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LA BOHEME Biographies

For details about our January opera, LA BOHEME by Giacomo Puccini, please click here.

LA BOHEME Principal Actor & Director Biographies

Erica Strauss, Soprano


A native of New York, La Boheme marks Erica’s debut with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. She is an alumna of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists (now the Ryan Opera Center), Music Academy of the West, and has been a member of both the Sarasota Opera Apprentice and Studio Artist programs. Her list of awards includes first prize in the 2009 Gerda Lissner Foundation competition and awards from the Liederkranz Foundation, Marilyn Horne Foundation and Metropolitan Opera National Council. A passionate artist with a voice described as “clarion” and “radiant,” Erica made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in 2004 as the Priestess in Aida and her Metropolitan Opera debut as Marianne Leitmetzerin in Der Rosenkavalier, which was broadcast live in movie theaters around the globe. In addition to operatic engagements, Erica recently made her Weill Hall debut and her recitals have been broadcast in New York on WQXR and nationally through WFMT and NPR. She will return this season to the Metropolitan Opera as Anna in Nabucco and to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Die Zauberflote.


Meredith Hansen, Soprano


Meredith Hansen joins Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre fresh from a “standout” performance as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffman at Longwood Opera.  Ms. Hansen was a featured performer of the Boston Lyric Opera Signature Series in the 2010-11 season. In addition to her many performances with Boston Lyric Opera she will make her Metorpolitan Opera debut as Woglinde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle during the coming 2012-13 season. Meredith has a prestigious list of awards to her credit as well, including grant support from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, a finalist in the Francisco Vinas Singing Contest, and a regional semi-finalist and finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Her voice has been described as “creamy and soaring”.


Eric Barry, Tenor


Spanish-American tenor Eric Barry has earned international approval through the PBS documentary “Young Opera” which declared him to be “the next big thing in the tenor world.” He has been heard throughout the US and Europe including broadcasts on NPR and has worked with such organizations as the Beethoven Easter Festival, Orchestra sinfonica di Milano Verdi and the Wolf Trap Opera Company, where he was invited back as one of four distinguished alumni to perform at their 40th Anniversary Gala alongside opera icons such as Lawrence Brownlee and Denyce Graves. His performances as Rodolfo in La Boheme with Amarillo Opera have been widely acclaimed and were featured productions in PBS’s Fall Arts Festival in December 2011.


Philip Torre, Baritone


A sonorous timbre and masculine presence generates attention for Philip Torre, this production’s Marcello. He is an alumna of the Ryan Opera Center and the Pittsburgh Opera Center and has appeared on the stages of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in Faust, New York City Opera and Manitoba Opera as Marcello in La Boheme, Boston Lyric Opera in Die Fledermaus and PORT Opera in Lucia di Lammermoor. In addition to operatic productions he has appeared as a featured soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic, Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago Sinfonietta and the Festival d’Art Lyrique de Vivonne in France.


Eric Downs, Bass/Baritone


Eric Downs has gained substantial experience on both the opera and concert stages and is rising to the forefront of young professional singers. His upcoming season currently includes his debut with Shreveport Opera as Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. His list of performances include productions with Amarillo Opera, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Boston Midsummer Opera, Opera Verdi Milano in Italy, Yale Opera and he recently joined the Metropolitan Opera roster. He has also given concert performances throughout the country ranging from Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer to Mozart’s Coronation Mass.


Frederick Jackson, Baritone


An Atlanta native, Mr. Jackson recently completed a season in the Zurich Opera’s International Opera Studio. He has been engaged with the Virginia Opera, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Zurich Opera, Houston Ebony Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland and Opera Southwest. He debuted with the New York City Opera in spring 2009 and recently made his debut as Porgy in Porgy and Bess with PAB Theatre Inc.’s touring production.


Stanley M. Garner

Stage Director

A member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Stanley M. Garner has a serious repertoire of staged productions. He has directed for opera companies such as Vancouver Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Opera Carolina, l’Opera de Montreal, Tulsa Opera, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington National, Wolf Trap Opera, New Zealand Opera, Virginia Opera, Orlando Opera, Natchez Opera Festival, Augusta Opera, Toledo Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Boston Lyric Opera. He has served as associate director to Stephen Wadsworth on highly acclaimed productions and with Maestro Franco Zeffirelli as associate director. Prior to his directing career he was applauded for his many portrayals as an actor and made his international debut creating the role of Pasha Selim in Mozart’s Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail with L’Opera de Montreal in Quebec.

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