The Maid of Orleans

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October 2021

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

The Maid of Orleans

October 1, 7, 9 at 7:30pm
October 3, 2:00pm

 Libretto by the composer
based on Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans

In 2021, OCM will present an operatic rarity – Tchaikovsky’s version of the Joan of Arc story, The Maid of Orleans. Though seldom produced today, Tchaikovsky thought it was his best work. “If this opera won’t be a masterpiece in general,” he wrote, “it will be my masterpiece.”  A sweeping tale in the style of French grand opera, it offers stunning orchestral passages, vibrant choruses, and a heroic role for the young mezzo-soprano playing Joan. 

The Maid of Orleans will be fully staged with orchestra conducted by Music Director Michael Sakir. It will be sung in Russian with English subtitles. The opera will be presented at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. 

October 1, 7, 9 at 7:30pm
October 3, 2:00pm

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

The Maid of Orleans

 Libretto by the composer
based on Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans

Please visit the STAFF page to see bios for the creative and production staff.

Joan of Arc Gillian Lynn Cotter
King Charles VII John Riesen
Agnes Sorel Meredith Lustig
Thibaut Daniel Klein
Dunois Joshua Jeremiah
Lionel Paul La Rosa
The Archbishop Isaiah Musik-Ayala
Raymond Lucas Levy
Bertrand Erik Kroncke
Lead Angel/Ensemble Mary Bonhag
Joan cover/Ensemble Stephanie Doche


Gillian Lynn Cotter (Joan of Arc). Hailed as “impeccable” by Broadway World, award-winning mezzo-soprano Gillian Lynn Cotter is quickly impressing audiences with her strong voice and dynamic presence. Recent roles include Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Opera Louisiane, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Pensacola Opera, Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking with Shreveport Opera and Angelica in the world premiere of A Capacity for Evil with Opera MODO. Upcoming season projects include a debut with Michigan Opera Theater as Vera Lynn in Another Brick in the Wall and role/house debuts with Intermountain Opera Bozeman and as Mezzo soloist in the Durufle Requiem with the Colby Symphony Orchestra. Recent engagements have seen Ms. Cotter performing/covering leading roles with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, the Aspen Opera Center, Opera Ithaca, Pensacola Opera and Fresco Opera. She is thrilled to have her debut with OCM in this role. Ms. Cotter is currently managed by ADA Artists.



John Riesen (King Charles). Opera Today describes this award-winning tenor as “impassioned…and vibrant.” He consistently impresses audiences with his “fantastic, powerful voice” (Texarkana Gazette). Riesen’s growing career boasts a variety of roles in opera, musical theater, recording, and concert. The 2019-20 season saw many house and role debuts including Pirelli in Sweeney Todd with Michigan Opera Theatre and Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate with Intermountain Opera Bozeman. He also returned to two acclaimed roles, as Prince Charming in Cendrillon with Opera Birmingham and Younger Thompson in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied in Atlanta Opera and Urban Arias. Other recent roles include: Roméo et Juliette (Janiec Opera Company), Prince Charmant in Cendrillon (Opera Company of Middlebury), Lensky in Eugene Onegin (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), Alfredo in La Traviata (Gulfshore Opera, Tri-Cities Opera), Younger Thomspon in Glory Denied (Opera Birmingham, Des Moines Metro Opera), Candide in Candide (Chautauqua Opera), and his Lincoln Center debut as the voice of Tony in West Side Story Suite with New York City Ballet. John also released his first studio recording album entitled “What You’d Call a Dream” available on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and iTunes.



Meredith Lustig (Agnes Sorel). Praised for her “radiant soprano” and “outstanding dramatic presence,” Ms. Lustig has established herself as an artist of great versatility and sophistication. Favorite roles include: Blanche DuBois/A Streetcar Named Desire (Opera Company of Middlebury), Gianetta/L’Elisir D’Amore, Cephisia/Orpheus (New York City Opera), Laurie/Oklahoma (Mac-Hayden Theater), Eurydice/Orpheus in the Underworld (Virginia Opera), Fiona/Brigadoon(Gulfshore Opera), Megan/The Whole Truth (American Modern Ensemble), Musetta/La Boheme (Syracuse Opera). Papagena/Magic Flute, Zina/Dark Sisters, Carolina/Il Matrimonio Segreto, Clorinda/Cenerentola (Pittsburgh Opera); Daisy/The Great Gatsby (Aspen Opera Theater), and Bella/An American Tragedy (Glimmerglass). She has held residence at the Ravinia Steans Institute, Caramoor, New York Festival of Song, Town Hall Theatre, Glimmerglass, and Pittsburgh Opera. Symphonic appearances include Candide (Philadelphia Orchestra), Carmina Burana (Erie Philharmonic), Serenade to Music (Chicago Symphony), Bernstein’s Mass (Ravinia Festival, Philadelphia Orchestra), and as a headliner for the Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Steamboat Springs Symphony, The Virginia Arts Festival and Canada’s Centre National Des Arts. Television appearances include The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and PBS Great Performances’ presentation of Mass. She is thrilled to be reunited with her beloved OCM family!



Daniel Klein (Thibaut) has been hailed by the New York Times for his “stentorian bass-baritone” and “unusually dark and steely voice.” Audiences and critics alike have found his performances imaginative, adventurous, and occasionally even downright terrifying. Recent appearances include a “blazingly intense” Caspar in Der Freischütz with Heartbeat Opera, Spencer Coyle in the New York Premier of Benjamin Britten’s Owen Wingrave with the Little Opera Theater of New York, Judge Moriarty in the New York Premier of Huang Ruo’s Bound, and the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff with the International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia, Mexico. Daniel returns to Heartbeat Opera as Don “Donnie” Pizarro in their acclaimed Black Lives Matter Fidelio at the Metropolitan Museum NYC in the fall, and on tour in California and Utah in Spring 2021. Previous roles with OCM include Marcello in La Bohème, Ping in Turandot, Mustafa in L’Italiana in Algeri and Rambaldo in La Rondine.



Lucas Levy (Raymond). Praised by The Wall Street Journal for being “remarkably loud,” American tenor Lucas Levy is gaining recognition for bringing “operatic power” (Tampa Bay Times) to his portrayals, and for being “a joy to
watch”(Broadway World). A native New Englander, Mr. Levy is thrilled to make his debut with Opera Company of Middlebury this season. Recent performance highlights include Falstaff with Opera Omaha, Gianni Schicchi, La traviata, and Les contes d’Hoffmann with St. Petersburg Opera, and Die Zauberflöte with Opera Maine, where Opera News noted his “vocally forward and strong” performanc
An alumnus of the young artist programs of Sarasota Opera, Opera Maine and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he received his Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory, and his Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College. Mr. Levy hails from Lexington, Massachusetts, and currently resides in New York City.



Joshua Jeremiah (Dunois) returns to OCM for his fourth season with the Company, where he was heard in Thaïs (Athanaël), and also the title roles in Macbeth and Gianni Schicchi. Appearances this season include: the title role of Rigoletto with Houston Grand Opera, Amonasro (Aida) with Virginia Opera and Opera Tampa, Melchior (Amahl and the Night Visitors) with On Site Opera, and Lionel (The Maid of Orleans) with New Orleans Opera. Other notable performances include: Horstmayer (Silent Night), Minnesota Opera; Col Von Kalle (Mata Hari), LA Opera; Lassiter (Riders of the Purple Sage), Arizona Opera; Demetrius (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Hawai’i Opera Theater; Rigoletto, Arizona Opera; John Sorel (The Consul), Opera Santa Barbara; Don Pedro (La Périchole), and Deputy Mayor (Anna Nicole), New York City Opera. His recording of the title role in John Musto’s Volpone at Wolf Trap Opera received a Grammy Nomination for Best Opera in 2010.

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Paul La Rosa (Lionel). In 2019 Mr. La Rosa made role and company debuts with Gulfshore Opera (Malatesta in Don Pasquale and Germont in La traviata), with Angel’s Share as Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, and with Fort Worth Opera in El pasado nunca se termina. 2018 saw a return to San Diego Opera as El Payador in Maria de Buenos Aires and his Princeton Festival debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. Highlights from recent seasons include his return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago in The Merry Widow, debuts at Houston Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Opera, and with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Falke in Die Fledermaus, Jud Fry in Oklahoma! at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and a role debut as Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West with Lorin Maazel.



Isaiah Musik-Ayala (The Archbishop). American bass-baritone Isaiah Musik-Ayala returns to OCM, after having appeared in Macbeth in 2016. Known for his “burly and resonant tone” (New York Times), Isaiah recently made his New Amsterdam Opera debut as Phanuel in Hérodiade before singing Colline in New York City Opera’s La Bohème In The Park and then again in Union Avenue Opera’s La bohème. In addition to a dozen roles at Opera San Jose over the course of seven seasons, Isaiah has also performed with Sarasota Opera, Opera Tampa, Savannah Opera, Chautauqua Opera, West Bay Opera, Loft Opera, Opera San Luis Obispo, Tel Aviv Summer Opera, and On Site Opera. Recent highlights include Banquo in Macbeth, Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Escamillo in Carmen, Elmiro in Otello (Rossini), Oroveso in Norma, the French General in the new American opera, Silent Night, and numerous festival and concert appearances. He is an alumnus of Oberlin Conservatory where he studied with the late Richard Miller.



Erik Kroncke (Bertrand) has been described as “engaging… a bass of astounding depth and warm timbre… an important voice and artist…” Erik has performed Philip II (Don Carlo), Enrico VIII (Anna Bolena), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Ramphis (Aida), Mephistopheles (Faust), and Gremin (Eugene Onegin) with Sarasota Opera, Opera San José, Chautauqua Opera, New Jersey Verismo Opera, and Austin Lyric Opera. He has awards from the Gerda Lissner competition (2010), the Liederkranz competition (2008), and the Friedrich Schorr Vocal Competition (2002, 2003). Symphonic and oratorio performances include Sarasota Opera Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony, Korean Philharmonic, and the American Classical Orchestra, as well as appearances in “The Three Basses” concerts. Recently, Erik sang the bass solo in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the National Chorale at Lincoln Center, and the role of Tackleton in the North American premier of Zandonai’s Il Grillo del Focolare with Teatro Grattacielo. He also sang the roles of the King in Aida with Opera Theater of the Rockies and Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Opera St. Petersburg. He premiered Michael Close’s Songs about Animals with the Longmont Symphony. Erik has appeared frequently with Opera Company of Middlebury, most recently as Le Roi in Cendrillon and the Sacristan in Tosca.



The “extraordinary” (Classical Voice N. America) soprano Mary Bonhag (Lead Angel, Ensemble Soprano) is captivating audiences around the country with her “marvelous versatility” and “supple, expressive” voice (San Antonio News). Mary has sung the roles of Princesse and Feu in L’enfant et les Sortilèges, Mother in Amahl and Night Visitors, and created the role of Eve in Evan Premo’s Diaries of Adam and Eve. Locally, Mary sang the role of Grace in Erik Nielsen’s opera A Fleeting Animal in 2015. She sang the “Mother” in the first workshop performances of David T. Little’s opera Dog Days both at Carnegie Hall and at Opera America. She is frequently featured across the country at music festivals including Cactus Pear, Five Boroughs, Stanford Live, and Yellow Barn. For 10 years, she has been co-artistic director of Scrag Mountain Music, organizing chamber music residencies around VT. Mary has presented recitals at Dartmouth, Smith, Goucher, and UVM.  She had fellowships at SongFest and Tanglewood, and appears on Albany Records.



Lauded as “explosively eloquent” (Memphis Flyer), with “fervent, commanding vocal prowess” (San Diego Story), French-American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Doche (rhymes with posh) is in high demand for her “darkly shaded voice.” In 2019, Stephanie reprised her “triumphant” performance as Angelina (La Cenerentola) with both Opéra Louisiane and Opera NEO. From 2018-19 Stephanie was a Handorf Company Artist with Opera Memphis where she performed as Toledo (The Falling and the Rising), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), and Cousin Hebe (H.M.S. Pinafore). Other performances include her “boldly convincing” portrayal of the pants role, Idamante (Idomeneo), as well as Meg March (Little Women), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Mère Marie (Dialogues des Carmélites), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), and Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte). Stephanie has been a featured soloist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Riverdale Choral Arts Society. Stephanie is a native of Rochester, NY.

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

The Maid of Orleans


Libretto by the composer
based on Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans



Joan of Arc (the Maid): Mezzo-Soprano

Charles VII, King of France: Tenor

Agnes Sorel, his Mistress: Soprano

Thibaut, Joan’s Father: Bass

Dunois, a French Soldier: Baritone

Lionel, a Burgundian Soldier: Baritone

The Archbishop: Bass

Raymond, a young man in love with Joan: Tenor

Bertrand, an old peasant: Bass

An Angel Voice: Soprano

A Soldier (Voyn): Bass

Lore, a wounded soldie: Bass


Act I – Joan d’Arc, a humble shepherdess, is torn between the claims of a normal life versus a sense of divine mission. News of two English defeats of French troops and the siege of Orleans decides her. She foretells the death of the English leader, Salisbury, and she leads the people in a prayer for victory and peace. She then bids farewell to her familiar world. A heavenly choir confirms her calling and predicts she will save France.

Act II – French King Charles is demoralized by France’s disastrous defeats and, despite the exhortations of the knight Dunois, wishes for nothing except the love of his mistress, Agnes Sorel. By now Joan has led French troops to a great victory and she comes before the King. Having heard of her victories and how the Virgin appeared to her and revealed her destiny, the King entrusts his armies to her leadership, and she receives the archbishop’s blessing.

Act III – Scene 1 – On the battlefield Joan encounters and defeats the knight Lionel, a French nobleman who had defected to the English. But she now falls in love with him.  Scene 2 – Joan leads the King to his coronation in Rheims Cathedral, but Thibaut, her father, denounces her as an agent of the devil. She refuses to answer his question, ‘Are you pure and holy?’ and all turn against her. She is banished.

Act IV – Scene 1 – Torn between her love for Lionel and her divine mission, Joan meets him, but their joy is shattered by a heavenly chorus condemning her. They are discovered by English soldiers. Lionel dies defending her and she is taken.  Scene 2 – In Rouen Joan is led to the stake. Angels bid her to come to Heaven. 

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

The Maid of Orleans

 Libretto by the composer
based on Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans

Suggested recordings by J. Scott Morrison

The Maid of Orleans on CD

The Maid of Orleans on DVD

YouTube complete performance: from the Bolshoi production of 1993.

YouTube performance of Joan’s first act aria:
‘Farewell, you native fields and forests’
Elena Obraztsova, mezzo: