Photo by Cory Weaver. Everest, 2018.

Baseball: A Musical Love Letter

Five limited capacity performances at the Michael and Ginger Frost Production Arts Building.

  • Friday, May 7, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 8, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 13, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 14, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 15, 2:00 p.m.
It’s Spring Training at the Lyric Opera! Play ball with us as we reflect on American society and culture through the lens of our favorite pastime, baseball. This NEW PRODUCTION by Kathleen Belcher, Dan Rigazzi, and in collaboration with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum combines songs about baseball, documentary-style narration, and quotes highlighting America’s struggle for equality and racial justice on and off the field. Just as baseball reflects America’s diversity, this production spans diverse styles – from opera to jazz, musical theatre, and popular music, making it a sure home run! Tickets are $30 per person. Production run time: 70 minutes.

Due to Covid-19 precautions, we have limited ticket availability for select performances of Baseball: A Musical Love Letter. We are running a lottery system to allow everyone an chance to purchase the few remaining tickets.

ENTER THE LOTTERY

During this uncertain time, if you have tickets for an event and are not feeling well or are not comfortable attending in person, please contact us at (816) 471-7344 and let us know before the performance begins. The Ticketing and Patrons Service representative will be happy to provide a refund or credit for the future. For the latest Lyric Opera COVID-19 healthy and safety plan, click the link below.

VIEW OUR PATRON HEALTH AND SAFETY PROCEDURES

Cast

Thomas Drew

Thomas Drew, tenor, is a second-year Apprentice Artist with Lyric Opera. Prior to Covid cancellations, he was slated to sing Romeo (Romeo and Juliet) with Lawrence Opera Theatre and cover Frederick (Pirates of Penzance) at Sugar Creek Opera. Thomas is pursuing his Artist Diploma at the UMKC Conservatory under Raymond Feener and Natalia Rivera’s instruction. He performed Albert (Albert Herring) and Eduardo (La cambiale di matrimonio) with UMKC opera. He received his master’s degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Performance Diploma from Southern Methodist University. Thomas is from Cleethorpes, United Kingdom.

Katarina Galagaza

Mezzo-soprano Katarina Galagaza is a recent graduate of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and a first-year Lyric Opera Apprentice Artist. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music. Notable roles include Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Mrs. Soames (Our Town), La suora infermiera (Suor Angelica), Suor Pazienza (Mese Mariano), Prince Charmant cover (Cendrillon), Mrs. Webster (Sweets by Kate), Nancy (Albert Herring), Flora Bervoix (La traviata), and Fox Goldenback (The Cunning Little Vixen). Katarina is currently pursuing an Artist Certificate at the UMKC Conservatory, where she studies with Dr. Maria Kanyova.

Allison Jones

Heralded as a Kansas City “Artist to Watch,” Allison Jones burst onto the theater scene in 2018 with roles including Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Sarah in Ragtime, and Gifty in School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play. Jones has performed with the Black Musical Arts Community Choir under the direction of Dr. Robert McNichols Jr., and the 49th Centennial United Methodist Messiah Chorus under Dr. John Murray’s direction. Other performances include Fun Home and A Christmas Carol (KC Rep), Once on this Island (Spinning Tree Theatre), and Sister Act (The Barn Players).

Anthony Perkins Jr.  

Anthony Perkins Jr graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance, where he studied voice with Alan Held and character development with Samuel Ramey. Anthony has performed with Village Presbyterian Church, Landlocked Opera, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Finding a great niche of Kansas City resources, he’s more than thrilled and honored to be a part of Baseball: A Musical Love Letter, which excels in musicality and tells a remarkable story. It is a one-of-a-kind production but with a universal message and context.

Robert H. Riordan

Robert H. Riordan, a Wisconsin native, is in his second season as an Apprentice Artist with Lyric Opera. This season, Robert performed the Wolf/Dr. Dulcamara in Finger Lakes Opera’s production of Pinocchio and was in the chorus of Lyric Opera’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. He will return to FLO in 2021 as a Tomita Young Artist to sing Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia. In the previous season, he sang the Sergeant in Lyric Opera’s La bohème and Sid in Albert Herring with UMKC. In summer 2019, he covered Carl-Magnus in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with the Aspen Music Festival.

Turner Staton

Turner Staton, bass-baritone, is making his professional debut with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. A native of Liberty, Missouri, Turner is currently finishing his Artist Diploma with William Jewell College under Daniel and Kathleen Belcher’s tutelage. He holds a master’s degree from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University. In 2020, Turner was selected as a Vocal Fellow for Tanglewood Music Festival. Roles include Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte (WJC), the title role in Don Giovanni (Pepperdine), and Mercurio in La Calisto (CCM). Upcoming roles include Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Uncle in Elizabeth Cree, both with William Jewell.

Kelli Van Meter

Soprano Kelli Van Meter is a second-year Apprentice Artist with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Van Meter is pursuing her doctorate at the UMKC Conservatory of Music under Dr. Maria Kanyova. Recent roles include Alice Ford (Falstaff), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Arminda (La Finta Giardiniera), Gretel (Hansel und Gretel), Elle (La voix humaine), and Violetta (La traviata). She has performed as a soloist with the UMKC Conservatory Orchestra and the Hastings (NE) Symphony Orchestra.  She won the 2019 Chancellor Competition at UMKC and was a 2019 Naftzger Young Artist Competition division winner.

Willis White

This is Willis White’s debut with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. His Broadway credits include Hairspray (Gilbert, understudy Seaweed), Spelling Bee (Comfort Counselor, Chip), and In the Heights (Ensemble, understudy Benny). Regional credits include Pippin, A Chorus Line, Children of Eden, and Stephen Schwartz’s world premiere The Secret Silk. Willis has appeared in the movie hits Hairspray and Julie Taymore’s Across the Universe. He provided live vocalist support for TV, including American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, and for several recording artists, including Seal, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Robin Thicke, and Fantasia.

Special Appearance by:

Danny Cox

An accomplished guitarist and singer, Danny has had a 55-year career in cinema, theater, recording, and writing. The songs of the civil rights movement led him to a career as a folk singer. He joined the Hootenanny tour, where he played every major theater, including Carnegie Hall. In 1967, Danny came to Kansas City, where he embarked on a theatrical career, winning the best theater award twice. He became a significant voice-over artist in Kansas City and wrote and performed the iconic Grass Pad jingle. At 78, Danny continues to work in theater and music as a solo artist and with his band.


Creative Team

Kathleen Belcher, Creator/Co-Director

Kathleen Belcher has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera directing staff for 21 years. In addition to her work at the Met, she has directed opera for Lyric Opera of Kansas City, La Scala, Teatro Real (Madrid), San Francisco Opera, and others. Upcoming projects include directing Rigoletto for Orlando Opera and Florida Grand Opera and La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera. Kathleen’s love of baseball has strong roots going back generations, but the first team she adopted was the Chicago Cubs. She even named her dog after second baseman Ryne (Ryno) Sandberg. She still has her baseball card collection.

Dan Rigazzi, Librettist/Co-Director

Dan Rigazzi has been directing theater and opera for over twenty years—from Shakespeare and Puccini to contemporary plays and musicals. In addition to his work at theaters and universities around the country, Dan has been on the Directing Staff at the Metropolitan Opera since 2008. Recent projects include revivals of Roméo et Juliette at Teatro alla Scala, I Pagliacci at Opera Omaha, and La bohème in Concert with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Dan’s love affair with baseball began with Joe Morgan and the San Francisco Giants. Mike Piazza and the 2000 New York Mets stole him away, and he’s been a loyal Mets fan ever since.

Kris Kirkwood, Lighting Designer

Kris is a lighting, media, and projections designer in Kansas City. He is a co-founding member of Papermoon Opera Productions and a working designer, educator, and parent. Recent designs include Madama Butterfly with Inland Northwest Opera, Don Giovanni and Carmen with Pensacola Opera, 1984 with William Jewell College, and Hansel und Gretel with Palm Beach Opera. Upcoming projects include Barber of Seville with Opera Delaware and The Tempest with Benedictine University. Kris shares his life with Jen and Cecilia.


Musicians

Piotr Wiśniewski, Conductor, Piano

Piotr Wiśniewski is a Polish pianist, opera coach, conductor, and the Head of Music Staff and Chorus Master for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Winner of Fryderyk Chopin Society Competition and the Polish National Piano Competition in Warsaw, Mr. Wisniewski has performed recitals throughout Europe, the United States, and Latin America. He has also performed with world-renowned instrumentalists and opera stars, including Carol Vaness, Patricia Wise, Teresa Kubiak, and Carlos Montane. He serves as an opera coach at AIMS in Graz, Austria, and as head conductor and director of the collaborative piano program at ÓperaMaya in México.

James Albright, Double Bass

James Albright holds a music degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. While in Nebraska, he performed with the Lincoln Symphony and the Omaha Symphony.  James works as a performer, teacher, and recording artist in Kansas City. He performs classically as Principal Bass with the Northland Symphony and teaches in his private studio and at Missouri Western State College. He currently works with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and performs with various groups and singers, including Tim Whitmer, the Oscar Polk Band, The Ones, Triple Play, and Kelley Hunt.

Michael Herrera, Saxophone

A native of Kansas City, Michael Herrera is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, and educator. He received his formal training at the distinguished UMKC Conservatory of Music jazz program under Bobby Watson’s tutelage, the musical director of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1977-1981. Michael was awarded the Jazz Spirit Award during his time at UMKC. He has performed with the Kansas City Symphony and various musicians including Doc Severinsen, Bram Wijnands, Clint Ashlock, Marcus Lewis Big Band, Louis Neal Big Band, Vine Street Rumble, Bobby Watson, and many vocalists including Shirley Jones and Marilyn May.

Michael Warren, Drums

Known for his unmistakable “Kansas City Swing Feel,” drummer Michael Warren is a masterful songwriter, arranger, and recording artist. He has written and arranged for many bands and artists, including The Jazz Disciples, Voyage, ECLIPSE, and Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist winner and recording artist Lisa Henry. A highly sought-after national and international adjudicator and clinician, Michael Warren continues his twenty-five-year commitment to teaching students all over the globe. For 15 years, Michael Warren held the Jazz Drum Set Professor’s position at the Conservatory of Music at the UMKC.


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