, an evening of songs and narration from this new American work, features a stellar cast of nationally-recognized opera singers. Their voices simply bring the story of Viola! Song Cycle Premiere Viola! to life and fill the evening with drama and promise.
Lisa Lockhart, Soprano (Viola) Lisa Lockhart has appeared on stages throughout the U.S. and Europe. Recent roles include Musetta in Pasta & Puccini/La Boheme and the Countess ALmaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with First Coast Opera, and Soprano Soloist appearances in John Rutter’s Feel the Spirit with the Saint Augustine Chamber Singers and a Tribute to Marian ANderson with First Coast Opera. She has sung numerous international performances of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess as Serena or Bess. Other notable appearances include the title roles in Madama Butterfly and Aida, the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and many others. Lisa is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music and maintains an active voice studio in St. Augustine. She looks forward to the Romanza Festivale debut of her singing ensemble, “Sposi Cantanti”, or “Singing Spouses”, which she will direct and musically arrange, as well as sing along with her husband Dirk Gavin McCoy and two other couples.
Kara Bishop-Grover, Soprano (Dorothy) Internationally acclaimed coloratura soprano, Kara Bishop-Grover, has performed across Europe and the United States. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado where she performed leading roles in Xerxes as Romilda, Don Giovanni as Zerlina, Elisir d’Amore as Adina, and Cosi fan tutte as Despina, Mrs. Bishop made her debut in Germany as Pousette in Massenet’s Manon. From then on she joined the troupe, Opera Et Cetera, as a fest singer touring in Germany, Hawaii and Florida. She appeared with the Greek Opera Studio under the auspices of the Festival of the Aegean, in Syros Greece, performed with Met tenor, Eduardo Villa presented at the Academy of the West in California, while also establishing salon-recital culture in the Rheingau region of Germany. Mrs. Bishop has since then moved to the USA where she is currently working on her masters degree at Florida State University.
Dirk Gavin McCoy, Baritone (Eugene) Dirk Gavin McCoy was most recently seen as Marcello in Pasta & Puccini/La Boheme with First Coast Opera in St. Augustine. Other recent appearances include Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte with Mid-Ohio Opera Company and King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Shakespeare Opera Theatre in Virginia. Additional Roles include Sergeant Miller in the FL premiere of Curtis Tucher’s The Stranger’s Tale and King Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors with FCO, several turns as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera of Arlington (VA), the international Opera Festival in Rome, Italy and the Landon Symphonette (MD), Uncle Bonzo in Madama Butterfly with FCO and State Repertory OPera of NJ, Guglielmo in COsi fan tutte with MOO and the Eldbrooke Artist Series (DC), among others. Dirk will appear with the “Sposi Cantanti” ensemble for the Romanza Festivale with his wife, Lisa Lockhart.
Edward Washington II, Tenor (Hayes) American tenor Edward Washington II was born in Oxford, England raised in Saudi Arabia, graduated from Niceville High School, and is currently based in New York City. Edward was selected for intensive vocal study and master classes with Marquita Lister, Kevin Short, Kenneth Kamal Scott, William Mateuzzi, John Aler and Angela Brown. He is a former Orlando Opera Affiliate Artist, and former artist with Florida Opera Theatre, Lighthouse Opera, Opera Fortunato, Central Florida Lyric Opera, New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Edward has been a featured soloist with the United States Air Force Band, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, Orchestra Amadeus, Morgan State University Choir, and the American Spiritual Ensemble. He was a featured vocalist twice at Carnegie Hall this year. He is excited to make his Opera Orlando Debut. Edward was a staff singer for numerous prestigious Churches and Cathedrals, in Florida, Baltimore, Washington D.C and New York. Edward Washington II was formerly the Music and Education Director of the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation based in Orlando and is still a proud ambassador for the foundation. As a proud member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Edward seeks to advance music in America.
Lloyd Reshard, Bass-Baritone (William) Bass-Baritone Lloyd Reshard’s 2019-20 season includes Escamillo in Peach State Opera’s touring production of Carmen, covering the title role in Opera Southwest’s production of Ali Baba, and two productions with Opera Orlando: Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors and a bass ensemble role in All is Calm. Recently, Lloyd made his debut as Guglielmo in Fargo-Moorhead Opera’s 2019 production of Cosi fan tutte. His other roles include the Speaker and Sarastro in The Magic Flute and Noye in Benjamin Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde, Zuniga in Carmen, Tommaso in Tiefland, Sergeant of the Archers in Manon Lescaut as well as the Marquis and Doctor Grenvil in La Traviata. He has performed with Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Orchestra Miami, First Coast Opera, among others. As the former Executive Director of Art’s at St. Johns in Miami Beach, Lloyd has preserved a platform for artists of all disciplines to be a voice in social justice and has self produced two concerts “Over Jordan: A Journey of African-Amercian History in Song” and “What Guys Do for Love.” In addition, Lloyd has been a guest soloist with Master Chorale of South Florida in several concert productions as well as the Klezmer Company Jazz Orchestra. He was the recipient of the 2012 NEA Encouragement Award at the Southeastern District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has served 8 years in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Lois Henry (Composer, Pianist) Lois Henry has an extensive background as a composer, pianist (both solo and collaborative), organist, coach, and conductor throughout the eastern United States. A former Professor of Music at Northwest Florida State College for the past 17 years, she has been a staple in Northwest Florida’s classical music conducting the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and Chorale as well as the women’s vocal ensemble Belle Voci, holding solo faculty piano recitals and teaching piano, voice, and music theory. During her time in Massachusetts, Lois conducted masterworks with orchestra for the Choral Union and taught at Eastern Nazarene College. She also served as the pianist/organist and occasionally the chorusmaster for Chorus pro Musica, which occasionally performed for the Boston Pops. Currently, Lois is church music director at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church In Shalimar, Florida. She composes pieces frequently performed by NWFSC, the University of West Florida, as well as other high schools and institutions. Most recently, the UWF Concert Choir premiered Lois’ choral composition “Hope,” with text by Emily Dickinson, during their diversity concert.
Robin Reshard (Writer) Robin Reshard advocates for and creates stories and content about African Americans’ experiences, history and development in the American visual and vocal conversation. She is the creative director for Robert Robino Productions and works in community through the Kukua Institute, a non-profit organization located in Historic Belmont DeVilliers with a vision to discover, grow, share and celebrate African Americans stories through art, history, science and technology. Viola! is her first story written for an operatic work. Developing projects for print, broadcast, and programs, her work has included television projects such as “Inside Voices TV,” “The Pensacola Network Show,” “Connecting the Community,” and “Heard.” Her documentary “Belmont DeVilliers: The Making of a Neighborhood” – has been seen and heard on public television, in public spaces and in public conversations. She has written two books and has contributed stories to numerous others. Robin serves the community as a board and committee members with various organizations, is honored by the numerous community awards received, and grateful to the people whose shoulders on which she stands to continue the important work of valuing everyone’s story. For her work around connecting people through community dialogue, she was named in 2017 as one of 52 exceptional people nationwide for USA Today Network’s “We Are One Nation” project.
Viola! Song Cycle Premiere 7:30 PM. Tuesday, February 11, 2020 Mattie Kelly Arts Center On the campus of Northwest Florida State College 100 College Boulevard East Niceville, Florida