Opera Western Reserve

the cast of carmen



Mexican mezzo-soprano Paulina Villarreal is a prominent recitalist, cabaret, operatic, and musical theater singer who frequently performs in the United States and Mexico. A graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, she has been a soloist and invited artist in important companies and orchestras around the United States like Cincinnati Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera Fusion: New Works, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Appalachian Symphony Orchestra, and the Decatur Symphony Orchestra. In the entrepreneurship world, Villarreal is the founder and artistic director of the international concert series Cantos para el Mundo devoted to the promotion of classical vocal genres hosted in Torreón, Mexico.

Trained as a classical vocalist, Villarreal is now in demand for her singing versatility in musical theater and commercial styles. She has worked closely with contemporary American composers like William Bolcom, Laura Kaminsky, and Ricky Ian Gordon, and has been recognized by important foundations like the Kurt Weill Foundation and the Comic Opera Guild for performing a wide variety of vocal genres.

Villarreal is currently a professor of voice at the University of Memphis’

Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music and serves as voice faculty at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.



Tenor Jonathan Kaufman possesses a voice of entrancing power, beauty, and finesse, which he employs with considerable technique and musicianship. Hailed for his portrayal of Pinkerton in Winter Opera St. Louis’ production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, “Tenor Jona-

than Kaufman, as Pinkerton, has a voice so grand–even heroic–that there are many times when, lost in the glory of that voice, we quite forget what a cad the Lieutenant is. Superb!” Steve Callahan of Broadway World makes it clear why Kaufman is quickly ascending the ranks as one of the greatest tenors of his generation.

This season, Kaufman rejoins Opera Carolina for their productions of Cavalleria rusticana and Madama Butterfly as Turiddu and Pinkerton, respectively. Further lead roles include Don Jose in Opera Western Reserve’s Carmen and Rodolfo in La bohème with Opera Grand Rapids.

Board corner

Opera Western Reserve’s board of directors met for its annual meeting on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. At the meeting, the election of officers and board members took place. The Board is pleased to announce the officers and Board members for the 2023 / 2024 fiscal year:

Denise Glinatsis Bayer was elected as Board Chair, Nicole Zayas-Balas was elected as Board Vice Chair. Continuing as officers: Scott Schulik, Treasurer, Christopher Anderson, Secretary, and Judge Carla Baldwin, At Large Member.

Frank Occhibove was elected to a three-year term and Carol Baird accepted another three-year term on the board of directors.

Board members with existing terms are: Dr. Carol Baird, Dr. Joe Carucci, Claudia Corbe, Joe DeSalvo, Cynthia Foust, Nick Giancola, Ed Goist, Corlis Green, Rodney Lamberson, Gary Lehman, Lisa Long, Nancy Meacham, Tricia Perry, and Anna Vucic.

Elliot Legow was recognized as outgoing Board Chair. He served as Board chair for 10 years leading the organization through various transitions including the retirement of founding Production Director David Vosburgh.

Patricia Kavic was honored as an Honorary Lifetime member of the Opera Western Reserve board of directors. She served as the organization’s first Board Chair for 10 years.


Opera Western Reserve will partner with Youngstown’s community arts school, Students Motivated by the Arts (SMARTS), to relaunch the OWR Children’s Choir for the upcoming production of Carmen. “I have been dreaming about a SMARTS Children’s Choir with Opera Western Reserve since the first time I saw one on their stage. We are grateful to be a part of this collaboration bringing many different communities together to celebrate theater, music, and the importance of the arts in the lives of our children. This wouldn’t be possible without help from the energetic and accomplished Megan Keown, vocal and general music teacher for 5-8 Grades at Austintown Local Schools and past SMARTS Music Teacher. We are excited to work with Megan again and look forward to offering this incredible opportunity to showcase her students,” said Becky Keck.

“Opera Western Reserve is delighted to be partnering with SMARTS to create a Children’s Chorus for its upcoming production of Bizet’s Carmen at DeYor Performing Arts Center on November 17, 2023,” said Susan Davenny Wyner, Music Director/Conductor of Opera Western Reserve. “I think it is a marvelous opportunity for the children. They will be onstage with professional singers and orchestra, not just as silent partners but as active participants. They will be singing in French, receive instruction in theater arts and stagecraft, and will be working together with OWR’s conductor, stage director, and chorus director to bring their characters to life.”

Carmen will also include dancers from Youngstown’s ballet company, Ballet Western Reserve. “Ballet Western Reserve is thrilled to again collaborate with Opera Western Reserve,” says Executive Director Danielle Perrotta. “It’s been a number of years since we’ve performed together and we are so excited to bring the tradition back with their production of Carmen. My dancers jumped at the opportunity to have this unique and professional experience.”

“As part of Opera Western Reserves mission, we strive to foster partnerships with our fellow arts and culture organizations. Like our partnership with SMARTs, who we are collaborating with for the children’s chorus, we were thrilled at the possibility of collaborating with Ballet Western Reserve as well and bringing together these three pillars in the Youngstown arts community on one stage for our production of Carmen,” stated Kelly Sullivan, Artistic Services Manager.


Arts Economic Relief Grant

Boston Midsummer Opera in honor of Susan Davenny-Wyner

Joe and Came DeSalvo

Chris and Elliot Legow

Monday Musical Club of The Youngstown Foundation

Nancy L Meacham Charitable Gift Fund of Bank of America

Ohio Arts Council

Senator Maurice and Florence Lipscher Charitable Trust