Creative team

Biographies of Key Project Personnel

Eric Sawyer (Composer)

The music of Eric Sawyer receives frequent performances on both coasts, including
at New York’s Weill and Merkin concert halls and at Tanglewood, as well as in
England, France, and Germany. Many of his larger works connect to American
historical subjects, though he also has a substantial output of abstract instrumental
music. Sawyer’s first opera Our American Cousin, telling the story of Lincoln’s
assassination at Ford’s Theater through the eyes of the actors and audience, was
premiered in 2008 by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and released on the
BMOP/sound label. Upcoming in October 2013 is the premiere of Fantasy Concerto:
Concord Conversations
, composed for the renowned piano trio Triple Helix and the
Concord Orchestra, and based on transcendentalist writings. A chamber music
collection String Works and the cantata The Humble Heart, based on texts of the
American Shakers, is available on CD from Albany Records. Mr. Sawyer has received
the Joseph Bearns Prize, awards from the Tanglewood Music Center and the
American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a recent prize from the Ravinia Festival
for his piano trio Lincoln’s Two Americas. He is on the music faculty at Amherst

Harley Erdman (Librettist)

Harley Erdman is a dramaturg, playwright, and translator, as well as Professor of
Theater at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In addition to The Garden of
, he wrote the libretto for Paula Kimper’s opera The Captivation of Eunice
(2004), a piece also inspired by local history. His commissioned work as a
translator of contemporary Latin American theater includes work from Mexico,
Nicaragua, and Chile. He has translated Spanish Golden Age plays by Calderón,
Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina, two of which were recently published by Aris &
Phillips. He is currently working on a collection of translations of plays by 17th-
century Spanish women, and co-editing an anthology of essays on theatrical
adaptation, to be published next year. He is a winner of the Association for Hispanic
Classic Theater’s Translation Prize, the author of the monograph Staging the Jew
(1997), and the winner of the Kahn Award for outstanding scholarship from the
American Society for Theatre Research. Other creative collaborations include work in
puppetry, musical theater, and verbatim theater. Other plays and adaptations
include Galloping by Gaslight (1991) and The Outcast In (1993), produced with his
theater company Troupe Texas, and Marta the Divine (2009) and Suitors (2013),
produced at the University of Massachusetts. Currently, he is working on an original
historically based screwball comedy set in the Northampton Academy of Music in the
1940s, to be performed here in 2014.

Kevin Rhodes (Musical Director and Conductor)

American conductor Kevin Rhodes has had an exceptionally varied career spanning
concerts, opera and ballet across the globe, having conducted in 15 different
countries with approximately 50 different orchestras. His work extends from the
major opera houses of Europe to the concert stages of the U.S. He has collaborated
with such diverse artists as Andre Watts, Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg, Peter Serkin,
Glenn Dicterow and Lorin Hollander in the classical arena while working with pops
favorites such as Art Garfunkel and the Kingston Trio. This season marks Maestro
Rhodes’ twelfth as Music Director of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He
assumed the post in 2001 after working exclusively for 10 years in Europe where he
led orchestras at the top opera houses in repertoire ranging from the operas of
Richard Strauss, Verdi, Puccini, Massanet, Mozart, Smetena and many others to the
major ballets of Prokofiev, Bartok and Tchaikovsky. One of the most highly sought
after conductors by Europe’s major ballet companies, Rhodes has made an
international name for himself conducting for the Paris Opera Ballet, the Vienna
State Opera Ballet, the Ballet of la Scala, the Berlin State Opera Ballet, The Dutch
National Ballet, The Stuttgart Ballet, The Basel Ballet, The Verona Ballet, The Ballet
of Teatro San Carlo and many others. Many of Maestro Rhodes’ performances with
the Paris, Vienna, Milan and Dutch companies have been filmed and made into
movies which have been seen throughout Europe on television and in the cinemas
throughout the world. Rhodes has also served since 2001 as Music Director of the
Traverse Symphony Orchestra in Michigan, and with the start of the 2010-2011
season he took the reins as Conductor of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston.
While now based in the US, Rhodes has also maintained an active guest conducting
schedule in Europe over the years. The 2013-2014 season sees Maestro Rhodes
making his North American ballet debut with the New York City Ballet at Lincoln
Center in Manhattan as well as returning to the Paris Opera for a production in Paris
and a tour with the company to Tokyo. He will also lead concerts this season with
the Tacoma Symphony orchestra in Washington.

Vernon Hartman (Stage Director and Attorney General Sullivan)

Vernon Hartman brings forty years of experience as a performer, director, educator,
producer and administrator, having produced and directed for over thirty
organizations worldwide, notably Opera Tampa, Toledo Opera, Opera Santa Barbara,
Greensboro Opera, Opera Birmingham, Rockford Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic
and Fox Valley Symphony as well as various theaters and festivals in Italy. As a
singer, he was a leading baritone at the Metropolitan Opera for two decades, where
his many appearances included Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Eisenstein (Die
), Ping (Turandot), Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Silvio (I Pagliacci),
Valentin (Faust), Mercutio (Roméo et Juliette), Lescaut (Manon Lescaut), Redburn
(Billy Budd) and over two dozen national and international broadcasts and telecasts.
As a guest artist Mr. Hartman has sung with virtually all of North America’s major
opera companies, orchestras and festivals, mixed with frequent appearances in
Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Austria, France, Japan and elsewhere. Among his
best-known portrayals are Rigoletto, Scarpia (Tosca), Don Giovanni, Germont (La
), Falstaff, Marcello (La bohéme), Gianni Schicchi, Amonasro (Aïda),
Pentheus (H. W. Henze’s The Bassarids), Michele (Il tabarro) and Emile de Becque
(South Pacific). Known in the Pioneer Valley for his work with UMass Opera
Workshop, Mr. Hartman most recently directed his new adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s
play The Servant of Two Masters for Smith College. Next month he will sing the title
role in Verdi’s Nabucco in Chicago. Mr. Hartman first appeared with the Springfield
Symphony in 1993 as Escamillo in Carmen, and most recently performed Copland’s
A Lincoln Portrait for the SSO’s opening gala in 2011.

Amy Johnson (Finola Daley)

Soprano Amy Johnson’ combination of vocal versatility and stage magnetism has
captured the attention of audiences in the U.S. and abroad. Her repertoire
encompasses over two dozen roles ranging from Donna Anna in Don Giovanni to the
title role in Salome. Ms. Johnson has earned special praise for her portrayal of
Puccini’s Tosca, which she has performed with over a dozen companies, most
notably New York City Opera as seen on PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center. She has
appeared in leading roles with such companies as Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp,
Indianapolis Opera, Portland Opera, Spier Festival in South Africa, Palm Beach
Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Festival Musica e Musica in Italy, Austin Lyric
Opera, Arizona Opera and numerous others. International recognition first came to
Ms. Johnson when composer Thea Musgrave chose her to create the role of Manuela
in the world première of Simón Bolívar for Virginia Opera, subsequently reprised for
the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She made her Carnegie Hall debut
(Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9) in a benefit for South Asia earthquake victims. Other
concert highlights include appearances with Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa with
Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr. (televised in Mexico), Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony with
Winston-Salem Symphony, Berg’s Lulu Suite with Kentucky Symphony and Three
(Musgrave) with San Francisco Women’s Philharmonic. Her first solo CD,
Amy Johnson – Red, White and Blue: Arias of the Passionate, Pure and Perverse, will
soon be released on the Hungaroton label. Recently, Ms. Johnson has had the
pleasure of performing twice with the Springfield Symphony. Next month she will
appear with the Kentucky Symphony and the CCM Orchestra in bicentenary Verdi
and Wagner concerts respectively. Ms. Johnson was a member of the voice faculty
at UMass Amherst from 2008-13, and currently serves as Assistant Professor of
Voice and Co-Director of Undergraduate Opera Workshop at the College-
Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.

William Hite (Father Jean Louis de Cheverus)

William Hite’s reputation as an engaging and expressive artist has led to
appearances spanning three decades with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the
Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Dresdner Philharmonie, American Symphony
Orchestra, New York City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, Charlotte Symphony,
Boston Baroque, Emmanuel Music, and Philharmonia Baroque under the direction of
Bernard Haitink, Seiji Ozawa, James Levine, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Nicholas
McGegan, Christopher Hogwood, Jane Glover, Craig Smith, John Harbison, Julian
Wachner and Peter Schreier. Mr. Hite’s upcoming engagements include an all-Britten
recital for Trinity Church, Wall Street, Britten’s Serenade with the Orquesta
Sinfónica de Xalapa (Mexico), Britten’s Nocturne with the Fairfax (VA) Symphony
Orchestra as well as Elijah with the Cantata Singers in Boston. Recently he has
performed the St. Matthew Passion evangelist with the Boston Cecilia Society,
Messiah with the Charlotte Symphony, the title role in La clemenza di Tito with
Emmanuel Music, Boston, Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Theater an der Wien and
Britten’s War Requiem with the Hartt School of Music. The tenor’s operatic credits
include the title roles in The Rake’s Progress and Acis and Galatea. He has appeared
regularly at the Boston Early Music Festival in period stagings including Matthison’s
Boris Goudenow and Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and King Arthur. Mr. Hite has sung in
world premieres of operas by Theodore Antoniou, Ellen Ruehr, Lew Spratlan, Scott
Wheeler and Eric Sawyer. Mr. Hite’s extensive discography of over 40 CDs includes
recordings of Messiah, Acis and Galatea, St. John Passion, and Mozart’s Requiem.
William Hite has sung in music festivals in the US, Canada, France, Holland and
Greece. He is a Senior Lecturer in Voice at the University of Massachusetts in
Amherst. Please visit

Alan Schneider (Dominic Daley)

Mr. Schneider has appeared in opera, operetta, and music theatre productions with
many companies in his native New England and elsewhere, including Opera Boston,
Sarasota Opera, Opera Delaware, Florida Grand Opera, The Huntington Theatre
Company, The North Shore Music Theatre, Opera New England and Boston Bel
Canto Opera. He has most often appeared with Boston Lyric Opera, appearing in Der
fliegende Hollaender
, La Traviata, Lucie de Lammermoor, Salome, Don Carlos,
Carmen, La rondine, and Rigoletto in the course of seven seasons with the
company. In July of 2010 he made his international debut as Idomeneo with IVAI in
Tel Aviv, Israel. In addition to stage works, Mr. Schneider has appeared in concert
with the Kalamazoo, Springfield (MA), Chautauqua and Omaha Symphonies, The
Bellingham (WA) Festival of Music, Providence Singers, Albany Pro Musica, and the
long-running Mohawk Trail Concerts in Charlemont Massachusetts. A proponent and
frequent performer of new music, he has created roles in world premieres of works
by composers Eric Sawyer, Daniel Pinkham and Paula Kimper. Recordings of several
of these works have been released on the Albany, Arsis, and BMOP/sound labels. As
a student, Mr. Schneider took part in the Glimmerglass Opera Young American
Artists Program and appeared with the Chautauqua Opera. He has also been the
grateful recipient of career support grants from Boston Lyric Opera and the Wagner
Society of New York. He is an alumnus of The University of Massachusetts at
Amherst and received his Master’s Degree from Boston University.