Anyone handpicked to perform in “Fallujah,” an opera inspired by the story of U.S. Marine Christian Ellis in the Iraq War, is under pressure to do justice to the stories that ring true for thousands of military members who witness the horrors of war.
Accordingly, the cast members have a reputation for being “sensitive and vulnerable,” “sensational,” and having a “glorious voice.” Read below to learn more about the talent that is bringing Ellis’ real-life experiences to the stage.
Arnold Livingston GeisPortraying: Corpsman
Arnold Livingston Geis, tenor, graduated in May 2014 with a Master of Music degree in vocal arts from the University of Southern California. He began working as a full-time professional singer immediately, making a career singing in films, television, concert, and on the opera stage. Since graduating, Geis has debuted at the Walt Disney Concert Hall under the direction of Grant Gershon, Michael Tilson-Thomas, and Gustavo Dudamel. In 2015, Arnold made his mainstage debut with LA Opera under the baton of Placido Domingo and is further engaged to sing Parpignol in “La Bohéme” under the baton of James Conlon and Gustavo Dudamel in May-June, 2016.
Gregorio GonzálezPortraying: Lalo
Critically-acclaimed singer, Gregorio González, began his operatic career in 2002 after being hired as a resident artist by Placido Domingo at the Los Angeles Opera. Since then, Gregorio has sung extensively throughout the United States, parts of Latin-America, and Europe. He has sung at LAO in more than a dozen productions including appearances in two Placido Domingo and Friends Gala Concerts. Gregorio has sung at venues of international renown such as Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, De Nederlandse Opera, Theater an der Wien, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Connecticut Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, San Diego Opera, and The Ojai International Festival, to name a few. In the last three years, Gregorio has created roles in four new operas. His last collaboration with the Long Beach Opera was his portrayal of El Payador in the acclaimed production of Maria de Buenos Aires.
Suzan HansonPortraying: Colleen
Suzy Hanson has played the following roles with the Long Beach Opera: Marilyn (Death of Klinghoffer), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth - also for Chicago Opera Theater), Madeline (Fall of the House of Usher - also for COT), Mrs. P (The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat), Margarita (Ainadamar), Medea (Medea), Mrs. Williamson (The Difficulty of Crossing a Field), Pat Nixon (Nixon in China), Brünnhilde (Siegfried, Götterdämmerung). She has also premiered works by Philip Glass, Rinde Eckert, Michel LeGrand, Henry Mollicone, and Craig Bohmler. Hanson has also worked with additional opera companies in San Francisco, Arizona, Connecticut, Carnegie Hall, Pittsburgh, Verona, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Spoleto, and Florence.
Zeffin Quinn HollisPortraying: Kassim
Zeffin Quinn Hollis headed the live international broadcasts of the Ward opera rendition of Miller’s “The Crucible” and Tobias Picker’s “Emmeline,” both for MezzoTV. No stranger to world premieres, Hollis has taken part in many inaugural productions for composers like Jake Heggie, Thomas Pasatieri, and Tarik O’Regan. He has been heard at Dallas Opera, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Palm Beach Opera, New Orleans Opera, Hungary’s national theaters in Pécs and Szeged, and the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Ukraine. This is his fourth production with Long Beach Opera. Recent roles include “Sweeney Todd,” “Falstaff,” and “Scarpia.
Jonathan LacayoPortraying: Wissam
Tenor Jonathan Lacayo is making his American debut with Long Beach Opera as Wissam “Fallujah.” In October 2015, Lacayo made his international debut with Opera de Tijuana as the lead role in Gershwin’s “Blue Monday.” Earlier in 2015, Jonathan took on the roles of Don Jose in Bizet’s “Carmen” and Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” with Opera of the Rockies in Colorado. He has also participated in many productions with Point Loma Opera Theatre, including the roles of Prince Charming in Massenet’s “Cendrillon,” Parpignol in Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Beppe in Donizetti’s “Rita,” Giuseppe in Loesser’s “The Most Happy Fella,” Aeneas in Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” and covered the role of Camille in Lehar’s “Die Lustige Witwe.”
Ani MaldjianPortraying: Shatha
American-Armenian Soprano Ani Maldjian has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “Sensational, radiant, elegant, commanding, brilliant, fresh and strong… finding talent like Maldjian is no easy feat.” Maldjian has performed more than 35 major roles with companies such as Long Beach Opera, Seattle Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Atlanta Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and Opera Theatre Ireland. Past roles with Long Beach Opera include the title roles in “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” and “The Cunning Little Vixen,” along with Madame Mao in “Nixon in China,” Nuria in “Ainadamar,” Dirce in “Medea,” and Suzanne in “Therese Raquin.” She is best known for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Anne Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which brought her success all over the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Republic of Ireland. She was the First Place Winner of the Western Region Metropolitan Opera Competition in 2005.
LaMarcus MillerPortraying: Philip
LaMarcus Miller made his John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts debut singing the leading role of USMC Philip in a staged reading of “Fallujah.” He was hailed for a performance that was “sensitive and vulnerable...His vocal command will have you hanging onto every note.” Miller has appeared in leading operatic roles including, Dr. Falke in “Die Fledermaus,” Don Giovanni and Il Commendatore in “Don Giovanni,” Alidoro in “Cenerentola,” soloist with Master Yao’s chorus in “The Yellow River Cantata” by Xian Xinghai, and Raimondo in “Lucia Di Lammermoor.” Miller has performed at Lincoln Center alongside Wynton Marsalis and was a featured recording artist on the jazz album, “The Music Always Round Me” by Gary Dial and Dick Oatts. A graduate from Manhattan School of Music, Miller took First Place in the 2012 Nico Castel International Master Singer Competition at Carnegie Hall.
Todd StrangePortraying: Taylor
Tenor Todd Strange is excited to return to Long Beach Opera as Taylor in “Fallujah.” Recent LBO appearances include the title role in “Candide” and the tenor in “Hydrogen Jukebox.” He has been praised as having a “glorious voice” that “is strong and clear and his acting is on point.” Feeling comfortable in both, leading man or character roles, Strange’s career highlights include “Remendado,” “Carmen” (Arizona Opera), “Tobias” “Sweeney Todd” (Arizona Opera), Basilio/Curzio, OSB, Title Role, Lehar’s The Czarevitch (Ohio Light Opera), “The Captain,” “Simon Boccanegra” (LA Opera), “Almaviva,” “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (Bakersfield Symphony).
Jason SwitzerPortraying: Rocks
Jason Switzer recently performed in “Salome” with Utah Opera, “Les Contes d'Hoffmann” with Connecticut Lyric Opera, “La Cenerentola” with Lyrique en Mer, and “Hänsel und Gretel” with Opera Memphis. Eager to explore contemporary works, he has been heard in “The Death of Klinghoffer” (Adams) and “Tell-Tale Heart/Van Gogh” (Copeland/Gordon) with Long Beach Opera as well as world premieres of “The Always Present Present” (Westergaard), Danse Russe (Moravec), and “Slaying the Dragon” (Ching). Jason is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach, where he studied with Marvellee Cariaga.