Dana Varga, Founder/Artistic Director
Dana Lynne Varga is an accomplished soprano, voice teacher, entrepreneur and career coach. She was the first place winner of the 2016 Classical Singer National Vocal Competition. Dana is the Founder and Artistic Director of MetroWest Opera, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Dana has run a thriving private vocal studio for over ten years, and currently has over forty students. The majority of her students are professional or emerging professional opera singers. After recently completing a two-year interim contract as a full time voice faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where she taught for two years. Dana served on the voice and opera faculty of the BU Tanglewood Institute’s Young Artist Vocal Program for high school singers from 2010-2016.
Dana also works one on one in career coachings with aspiring musicians, emphasizing the business aspect of a career in classical music and empowering artists to fulfill their goals and make a living doing what they love. Visit her site and blog at www.theempoweredmusician.com.
Dana has sung with numerous opera companies and festivals including Boston Lyric Opera, the Caramoor International Music Festival, PORTopera, the Aldeburgh (Britten-Pears) Festival, Connecticut Lyric Opera and Opera Boston. Her operatic roles performed include Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutti, Musetta in La Boheme, Micaëla in Carmen, Anna Maurrant in Street Scene, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus and the title roles in both Alcina and The Merry Widow. An avid concert soloist, recent highlights include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with Coro Allegro, Neilsen’s Third Symphony and Faure’s Requiem with the Springfield Symphony, Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Commonwealth Chorale, Dvořák’s Te Deum with the Metropolitan Chorale (Jordan Hall), Beethoven’s Mass in C at Tanglewood (Ozawa Hall), Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Polymnia Choral Society, and both Bach’s B Minor Mass and Handel’s Messiah with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra.
In addition to her recent first place win in the Classical Singer competition, Dana won second place in the Rochester Oratorio Society Classical Idol Competition in April 2016, and was a semifinalist in the prestigious Oratorio Society of New York Competition the same month. She was awarded the 2012 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Grant for excellence in music, placed first in the Arlington Philharmonic Competition in 2008 and was among the winners in the Boston Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2007. She won first place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition in both 2004 and 2005. Her upcoming engagements include Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Cantata Singers, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor with Coro Allegro, Amy Beach’s Mass with the Commonwealth Chorale and professional ensemble in Tosca with Boston Lyric Opera. Visit her performance website at www.danavarga.com.
Dana holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in Vocal Performance from Boston University, the Master of Music degree (MM) in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory and the Bachelor of Music degree (BM) in Vocal Performance from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
William Neely, Executive Director
William Neely is a leader in non-profit management, marketing and communications, event planning, and economic development. He is also a former professional actor in both straight and musical theatre, as well as several film projects; and is thrilled to be celebrating MetroWest Opera’s 10th Anniversary this season, as Executive Director.
Currently William manages a boutique free-lance marketing and event planning consultancy focused on non-profit organizations and small businesses. Recent projects have included marketing and social media for the The North Shore Community Development Coalition, a regional non-profit organization focused on developing low-income housing and commercial business space. In January of this past year he produced a show-case performance of original dance pieces by upcoming NY-based choreographer Abul Latif, featuring former Alvin Ailey principal dancer, Brianna Reed, as well as New York City Ballet principal, Amar Ramasar. Most recently William produced a gala benefit concert at North Shore Music Theatre in support of the North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth featuring Grammy and Tony Award winner, Jennifer Holliday (the original Effie in Dreamgirls), and former star of Glee, Alex Newell, next appearing on Broadway in the revival of Once On This Island.
Prior to consulting William worked for several years at the Enterprise Center at Salem State University, a non-profit organization focused on providing educational programming for entrepreneurs and growth companies, as well as advocating for several industries through economic development. During his tenure, William managed two long-term economic development projects: YENS (Young Entrepreneurs of the North Shore) focused on expanding of Enterprise Center programs to those under 40, and The Local Food Initiative, tasked with bringing attention and much needed resources to the burgeoning food industry throughout the North of Boston region.
William first became involved with MetroWest Opera nearly five years ago, first as a board member, and three years ago as Executive Director. During his tenure he has spearheaded infrastructural improvement, pushed for greater focus and exposure for the company through targeted marketing and PR, and he has worked to increase leadership on the board to include committed and passionate community members. He has also overseen three of MetroWest opera’s ten best-selling seasons during his five years of involvement.
On the performance side, favorite theatrical and film roles over the past 15 years include Bo Decker in William Inge’s Bus Stop; Paul in Sondheim’s Company; Hal in David Auburn’s Proof; and originating the role of Lucas in Brian Tuttle’s The Quiet Infinite, as well as originating the lead film role of Brian McCabe in Catcing On: The Day the World Turned Gay (winner of Best Short Film at the Nevada Film Festival, and an official selection at The Provincetown Film Festival). William also performs as a member and frequent soloist with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, having performed at the GALA Chorus Festival last June in Denver, and on tour in the Middle East in 2015, the first gay chorus in the world to perform in both Israel and Turkey. He will be joining the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus on tour once again in June of 2018, this time to South Africa.
Cassandra Lovering, Producing Artistic Director
Brianna Meese, Director of Operations
Brianna Meese is a Boston-based soprano who received her Bachelors of Arts from The University of Virginia and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Boston Conservatory where she performed the roles of Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Oberto in Alcina, and La Princesa in El gato con botas in collaboration with Opera Hub. While attending the conservatory, Brianna served as assistant conductor for the student opera double-bill of To Hell and Back and The Old Maid and the Thief, costumed the production of Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, and served as assistant director under Johnathon Pape for Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. In the 2015-2016 season, Brianna performed the role of Belinda in Dido & Aeneas at The University of Virginia, covered Amy March in MetroWest Opera’s Little Women, and performed in Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance production of Die Fledermaus as Felicitas and study-cover of Adele.
Most recently, Brianna was a young artist with Russian Opera Workshop where she performed the title role in Dargomyzhsky’s Rusalka. Brianna currently works Front of House at Berklee Performance Center and will be in the chorus of Odyssey Opera’s upcoming production of The Maid of Orleans.
Mary-Aelxandra Onstad, Director of Development
Mary-Alexandra Onstad is an versatile soprano, voice teacher and arts administrator. She graduated from The New England Conservatory of Music in 2010 with a graduate diploma in Voice and Opera studies and has called Boston home ever since. She also earned her Masters of Music in Voice Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA and her Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. While Mary-Alexandra is not busy on stage or teaching she has been busy in different development and events based related positions and is looking forward to tying her experience in the arts and her development and events background as Director of Development for MetroWest Opera’s 2017-2018 season. You can find more information at mary-alexandraonstad.net.
Megan Bisceglia, Director of Marketing and Social Media
Megan Bisceglia is a Boston based singer and marketing consultant for musicians. She has been Marketing Manager with MetroWest Opera since their 2015 double-billing of Suor Angelica and Trouble in Tahiti. She is also currently Marketing Manager for Boston Opera Collaborative and WholeTone Opera. Megan believes in engaging audiences by making art personal and intimate. As a marketing consultant, she seeks to draw audiences into a production by conveying performers’ poignant connections to the work. As a singer, Megan enjoys the comical side of music. Most recently, she played Parpignol in MetroWest Opera’s La Femme Bohème. The Boston Musical Intelligencer called her portrayal of Paquette in Lowell House Opera’s Candide “torchy.” Megan received a BA in English with a minor in Music from Brandeis University, and MM in Vocal Performance from Longy School of Music. She continues to study with Jayne West.
Katie O’Reilly, Events Manager
Soprano Katie O’Reilly is a native of Connecticut and holds degrees from Oberlin and the Boston Conservatory. Recent credits include the American premiere of Sonic Blossom at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Franca in The Light in the Piazza and Mrs. Anderssen in A Little Night Music (Next Door Theater,) Prilepa in The Queen of Spades (Lowell House Opera) and Yum-Yum in The Mikado (MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players,) as well as appearances with Moonbox Productions, Performing Fusion Theater, Theatre@First and the Hillyer Festival Orchestra. Other recent operatic roles: The Turn of the Screw (Opera Brittenica, Governess cover,) Little Women (MetroWest Opera, Ensemble/Beth cover,) Hansel and Gretel (MWO, Sandman,) Lakmé (Lowell House Opera, Rose,) HMS Pinafore (MITG&SP, Josephine.) Katie performs regularly with Opera on Tap, and is a member of the voice faculty at the Community Music Center of Boston. For more, please visit www.katieoreilly.com.
Kimberly Coleman, Director of Artist Development
Soprano Kimberly Coleman earned her BFA in Vocal Performance from Tulane University and her MM at the University of Mississippi. She recently completed her post-graduate diploma in Speech-Language Pathology to begin her journey of being a licensed voice therapist. Her operatic credits include Lucy Brown in of Die Dreigroschenoper, Adina in L’Elisir D’Amore at University of Mississippi, Madame Goldentrill in Der Schauspieldirektor and acted as the cover for Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte, with the Operafestival di Roma, Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Atlantic Music Company, and the cover for the role of Musette in MetroWest Opera’s 2017 production of La Femme Bohème. She performed in the world premiere of “Leaves of Green,” a cantata opera about collard greens, written for the Southern Food Alliance Conference. Her solo concert work includes in Carmina Burana, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Verdi’s Requiem, and in 2016, Mozart’s Requiem with the Paul Madore Chorale. In 2014, she performed at the United States embassy in Panama City and a salon concert in Boquette, Panama. She won first place in the 2009 Tulane Aria Competition, earned a Take Flight Award from the University of Mississippi in 2012, and took second place in the young artist category with the Memphis Beethoven Club Vocal Competition in 2013. She studies under Dana Varga. For more information, please visit www.kimberlycoleman.net.
Hannah Sigel, Director of Community Outreach & Education
Hannah Sigel holds a BM from Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where she studied voice under the tutelage of Kevin Wilson. Originally from Miami, FL, Hannah is passionate about the importance of music in our communities and its members lives. She hopes to inspire a will and drive to make a difference in our communities through music education and performance. With MetroWest Opera we can bring about positive change through sharing our art. Providing people, regardless of economic and social barriers, the ability to experience community and self-expression. Through music, we can bring comfort to those facing huge obstacles and can also bring hope and enjoyment for students and audience members.
Czarina Schocker, Director of Administration
Czarina Olivia Schocker is a mezzo soprano from the border cities of Ciudad Juárez, Chih., México and El Paso, Texas. She completed her Masters of Music in Opera Performance at the University of Texas at Austin. She also holds a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance and Bachelors of Music Education from The University of Texas at El Paso. After completing her graduate work in Texas and several performance opportunities, she became a high school choir director with El Paso Independent School District. Mrs. Schocker relocated to Boston and is presently working at the Community Music Center of Boston in the South End. She is an early childhood voice and piano instructor and a Teaching Artist for the Boston Public Schools at William Monroe Trotter Innovation School and Joseph P. Manning Elementary School. She is also reopening her private voice studio as she continues to prepare for upcoming auditions and working with MetroWest Opera this 2017-2018 season. For more, please visit: www.czmusicstudio.com
Hannah Katz, Administrative Associate
Soprano Hannah Katz has been pursuing and enjoying a music career since she was a teenager, and has worked to become a spokeswoman for musicians with hearing loss and other congenital abnormalities. Currently residing in Boston, she has been a part of the MetroWest Opera company for seven seasons as an intern, secretary, Director of Operations and administrative associate, in addition to contributing to the company both onstage and off. Most recently, she was the stage manager for MWO’s 2016 production of Mark Adamo’s Little Women, and will be performing in 2017’s La Femme Boheme in the chorus as Alto 1, as well as the assistant stage manager. A Boston native, Ms. Katz attended Mannes College The New School for Music, and for the past few years has continued her vocal studies back in Boston with Dr. Dana Lynne Varga. In addition to performing in both concerts, opera scenes, and with fully staged roles around Italy with the Bel Canto Institute and Arts Atelier, and in France with The Franco-American Vocal Academy, among others. Roles include Patience (Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience), Nepomuc (La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein), among others. Over the past several years, Ms. Katz has been featured in the Boston Globe and as one of Glamour Magazine’s 50 hometown heroes (for the state of Massachusetts) in recognition of pursuing a vocal career, despite being deaf and born without ears. In 2013 she was the recipient of the Anders Tjellstrom scholarship, given by the company Cochlear America. She has recently become involved with Sign & Sing, a Manhattan-based company working to integrate ASL and classical music concerts. A soon-to-be dual German and American citizen, Ms. Katz hopes to further her career as a singer and ambassador for the deaf and hard of hearing community, and will be moving to Berlin, Germany to further pursue her career as a performer. Apart from this, Ms. Katz has been the assistant director and assistant music director at The Carroll School in Waltham for the past three years, a school for children with language-based learning disabilities, where she works as the substitute teacher for the arts department and as assistant director for the annual musicals.
Upcoming engagements include performing with the company, Sign & Sing, a New York-based company that seeks to bring ASL into the classical music community, with classical singers and professional ASL interpreters performing in tandem onstage to bring opera and sign language into the world of classical music.
Ashley Gryta, Administrative Associate
Originally from Buffalo, New York, soprano Ashley Gryta currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. Past choral engagements include the Buffalo Choral Arts Society, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, SUNY Fredonia College Choir, and SUNY Fredonia Chamber Choir, and the Boston Conservatory Women’s Choir and Conductor’s Choir. She is currently a member of Diamonds from the Dust, First Parish Unitarian Church choir, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and substitutes at various churches in the area. She has been a featured soloist with the Newburyport Choral Society, Lynn Concert Singers, First Parish Choir, and the Farmington Valley Symphony.
Opera credits include Chautauqua Opera in Chautauqua, New York, Hillman Opera in Fredonia, New York, and The Boston Conservatory Children’s Opera, Odyssey Opera, MetroWest Opera, and the Boston Youth Symphony in Boston, Massachusetts. Ms. Gryta also performed scenes at the Queens College Baroque Workshop under the direction of Drew Minter, David Ronis, and Christa Patton.
Ms. Gryta graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Fredonia State University and her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory. She currently works in the accounting department of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, serves as the Development Associate for MetroWest Opera, and freelances around the Greater Boston area.
Maja Tremiszewska, Administrative Associate
Native of Poland Dr. Maja Tremiszewska is a classically trained concert pianist, accompanist and music educator. She has been performing as a soloist and collaborative pianist since she moved to Boston in 2003, after receiving her Masters of Music in Piano Performance from Gdańsk Academy of Music in Poland. Upon completing a Graduate Performance Diploma at the Boston Conservatory, she was employed as a staff pianist for its vocal and instrumental departments, the position she held for ten years. In the spring of 2014 Dr. Tremiszewska graduated from Boston University with the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano, where she received a Graduate Assistantship, Dean’s Scholarship and a Collaborative Piano Department Honors Award. Since 2010 she has been employed to serve as a vocal coach and staff pianist at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, an esteemed summer program for high-school singers and instrumentalists.
During Dr. Tremiszewska’s studies at Boston University she has frequently performed with its orchestras as an orchestral keyboardist and as a soloist. As a winner of the University Concerto Competition, she presented the Ravel Piano Concerto in G at Tsai Performance Center. In the same venue she also performed Petrushka by Stravinsky with Boston University Symphony Orchestra under the baton of David Hoose. She also appeared as a soloist with New England Repertoire Orchestra under the direction of dr. Tiffany Chang, performing Chopin’s Fantasy on the Polish Airs. With the Boston University Chamber Orchestra she performed in The Postman Always Rings Twice by Stephen Paulus, The Dialogues of Carmelites by Poulenc, Britten’s Owen Wingrave, Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and Don Giovanni, and Siren Song by Jonathan Dove at the Huntington Theater under the direction of Dr. William Lumpkin.
Dr. Tremiszewska’s professional experience is not limited to the Boston Conservatory and Boston University. She frequently serves as a rehearsal pianist for local opera companies, such as Boston Opera Collaborative, MetroWest Opera, Guerilla Opera and North End Music and Performing Arts Center. She has worked on productions of La Bohème, Carmen, Don Giovanni, L’enfant et le sortilèges, Little Women by Mark Adamo and Le Nozze di Figaro. In the summer of 2013 she served as a rehearsal pianist for Romeo and Juliet Project at the Chautauqua Institution. As a freelance musician, she has performed in various venues, among them Jordan Hall, Berklee Performance Center, Goethe Institute, First Church in Boston and Ozawa Hall in Lenox, MA. In 2005 she won first prize at the First International Chamber Music Competition of New England, and consequently performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In 2014 she also became a finalist for the New World Symphony in Miami, FL, during their national audition tour. As an Emerging Artist for Boston Lyric Opera, she served as a rehearsal pianist for the company’s production of Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress and performed recitatives for the same production at the Cutler Majestic Theater.
Dr. Tremiszewska resides in Cambridge, MA with her family and serves as a pianist/organist at St. Mary’s of Assumption Parish in Brookline, MA.