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This year Opera Outreach presents two pieces, ANON, an opera for for young adults and older, and Where in the World is Opera, a newly created children’s piece. For more information use the buttons below.

For booking or more information, contact Opera Outreach Coordinator Caitlin Duckworth at


Errollyn Wallen’s ANON is a fast paced 45-minute contemporary chamber opera adaptation of Manon Lescaut that explores the themes of exploitation, abuse, vulnerability, and dangers imposed upon women and young girls to provide a glimpse into a world all too familiar. The opera explores the subjects of domestic/familial abuse, human trafficking, and the inequities women face, and was composed specifically to bring these issues to light for young women. At a time when current events include behaviors of people such as Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, and Bill Cosby, we offer this opportunity to give young women a safe place to be connected to stories they may relate to all too well.

ANON is categorized as a chamber opera and utilizes an all-female cast of five anonymous characters, including 2 actors and 3 singers. Originally arranged for piano, cello, percussion, and electronic music, Peabody Opera Outreach has reduced the instrumentation for keyboard alone. Rather than elaborate sets and costumes, stage director Courtney Kalbacker’s use of inventive props and characterization focuses on the stories and experiences of the unheard women in our society

The U.S. premiere of ANON, presented by Peabody Opera Theatre in February 2017 at Theatre Project in Baltimore, was heralded as “ingenious and effective” by Maryland Theatre Guide and was featured by the Baltimore Sun. The positive feedback received from audience talk back sessions and the performers in the piece about the social and emotional impact of ANON inspired the Peabody Institute to expand its audience through Peabody Opera Outreach, in hope to spread awareness of women’s issues and to continue to give a voice to those who remain unheard. The program is intended for high school age students and adults and is available for booking November 2017 through April 2018.


Madilyn Crossland, Laura Doyon, Abigail Hart, Carly Henderson, Samantha Hornback, Lauren Hussey, Alicia Lumberry, Maria Servodidio, Sarah Spivack, and Melanie Walker

Pianists: Chelsea De Souza and Yin Zhu

Composer: Errollyn Wallen

“Renaissance woman of contemporary British music” (The Observer) Errollyn Wallen is lauded for her genuine, free-spirited approach to contemporary composition and wide-ranging musicianship. Born in Belize, she read music at Goldsmith’s, King’s College, London, and King’s College, Cambridge. On becoming a full-time composer, she formed her own group, Ensemble X, with the motto “we don’t break down barriers in music… we don’t see any.” Wallen’s award-winning music includes many works for orchestra, ballet, opera, theatre, chamber music and film. Her music has been performed throughout the world, in outer space and recorded on many compilations.

Two specially commissioned works for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, PRINCIPIA and Spirit in Motion, were broadcast to a billion people around the world. Previous albums dedicated solely to her works are Meet Me at Harold Moores (Wallen Music and Production), The Girl in My Alphabet and ERROLLYN (both on Avie Records). PHOTOGRAPHY (NMC) is the first album dedicated to her orchestral works, of which she has composed fourteen to date. Errollyn’s orchestral work MIGHTY RIVER has been selected for PRSF’s New Music Biennial 2017.

In 2015, Wallen was elected Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford, in recognition of her distinguished contribution to scholarship in the field of British contemporary music and her exceptional achievements as a composer.

Director: Courtney Kalbacker

Courtney Kalbacker is an opera performer, director, and producer. A dynamic coloratura soprano, she was a District winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She sings regularly with the Washington National Opera as a soprano chorister and principal ensemble member and has appeared recently with Annapolis Opera, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Hub Opera Ensemble, and others.

In addition to her performing, Kalbacker also supports the art form at large by bringing impactful operatic theatre to life from backstage. Her many roles off stage include directing and production positions with UrbanArias, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Peabody Opera (Peabody Institute), Baltimore Concert Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Live Arts Maryland, Silver Finch Arts Collective, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, and Oklahoma City University among others. Kalbacker is currently the Managing Director of Baltimore Concert Opera and frequently produces new works with DC's contemporary opera company, UrbanArias.

As a passionate educator and advocate for developing singer-actors, Kalbacker originated and taught the Acting for Singers curriculum for Boston University Tanglewood Institute for five seasons and instructs the Music for the Stage courses at Towson University. She holds a Master of Music degree in Opera Performance from Oklahoma City University, a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Boston University, and a Certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies.

Music Director: JoAnn Kulesza

JoAnn Kulesza is presently Musical Director of the Opera Theatre Program at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. The Peabody Opera Theatre Program produces between six and ten performances a year, serving between 85 and 100 singers. With her years of experience in the professional world, she provides an important aspect of the aspiring professionals’ training. Well versed in Opera’s vast repertoire, she teaches classes in recitative, repertoire and works with collaborative pianists and conductors at the school.

A life-long lover of choral music, Kulesza worked with the renowned Margaret Hillis at the Chicago Symphony Chorus and as assistant to Chorus Master Philip Morehead at the Chicago Lyric Opera. She was chorus master for the Wolf Trap Opera Company for many years and prepared the chorus for Washington National Opera’s Romeo & Juliet in 2004, under Maestro Bertrand de Billy. She presently conducts the Arundel Vocal Arts Society, a chorus of 35-45 members, in two concerts annually, of a wide variety of repertoire; she is in her eighth year as Music Director of this ensemble. Kulesza’s vast experience also includes work with the Western Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera Center, New York Chamber Ensemble, Washington Opera, Baltimore Opera, and Utah Festival Opera.

Since entering the conducting realm, Kulesza has conducted three world premieres and led as well as played continuo for productions of Mozart, Rossini, and Britten. She has worked with some of the most notable conductors in the field – Loren Maazel, George Manahan, Heinz Fricke, Stephen Lord, Margaret Hillis – and is in demand as a clinician and educator around the country. She made her Opera Omaha debut in February 2011, conducting and playing continuo for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Omaha debut in February 2011, conducting and playing continuo for Mozart’s Don Giovanni. JoAnn also conducts for the Lowveld Chamber Music Association in Nelspruit, South Africa, having premiered there in 2014, returning in May of 2017 to conduct performance of Schubert's Mass in G and Mozart's Requiem. Conducting Carmen in June, 2018, will mark her third collaboration with this organization.

Kulesza earned a Bachelor of Music at Western Michigan University and a Master of Music at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Where in the World is Opera?

Where in the World is Opera

Where in the World is Opera? is a 35-minute interactive program that demonstrates a wide variety of musical vocabulary and introduces students to the world of opera, including where it is found in the United States (and Baltimore) today. The program integrates elements from the World Geography Curriculum by exploring music and culture from many different parts of the globe. Music by Mozart, Massenet, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and more.

Where in the World is Opera? is aimed for students in grades 3-5. The program travelogue begins at your school, then performers pass through Italy, Germany, and France before returning back to the United States, taking students on a musical and cultural journey. Along the way, students are introduced to musical terminology and will be taught to apply it to real opera scene excerpts, written by infamous opera giants like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Giacomo Puccini. Students are immersed in the world of opera during this fun and educational program.

The Story of the Opera

The Mikado’s “Three Little Maids from School” start the program with music and interactive fun, as our singers pick up their traveling backpacks and get prepared to go on a journey. Our first destination is opera’s birthplace: Italy. Here, students learn the Italian terminology that is used universally in music. Students will be able to identify the new terms in a performance of Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro.” Although opera is often done in foreign languages, students will learn to identify the mood shifts and motivations of characters through acting and body language of the singers, demonstrated in the duet from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, “Via resti servita.”

Mozart was multilingual, and his native language was German. The program travels to Germany to see another one of Mozart’s duets. German opera is often recognized by works from Richard Wagner, and his heroic and adventurous music prompts the performers to pick up their backpacks and continue exploring.

The next country visited is France where a very famous fairy tale is set: Cinderella. There are many operatic interpretations of Cinderella, including Massenet’s Cendrillon. One of our singers will reenact the scene in which Cinderella loses her slipper at the ball, all within the lush context of French operatic music.

After a long journey, the program returns to the United States where opera deviated from the European practice and musical theater was born. Everyone loves Cinderella, and we couldn’t leave without hearing the perspective of her angry and simple-minded stepsisters in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Stepsisters’ Lament.”

Where in the World is Opera? can be presented to audiences without prior preparation, but we envision the possibility of curriculum connections in geography and musical terminology. We are happy to send out a teaching guide that can be used in the classroom to prepare students for what they’re about to see.

Creative Team

Where in the World is Opera? is created by masters’ candidates Madeline Huss and Rachel Sandler under the mentorship of Peabody Opera faculty Samuel Mungo, JoAnn Kulesza, and Catrin Davies.

Madeline Huss

Soprano Madeline Huss is a second-year master’s student at Peabody from Stillwater, Minnesota. She is a vocal performance and music theory pedagogy major and studies with Ah Hong. She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in May of 2016 and studied with Peabody graduate Dr. Anne Jennifer Nash. She was a studio artist at SongFest in Los Angeles June 2015, she was a vocalist for New Music on the Point in Leicester, Vermont June 2016, and she was a studio artist at Little Patuxent Opera Institute (LPOI) in Columbia, Maryland in the summer of 2017. She has been a vocalist in six world premieres, including an opera scene, art song, and chamber ensembles. She was the soprano soloist in Peabody’s oratorio performance of Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem last winter. Her opera performances in the past year include the title role of Thomas Whitman’s Sukey in the Dark with Peabody Opera and Miss Titmouse in Edwin Penhorwood’s Too Many Sopranos with LPOI. She is looking forward to singing the cover role of Adina in the Peabody Opera production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore and scenes of Bernstein and Friends.

Rachel Sandler

24 year-old soprano Rachel Sandler has been praised for her ability to “bring life and character to a neglected role.” Sandler’s operatic roles include Zoe in Sukey in the Dark (Peabody Opera/Theatre Project), Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte (Trackside Theatre), First and Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte (NY Lyric Opera Summer Festival/James Madison University) and Cousin Hebe in HMS Pinafore (James Madison University), of which “Gilbert & Sullivan would have been very satisfied” with her interpretation. Maryland theatre guide has described her voice as “mesmerizing and smooth as silk.”

Sandler is currently studying with soprano Ah Hong at the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute (MM 2018 Vocal Performance/Pedagogy). She has received her BM from James Madison University in Vocal Performance, where she studied with Dorothy Maddison. While at JMU, she studied piano and accompanying with Gabriel Dobner.