Faculty and Staff

Conductor Barbara Day Turner is founder and music director of the San José Chamber Orchestra, now in its 29th season. An ardent advocate for new music, she has premiered more than 150 new works just with her orchestra. Known for creative and engaging programming, she has led the orchestra and its many youth ensembles in the exploration of new works and engagement with living composers.

 

Named the 2012 Silicon Valley Arts Council “On Stage” Artist Laureate, Maestra Day Turner has conducted close to 100 operas and musical theater pieces, including the premieres of five American operas. She has also conducted such diverse works as John Adams’ Nixon In China for Portland Opera, The King and I and The Full Monty for American Musical Theatre of San José, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Rossini's The Barber of Seville for Utah Festival Opera, where she served as Conductor and Music Administrator for fifteen years.  Her background also includes eighteen years as conductor and artistic administrator with Opera San José where she led the premieres of Hotel Eden by Henry Mollicone/Judith Fein, West of Washington Square by Alva Henderson/Janet Lewis, The Tale of The Nutcracker by Craig Bohmler/Daniel Helfgot, and Phaedra by George Roumanis, in addition to several dozens of repertoire pieces. She also conducted, in Montana and Idaho, the world premiere performances of Alva Henderson's Nosferatu, with text by poet  and former National Endowment for the Arts chairperson Dana Gioia.

 

Barbara holds a masters degree in harpsichord performance from San José State University, with advanced studies with the legendary Fernando Valenti, defining an alter-ego musical life as a harpsichordist. Numerous fascinating pieces have been written for her, including Allen Strange's Twitter (Velocity Study for amplified harpsichord and computer-driven electronics), Craig Bohmler's Pentimento and Chiaroscuro, Michael Touchi's Harpsichord Concerto, and Emily Wong's Breathin', Walkin', Dancin'. Other unusual projects have included conducting Sondheim’s Assassins for American Musical Theater of San José, Weisgall’s Six Characters in Search of An Author for Opera Festival New Jersey, La Cenerentola with the Rheinsberg Festival (Berlin), the world premiere of Randall Wong's Household Opera for puppets in a Victorian toy theater and The Cat and the Fiddle for 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco. She has also guest conducted for Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera, El Paso Opera, West Bay Opera, Rimrock Opera, Taconic Opera, Rogue Opera, Opera Idaho and led concerts with the Rudolstadt (Germany), Billings (MT),  Fayetteville (AK), Redwood, Nova Vista and Diablo Valley Symphonies (CA) and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Aguascalientes( MX). 

 

Maestra Day Turner serves annually as a judge for the Irving M. Klein International String Competition in San Francisco, and on the advisory boards of OperaNeo in San Diego and the Delphi Trio, and is a member of the board of directors of the National Women's Philharmonic Advocacy association.

Daniel Helfgot
Stage Director

Daniel Helfgot' credits include well over 230 productions of over 110 operas, operettas and zarzuelas from the Baroque to the contemporary, including several world premieres.  His international credits include shows in Argentina (including the famed Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires) Albania National Theater, Austria (Hochschule Vienna), Canada, Costa Rica (Opera Nacional), Finland, Germany (Dortmund), Mexico (Bellas Artes), Panama, and Sweden. 

 

In the US he has directed for such companies as Baltimore; Billings, Festival Opera (California), Chattanooga, Eugene, Knoxville, Memphis, Orlando, Shreveport, Pennsylvania Festival, Sacramento, Spring Opera and Western Opera Theater of San Francisco, Utah Opera, Utah Festival, Virginia Opera, and many others.

From 1982 to 2000 Mr. Helfgot was the Resident Director and Director of Production for Opera San José where he created 60 productions defining the company's artistic output, established all its production departments and led the design process for the renovation of its performing venues, the Montgomery and the California Theaters of San José. 

 

From 1995 to 2005, he produced and directed most of the main repertoire of zarzuelas for a Zarzuela Festival in Napa, CA. From 2006 to 2016 he directed for every season of Utah's Opera Festival. He was Producer and Director for the Pennsylvania Opera Theater in Pittsburgh, PA. In Argentina, he was Production Director and Artistic Coordinator for the Opera, Ballet and Symphony seasons at the Teatro Argentino and directed the Project for the Design and Development of the Center for Performing Arts in La Plata, where he also founded the Teatro Musical de Cámara and the Festival Musical de Noviembre, and was Resident Assistant Director and Rehearsals Coordinator for the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. ​His directorial work also includes tango and cabaret shows and he has written and perform scripts and narrations for different stage genres. Helfgot produced several opera radio programs and directed television broadcasts of his own operatic productions in Argentina and an award-winning production for PBS in the USA.

As a journalist, also in Argentina, he was the editor of the Sunday's edition of the daily El Dí­a where he wrote extensively about music and the arts and also founded and directed the by-monthly Ritmo, a magazine dedicated to the performing arts and architecture.

Helfgot translates opera libretti from Italian, Spanish, German and French for English and Spanish supertitles and writes operatic dialogue versions for the English, Spanish and German repertoire.

He has also translated books from English into Spanish and vice-versa as well as for the on-line Spanish version of HonestReporting.

He is the librettist of the opera The Tale of the Nutcracker with music by Craig Bohmler premiered in 1999 and is writing the libretto for the opera Ourland with music by Paul Davies. ​He has received the Opera Director of the Year 2009 award from the Classical Singer Magazine, an award from the Arts Council Silicon Valley, and has been honored with the Koret Israel Prize.

 

​Mr. Helfgot is the author of The Third Line: The Opera Performer as Interpreter, a definitive book on the training of singers, originally published by Schirmer Books followed by a revised paperback edition titled The Third Line: The Singer as Interpreter, a book widely used by individuals, universities and conservatories.

​His teaching experience includes a guest professorship at the Musikhochschule of the Vienna University, Austria and the leadership of the Vocal and Vocal Accompanying Programs at the Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, California.

He is constantly in demand throughout US campuses, with guest appearances at the National Academy of the Arts in Taipei, Taiwan; the Instituto Superior de Arte, Teatro Colón, Argentina; the Academy of Music in Aaland, Finland, among many others.

​Helfgot serves on the advisory board of  the San José Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Zeller made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1989 and has appeared there for 11 seasons. In 2002–03, he appeared in lead roles in three new productions: Ernesto in Bellini’s Il Pirata with Renée Fleming and Marcello Giordani, Eddie in William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge (based on the play by Arthur Miller), and Chorebe opposite Deborah Voigt and Ben Heppner in Berlioz’s Les Troyens, conducted by Maestro James Levine.

His other assignments at the Metropolitan Opera have included the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth, the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème, Barak in R. Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Carlo in Verdi’s Ernani, Rangoni and Schelkalov in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in two different productions, Thoas in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride, Kothner in Wagners’s Die Meistersinger, and Sprecher in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as well as performances of Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, Gounod’s Faust, and his Met Opera debut as Count Ceprano in Verdi’s Rigoletto.

He has appeared in lead roles with the Chicago Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Berlin Staatsoper, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsche Opera am Rhein, English National Opera at the Barbican in London, the Edinburgh Festival, and Vienna Festival, as well as many other international and regional opera houses throughout the world, including the Philadelphia, Minnesota, Cincinnati, San Diego, Portland, New Orleans, and New Jersey opera companies.

 

Mr. Zeller was featured in 2001 in an Emmy-nominated nationwide TV broadcast of Live from Lincoln Center singing Mozart’s Requiem with the Mostly Mozart Festival, conducted by Gerard Schwarz.

Mr. Zeller has sung with nearly all of the major orchestras in the U.S., including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, and the National Symphony at Kennedy Center. Highlights of past seasons include appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of James Levine in Berlioz’s Les Troyens and the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with both the Chicago Symphony at Ravinia and in a nationwide radio broadcast over 500 stations with the Cleveland Orchestra.

His performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall include Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Bloch’s Sacred Service, Catalani’s La Wally, Faure’s Requiem, and many others.

On the concert stage, he has performed with the Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, St. Louis, Oregon, and St. Paul chamber orchestras; the Colorado, San Antonio, Nashville, Tulsa, Toledo, Buffalo, Columbus, Richmond, Tampa, Huntsville, Florida, New World, Grant Park, Indianapolis, Johnstown, Rochester, Akron, Wichita, Kalamazoo, Baton Rouge, Grand Rapids, Jacksonville, Charleston, Memphis, Phoenix, and San Diego symphonies; and many other orchestras, professional choruses, and gala events.

 

His international orchestra credits feature appearances with the Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Ottowa symphonies; the Nord Deutscher Rundfunk (Hanover); the MDR Symphony Orchestra (Leipzig); the Dresden Staatskapelle; the Czech, Tokyo, Korea, and Rotterdam philharmonics; the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway); the Orquesta Sinfonia de Mineria; and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte- Carlo, among many others.

 

Richard Zeller’s recordings include the critically-acclaimed Merry Mount by Howard Hanson, Deems Taylor’s Peter Ibbettson with Naxos, and the world premiere of Henri Lazarof’s Fifth Symphony on Centaur Records – all recorded with Gerard Schwartz and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. He has also recorded Dvorak’s Te Deum with Zdenec Macal and the New Jersey Symphony for Delos, David Schiff’s Gimpel the Fool for Naxos, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Centaur Records, and Virgil Thompson’s Lord Byron and Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land for Koch International. He has recorded Luigi Dallapiccola’s opera Volo di notte with American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein, and his most recent release is Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Martingale Ensemble on MSR classics.

Anton Belov, Festiva Coordinator
Anton Belov
Festival Director

The voice of Baritone Anton Belov has been called “rich and mellifluous” by the New York Times, while his recent appearance as the soloist in Carmina Burana was described by Florida Weekly as "captivating in every way, casting a mystical spell over the audience." He earned praise from critics and audiences alike for his portrayals of Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Don Giovanni, Germont (La Traviata), Count di Luna (Il trovatore), Eugene Onegin, Escamillo in Carmen and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. Mr. Belov is the first-place winner of eight vocal competitions including the George London Competition and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A native of Moscow, Anton Belov holds a Doctorate of Music degree from the Boston University and a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School.  Dr. Belov is an associate professor of music at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

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Sue Hinshaw
Soprano

Susan Hinshaw has been a professional opera performer and classical singer for over 30 years (1968-2000), with engagements singing leading roles in Europe, the USA, South America and Australia. Frequently described as a “singing actress,” her performances are characterized by sensitivity, dramatic intensity, musicality and passion. Her professional operatic debut was as Violetta in La Traviata at the Lucerne Opera in Switzerland, where she continued to perform many other leading roles including Mimi in La Boheme, The Countess in W.A. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Ann Truelove in Igor Stravinsky's The Rake‘s Progress, Konstanza in W.A. Mozart's Die Entfuehrung, Norina in Don Pasquale, Margiana in The Barber of Bagdad, Maria in The Bartered Bride, and Lucrezia in I due Foscari. The Zuricher Nachrichten described her performances as “Unquestionably a soprano of the highest order,” and the Luzerner Neuest Nachrichten described her as a "strong yet delicate stage presence…not a prima donna, but a human being, with a wonderful blend of singing and acting."

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Alexis Silver
Choreography

Eric Mazonson received Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Boston University, where he studied piano with Anthony di Bonaventure.  His chamber music coaches included Walter Trampler, Robert Marcellus, Leslie Parnas, Ralph Gomberg and Eugene Lehner. From 1979 to 1982, he was a member of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, where he performed with the concert band and founded a piano-woodwind sextet, the Olympus Chamber Players, which toured throughout the Northeast.  His extensive repertoire has been heard in many solo, chamber music and vocal recitals in the US, Canada and Europe.  He has appeared as soloist with several orchestras, recently performing Mozart’s Concerto in B-flat, K. 595, and Haydn’s Concerto in D Major with the South County Chamber Orchestra in Rhode Island, and two pieces by Mendelssohn with the Barton College/Wilson Symphony Orchestra in Wilson, SC.  Eric has been a faculty member of Bradford College, the University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, Providence College and Moses Brown School. He was a coach with the Crittenden Opera Studio Workshops in Boston and Washington, D.C. for over twenty years. 

Eric Mazonson

Collaborative Piano

ALEXIS SILVER is a New York City based dancer. She is a member of The New York Baroque Dance Company, and has toured the US and abroad, performing in Handel’s Teseo at the International Handel Festival in
Göttingen, Germany, Festival de Música Antigua Esteban Salas in Havana, Cuba, and in Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. As a member of the Boston Early Music Festival Dance
Company, Alexis performed in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Charpentier’s La
Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleur, Handel’s Almira,
and Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise. She performs with Balam Dance
Theater, Sarah Skaggs, and has presented her solo choreography at the Washington National Cathedral. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, she grew up in Berkeley, CA and Boston, MA. She trained with Ronn Guidi’s
Oakland Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School, Marcus Schulkind, and Nordic
Baroque Dance Company’s International Summer Academy. Alexis is also an accomplished photographer, www.asilverphotography.com. Sarah
Lawrence College: B.A. Liberal Arts; London Contemporary Dance School:
Certificate of Higher Education.

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Greg Mitchell

Set Design

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Chris Wood

Lighting Design

Greg Mitchell is an Associate Professor of Theatre Design at University of California Santa Barbara. His work in Scenic Design, Lighting Design, Projection Design, Art Direction for Television, and Installation has been seen around the world. Greg’s recent projects have included Scenic, Lighting, and Costume designs for Arjuna’s Dilemma, the first western style opera in Nepal. The Jazz-fusion cross cultural work was created as site specific production in one of the world’s oldest Hindu temples, a UNESCO site at Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu. He collaborated with Opera Panama and the Panama Symphony Orchestra to design a site specific production of Verdi’s Macbeth in Panama City in the 400 year old ruin of the Convento de las Monjas Concepciones. In addition to scenery designed to accommodate the fragile archaeological site, he projection mapped the interior of the structure to create a media design that interacted with the architecture. In Dublin, Ireland Greg created an installation driven performing space in “The Boys School” at Smock Alley, the oldest extant theatre in Ireland, for the Creative Artists Collaborative involving a three story tall sculptural work and a projection mapping of the Gothic architecture. Recently he worked with Ping Chong and Company as a lighting and video projection designer on the documentary-theatre production of Aan Yátx’u Sáani: Noble People of the Land.

Theatre work includes Off-Broadway productions in NYC years of collaboration with the site specific Brave New World Rep which yielded a large scale immersive production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest on the Coney Island Boardwalk, The Merry Wives of Windsor (Terrace), Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, and Fahrenheit 451 presented at the Prospect Park Amphitheatre as part of Celebrate Brooklyn’s 2010 Season.  Greg’s regional theatre work spans hundreds of productions around the country.  Design for opera includes international productions in Nepal, Panama, and the costumes for Tannhauser in Tirana Albania for their national theatre Teatri Kombetar i Operas dhe i Baletit. He has worked on the development of new operas including a commission for the Princess Sophia about the sinking of a passenger ship off the Alaskan coast in 1918, and Llantos about the intersection of Gypsies and Jews during the inquisition.As an art director and assistant art director, Professor Mitchell has worked on projects for ESPN, CNBC, MTV, and VH1.

Chris has a passion for designing lighting and sound for new plays and musicals. In August 2013, Chris designed lights for Tuning In, a new musical written by Larry Kass and directed by George Pinney. Additional premiere credits include The Rockae, Charlie's Wake, The Birds, and Wizard of Wall Street. Chris recently designed sound for the new play Death By Design: A Comedy With Songs And Murder written by Rob Urbinati. Rob and Chris collaborated extensively to find new ways of incorporating sound to highlight the comedic aspect of the production and to enhance the narrative of a murder pantomime at the end of the first act.

Along with freelance design, Chris just recently completed a three year visiting professorship of lighting design at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he enjoyed working with graduate and undergraduate students. He constantly maintains mentorships with students and young professionals, helping them along their creative paths. In 2015 Chris was honored to receive the LDI/Live Design & USITT Rising Star Award for his body of work. In addition to the Rising Star Award, Chris was also nominated for an OEA in the category of Outstanding Lighting Design for Freakshow. In 2011 Chris was nominated for the USITT Young Designer award. In 2008 Chris was honored to be one of eight student designers selected to take his light design of Our Country’s Good to compete nationally at KC/ACTF. Chris also was nominated for an OEA in 2008 for the same production.