Billings Arts

The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale presents our season finale, Carmen

BILLINGS, MT - The Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale presents a semi-staged production of the world’s most popular opera, Carmen, Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 pm. Concert Cues with Tom Singer begins at 6:45 p.m. Carmen at the Alberta Bair Theater features the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale and local performers: Bret Weston, Amy Logan, Janie Sutton, Geneva Copeland, Eric Hodgson, Carrie House and NOVA’s Rock Choir, along with national artists: Kristee Haney (Carmen), Christie Conover  (Micaëla), Ben Cleveland (Don José), and Gregory  Gerbrandt (Escamillo.) Carmen is directed by Susan Sommerfeld.

Carmen was written by French composer Georges Bizet and first premiered at Opera-Comique in Paris on March 3, 1875. It is based on a novella by Prosper Mérimée. It wasn’t until after Bizet unexpectedly passed away after its 33rd performance, did it gain popularity for its risky storyline.

Carmen has been adapted onto the silver screen in many variations since 1915. It has also been adapted to ballets, Broadway, and even an ice show in 1990, featuring Katrina Witt and Brian Boitano.

Susan Sommerfeld has been a part of the music and theater community in Billings for many years as a singer, actor, director, and choreographer. Some of her favorite roles include Lady of the Lake in Billings Studio Theater’s Spamalot, as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein the Musical, and as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard with Venture Theatre at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. Her memorable works as a director include: Chicago, Forever Plaid, Les Misérables, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Susan has also been a guest vocal artist with the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. When not at the theater, she spends her time at her glass studio, Kennedy’s Stained Glass. She has a BFA in Musical Theatre from the United States International School of Performing and Visual Arts.

Kristee Haney (Carmen) is a mezzo-soprano and a rising artist in opera, concert, and recital engagements. She makes strong impressions as a versatile performer in the varying genres of opera, oratorio, musical theater, and recital/cabaret repertoire. Haney is known for her performance of Carmen. She has performed throughout North America and Europe, most notably with the New York City Opera.

Christie Conover (Micaëla) is a soprano and a Billings native who has received national attention through esteemed competitions. Conover’s performances of Micaëla have garnered her critical acclaim. She made her international debut with Komische Oper Berlin during the 2015-2016 season. She has performed with symphony orchestras all over the nation, including the Billings Symphony Orchestra & Chorale’s 15-16’s season finale, Resurrection. 

Gregory Gerbrandt (Escamillo) is a baritone who has performed over 70 principal roles with top opera, musical theater, and symphonic organizations on five continents, singing for ambassadors and other officials from all over the world. Gerbrandt has created the lead role in four world premiere operas and is constantly in high demand to perform the prominent standard of Italian, French, and Russian opera.

Ben Cleveland (Don José) is a tenor from Spokane, WA. He has worked as an apprentice artist at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and was an Emerging Artist at Opera New Jersey. He is currently performing with Seattle Opera’s touring production of Cinderella en Espana and recently sang the role of Don Josè in the Pacific Northwest Production of Carmen. Other recent performance credits include: Rodofo in La Bohème, Boris in Katya Kabanova, Sam in Susannah, and Tamino in Di Zauberflöte.

Master Classes will be held on Wednesday, April 18th in Hardin, Thursday, April 19 at the Women’s Prison, and Friday, April 20th at West High School.  Student Specials for Carmen are available by calling 252-3610.

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