Kate Tombaugh (Hansel)
Mezzo-soprano Kate Tombaugh (Hansel) has earned accolades for her diverse musical talents and compelling characterizations, and she has been praised as “utterly convincing dramatically, and musically superlative” (Seen and Heard International). Her 2017–18 season
includes debuts with Orchestra Seattle, the Northwestern Indiana and Champaign-Urban Symphony Orchestras, and the Evansville Philharmonic, as well as her current debut with Stockton Opera.
Some of Ms. Tombaugh’s performing highlights include placing third in the Chicago Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions hosted by New York’s Metropolitan Opera and singing her Carnegie Hall debut upon winning the Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition. She has portrayed the title roles in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Handel’s Ariodante, and Massenet’s Cinderella, as well as Annie Oakley in Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun and Mad Margaret in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore.
Ms. Tombaugh trained as a young artist with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Utah Opera, gaining additional experience with the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and as a SongFest Stern Fellow. She holds a master’s degree in voice from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and dual undergraduate degrees in English literature and vocal performance from Illinois Wesleyan University. She is the founder and executive director of the arts nonprofit organization Poco a Poco, hosting a week-long summer music festival for high school–aged vocalists. www.katetombaugh.com, www.pocoapoco.org
Rachel Schutz (Gretel)
Hailed for her “diamantine high notes, witty characterization, and giddily delirious coloratura” (Boston Globe), Welsh-American soprano Rachel Schutz (Gretel) is in demand for her sensitive and evocative performances in a wide range of repertoire. She is active both in the opera house and on the concert stage, having performed extensively around the United States, Asia, and Europe. In 2016 Ms. Schutz won first place in the 44th National Association of Teachers of Singers Artist Award Competition and third place in the Jensen Foundation Competition.
Ms. Schutz’s recent operatic roles have included Lise in Philip Glass’s Les enfants terribles, Thérèse in Les mamelles de Tirésias, and Jessie in Mahagonny Songspiel with Opera Paralèlle; Papagena in The Magic Flute, Diana in Dove’s Siren Song, and Johanna in Sweeney Todd with Hawai’i Opera Theatre; and Adele in Die Fledermaus and Susanna in Don Giovanni with Stockton Opera. A seasoned recitalist and concert singer known for her “communicative zest,” Ms. Schutz has been heard at Carnegie Hall’s Weill and Zankel Halls, the Ravinia Festival, the Ojai Festival, the Tanglewood Festival, with the Hawai’i and Riverside Symphony Orchestras, on the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, with the Boston Pops Orchestra, and at venues around China, Taiwan, Korea, and Thailand. She is also the founder of Artists for Social Justice, an arts collective that brings attention to pressing social issues such as immigration, civil rights and climate change. www.rachelschutz.com, www.artistsforsocialjustice.org.
Donovan Ott-Bales (Witch)
An alumnus of the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, tenor Donovan Ott-Bales makes a welcome return to portray the Witch. Mr. Ott-Bales most recently appeared with Stockton Opera in their production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro as Don Curzio. He has also recently been featured as Father Grenville in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Herr Vogelsang in Mozart’s The Impresario, and Pluto in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. Mr. Ott-Bales is a member of the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices led by esteemed mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick.
Buffy Baggott (Mother)
California native Buffy Baggott (The Mother) has gained recognition throughout the United States as an accomplished and highly versatile lyric mezzo-soprano. She studied vocal performance at UCLA and San Francisco State University, went on to complete two apprenticeships with the Santa Fe Opera, and is an alumna of the prestigious Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in Chicago. She has been featured with many organizations, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Chicago Symphony.
Carmen is Ms. Baggott’s signature role. She has also recently portrayed Giovanna (Rigoletto), Maria (Two Women), and Hecuba/Ghost of Cassandra (Les Troyens) for San Francisco Opera; Second Secretary (Nixon in China) for San Diego Opera; Dulcinee (Don Qucihotte) for Island City Opera; Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd) for Hawaii Opera Theater; Countess Geschwitz (Lulu) for West Edge Opera; The Mother (The Consul) for Opera Santa Barbara; and The Mother (Hansel and Gretel) and Meg Page (Falstaff) for Opera San Jose.
Ms. Baggott can be heard on the Santa Fe Opera recording of Emmeline and Cedille Records recordings of The Good Soldier Schweik, The Billy Collins Suite and In Eleanor’s Words: Music of Stacy Garrop. Ms. Baggott is a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, the American Guild of Musical Artists, Sing for America, and the East Bay Opera League.
Matt Hanscom (Father)
Praised for his “rich baritone” (Operaville) and for singing with “power, insight, and flawless delivery” (Opera News), Matt Hanscom (The Father) is enjoying success across the continent. To begin the 2017–18 season he portrayed Escamillo in Carmen with the Spokane Symphony, followed by Monsieur de Brétigny in Manon for Opera Santa Barbara. During the 2016–17 season he was heard as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Marcello in La bohème, all with Opera San Jose. He joined the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra for Mozart’s Requiem, the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra for Home for the Holidays, and performed in the West Coast premiere of Kevin Puts’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Silent Night. He makes a welcome return to Stockton Opera after his brilliant performance as Falke in Die Fledermaus.
Mr. Hanscom was an international finalist in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition and a national semifinalist in the Palm Beach Opera Competition, the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He can be seen in the documentary film The Audition.
Possessing both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Northwestern University, Matt is an alumnus of many of the nation’s premier training programs, including Wolf Trap Opera’s Filene Young Artist Program, the Santa Fe Opera, the Merola Opera Program, Chicago Opera Theater, Central City Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s Gerdine Young Artist Program.
Ricardo Campero (Sandman)
Tenor Ricardo (“Ric”) Campero (Sandman) received his Bachelor of Music degree in music education from the University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music. He is a past winner in the Regional Metropolitan Opera competition and has studied with world-renowned opera artist and director of the California Opera Association, Edna Garabedian. Known for his effortless lyrical voice, Mr. Campero has appeared in recital for the Sonora Bach Festival, on the St. James Recital Series in Sonora, and as a featured soloist for the Stockton Opera Gala, the Ripon Oratorio Society, the Stockton Chorale, and Townsend Opera Players. He has performed with the San Francisco Festival Chorus under the direction of Ian Robertson, and he sang with the California Choral Company led by William Dehning, with whom he toured four times throughout Europe. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall and the Vatican. Mr. Campero appeared with Townsend Opera Players in Secret Garden (Fakir), Die Fledermaus (Alfred), Amahl and the Night Visitors (King Caspar), Pagliacci (Beppe-cover), and La bohème (Parpignol); and he has been featured in several cameo roles with Stockton Opera.
Mr. Campero is a music educator with the Ceres Unified School District. He also directs the Central United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and the Stockton Singers, and he appeared last season as a vocal soloist in the Stockton Symphony’s annual Holiday Pops.
Liisa Dávila (Dew Fairy)
Soprano Liisa Dávila (Dew Fairy) has gained recognition for her versatility and charm, combining vocal clarity and dazzling coloratura with a richness and depth. She was recently acclaimed for her portrayal of Kitty Hart in Fresno Grand
Opera’s Dead Man Walking, Liù in West Bay Opera’s Turandot, and Rosina in Townsend Opera Players’s The Barber of Seville. Some of her other roles include Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Violetta (La traviata), Poppea (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Hanna Glawari (The Merry Widow), Micaëla (Carmen), and the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon. Ms. Dávila has been featured as a vocal soloist with organizations such as MidAmerica Productions, the Music in the Mountains and Bear Valley Festivals, and the Modesto, Auburn, and Folsom Lake Symphonies. Her performances have included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s C minor Mass and Vespers solemnes, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, and the Requiems of Rutter, Duruflé, Mozart, and Fauré.
Ms. Dávila holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Sacramento State University, and her training includes extended periods in Los Angeles and New York, as well as in Greece with the Festival of the Aegean’s Greek Opera Studio. She is a prizewinner of multiple competitions, including the Metropolitan National Council Auditions as a San Francisco District winner and Western Regional Finalist. She is an active member of the Synergy Chamber Players, performing innovative chamber concerts in the Central Valley.
Peter Jaffe, music director & conductor
Peter Jaffe has served as the music director and conductor for Stockton Opera since 2001 and for the Stockton Symphony since 1995, consistently garnering accolades for his dynamic performances and fostering sustained artistic growth. Mr. Jaffe is also in his sixth season as music director and conductor of the Auburn Symphony, and in his fourth with the Folsom Lake Symphony. He has spearheaded many commissions of world premieres and earned prestigious awards and national recognition for innovations in educational programming and distinguished cultural contributions. He has been featured frequently in radio broadcasts, television appearances, and web videos, and is the host of the local radio program Symphony Mix, promoting orchestral events and broadcasting entertaining and educational programs about symphonic repertoire.
As a guest conductor Mr. Jaffe has captivated audiences with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Silicon Valley, the Sacramento and Virginia Symphonies, and many other orchestras and music festivals across the country.
Mr. Jaffe teaches every summer at the Conductor’s Institute of South Carolina, and he conducted and taught at the Aspen Music Festival for fourteen years—many of his Aspen performances have been broadcast nationally. He spent three seasons conducting at the Oberlin Conservatory and two as a visiting professor at Stanford University, highlighted by an Eastern European tour with the Stanford Symphony. Mr. Jaffe is delighted to return to the opera hall for this production of Hansel and Gretel.
James Haffner, director
Producing Stage Director James Haffner is a professor of opera at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing and an Artist’s Diploma in opera stage directing. Mr. Haffner is also a certified teacher of the Michael Chekhov acting technique and is an associate teacher with the Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium. His article “Musical Synthesis of the Michael Chekhov Technique” was recently published in the International Association of Theatre Critics journal, Critical Stages.
Mr. Haffner’s production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola took first place in the 2001 National Opera Association Production Competition and was a finalist both at the regional and national levels in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. That production furthermore holds the distinction of being the first to be invited to perform in the KC-ACTF national festival. More recently his 2013 production of Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor was selected as a first-place winner in the National Opera Association competition.
Mr. Haffner has worked with both the Bay View and Bear Valley Music Festivals and is a member of the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab-West. He is also a Fulbright Scholar and has been an active participant with the University Studies Abroad Consortium.