned by the evil wizard Kashchey the Immortal in his gloomy kingdom on January 21st at 2pm.

Dr. Briggs, a Russian born, Australian soprano, and music educator. Maria started her training in piano and choral conducting in Moscow. She then moved to Sydney, Australia where she received Bachelor of Music (piano performance) from Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Maria then switched to classical voice for her Masters and Doctoral degrees (Sydney Conservatorium). Maria’s doctoral work was conducted in Australia and UK and was looking at training of young opera singers.

Since then Maria has sung with Opera Australia, Pacific Opera, Lyric Opera Weimar and Glyndebourne Opera Festival, UK.  She is a multiple prize winner of Australian National and International opera competitions.  Maria was the winner of MIETTA recital award in 2008 and received her prize from Maestro Richard Bonynge.  Maria is well known as a superb recitalist and champion of contemporary repertoire.  She has recorded new Australian works for voice and small ensemble with ABC Classic FM radio.  She also frequently sings in ABC Radio live broadcasts.

Maria made her television debut in 2010 in the film I Spry – The Rise and Fall of a Master Spy, ABC Television playing the role of a Russian singer (Hugo Weaving – presenter).  Maria joined Fresno State music department in August of 2016 as Assistant Professor of Voice.  She now lives in Fresno with her husband Matthew and two-year-old son Seraphim.  Since coming on board she performed with Fresno State Symphony orchestra, sang in solo recitals and directed the department opera production of Strauss “Die Fledermaus”.

As a stage director Maria has worked with young singers for many years.  Her work included staging opera, Musical Theatre as well as gala showcases and cross-disciplinary performances.

Sylvie Jensen sings Kashcheyevna

Silvie Jensen, mezzo-soprano, returns to Island City Opera to sing the role of Kashcheyevna, the scheming daughter of the wizard Kashchey in our January 2018 production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchey the Immortal.  Ms. Jensen made her Island City Opera debut in our 2016 production of Rigoletto as Maddalena.

“The marvelous mezzo-soprano Silvie Jensen,” according to the New York Times, “sings beautifully.”  Critics have called her voice “exquisite, floating and expressive, a joy to hear.” A vocalist of great versatility, Ms. Jensen enjoys a wide-ranging career, which includes early and contemporary music, opera and musical theater, and ethnic, improvised, and experimental music.

In recent seasons, Ms. Jensen has appeared at Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, with the San Francisco Symphony, with American Chamber Opera in Chicago as Carmen; with One World Symphony as Olga in Eugene Onegin, and has premiered new operas with Riverside Opera, Stonington Opera House, at the Ostrava Days Festival the in Czech Republic, and at the Carolina Chamber Music Festival. She has created and performed new works at London’s Barbican Centre with Ornette Coleman, Teatro Comunale di Ferrara with Meredith Monk, and Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass.

Ms. Jensen is a highly sought-after oratorio soloist; she recently won 2nd place in the 2014 Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition, and made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 2014, singing Handel’s Messiah with Kent Tritle and Musica Sacra.  She will appear in 2016 with Symphony Parnassus at Herbst Theater, singing Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen and Symphony No. 4. She has sung St Matthew Passion with Ivan Fischer conducting the Orchestra of St Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, in Sir Jonathan Miller’s St. Matthew Passion at BAM, as well as singing the Israelitish Man in Judas Maccabeus with Clarion Music Society; Handel’s Messiah with Trinity Wall Street and Monmouth Orchestra; in the B Minor Mass with the Springfield Symphony and with Voices of Ascension,  with Musica Sacra at Alice Tully Hall, with Sacred Music in a Sacred Space; and with Broadway Bach Ensemble singing Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Joseph Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne.

She has commissioned and premiered works composed for her, and has appeared in recital in New York at Weill Recital Hall, Steinway Hall, Symphony Space, Americas Society, Liederkranz Club, The Stone, Bonhams, Nicholas Roerich Museum, The Cell Theatre, and at the Ethical Humanist Society in Philadelphia. She has made recordings for ECM, London, Koch, Helicon, 

Katja Heuzeroth sings Kashcheyevna

Katja Heuzeroth, mezzo soprano, makes her Island City Opera debut in January 2018 singing the role of Kashcheyevna, the scheming daughter of Kashchey in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchey the Immortal.

Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, Katja Heurzeroth made her professional debut at the Bayreuther Festival House performing in Richard Wagner’s Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Der fliegende Holländer under the musical direction of Maestro Giuseppe Sinopoli, Maestro Daniel Barenboim and Maestro Peter Schneider.

Ms. Heuzeroth has received stipends from Germany’s Richard Wagner Foundation and the Meistersinger von Nürnberg Foundation. She is also the recipient of a scholarship from MidAmerica Productions and a previous Young Artist with Dicapo Opera in NYC.

Ms. Heuzeroth’s operatic roles include Lehrbube in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Blumenmädchen in Parsifal (Musical Director, James Levine – Lucerne Festival); Suzy/Lolette in La Rondine and Mercedez in Carmen (Teatro Felice); Lady Mary in The Vagabond King (Liederkranz Foundation – NYC); Octavian in scenes from Der Rosenkavalier and Dorabella in scenes from Cosi fan tutte (Opera Aegean); Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel (New York Opera Project); Dorabella in scenes from Cosi fan tutte, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier (Greenwich Village Orchestra – NYC); Flosshilde in Das Rheingold (Liederkranz Opera Theatre); and Adalgisa in Norma (Riverbent Opera).

Ms. Heuzeroth has performed in concert with Gary Dranch (clarinet) and Stan Sisskin (piano) at the Donnell Concert Hall. She was seen in concert with the New York Opera Forum as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro (October 2009), Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos (December 2009), Bradamante in Alcina (February 2010) the roles of Fricka and Flosshilde in Das Rheingold (April 2010) and Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte (August 2010) with Opera Manhattan Repertory Theatre. In 2012 she sang Flosshilde in Union Avenue Opera productions of Das Rheingold. She was seen in concert singing scenes from various operas including the roles of Carmen in Carmen, Dalilah in Samson and Dalilah, Mallika in Lakmé, Nicklausse in Le Conte d’Hoffman, Princess of Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur, Joan of Arc in The Maid of Orleans, Adalgisa in Norma and as Sieglinde in Die Walküre with Opera Bravura in San Jose, California (2011 – 2014).

Igor Vieira sings Prince Ivan

Igor Vieira, baritone, made his Island City Opera debut in 2016 as Marcello in La Boheme. In January 2017, Mr Vieira starred as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale. Then in March 2017, Mr. Vieira directed Island City Opera’s production of Massenet’s Don Quichotte and sang the role of Sancho Panza.  In January 2018, Mr. Vieira will bring to life the role of Ivan Korolevich, the Prince that Tsarevna longs for.


Hailed by Opera News Magazine as “superb,” and “show-stealing,” and as “a triumph” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Mr. Vieira made his professional debut in his native Rio de Janeiro  at age 17 singing the role of  Dancaïre in Bizet’s Carmen.

 Subsequent roles have included the title roles in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande as well as Junius in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, Lescaut in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Tonio in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata, Alberich in Wagner’s Siegfried and most recently the title role in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.


 Mr. Vieira has professionally performed 96 different operatic rolesranging from the Baroque Period to World Premiers with such companies as the San Francisco Opera, the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil,) Opera Santa Barbara, Sacramento Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Teatro Solis (Urugay,) Tacoma Opera, Fresno Grand Opera, Teatro Barakaldo (Spain,) West Bay Opera, Berkeley Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, Fremont Opera, Rimrock Opera, Festival Opera/Walnut Creek, Oakland Opera Theater, Teatro São Pedro (Brazil,) Palácio das Artes (Brazil,) Tacoma Opera, Pocket Opera, Opera San Luis Obispo, Abilene Opera, Ars Minerva, Berkeley Chamber Opera, Hidden Valley Opera, Opera Parallele, Opera in Williamsburg, Townsend Opera and the Opera Festivals of Belem and Manaus in Brazil as well as the Tiburon Music Festival, the Mendocino Music Festival and Napa’s Festival del Sole and Napa’s Zarzuela Festival in the US.


In June of 2010, Mr. Vieira had the honor of making his San Francisco Opera debut in the role of Happy in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West. In the Fall of 2011 Mr. Vieira was invited back to the San Francisco Opera stage in the role of Gubetta in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia with Renee Fleming in the title role, where he was favorably mentioned in virtually every review of the production. This production of Lucrezia Borgia has recently been commercialy released in video by the EuroArts label to critical acclaim.

Mr. Vieira is a world finalist of the 1995 Luciano Pavarotti Voice Competition in Philadelphia, a recipient of the Margareth Tudor Award (Princeton) for two consecutive years and the Kaplan Foundation Award (Kansas City) for outstanding artistry. He was also awarded Second Place on the East Bay Opera League Voice Competition in 2006 and was a semi-finalist of the Competizione d’Opera in Dresden – Germany in 2008.

Boyan Knezevic sings The Storm Knight

Bojan Knezevic, baritone, makes his second appearance with Island City Opera in January 2018 singing the role of Burya Bogatyr, (The Storm Knight) in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Kashchey the Immortal.  Mr. Knezevic made his debut with Island City Opera in January 2017 in the title role of Don Pasquale.

Former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and Merola alumnus, Bojan Knezevic, made his San Francisco Opera debut as Marquis D’Obigny (La Traviata) in 1995 and has since appeared with the Company in a number of roles, including Harašta (The Cunning Little Vixen), Dulcamara  (L’Elisir d’Amore), and most recently as Haly (L’Italiana in Algeri).

Career highlights include Frosch (Die Fledermaus) with Lyric Opera of Chicago; Scarpia (Tosca) with Mississippi Opera; Benoit and Alcindoro (La Bohème) with Vancouver Opera; Enrico Ashton (Lucia di Lammermoor) with Opera Santa Barbara; the Four Villains (Les Contes d’Hoffmann) with Sacramento Opera and Fort Worth Opera; Narumov (The Queen of Spades) with the National Symphony (Washington D.C.); and the title role of Le Nozze di Figaro with the New National Theatre in Tokyo. He has also taken part in Carnegie Hall performances of Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Great Mass in C Minor, as well as the U.S. premiere of Mascagni’s Silvano (available on CD).

Anders Froehlich sings Salieri

Anders Froehlich, baritone, sings the role of Salieri in Island City Opera’s production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri in January 2018.  Then, in March 2018, Mr. Froehlich will sing the role of Count Rodolfo in Island City Opera’s production of Vincenzo Bellini’s La Sonnambula.

Mr. Froehlich began his musical studies as a pianist at the age of ten.  He continued his musical and theatrical training at the Connecticut Conservatory for the Arts where he also trained in ballet.  After two years as a ballet major at Indiana University Bloomington, the Connecticut native studied for one year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles before beginning his professional career as a chorister and understudy at the Los Angeles Opera.

Mr. Froehlich has performed with companies such as San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera San Jose and West Edge Opera.  His roles include Eugene Onegin, Don Giovanni, Guglielmo (Cosi Fan Tutte), Figaro and the Count (Marriage of Figaro) and Donner in Wagner’s Das Rheingold.  Notable new works include the role of Paul Gauguin in the American premiere of Fabrizio Carlone’s Bonjour M. Gauguin with West Edge Opera.

Other notable engagements include the role of The Spanish Sailor in San Francisco Opera’s premier of Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick, which was featured on PBS’s Great Performances. Addtionally, the role of Second guard in Opera Parallele’s critically acclaimed production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.  As well as his baroque debut in the role of the emperor, Augusto, in Ars Minerva’s production of La Cleopatra by Daniele da Castrovillari.

Darron Flagg sings Mozart

Darron Flagg will sing the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri.

Mr. Flagg made his Island City Opera debut as Florville in ICO’s 2015 production of Rossini’s comic romp of an opera, Il Signor Bruschino.  In March 2017, Mr. Flagg joined Island City Opera’s production of Massenet’s Don Quichotte as Juan, Dulcinee’s ardent pursuer and Don Quichotte’s nemesis.

Mr. Flagg performances of the treacherously difficult title role in Rossini’s comedic masterpiece Le Conte D’Ory as well as his portrayal of the Honorable Elijah Mohammed in a 2006 production of Anthony Davis’ “Life and Times of Malcolm X” have cemented his reputation in contemporary and bel canto roles.

More information about Darron Flagg’s singing career can be found here.