OperaFest Cast Biographies

Matthew Curran has garnered attention internationally with his broad range of repertoire and strong physical presence.  Critics have described him as having “the voice of a poet,” and a sound “that is confident and comes with a twinkle.” Mr. Curran has focused on the core bass repertoire such as Sarastro, Colline, Figaro, Frère Laurent, Sparafucile and Gremin, while actively pursuing contemporary and lesser-known works such as Britten’s Gloriana, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Rape of Lucretia, Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon, Daron Hagen’s Shining Brow, Lowell Lieberman’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, and Christopher Berg’s Cymbeline.  He has also been a regular singer with American Opera Projects in numerous works in development as well as being a resident singer for their Composer and the Voice workshop for three seasons. He has performed with Atlanta Opera, Seattle Opera, Zürich Opera, Opera New Jersey, New Orleans Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Central City Opera, Skagit Opera, Washington East Opera, Center City Opera Theater, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Castleton Festival, American Symphony Orchestra, and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra among others.

Kirk Dougherty, tenor, has a vibrant career in concert and opera in the United States. Acclaimed by local critics, Operapulse, Opera Magazine UK and Opera News for his “exceptionally beautiful tenor”, “ringing clarity”, “fine acting” and “riveting top”, his vast tenor repertoire comprises over 30 tenor roles. As a versatile singer and actor, Kirk is at home in opera ranging from Mozart, Bellini, and Puccini, to 20th-century works, such as Britten’s title role in Albert Herring and Conrad Susa’s Transformations. He has sung in such iconic venues as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall as a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem. Besides his engagement with the DFO, other summer performances include the roles of Tamino in Salt Marsh Opera’s The Magic Flute, Pinkerton in Loon Opera’s Madama Butterfly, and Rodolfo in the Belleayre Music Festival’s production of La boheme.

American Baritone, Nathan Herfindahl has been praised across the globe for his “robust baritone,” “power, flexibility, and sensitivity,” and for his “wonderful baritone that blossoms beautifully.” In 2007, Nathan was personally selected by Plàcido Domingo to join the prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera, (WNO) which he completed in 2009.  While a member of this distinguished program Nathan performed the role of Ping (Turnadot) to which Tim Smith of Opera News wrote “Nathan Herfindahl (Ping) was especially compelling for his burnished vocalism.”  Other roles Mr. Herfindahl performed at WNO include: Harlekin (Ariadne Auf Naxos), Baron Douphol (La Traviata), Georgio Germont (La Traviata),Schaunard (La Bohème), Masetto (Don Giovanni), and the Father (Hansel and Gretel).   Mr. Herfindahl has performed, on numerous occasions, in Beijing, China with Placido Domingo and was a personal favorite of Dame Kiri te Kanawa and Frederica von Stade while a member of the Solti Accademia di Bel Canto in Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy.  Nathan has performed with leading conductors and directors from around the world, including; Placido Domingo, Valery Gergiev, Dan Ettinger, Emmanual Villaume, William Kentridge, John Pascoe, and Leonard Slatkin.

Andrew Fleser, pianist and vocal coach, has performed as a soloist and accompanist throughout the United States and Europe. Andy holds a D.M.A. degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Minnesota, a M.M. degree in Piano Accompanying and Coaching from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and a B.M. degree in Piano Performance from Aquinas College. A dedicated and active performer in the Twin Cities, Andy’s interests and abilities transcend period and genre. As a devoted performer of contemporary music, he performs regularly with Renegade Ensemble, a Twin Cities-based new music group. Dedicated to the 
art of the interpretation of vocal music, Andy is an avid opera and musical theatre coach, performing in numerous vocal recitals each year. He is also a co-founder of the opera company Dead Composers Society, whose most recent production, Stephen Houtz’s Two Short Operas, played to consistently sold-out audiences at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Andy has served on the faculties of Hamline University and Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI), and in addition to his duties at McNally Smith College of Music, he is the Music Director of Valley Community Presbyterian Church in Golden Valley, MN. Andy has also served as Musical Director for the University of Minnesota Department of Theatre and Dance, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and the Minnesota History Theatre’s production of The Christmas Schooner.

Nathan Herfindahl has been praised across the globe for his “robust baritone,” “power, flexibility, and sensitivity,” and for his “wonderful baritone that blossoms beautifully.”  In 2007 Nathan was selected, personally by Plàcido Domingo, to join the prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera which he completed in 2009.  While a member of this distinguished program Nathan portrayed, among others, the role of Ping (Turandot) to which Tim Smith of Opera News wrote, “Nathan Herfindahl (Ping) was especially compelling for his burnished vocalism.”  Nathan has performed leading roles at opera companies across the country including compelling portrayals of; Germont (La Traviata), Marcello (La Bohème), Rigoletto (Rigoletto), Gianni Schicchi (Gianni Schicchi), and the Father (Hansel and Gretel). In addition to the Washington National Opera, Nathan has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, Opera dé Monte Carlo, Duluth Festival Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra.

Timothy James, tenor, found his passion for singing at the age of 12 with the Metropolitan Boys Choir. Since then he has been seen on stage with the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Co. as Captain Fitzbattleaxe in Utopia, Nanki Poo in The Mikado, and Prince Hilarion in Princess Ida. In Geneva Eschweilers opera immersion workshop he performed the roles or Ricky in Again and The Prince in The Goose Girl. He has also been in the chorus of Skylark Opera’s productions of Desert Song, Merry Widow, and Bitter Sweet and Minnesota Opera’s production of La cenerentola, and the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night. Most recently you have seen him perform here at DFO’s Opera Caberet. Mr. James is a cantor/section leader at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Downtown Minneapolis. In addition being selected as a winner in the “Kenwood Masters Aria and Concerto Competition” he placed first in the “Thursday Musical College Advanced Voice Competition in 2010.”  In 2010 & 2011 Timothy was featured as a guest solo artist in Tatyana Dikareva’s Russian Seasons program. With Sonomento, Timothy performed the tenor solo in Handel’s Messiah. He has also sung with CORO! where he has been able to perform opera arias and ensembles in different venues around the metro.

Linh Kauffman, soprano, has appeared across the United States in oratorio, opera, new music and musical theater. She recently made her Latin American debut as Melia in Mozart’s Apollo et Hyacinthus at the Teatro Nacional de Panama. She was a festival artist the Oregon Bach Festival, soloing under Maestro Helmuth Rilling in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and lecture concerts of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, which were filmed for an upcoming multimedia project. Highlights of recent seasons include solos with Minnesota Orchestra (Arvo Pärt’s Como cierva sedienta under the baton of maestro Osmo Vänskä), the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (McMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross), and the Richmond Symphony (St. Matthew Passion). She recently toured Germany as the choral soloist in Sven-David Sandstrom’s Messiah at the Rheingau Festival, Berlin Philharmonie, and on German radio. She also appeared with the Festival Ensemble Stuttgart in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and in Haydn’s Heiligmesse, which was recorded and released on the Hänssler Classics label. She has twice been a young artist at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, working with Ton Koopman on Handel choral works and Maestro Rilling on Haydn’s Creation. She performed Tarik O’Regan’s new cantata The Ecstasies Above with Minnesota’s Alchemy Ensemble, the Angel in Respighi’s Lauda per la Natività del Signore and Stravinsky’s Mass with the Bach Chamber Players of St. Paul, and Carmina Burana with the Oratorio Society of Minnesota.

Gerry Schmidt, baritone, has sung as a soloist in Haydn’s Paukenmesse, The Messiah, Carmina Burana, Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Faure’s Requiem, and in Britten’s Cantata Misericordium.  His opera credits include Cascada in Opera on the James’ The Merry Widow, and Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata, Alcindoro with Duluth Festival Opera’s La Bohème and Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata, Aeneas in MacPhail Center for Music’s production of Dido and Aeneas, and Prince Yamadori in a local studio production of Madame Butterfly.  He has been studying voice with Craig Fields for the past 6 years.

Holly Sorensen, mezzo soprano,  is known for her rich, colorful, and expressive timbre. A gifted singing actor with great versatility, Ms. Sorensen was described as having, “a grand time!….dispensing attitude with relish and producing some impressively chilling tones” – Opera News.  Most recently, The Tampa Bay Daily Loaf wrote,” a creamy mezzo that soars lusciously and is breathtaking in her cruelty”, following her debut as Dalila in Samson et Dalila with St. Ptersburg Opera. Ms. Sorensen performs a wide variety of repertoire, ranging from dramatic leading mezzo roles, to comic Rossini.  Some of her other stage credits include, the title role in Carmen, The Mother – Hansel and Gretel, Suzuki – Madame Butterfly,  La Prima Donna – Salieri’s  Prima la Musica poi le Parole,  Pitti Sing – The Mikado,  The Secretary – The Consul,  Sorceress –  Dido and Aeneas , Prince Orlofsky – Die Fledermaus, The Princess Aunt – Suor Angelica, and Giovanna –  Rigoletto . Highlights from various scenes programs include Isabella –  L’Italiana in Algeri,  Augusta –  Ballad of Baby Doe, Charlotte –  Werther,  Mallika – Lakme, Mrs. Lovett –  Sweeney Todd, and Mrs.Grose –  Turn of the Screw. Some of her operatic Performance venues include, Utah Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Bronx Opera, Utah Lyric Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera,  Opera in the Ozarks, Ardamore Chamber Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Dicapo Opera, Boston Classical Orchestra, and The Greenwich Pops Symphony.

Victoria Vargas, mezzo soprano, recently completed her Masters of Music at the  Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Mark Oswald. Some of her previous roles include Marcellina with Ash Lawn Opera and Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance, The Witch in Hansel and Gretel,  Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, and Euryclea in Faure’s rarely performed work Penelope. Miss Vargas has been an apprentice with the Sarasota Opera and was just a studio artist at Chautauqua Opera where she received the Chautauqua Opera Guild Studio Artist award. She is currently a resident artist at Minnesota Opera and will be covering the role of Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and singing Tisbe in Cenerentola, Anna in Maria Stuarda, Flora in Traviata and Nellie in Wuthering Heights.

Amy Wolf, lyric-coloratura soprano, received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Minnesota. She has received awards for her singing from the Schubert Club, National Association of Teachers of Singing, The Thursday Musicale, SAI Competition and the Phi-Beta Competition. She has appeared as an ensemble artist with Minnesota Opera and as an Apprentice Artist with Utah Opera. She has appeared as a featured soloist in Opera Cabaret with Duluth Festival Opera and Opera on the James; as a soprano soloist in Carmina Burana and Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Macalester Festival Chorale; Handel’s Messiah with the Lynchburg College Choral Union; Faure Requiem, Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem, Carmina Burana and Handel’s Messiah with Sonomento.  Her opera roles include The Second Spirit in The Magic Flute with the University of Minnesota; Sophie in Masterclass with Park Square Theatre; Miss Silberklang in Mozart’s The Impresario; Nella in Gianni Schicchi with Anoka Civic Opera; Musetta in La Boheme; Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with Duluth Festival Opera; Valencienne in The Merry Widow and Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Opera on the James.

Information about Artistic Director Craig Fields is available by clicking here.