The Face on the Barroom Floor
Karen Santos (Isabelle/Madeline)
Karen Santos is a versatile soprano known for her rich tone and passion for the stage. Born and raised in Mexico City, Karen has lived in Canada for fifteen years. She has performed leading roles such as Angela (Angela and her Sisters), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Laetitia (The Old Maid and the Thief), and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel). Karen made her Carnegie Hall debut in July of 2017 with the Manhattan Opera Studio. She also performed in the Festival de Ópera en Oaxaca in her native country, singing Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, under the mentorship of the celebrated Mexican mezzo-soprano, Grace Echauri. Also an accomplished visual artist, Karen received a Fine Arts Degree from UBC in Visual Arts, and completed her Voice Performance Degree at the Vancouver Academy of Music. Karen began her Master’s of Music at the University of Manitoba to study with Monica Huisman in the fall of 2018. This fall she will be singing the title role of Handel’s Rodrigo as part of the Desautels Faculty of Music Chamber Opera and she will be a featured soloist with the University of Manitoba’s Wind Ensemble concert series.
Nolan Kehler (Larry/Matt)
Hailing from small-town southern Manitoba, tenor Nolan Kehler brings a passion and energy to the stage that is tangible and infectious for an audience. Nolan recently completed his M.Mus. majoring in vocal performance at the University of Victoria, where he studied with Benjamin Butterfield. His most recent appearances have included with Against the Grain Theatre and University of Toronto Opera performing scenes as Bégearss in Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles and the Earl of Essex in Britten’s Gloriana. He also spent July performing with the Winnipeg Singers under the direction of Yuri Klaz, who captured the Grand Prix at the Golden Voices of Barcelona International Choral Competition. On the concert stage, Nolan recently appeared in his second season as the tenor soloist with the Victoria Baroque, as well as performing Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the UVic Orchestra. A versatile performer comfortable in multiple genres, Nolan also recently appeared in the workshop of Maxime Goulet’s brand-new children’s opera Flight of the Hummingbird, in association with Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria. Nolan also made his debut with the Victoria Symphony in May 2019 as they performed Rocky Mountain High, a concert featuring the songs of John Denver and conducted by Denver’s long-time conductor and arranger Lee Holdridge. Nolan looks forward to returning to BC to participate in the final workshop for Hummingbird in November, and will be a soloist Handel’s Messiah with the Malaspina Choir in Nanaimo in December.
Don Larsen (Tom/John)
Baritone, Don Larsen, has previously appeared with Rainbow Stage, The Winnipeg Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Little Opera Company, Junction Players, and dozens of choruses and comprimario roles for Manitoba Opera. He will be appearing in Manitoba Opera’s fall production of Susannah. Previously for the Little Opera Company, Mr. Larsen has performed the roles of Marco in Gianni Schicchi, Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, Mr. Scruples in The Impresario, Melchior in several productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors, Tom/John in Face on the Barroom Floor, Jawan in Kismet and most recently as Zuniga in their 2018 production of La tragédie de Carmen.
Donnalynn Grills (Baba/Madame Flora)
Donnalynn is thrilled to be playing the role of Baba in The Medium, her first production with Flipside Opera. Equally at home in opera, oratorio and musical theatre, Donnalynn has had the privilege of performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Rainbow Stage, Dry Cold Productions, Manitoba Opera, Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir. She is also a member of The Winnipeg Singers, Camerata Nova and Canzona.Upcoming engagements include the role of Mrs. McLean in Manitoba Opera’s upcoming production of Susannah.When not rehearsing for one performance or another, Donnalynn can be found at the Desautels Faculty of Music at U of M as the program coordinator for the Prep Studies Division.
Jessica Kos-Whicher (Monica)
Hailed as “the next great one” (Doug Speirs, Winnipeg Free Press) Winnipeg born soprano Jessica Kos-Whicher is currently a student of Tracy Dahl and Monica Huisman. Most recently, Jessica appeared as Micäela in La Tragédie de Carmen with Little Opera Company. Past highlights include Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with Manitoba Underground Opera, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin (Opera NUOVA), Pamina in The Magic Flute...Retold (Manitoba Underground Opera), Elle in La Voix Humaine, Sister Rose in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with Opera NUOVA. Jessica is a two time encouragement award winner and a two time regional finalist for the Met National Council Auditions. Jessica is the recent and proud winner of the Rose Bowl in the Winnipeg Music Festival. Jessica is the founder & director of J. Kos-Whicher Vocal & Performing Arts.
Alex Menec (Toby)
Alex has loved to sing since he was in elementary school, then got into acting in middle school. Now Alex is in his second year of his Bachelor of Music at the University of Manitoba where he majors in voice and studies with Mel Braun. Most recently he was seen in 35MM: A Musical Exhibition at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Alex is passionate about singing and acting and is excited to perform in his first opera as Toby in The Medium!
Ashley Rees (Mrs Gobineau)
Praised for her “penetrating vocals” (Opera Canada) Ashley Rees was the proud winner of Flipside Opera’s 2017 Opera Idol competition. She completed her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance at the University of Alberta in 2012 and went on to complete a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Manitoba studying with Tracy Dahl. She enjoys an active performance schedule here in Winnipeg and you may recognize her from productions at the University of Manitoba where she played “The Diva” in their production of Mozart: A Life in the Key of Genius; or Manitoba Underground Opera where she has appeared as the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Cupidon in Orpheus in the Underworld, and Sprite 2 in Cendrillon. You can also hear her on the radio every Saturday Morning as the Host of Classic 107’s The Morning Blend.
Scott Braun (Mr Gobineau)
Scott graduated from the University of Manitoba with a degree in vocal performance, where he was the winner of the Lawrence Genser scholarship competition for top student performance. Since then he has been actively involved in the Winnipeg music scene, singing with The Winnipeg Singers, CBC’s HYMN SING, Polycoro, Camerata Nova, and as a founding member of Canzona, now in its 30th season, most recently appearing in The Little Opera Company’s’ tribute to Leonard Bernstein.His versatility as an actor and singer has given him a broad spectrum of performance experience, including roles with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, The Little Opera Company, and several tv roles with Frantic Films. A lover of the Oratorio repertoire, Scott has been praised for his sensitivity and warmth as soloist with Canzona, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Kelly Robinson (Mrs Nolan)
Mezzo-Soprano Kelly Robinson is a singing teacher, festival adjudicator, masterclass clinician, and voice examiner and was awarded the Conservatory Canada Teachers' Travel and Study Scholarship for excellence in voice teaching. She has performed with Rainbow Stage, the Manitoba Opera Chorus, Dry Cold Productions, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Winnipeg, Little Opera Company, and Manitoba Underground Opera. Recent roles include Zita in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Mad Margaret in Gilbert & Sullivan's Ruddigore, Mrs. Segstrom in Sondheim's A Little Night Music, and Wolfgang Bigbad in a 23-show Southern Manitoba tour of the childrens' opera The Three Little Pigs. She is an alumnus of the University of Manitoba with degrees in both Music (voice performance/composition), and Science (microbiology), received a specialist certificate through Berklee College of Music where she trained in pop/rock vocals and songwriting, and earned an Associate Diploma in Voice Performance from Conservatory Canada for which she was awarded the Gold Medal for the highest standing in Canada.
Jacqueline Loewen (Director)
Jacqueline Loewen has worked in a variety of professional capacities in the world of opera for most of her theatre career as a fight director with Manitoba Opera (Otello, Carmen, Tosca, Don Giovanni), as assistant director (Barber of Barkerville -Vancouver Opera, Daughter of the Regiment –Manitoba Opera), and in working with singers as a movement coach (University of Manitoba). Directing credits include Hansel and Gretel, The Velveteen Rabbit (Little Opera Company), Cosi Fan Tutte, (Manitoba Underground Opera), Gisela In Her Bathtub (Flipside Opera), and adapted/directed Orpheus in the Underworld, Don Giovanni (Manitoba Underground Opera).
Lisa Rumpel (Music Director)
Praised for her “fierce artistry” and “poetic” pianism, Winnipeg-based pianist Lisa Rumpel is passionate about communicating classical music to a variety of audiences. As an alumnus of the Franz Schubert Institute, Vancouver International Song Institute, Opera Nuova, University of Manitoba and Brandon University, Lisa is equally comfortable collaborating in art song, chamber music, opera, and choral music.
Since completing her Master of Music (Collaborative Piano) in 2015, Lisa has been an active member of the Manitoba music community. She is a sought-after vocal collaborator and coach, chamber musician, choral pianist, teacher, adjudicator, and board member, as well as Associate Director of Flipside Opera and Living Room Live. Lisa has performed with many of Manitoba’s foremost musicians including Tracy Dahl, Andrianna Chuchman, Lara Ciekiewicz, James McLennan, and others. An avid recitalist, Lisa particularly enjoys performing in house concerts and has recently appeared in homes in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, inviting audience members of every background to enjoy classical music.
Sawyer Craig (Stage Manager)
Sawyer Craig is an artist who loves wearing many hats. Equally comfortable on the operatic stage and in recital, Sawyer is also an emerging director and occasional Stage Manager. Praised as a “standout” performer (Edmonton Journal), “particularly radiant in coloratura passages” (Opera Canada), the constant in her artistic pursuits is a passion for telling stories in unique and vibrant ways. Sawyer did her undergraduate studies at UBC in opera performance. She followed this with a Masters degree in Voice Performance at the University of Manitoba. Under the tutelage of Monica Huisman, she developed a wide repertoire of art song and a fascination with the medium of the recital. Recent highlights include portraying Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Opera NUOVA, and making her directorial debut in Winnipeg, with Manitoba Underground Opera, in the staged art song piece Lost Voices. When she is not making loud noises with her face, Sawyer enjoys running half marathons, black coffee, and relaxing at home with her cat, Toby Flenderson.
Judith Oatway (Flipside Opera Artistic Director)
Spencer Duncanson (Little Opera Company Artistic Director)