STEVEN DAIGLE, artistic director, is professor of opera and artistic director the Eastman Opera Theatre program at The Eastman School of Music. He has served as part of the artistic staff for more than 300 lyric theater productions, along with calling over 400 professional operatic performances as a production stage manager. Daigle’s experience as a stage director encompasses over 200 titles and a wide range of lyric theater repertoire. Productions and projects include collaborations with legendary Broadway composer Charles Strouse, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Robert Ward, Carlisle Floyd, Jake Heggie, Gene Shear, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, and conductors Louis Lane, Robert Spano, and Evan Whallon. Reviews and articles of Daigle’s work have been published in Opera News, Opera London, American Record Guide, Gramophone, Fanfare, Classical Singer, and Opera Now. As a champion of early American operetta and musical theater, he continues to pursue the preservation of the art form and has received critical acclaim for his commitment to research, reconstruct, and produce neglected musicals of early Broadway.
With Ohio Light Opera, he served as stage manager, assistant director, and general manager under the guidance of company founder James Stuart, and in 1999 was appointed artistic director. His first year with the company was in 1990. At OLO he has called over 300 performances as a stage manager, served on the technical or artistic staff for over 150 productions, and directed over 100 titles, including many American premieres in original versions: Lehár’s Der Zarewitsch (The Zarevitch), Künneke’s Der Vetter aus Dingsda (The Cousin from Batavia), and Kálmán’s Der Zigeunerprimás (Sari), Ein Herbstmanöver (Autumn Maneuvers), Das Veilchen vom Montmartre (The Violet of Montmartre), Der gute Kamerad (A Soldier’s Promise), Marinka, Die Faschingsfee (Miss Springtime), and Der kleine König (The Little King). As artistic director, he has created five performance translations for Kálmán operettas, expanded OLO offerings to include traditional musicals (including those of Kern, Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, Lerner and Loewe, and Rodgers and Hammerstein), and introduced over 50 new titles to the company’s vast and unique repertoire, including works of Benatzky and Stolz, Bock and Harnick, Friml, Leigh, Loesser, Schubert and Berté, Sousa, Styne, Sondheim, and Willson. The company’s unique mission and service to the traditional lyric art form (Viennese, French, and German operetta; Edwardian musicals and Gilbert and Sullivan; early American operetta and musical theater) has been recognized internationally through scholarly publications.
In the past eight years, Eastman Opera Theatre has engaged ten living composers to participate in projects and productions within the program. Composers include: Anthony Davis, Ricky Ian Gordon, Adam Guetell, Jake Heggie, Lori Laitman, Missy Mazzoli, Ben Moore, Kevin Puts, Kate Soper, and Errollyn Wallen.
Steve served on the faculty of Kent State University, and as assistant director and acting director of the Opera Theater program at the Oberlin Conservatory. In the summer of 1998, he served on the faculty of the Oberlin in Italy program in Urbania, Italy. In September 2003, Ohio Light Opera was given an Award of
Future directing engagements include Anthony Davis’ Lear on the 2nd Floor for Eastman Opera Theatre. In May of 2015, Steve received the Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester.
In the summer of 2023, Steve will retire from his position at the Eastman School of Music.
LAURA NEILL has been the executive director of Ohio Light Opera (OLO) since 1998. Prior to that appointment, Ms. Neill was the Business and Box Office Manager. OLO, as the Resident Professional Company of the College of Wooster, is entering its 44th summer season in 2023. Ms. Neill’s primary work is to facilitate OLO’s vision and mission both as an educational component of the College of Wooster and an internationally renowned professional lyric theater company. Ms. Neill works closely with the Wooster community and greater Wayne County to celebrate and promote the company’s annual summer season.
Ms. Neill works full year with the company and oversees the budget, marketing, fundraising, and personnel, and has overall responsibility for the daily operations of the company. She works closely with the artistic and music directors of OLO and maintains a relationship with the Ohio Light Opera Board of Directors and her colleagues at the College of Wooster.
Ms. Neill received her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Wooster and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota.
MICHELLE FRAZIER, business & box office manager, has been successful in her business career. Michelle is a 1994 graduate of Mount Union College, where she studied accounting and business administration. Michelle spent the majority of her professional career in the Consumer-Packaged goods industry in various capacities. During those years, Michelle worked in sales and marketing with Kraft Foods, Inc. and The J.M. Smucker Company where she was the manager in category development. Working as business & box office manager for OLO not only allows Michelle to work in a field that she loves, but it also allows her to utilize her previous business experience. She works closely with the executive, artistic and music directors of the company and maintains a long-standing relationship with the Wooster community.
MICHAEL BOROWITZ, music director, is currently in his 13th year as associate professor and music director of the Turner-Fischer Center for Opera at LSU, where this season he conducted performances of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Hagen’s Orson Rehearsed, and Glass’ Orphée. As artistic director with Opéra Louisiane, he led performances of Bolcom/Campbell’s Lucrezia, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann. His recordings include Offenbach’s Bluebeard, Kern’s The Cabaret Girl, Herbert’s Mlle. Modiste (also released on DVD), Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore and Patience, a DVD of Kálmán’s The Duchess of Chicago, and with soprano Lisette Oropesa, a recital entitled Aux filles du désert. He was artistic director of Nevada Opera for nine years and music director for Ohio Light Opera for five.
WILSON SOUTHERLAND, associate music director, is in demand throughout the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. He made his conducting debut to high acclaim with Philip Glass’ Les enfants terribles at North Carolina Opera in 2012, and was the principal conductor for Eastman Opera Theater’s production of She Loves Me in 2013. After first appearing as rehearsal pianist at OLO from 2006-08, Wilson has traveled the world: he served as a pianist, coach, assistant conductor, and recitalist at Opera Africa in Pretoria, South Africa, the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, Les Azuriales Opera in France, AIMS Graz in Austria, Si parla, Si canta in Italy, and The Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman. He was one of 24 singer/pianist duos worldwide chosen to compete in the Wigmore Hall International Art Song Competition in London. Stateside, Wilson was a principal coach for Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program, as well as an associate conductor/pianist at Opera Omaha, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Birmingham, Opera Memphis, Spoleto USA, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. For six years Wilson was the senior coach and primary pianist under Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival, and he went on to accompany the esteemed conductor-violinist in recital at the Kennedy Center. A former faculty member of Vanderbilt University, Wilson was chosen to perform on Juilliard’s Vocal Arts Honors Recital in Alice Tully Hall. He was the associate conductor, head coach, and language specialist for La rondine, featuring Angela Gheorghiu, at The New Israeli Opera. In 2016 Wilson joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music as assistant professor of opera, where he conducted the revised world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness in 2017. Beginning in 2019, Wilson has led the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus as artistic director. He holds degrees in piano from Vanderbilt University and The Juilliard School.
JACOB ALLEN, assistant artistic director, is honored to return for a 16th season with OLO. As a director and performer, Jacob has worked extensively throughout the Midwest and New England; recent productions include The Wedding Singer, West Side Story, Oklahoma!, Titanic, Chess, Fiddler on the Roof, Children of Eden, Phantom of the Opera, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Bat Boy, The Winter’s Tale, and She Loves Me. OLO directing credits include Hello Dolly!, The Student Prince, South Pacific, The Pajama Game, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Guys and Dolls, and 2011’s “Triple Bill.” OLO veterans may remember Jacob as Frosch in Die Fledermaus, Hale Underwood in Oh, Lady! Lady!!, Mordred in Camelot, The Prince in Jubilee, Horace Gripps in The Cabaret Girl, Benny in The Desert Song, and Jimmy Jack John Bondy in The Duchess of Chicago. Jacob, a native of Oxford, ME, serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Memphis. He holds performance degrees in acting and voice from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and his graduate degree in stage direction from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under OLO artistic director Steven Daigle. As a teacher, he is fascinated by the challenges faced by young singers in their development as theatrical performers and is dedicated to the integration of acting and singing.