Mary has produced and stage-managed all operas and events for the Opera Company of Middlebury since its first season in 2004. She particularly enjoyed OCM’s EUGENE ONEGIN in 2013 (having majored in Russian at MIddlebury College), and is looking forward to THE MAID OF ORLEANS in October 2021. Since 1999, Mary has produced, stage managed, or otherwise assisted with over 50 Middlebury Community Players’ shows (serving on that Board since 2003), as well as numerous productions and events at Town Hall Theater, where she volunteers as the Resident Production Manager. Mary retired from her day job “managing” Mary Hogan School (1988-2016), which has given her more time for opera and theater.
Artistic Director and Set Designer
Doug Anderson is currently the Artistic Director of Town Hall Theater, Inc. (having been Executive Director until July 2018). Directing projects include all of OCM’s productions starting with Carmen in 2004 through Cendrillon and Tosca in 2019, and Completing the Picture and Candide in 20-21; Forever Plaid, Smokey Joe’s Café, Falsettos and Hands on a Hardbody for Town Hall Theater; Falsettos, Company, Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, The Wild Party, Urinetown, Hairspray, Into the Woods, Les Miserables, Ragtime, Chicago, City of Angels, Cabaret, Sunday in the Park with George, and The Light in the Piazza for Middlebury College; Shirley Valentine for the Middlebury Actors Workshop and Vermont Stage Company; several musicals for the Middlebury Community Players, most recently The Music Man and Funny Girl; and workshops of new musicals at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Cleveland Playhouse. In a prior life, he was head writer on the CBS daytime drama, Guiding Light. In January 2007, he directed and co-wrote RiddleLikeLove (with a side of ketchup), which appeared off-Broadway at the Ensemble Studio Theater. Doug lives in East Middlebury with his wife Debby.
Conductor: Candide, Completing the Picture, Cendrillon, A Streetcar Named Desire and Il Trittico
Music Director Michael Sakir has been praised for his “artistic authority,” “fluidity of expression,” and “great delicacy of feeling.” He serves as Interim Artistic Director of Intermountain Opera Bozeman and Music Director of the Opera Company of Middlebury. He recently completed his fourth and final season as Music Director of Opera Memphis, with whom he was deeply involved in the company’s groundbreaking civic practice programs, community partnerships, and commissioning projects. Recent guest conducting engagements include Seattle Opera, Brevard Music Festival, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Orlando, Eugene Opera, Northwestern University, American Opera Projects, Opera in the Ozarks, and Opera North. He has held music staff positions with Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Boston. Sakir holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Boston Conservatory. He was a participant in the 2017 OPERA America Leadership Intensive. He is a native of Northern California.
Editor & Audio Engineer, Candide and Completing the Picture
Tim is a Producer, Director, Editor, Composer, Pilot, Audio Engineer, and Inventor who grew up wanting to be a rock star. Playing music and listening to others play was his passion—everything from Jazz, Classical, and Reggae; to Rock, Electronic, and Funk. Although he did lead a band for a few years, it was the audio engineering side of it that excited him most. He ventured to Hollywood and studied Music, Theater, and Audio Engineering, where he then served as studio tech and recording engineer for composer Joel Goldsmith, most known for scoring the TV series, Stargate SG-1. Under his wing, Tim honed his skills as recording engineer, composer, and computer tech. In 2001, he founded Projection Films and began making short films, working as a production sound mixer and boom operator, and flying model helicopters with cameras strapped to them. Since relocating to Vermont in 2007, he has produced and directed over 20 short films, made dozens of videos, commercials, and graphic animations, while continuing to compose music and work as an audio engineer. As an amateur machinist and hobby inventor, Tim enjoys designing and building new filmmaking tools and “flying cameras.” Visit Tim’s website for Projection Films at: Projectionfilms.com
Guest Conductor, Candide, Tosca, L’Elisir d’Amore and The Magic Flute
Jeffrey Rink returns to the Opera Company of Middlebury, having at short notice conducted OCM’s production of The Magic Flute in October 2016. He is the recipient of the Jacopo Peri Award for outstanding contributions to the art of opera and served for eleven seasons as Music Director of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. A production of La Bohème he led with the Maryland Opera Theatre was praised by the Washington Post as “good as any Bohème you are likely to see this side of the Metropolitan Opera or Covent Garden.” Mr. Rink formerly served as Music Director of Concert Opera Boston where he made significant contributions to opera in concert version, including performances of Attila, Carmen, Faust, Samson et Dalila, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Turandot, Otello, Macbeth, Nabucco, La Traviata and Mefistofele. He conducted a “World-Class Concert Otello,” said the Boston Globe and was called “Boston’s pre-eminent Verdi conductor” by the Boston Phoenix.
In addition to this production of Tosca Mr. Rink’s upcoming performances include appearances with the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Amadeus Orchestra and Tokyo Oratorio Society as well as concerts with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, the Orquesta Filarmónica de Boca del Río and the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. In the 2003 and 2004 seasons he served as a cover conductor for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, assisting James Levine, James Conlon, Hans Graf, Robert Spano, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Sir Colin Davis and Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
Jeffrey Buettner is the Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Middlebury College, where he conducts the College Choir, directs and performs with the Collegium, and teaches courses in conducting and ensemble vocal music. He is co-founder/music director of the Middlebury Bach Festival, and conducted the Opera Company of Middlebury production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 2015, and Handel’s Esther with the Bach Festival in 2017. He has conducted at the New York Summer Music Festival and in choral festivals in the Midwest and Northeast. Dr. Buettner has traveled to Ukraine for research in Romani music on several occasions since 1999, and as a Fulbright Scholar to Kharkiv State University of Arts in 2010 where he conducted the University Choir. He has presented at national and international conferences, including Romani vocal music (“Gypsy Choirs”) of Ukraine and Russia and his study of Handel’s Esther (2018). He holds a DMA from Michigan State University, MM from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and BM from St. Olaf College.
Artistic Director, Young Artists Program
Mezzo-soprano Dawn Pierce is a native of Olean, New York, and an assistant professor of voice at Ithaca College. Praised as both an exceptional performer and an empowering teacher, Ms. Pierce is devoted to promoting a deeper understanding of artistry and self-expression. Reviewers laud her as “vocally impressive and dramatically convincing,” while students describe her teaching as “creative,” “energetic,” and “inspiring.” On the operatic stage, she recently performed Charlotte in Werther with Mobile Opera, Carmen in Carmen with the Southern Ilinois Music Festival, Olga in Eugene Onegin with Opera Carolina and Opera Company of Middlebury, and Madelon and Bersi in Andrea Chenier with Nashville Opera. Learn more about Ms. Pierce at: www.dawnpierce.com.
Costume and Graphics Designer
Debby first designed costumes for the Middlebury Community Players’ production of Chicago, followed by the country-western version of Twelfth Night. She has been costume designer for all of OCM’s 16 seasons, as well as designing the posters, program covers and other publicity materials. Debby learned early on that if she wanted to see her husband—the director—she had better join the production team. Her day job is Box Office Manager for Middlebury College.
Mary Jane Austin
Pianist, Chorus Master and Vocal Coach
Mary Jane Austin is enjoying a rich musical life in Vermont and abroad, where her interests range from recital work and full-scale opera productions to teaching and choral conducting. She has been enjoying her post as conductor of the Mad River Chorale since 2018 after a long tenure as a collaborative pianist for the organization. Discovering a love for opera while studying with Claudia Pinza, Maurizio Arena, Enza Ferrari, and Warren Jones, she began working at the Italian opera program EPCASO shortly thereafter. She is principal keyboardist of the Vermont Symphony, and in 2016 she was awarded the title of “Honorary Conductor” by the VSO. She especially enjoys being the rehearsal pianist for the OCM, and also regularly collaborates with TURNmusic, Eleva Chamber Players, and Vermont Virtuosi. She co-founded the Vermont Italian Opera Intensive with bass Erik Kroncke, and together they direct opera and operettas at the Unadilla Theatre in Calais every summer, and produce the outdoor State House concert series, new this summer. She is currently on the faculties of Middlebury College, Dartmouth and Northern Vermont University. She is also the vocal coach for the Youth Opera Workshop, organist at the Waterbury Congregational Church, and rehearsal pianist for the Handel Society and the South Burlington Community Chorus. She was the rehearsal pianist for Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra’s production of La Traviata, and recently accompanied OCM’s touring productions of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore and Puccini’s Tosca. She led the pit in performances of Middlebury College’s production of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, and this past January conducted Middlebury College’s production of The Light in the Piazza.
Neil’s lighting is familiar to OCM’s audiences, including productions of A Little Night Music, La Bohème, The Barber of Seville, The Pearl Fishers, Thaïs, Eugene Onegin, L’Italiana in Algeri, La Traviata, Dido and Aeneas, Macbeth, The Magic Flute, Il Trittico, L’Elisir d’Amore and Cendrillon. Neil received his BFA in theatrical design from Ithaca College. By day, he is a Managing Consultant with Navigant Consulting.
Bill Friml has been part of OCM’s technical side from the beginning and has constructed sets and developed technical solutions for most of the productions from Carmen in 2004 through A Streetcar Named Desire and the Vermont tour of L’Elisir d’Amore in 2018, and several OCM concert performances. He has also been involved in set design and production for the Middlebury Community Players over many years, some recent highlights being Funny Girl, The King and I, and The Music Man. By day, Bill provides technical support of another kind for Senix, a maker of ultrasonic sensors. He lives in New Haven with his wife Ellie and family.
Technical Director, Cendrillon
Peter has been involved in set-building and other technical support for OCM since The Pearl Fishers. He has also done set construction for the Middlebury Community Players and other local companies since 1966, and has partnered with his wife Mary Kay on many theatrical projects over the years. Peter is currently the Facilities Manager at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
Elinor Steele Friml
Elinor Steele Friml has worn many hats in theater and the arts in Middlebury and beyond. She has designed over 30 sets for the Middlebury Community Players since 1983 and has worked as Scenic Artist for many OCM productions. She is an award-winning designer/weaver of contemporary tapestries for home, corporate and healthcare settings nationwide. She currently serves as Town Hall Theater Box Office Manager and Jackson Gallery Director.
Kate Tilton has enjoyed fabricating, finding and finagling props for several shows from The Pearl Fishers through Tosca with OCM; The Music Man, Still Life, Spamalot with Middlebury Community Players; and Richard the Third and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Middlebury Actors Workshop. She recently had her directorial debut with Black Comedy. She serves on the Boards of Directors for MCP and Town Hall Theater. Kate is fond of learning about opera while “propping up the show” from behind scenes.