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  Leonarda Priore (President) whose primary loves are singing and performing, also enjoys the "behind the scenes" hands on of each production. Most productions will find her creativity being directed also to prop design where she magically helps to design and supply whatever props are needed. Wearing many hats is a pre-qualifier for the position of co-founder and co-producer where Lee handles the graphic design of the company and acts in the capacity of webmaster to name a few of the many jobs she tends to. She has co-directed the company's first production of Suor Angelica and has assisted in directing at Central Florida Lyric Opera's Le Nozze di Figaro and Carmen. Her roles include Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), La Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica), Katisha (The Mikado), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Lady Jane (Patience), Witch (Hänsel and Gretel), Augusta (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Dame Quickly (Falstaff), Mother/Grandmother (Little Red Riding Hood), Ma Moss (Tenderland) and the title role of Carmen. Companies include Mohawk Valley Opera, Regina Opera, Rockland Opera, Silver Dollar Opera, Central Florida Lyric Opera, New Rochelle Opera, American Singers Opera Project to name a few. In 2002 Leonarda debuted at Carnegie Hall as the soloist in Mozart's Coronation Mass and has returned to the Weill Hall stage twice to date. Musical Theater credits include Nettie (Carousel), Mother Abbess (The Sound of Music), and Fanny Brice (Funny Girl). She also has appeared Off Off Broadway in Pearl Cleage's Hospice performing as Suzuki and Billie Holiday. Leonarda has extensive oratorio credits in addition to performances in the jazz genre. Leonarda and Lynne Hayden-Findlay co founded the company together in 2004.  
 
 

Lynne

  Lynne Hayden-Findlay (Treasurer) pursued a diverse business career (advertising sales and fundraising) before returning to music in 1991.  She made her operatic debut as an Aztec God in Darius Milhaud's Christoph Colomb with Brooklyn College Opera Theater and went on to sing several roles at Amato Opera including Nannetta, Susanna, Zerlina, Oscar, Musetta, and Adele.  She premiered Dan Welcher's Vox Femina in Europe (1995) and New York City (2000). With Operafestival di Roma, she sang Suor Genovieffa (Suor Angelica) and Erste Dame (Pamina cover) in Die Zauberflöte. She was an ensemble member with Opera Orchestra, joined San Diego Opera for Verdi's Requiem in May 2001, and sang Barber's Knoxville, Summer of 1915 with West Islip Symphony in 2002. Before retiring from singing, Ms. Hayden-Findlay had been the soprano soloist for St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Riverside, CT), for twelve years.  In the 90s, she produced several concerts as a founding member of Colla Voce.  That plus her business acumen has sustained her as a co-founder and co-producer of Chelsea Opera until her retirement as of December 2015. Over her twelve seasons she has overseen a variety of tasks, including fund raising and grants, list management, public relations, and scheduling.  During most productions, she would most often have been found designing costumes and stage directing (Don Giovanni, The Scarf/The Bear, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Le Nozze di Figaro, and many others). She holds a B.A. in Theatre from SUNY/New Paltz where she directed and choreographed several productions, and earned an MBA with Distinction from Pace University.  In 2002 she became a certified English-as-a-second language trainer and continues to teach new immigrant populations. Lynne and Leonarda Priore co founded the company in 2004 and both remained the driving force until Lynne's retirement in December 2015.  
 
 
Artistic and Production Staff
 

 

Garrett A. Heater (Producing Artistic Director)
Garrett Heater was recently appointed Producing Artistic Director of Chelsea Opera, the Manhattan-based professional company now in its 17th season. A former Artistic Director of Syracuse Opera, Mr. Heater oversaw the company’s landmark 2017-2018 ‘Doomed Divas’ season, revitalizing patron subscriptions and single-ticket sales. A recipient of the Vera Mowry Roberts Fellowship, Mr. Heater is currently completing a Theatre Arts Masters at City University of New York’s Hunter College. He is currently the Artistic Director and co-founder of the award-winning Syracuse Summer Theatre at The Oncenter, serving as stage director of the company’s past four seasons. As former Artistic Director and co-founder of the award-winning Covey Theatre Company, Mr. Heater produced several of his original plays at the New York International Fringe Festival – FringeNYC. His play Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, winner of the Gloria Peter Playwright Competition, received several sold-out, immersive productions at the Barnes-Hiscock Mansion. A graduate of Syracuse University, Mr. Heater made his international vocal debut in Luigi Zaninelli’s Snow White at the Teatro Maggio Communale in Florence, Italy. Opera direction credits include Syracuse Opera, Chelsea Opera, Oswego Opera, Syracuse University, The Landmark Theatre, and Simply New Theatre. He recently completed his 13 th year as a music educator and is currently employed by the New York City Department of Education.

 
 

 

John M. Russell (Artistic & Production Associate)
Born in Washington, DC and raised in the West/ Midwest, John received his Bachelor of Music in Voice from New England Conservatory in Boston and his Master of Music in Opera Performance from SUNY-Binghamton, NY. He also went on to study opera performance at Boston Conservatory. From there he proceeded to join Tri Cities Opera in Binghamton, NY in the new cooperative program with SUNY which included singing leading roles and teaching as a Graduate Assistant in Voice and Choral Activities. He also founded a college-wide community Chorus and a Men's Chorus under the oversight of the SUNY Music Department.

He won the University Concerto Competition; performed with the college orchestra; and in 1980 he made his professional debut at Tri Cities Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly opposite Cynthia Clarey and Richard Leech. Other leading roles followed. 

The audition circuit was next and performance highlights included a European and US tour in the role of Ravenal in Showboat and performances with New Jersey State Opera, University of Delaware Opera, Piccolo Teatro at BAM, and the Little Orchestra Society. He was also Precentor and Soloist at The Church of the Transfiguration and Marble Collegiate Church in NYC.

While teaching singing, John was invited to found and direct the Opera Department of Brooklyn Conservatory, which greatly expanded the school's influence as an educator of young, professionally-motivated singers. Part of this program consisted of presenting full opera performances with orchestra, Master Classes with famous veterans of the art, e.g.: Eleanor Steber, Ataraah Hazan, Chester Ludgin, Enrico DiGiuseppe, RoseMarie Freni, and many others. The program was a huge success and the learning experience was felt on both sides of the proscenium.

From 1992 to 2014 John was honored to be a member of the regular chorus with the Metropolitan Opera Association. This was a great highpoint of his performing career. In this position he was called upon to sing solos on the MET stage nearly 70 times. He also was included in performance of MET Premieres, Video Broadcasts and Recordings, and many Texaco Opera Radio broadcasts.

At the same time, John was producing opera, concerts, master classes with internationally-known musicians, and dramatic readings with famous actors several times a year at many venues throughout New York City.

After retiring from the MET in 2014, John again began teaching voice at his studio in NYC as well as in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. 

The friendships begun at the MET in all areas of opera production are many and lifelong and include great colleagues and especially, those hard-working fellow choristers! 

 
 
Resident Production Staff
 
  Benjamin Grow (Music Director/Principal Conductor). Conductor Benjamin Grow has worked with a wide array of ensembles in New York City, from Chelsea Opera to The Broadway Chamber Players, and new music groups Ensemble Échappé and counter)induction. As music director of Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied in 2015 at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia, Grow "expertly coached the singers and led the orchestra" (Broad Street Review), and his "fine detailing delivered the ferocious power of this score" (Huffington Post), in what The Philadelphia Inquirer said was the "most unforgettable opera" of the year. He conducted the recording of I Have No Stories To Tell You, a new work by Opera Philadelphia's Composer-in-Residence, Lembit Beecher. He also conducted Beecher's oratorio, And Then I Remember, in "an expert performance" (WKCR) at the DiMenna Center in Manhattan. In 2015, Grow won the International Conducting Workshop and Competition in Atlanta, GA. He has participated in masterclasses with Kurt Masur and Larry Rachleff, and assisted conductor Jeffrey Milarsky at the New York Philharmonic in June 2015. A dedicated music educator, Mr. Grow was the founding conductor of the 92nd Street Y Youth Orchestra, and currently conducts the chamber orchestra at the School for Strings and Berkshire Summer Music. For several years, Mr. Grow co-presented an annual lecture at the 92nd Street Y, "The Physics of Music," as part of their Mysteries of Science series, and has given pre-concert talks at the Museum of Biblical Art. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, and studied with Jeffrey Milarsky at the Manhattan School of Music.  
       
       
 

Klay-James Enos (Business and Grants Manager). Klay-James Enos joins Chelsea Opera as an Administrative Business Manager. A newcomer to Chelsea Opera’s administrative staff, he is a practicing visual artist with a background in several creative fields. He has served as an assistant to the director on A Certain Quiet, a new opera that premiered at Theater for the New City in 2015; and as an assistant on operatic and orchestral programs at Opera America, Howl Arts, St. Mark’s Church, Westbeth Community Center, and Clemente Soto Velez. Enos also works as an assistant scenic painter on Theater for the New City's Summer Street Theater productions.

As a painter, Klay is a member of the Art Loisaida artist group and regularly shows his work in community spaces throughout the East Village. His essays on other artists' work have been featured at NYU's Kimmel Stovall Gallery and Bouduin College in Maine. 

Klay graduated with a B.A. from Alfred University in 2012, where he studied English literature and art history. He In 2015, he presented a solo exhibit, “Details,” at the Ottendorfer Library in Manhattan. Enos has been featured in group shows at Station Independent Projects, Theater for the New City, the Tompkins Square Library Gallery, and Michael Mut Project Space.

 
 
       
 

David Satz (Resident Production Audio Engineer)
David Satz studied with Rudolf Kolisch and Felix Viscuglia at the New England Conservatory, and was associated with Emmanuel Music in Boston under the late Craig Smith for a number of years both as a clarinettist and as a recording engineer. After moving to New York in 1981 he became a staff engineer at RCA Studios where he worked mainly on compact disc reissues of classical LPs; in 1995 he received a Grammy Award for one such project. Currently he is employed by day at Penguin Random House while maintaining a secret identity on evenings and weekends as the recording engineer for Chelsea Opera and the vocal studio of Dr. Michael Warren.

 
       
 

Rosamund Dyer (Volunteer Admin Assistant) Rosamund is a mezzo-soprano from Washington State. Her passion for music started as a child and brought her to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she graduated with a B.M. in 2020. At Oberlin, she assisted the Head Dramaturg in the production of Angel’s Bone (2018) for the opera’s first showing after its world premiere and Pulitzer Prize win. On the stage, she performed in the revolutionary chorus for Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (2018), Third Wood Sprite in Rusalka as part of the Portland Opera Workshop (2019), and Dorabella in Così fan tutte (2020). She recently moved to New York City to take on both administrative and performance opportunities. She is supporting opera companies to ensure that they can continue to create amidst the struggles imposed by the pandemic. She is dedicated to a future where opera thrives and is inclusive, inspired and that the doors are open to all who wish to experience its richness. Chelsea Opera welcomes her to our operatic family.

 


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