WOJCIECH MILEWSKI, Conductor
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.
KERI ALKEMA, Soprano
A voice with an “appealing brew of dark and creamy colors” (New York Times), lirico-spinto soprano Keri Alkema has been praised for her “tonal opulence” (Washington Post) and “incisive musicality” (New York Times).
Keri begins the 21/22 season with a debut at Charleston Opera Theater in Serenata Italiana and then joins the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Recent appearances include a return to the Canadian Opera Company for Rusalka (Foreign Princess) directed by David McVicar and conducted by Johannes Debus and Washington National Opera for Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) conducted by Evan Rogister.
Keri has been seen in the houses of the Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, English National Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Théâtre du Capitole, Seattle Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Opéra de Dijon, Palm Beach Opera, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Edmonton Opera, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Minnesota Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera North, Teatro de la Maestranza in roles such as Tosca, Mimì in La bohème, Eboli and Elisabetta di Valois in Don Carlo, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra, Desdemona in Otello
She returned to the WNO to sing the title role of Tosca in the 2018-2019 season. She made her debut at Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona singing Amelia in Un ballo in maschera in a production with costumes by Christian Lacroix. She was seen as Giovanna Seymour in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Anna Bolena, debuted at Opéra de Dijon as Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra, and returned to Palm Beach Opera for Tosca. She recently made a number of important debuts as Tosca: her London debut at the English National Opera, her German debut at Oper Frankfurt, and a return to the Canadian Opera Company. Other recent performances include Opéra National de Bordeaux as Eboli in Don Carlo under Paul Daniel, Santa Fe Opera as Donna Elvira in a new production of Don Giovanni under John Nelson, Seattle Opera and Edmonton Opera as Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, and her first performances of Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly at Teatro Municipal de Santiago. She made her French debut at Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse as Amelia in Un ballo in maschera under the baton of Daniel Oren.
Ms. Alkema made her role debut as Elisabetta di Valois in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Austin Lyric Opera, as well as debuted at Opéra National de Bordeaux as Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena and as Mimì in La bohème at Palm Beach Opera. She returned Teatro Municipal de Santiago for her first performances as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello and sang her first performances of the title role in Anna Bolena at Minnesota Opera, a role she also covered first at the Washington National Opera. She returned to the Canadian Opera Company in a much-acclaimed role debut as Vitellia in Christopher Alden’s production of La clemenza di Tito and also returned to New York City Opera where she was seen as Amaltea, the Pharaoh’s wife, in Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto at New York City Center. She made her UK debut at Glyndebourne as Mimì in La bohème, followed by Opera North in Leeds as Adalgisa in Christopher Alden’s new production of Norma. Other notable engagements include her appearances at Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville as
Freia in Das Rheingold, Atlanta Opera as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Teatro Municipal de Santiago as Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra. Ms. Alkema made her soprano role debut to great critical acclaim as Donna Elvira in Christopher Alden’s production of Don Giovanni at the New York City Opera in which the New York Times praised her “compelling, rich-toned” performance.
Ms. Alkema has debuted on the concert stages of the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Das klagende Lied and Cincinnati May Festival again in Das klagende Lied and also Haydn’s Heiligmesse – Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida, both engagements under the baton of James Conlon, as well as with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni under Roberto Abbado. She also debuted with the New York Philharmonic in the finale to Act One of Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira under music director Alan Gilbert has performed Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. She was also heard as Adalgisa in the original two soprano version of Bellini’s masterpiece Norma at the Caramoor International Music Festival with Will Crutchfield. An active member of the roster of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, she also performed at the Marilyn Horne Foundation Annual Recital at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Alkema has worked with such notable conductors as Plácido Domingo, Emmanuel Villaume, Ricardo Frizza, Heinz Fricke, Antony Walker, and Ann Manson. A frequent recitalist, Ms. Alkema is currently on the roster of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, which sponsored her New York recital debut. She has done many residencies with the Foundation including recitals in Oberlin, Ohio, Winter Park, Florida, Brownville, Nebraska, and for the Art Song of Williamsburg concert series.
Ms. Alkema has been a member of several prestigious young artist programs including the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera, the Santa Fe Opera and the Music Academy of the West, under the tutelage of Marilyn Horne. She has also been the recipient of prizes from the George London Foundation, Opera Index Competition, Liederkranz Foundation, and Loren L. Zachary National Voice Competition.
DOMINICK CHENES, Tenor
“…Dominick Chenes’ Rodolfo, whose remarkable stamina, vocal range, and dramatic capabilities pulled the show together into a compelling dramatic arc. His fragile relationship with Mimi was complex, and yet, by the end movingly simple…” -bachtrack, La Boheme, Welsh National Opera
Reviewed in the Huffington Post as a “breakout star” and “powerhouse lyric tenor”, tenor Dominick Chenes’ many recent engagements include debuts with Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège as Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Alfredo in La Traviata for Tokyo New National Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago for Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and Attila , Odyssey Opera for the Earl of Essex in Britten’s Gloriana, a debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in concert arias, and Verdi’s Requiem with the Flint Symphony Orchestra. This season Dominick debuts Oper Leipzig in Bellini’s Norma (Pollione), a role he will also perform in Hong Kong later this season… Other future engagements include a return to Seattle Opera as Cavaradossi in Tosca and a return to Utah Opera for Nicias in Massenet’s Thaïs. Mr. Chenes also returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago to cover Cavaradossi.
Most recent performances include Seattle Opera as Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Opera Colorado as Rodolfo in La Boheme, New Orleans Opera as Turiddu Cavalleria Rusticana, Valencia as Carlo in I Masnadieri conducted by music director Roberto Abbado, Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Reading Symphony, Musica Viva Hong Kong, for Pinkerton and Rodolfo, and La Reine de Saba with Odyssey Opera.
Dominick’s Lyric Opera of Chicago debut was in the role of Faust (cover). He has performed Don Jose in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera, Alfredo in La Traviata at the Pa Skaret Opera Festival in Sweden, Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera with Austin Lyric Opera, debuted Grand Theatre de Genevre as Lopas in Les Troyens with Maestro Dutoit, Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Minnesota Opera, Pinkerton for Austin Lyric Opera, Don Jose with Utah Opera, and Rodolfo with the Welsh National Opera.
Dominick is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts where he has performed Rodolfo in La Boheme conducted by Christofer Macatsoris. Other roles at AVA include Alfredo is La Traviata, Gherman in Pique Dame, and Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera. He made his Alice Tully Hall debut with the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, as well as a concert for the Gerda Lissner Foundation in Zankel Hall.
Dominick was awarded second prize from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, third prize from the Mario Lanza Competition and a Grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. He was also a finalist in the Meistersinger Competition in Graz Austria.
MICHAEL CHIOLDI, Baritone
Emmy Award Winning International Opera Star Michael Chioldi is one of the worlds most sought after Dramatic Baritones. His interpretations of the Verdi, Puccini and Strauss repertoire has been praised by critics and audiences across the world. Recently Michael made his Teatro Liceu (Spain) debut as Gerard in Andrea Chenier along side Sondra Radvanovsky and Jonus Kaufman. The following season he returned as Miller in Verdi’s Louisa Miller with Piotr Beczala. His portrayal of Henry VIII by Saint-Seans with Odyssey Opera in Boston was heralded by Ed Tapper with Edge Media as “world class baritone singing…..Moments such as Henry’s Act IV monologue and the final passages of the opera were nothing short of thrilling.” During the pandemic he was fortunate to be able to perform Tonio in Pagliacci with Palm Beach Opera where “Michael dominated the stage. His flawless diction, commanding acting skills and multi-colored instrument were a real showstopper.” (Palm Beach Daily News) He also made his Seattle Opera debut as Scarpia in Tosca, now one of his signature roles and curated a one man show of Dominick Argento’s The Andree Expedition. A show that will utilize immersive 3D green screen technology.
Upcoming Michael will return to Seattle Opera for Marcello in La Boheme and the Metropolitan Opera to cover the title role of Rigoletto, Scarpia in Tosca and Enrico in Lucia. This season he also has two solo recitals with collaborative pianist Nikolay Verevkin in Austin TX and Pittsburgh PA at the Carnegie Music Hall. He is thrilled to return to Charleston SC where he appeared twice at the Spoleto Festival.
JASMINE HABERSHAM, soprano
Jasmine Habersham, Soprano, is a versatile and dynamic performing artist. Her most recent performances include singing the roles of Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera), Micaëla in The Threepenny Carmen, The Girl in Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Atlanta Opera) and Nannetta in Falstaff (Berkshire Music Festival). Her upcoming roles for 2021-22 season include Cleopatra in Julius Caesar (The Atlanta Opera), Sandman and Dew Fairy (Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra), Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld (Madison Opera) as well her international debut as Gilda in Rigoletto (Opera North UK).
She also performed the roles of Pip in Moby Dick (Opera San Jose), Katie Jackson in the World Premiere of The Fix (Minnesota Opera), Clara in Porgy and Bess (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Adina in L’elisir d’amore (Phoenicia Festival of the Voice),Lucy in Fellow Travelers (Minnesota Opera), Mariola in Out of Darkness: Two Remain ( The Atlanta Opera), Papagena in Die Zauberflöte (Cincinnati Opera), and Yum-Yum in The Mikado (Kentucky Opera).
In addition to her operatic roles, she has been a featured soloist in numerous concert productions including Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Schubert’s Mass in G, Soprano 1 soloist in Bach’s B- minor Mass, and Duke Ellington’s Concert of Sacred Music.
Jasmine has received numerous awards including the Silver Medal at American Traditions Vocal Competition,2nd Place winner (Southeast Regional MONC Auditions), The Strauss Award (National Orpheus Competition), John Alexander Memorial Award (CCM), and the Young Artist Guild Award (Central City Opera).
Jasmine is a graduate of Shorter University and University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music. She is also native of Macon, Georgia.
SAUNDRA DeATHOS, 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. 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.” SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE confirmed, “Saundra DeAthos nailed all of [her] coloratura flights and showed perfect timing.” She has received rave reviews at Utah Festival Opera for her portrayals of Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and the title role in Suor Angelica. The HERALD JOURNAL states that, “Defying typecasting, soprano Saundra DeAthos plays an unfaithful wife in Il Tabarro and a doomed nun minutes later in Suor Angelica. Ms. DeAthos captures the emotional torment in both roles and her singing is breathtaking, especially in her tragic aria “Senza Mamma.”
Ms. DeAthos has graced the stages of many outstanding opera companies across the United States, such as Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Western Opera Theater, Boston Lyric Opera, Virginia Opera, Eugene Opera, Amarillo Opera, Sacramento Opera, Opera North, Opera Illinois and West Bay Opera among others. Ms DeAthos made a stunning role debut as Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly with the Helena Symphony. With Amarillo Opera, Saundra reprised the title role once again, where she was described in the North Texas Performing Arts News as “vocally…stunning. She meets the extravagant demands that Puccini makes on his hero without any strain whatsoever. She has a full-throated lyric-verging-on-verismo soprano and can still float a gorgeous pianissimo note at the top of her range. In the final scene, she ate the scenery and left the audience in tears.” Ms. DeAthos also received rave reviews for her portrayal of Micaëla in Carmen with Denyce Graves for Opera Charleston. Of her heart-rending performance as Micaëla, Charleston’s POST AND COURRIER exclaimed, “Soprano Saundra DeAthos, who played Micaëla, possessed a beautiful, sweet tone and made you want to shake some sense into José, who might have married her if he hadn’t fallen for the wild gypsy temptress.” The CITY PAPER added, “Soprano Saundra DeAthos melted hearts with her portrayal of Micaëla; her silvery, emotionally naked singing made me cry in her lovely Act III aria.”
In addition to her operatic activities, Ms. DeAthos performs regularly with symphony orchestras throughout the United States which includes the Helena Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Illinois 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, Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria and Fauré’s Requiem. She was featured in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for a performance telecast on PBS. This Spring, Saundra will sing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony also with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
Saundra is currently the Director of Opera and Assistant Professor of Voice at the College of Charleston. At the College, she has recently produced and directed Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites and La voix humaine, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. This upcoming season, she will produce Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for the College in collaboration with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. Previously, she spent ten years as the Music Coordinator in the Theatre Department at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. She resides in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Harold and two children, Maggie and Gray.
HAROLD MEERS, Tenor
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.