Project 21 Artists
Brenda L Huggins is a stage director, dramaturg and multidisciplinary artist working in opera and puppetry based in NYC. As the resident stage director with Opera del West in the Boston area from 2014-2017, Brenda created intimate productions of classical and contemporary opera works including The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret (2019), Le Portrait de Manon (2017), Signor Deluso (2017), Don Pasquale (2016), Le nozze di Figaro (2015), and The Seagull (2014). Her dramaturgy work includes the first workshop of Ghost Variations with OperaRox (2018) at the National Opera Center, and the New England Russian Theater Festival at the Boston Playwright’s Theatre (2010). Original puppetry works include Beautiful Nightmare at the National Puppetry Festival: Fringe in Swarthmore, PA (2013) and a commissioned by Juventas New Music Ensemble for Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Nasenflügeltanz (2015) at the A.R.T.’s Club Oberon in Cambridge, MA. Brenda holds an M.A. in Theater Education from Emerson College and is the Learning and Leadership Manager at OPERA America in Manhattan. www.brendalynnhuggins.com
Soprano Christina Kay is a versatile singer with a particular enthusiasm for early and contemporary music. She was recently seen as Daphne in David Chesky’s new satirical opera, La Farranucci, and as Lead Singer in Petr Kotik’s chamber opera, Master-Pieces, for which she was praised for portraying a “vital, intelligent, generous and deeply rewarding” Gertrude Stein. Christina has enjoyed collaborations with Wisconsin’s Fresco Opera Theatre, where she premiered the role of Young Clara in a new dramatic production about Clara Schumann, featuring the music of the Schumanns and Brahms. She also appeared with Fresco as Gretel in a garage opera outreach of Hansel and Gretel, and as a Mermaid-Alien in a Star Wars-themed Rinaldo. Other roles include Dalinda in Ariodante, Second Woman and First Witch in Dido and Aeneas, and First Spirit in Die Zauberflöte. An active soloist and chorister, Christina has sung with many professional groups and enjoys her weekly position at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Katherine Doe is an active performer and teacher based in New York City. She recently appeared as the mezzo soloist in Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 and Songfest with the Queens College Symphony Orchestra, the alto soloist in Mozart's Requiem with the Queens College Choral Society, and made her international debut as alto soloist in Bach's St. John's Passion in Japan. This season she sang as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with New York Opera Forum, and the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Queens College Classical Singers Club. She will soon appear as Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte with the Queens College Opera Ensemble and the title role in Rinaldo with New York Opera Forum. She is a founding member of Os Ensemble, a choir specializing in new compositions.
Katy is currently completing her M.M in Classical Performance at the Aaron Copland School of Music, and studies voice with Sherry Overholt.
New York based soprano Rachel Duval has made a name for herself as an unconventional classical performer. A former trapeze artist and internationally acclaimed performance poet, Ms. Duval performed on Spanish National Television singing Puccini, German local television as the featured poet at the German National Slam, and was honored to be part of the world premier of the hip-hopera Stomping Grounds at The Glimmerglass Festival in 2017. Rachel sings both lyric soprano and baroque mezzo soprano roles, including: Damon in Acis and Galatea (Westchester Baroque Festival), Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas (Opera Steamboat), Angelica in Händel’s Orlando (Cantanti Project), and Sarah in Kamala Snkaram’s virtual reality opera The Parksville Murders (Opera On Tap). Last spring, Rachel made her off-Broadway debut singing Queen Vashti in The Queen’s Dilemma at the prestigious Center for Jewish History. Ms. Duval also works as an Executive Speaker Coach and voice teacher, and is a full time mother of two.
Praised for, “wide-ranging expressiveness” and “effortless control,” Minnesota native Shelley Marie Mihm recently appeared as the Soldier in The Falling and the Rising, Zelda in The Ghosts of Gatsby, Lucy in The Billy Goats Gruff, and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare. Mihm was named a winner of the North Carolina District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2018. Past roles include Magda Sorel inThe Consul, Micaëla in Carmen, Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Sāvitri in Sāvitri, Margaret in The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen, and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Soprano Mithuna Sivaraman is thrilled to make her role debut as Clizia with Cantanti Project. Since relocating from San Francisco in 2018, she performed the role of Drusilla (L’incoronazione di Poppea) with New York Lyric Opera Theater, and appeared in the ensemble of New Camerata Opera’s double bill of Venus and Adonis/Savitri (she also covered the role of Savitri). Other roles include Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), and First Spirit (Die Zauberflöte). Mithuna is also an experienced choral artist, and is singing her first season with Downtown Voices at Trinity Wall Street. Furthermore, Mithuna is extensively trained in Hindustani and Carnatic voice, with teachers including Ustad Vilayat Khan and D.K. Pattammal. In her non-singing life, Mithuna is a seasoned transfer pricing specialist with the international tax practice at Ernst & Young LLP. She graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 2008, earned her JD from Emory Law in 2013, and is a California-licensed attorney.
Mary Kathryn Monday, mezzo-soprano, has been praised for her wide array of vocal colors and passion for characterization on the operatic stage. She is thrilled to bring King Egeo to life with Cantanti Project and Dorian Baroque. Other performances this season include Flora in La Traviata and a member of the female ensemble in Stinney: An American Execution with the Prototype Festival. Last season, Ms. Monday gave a recital featuring Berlioz's Les nuits d'été and scenes as Didon from Les Troyens and as Carmen at the National Opera Center. Other performance highlights include Charlotte (Werther) and Maddalena (Rigoletto) with Golden Rose Opera, La suora infermiera (Suor Angelica) with Chelsea Opera, Queen Gertrude (Hamlet) with Cantanti Project, and being featured in the chorus of Tosca with LoftOpera. Mary Kathryn resides in Manhattan and continues her vocal studies with Carol Yahr. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Furman University. Say hello at mkmonday.com.
Emerging mezzo Tara Gruszkiewicz is pleased to collaborate with the Cantanti Project again, after singing in several concert projects and as Bradamante in Alcina in recent seasons. This season, Tara toured China with artists from the iSing! International Young Artists Festival for multiple national television performances of Chinese song. Last summer at iSing, Tara debuted the role of Zita in Gianni Schicchi, and began to develop a repertoire in Mandarin. This summer, Tara will be featured alongside bass-baritone Hao Jiang Tian in concert at Herbst Hall in San Francisco, before returning to the iSing festival for a national concert tour. Past operatic roles include La Zia Principessa, Hansel, Le prince charmant, Dorabella, Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Erste Norn, and Miss Todd (The Old Maid and the Thief). She holds a Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Tara resides in upper Manhattan, where she enjoys riding her bike and caring for her cats, Legend and Sardine.
Mezzo soprano Emily Hughes is an active performer of opera, art song, oratorio, and musical theater in the New England region. Recent roles include the Shepherdess inVenus and Adonis with New Camerata Opera, Lola in Cavalleria rusticana with Taconic Opera, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Panopera, and Second Lady in The Magic Flute with The Nahant Music Festival. This past summer, she was an apprentice artist at Teatro Nuovo. The previous summer she performed the title role of Cavalli's La Calisto with dell'Arte Opera Ensemble and was a recipient of their Jeiven Emerging Artist Award. In concert, she has been a soloist for The Messiah, Carmina Burana, and Vivaldi's Gloria, and has premiered works by many living composers. Additionally, Emily has a special interest in performing early music and has sung with the New York Continuo Collective, the Baroque Academy at Amherst Early Music Festival, and Haymarket Opera Company. For upcoming performances, please visit www.emily-hughes.com.
Operations Director Laura Mitchell holds a B.A. in Music and minor in Mathematics from UC San Diego and an Artist Diploma from the prestigious University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. Her administrative background includes IT Project Management, Business Analysis and Systems Analysis & Integration. Her personal mission as an administrator of an arts organization is to create a space that celebrates the singer as much as the company; to create a space where singer’s opinions matter and where they can learn to make their own decisions as musicians. Laura is passionate about leveraging the booming market of free technologies to enhance the experience for both singers and productions in a cost-effective way.
At CCM, she performed the roles of Fiordiligi, Musetta, Susanna, and the title roles in Alcina and Manon. Laura has worked with Lyric Opera Virginia, Sarasota Opera, San Diego Opera, New York Lyric Opera Theater, along with programs in several other countries. Her performances are often praised for “captivating” performances (Classical Singer Magazine), and “nuanced delivery” (Oberon’s Grove).
Core Artist and Operations Director
Dylan Sauerwald is a distinctive historical keyboardist and conductor. At the keyboard, he has been praised for his “fleet fingers” and “sophisticated playing,” (Capriccio) and as a conductor, his productions have been called “heart-wrenching and self-reflecting” (OperaWire). Mr. Sauerwald performs widely with early music ensembles across the US and Canada, and his playing is featured in the BBC historical drama Poldark. As a recording artist, he can be heard on the New Focus, Coro, and Urtext labels, as soloist and continuo player on the harpsichord, organ, fortepiano, and lautenwerck, performing works from the 16th century to the 21st. A champion of early opera, he has led productions acclaimed as “refined and flexible,” (Boston Globe) and “a remarkable musical experience” (OperaWire). He is in demand as a guest conductor, appearing with Sunshine City Opera, Miryam Baroque Ensemble, Dorian Baroque, and many others. Mr. Sauerwald directs Polyphemus Early Music, and is Director of Music at New Dorp Moravian Church.
Soprano Joyce Yin, praised by New York Concert Review for singing with an “otherworldly quality,” brings a committed physicality and depth of emotional connection to the stage. This season, Joyce sings the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, Libby Larsen’s Try Me Good King, and Clara Schumann’s Sechs Lieder. A performer whose “deft characterization” is “matched by her fearless singing” (Entertainment Hour), Joyce particularly enjoys exploring the nuances of determined women such as Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Morgana (Alcina), and Gilda (Rigoletto). Recent highlights include Ines in Donizetti’s La Zingara with Amore Opera, Linfea in La Calisto with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, the title role in Caccini’s Euridice with Cantanti Project, and her debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic as the soprano soloist in the Messiah. Joyce is a winner of the Met Auditions Audience Choice Award and the Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego. She graduated with her M.M. in Opera Performance from Arizona State University. Please visit www.joyceyin.com and @joycesings for updates.
Core Artist and Artistic Director