Artists and Production

Jennifer Krikawa - Cio Cio San - Jennifer Krikawa (Soprano) has sung for numerous opera companies such as New York City Opera, Virginia Opera, Connecticut Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera North, Augusta Opera, Annapolis Opera, Central City Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Israel Vocal Arts Institute. Jennifer's most performed roles include: Fiordiligi (Cosí Fan Tutte), Mimi (La Bohème), Musetta (La Bohème), Micaela (Carmen), Gretel (Hansel und Gretel), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Susannah (Susannah), Frasquita (Carmen), Antonia (Les Contes d'Hoffman),and Yum Yum (The Mikado). Mrs. Krikawa has appeared at Carnegie Hall as the soprano soloist for Scarlatti's Dixit Dominus, Vaughan William's Benedicite, and Poulenc's Gloria and has appeared at Benaroya Hall as soloist in Mozart's Requiem. She pursued contemporary music studies at The Banff Centre for the Arts and she holds a Masters degree from The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Her awards include First Place NATS winner, First Place Opera Theater of Connecticut Amici Competition, Olga Berzins Vocal Scholarship Award, Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Finalist in Boston and Metropolitan Opera National Council Honorable Mention in Connecticut. She has recorded a CD titled "Songs of Walt Whitman" composed by Malcolm Peyton with Centaur Records. Jennifer has been seen as a soloist with The Vashon Island Chorale for the past five years and cantors at St. John Vianney Church.

Melissa Plagemann - Suzuki - Melissa Plagemann (mezzo-soprano) has been praised by audiences and the press for her “clear, burnished voice” and “mezzo rich with an alto’s strength and a soprano’s shining top edge” (Tacoma News Tribune). She performs frequently with the finest musical organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest, and is rapidly becoming known for the passion and musical intelligence she brings to performances on opera and concert stages alike. Recent opera performances include Le Comte Ory (Isolier) with Tacoma Opera, and La Traviata (Flora) with Skagit Opera, as well as productions of Hansel and Gretel (Hansel), Die Zauberflöte (Second Lady), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Nicklausse/LaMuse), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina), and Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira). The 2010-11 season includes Messiahs with the Bellevue Philharmonic and the Tacoma Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Orchestra Seattle, previews of Don Quichotte (Dulcinée) with Seattle Opera Guild, performances at the American Harp Society national conference, and a concert of opera arias with the Tacoma Youth Symphony. She also returns to Pacific Northwest Ballet for their productions of The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ms. Plagemann lives in Shoreline with her husband and baby daughter. She is on the voice faculty at Pacific Lutheran University.

Ernest Alvarez - B.F. Pinkerton - Ernest Alvarez (tenor) makes his Vashon Opera debut singing the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Other operatic credits include The Prince of Persia/ Calaf (cover) in Turandot with West Bay Opera. Sargente (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Parpignol/ Rodolfo-cover (La Bohème), the Messenger (Samson et Dalila), and Prince of Persia (Turandot) with Opera Pacific; Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) at the Operaestate di Roma festival; the Duke of Mantua (Rigoletto) with Center Stage Opera; Rodolfo (La Bohème) in Urbania, Italy; Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Requiem and Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Orange County Catholic Chorale; and Beadle Bamford (Sweeney Todd) at El Camino Center for the Arts. Mr. Alvarez was also a part of the Aspen Music Festival’s 60th Anniversary season where he revisited the role of Rodolfo under the tutelage of famed tenor Vinson Cole.

Barry Johnson - Sharpless - Barry Johnson (baritone) makes his debut with Vashon Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. Mr. Johnson is a frequent guest with companies throughout the west including Seattle Opera, Tacoma Opera, Opera Colorado, Portland Opera, Anchorage Opera, Stockton Opera, Central City Opera, and Las Vegas Opera.

Notable roles in his repertoire include the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, Belcore in The Elixir of Love, Marcello in La Bohème, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Dancairo in Carmen, Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld, Masetto in Don Giovanni, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, and Baron Douphol in La Traviata.

On the concert stage, Mr. Johnson has performed with orchestras throughout the Northwest including Seattle Symphony, American Sinfonietta, Tacoma Symphony, Orchestra Seattle, and Northwest Sinfonietta. Concert engagements have included Orff’s Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, and Mozart’s Requiem.

Mr. Johnson’s stage directing credits include Puccini’s Tosca and La Bohème, Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Lehar’s The Merry Widow, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. He is a former national winner of the Bel Canto Foundation of Chicago Competition and a regional winner of both the Metropolitan and the San Francisco Opera Auditions. He lives in Tacoma and teaches on the voice faculty at Pacific Lutheran University.

Tim Janecke - Goro - A recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest, Tim Janecke (tenor) makes his debut performance with Vashon Opera this season. Past roles include Gerald (Lakme) with Puget Sound Concert Opera, Ferrando (Cosí Fan Tutte) and Nemorino (L’Elisir d’Amor) with Bowen Park Opera, Alfredo (La Traviata) and Don Basilio (Le Nozze di Figaro) with L’Opera Piccolo and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) and Ferrando (Cosí Fan Tutte) with Candleopera. In the world of light opera, Tim has performed Cloclo (Tricolet) with Chicago Folks Operetta and Achilles (Beautiful Helen of Troy) with Light Opera Works. He recently performed with NOISE in their student production of Tales of Hoffman. In addition to his busy solo career, Tim is an experienced ensemble singer, having performed extensively with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago Lyric Opera and as a Christmas Caroler at the Forge Club in the Chicago area. Tim received his Master’s Degree from DePaul University and currently resides in Snohomish, Washington. He would like to thank his family for all their support.

Ryan Bede - Prince Yamamdori - Ryan Bede (baritone), recently seen as Fiorello in Vashon Opera's production of The Barber of Seville, has appeared with numerous area opera organizations and is quickly establishing himself as an exciting young artist. Performances during the 2009-2010 season included Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte (Puget Sound Concert Opera), Marullo in Rigoletto (Concert Opera of Seattle), Don Perlimplin in Love’s Fool by Seattle-based composer Kam Morrill (Ladies Musical Club of Seattle), and Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore (Lakewood Playhouse). Mr. Bede has performed with Kitsap Opera (Schaunard in La Bohème), Lyric Opera Northwest (Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and Baron Douphol in La Traviata), and Puget Sound Concert Opera (Paolo Albiani in Simon Boccanegra and Wagner in Faust) and also participated in Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen as a chorister with Seattle Opera. As a past participant of the Next Generation Artist Program with Tacoma Opera, his roles included Ben in The Telephone and Commendatoreador in The Stoned Guest. Other performances include Figaro in The Barber of Seville with Northwest Opera In Schools, Etc. (NOISE). He has also frequently performed preview concerts for the Seattle Opera Guild (Papageno in Die Zauberflöte upcoming in 2011), and is a current recipient of a Singers’ Training Fund Grant. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Puget Sound, and a Master of Music degree from the University of Washington.

Benjamin Harris - The Bonze - Benjamin Harris (baritone) has been seen all across the Pacific Northwest on both opera and concert stages. Most recently he appeared with Bellevue Opera as Marcello in La Bohème. Benjamin has been seen frequently with Tacoma Opera, where his credits include Biscroma in Viva la Mamma, Baron Douphol in La Traviata, Marullo in Rigoletto, Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, the Bonze and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, and the Jailor in Tosca.

Other opera roles include the Fratre in Don Carlo with Bellevue Opera, Cold Genius in King Arthur with Seattle Academy of Baroque Opera, Grandpa Moss in The Tender Land with Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Giorgio Germont in La Traviata with Oberlin in Italy, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti with Prague Music Festival, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte with Bayview Music Festival, and Angelotti in Tosca and Marullo in Rigoletto with Ardamore Chamber Orchestra. While pursuing his music degree at Pacific Lutheran University, Benjamin was seen performing Caronte in L’Orfeo, Betto in Gianni Schicchi, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and the Sergeant of Police in Pirates of Penzance, and was heard in concert with PLU Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana and Verdi’s Requiem. Other concert work includes Handel’s Messiah and Orff Carmina Burana with Rogue Valley Symphony, and Carmina Burana this past New Years Eve with the Seattle Choral Company. Benjamin is currently a resident of Poulsbo, Washington, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Gary Koch - The Imperial Commissioner - Gary Koch (Tenor) is a frequent soloist with the Vashon Island Chorale and in local recitals and benefits. Gary's opera roles include the Captain in The Barber of Seville, Mr. Splinters in The Tender Land, Parpignol in La Bohème, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Ben in The Telephone, and Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas. Musical theatre roles include Tommy in Brigadoon, Strephon in Iolanthe, Freddy in My Fair Lady, Koko in The Mikado, Ralph in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Tito in Lend Me a Tenor. Gary studied with the late William Eddy.

Emily Belshaw - Kate Pinkerton - Emily Belshaw (Soprano) joined the cast of the Vashon Opera as Mrs. Splinters in The Tender Land after her move to the island in February 2010. Since then she appeared as a soloist in the Saint-Saens Christmas Oratorio with the Vashon Island Chorale. Opera roles in San Francisco with Golden West Opera and S.F. Lyric Opera include Gerhilde (Die Walküre), Mercedes (Carmen), First Touriere (Suor Angelica) and Countess Ceprano (Rigoletto). Solo concert performances include concerts of works by women composers, works by John Dowland and German Lieder, as well as her original compositions. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance and Composition from Bennington College in Vermont, where she studied with Frank Baker. She is a recipient of the ASCAP Foundation award for composing.

James Brown - Stage Director - Praised for his “generous tenor” by Early Music America, tenor, conductor, stage director, and voice teacher James L. Brown is the Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA where he oversees a large and diverse voice program. As the director of that school’s Opera Workshop, he has been the recipient of several grants including a Regency Scholarship Grant and a Production Grant from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music in New York, NY. James has directed repertoire as diverse as Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. Recent productions include The Barber of Seville for Vashon Opera, Britten’s Albert Herring (which he also conducted) for PLU Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore for Lakewood Playhouse and Verdi’s Don Carlo for Bellevue Opera. Upcoming productions for the director include Handel’s Semele with PLU Opera (Stephen Stubbs, music director), La Bohème with Bellevue Opera and Sweeney Todd with Lakewood Playhouse. Brown holds a Bachelor’s Degree in voice performance from Loyola University/ New Orleans, a Master of Music degree in voice from The Juilliard School and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Gary Cannon - Conductor - Gary D. Cannon made his operatic conducting debut last year in Vashon Opera's production of Copland’s The Tender Land. No stranger to the theater, he has sung with the stage choruses of Seattle Opera and the University of Washington. He also premiered the role of Dennis Kearney in Jerome Rosen’s Emperor Norton of the U.S.A. Cannon has appeared as a tenor soloist with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Philharmonic, and the Auburn, Eastside, Rainier, and Sammamish Symphony Orchestras. He also sings regularly with The Tudor Choir and Choral Arts, and for video game and film soundtracks and trailers.

Cannon is one of the Northwest’s most versatile choral personalities, active as a conductor, singer, composer and musicologist. Since 2008, he is Artistic Director of Cascadian Chorale and Vashon Island Chorale. Also that year, he founded the Renaissance choir Sine Nomine at the invitation of the Early Music Guild. He has served as Chorusmaster for the Northwest Mahler Festival since 2001, and has also conducted Choral Arts, Anna’s Bay Chamber Choir, Kirkland Choral Society, and several ensembles at the University of Washington.

Cannon is active as a composer of choral music, and his musicological researches extend through several historical periods. He holds degrees from the University of California–Davis and the University of Washington, where he is currently researching a doctoral dissertation on the early life and works of twentieth-century British composer William Walton. More information about Cannon’s activities is available at