About MassOpera

OUR MISSION
MassOpera cultivates experiences for artists and audiences that challenge the status quo and reflect our diverse community

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • To produce the highest quality artistic product possible
  • To ensure singers and all artists are compensated for their work and technical skills
  • To produce at least one fully staged opera OR musical with orchestra per season
  • To ensure gender parity both on-stage and off
  • To educate singers to be great artists and great business people
  • To engage the public both as audience members and life-long learners
  • To support new work and tell new stories
  • To ensure representation of all kinds of races, religions, genders and gender identities, sexual orientations, cultures, and body types on stage both with the characters we present and the artists who play them

HISTORY AND FUTURE

HISTORY

MassOpera was founded in 2007, as MetroWest Opera, by Artistic Director Dana Varga, to provide young classical singers performance opportunity to fill the gap between conservatory and a flourishing professional career.  When MetroWest Opera was founded, there were only a few small opera companies in the Boston area, and the time was ripe to create more opportunity for these emerging singers.

The main tenets of MetroWest Opera’s mission were to:

  1. Provide paid performance opportunity emerging classical singers
  2. Produce fully staged opera with orchestra
  3. Produce standard repertoire so that singers could tackle roles they would need to know to flourish in this very competitive industry
  4. Choose repertoire that ensured gender parity in casting

In 2010 MetroWest Opera introduced its first Annual Vocal Competition for Emerging Artists, in which singers compete for cash prizes, and has held this program annually ever since.  In addition to our Annual Production and Vocal Competition, MetroWest Opera created several programs to help with professional development of singers (Artist Development), including Audition Preparation Evenings, The Business of Singing Workshop, and other educational programs.

FUTURE

The future IS MassOpera.  During our 10th Anniversary Season in 2017 and 2018, both the board and staff of MetroWest Opera felt that we had successfully fulfilled our mission for ten years, but that the landscape of opera in Boston had shifted, and so too should our mission and values.

We were now one of several small opera companies, each with a slightly different mission and approach to opera. Through a series of group exercises, countless conversations, and much soul-searching we decided we wanted to:

  • Have the opportunity to produce musical theatre and other performance mediums, alongside that of opera
  • Support and encourage all the various and talented artists and designers who make opera so powerful and entertaining
  • Produce original works that have never been told, alongside venerable standard repertoire
  • Commit to serving and inspiring our audience. An opera company is nothing without its audience!

 

Therefore, looking to our audience, we—MassOpera—will:

  • Be forward thinking and ever-responsive
  • Strive to push the operatic art-form forward to tell diverse and compelling stories
  • Advocate for artists and the art we produce
  • Contribute to the quality of life and cultural landscape of Greater Boston
  • Act as an engine of economic activity that has ripple effects throughout the region   
  • Look to you, our audience, for stories that need to be told and heard, that reflect your accomplishments and struggles and the immense diversity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

MassOpera will create a place for everyone at the table.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jeff Candiello - Board Clerk

Jeff Candiello - Board Clerk

Bio

 Jeff Candiello, a graduate of UMass Amherst and Brandeis University, runs the Agile Enablement practice for the Network Threat Defense group at Cisco. He loves problem solving and is driven by operational excellence.   He is also a 13 year member of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus.  Jeff was introduced to opera through the company and has since become passionate about opera as well as MassOpera’s mission.
Gary Casagrande - Board Chair

Gary Casagrande - Board Chair

Bio

 Gary is the Head of Global Market Strategy at fintech firm Confluence having joined the company in 2016.  Gary has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry having worked most recently at Brown Brothers Harriman as the head of Financial Reporting and Expense Administration and at JP Morgan before that.  Throughout his career, Gary has focused on continuous operational improvements, efficiency, and client service. Gary has a Bachelor’s Degree from Bryant University in Business Administration with a focus on Finance. 
Cheryl Donohue - Board Member

Cheryl Donohue - Board Member

Bio

 Cheryl is an attorney who has primarily practiced in the areas of labor law/labor negotiations; employment law; and administrative litigation. She first worked as an attorney for the ACLU in Pittsburgh, PA focusing on women’s rights; prisoners’ rights and prison reform.  Before any thoughts of a legal career, she began her college education as a theatre major and aspiring actress. She currently lives in Brookline and continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of all art forms in the Boston area. She also volunteers for a career coaching/mentoring program for young women. 
Chris Mitre - Board Treasurer

Chris Mitre - Board Treasurer

Staff Accountant, The Boston Foundation

Bio

Chris Mitre is the Staff Accountant at The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation and one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of more than $1.3 billion. He ensures GAAP principals are met when handling the different investment accounts, and external and internal operating and grant making accounts totaling more than hundreds of millions of dollars in monthly activity.  Chris completed both his undergrad, majoring in Accounting, and his Master’s in Business Administration at The University of Massachusetts Boston.
Dr. Edward Nardell - Board Member

Dr. Edward Nardell - Board Member

Professor of Medicine and Public Health, Harvard University

Bio

Dr. Edward Nardell is a Professor of Medicine and Public Health based at Harvard University and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Division of Global Health Equity.  His academic focus is tuberculosis (TB) – the disease that killed Violeta, Mimi, and countless other characters, performers, authors, and composers over the centuries.  But love of opera started much earlier with a lifelong interest in vocal music – perhaps inherited through his Neapolitan roots. Other musical interests include the recorder and early music, singing cabaret and in the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. He directs a piano-based concert series at his Brookline residence, Longwood Towers.
Dr. George Yip - Board Member

Dr. George Yip - Board Member

Emeritus Professor of Marketing & Strategy at Imperial College

Bio

George is Emeritus Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Imperial College Business School in the UK. He lives in Boston, Maine and London. Board director of Hewnoaks Artist Colony in Maine. Previous positions include dean of a top European business school, RSM Erasmus, with 7,500 students; faculty at Harvard, UCLA, Cambridge, and in China; VP Capgemini Consulting (UK), senior manager Price Waterhouse (USA), and manager Unilever. Author of books on strategy and international business in ten languages. An amateur singer, George and his wife Moira have enjoyed opera for over 40 years. Former director of Shadwell Opera (UK).

STAFF

Alisa Cassola

Alisa Cassola

Director of Content Marketing

Bio

 
Morgan Chalue

Morgan Chalue

Director of Special Events

Bio

Morgan Chalue holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Boston University, where he is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Arts Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Fundraising Management. He is the Director of Music at Stratford Street United Church in West Roxbury, where he leads a program of professional and volunteer musicians and has written and premiered multiple original hymns. Along with his work at MassOpera, he also works as a freelance arts professional. He previously spent a summer as the Program Coordinator for the Young Artist Vocal Program at Boston University Tanglewood Institute and worked as the Student Manager of Admission Ambassadors for Boston University School of Music, creating the new ambassador program for the school.
Cassandra Lovering

Cassandra Lovering

Producing Artistic Director

Bio

 Cassandra Lovering is a Boston-based Elliot Norton and IRNE award nominated director, producer, dramatic coach, teacher, and dramaturg.  Her work examines gender roles and relationships with a particular focus on the experience of women.  As the PAD of MassOpera, she’s excited to head up new programming like the New Opera Workshop and to direct Die Fledermaus in the Spring. Some directing selections include: It’s not about my mother (new work) Little Dog Laughed (IRNE and Norton Nominated) Suor Angelica, Trouble in Tahiti, Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night and The Beautiful Bridegroom.  This winter she will be part of the National Young Arts Program’s creative team for the classical instrumentalists division.  She received her MA in Theatre from Villanova University with a focus on directing and dramaturgy.  She is a Lincoln Center Director’s Lab 2018 Alum.
Samantha Lovewell

Samantha Lovewell

Director of Community & Foundation Relations

Bio

Samantha is thrilled to be a part of the MassOpera team!  She works as the Advancement Officer and a Teaching Fellow for Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC), and volunteers as the Co-Executive Director for Refugee Orchestra Project (ROP). She believes firmly in the power of the arts to bring all people together to achieve equity, equality, and diversity. Samantha holds a Bachelors of Music (Voice) and minor in Theater Arts from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. In May 2019, she will graduate from Boston University with an MS in Arts Administration and Fundraising Management Certificate.
William F. S. Neely

William F. S. Neely

Executive Director

Bio

William Neely has been the Executive Director of MassOpera for four years.  He also is a freelance marketing and development consultant with non-profits and small businesses.  He has a background as a theatre and film actor, and now frequently performs in cabaret settings and sings with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. He serves on the Board of Directors of the North Shore Alliance of LGBTQ Youth.
Mary-Alexandra Onstad

Mary-Alexandra Onstad

Director of Individual & Corporate Giving

Bio

Mary-Alexandra Onstad is a versatile soprano, voice teacher and arts administrator. She graduated from The New England Conservatory of Music in 2010 with a graduate diploma in Voice and Opera studies and has called Boston home ever since. She also earned her Masters of Music in Voice Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA and her Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. When Mary-Alexandra is not busy on stage or teaching,  she is working as the Administrative Coordinator at North End Music and Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC). She is looking forward to another exciting year with MassOpera as the Director of Individual and Corporate Giving.  You can find more information at mary-alexandraonstad.net.
Brynne Pulver

Brynne Pulver

Director of PR & Social Media Curation

Bio

 Brynne Pulver is a Boston based Soprano, Paralegal, and Administrator.  She holds an MM and GPD in Voice Performance from The Boston Conservatory, and both a BM in Voice Performance and a BM in Music Education from Appalachian State University.  Brynne has performed in various roles and ensembles with many of Boston’s major opera companies including MassOpera, Odyssey Opera, NEMPAC, Promenade Opera Project, and Boston Opera Collaborative.  In addition to singing, she works as an Administrative Assistant and Paralegal at Kara Law Offices in downtown Boston.   She is excited to join the MassOpera team as Director of PR & Social Media Curation! 
Czarina Olivia Schocker

Czarina Olivia Schocker

Director of Operations and Administration

Bio

Czarina Olivia Schocker is a mezzo-soprano, educator, and arts administrator originally from the border cities of Ciudad Juárez, Chih., México and El Paso, Texas. She continuously works in finding collaborations with music nonprofits that follow her pedagogy and performance philosophies. She is presently living in Houston, TX and manages COMPASSion Music Studio which focuses in bringing joy through music while making music education accessible to all ages and cultures. Mrs. Schocker has vocal performance and music education degrees from UT Austin and UT El Paso
Dana Lynne Varga

Dana Lynne Varga

Founder & Artistic Director

Bio

 Dana Lynne Varga is the Founder and Artistic Director of MassOpera. She is an accomplished soprano, voice teacher, entrepreneur and career coach, and presently on the voice and opera faculty of the Longy School of Music.  Dana won first place in the 2016 Classical Singer National Competition. She has sung with numerous organizations including Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, the Caramoor International Music Festival, Opera Maine, the Cantata Singers, the Metropolitan Chorale, the Springfield Symphony, Coro Allegro, and the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra. Favorite operatic roles performed include Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Musetta in La Boheme, Micaëla in Carmen, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus and the title roles in Alcina and The Merry Widow. An avid concert soloist, recent highlights include Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, the Brahms Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Messiah, and the Bach Magnificat and B Minor Mass. Dana holds the DMA degree from Boston University and the MM degree from the New England Conservatory. Visit Dana’s performance website at www.danavarga.com and her career coaching site/blog at www.theempoweredmusician.com

CONTACT US

MASSOPERA
27 GERRISH STREET
BRIGHTON, MA 02135

978 210 2709
INFO@MASSOPERA.ORG

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