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Romeo & Juliet


January 25, 2019
January 27, 2019


Saenger Theatre


French with English Supertitles


Charles Gounod


Jules Barbier & Michel Carré


Even if you think you know the story, you haven’t heard Romeo & Juliet like this. Pensacola Opera’s rendition perfectly blends grand opera and the two ill-fated lovers in a spectacle that will captivate audiences from start to finish without ever having to turn a page. Witness our historic take on the story, enhancing the true stars of this opera: Gounod’s beautiful, sweeping melodies and the talented voices of the production’s soloists. And don’t worry – we won’t be issuing any pop quizzes after the performance!

So what’s the story about?
These violent delights have violent ends.  |  He’s a Montague and she’s a Capulet — families who have hated each other for centuries. Yet when Romeo meets Juliet, they fall instantly and passionately in love. Secretly, they marry — but Shakespeare’s famed young couple is ultimately doomed. Everything that could have been is lost as they die tragically in each other’s arms.

Why should you go?
Fatal destiny, blind passion.  |  If you are a fan of the classics, this timeless story of passion and forbidden love marries Shakespeare’s eternal drama beautifully with Gounod’s romantic music. Romeo & Juliet is one of the best operas in the French lyrical repertoire and the most accurate operatic adaptation of the tragedy of the lovers of Verona.

Oh, one last thing.
A plague on both your houses.  |  Bring your tissues. Bring your star-crossed love. Leave the poison at home.

To read the full Opera synopsis please click here.

Cast and Creatives

Melinda Whittington*

as Juliette

The Salt Lake Tribune praises Melinda Whittington for her “performances of emotional resonance along with their powerhouse vocals.” In her home state, she makes her debut with North Carolina Opera as Ada in Higdon’s Cold Mountain and sings the Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Carolina in the 2017-18 season. She makes role debuts as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette with Opera Birmingham and as the title role of Arabella with Pittsburgh Festival Opera, sings further performances of the Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Grand Rapids, and returns to Wolf Trap for a birthday concert celebration honoring composer John Corigliano. Last season, she returned to Arizona Opera for the title role of Rusalka in addition to joining Utah Opera as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Greensboro Opera as Micaëla in Carmen, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago for its production of Eugene Onegin.

She is the 2016 third place winner in Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Voice Competition, 2015 first place winner of the Opera Birmingham competition, a 2013 semi-finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, winner of the Charlotte Opera Guild Competition, and an encouragement award winner in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition. She is a former participant in the prestigious Merola Opera Program in association with San Francisco Opera at which she performed scenes as the title role in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Barber’s Vanessa, and Bizet’s Le jolie fille de Perth.

She holds a Master of Music degree from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mackenzie Whitney*

as Roméo

Mackenzie Whitney is originally from Janesville, Iowa and is gaining recognition nationwide for his expressive lyric tenor voice.  He studies with Bill Schuman at the Academy of Vocal Arts and received his Artist Diploma in May of 2016. Mr. Whitney has most recently performed with Madison Opera in the role of Rodolfo in La bohème. He also sang Rodolfo with both the Lakes Area Music Festival and the Academy of Vocal Arts, a role in which Philly.com reported “Mackenzie Whitney, who sang Rodolfo, has an appealing lyric tenor voice, his upper tones free and of lovely quality. This role suits him well both vocally and dramatically”.

The 2016-2017 season saw his debuts with Hawaii Opera Theatre as Rodolfo in La bohème, Opera on the James as the Duke in Rigoletto, Utah Opera as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Opera Maine as Alfredo in La traviata. In the 2017-2018 season, he makes debuts with San Diego Opera as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, Annapolis Opera as Alfredo in La traviata, returns to Madison Opera as Arcadio in Florencia en el Amazonas, and brings his Rodolfo in La bohème to his Opera San Antonio debut.

Alex DeSocio*

as Mercutio

Described by The New York Times as having a “buttery, booming baritone,” Alex DeSocio (Wichita, KS), received his BM in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and his MM at the University of Maryland with the Maryland Opera Studio under the tutelage of Leon Major.

Professional performance experience during his education includes Silvio in Pagliacci with the In Series, L’horloge comtoise in L’enfant et les sortilèges and Ben Budge in The Beggar’s Opera with the Castleton Festival under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Carl-Magnus Malcolm in A Little Night Music with Pine Mountain Music Festival in summer 2012.

In the summer of 2013, Alex joined the Merola Opera Program where he performed opera scenes in the Schwabacher concert and covered the role of Tarquinis in The Rape of Lucretia. Previously, Alex was a resident artist with Pittsburgh Opera. While with Pittsburgh Opera, he performed performing The Second Priest in The Magic Flute, covering Schaunard in La bohème, the father in Paul’s Case, and Le commissaire in Orphée, Montano in Otello, Alwan in Sumeida’s Song, and Morales in Carmen.

Alex’s awards include being a two-time Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Semi-Finalist, Sullivan Foundation Winner, Eleanor McCollum Competition Finalist, 1st Place Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition, Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition 1st place winner, Shreveport Opera Competition 1st place and Merola Opera Program Shoshana Grant Award.

In 2015 with the Merola Opera Program, Alex performed the role of Malatesta in Don Pasquale as well as performing in the Merola Grand Finale at the War Mermorial Opera House in San Francisco. His professional experience includes Ramiro in L’heure espangnole with Opera Memphis, Dandini in Fort Collins Opera of La Cenerentola, Guglielmo with LoftOpera in Così fan tutte, Schaunard in La bohème with The Charleston Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Pacific Opera Project, Lescaut in Manon with Opera Santa Barbara, Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Livermore Valley Opera, Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Miami Music Festival, and El Dancairo in Carmen with Fort Worth Opera.

Camille Sherman

as Stéphano

Mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman hails from the California North Bay Area. This season, Ms. Sherman joined Pensacola Opera as an Artist in Residence, performing the role of María in María de Buenos Aires and the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha, in addition to covering roles Aldonza in Man of La Mancha and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in the company’s 2017-18 season. Ms. Sherman’s recent seasons include role debuts as the Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos (Berlin Opera Academy, 2017) and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Janiec Opera Company, 2016), during which she performed alongside world-renowned countertenor David Daniels. In addition to her stage career, Ms. Sherman also appeared as a concert soloist with the Pensacola Symphony.

Over the last few years, Ms. Sherman has garnered acclaim in several competitions. She is a two-time winner of the Kalvelage Memorial Award in the Henry and Maria Holt Competition (2016-17) and secured the Jorge Estebanez Scholarship from The San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2016. Ms. Sherman also took first place in the North End Music Performing Arts Center Competition in 2014.

During her vocal training, Ms. Sherman was in residence at the Janiec Opera Company and at OperaWorks. Ms. Sherman holds degrees in vocal performance from some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including a master’s degree from The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Catherine Cook, and a bachelor’s degree from The Boston Conservatory. In addition to her work as a singer, Ms. Sherman is an experienced pianist, flautist, and musical arranger.

Next season, Camille will join Portland Opera as a Resident Artist, and will return to Pensacola Opera to make her role debut as Stéphano in Romeo & Juliet.

Matthew Fleisher*

as Frère Laurent

American bass Matthew Fleisher makes his Pensacola Opera debut with his performances of Frere Laurent in the company’s premiere production of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. A recent honors graduate of the University of Michigan, Matthew has appeared in productions of The Magic Flute (Sarastro), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Snug and Theseus), Tosca (Jailer), The Fall of the House of Usher (Servant), Le Nozze di Figaro (Bartolo), Dinner at Eight (Max Kane), Bastianello (Luciano), and The Difficulty of Crossing a Field with the Janiec Opera Company (Brevard Music Festival), Wolf Trap Opera Company, University of Michigan Opera Theater, Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, and the Phillip Glass Foundation. During Summer 2018, Matthew will return to Wolf Trap Opera Company for their productions of Romeo et Juliette and Rigoletto.  A student of internationally acclaimed countertenor David Daniels, Matthew has commissioned and will present the world premiere of a recital work by the composer David Hanlon. Matthew combines his appearances in recital and opera with his passion for Global Human Rights.

Alexander Scheuermann*

as Tybalt

A native of Merritt Island, Florida, tenor Alexander Scheuermann holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and master’s degree from the University of Houston. Recent roles include Laurie in Little Women with Opera in the Heights, Dr. Caius in Falstaff with the Crested Butte Music Festival, Siegfried in Das Barbecü with HGOco, Le Jeu in Les Plaisir de Versailles with Ars Lyrica, The Barber in Man of La Mancha and Giuseppe in La traviata with Central City Opera, and Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore at the Moores Opera House. Concert work includes performances as a soloist with the Houston Bach Society, the Three Texan Tenors, the Lone Star Lyric cabaret series, Kingwood Chamber Orchestra, and lieder recitals across Houston.

Zachary Owen*

as Capulet

Born and raised in Illinois, American bass-baritone Zachary Owen has performed with such companies as the Glimmerglass Festival, Arizona Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Central City Opera, Opera North, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Opera Santa Barbara. He has performed the roles of Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Ashby in La fanciulla del West, Don Fernando in Fidelio, Matouš in Smetana’s The Kiss, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Haly in L’italiana in Algeri, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Frank Maurrant in Street Scene, the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, Spencer Coyle in Owen Wingrave, and the title role in Don Pasquale. A strong advocate for new music, he has participated in a composer’s workshop at Cincinnati Opera in which he worked alongside Jake Heggie, Jack O’Brien, and Terrence McNally to develop two characters for Heggie’s new Opera, Great Scott. In the 2018 season, Mr. Owen returned to the Marion Roose Pullin Studio at Arizona Opera and performed several roles including Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelotti in Tosca, and Lycos in Hercules vs. Vampires. A returning member of the Glimmerglass Festival, he will go on to perform the Badger in The Cunning Little Vixen, cover Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, as well as perform supporting roles in West Side Story and Silent Night.

Mr. Owen is the recipient of numerous awards including the Grace Keagy Award at the Lotte Lenya Competition, the Brudos Family Prize for Opera Performance and was a national semifinalist at the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Luther College in Decorah Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Corey Gaudreau*

as Pâris/Grégorio

Christina Pezzarossi*

as Gertrude

Originally from Miles City, Montana, Mezzo-soprano Christina Pezzarossi received her Master’s degree from the The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Ms. Pezzarossi’s operatic roles include Flora in La Traviata, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, the title role in Agrippina, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. This summer, she will return as an Apprentice Artist to Des Moines Metro Opera’s Summer Festival, where she will cover the Stewardess in Flight and perform in various scenes and concerts. She has also performed with Opera San Jose, Opera NEO, Oberlin in Italy, Emerald City Opera, and Taos Opera Institute and received an Encouragement Award from the San Francisco Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

William Meinert*

as The Duke

Praised for his “evenly produced, promising bass” (Opera News) and “charismatic [and] exhilarating comic flair” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), William Meinert continues to be a proud participant of the Dolora Zajick Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. In Summer 2018, William returned to Des Moines Metro Opera to cover Vodník in Dvořák’s Rusalka. During the 2017-18 season, he was baritone soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Baltimore Youth Orchestra and bass soloist in Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with American Bach Soloists. He also sang Uberto in Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona with Commonwealth Lyric Theater, as well as Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and Le philosophe in Massenet’s Chérubin at the Peabody Institute. In Summer 2017 William joined Des Moines Metro Opera, covering Mandarin (Turandot) and Bosun (Billy Budd). Highlights of previous seasons include Varlaam (Boris Godunov) with Commonwealth Lyric Theatre, Carceriere (Tosca) and Hortensius (La fille du régiment) with Opera North, Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Loudoun Lyric Opera, Aeolus and Cold Genius (King Arthur) with American Bach Soloists Academy, Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte) with Old Towne Opera, and Sparafucile (Rigoletto) with Metro Opera Workshop of Detroit. Additional operatic performances include Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Colline (La bohéme), Father Peter (Hansel and Gretel) and both Sarastro and Sprecher (Die Zauberflöte).

William has studied privately with Russell Penney, with Dolora Zajick at her Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, and currently studies with William Sharp at Peabody Institute.

Jerome Shannon

as Conductor

Praised for his “skill and verve” (New York Times), Shannon celebrates nearly 30 years as a professional operatic pianist, vocal coach, conductor and administrator. During this time, Maestro Shannon has held leadership positions with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston (Artistic Administrator, Assistant Conductor, Conductor), Virginia Opera (Artistic Administrator, Associate Artistic Director, Conductor), Pensacola Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor, Artistic Director), Shreveport Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor), Mobile Opera (General and Artistic Director, Principal Conductor) and the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center (Resident Conductor and Vocal Coach).

Scott Skiba*

as Director

Award-winning Stage Director, Scott Skiba has led more than 60 new operatic productions earning recognition for his imaginative stage direction and dynamic physical approach to storytelling.  His recent production of A Streetcar Named Desire was praised for “first-rate stage direction… vivid and emotionally charged.”

Upcoming engagements include: Il barbiere di Siviglia and La traviata (Cleveland Opera Theater), Il matrimonio segreto (University of Tennessee Opera Theater), Roméo et Juliette (Pensacola Opera), The Rake’s Progress (Baldwin Wallace Conservatory), The Ballad of Baby Doe (Toledo Opera), and La tragédie de Carmen (Hawaii Performing Arts Festival).

Scott serves as Executive Artistic Director of Cleveland Opera Theater where he has directed critically acclaimed productions of Madama Butterfly, Le nozze di Figaro, La bohème, Tosca, La rondine, Gianni Schicchi, Il tabarro, Pagliacci, The Threepenny Opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, Il segreto di Susanna, and the Cleveland premiere of the new vampire opera, Clarimonde.

Notable directing credits include: Macbeth (Opera Tampa), Faust and Il barbiere di Siviglia (Natchez Festival of Music), The Student Prince (Opera Grand Rapids), Carmen (Opera Western Reserve), Suor Angelica and La bohème (Mobile Opera), and Don Giovanni (Hawaii Performing Arts Festival).

A proponent of new opera, Scott’s initiatives helped launch {NOW} Festival – Cleveland Opera Theater’s annual event to create, develop, and produce new opera, which is developing an opera based on Garcia Lorca’s final play, The House of Bernarda Alba, in collaboration with OBIE-Award-Winning Librettist, Caridad Svich (libretto) Griffin Candey (composer) and the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, among presenting numerous other new operas in various stages of development annually.

* Pensacola Opera debut artist

Production Team

CONDUCTOR | Jerome Shannon
LIGHTING DESIGNER | Charles Houghton
STAGE MANAGER | Karl Anderson

The Pensacola Opera Chorus & Pensacola Symphony Orchestra

* Pensacola Opera debut artist



Meet the Artists Luncheon

Tuesday, January 15 at 11:30 AM
Cost: $30

Meet the Artists Reception

Friday, January 25 - after the show
Cost: $50, $40 for Season Subscribers

Director’s Champagne Brunch

Sunday, January 27 at 11:45 AM
Cost: $50

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