Gwendolyn colemaN|Professor of voice
Soprano Gwen Coleman has been praised by music critics for possessing a voice of “divine beauty” with “sparkling coloratura” and “impressive high-flying top notes” (Opera News). Her solo concert work includes appearances with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Coleman made her European debut as the soprano soloist for the Klassiche Musikfest’s performances of Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten and Beethoven’s Mass in C at the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria. Her opera role repertoire includes Gilda in Rigoletto, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Blonde in Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, the Governess in Turn of the Screw, Monica in The Medium, and the title role in Cendrillon, among others. Dr. Coleman can be heard on the Newport Classic’s CD recording of Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe and as the leading soprano, Suleika, on Centaur Record’s world-premier recording of Schubert’s Der Graf von Gleichen.
Dr. Coleman is currently an associate professor of voice at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She has served on several summer festival faculties: SongFest at Colburn in Los Angeles, CA; the Spoleto Festival in Italy; the Vianden International Music Festival in Luxembourg; and the Miami/Savannah Choral and Voice Festival.Her vocal students have sung on the some of world’s most illustrious stages from the New York Metropolitan Opera to the stages of Broadway. Dr. Coleman performs and provides vocal master classes throughout the United States and Europe.
Christopher Michel | Professor of VOICE
Lyric baritone Christopher Michel, is a a tenured faculty member at Sam Houson State University. His students’ professional engagements include Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Sarasota Opera and Opera in the Heights, Lone Star Lyric Opera, Syracuse Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. In the last ten years, he has had over 25 finalists in the TEXOMA Regional Competition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In 2014, Professor Michel had two students invited to sing in the highly competitive National Opera Association Aria Competition, which was held in New York City. Professor Michel’s students have pursued graduate studies at such prestigious institutions such as Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, University of Tennessee, University of Houston, University of Alabama and Baylor University.
A highly regarded performer in opera, oratorio, orchestral concerts, and art song, Christopher has appeared on the operatic and concert stages throughout Alabama, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Indiana.
Dean Williamson|Music director & senior coach
Dean Williamson, currently the music director of Nashville Opera, is widely known for
his perceptive and commanding conducting in a variety of repertoire. He was the co-
founder and first music director of the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program and later became the artistic director of Opera Cleveland.
He has conducted at many companies including Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera,
Atlanta Opera, San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company,
Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Des Moines Metro Opera, Lyric Opera of Boston, Opera
Colorado, Opera Cleveland, Chautauqua Opera, Arizona Opera, Kentucky Opera, and
With Nashville Opera, he has recently released studio opera recordings by Michael
Nyman (Naxos) and the world premiere recording of Robert Patterson’s 3 Way (AMR Recordings.) A new recording of Carly Simon’s opera Romulus Hunt will be released in 2022. In the spring of 2022 at Nashville Opera he will conduct new productions of
Rigoletto and Das Rheingold. His video recording of Le Comte Ory with Des Moines
Metro Opera earned an Emmy nomination.
He is a regular judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council and has conducted
and given masterclasses at the University of Southern California, the New England
Conservatory, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, and Northwestern University. In addition,
he has taught at the Accademia Vocale Lorenzo Malfatti in Lucca, Italy. As a pianist, he
has accompanied artists in concerts all around the world and studied with Randolph
Hokanson and Lee Luvisi.
Fabio Menchetti|Collaborative Pianist & Language Coach
A native of Lucca, Italy, Fabio Menchetti serves as Assistant Professor of Piano at Washington State University, while maintaining an active performance career.
For Sheva Collection he recorded Libro di Canti Italiano, a set of solo piano pieces by English composer Peter Seabourne, and Novecento Italiano, featuring music for violin and piano by Italian composers written between the two world wars. He also recorded John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with the CCM Wind Symphony for Klavier Records. His latest chamber music recordings are All Are Welcome (new works for bassoon, oboe, and piano), and an album featuring music for bassoon and piano by Native American composers.
Dr. Menchetti received his Bachelor of Music from Boccherini Conservatory in Lucca, and his Master of Music and Music Education from Puccini Conservatory in La Spezia. After moving to the United States, he received his Master of Arts from Houghton College, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from College-Conservatory Music, University of Cincinnati.
His primary teachers include Pier Narciso Masi, Enrico Stellini, Pietro De Maria, Andrea Lucchesini, William John Newbrough, and Michael Chertock.
BenJamin wayne smith|Artistic director & Acting coach
Stage Director Benjamin Wayne Smith has led new productions ranging from Pergolesi’s La serva padrona to Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. Ben has directed for Seattle Opera's Young Artist Program, Tacoma Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, The Intermountain Opera Association, the Young Artist Program at Pittsburgh Opera, the University of Cincinnati/CCM, Baldwin Wallace University and The Opera Theater of Lucca, Italy. In 2010, Ben finished his tenure as the Resident Assistant Director at Seattle Opera where he worked on eleven productions over two years. He continues to work as an assistant director for Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center where we was honored to work on two productions with Placido Domingo. Other assisting credits include Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Pittsburgh Opera and the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh. Ben is on faculty at the University of Memphis where he produces and directs the operas and teaches acting.