Announcing Our 2023/2024 Season
A Dynamic Return To Grand Opera!
Meet Tacoma Opera's Incredible Production Team
Daren Weissfisch: House Conductor
Daren Weissfisch has conducted professional ensembles in the United States, Mexico and Europe for over a decade. From 2013 to 2019 Daren served as Artistic Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Esperanza Azteca Sinaloa, which was an El Sistema based youth orchestra and choir in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico. While in Mexico he was the assistant director for the 2016 production of Charles Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet with the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa under Sinaloense conductor Enrique Patrón de Rueda and the same year he collaborated with French guitarist Jean Bruno Dautaner to conduct a recording of the guitar concerto Tres en Raya by Spanish composer Antonio Ruíz Pipó under the AdLib MusicMX record label. In 2017 Daren conducted the Sinaloa premier of Horizontes, a work by Mexican composer Samuel Zyman with the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa, and for the 2017 Sinaloa Cultural Festival Daren founded and conducted the ensemble Sinaloa Players which presented Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat in collaboration with renowned Mexican choreographer Mauricio Nava. In the Seattle area Daren has served as cover conductor for Harmonia Seattle, the Issaquah Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Bainbridge Island Symphony Orchestra. He was the music director and conductor for the opera Vinkensport by David T. Little in 2022 as well as Joseph Haydn’s opera Philemon und Baucis in January 2023 at the University of Washington. Daren was a conducting student of Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux Festival and School for several summers and has studied with notable conductors including Ludovic Morlot, David Rahbee, Donald Schleicher, Kensho Watanabe, Ennio Nicotra, Lior Shambadal, Edward Cumming, and Sandro Gorli among others.
Daren is also an accomplished oboist having served as second/assistant principal oboist and guest soloist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa from 2010-2019, performing oboe concertos by Mozart, Strauss, and Bach. He is also a regular substitute oboist with the Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Harmonia Seattle, and the Bainbridge Island Symphony Orchestra.
Director of the Opera Chorus
Elizabeth Mitchell is a conductor, singer, and music educator. She is thrilled to be joining the team of Tacoma Opera, beginning in the 2023-24 season, as the new Opera Chorus Director. Elizabeth also sings soprano and serves on the Board of Directors for Mägi Ensemble, a professional women’s ensemble that performs and records Baltic music. In addition, she sings soprano at Epiphany Parish Seattle in the Epiphany Choir and Evensong Choir. Elizabeth is Chair of the Mercer Island Arts Council, where she works with the MIAC board and city and staff liaisons to advocate for the arts, artists, and arts organizations of Mercer Island, stimulate and promote community awareness, education, and enjoyment of fine arts, and support performing, visual, and literary arts programs, projects, and events. In addition to her passion for arts advocacy, Elizabeth works behind the scenes at Youth Theatre Northwest as a production stage manager and costume shop manager, helping to create an environment that nurtures the intellectual, artistic, and personal development of children and youth through drama education, performing opportunities, and live theatre experiences. Elizabeth also supports the Pacific Northwest Ballet as a parent volunteer and for the DanceChance program.
Elizabeth is completing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the University of Washington School of Music. During her time in the Pacific Northwest, she has conducted the UW University Singers, been a cantor and choir member at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, and a choral scholar at Church of the Ascension. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music, with an emphasis in Vocal Performance, from California State University, Chico. While in Chico, she served as Director of Music at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, directed and taught voice at Notre Dame School, worked for the School of the Arts at CSU, Chico, and for the North State Symphony. She has been an active soloist and choral musician for numerous church, university, and regional ensembles throughout her career. She is delighted to call the Pacific Northwest home and loves living on Mercer Island with her husband and two daughters.
Director of Bizet's Carmen
Barry Johnson, baritone, has attracted national attention among leading conductors, directors, and opera companies as a versatile singing actor. Creator of more than 50 opera roles, Mr. Johnson is a frequent guest with companies throughout the country including Seattle Opera, Tacoma Opera, Opera Colorado, Anchorage Opera, Portland Opera, Central City Opera, Las Vegas Opera, and the Wildwood Festival in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Notable roles in his repertoire include the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Marcello in La Boheme, Dancairo in Carmen, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Prince Ottokar in Der Freischutz, Baron Douphol in La Traviata, Angelotti in Tosca, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Fleville in Andrea Chenier, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, and Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld.
On the concert stage, Mr. Johnson has been a soloist with orchestras throughout the Northwest including Seattle Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, American Sinfonietta, Yakima Symphony, Northwest Sinfonietta, and Orchestra Seattle. Concert engagements have included Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Frahm’s War Cantata, Bach’s Magnificat, Mozart’s Requiem, and Faure’s Requiem.
Mr. Johnson’s professional stage directing credits include Puccini’s La Boheme, Rossini’s Le Comte Ory, Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Puccini’s Tosca, Menotti’s The Telephone, Bizet’s Dr. Miracle, and Pasatieri’s La Divina, with Tacoma Opera.
As Director of Opera Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University from 1994 to 2004, Mr. Johnson’s fully staged productions included Lehar’s The Merry Widow, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica.
Mr. Johnson was a national winner of the Bel Canto Competition of Chicago and a regional winner of the Metropolitan and San Francisco Auditions.
Thomas Harper has performed for three decades in opera houses and concert halls in Europe and the Americas, including Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Grand Théâtre de Genève, RAI Torino, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Téatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile, and many others. He has amassed a wide and varied repertoire of over fifty roles including the “Duke” in Rigoletto, “Rodolfo” in La Bohème, “Radames” in Aida, “Canio” in I Pagliacci, “Eléazar” in La Juive, “Florestan” in Fidelio, “Erik” in Der Fliegende Holländer, “Parsifal” in Parsifal, “Alwa” in Alban Berg’s Lulu, “Gregor” in Leoš Janá?ek’s Makropoulos Affair and “Mime” in Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, which he also recorded on the Arte Nova label. He has won enthusiastic praise for the role of “Fritz” on the Naxos recording of Franz Schreker’s opera Der Ferne Klang and for his definitive interpretation of “Mime” in Der Ring des Nibelungen in numerous European and American opera houses. He may also be heard on the Naxos label singing Famous Tenor Arias from the Italian repertoire as well as Gustav Mahler’s Lied von der Erde with the Irish National Orchestra.
Director Streetcar Named Desire
Director il barbiere di Siviglia
Kelly Kitchens is professional director, actor, and arts educator based out of Seattle, Washington.
Her honors include: three-time nominated and two-time recipient of the Gregory Falls Award for Outstanding Director; winner of the Broadway World Critics’ Picks for Best Direction of a Play; two-time winner of Seattle Theater Writers award for Best Direction of a Play; Broadway World nominee for Best Direction of a Musical; named Best Director by the Seattle Weekly Readers Poll; named in Seattle Magazine’s inaugural list of “Top 20 Most Talented People in Seattle”; and a nominee for the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Mayor's Arts Award.
Some past directing projects include: The Marriage of Figaro and La bohème (Kentucky Opera); the NYC workshop of Esther, a new dance musical; the US Premier of Meek (Denizen Theater, NY); O+E, a new adaptation of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Seattle Opera); Hand to God (Seattle Public Theater); and The Light in the Piazza (Showtunes Theater).
Tacoma Opera has A NEW CHILDREN'S Chorus!
Meet our amazing new director and learn about auditions for our upcoming season by clicking HERE