Fall 2012


Even as Chelsea Opera closed its eighth season, we were hard at work preparing a fabulous ninth season, 2012-2013! Last season was chock full of wonderful music which included Menotti's The Medium and Puccini's Madama Butterfly. The Medium proved to be a powerfully intriguing production which left audiences entranced by the strange happenings of the story. Butterfly was a big undertaking for our small company but, again, left a lasting impression on anyone that experienced its beauty. If you saw a performance you know what a successful production it was. Fred Cohn of Opera News declared ..."Modest in scale, the production gave us Butterfly in full." Read review.

The season was capped off by Chelsea Opera’s election to Full Professional Member by the national advocacy group, Opera America, in recognition of the company’s commitment to the highest artistic standard while still functioning as a grass roots organization!

The continued success of our enterprising company has led to several premieres for this season and a work in progress production for the future. We are excited for the possibilities of the future and look forward to sharing great productions and concerts with you.

Leonarda Priore, Co-Founder and Vice President


The Mark of Cain music by Matthew Harris
and libretto Terry Quinn

November 8 - 10, 2012
Directed by Lynne Hayden-Findlay
Conducted by Steven M. Crawford
Asst Conductor/Chorus Master - Samuel McCoy
with the Chelsea Opera Chamber Orchestra


A Distant Love: Songs of John and Abigail Adams music by Gary S. Fagin
and libretto by Terry Quinn

June 13 - 14, 2013
Directed by Lynne Hayden-Findlay
Conducted by Jorge Parodi
with the Chelsea Opera Chamber Ensemble

Chelsea Opera presents…  

two men - two worlds - two centuries

Celebrating the bicentenial birth year of
composers Guiseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner

January 24 , 2013 at 8PM


Coming in 2013 - a work in progress

The Sleeping Beauty music and libretto by
Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg

The first recipient of The Nicholas S. Priore

look for more information as the project unfolds





Special Feature - Star of Chelsea Opera

Conversation with a "Star of Chelsea Opera": Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg  
by Leonarda Priore

Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg as Charlie Bucket in "The Golden Ticket"

Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg as Amahl and Alexandro LoBianco as Mother

Treble Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg recently appeared with Chelsea Opera singing a duet from The Secret Garden in their "Music of the Flowers" concert. His upcoming role of Isaac in Benjamin Britten's Canticle II, Opus 51 - Abraham and Isaac will be his 5th appearance with Chelsea Opera. He premiered with the company in the title role of Amahl in Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors in 2009 and was featured in concert singing Walking in the Air from The Snowman with orchestra as part of Chelsea Opera presents....A Child's Christmas in Wales concert. He also sang the Shepherd's aria in Verdi's Tosca in the Very Verismo concert honoring Mark Rucker. The New Jersey native answers a few questions:

Favorite role and why:
I have three:

1) I love performing Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti because being Amahl is like being me.  It's very close to who I am.   I've done the role for a long time and each time I discover something new.  It was also fun to learn "crutch work" in addition to the music and have the challenge of doing something so physical while singing.

 2) Miles (Turn of the Screw by Benjamin Britten) because it fits perfectly in my voice and gives me the chance to explore a darker character as well as the opportunity to have an emotional and dramatic journey throughout the piece that not a lot of other roles could offer.  

 3) I also loved being Charlie Bucket in The Golden Ticket by Peter Ash based on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it gave me a chance to be a familiar character (I love the book) while challenging myself with difficult contemporary music.

Some favorites:
Artists:  Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Isabel Leonard, Jonas Kauffman, Placido Domingo,Mariusz Kwiecien, Stephen Schwartz, Leonard Bernstein, Herbert Von Karjan, Simon Rattle, Gerald Finley, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel and of course, Joan Sutherland, Pavarotti, Cheryl Studer, Sheryl Milnes, and Mirelli Freni.

Performances: Carmen with Elina Garnca and Roberta Alanga (I've been in it each of the three times the MET has done it so far ), Pelleas et Melisande conducted by Simon Rattle, Le Nozze di Figaro with Ildar Abrazakov, The NY Philharmonic's opening concert this season of The Rite of Spring, Turandot, and Seance on a Wet Afternoon.

Of the characters that you have performed, which do you most identify with and why? 
Amahl for sure because he's gentle, he's a dreamer and he stands up for what he believes in and also he is very close to his mother as I am.

How do you differ in real life from the characters you play on the stage?
I'm more innocent than some of the characters' I've played and am a very optimistic happy person which is also sometimes different than the characters I've played but I think that that is good because then I get the chance to be a different person.

What do you especially love about performing?
I love the feeling of being caught up in the music and sharing that joy and energy with others.

What is something about Chelsea Opera that you love?
Lee and Lynne!!!!!  They are so supportive of me and everyone they work with and are always so much fun to be around and talk to.  They have given me so many opportunities!  

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
Before I got interested in performing, I was a competitive swimmer.  

When you are not singing you ______?
compose, play piano, practice conducting my stuffed animals, read through scores or anything else related to music!  I also love to read, write poetry and fantasy stories as well as ride my bike.  I also have awesome nerf gun wars with my friends.

 I'm going to be performing a song cycle I wrote called, "Illustrations from 'The Iliad'" at The Juilliard School, and I am looking forward to the release of The Golden Ticket CD coming out soon.


Spotlight on New Board Member: Courtenay Casey

 Courtenay Casey

Chelsea Opera first met soprano Courtenay Casey when she was cast to appear in the Chelsea Opera Ensemble for the 2006 production of Pagliacci. As she pursues her own singing career, she has also become involved in arts management. Just this year, she was selected to be one of New York Arts Emerging Leaders interns. Last year, Courtenay was asked to associate produce Chelsea Opera's first choral/orchestra concert, A Child's Christmas in Wales. Based on the outstanding job she did on that concert, she was asked to join the Board of Directors.


"When I was invited me to join the Board of Directors of Chelsea Opera, I immediately agreed. Every time I attended a Chelsea Opera production or a Chelsea Opera presents... concert, I knew I would enjoy what has become the Chelsea Opera 'standard' - a committed performance with beautiful singing in an intimate setting. I am doubly excited about the season ahead which includes some intriguing offerings of new works that bolstered my reason for joining Chelsea Opera's Board of Directors. It is my strong personal belief that the production of new music is one of the most significant ways for artists and music lovers to ensure a healthy and vibrant dialogue for the continued growth of the art form. It's an exciting time to be working with one of NYC's most highly regarded small opera companies. I am delighted that I was selected to be on board and to be a part of one of the best!"


Courtenay Casey has worked as Artistic Planning Associate Manager with the New York Philharmonic and Associate Producer for Amore Opera and Chelsea Opera.  Currently, she is a concert and theatrical attractions agent for the Michael Moore Agency as well as personal assistant for a celebrated TV/Film/Theatre Actor and Director. Trained as a classical singer at the University of Michigan and New England Conservatory, she performs with her recital group, Voices of Women for which a new recital program was successfully launched through Kickstarter. She is on the Board of Directors of the Art Song Preservation of New York, and, with them, co-hosts an internet podcast "A Toast To Song" as well as working to develop programs that promote art song in NYC.    




Chelsea Opera is pleased to announce the upcoming world premiere of The Mark of Cain, music by composer Matthew Harris and libretto by Terry Quinn. The one-act opera, loosely based on the biblical story of Cain and Abel, is for six soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra. The premiere will take place November 8, 9 and 10, 2012.

When Chelsea Opera was founded in 2004, we never dreamed the company would one day present a world premiere opera. And yet, nine seasons later, we are doing just that. The Mark of Cain with music by Matthew Harris and libretto by Terry Quinn will debut on November 8-10, 2012.

Many of us grew up knowing the traditional Biblical story of Cain and Abel. That same story is treated with slight variations in the world’s religions. Librettist Terry Quinn explained that once they agreed on the subject of their new opera, he began to research the story in numerous sources, including the Quran and the Jewish Midrash traditions. In these, both Cain and Abel each had a twin sister (Onah and Zellah), and it was God’s directive that they marry each other’s sister. Alas, Cain spitefully kills his brother and then takes his own twin sister Onah as his wife. Banished from Eden, Cain and Onah found the city named after their son, Enoch, and this is where the story of the opera begins.

Librettist Terry Quinn spoke to Chelsea Opera on what influenced his writing. "The era of my maturity was marked by conflict and wholesale slaughtering in the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia and, without cease, those killing grounds of the Middle East still disputed by descendants of Biblical brothers and sisters. No ordinary citizen can hope to have much of an impact on the fratricidal decisions world leaders and their generals make. But artists have the means to delve into such mysteries: why racial, ethnic, gender, and religious or merely geographical differences so often lead us to kill one another. I chose to re-imagine a key part of the creation myths and re-examine how greed, lust and sexual jealousy, as well as class and cultural differences that are seen as separating the inhabitants of the fertile environs of Eden from the desert dwellers in the Land of Nod, might have caused the very first murder of a brother to lead to a second such act, and beyond."

As Terry and Matt worked through the opera, they met weekly to work through each page of the musical setting of the text, rewriting and recomposing to achieve the most satisfactory results. Matt explained, "My approach to Terry's libretto was to bring out the contrast between the characters and the power struggle resulting from their conflicting desires, show the transformation of each character as the plot unfolds, musically build the dramatic trajectory of each scene and the story as a whole, and create a musical sound-world that evokes in a fresh way the ancient time and place of the action. It is both a through-composed score, built on leitmotifs, and a ‘numbers opera,’ with arias, trios, etc.”

Come see and hear this intriguing opera and discover for yourself how jealousy and revenge can drive human passion to the brink of self-destruction.

Destination Chelsea  

For several years, Chelsea Opera has been an active force in a little know organization known as The Chelsea Cultural Partnership. Organized by a variety of arts and cultural organizations located in the burgeoning community of Chelsea, CCP promotes and encourages New Yorkers and tourists from out of town to explore the vast cultural options available in that neighborhood. Why not visit one of the museums before going to a concert or opera performance and have dinner afterward?


By visiting, you will find a comprehensive, interactive resource for cultural activity in Chelsea. Take advantage of the cultural events calendar, neighborhood blog, and list of local restaurants and businesses. Special offers and highlights will change frequently so visit often and use as a tool for your leisure planning. Chelsea offers it all: parks, museums, galleries, dance, music and theater venues, award winning restaurants, local businesses, and of course, Chelsea Opera! We encourage you to discover Chelsea over and over again with Destination Chelsea!



OPERA America is a national advocacy organization, dedicated to supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera. Originally based just outside Washington, D.C., Opera America moved to New York City several years ago, recognizing that the heart of the world of opera was in The Big Apple.

Founded in 1970, OPERA America has an international membership that includes nearly 150 Professional Company Members, 300 Associate and Business Members, 2,000 Individual Members and over 16,000 subscribers to its electronic news service. The association provides members with an array of publications and online resources, workshops, an annual conference and network-specific services, administration and education. OPERA America also provides members with tools to maximize the effectiveness of financial and human resources, expand the scope of repertoire and programs, and extend their reach to new and diverse audiences.

Since its founding, Chelsea Opera has been an Associate Member. This past year, Chelsea Opera petitioned OPERA America’s board to waive one of their five criteria (i.e., the presence of a full-time paid administrator) to allow Chelsea Opera to become a Full Company Member. Thus, even though Chelsea Opera is completely volunteer-run, the Board recognized the quality of Chelsea Opera’s work and its standing nationally among small companies, and approved the upgrade of its membership!

One of the immediate benefits of this new membership level is the company’s eligibility to apply for an Opera Fund grant for repertoire development. Chelsea Opera hopes to hear in December that is will receive such a grant which will be used to workshop the opera The Sleeping Beauty being written by 13-year old Benjamin Perry Wenzelberg.

Thank you OPERA America!


IN MEMORIAM - July 2, 2012
Andrew Walsh - Our Friend and Colleague

It is always so hard to say goodbye to someone so special. Andrew was a beautiful man - inside and out - with a beautiful talent that he shared with us in many of our productions. A voice and spirit as lovely, kind and generous as Andrew's will never be forgotten and will live on in each of us who knew and loved him. We will continue to lift our voices in song and know that Andrew will be in our hearts until we meet again.

Leonarda Priore - Co-Founder



We want to thank you for being part of our vision! Whether as a member of our audience, a friend, a donor or company artist, you are a stakeholder and a most crucial part of what makes Chelsea Opera special. It is for you that we have remained true to our mission: providing opportunities to professional singers and bringing critically acclaimed, quality productions of standard and new operas to the stage. We can only continue our commitment to producing “intimate and authentic” opera experiences with ticket prices that are affordable thanks to your generous support and contributions.

Your continued support is important and crucial, and we ask that you please support our mission by making a donation today. Make an easy , secure on-line donation at, or download a donation from our website

Chelsea Opera productions are made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Counsel, and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties.

A Look Back..............

welcomeand Fundraising Appeal letters

Fall 2012"SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Fall 2012 APPEAL Fundraising letter
Spring 2012 APPEAL Fundraising letter
Fall 2011 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Spring 2011 APPEAL Fundraising letter
Fall 2008 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Spring 2008 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Fall 2007 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Spring 2007 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Fall 2006 Newsletter
March 2006 Newsletter


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