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Singers’ Theater of Washington Present Suor Angelica March 14-15, 2014


February 12, 2014

Mary Ellen Brennan


The Singers’ Theater of Washington presents Suor Angelica at Convergence in Alexandria, VA on March 14 and 15, 2014. Tickets are available for $20 for the general public, and $15 for students, seniors, and groups.

In the one-act opera Suor Angelica from Giacomo Puccini’s Il Trittico, noble-born Sister Angelica joins a convent to expiate the sin of giving birth to an illegitimate baby. Upon learning seven years later that her child has died, she concocts a poisonous potion to end her life. She sees the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary bringing her son as she dies.

The role of Sister Angelica will be performed by Melissa Chavez and Annie Gill. Ms. Chavez has been acclaimed by the Washington Post for her “voluptuous voice” and “cooly exemplary production”. She performs frequently throughout the D.C. area. Since 2012, Ms. Chávez has been a young artist at the Castleton Festival, under the direction of Lorin Maazel. She was also invited to perform with the United States Army Chorus. Ms. Chávez is a two-time winner of the Bach-Handel Competition, has placed in numerous NATS competitions, and received multiple grants including the Marion Park Lewis Foundation grant.

Praised for “astounding technical vocal ability, solid song interpretation and stage presence,” Ms. Gill sang the role of Donna Anna in the Crescendo Nyári Akadémia production of Don Giovanni in Sárospatak, Hungary. The performance was broadcast on Hungarian National Television. Ms. Gill also traveled to the Czech Republic in August, 2013 to continue her studies of Czech and Slovak classical repertoire as a selected vocalist in the Moravian Masterclass. Ms. Gill was a First Prize Winner in the 2013 Barry Alexander International Vocal Competition, and made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Winners’ Recital. She appears in this season’s Netflix series House of Cards in the role of Opera Singer.

Appearing in the role of La Principessa are Tona Brown and Monifa Harris. One of Huffington Post’s 11 Trans Artists of Color to Watch in 2013, Tona Brown is the first African American Transgender violinist and vocalist to sing for a seated President of the United States of America. In June 2011, she was invited to perform the National Anthem for President Barack Obama in New York City during the opening ceremony of the LGBT Leadership Conference and Gala Fundraiser. Ms. Brown will also be playing Delia in an upcoming Netflix original series City Lightz scheduled for summer 2014. As a professional musician and vocalist, her career spans across North America and Europe.

Mezzo-soprano Monifa Harris’ superb voice has been described as “thunder coated in honey.” Classical Voice North Carolina praised her as having “a strong, even voice (that) conveyed the evolution of Miss Todd from staid respectability, through inflamed long-repressed desire, to desolation.” She has performed the role of Madame Rosa in Donizetti’s Il Campanello di Note with Capitol Opera Raleigh and Ms. Todd in Old Maid and the Thief with Triangle Opera Studios. Her 2014 season includes the role of Florence Pike in Britten’s Albert Herring.

The all-female cast of this opera includes a large cast of talented women portraying the nuns of the convent. Building on the success of its production of Ariadne auf Naxos, an opera requiring a large cast, Singers’ Theater continues to double cast most of the roles in order to give opportunities to more artists. Singers’ Theater is quickly becoming known as an opera company that is able to draw many talented artists to its roster.

Singers Theater was founded in 2013 by Dr. Jane Tavernier and Mary Ellen Brennan. Artistic Director Jane Tavernier is the Director of Music at Immanuel Church where she is organist and director of the Adult Choir, Children’s Choir and Handbell Choir. She is also Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Mary Washington where she directs three choral ensembles and teaches private voice. She earned the Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education in organ performance at Baldwin-Wallace University and the Master of Music in Organ Performance at the University of North Texas. She also earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in solo vocal performance from the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Tavernier was a prize winner in the San Antonio Presbyterian Church organ competition and received the Pomeroy Award for Excellence in Baroque Music at the University of Maryland. Dr. Tavernier has worked as a vocal and choral clinician with various choirs, and was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. Dr. Tavernier is also an active vocalist in the United States and Italy. Dr. Tavernier recently presented a solo vocal recital in Assisi, Italy and will be singing the role of Giselda in the Singer’s Theatre of Washington’s May production of I Lombardi.

Executive Director Mary Ellen Brennan has performed opera roles with local companies and festivals in the United States and Italy. She received a Bachelor’s of Music in vocal performance from the Catholic University of America and a Masters in Business Administration from University of Maryland. Ms. Brennan is the Chief Human Resource Officer for an international professional association. She sang the role of Ariadne in the Singers’ Theater production of Ariadne auf Naxos in January.

Founded in 2013, the Singers’ Theater of Washington’s mission is to bring lesser performed operas to audiences and give talented artists the opportunity to perform roles that they might otherwise not have an opportunity to perform. Following Suor Angelica, the final opera of this season will be Giuseppe Verdi’s I Lombardi, to be performed in May 2014. Please visit our website at to purchase tickets to events or to make a monetary gift to Singers Theater.