CHARLESTON OPERA THEATER
Charleston is an incredible city, full of amazing and diverse people! Charleston Opera Theater is committed to bringing our beautiful community the musical and theatrical operatic experience that it deserves. This means not only producing meaningful full-scale productions of the masterworks, but also engaging community events and performances designed to be entertaining and feed the soul of our community. Immersing our local audiences with the magical music of opera is only part of our vision. Creating it with quality, maintaining fiscal responsibility and building local collaborative relationships is of paramount importance to us. World-class product, regional significance and local engagement…THAT is Charleston Opera Theater!
Video highlights from Serenata Italiana – A Gala Celebration of Italian Opera 2021
Founder, Executive Artistic Director
Since his professional debut with the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Harold Meers has established himself as one of the outstanding American tenors of his generation. He has garnered both critical and popular praise for his work at the most important venues in North America including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Minnesota Opera, Madison Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Omaha, Des Moines Metro Opera, New Orleans Opera and Baltimore Opera, among others.
Mr. Meers joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera during the 2014/15 season for the company’s new production of Verdi’s Otello. Mr. Meers returned to repeat his assignment and was further engaged as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème. Internationally, Mr. Meers has performed Riccardo in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden (Germany), Boris in Katya Kabanova with Opera North (United Kingdom), Cassio in Otello with the Filharmonica de Jalisco in Mexico at the historic Teatro Degollado (Mexico), the title role of Hoffmann in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Boris in Katya Kabanova and Rodolfo in La Bohème with Theater Freiburg (Germany). This season he travels to the Czech Republic at the National Theater in Brno Czechia as Manolios in Martinu’s Greek Passion.
Additional career highlights for the tenor include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Kentucky Opera, Des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon and Don Josè in Carmen for Opera Santa Barbara, the title role of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Los Angeles Opera under the baton of Placido Domingo, a role he debuted with Madison Opera under the baton of John DeMain. He further appeared as Nadir in Les Pecheurs des perles and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Nashville Opera, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Columbus, and acclaimed performances of Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth and Rodolfo in La Bohème with Minnesota Opera, and the dual roles of Luigi and Rinuccio in Puccini’s Il Trittico with the Utah Festival Opera. On the concert stage, he has appeared with leading symphonies across North America including performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9, Handel’s Messiah and Verdi’s Requiem with Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
As Producing Director, Meers has prepared concert events for the past decade with Opera Illinois League in Peoria, Illinois. These events provide scholarship funding for deserving young vocal talents in Central Illinois.. With partner Scott Flaherty, he produced Broadway Legends starring Emmy® Award Winner Ron Raines and Tony® Award winner Don Pippin at the Peoria Civic Auditorium. His passion for producing opera and theater was nurtured at University of Illinois, where he served as scenic shop assistant at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and as assistant to the Auditorium Manager at Braden Auditorium, Illinois State University. During his tenure, he served the production staff for the main performing arts series, National touring productions of Broadway musical productions and the New York City Opera National Company annual tour.
A respected vocal teacher, Mr. Meers was faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University. He holds a BM from Judson College, an MM from Illinois State University and an Artist Diploma from The Boston University Opera Institute. He currently maintains private vocal studios in Charleston and Chicago. His wife Saundra DeAthos-Meers is Director of Opera at College of Charleston.
Lyric soprano Saundra DeAthos has been heralded for the remarkable quality of both her vocal and dramatic presentations. Excelling in a varied and broad repertoire, she began her career as an Adler Fellow and in the Merola Opera Program with San Francisco Opera, claiming numerous principal assignments with San Francisco Opera and on tour with Western Opera Theater. Of her San Francisco Opera performances, OPERA Magazine admired, “Saundra DeAthos imparted vulnerability and an elegant soprano.”
Accordingly, the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE noted, “Saundra DeAthos delivered a virtuosic performance… a real charmer of a soprano, [she] made one love the character.” Ms. DeAthos has graced the stages of many outstanding opera companies across the United States, such as San Francisco Opera, Western Opera Theater, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Virginia Opera, Eugene Opera, Amarillo Opera, Sacramento Opera, Opera North, Opera Illinois and West Bay Opera among others.
While her entry into opera focused largely on the operas of Mozart, highlights of her recent repertoire includes her acclaimed portrayal of the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Marguerite in Faust, Gilda in Rigoletto, Micaëla in Carmen, and Mimì in La Bohème. Ms DeAthos made a stunning role debut as Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly with the Helena Symphony Orchestra and reprised the role with Amarillo Opera. Other recent engagements include Nedda in I Pagliacci with Amarillo Opera, Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and the title role in Suor Angelica in Utah Festival Opera’s presentation of Puccini’s Il Trittico. Ms. DeAthos received rave reviews for her portrayal of Micaëla in Carmen with Denyce Graves for Opera Charleston.
In addition to her operatic activities, Ms. DeAthos performs regularly with symphony orchestras throughout the United States including the San Francisco Symphony, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Helena Symphony Orchestra, Fresno Symphony Orchestra, Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra among others. Saundra offers a remarkably broad concert repertoire that encompasses Handel’s Messiah and Jeptha, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Dvořák’s Te Deum, Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and Fauré’s Requiem. She was featured in a performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in memory of Maestro David Stahl.
Ms. DeAthos holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Central Michigan University, a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois, is a graduate of the Opera Institute at Boston University and she has received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature with a minor in Vocology, also at the University of Illinois. Saundra has recently accepted a position at the College of Charleston as Head of Opera in South Carolina after spending 10 years as the Music Coordinator in the Theatre Department at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois.
Wojciech Milewski is a rising, active conductor. He was recently awarded the Harold Farberman Prize at the Henderson Symphony Orchestra Camp, and was a finalist in the 2019 Los Angeles Conducting Competition. Now in his fifth season as Music Director of the Summerville Orchestra, the orchestra has sold out its last four seasons in subscriptions, doubled in size, and started three other series to engage the community further.
Prior to his appointment in Summerville, Wojciech served as Music Director for the world premiere of Joe Illick’s UnShakeable with the Santa Fe Opera. He also served as Assistant Conductor at the Opera NEO festival in San Diego, CA, and as Associate Conductor for El Paso Opera’s 2016 production of “Carmen.” During his time in New Mexico, he also guest conducted two concert series with the Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra and several works on those programs received New Mexico premieres. As a conductor, Wojciech seeks to create innovative and interactive concert experiences featuring diverse programming and audience engagement.
Off of the podium he maintains an active performing career as a pianist and clarinetist. He has performed with Opera Southwest, the New Mexico Symphonic Chorus, the San Juan Symphony, and the National Broadway Tours of “Wicked” and “Book of Mormon.” As a clarinetist, he is a current member of the Charleston Wind Symphony and previously held the Clarinet 2 seat with the Roswell Symphony. He is currently an adjunct professor and staff accompanist at Charleston Southern University.
Most recently, in 2019 Wojciech attended the Los Angeles Conducting Workshop and Competition with Neil Thomson and Scott Weiss, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra Conducting Seminar with Markand Thakar, and the Henderson Symphony Orchestra Conductor Camp with Alexandra Arrieche. Past studies include workshops and festivals in San Diego, CA, Orvieto, Italy, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the California Conductor’s Institute, and the Bard College Conductor’s Institute. His past conducting teachers include Jorge Perez-Gomez, John Farrer and Daniel Hege. Wojciech is an alumnus of the University of New Mexico and the State University of New York at Oswego, and currently lives in Summerville with his dog Remy.
Director of Development and Operations
Since his professional debut with The Utah Festival Opera in 2017, tenor Edward Brennan has actively performed with companies like Opera MODO in Detroit, Michigan and The Cedar Rapids Opera Theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 2021 Edward made his role debut as Don José with Charleston Opera Theater. Edward has been a finalist in competitions across the country including the Michael Ballam International Opera Competition, the Sinfonietta Bel Canto Voice Competition, as well as the Nicholas Loren Vocal Competition sponsored by the Holland Chorale. He has had the pleasure of performing with orchestras including The Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Sinfonietta bel Canto, The Danville Symphony Orchestra, and the Blackburn College Orchestra and Chorale.
Edward is a proud graduate of The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign; while a student at U of I, he was an active member in the Lyric Theater @ Illinois program. Making appearances in most productions over his years there, the most memorable may be his portrayal of Danilo in The Merry Widow, or Rapunzel’s Prince in Into the Woods. In 2018 Edward returned to Champaign to perform as a soloist with the Sinfonia de Camera.
In 2019 Edward joined The Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. A training program that specializes in the cultivation of dramatic voices from around the world. He is originally from New Lenox, Illinois and currently resides in Charleston, SC where he is the Director of Operations for Charleston Opera Theater.