A native of Richmond Hill New York, tenor Victor Starsky is a star on the rise. Of his Don José in Carmen, Opera Today writes “Starsky's Don José is terrifying and compelling - a voice that performs vocal acrobatics with strength and beauty that remains undiminished through his final line." Starsky received tremendous acclaim for his debut as Radamés in Verdi’s Aïda at the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater this past summer, where he simultaneously debuted the role of George Gibbs in Rorem’s Our Town.
Other roles performed include Pinkerton Madama Butterfly Long Island Opera, The Duke Rigoletto (role debut) Modesto Opera, Alfredo La Traviata in Narni, Italy, Il Postiglione in Fanciulla del West (2017) and Rodolfo in La Boheme with New York City Opera in (2018). Starsky’s Carnegie Hall debut was in 2019 as tenor soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Other highlights: Tony in West Side Story with Opera North, and The Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass conducted by Maurice Press at the Colden Auditorium in Queens. A participant in 2019’s Merola Program, he was a 2020 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and awarded the Shoshana Foundation’s prestigious Richard F. Gold Career Grant.
Joanna Mongiardo has been lauded for her “smooth, plummy, seamlessly blended soprano and fluid coloratura,” (BachTrack) in operatic and orchestral performances worldwide. Her opera credits include The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Dallas Opera, Grande Théâtre de Genève, Opéra de Nice, and Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Joanna’s signature operatic roles are Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, and Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which she has performed more than 30 times. Symphonic credits include solo performances with Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico. She has performed her signature concert work, Carmina Burana, with more than 15 orchestras. In 2022, Mongiardo celebrated the release of her first solo album, Evermore.
Hailed by Opera News for his “comedic high jinks” and “first-rate singing,” Philip Cokorinos has appeared in more than 400 performances of 40 operas at the Met since he won the MONC auditions, including the world premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles, Met premieres of Sly, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Gambler, and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and their productions of the standard repertoire, including Tosca, La bohème, La fanciulla del West, La Traviata, Adriana Lecouvreur, La rondine, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Macbeth, Manon, Don Carlo, Tosca, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Gianni Schicchi, Manon Lescaut, and Le nozze di Figaro. His tenure there continued last season with Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, La bohème, and Tosca. Cokorinos also performed the Sacristan in Tosca at Los Angeles Opera, Benoit/Alcindoro in La bohème at the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy, and Simone in San Diego Opera’s Gianni Schicchi. This season, he joins Anchorage Opera as Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, The Atlanta Opera as Benoit/Alcindoro in La bohème, and New York City Opera as Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette. Previously with City Opera, Mr. Cokorinos performed the roles of Archibaldo in L’amore dei tre re, the Priest in La campana sommersa, and made his role début as Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas.
Mezzo-soprano Melanie Ashkar is known for the “rich texture” of her voice and her “delightfully expressive” stage presence. She has performed across the United States with companies including Utah Opera, Utah Symphony, Central City Opera, Opera Southwest, OperaDelaware, and Virginia Opera. She has appeared with NYCO previously in La campana sommersa and Los Elementos. This season, she makes debuts with Opera Western Reserve and Winter Opera St. Louis, as well as with the Canton Symphony Orchestra and the Chesapeake Orchestra. Her favorite roles include Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Jo (Little Women), Olga (Eugene Onegin), La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), and the Fox (The Little Prince). Melanie has been recognized by the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Opera Piccola, the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges Grant Awards, and the Gerda Lissner Foundation. A Washington, D.C. native, she holds degrees from the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, and Mannes College.
Currently based in Tampa, Florida, Alexander Boyd has recently appeared as Schaunard (La bohème) with NYCO, Escamillo (Carmen) with the Glacier Symphony, Don Pizarro (Fidelio) with St Petersburg Opera, and Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) with Teatro Lirico D'Europa. Alex has received scholarships from both the Bradenton and Sarasota Opera guilds in Florida and placed second in the New York Lyric Opera’s 2016 vocal competition. He was a semifinalist in both Opera Tampa’s 2019 D’Angelo young artist competition and the Mildred Miller 2018 vocal competition. Upcoming performances include Carmina Burana with the Glacier Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Marchese D'Obigny (La traviata) with Opera Tampa, the Mandarin (Turandot) with St Petersburg Opera, and Schaunard (La bohème) with Teatro Lirico D'Europa. Other credits include Scarpia (Tosca) and Bruschino (Il signor Bruschino) with Sarasota Opera, Tonio (Pagliacci) and King Melchior (Amahl and the Night Visitors) with St Petersburg Opera, Donner (Das Rheingold) and Robert Redgate (Mr. Rogers' Operas) with Pittsburgh Festival Opera.
Amy Maude Helfer
Amy Maude Helfer, mezzo-soprano, is a versatile singing actor of opera, operetta, and musical theatre, especially noted for her “plangent mezzo” and “gorgeous voice.” With NYCO: Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) at Bryant Park, alto soloist in Auerbach’s Vessels of Light at Carnegie Hall. Opera/oratorio: Carmen at Narnia Festival, Dinah (Trouble in Tahiti) at Boheme OperaNJ, Baba (The Rake's Progress) with String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Vera (The Consul) and Nancy (Albert Herring) at Bronx Opera, Witch (Hansel and Gretel), Berta (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Zulma (L’italiana in Algeri), Mercédès (Carmen) at Opera Theater of CT, Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) and Artist-in-Residence at Dayton Opera, Hansel with Boston Lyric Opera, alto soloist (Haydn Lord Nelson Mass; Stroope American Rhapsody) at Carnegie Hall. Operetta/musical theatre: Petra (A Little Night Music) at Union Avenue Opera, Phoebe (Yeomen of the Guard) at Winter Opera St. Louis, Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), Sister Margaretta (The Sound of Music) at Ivoryton Playhouse. New York G and S Players: Iolanthe, Phoebe, Tessa (Gondoliers), Pitti-Sing (Mikado), Kate (The Pirates of Penzance). Lotte Lenya Competition semifinalist. Proud AEA member. For Mom. www.amymaudehelfer.com
Richmond, VA native Drew Seigla is a standout among theatre and opera audiences,
recognized for his “stunning tenor voice” by BroadwayWorld. He made his Off-Broadway debut as Matt/The Mute in The Fantasticks, and he joined the cast of Sweeney Todd as the standby for Anthony/Tobias/Beadle at Barrow St. Theatre. Seigla reprised his role of Pertshik in the Off-Broadway hit Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish at New World Stages after performing the role pre-pandemic at Stage 42/National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Seigla made his opera debut as Gastone in La Traviata at Lyric Opera Virginia, and he sang the role of Bruno in the world premiere of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis with New York City Opera. Drew recently had the enormous privilege to perform in his favorite musical, The Secret Garden, as Major Holmes/Neville Craven understudy at ACT of Connecticut this past June. Drew is an alum of The Juilliard School & attended Elon University. Special thanks to God, Mom & Dad, Carson-Adler Agency, and my wife, Steph. IG: @drewseigla
Bill Van Horn
Bill Van Horn is an actor, writer, and director who works at The Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Artist Collective, The Theater at Monmouth in Maine, and many other theatres around the country. He recently directed the national tour of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Ken Ludwig starring Ian Peakes. His next project will be a production of An Iliad by Lisa Peterson and Dennis O’Hare at The Theater at Monmouth. This spring, his original adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Speckled Band will premiere at The Walnut Street Theatre. He has provided voiceovers for many documentaries including Wagner’s Jews, God’s Fiddler, and Workshop for Peace. He is the co-writer of the documentaries Khachaturian and Caruso, the latter written with Michael Capasso. He has written several musicals with librettist Gene Scheer, including Jane Hawkins, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” Favorite roles include King Lear, Shylock, Walt Whitman, and Bottom the Weaver.
Joseph Rescigno ( Conductor )
Joseph Rescigno has conducted the music of Bach through the moderns for companies on four continents. Permanent engagements have included the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee, WI, where he served as Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor for 38 seasons beginning in 1981. He also has been Music Director of La Musica Lirica since 2005. As a guest, he has mounted the podium of more than 50 companies such as the Montreal Symphony and the New York City Opera (debut 1985). Maestro Rescigno’s discography of seven recordings includes two operatic world premieres and studio recordings of operatic and symphonic works. The University of North Texas Press published his Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music in 2020. A native New Yorker, Joseph Rescigno comes from a long line of musicians on both sides of his family. He trained as a pianist and has studied and performed music since childhood.
Shayna Leahy ( Director )
Shayna Leahy returns to New York City Opera this season after directing previous productions of Lucia di Lammermoor and Il barbiere di Siviglia in Bryant Park. She has worked extensively with Wichita Grand Opera including productions of Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Turandot, Otello, Il trovatore, and Aida. Her stagings are hailed as “deeply felt, and deeply moving” with emphasis on “fine acting as well as strong singing” (The Wichita Eagle). She is the Artistic Administrator for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, having previously served as an Assistant Director of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance Program in New York and as faculty for the Opera Academy of the Midwest. She is also currently Director of Vocal Studies at Highland Community College, where she has led a nationally recognized opera education initiative in collaboration with Wichita Grand Opera.
Kathryn Olander ( Pianist )
Recently hailed by Opera News for her “impressive playing,” Kathryn Olander is a frequent assistant conductor/pianist with New York City Opera as well as many regional opera houses. In addition to coaching privately she has held coaching positions with the Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Chautauqua Institute. An avid recitalist, highlights include performances at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall and Zankel Hall, The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bryant Park's concert series, the Hungarian Consulate of New York and the Polish Consulate of New York, and Bechstein Hall. Ms. Olander is a regular pianist with Reaching for the Arts and Opportunity Music Project, specializing in bringing music to underserved communities and Creative Stage. Ms. Olander began teaching piano at Northeastern University while earning her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at New England Conservatory and has since maintained a studio of private piano students.
Fight Director ( Leighton Schlanger )
Leighton Schlanger is a New York-based Fight Director, grateful to be working with New York City Opera again. Prior Productions with NYCO include L'amore dei tre re, La campana sommersa, and Aleko/Pagliacci. Other Credits include Sweeney Todd (Chautauqua Opera), American Tradition and The End of Hester (New Light Theater Project), A Bronx Tale (Axelrod Theater), Macbeth and Henry V (Theater at Monmouth), Hamlet (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Tour), Richard III (Allentown Shakespeare), Romeo and Juliet (Media Theater), and Private Lives (Katonah Classic Theater). He was also Assistant Fight Director for the Broadway runs of A Bronx Tale and Roundabout Theater's Bernhardt/Hamlet.