L'Incoronazione di Poppea
July 15th & 16th, 2016
EXIT Theatre, San Francisco


Danielle Cheiken



Soprano Danielle Cheiken is thrilled to be playing the title role in Opera Theatre Unlimited’s Production of L’incoronazione di Poppea! She has performed the roles of Mary Crawford (Mansfield Park, West Coast premiere), Carolina (Il matrimonio segreto), Just Jeanette (Too Many Sopranos), Fräulein Silberklang (Der Schauspieldirektor), Michael Charmaine (The Money Tree), Ida (Die Fledermaus), and Girl (Trajectory, premiere), and she has covered the role of Tatyana Bakst (Great Scott, workshop and premiere). Favorite partial roles include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Controller (Flight), Zdenka (Arabella), and the title role in The Little Prince. Danielle’s musical theatre experience includes Chauffeur, Will Hays, Opera Singer, and Queen (As Thousands Cheer), Adriana (The Boys from Syracuse), and Desirée Armfeldt (A Little Night Music) to name a few. Danielle has also performed Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Handel’s Messiah. For summer projects, she has participated in SongFest, Oberlin in Italy, New Music on the Point, CoOPERAtive, and FAVA in Austria. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and recently received her Master’s Degree at San Francisco Conservatory of Music.



Marissa Simmons



Originally from Chicago, Marissa Simmons is noted for her “deep, evenly produced mezzo and theatrical magnetism” (South Florida Classical Review). She is also distinguished by her “comic precision” (San Francisco Examiner) and praised as “una formidable” (Especial/El Nuevo Herald).Simmons recently finished a Master of Music under Catherine Cook at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This past year she has enjoyed playing the full role of Carmen in the Bizet/Brooks version of La tragèdie de Carmen and Mimi Schwinn in William Finn's A New Brain. Simmons was also chosen to sing the full role of Roane Heckle in the full workshop premiere of Jake Heggie’s new opera, Great Scott, alongside world-renowned Frederica von Stade. In previous years, Simmons has sung with prestigious programs such as the Music Academy of the West, Bay Area Summer Opera Theatre Institute, the Miami Summer Music Festival, the International Vocal Arts Academy, and Chicago Summer Opera in collaboration with Candid Concert Opera. Simmons made her professional operatic debut with the Miami Lyric Opera in the role of La Maestra delle Novizie (Suor Angelica).

Simmons’ full performed roles include Carmen (La tragédie de Carmen), Tisbe (La Cenerentola), Ottone (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Maria Calla (Jackie O), La Zelatrice (Suor Angelica), La Maestra delle Novizie (Suor Angelica), Roane Heckle (Great Scott), Dritte Knabe (Die Zauberflöte), and Soap Opera Director in the world premiere of Entanglements by Charles Mason. Simmons is thrilled to add ‘Nerone’ to her full roles in Opera Theater Unlimited's production of L'incoronazione di Poppea.



Ellen Presley



Mezzo-soprano Ellen Presley is thrilled to be singing the role of Ottone in Opera Theater Unlimited's production of L'Incoronazione di Poppea. Most recently Ellen has sung the roles of Bradamante in Alcina and Polinesso in Ariodante with Black Box Baroque. Other recent roles include Pisana in Verdi’s I due Foscari with West Edge Opera, First Mother in Dead Man Walking with Opera Parallèle and Lieutenant Marshall in South Pacific with Foothill Theater. An avid performer of new music, Ellen recently sang in workshops for Shalimar the Clown by Jack Perla, commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and The R(evolution) of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates, commissioned by Santa Fe Opera. At San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Ellen performed Lady with a Hat Box (Postcard from Morocco), Arsamene (Serse), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), and Alma March (Little Women). Ellen has sung roles from Mozart to new music with Sacramento Opera, Opera Academy of California, Sacramento State Opera Theatre, SFCM New Music Ensemble, BASOTI, University of Miami Frost School of Summer Music at Salzburg, and San Diego Opera Summer Intensive for Young Singers. She holds an MM from SFCM, where she won Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Opera and Voice department.



Sara Hagenbuch



Soprano Sara Hagenbuch is active as a soloist and choral singer in the Bay Area with the Handel Opera Project, SF Contemporary Music Players, Opera on Tap, SF Festival Chorale, and the St. Dominic’s Schola Cantorum. Sara is particularly passionate about early music, particularly the music of G.F. Handel. Favorite roles include Dalinda (Ariodante), Seleuce (Tolomeo), Antigona (Admeto), Morgana (Alcina), and Dorinda (Orlando). Sara is the founder of Black Box Baroque, an opera company that presents Baroque opera in intimate spaces, fully-staged with period orchestra. She received her BM summa cum laude from Ithaca College and MM from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She continues her studies with mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook.





Jill Morgan Brenner



Syracuse NY native, soprano Jill Morgan Brenner, is an accomplished artist having sung with various organizations including the Syracuse University Orchestra, Prodigal Opera Productions, Classical Revolution, and the Fête Concert Series. An enthusiast of contemporary music, Jill has sung Julie in David Conte’s Firebird Motel and premiered Elliot Encarnación’s Troilus and Achilles as the goddess Athena. Other roles include, Beth in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, Anne Sexton in Conrad Susa’s Transformations, Countessa in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and the 1st Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Jill is the founder, creator, and performer of I Sing Words: The Poetry Project. The project is an annual concert series to further vocal repertoire through commissioning new works, continue the tradition of art song, and provide accessible new music to future performers and audiences. Jill is a recipient of the Paul L. & Phyllis Wattis Foundation Scholarship, Anna Freeland Memorial Prize, and the Vocal Department Award at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Vocal Performance from Syracuse University's Setnor School of Music and her Master’s Degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.



Bryce Wiatrak



Bryce Wiatrak, baritone, is thrilled to be returning to the role of Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in May 2016, Bryce debuted the role of Edmund in the West Coast premier of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park this spring at the school. Recent engagements include Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and Pollux in Castor et Pollux with the Opera Theater of Yale College, Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Yale Baroque Opera Project, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Sid in the first complete workshop of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott. Bryce is a student of the glorious Catherine Cook.




Melissa Costa



Melissa Costa hails from Southern California and leads an active theater life. She is ecstatic to be joining Opera Theater Unlimited for this production. Classically trained, Melissa is a coloratura soprano and has performed in many opera scenes, including Così fan tutte (Despina and Fiordiligi), Il re pastore (Aminta), and La Cenerentola (Chlorinda). She also is heavily involved in musical theater, and performs all over the Bay Area. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied under Pamela Fry.









Soprano Maggie Manire was last seen on the Opera Theater Unlimited stage as Miles in their production of Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw. Her favorite past roles include Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, and Thea in Spring Awakening; favorite past partial roles include Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia and La comtesse Adele in Le comte Ory. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. During her time there, Maggie was honored with the Bruce Rodgers Adelphian Scholarship Award for Choral Leadership, as well as a winner of the School of Music's Concerto/Aria Competition. Maggie is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with the C. Sheldon & Patricia Roberts Scholarship and under the tutelage of Jane Randolph; her next project at the Conservatory will be the role of Mary Crawford in the West Coast Premiere of Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park.



Katie Nix



Katie Nix is a vibrant young soprano, stage director, and arts administrator. She has worked in administrative roles with a number of arts non-profits ranging from shoestring to multi-million dollar budgets, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society. As a stage director, she has worked with Thompson Street Opera Company (Louisville, KY), Fete Concerts, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.­ Hailed as “sensational” by the San Francisco Examiner, her wide repertoire as a performer ranges from Baroque chamber opera to contemporary musical theatre.





Edward Hong



Twenty-five-year-old conductor Edward Hong made his orchestral conducting debut with the Colburn Orchestra in education concerts throughout Los Angeles where he worked closely with Yehuda Gilad and Maxim Eshkenazy. Edward also served as conductor for the Colburn Contemporary Players from 2011-2014 and as conducting fellow of the American Youth Symphony from 2012-2014. In the summers of 2012-2013 Edward studied with Gerard Schwarz and assisted orchestras at the Eastern Music Festival.

Edward is thrilled to be collaborating with director Sarah Young again after working with her on a production of Così Fan Tutte. Edward is music director of Kontrapunktus, a Baroque Orchestra in Los Angeles that recently released their debut Album at the legendary East West Studio in Los Angeles.

As a chamber musician, Edward is founding member of the Smoke and Mirrors Ensemble which has released two CD’s under Yarlung Records and performed for those who are incarcerated through the Street Symphony. An avid believer in music education, Edward has performed for thousands of children in outreach concerts throughout California and Washington. In addition to his work in outreach he served as a mentor and teacher for Youth Orchestra Los Angeles from 2010-2012. He has collaborated with James Conlon, Giancarlo Guerrero, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Jahja Ling, Sir Neville Marriner, and Gerard Schwarz along with work with film composers Michael Giacchino and Wataru Hokoyama.



Sarah Young



Highlights of Sarah Young's directing work include La Serva Padrona for the San Francisco Opera Guild, a double bill of La Serva Padrona and The Coffee Cantata for Livermore Valley Opera, a semi staged Zelmira for West Edge Opera, Alcina for Black Box Baroque, The Turn of the Screw with Opera Theater Unlimited, an Opera on Tap children's outreach production of Cenerentola, and Don Giovanni for Undercroft Opera in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In June 2015 she was the Resident Artist Stage Director at Opera Theater Pittsburgh. She served as the Associate Director for the main stage production of The Marriage of Figaro, and directed Figaro Redux, a slightly shorter, edgier modern-dress version.

Sarah is honored to be one of four directors selected to attend The New School of Drama in New York this fall. There she will study film and theater direction as a M.F.A Candidate. She is excited to be returning to San Francisco summer of 2017 to direct Opera Theater Unlimited's brand new chamber opera commissioned from Joseph M. Colombo. For more information please visit