Divaria Productions is thrilled to be returning to Bay Street with LIVE OPERA for the 9th consecutive year, after presenting the first ever live opera at the theatre in 2015 with La Traviata. On October 14th, Divaria will present JOAN OF ARC: the opera, a multidisciplinary project featuring music from both Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orleans and Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco as well as text from Bernard Shaw's St. Joan on its 100th anniversary and original coverage from Joan's trial in the 15th century. The production will star international opera singers including tenor Victor Starsky of New York City Opera and San Francisco Opera, Michael Nansel of New York City Opera as well as top caliber actors including the talented La Rivers as Joan of Arc and Broadway veteran Michael Rudko as Bishop Cauchon. The production will be directed by J.A. Diaz, musically conducted by Sergio Martinez Zangroniz and feature members of the New Asia Chamber Orchestra as well as a local ensemble of supporting actors. In the annals of history, Joan of Arc is seen as a shining star--- to Catholics, Protestants, traditionalists, feminists, the right, and the left. People from all walks of life are moved by the story of a woman who led an army to rescue Orléans from a violent siege, brought about the coronation of the Dauphin of France, and valiantly defended herself when she was condemned to death. In a time where our world is becoming increasingly polarized, sharing the story of a figure who unites so many different viewpoints can help provide a vision for a more peaceful future.
LA RIVERS (JOAN OF ARC - Actress)) With a great love for wild plays and skilled writers, La Rivers is thankful to Divaria Productions for the introduction to Opera and Bay Street Theatre in such an historical production. Rivers embraces storytelling by bringing a heightened self-awareness to the acting experience in an open, playful, and collaborative way. Although always in development, Rivers received formal training at the Yale School of Drama Acting Conservatory, LAByrinth Theatre Company, and is currently enrolled at The Juilliard School. Rivers is grateful to be working under the Direction of J.A. Diaz and with such renowned artists. Much appreciation to the ensemble cast for sharing their intuition, imagination, and skill. La Rivers is a New York based actor and a member of SAG-AFTRA. http://www.imdb.me/larivers Instagram: @lariversactor
Hailed by Opera News as “delightful,” ASHLEY GALVANI BELL (jOAN OF ARC - soprano) most recently made her debut with ABAO Bilbao Opera as Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte, sang the title role in Madame Butterfly with both Boheme Opera New Jersey & Daytona Beach Symphony Society, Mozart's Exultate Jubilate with Orchestra UNIMI in Milan and Violetta in La Traviata, Soprano Soloist in Zemlinksy's Lyrische Symphonie and the title role in the world premiere of Penelope's Dream, all with the festival Musica en Villafranca, Spain. 2022 included her debut at the Teatro de Maestranza in Seville Spain with as Violetta in La Traviata, Mimi with Opera Modesto Soprano Soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with both Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid & originating the title role in the world and U.S. premiere of the opera Klara by Pedro Halffter in Spain and at Harvard University. Ms. Bell is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University and speaks five languages fluently. Upcoming performances include Madama Butterfly with Teatro Lirico D'Europa and the title role in Klara at Teatro Perez Galdos in Gran Canaria. www.ashleygalvanibell.com
MICHAEL RUDKO (BISHOP CAUCHON-actor) Michael Rudko has appeared in a wide range of classical and new plays on Broadway and Off-Broadway as well as regionally and internationally. He is one of the few actors to have performed Shakespeare at London’s Globe, the Old Vic, the ancient Greek theater in Epidaurus, and El Paso, Texas. Most recently he completed shooting on the film, The Bitcoin Executor. He is a graduate of Yale and Juilliard, where he also teaches.
MICHAEL NANSEL (BISHOP CAUCHON- baritone) is an award-winning singer and actor. Between Opera and Musicals, Mr. Nansel has over 80-roles to his credit. He was the Wichita Grand Opera Singer of the Year in 2012 and was the dual winner in 2003 of the Washington Area Theatre Community Honors for Outstanding lead actor in a musical and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical. He has also twice been a member of Casts nominated for Helen Hayes Awards. His voice has been described as “stentorian”, “rich” with “great vocal and emotional power” & reviewers have also remarked that he “communicates deep humanity”, can be “tender and anguished” & is “the top banana”. Mr. Nansel possesses a diverse repertoire ranging from the comedic Figaro to Escamillo. Among his most widely acclaimed roles are the Di Luna, Iago (Otello), Figaro, Danilo (The Merry Widow), and the Title Character in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
RON MENZEL (Dauphin Charles - Actor) Broadway: Les Liaisons Dangereueses (Booth Theatre), Parisian Woman (Hudson Theatre). Regional: Playmakers Rep: Galileo in Life of Galileo, Guthrie Theatre: 10 productions, including Pericles/Pericles and Vito Marcantonio/The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures(World Premiere), Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, South Coast Rep, Geva Theatre, City Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Mixed Blood Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huldufolk
Film/TV: NCIS Hawaii, NCIS NOLA, Imprisoned, Crypto, Anonymous Content, Vernie, Fall into Me, Elementary, Blindspot, Numb3rs.
VICTOR STARSKY (tenor- Dauphin Charles) A native of Richmond Hill New York, tenor Victor Starsky is a star on the rise. Of his Don José in Carmen, Opera Today writes “Starsky's Don José is terrifying and compelling - a voice that performs vocal acrobatics with strength and beauty that remains undiminished through his final line." Starsky received tremendous acclaim for his debut as Radamés in Verdi’s Aïda at the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater this past summer, where he simultaneously debuted the role of George Gibbs in Rorem’s Our Town. Starsky is singing his debut as Romeo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette with New York City Opera this September. Other roles performed include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly Long Island Opera, The Duke Rigoletto (role debut) Modesto Opera, Alfredo in La Traviata in Narni, Italy, Il Postiglione in Fanciulla del West (2017) and Rodolfo in La Boheme with New York City Opera in (2018). Starsky’s Carnegie Hall debut was in 2019 as tenor soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Other highlights: Tony in West Side Story with Opera North, and The Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass conducted by Maurice Press at the Colden Auditorium in Queens. A participant in 2019’s Merola Program, he was a 2020 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and awarded the Shoshana Foundation’s prestigious Richard F. Gold Career Grant.
JAN MIZUSHIMA (INQUISITOR) is an actor, founder & artistic director of Plug In Theater Company and produced shows in Tokyo & NYC since 2003. Wrote & directed musical show Music in Me in 2010. Her credits are in New York on stage and in films. Currently working on a TV movie SPIRIT BOX. Studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of theater, Susan Batson Studio with Roberta Wallach & Karl Bury Studio. She is thrilled and excited to be working at The Bay Street Theater Stage with Divaria Productions!
LIANA S. AFUNI (STEWARD) is a performer, writer, and Matchmaker (by day) living in NYC. Over this past year, she has been busy filming and developing a digital series titled White Arab Problems based on her solo show that was performed at numerous comedy venues in NYC. She is happy to be gracing The Bay Street Theater Stage with Divaria productions once more. For more information and to follow the madness: @lafuni. www.lianaafuni.com
PRODUCTION TEAM BIOS
Winner in 20 international awards in 2021 including Best documentary and Best director for his biopic “Rival Queens,” J.A. Diaz (Director) was director of the world premiere of the opera “Klara”, in Spain and in United States. He also produced and organized the world premiere of the chamber version of Beethoven´s 9th Symphony, by Pedro Halffter. Since 2011, Mr. Diaz has worked as stage director for Divaria Productions in New York. He is CEO of Sergei Producciones Líricas, He also organizes the festival “Semana Lírica de Logroño”, His work has been recognized by renowned critics such as Opera Wire who called his adaptation of La Voix Humaine “’a magnificent adaptation of an operatic masterpiece” and by Scherzo for his film Rival Queens which was hailed as “a documentary that will entertain and delight lovers of both opera and history.”
Hailed by La Rioja for the “surprising freshness of his interpretation..which contributed to much of the excellence of this performance SERGIO MARTINEZ ZANGRONIZ (Musical Director/Pianist obtained a Professional Piano Degree with highest honors from Logroño Conservatory, while simultaneously musically directing both Bellini’s I Capuleti i Montecchi & Purcell’s Come, ye Sons of Art. In 2021 he conducted “La voix humaine” at Riojaforum (Logroño) & in 2022, “La Traviata” at the Círculo Logroñés. He is currently completing both Grado Superior in Conducting & Grado Superior Interpretation specializing in Harpsichord at the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Aragón. He has performed concerts as both pianist and conductor at Zaragoza’s Eduardo del Pueyo Auditorium and "Riojaforum"; as a harpsichordist at Logroño’s Semana de Musica Antigua; & as an organist with the Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Currently, he is the director of the Enarmonía de Zaragoza Choir & the Andalán Chamber Orchestra. He also maintains a close relationship with New York’s Divaria Productions, whose documentary Rival Queens has already received more than twenty awards at festivals globally.