Our guest artists for May 13, 2016 Performance of ‘Night at the Opera’:

Guest Artists

2015-2016 Season

Suzanne Vinnik, Soprano

Soprano, Suzanne Vinnik has appeared with some of the leading regional opera houses and international concert stages throughout her career and has been praised by the New York Times as a “voice notable for its dramatic nuance” and described by Opera News as “Refreshing…[With] beautifully molded, vividly communicative phrasing.” Ms. Vinnik’s varied engagements have included performances at Florida Grand Opera as Violetta in La Traviata at Nevada Opera Theatre, Opera North, and the Castleton Festival under the baton of the late Lorin Maazel as Musetta in La Boheme; Pittsburgh Opera as Leïla in Les Pêcheurs de Perles and Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel; Lyric Opera Virginia as Micaela in Carmen; and Opera Piccola San Antonio in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus & Eurydice.

Most recently, Ms. Vinnik made her Russian debut under the auspices of The US State Department in Moscow at The Stanislavsky Theater under the baton of Maestro Orbelian, SPASO House accompanied by Craig Rutenberg and The Saratov Opera & Ballet sharing the stage with fellow American and Russian singers; and performed in LoftOpera’s Verdi concerts in Brooklyn and New York City. This season she returns to the NJ Festival Orchestra in her role debut as Mimi in La Boheme, reprises Micaela in Carmen with Opera Las Vegas and appears in concerts with Henderson Symphony Orchestra, Las Vegas Academy Symphony and Opera Las Vegas with Maestro Dennis Doubin.

Other concert engagements have included the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s opening night gala, “Operatic Love”, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with Rogue Valley Symphony throughout Oregon, and featured performances with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (NRK), the Hoku Concert Series in Hawaii, the Red Scarf Society for the Performing Arts, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, the Ocean City Pops, and the Umbria Jazz Festival, in addition to appearances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. She was also featured as a soloist with the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra in Auld Lang Syne III and in their concert featuring Jackie Evancho, and as a “Star of the Future” at the Kirsten Flagstad Festival.

Ms. Vinnik is a recipient of the Georg Solti Foundation Grant, the Olga Forrai Foundation Grant, and the Sullivan Foundation Career Development Award. She was a major prize winner in the Opera Index Inc. and the first prize winner in the New Jersey Verismo Opera Competition and American Prize for Opera for two years in a row. She received second prize in the Gerda Lissner International Competition, third prize from Liederkranz Foundation and Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, Audience Favorite & Fourth Prize from Palm Beach Opera and was an international finalist and award winner in the Queen Sonja International Music Competition. Other accolades include George London Foundation Encouragement Award, numerous prizes from the Marcello Giordani Foundation and various grants from The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Giulio Gari Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts and Nevada Arts Council.

She is an alumnus of the Opera Studio di Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy where she studied and performed under the tutelage of Renata Scotto. She holds a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Texas Christian University with additional studies at Mannes College of Music.

In addition to singing, she is a successful fashion contributor and founder of the popular Opera Diva Dress Collection.


Daniel Montenegro, Tenor

A graduate of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellow Program, American Daniel Montenegro is recognised for a flexible and distinctive tenor voice and a varied repertoire of bel canto, verismo and contemporary roles.

Recent seasons have seen Daniel make his European opera debut at the Théâtre du Châtelet as Mario in Daniel Catán’s Il Postino alongside Plácido Domingo, as well as a number of significant role and company debuts including Roderigo (Otello) with San Francisco Opera under Nicola Luisotti, Alfredo (La Traviata) with Minnesota Opera, Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) with Washington National Opera, Pang (Turandot) at the Hollywood Bowl conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and most recently Romeo (Roméo et Juliette) for Tulsa Opera and at the Castleton Festival. This season Daniel makes his role and company debut reprising the role of Mario in Il Postino with Opera Saratoga.

As a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and former Resident Artist of the Minnesota Opera, Daniel has sung a wealth of roles including Liverotto and Rustighello (Lucrezia Borgia), Pong (Turandot), Remendado (Carmen), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Nick (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Flavio (Norma). He has also sung Steuermann (Der fliegende Holländer) with both Portland and Arizona Operas and the Shepherd in Peter Sellars’ production of Oedipus Rex at the Sydney Festival under Joana Carneiro. An ongoing collaboration with Los Angeles Opera has brought appearances in several productions including the world premiere of Lee Holdridge’s Concierto para Mendez, La Traviata (released on DVD), Carmen, Luisa Fernanda and Il tabarro.

Daniel features on ‘Great Voices Sing John Denver’ alongside Plácido Domingo and many other key operatic names; produced by legendary arranger and music producer Milt Okun, the disc was released on the MRI Associated label in June 2013.


Susannah Biller, Soprano

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as an “artist ready for the big time”, soprano Susannah Biller was recently seen as Daisy in the San Francisco premiere of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby with Ensemble Parallele. In recent seasons, she was a member of the prestigious Adler Fellowship Program with San Francisco Opera. While in San Francisco, she was seen as Frasquita in Carmen, Lolita in the world premiere of John Harbison’s Heart of a Soldier, Kristina in The Makropoulos Case and Madame Herz in Der Schauspieldirektor. Additional productions with San Francisco Opera include Der Ring des Nibelungen, Serse and Werther.

The 2014-2015 season saw Ms. Biller as Adele in Die Fledermaus with Portland Opera, Mica in Carly Simon’s Romulus Hunt with Nashville Opera, Marie in La fille du régiment with Arizona Opera and Costanza in Riccardo Primo with Opera Theater of St. Louis. The 2015-2016 season will see her debut with the Louisiana Philharmonic for Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, her return to Arizona Opera as Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas and a debut with Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Adina in L’elisir d’amore.

To open the 2013-2014 season, Ms. Biller portrayed the role of Selena in the world premiere of Dolores Claiborne with San Francisco Opera. She received multiple accolades for her work in this role including from the San Francisco Chronicle, which hailed that she “was a bright toned, poignant Selena; her aria during the eclipse garnered a well-earned explosion of applause” and Opera Now, who acclaimed that she “was hugely impressive as the abused daughter. Her crystalline soprano and limpid tonal production perfectly suggested the young woman, but then assumed a hint of steel when she matures into the bitter twenty-something who hates her mother.” Additional engagements for the 2013-2014 season included Garcias in Don Quichotte with San Diego Opera and Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Opera Theater of St. Louis. During the 2012-2013 season, she made her company and role debut with Portland Opera as Nanetta in Falstaff, made her role debut as Despina in San Francisco Opera’s production of Così fan tutte for which ARThound hailed her as one of the “clear stand-outs” who “literally glows on stage and managed to grab the limelight through the entire performance.” Additionally, she returned to Gotham Chamber Opera in 2013 as Eritea in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo. In the 2011-2012 season, Ms. Biller made her New York Debut as Fortuna in Christopher Alden’s new production of Il sogno di scipione with Gotham Chamber Opera and returned to San Francisco Opera for productions of Nixon in China and Die Zauberflöte.

Ms. Biller debuted with Ensemble Parallele as Eurydice in the award winning production of Philip Glass’ Orphée, and also with Opera Santa Barbara as Serpina in La serva padrona. She celebrated major success in the 2009 San Francisco Opera Merola Program performing in the Schwabacher Scenes Concert as Musetta in La bohème, Euridice in Orfeo, Monica in The Medium, and Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri.


Austin Kness, Baritone


Austin Kness, baritone, sang the role of Tonio in I Pagliacci in June 2013 with Opera Experience Southeast. He is an alumnus of Merola Program at San Francisco Opera. Other recent operatic debuts have included Dandini in Cinderella with Townsend Opera, Master’s Mate in La Nave with Teatro Grattacielo at New York’s Lincoln Center, Schaunard in La Boheme with Opera Idaho, Danilo in Merry Widow with Cedar Rapids Opera, as well as encore appearances with San Francisco Opera as Zuniga in Carmen for Families, Don Apostolo Gazella in Lucrezia Borgia, and Rick Rescorla in The Heart of a Soldier.


Back to Events
Back to Program Notes