Future Perfect

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FUTURE PERFECT: The Magic Flute meets The Wizard of Oz in this fantastical world premiere perfect for all ages!

From Bellissima Opera’s award-winning Transcendence Opera Series

Future Perfect opera poster
Click the image for the promo video
Future Perfect world premiere cast
Director Nick Sandys on Future Perfect’s four Ls — Listening, Laughing, Learning and Love. 
Senn High School student Imani Brunson reads her poem “Labels” that becomes lyrics for the opera
200 Million Cells: Future Perfect’s finale in rehearsal

KUDOS FROM OUR AUDIENCE:

“Your words took us on a trip from imagination to transcendence all in a concise and beautiful way. The score was striking and each genre of music was perfect for its scene. To a person, the quality of the singing was awesome. The characters you created were distinct and memorable and the performers delivered.” (Cory A)


“A meaningful and lovely score; texts were poetic and nuanced.  After a treacherous and very challenging day being an American, the show was balm for the soul.” (Dana B)


“An independent Chicago company production with immense collaboration involving CPS students has addressed much needed lessons in a cohesive gentle manner. It introduces young children to opera in a fun-filled colorful story with beautiful music and settings that are very child friendly and entertaining for all ages.” (Regina J)


“The genius of the show is the marvelous score by David Shenton. I loved the music in its various dimensions, orchestrations, and blends. The melodies are enticing, and the harmonies are taken nicely from the way that operas are built. 

Future Perfect was a project that took eight years to develop. This very ambitious show emphasizes racial and ethnic diversity and embraces the possibility of a better, more harmonious world for all of humanity. In short, the performance is more impressionistic than anything else. It’s sad, funny, and real at the same time.” (Julia Rath for Around the Town)


“Lovely impactful lyrics and music. Seven instruments really packed a punch in the orchestrations.

“Great venue. Loved the screen images, costumes, choreography. Top-notch production values. How wonderful to see a wide range of ages on stage, too. A melange of The Wizard of Oz, Alice In Wonderland and The Odyssey.” (Elizabeth D)

Our Community Builder Sponsors

Many thanks to donors of $1,000 to $5,000. Their gifts have especially made possible the outreach to young performers, interns and audiences, coming from Austin to Maywood and beyond.

  • An Illinois Arts Council Summer Youth Employment grant
  • Molly Besta Allscheid
  • Robert L Beach and Paul D Dykstra
  • Leah and Paul Beckwith
  • Carmen Bodino
  • Doug Cotsamire
  • Dominique Frigo in memory of Jean Martin Bell
  • Terry Grace and Judy Gaietto-Grace
  • Haddad Foundation
  • Jethra Kapp
  • Mardi Gras Foundation
  • Ock-Ju Noh
  • Rich Pokorny
  • Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation
  • Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation
  • Suzanne Walsh in memory of Jeanne C Walsh

A Modern Tale of Curiosity

Future Perfect tells the adventures of Miranette, a curious youth who leaves a forbidding society to go towards a future she wants to see. Along her way, she meets a colorful cast of young people, puppets, dragons, butterflies and grown-ups who help her. The result–quantum entanglement! This full production is supported by an intergenerational cast of 31 individuals (ages 4-79) orchestra, costumes and sets.

Future Perfect is the latest opera in Bellissima Opera’s Award-Winning Transcendence Series by librettist Christine Steyer and composer David Shenton. It is directed by Nick Sandys, a Jeff Award-nominated director, actor and educator.

The first opera in the series, On Call: COVID-19, honoring global healthcare workers, tied for first place in the 2020-21 National Opera Association Production Award.

Future Perfect is drawn from five years of workshops with 1,300 local youths examining themes of separateness, interconnectedness and transcendence from a variety of lenses. Facilitated by musicians, poets and artists, the workshops yielded many of the opera’s lyrics and costume designs.

The Future Perfect workshops involved students from Chicago’s Nicholas Senn, Lane Tech and Al Raby High Schools and John Kinzie Elementary School, as well as Lincoln Elementary School and youths from the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park.

Read about the 2014-2019 workshops inspiring Future Perfect below.

Future Perfect’s Cast and Artistic Team

Adult Cast
Wydetta Carter as Narrator
Hailey Cohen as Ember
Susan Lewis Friedman as Rosetta
Dominique Frigo as Asintmah
Jeffrey Goldberg as Iscovan
Rose Guccione as Baubo
Sarah Kropski as Juniper
Kaleb Nuesse as Edeyrn
Brian Allen Pember Jr as Leggo
Carl Ratner as Oxóssi
Katie Rub as Paloma
Christine Steyer as Flanna
Peter Stigdon as Kai
Suzanne Walsh as Verbena

Ensemble
Xandra Daigle
Paul Geiger
Marcela Ossa
Christina Ray
Barbara Smith

Youth Cast
Tekla Schreiner-Witte as Miranette

Draglions/Flutterbys/Puppets/Singers/Dancers
Isabella Airato
Sam Combs
Benjamin Govertsen
Amelia Holly
Shiloh Jennings
Henry Lombardo
Norah Lougachi
Ruby O’Shaughnessey
Caleb Reed-Jennings

Youth Ensemble &
Summer Youth Interns:

Michael Jones
Lena Thomas
Jonathan Wilson

Artistic Team
Christine Steyer, Bellissima Opera Artistic Director
Tim Pahel, Conductor & Chorus Master
Nick Sandys, Director/Fight Choreographer
David Shenton, Musical Preparation/Piano
Claudia Hommel/Working In Concert, Producer
Emil Clausing, Stage Manager
Cathy Dunn, Assistant Director/Choreographer
Peter Stigdon, Rehearsal Accompanist
Kerri Burkhardt, Administrative Assistant
Meredith Morris, Press Release
Juliana Engel Storms, Social Media & Internship Coordinator
Kenneth Gourlay, Website
Susan Huizinga, Molly Allsheid, Diane Piette, Reggie Janczyszyn, Hospitality
Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg, Author


Christine Steyer, Production Designer
Tim Pahel, Closed-Captioning Designer
Cindy Senneke, Closed-Captioning
Doug Cotsamire, Closed-Captioning
Reese Craig, Projection Designer
Garrett Bell, Lighting Designer
Jared Peters, Master Electrician
Antonio O’Neal, Audio
Paul Geiger & Peter Storms, Audio Recording
Paul Geiger & Cappy Kidd, Set
Kathy Rubel, Costume Consultant
Louise Gale, Wardrobe
Kimberly Huizinga, Wardrobe
Miranda Flanagan, Make-Up
Xandra Daigle, Props 
Paul Brennan & Jesse Logan, Videography
Peter Pintozzi, Photography
Ben O’Connor, Video & Photo Documentarian

Top Row (left to right): Norah Lougachi, Caleb Reed-Jennings, Isabella Airato, Tekla Schreiner-Witte, Ruby O’Shaughnessey, Henry Lombardo
Bottom Row (left to right): Shiloh Jennings, Benjamin Govertsen, Sam Combs, Henry James Hansen, Amelia Holly

We are thrilled to have five young professionals from the Catalyst Circle Rock School (adjoining the Kehrein Center for the Arts) as cast members and hospitality team for Future Perfect!

Top Row (left to right): Rose Guccione, Brian Allen Pember Jr, Katie Rub, Sarah Kropski, Dominique Frigo
Second Row (left to right): Susan Lewis Friedman, Peter Stigdon, Wydetta Carter, Paul Geiger, Marcela Ossa
Third Row (left to right): Hailey Cohen, Barbara Smith, Christina Ray, Jeffrey Goldberg, Christine Steyer
Bottom Row (left to right): Kaleb Nuesse, Suzanne Walsh, Xandra Daigle, Dennis M. Kalup, Carl Ratner

The Kehrein Center for the Arts (KCA) is a home for storytelling through opera, music, theatre, dance, spoken word, and creative expression that animates and engages the human spirit.

Located in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, the KCA is the product of a years-long effort to restore an architecturally-significant but unused auditorium into a vibrant fine and performing arts center, complete with a 900-seat storytelling theater, art gallery, and community gathering place. Catalyst Circle Rock, a nonprofit charter school system, purchased the building and facilitated the planning of a massive renovation of this historic community space.

Christine Steyer
Christine Steyer

Christine Steyer (librettist/role of Flanna)

As a performer, the soprano has distinguished herself as an artist of great versatility. In addition to being the recipient of national awards such as the 2020 Honored Artist of the American Prize for outstanding contributions to the arts and the Johnny Mercer Award, Steyer has received acclaim for her portrayals of the title role in Madama Butterfly and Violetta in La Traviata. Since 2000, she has sung in over 40 productions at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Also a frequent recitalist, Steyer sang several concerts of Russian and American music with pianist Philip Morehead and concerts of Spanish music with guitarist Brandon Acker. In 2019, Steyer sang in France with the Chicago Paris Cabaret Connexion at the Montpellier Opera House, Paris’ Salle Olympe de Gouges and the Lapin Agile. Just prior to the pandemic, she sang at the Schubert Festival at Unity Temple in Oak Park, where Steyer shared the stage with Lawrence Brownlee and members of the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestras, and a recital at the 19th Century Club Music of Hope and Healing. Steyer was recently featured on WFMT’s program Music Notes: Music of Healing and Peace, singing the song “Red is a Trick”. In April 2021, Steyer premiered the role of the Rio de Janeiro Health Care Worker in the new opera On Call: COVID-19. As a music advocate, Steyer has brought classical music to 23,000 youth in underserved areas with her organization, Bellissima Opera Outreach. She collaborates with other professional musicians to create new works on relevant, contemporary themes. Her songbook, Six Songs for Soprano, was co-written with several area musicians. She and French composer, Jean-Claude Orfali, are writing a book of original cabaret songs to release in 2023. In 2014 Steyer, as librettist, and Shenton, as composer, began writing Bellissima Opera’s Tales of Transcendence, an award-winning series of new operas exploring our shared humanity. The first, On Call: COVID-19 honoring healthcare workers, premiered in April. Future Perfect is the second, co-created with 1,300 local students. Additionally, Steyer is the President of the new vocal arts alliance, Working in Concert, as well as the Artistic Director of its Bellissima Opera initiative. Steyer teaches voice privately in Oak Park and is on the music faculty at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois.

David Shenton
David Shenton

David Shenton (composer/concertmaster)

David Shenton is an English pianist, violinist, composer, and arranger, based in New York City. Shenton has collaborated with musicians in diverse genres, including Vanessa Williams, Tony Bennett, Sierra Boggess, Denyce Graves, Renée Fleming, Sherrill Milnes, Sir André Previn, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. Composing since the age of nine, Shenton has written hundreds of works including sonatas, concerti, a symphony, an oratorio, string quartets, numerous songs, instrumental works, and operas. Shenton’s career includes conducting his orchestra/big band at Carnegie Hall in 2014; [email protected] Center Rose Theater as a jazz pianist in 2008; classical piano at Lincoln Center’s Rubenstein Atrium for the 200th anniversary Schumann and Chopin celebration; and as music director/arranger/pianist for the Center’s 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. David enjoys touring with his groups, Empire Trio and Uptown Girls, as well as teaching and educating children both in the USA and in Africa where he and his wife, soprano Erin Shields, frequently volunteer. A prolific arranger, Shenton has worked at Abbey Road and CTS Studios (London), on Hollywood movies, and Broadway shows. Shenton has co-created more than a dozen shows with lyricist Martin Charnin (Annie). He arranged and orchestrated for the long-running West End production of Howard Blake’s The Snowman, for Charnin’s last musical, Robin Hood: The Untold Story, and for Opus X, with trumpeter Chris Botti. Shenton has composed numerous art songs and collaborated with Steyer on Six Songs for Soprano. David teaches extensively and, as a coach, accompanist, and teaching professor, has been on the faculties of NYU, The New School, The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Mannes College of Music, St. Thomas Choir School and Grace Church School. His catalog of some 45 recordings can be found on various record labels including Steinway & Sons, Vocalion and many others. In 2014 Christine Steyer, as librettist, and Shenton, as composer, began writing Bellissima Opera’s Tales of Transcendence, an award-winning series of new operas exploring our shared humanity. The first, On Call: COVID-19 honoring healthcare workers, premiered in April. Future Perfect is the second, co-created with 1,300 local students.

Nick Sandys (director)

Nick Sandys
Nick Sandys

Nick Sandys is an award-winning director, actor, and fight choreographer, as well as an educator. Nick recently served as Artistic Director of Remy Bumppo Theatre Company (2012-21), where he helmed critically-acclaimed productions of: Howards End (a world premiere adaptation by Douglas Post); Puff: Believe It Or Not (a world premiere translation by Ranjit Bolt); Great Expectations (a US premiere adaptation by Tanika Gupta), Pirandello’s Henry IV, Travesties, Our Class, and Seascape. Other recent directing projects include: Strauss’ Elektra (Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera); The Merry Wives Of Windsor, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth (First Folio Theatre); Bedroom Farce (Eclipse); Twelfth Night (Noble Fool Theatricals); Persuasion, The Consul (Chamber Opera Chicago), and Hamlet (Fort Worth Shakespeare in the Park).Nick is an ensemble member at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company and an Artistic Associate at First Folio Theatre and has acted in over 150 theatrical productions nationwide including performing at Northlight, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Writers’ Theatre, Next Theatre, Lookingglass, Marriott Lincolnshire, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Light Opera Works, and Chamber Opera Chicago, as well as regionally and Off Broadway. Nick is also a certified Fight Director with The Society of American Fight Directors, has been adjunct faculty at The Theatre School at DePaul University since 1995, as well as a Resident Fight Director at Lyric Opera of Chicago, designing violence there for over 50 productions. His Jeff-Award-winning fight direction has been seen all over Chicagoland, on Broadway, and at The Metropolitan Opera.  Nick has a received some 16 Joseph Jefferson Nominations for acting, directing, and fight direction, was nominated for a 2018 APA Audie Award for his audiobook narration of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and he is the recipient of a 2011 Achievement Award from The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for The Arts. Nick holds MAs in English Literature from both Cambridge University and Loyola University Chicago, and is graduate of Guildford School of Acting and Dance. www.nicksandys.com

Tim Pahel
Tim Pahel

Tim Pahel (chorusmaster/conductor)

Tim Pahel is Professor of Music, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities, and Chair of the Music Department at Monmouth College. His duties include directing the Monmouth College Chorale and Chamber Choir, teaching conducting, music history, Senior Research Methods, and courses in the Music Education curriculum. Prior to coming to Monmouth, Dr. Pahel served as Assistant Professor and Music Coordinator at Carl Sandburg College and also taught courses and directed ensembles at Knox College. Dr. Pahel has toured with the Monmouth Chorale both nationally and internationally, including trips to Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, and to New York City to perform in Carnegie Hall. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in May 2018, conducting the Monmouth Chorale and other high school and college choirs and the New England Symphonic Ensemble in a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem. Dr. Pahel has been the director of the Galesburg Community Chorus since 2001, and with that group has conducted numerous major works for chorus and orchestra including, most recently, Verdi’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Dr. Pahel holds a bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, a master’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois, and a doctorate in Choral Conducting from the University of Iowa, where he studied conducting with Dr. Timothy Stalter. An active member of the American Choral Directors Association, Music Educators National Conference, the Illinois Music Educators Association, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Dr. Pahel is a frequent adjudicator for high school solo and ensemble contests as well as a clinician for large group contests and festivals.

Carl Ratner (Oxóssi)

Carl Ratner
Carl Ratner

Carl Ratner began his career assisting directors at the world’s major opera houses, including Covent Garden in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Munich Opera, the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, among others.  He served as Artistic Director of Chicago Opera Theater from 1994-1999, and of Chamber Opera Chicago from 1985-1993.  An accomplished baritone, he has performed the title roles in Verdi’s Falstaff and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, as well as Papageno in The Magic Flute and John Proctor in The Crucible.  A frequent soloist for oratorio, he has sung Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and many other concert works.  He directed and created the role of the Lebanon Health Care Worker in the world premiere of On Call: COVID-10 at Bellissima Opera.  He most recently directed Verdi’s La Traviata and performed the role of the Doctor for South Bend Lyric Opera. He has sung in 14 languages and has performed in 7 countries, 10 states, and the District of Columbia.  He studied at Oberlin, NEIU, Northwestern, Juilliard, and the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in Russia through a Fulbright grant. He currently serves as Co-chair of Voice and Director of Opera at Western Michigan University.

Wydetta Carter (Narrator)

Wydetta Carter
Wydetta Carter

Wydetta Carter is thrilled to be a part of the premier of the opera Future Perfect.  As a part of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals, so many doors have opened to meeting fellow musicians, sharing music and learning something new from each artist encounter.   Wydetta is the host of CCP’s CABARET BEAT and is also a seasoned Equity actress.  Chicagoland credits include Porgy and Bess (Court Theatre), Menopause the Musical (Apollo Theatre), Unspeakable (Broadway Playhouse), Hats! The Musical (Royal George Theatre), and Footloose and The Bridges of Madison County (Marriott Theatre).  Other favorites include The Bikinis (The Hippodrome Theatre), Hairspray (Alhambra Theatre), All Shook Up (LTOS), Festival of The Lion King (Hong Kong-Disney), The Trojan Women (Shakespeare Theatre of D.C.), and Sr. Hubert in Nunsense, Nunsensations, and Nuncrackers.

Susan Lewis Friedman (Rosetta)

Susan Lewis Friedman
Susan Lewis Friedman

Susan Lewis Friedman is a Cantor, the clergy person who oversees music and sings the prayers in the Progressive Movement of Judaism, and has served at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, IL since 2018.  Prior to the cantorate, she has been seen on the stages of musical theater, regional opera, and in symphonic concerts throughout the U.S.  She played leading roles in the Broadway National Tour of Cats, regional productions of The Producers, Barnum, Swingtime Canteen, and Sweeney Todd, to name a few.  She has sung roles with Des Moines Metro Opera, Nevada Opera, Phoenix Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra with Leon Botstein, and Brooklyn Philharmonic.  She has performed with artists such as Betty Buckley, Alberto Mizrahi, George S. Irving, and composer/musician Anthony Newman.  She can be heard on the recording of his world premiere opera, Nicole and the Trial of the Century.  She is a composer/arranger of Jewish music and recently released an album of her original songs entitled Sing, Pray, Repeat!  Susie collaborates with pianist Paul Dykstra in a concert of music by composers of the Theresienstadt ghetto in the Holocaust, which they recently performed in a benefit for the Virginia Holocaust Museum.  Her music has been heard on Jewish Rock Radio.  She met her husband, Ross Friedman, on a Mississippi riverboat cruise where she was an entertainer and he was the Chief Purser. Their greatest achievements are their beloved children, Abigail (9) and Zev (7).

Rose Guccione (Baubo)

Rose Guccione
Rose Guccione

Rose Guccione is an opera singer, actress, educator, and entrepreneur.  Rose has sung extensively in the Chicagoland area (including 20 years at Lyric Opera of Chicago and ten productions with Chicago Folks Operetta), Europe, and South Africa.  Her acting credits include Late Nite Catechism (ongoing at Greenhouse Theater Center), The Dinner Detective (ongoing at Chicago and Schaumburg locations), Alegrías y Lâígrimas (Instituto Cervantes de Chicago), Üfo (iO)!, The View Upstairs (Pride Films & Plays), Los Cálices Vacíos (Instituto Cervantes de Chicago), Lydia (The National Pastime Theater), Living Large in a Mini Kind of Way (16th Street Theatre), and several sketch comedy and improv shows with Salsation Theatre Company.  Rose is a faculty member in the Theatre Arts & Music Department of Dominican University in River Forest, IL, where she teaches music and arts entrepreneurship courses.  Her singing telegram company, OperaGram.com®, has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, on NBC5 Chicago, with radio legend John Landecker, and several other media outlets. Read more at RoseGuccione.com.

Christine Steyer
Christine Steyer

Christine Steyer (Flanna)

See bio under librettist


Brian Allen Pember Jr (Leggo)

Brian Allen Pember, Jr.
Brian Allen Pember, Jr

Brian Allen Pember, Jr., tenor, is stationed in the great city of Chicago by way of Scranton, PA, and an alumni of Westminster Choir College ’17 where they studied with Charles Walker.  They most recently appeared on stage with Chicago Opera Theatre in the world premiere of Quamino’s Map and with Thompson Street Opera Company in the joint premiere of The Death of Ivan Ilych as Gerasim. Before this, they appeared on the original cast recording for Paul Scherer’s La Trout Lily (Benedict), and on the screen in KJR Studio’s Die Fledermaus (Eisenstein). Other credits include Frederic in GS Opera Company of Chicago’s Pirates of Penzance, Marty Manning in the world premiere of Olivia Popp’s Double Vision, and the ensemble with Chicago Opera Theater for their Chicago premieres of Iolanta and Moby Dick.

Sarah Kropski (Juniper)

Sarah Kropski
Sarah Kropski

is a soprano soloist and mainstage performer in the Chicagoland area, as well as a collaborator and performer of children’s sing-a-long programs at libraries and a recital series educating audiences on a variety of classical soprano traditions and styles.  Sarah is a member of the original cast of Jane Austen’s Persuasion: A Musical Drama, and has performed the role of Henrietta in numerous international productions with Chamber Opera Chicago.  Other credits include: Liesl in The Sound of Music and Kitty in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Chamber Opera Chicago),Rapunzel in Into the Woods (Southland Area Theatre Ensemble), and Phyllis in Iolanthe (Prairie Fire Theater).  Recently, she was featured as an artist on the Youtube world premiere of Elizabeth Rudolph’s “Circles, Cycles & Seasons”.  Sarah earned a Vocal Performance degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and is the recipient of a Bella Voce Award from Chicago’s Bel Canto Foundation.  She works during the school year as a project specialist for the Music & Theatre Department and Performing Arts Division of New Trier High School.

Jeffrey Goldberg (Iscovan)

Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg

With a voice praised as “rousing, full-throated,” and “ringing,” (San Diego Story), Southern California baritone Jeffrey Goldberg has performed the roles of Gugliemo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Dr. Falke and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, Claudio in Berlioz’s Beatrice et Benedict, Bartolo and Antonio in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Peter in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Howard in the Chicago premiere of Dog Days by David T. Little, as well as several partial roles.  He has also performed with Pacific Symphony in their Opera for Kids! productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.  On the concert stage, he has performed as soloist in several beloved masterworks including Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Voice and Opera, and Chapman University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance.

Peter Stigdon
Peter Stigdon

Peter Stigdon (Kai, Rehearsal Pianist, Assistant Music Director intern)

Peter Stigdon is a newly professional Chicago-area musician. After his first piano recital at age six, Peter fell in love with performing and knew what he would do for the rest of his life.  He recently completed his undergraduate studies at Concordia University Chicago, with concentrations in harp, organ, and composition.  While a lover of all music, Peter takes a particular interest in contemporary music and seeks to explore and share unfamiliar (and sometimes challenging) repertoire.  He is excited to be joining Bellissima Opera for this inspiring project.

Dominique Frigo (Asintmah)

Dominique Frigo
Dominique Frigo

Dominique Frigo, mezzo-soprano, has sung for many venues in the Midwest. She also routinely performs in New York with the Botti Opera Showcase.  Her repertoire includes contemporary, Baroque and Classical music, and she has performed the alto solos for Handel’s Messiah, the Vivaldi Magnificat, the Vivaldi Gloria, the Bach Magnificat, and the Bach B Minor Mass.  She was a finalist with the Bel Canto Chorus, a semi-finalist with the Lotte Lehman Foundation’s art song competition, and a semi-finalist with the Center for Contemporary Opera’s International Opera Singers’ competition.  She has also performed numerous operatic roles with regional opera companies including La Principessa in Suor Angelica, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and Maddalena in Rigoletto.

Katie Rub (Paloma)

Katie Rub
Katie Rub

Katie Rub graduated from Concordia University Chicago in 2019 with a B.A. in Theater.  During her time at Concordia, she was heavily involved in both the theater and music programs.  She was cast as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha, Edith in Pirates of Penzance, and Polly Peachum in Threepenny Opera, and was also seen as Queen Hermione in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and Queen Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Katie won several awards from the theater department and was nominated for an Irene Ryan Acting Award.  She also sang in Kapelle, Concordia’s premiere touring choir, and in four Honors recitals for the Music Department.  Recently, she sang in the virtual chorus for On-Call: COVID-19, the world’s first opera performed via Zoom.  Katie was last seen as the Dew Fairy in the opera Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck.

Hailey Cohen (Ember, also Asintmah cover)

Hailey Cohen
Hailey Cohen

Hailey Cohen is thrilled to be joining the cast of Future Perfect!  Hailing from Edgemont, NY, mezzo-soprano Cohen is quickly gaining recognition on the operatic stage and in concert.  Recent opera credits include Hänsel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Littler Daughter in Missy Mazzoli’s opera Proving Up, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Goddess of Hope in the virtual opera Droplet.  Cohen completed her studies at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance in 2021 and was awarded the Underwood-Alger Scholarship for her studies.

Kaleb Nuesse (Edeyrn)

Kaleb Neuse
Kaleb Nuesse

Kaleb Nuesse, baritone, is a third-year student at Western Michigan University originally from Bourbonnais, Illinois.  He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in music education and studies voice under Dr. Karen Kness.  He was featured in the chorus of WMU’s production of Così fan Tutte in 2019 and performed the characters of Peter Harrison in the collegiate premiere of On Call: COVID-19 and Leporello in Don Giovanni in 2021.  Nuesse is a member of University Chorale, WMU’s premier choral ensemble.  He is also a member of several extracurricular organizations on campus including one of Western’s three a cappella groups, No Strings Attached, and the WMU chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.”

Suzanne Walsh (Verbena)

Suzanne Walsh
Suzanne Walsh

Suzanne Walsh is a native Oak Parker and has studied voice with teachers from Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University, and Concordia University. She has sung in the Oak Park choirs Heritage Chorale and City Voices, has studied acting at the Artistic Home in Chicago, and enjoys performing improv and stand up comedy. She currently studies voice with Christine Steyer and is thrilled to have the opportunity to sing in Future Perfect.  By day, Suzanne is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Oak Park.

Paul Geiger
Paul Geiger

Paul Geiger (Bass/Set Design)

Paul Geiger has performed extensively throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. With Chicago Opera Theater he sang the title roles in Marriage of Figaro and Turk in Italy, Belcore in Elixir of Love and Mustafa in Italian Girl in Algiers, and with Des Moines Metro Opera he sang Olin Blitch in Susannah, the Four Villains in The Tales of Hoffman, and the title role in Sweeney Todd. Other career highlights include Jokanaan in Salome with Palm Beach Opera and Hobson in Peter Grimes with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera.  He has recently performed as Germont in La Traviata and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Bellissima Opera, Reverend Hale in The Crucible with Chamber Opera Chicago, the roles of both the Notary and Commissioner in Der Rosenkavalier with Sinfonia da Camera, and Admiral Croft and Major Domo in a new musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with Chamber Opera Chicago, which has toured internationally in England, Scotland, Wales and Canada as well as New York City and Chicago.

Christina Ray (Soprano, Juniper cover, Children’s Chorus Director Intern)

Christina Ray
Christina Ray

Christina Ray is excited to be debuting in the world of Opera!  Christina is currently going back for her dream degree in Music Performance at Concordia University Chicago, where she studies voice with Christine Steyer.  Classically trained, Christina cantors at services/Masses on weekends as well as directs the Handbell Choir at her local church.  She has also been a member of the Kapelle at Concordia University Chicago for four years as well as performed at recitals as a soloist.  Aside from her musical passion, she works as an IT Technician at CUC and holds an undergraduate degree in Information Systems Security as well as an MBA graduate degree.

Xandra Daigle
Xandra Daigle

Xandra Daigle (Mezzo-soprano, Ember cover, Props & Scenic Painter Intern)

Xandra Daigle is extremely excited and grateful to be part of this production. She has enjoyed working behind the scenes while being a part of the theatre scene again. This is their first professional opera but hopefully not the last show she works on with these incredible artists.  Xandra has studied at Concordia University Chicago, where she is a student of Christine Steyer.  She has performed with the Collective Department of Theater at CUC, with roles including Jenny in Threepenny Opera, Minnie in The Benefit Committee, Anselmo in Man of La Mancha, Pastor Paul in The Christians, Kaycee Jordan in Never Swim Alone, and ensemble in The Winter’s Tale and An Enemy of the People.  Other roles include the Witch in Into the Woods and Rose Lennox in Secret Garden.  

Marcela Ossa
Marcela Ossa

Marcela Ossa (Soprano, Flanna cover)

Marcela Ossa is a Colombian-American operatic soprano born in Medellín, Colombia and raised in Texas.  She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the Music Conservatory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts.  Marcela has performed around the Chicago area as Metella in Händel’s Silla with Chicago Summer Opera and Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with Sinfonietta Bel Canto. She also worked with the Savoyaires, where she performed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore.  She has sung in various cities around Italy where she performed lead roles in scenes from Verdi’s Falstaff and Rigoletto, among other performances.  During her collegiate years, Marcela performed in CCPA’s undergraduate operas as Daphne from Barab’s The Ruined Maid and Parashka in Stravinksy’s Mavra.  She frequently appeared as a soloist with Roosevelt’s Conservatory Chorus and performed as a chorus member with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta.  When Marcela is not singing, she is a teaching artist, poet, and visual artist.  She loves yoga, rock climbing, nature, animals, and her family and friends.  marcelaossa.com, @marcelaossago

Barbara Smith
Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith (Mezzo-soprano)

Barbara Smith is from Chicago and sings all over the area.  Barbara has appeared in shows at Davenport’s, Underground Wonder Bar, Rosa’s Lounge, Chief O’Neill’s and the Cliff Dwellers Club.  Her powerful alto voice is well suited to jazz, blues, and folk music as well as cabaret.  She was the 2018 winner of the Skokie Idol contest.

Top Row (left to right): Norah Lougachi, Caleb Reed-Jennings, Isabella Airato, Tekla Schreiner-Witte, Ruby O’Shaughnessey, Henry Lombardo
Bottom Row (left to right): Shiloh Jennings, Benjamin Govertsen, Sam Combs, Henry James Hansen, Amelia Holly

Tekla Schreiner-Witte (Miranette)

Tekla Schreiner-Witte is an 8th grader at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School.  She studies Broadway Voice, Dance, and Improvisation at Ovation Academy of the Performing Arts as well as Lyrical, Hip-Hop, Broadway Dance, and Improvisation at Park District of Oak Park.  She also sang in the choir at Whittier Elementary School.  She has performed in numerous productions including Footloose, Matilda Jr, Bravo’s Best, Wish Upon A Star, The Mystery of Custodia, Dear Edwina Jr, and A Year With Frog and Toad Kids with Bravo Performing Arts; Junie B. Jones Jr, Broadway Kids, Fame Jr, Miley Chase The Science Ace, Shrek Jr, Annie Kids, Seussical Kids (twice), The Land of Forgotten Toys, The Little Mermaid Jr (twice), Fun House, Into The Woods Jr, Alice in Wonderland Jr, and The Aristocats Kids with Ovation Academy, and The Pirates of Penzance with Opera for the Young.  She was also seen in a short documentary film, Open Doors: 606 Records.  In her spare time, she likes to make crafts.  She is very happy to play this wonderful role in such a beautiful opera!

Henry Lombardo (Brinn 6/23 & 6/24, Draglion, Dancer, Bird, Ensemble)

Henry Lombardo is a vocal student at Merit School of Music Alice S. Pfaelzer Conservatory program.  Select performance credits include Macbeth, The Magic Flute and Luisa Miller (Lyric Opera of Chicago), A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre), An Inspector Calls (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), NINE the Musical (Bright Side Theatre), The Christmas Foundling (The Buena at Pride Arts Center), Seussical: A Virtual Musical! (The Virtual Stage Co.) and Spirit Week Assembly: No PDA (The Second City). Lombardo also regularly performs in choral ensembles, including recently the children’s chorus of the Joffrey Ballet’s production, The Nutcracker. He also can be seen in television commercials for Casey’s General Store, Camping World, Empire Today, and in several short films. Lombardo studies tap dancing, piano, drums, and violin.

Amelia Holly (Brinn 6/25 & 6/26, Anahita, Flutterby, Ensemble)

Amelia Holly is a student at John B. Murphy Elementary School.  She loves music and the friendships formed from performing in the arts.  Her favorite roles she has performed include Grace in Annie Jr. at the Performer’s School, Alice in The Addams Family with Northbrook Youth Theatre, Olive in A Christmas Carol with Mother Road Productions, Dorothy in A Wizard of Oz Musical with Metropolis School of the Performing Arts, and Young Anna in Frozen Jr. with Virtuosa Performing Arts.  She studies voice at Fine Arts Voice and sings in the Chicago Children’s Choir Vivace Group.  She has also trained in dance and enjoys playing the violin and the videogame Roblox.  

Caleb Reed-Jennings (Kody, Puppeteer, Tāne, Draglion, Dancer, Bird, Ensemble)

Caleb Reed-Jennings is a student at Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School.  He is very excited to perform in his first opera!  Caleb and his sister, Shiloh, have performed in church plays at Gospel Temple Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and in praise dance with Children of Virtue.  He has also sung with Soul Children of Chicago and is a percussionist in the Sistema Ravinia Orchestra, an intensive music education program for 3rd-8th grade students in Chicago which was first launched at Catalyst Circle Rock School.  Caleb participates in sports at Chicago Westside Sports and loves playing football, basketball, and baseball.  

Shiloh Jennings (Flinn, Puppeteer, Draglion, Dancer, Bird, Ensemble)

Shiloh Jennings is thrilled to perform in her first opera and happy that it is being performed at the Kehrein Center for the Arts!  She is a 6th grader at Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School.  Like her brother, Caleb, she has performed in church plays at Gospel Temple Church of God in Christ (COGIC), sings in the church choir, and enjoys being a praise dancer with Children of Virtue.  Shiloh is also a cheerleader at her school and a member of the New Generation Drill Team.

Norah Lougachi (Korel, Draglion, Dancer, Bird, Ensemble)

Norah Lougachi has just completed her freshman year at Oak Park River Forest High School, where she sings with the OPRF High School Choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble.  In junior high, she sang in the Do-Re-Mi’s (All Girls Choir) and Jukebox Choir as well as the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) Honor Choir.  She also performed in her junior high productions of Antigone in Munich: The Sophie Scholl Story, Haymarket Eight, and Votes for Women.  Norah has always been interested in music, piano, and singing and plans to be an opera singer.  

Isabella Airato (Kara, Flutterby, Ensemble)

Isabella Airato is a 5th grade student at Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park.  She has been performing in musical theater and dance recitals since she was 4 years old.  Isabella takes musical theater classes (acting, dance and voice lessons) at Ovation Academy in Oak Park and has performed in numerous musicals including Seussical KIDS (2 times), Flat Stanley Jr., Moana Jr., Descendants the Musical, Land of Forgotten Toys, Little Mermaid Jr., Aristocats KIDS, Junior B. Jones, and Annie KIDS.  She is a member of Ovation’s junior company that attends JTF (Junior Theater Festival) in California every year.  She also studies ballet, pointe, modern, and tap dance at a local dance studio.  She is happy to be a part of “a performance that includes input from kids and is on a big stage!”

Ruby O’Shaughnessey (Ninn, Puppeteer, Ensemble)

Ruby O’Shaughnessey is thrilled to sing in her first professional opera!  As a rising 8th grader at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, she loves playing the flute and singing (along with her twin brother) in the vocal ensemble Downbeat. She has studied acting with Gigi Guerin Hudson of Actor’s Garden, where she has performed roles in summer musicals for years (such as Becky Thatcher, Mount Olympus, and The Good Knight). Off stage, Ruby enjoys ice hockey, reading, and creating beautiful origami. Many thanks to family and friends!

Ben Govertsen (Tiny Draglion, Ensemble)

This is Ben’s second time on stage since he learned to walk. Earlier this year, he was seen as Vladimir in The Death of Ivan Ilych with Thompson Street Opera.  His parents are professional singers and music teachers, so he loves to enthusiastically sing everywhere!  While in utero, he was also seen as the Bump in The Telephone and Hello Out There, and in infancy as Little Papageno in The Magic Flute. Ben just finished first grade at Roosevelt Elementary Park Ridge and has sung in the Park Ridge Community Junior Choir as well as solos at church and school.  He enjoys soccer, swimming, drawing, reading, building with Legos, cats, outer space, dinosaurs, and generally doing his best to channel Donald O’Connor at every available moment.  

Sam Combs (Tiny Draglion, Ensemble)

Sam Combs is entering second grade at Decatur Classical School, where her favorite subject is Math.  She enjoys reading fantasy, mysteries, and scary stories; watching movies; bike riding; snacks; Pokémon; and tumbling class at Loyola Park.  Sam loves to sing, and is thrilled to make her performing debut with Future Perfect on her path to stardom!

Henry James Hansen (Tiny Draglion, Ensemble)

Henry James Hansen is thrilled to be making his theatrical debut in Future Perfect! He is a preschooler at Walsh Elementary school in Lockport, Illinois and loves his weekly dance and swim lessons. Henry is 4 and three quarters and his hobbies include building Legos and discussing all things Ninjago. He is happy to be following in his opera singer mommy’s footsteps and loves being big brother to his new baby, Charlie.

Costume designs for Future Perfect from workshops with 6th & 8th graders at Kinzie Elementary.

Future Perfect – Synopsis© 2020 Christine Steyer

PROLOGUE–
Here and Now

A video is projected showing images of repeated patterns found in the micro and macro universe. As it is being shown, the cast “Crowd” comes on stage to watch. A narrator recites that sometime ago a terrible event wreaked havoc in the lands, and in the case of Properboro, power was seized by a few and a fence was built around the small city to eliminate contact with the outside world. However, for one inhabitant, Miranette, curiosity for what was beyond the fence would prove too great to contain.

ACT 1, Morning in a small city named Properboro, set in the near future 

The Crowd of all ages walks in rigid formation offering generic pleasantries “Good Morning to one another. Miranette, a silent young girl, runs off and Paloma, a teenager, follows her, but soon returns alone. Twelve Adults from the crowd tell of four strange occurrences that happened in recent days. The Crowd listens. Everyone agrees that three of the occurrences should be reported at once, but that the fourth one should not, as it was void of specific facts.

Youths who have broken free from the crowd meet in a cave. By venturing beyond the fence into the forbidden zone, the Youths were inadvertently responsible for the strange occurrences. Paloma enters looking for Miranette. They hear the Crowd shouting Miranette’s name and run out to see the fuss. The Crowd scolds “Miranette” for her shortcomings and for removing insignia demotions pinned to her sash—an item all youth are required to wear. Paloma tries to intervene, but the Crowd threatens to send Miranette away if she misbehaves again.

The Crowd exits and Miranette gives Paloma her journal to help explain her actions “Don’t Label Me.” Miranette then shows Paloma a string of crystals with a medallion she found but Paloma scolds her for keeping any object found beyond the fence. Miranette indicates she is ready to run away as Paloma is called back home. As Miranette sets out, she is met by the Youths who, having suspected her intention, give her a jar with chrysalises, a monkey named Jingle, seeds and a conch shell. Miranette leaves. Paloma shows up right after, undecided what to do.

ACT 2–Outside of Properboro, a few hours later

Miranette and Jingle come across Asintmah and Oxóssi instructing their children, Anahita and Tāne, on the power of imagination “In a World Without Limits.” As Miranette partakes in the lesson, Paloma shows up ready to take her back, but instead converts to joining Miranette. The Children are told to take Miranette, Paloma and Jingle to meet Rosetta who might know more about the Miranette’s crystals.

Rosetta, a woman with extraordinary hearing, introduces the travelers to a world of sound. With the use of an earhorn, Miranette indicates she can hear the universe, which then Rosetta describes to the group “The Universe Sings”. Miranette plays her conch. Rosetta becomes fascinated with it and Miranette trades it for a bird-whistle. Rosetta says she knows where Miranette, Paloma and Jingle can find a group of unruly artists who make things like the crystals they have. She warns, since it is far, they will need transportation.

Rosetta introduces Kai, Edeyrn and Iscovan to the group. The Men confess that though they greatly admire the chivalrous age of knights, they find that acknowledging one’s vulnerable side can also be a great source of strength “If You Take the Time to Know Me”. Jingle climbs up a tree and shakes some fruit to the ground. He sees another monkey and stays behind.

Kai, Edeyrn and Iscovan give Miranette and Paloma scooters to assist them with their journey. Rosetta warns them not to get separated. Miranette says goodbye to Anahita and Tāne.

Miranette rides but gets separated from Paloma, and then, lost. She blows her bird-whistle for help. The sky turns dark and it begins to rain. Miranette sits under her umbrella and unscrews the lid on the jar with the chrysalises. She eventually falls asleep.

It is morning and Two Butterflies unfold their wings in the morning sun. They fly over to Miranette and wake her. Miranette joins them in a short dance.

Baubo, wearing a Dragon head, enters unnoticed looking for the rest of her Dragon. They startle each other. Baubo tells Miranette and the Butterflies how much she loves to laugh “LMBO!” Baubo can’t understand anything Miranette is tries to communicate about being lost. The Butterflies fly off.

Four Youths enter costumed as the Dragon body. Baubo and the Youths convince Miranette to be the Dragon’s tail “Be the Tail!” With Baubo as the head, Dragon leaves for the 113th Annual Dragon Parade.

The Dragon arrives at the library and laboratory of Baubo’s friend Leggo and his dog Chumpy. Miranette discovers a strange book in the library containing writings on that back of an old chart. Leggo shares one of the writings, “The Seraph.” Miranette gives Leggo her journal to add to his collection. Miranette notices that the old chart corresponds to the medallion on her crystal necklace.

Leggo is just about to tell everyone the meaning of the medallion, when Chumpy hears arguing in the distance and runs off. Miranette chases after her on her scooter. Chumpy and Miranette come across Juniper, Verbena and Ember arguing about what color to paint the new bridge for the solstice celebration. Another woman, Flanna, is hammering on the bridge. Juniper, Verbena and Ember try to convince Miranette that their color is the best “Blue, Purple & Yellow.” Miranette approaches Flanna to resolve thequarrel. Instead Flanna, joined by a four Dancers, tells them of her troubled experience with another color “Red is a Trick.”

During Flanna’s tale, the image that Miranette has sensed for so long finally appears and she shows it to Flanna. The Four Women surround them and everyone comes to peace.

Chumpy points to the soil and Miranette plants the seeds she received from her friends. She drapes cloth of all four colors on the bridge indicating to the Women it can be painted in all the colors. Flanna notices Miranette’s necklace and confesses some time back she felt compelled to send it downstream sensing it would reach the right person. The Women let Miranette select whatever clothes she likes from a trunk. When she goes to change. Paloma arrives, relieved to find Miranette’s scooter. The Women tell Paloma that Miranette is safe.

Miranette emerges in clothes of various styles. Suddenly the light of the solstice shines on her crystal headdress creating a kaleidoscope of color. Miranette, Paloma, the Women and some Birds swirl around in the wash of color.

Miranette falls into a deep sleep. In her dream, the Plant comes to life and the Crowd from Act 1 appears and dance rigidly. The Twelve Characters from her journey join in andthe dance starts to loosen. The Birds lead Anahita, Tāne, Jingle and Chumpy on a floating island as parts of the Dragon trail behind. The City Folks form a flower mandala from their umbrellas and then a strong wind, brought about by Two Butterflies flapping their wings, disperses it. Miranette emerges center and inspires the Youth and Paloma to join her in aspiring for a better world “Transcendence.” Everyone joins in.

Miranette awakens from her dream. She is surrounded by Paloma, the Women, the Animals. The eight other Characters she met on her travels arrive, having been drawn to the brilliant light. Miranette finds her voice and together Everyone feels that whenever humans, like particles, interact with one another, they can never be independent from each other. And because of that quantum entanglement, change can manifest at “200 Million Cells,” the average rate of cellular regeneration per minute in each person.

EPILOGUE–Outside of Properboro, two generations later

Six Youths walk through the forest looking for the legendary Miranette, whom they heard about from their grandmother, Paloma. They believe they see Miranette and run into the audience to meet her.

Curtain. The End.

FUTURE PERFECT WORKSHOPS with 1,300 Chicago-area Youths

The five years of Future Perfect Project Workshops (from 2014-2019)
were entirely funded by a grassroots campaign generating
donations from individuals and local organizations.
Thanks to all who supported and participated in this program.

Bellissima Opera Outreach—A Powerful Day at Senn High School in Chicago that would inspire 5 years of workshops

1/24/2014

Tenor Franco Martona and I performed opera excerpts for five classes on October 24 at Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago—one of the city’s most racil diverse schools. We also invited two poets, Maureen Kwiat Mexhenberg and Reginald “RJ” Eldridge to share their poetry with the class. Afterwards, students were told about The Transcendence Project. In addition to them hearing singing and poetry, our other purpose that day was to lead each class in writing exercises that dealt with words like “diversity” “inter-connectedness” “transcendence” as well as what the impact of being labeled feels like and what would a perfect future world look like.

Their writings, we explained to the students, would help us to construct the libretto (the opera’s text that the music is set to) for the third opera in our triptych: Future Perfect.
To their teacher, Diane Piette’s surprise, about 23 students came up to share their work with all of us. Apparently, some of them hadn’t said a word all year and yet they found themselves sharing their deepest pain and most intimate thoughts with their classmates. When asked how it made their classmates feel to hear these stories, the listeners often cited feelings of greater compassion towards those that spoke as well as relief to know that they weren’t the only ones that struggled along the turbulent road of high school life.

That’s the power of telling out stories!

Christine Steyer
Artistic Director, Bellissima Opera
Founder, The Transcendence Project

Future Perfect Workshop Details: 2014-2019
Bellissima Opera Artistic Director & Project Producer – Christine Steyer
​Bellissima Opera is indebted to the poets, musicians, teachers, volunteers and 1,300 students who gave their time and talents to this project.


Nicholas Senn High School, Chicago: 10/24/14

Teacher: Diane Piette
Artists:
Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg, poet, writing exercises
Christine Steyer, soprano
Franco Martorana, tenor
Videographers: Paul Geiger and Rebecca Keehner
Typist: Jeanette Mancusi
Writing Prompts:
Labels
Opposite of Love
Speaking One’s Peace
Unsung Heroes
Pick any Word


Brookdale Senior Center, Ages 7-26, Oak Park: 10/18/15

Artists:
Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg, poet
Juliana Engel Storms, crafts
Christine Steyer, soprano
Videographer: Brian Bator
Craft Project:
Students decorate sashes and armor shapes for costume pieces


Nicholas Senn High School, Chicago: 1/13/17

Teacher: Diane Piette
Artists:                         
Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg, poet & writing exercises
Reginald Eldridge, poet
D’angelo Robinson, student poet facilitator
Imani Brunson, student poet facilitator
Christine Steyer, soprano
Franco Martorana, tenor
Anatoliy Torschinsky, piano                               

Typists: 
Jethra Kapp
Molly Allsheid
Diane Scott
Jim Price                                    
Susan Huizinga     
Writing Prompts:
Every Picture Tells a Story
If You Were King, Queen or Ruler for a Day
The Colors in Your Life
In a World Without Limits I Would…
At a Rate of 200 Million Cells Per Minute, I am Becoming…
Who am I? I am…


Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago: 4/3/17

Teachers: Paul Carrera and Mark Carrera                        
Artists:
Maureen Kwiat Meshenberg, poet & writing exercises
Christine Steyer, soprano
Franco Martorana, tenor
Anatoliy Torschinsky, piano
Karen Tlusky, sound                                          
Typists:
Cindy Senneke
Jim Price
Catie Withers
Susan Huizinga                    
Writing Prompts:
If I Could Live My Life Out Loud
The Most Beautiful Sound
The Universe Sings
Diversity Heals 
My Space Capsule
Choosing to Transcend
A Message to Future Generations
Change Begins with Me                                             
My Song for Humanity


Lincoln Elementary, 3rd Grade, Oak Park: 5/9/18

Teachers: Claire Bartell and Julie Anderson         
Artists:                         
MG Bertulfo, poet, author & writing exercises        
Christine Steyer, soprano                             
Videographer: Cory Andersen                     
Typist: Susan Huizinga                    
Writing Prompts:       
My Superhero of the Future
Crazy Plants
Too Much Technology–People Forgot
Stadium Invasion
Mysterious Mural


Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago: 6/4/18

Teachers: Paul Carrera and Mark Carrera                                    
Artists:
MG Bertulfo, poet, author & writing exercises
Christine Steyer, soprano 
Sugar Blue, harmonica
Mark Burnell, piano                                                             
Videographer: Christine Steyer                   
Typists: Anneliese Ayers and Katie Rub
Writing Prompts:
The Mandala is My Universe
I Release My Mandala
My Blues Song Is
If You Take Time to Know Me, You Would…


Al Raby High School, Chicago: 6/12/18

Teacher: Teneisha Huley                    
Artists:
Carlos Jiménez Flores, poet & writing prompts       
Christine Steyer, soprano                             
Videographer:  Paul Geiger                    
Typist: Christine Steyer
Writing Prompts:
Love of Self                
Love for Other
Love of Other Things


Unity Temple, Unitarian Universalist Youth, Various Ages, Oak Park: 7/29/18

Teacher: Juliana Engel Storms      
Artists:                         
Paul Geiger, narrator
Christine Steyer, soprano 
Peter Storms, piano
Videographer: Paul Geiger
Craft Project:
Students discover the chrysalis and the butterflies and create their own


John Kinzie Elementary, 6th Grade, Chicago: 5/9/19

Teacher: Shannon Torres                    
Artists:
Shannon Torres
Christine Steyer, soprano                             
Videographer: Regina Janczyszyn                           
Craft Project:
Students design costumes for opera characters


Unity Temple, Unitarian Universalist Youth, Various Ages, Oak Park: 7/28/19

Teacher: Juliana Engel Storms              
Artist: Susan Sensemann, visual artist
Videographer: Juliana Engel Storms                     
Craft Project:            
Students create a flower mandala and study the concepts of impermanence


John Kinzie Elementary, 8th Grade, Chicago: 10/7/19

Teacher:  Shannon Torres
Assistant:  Regina Janczyszyn
Artists:                        
Juliana Engel Storms, artist & project workshop leader
Christine Steyer, soprano                 
Videographers:           
Christine Steyer
Juliana Engel Storms                       
Craft Project:              
Students design costumes for opera characters

“Transcendence” 
 
Transcendence.
What we’ve done before 
doesn’t serve us anymore.
 
Like a tree’s unwanted leaves
my tears fall down.
Like broken-heart shaped needles
my tears fall down.
Transcendence.
 
I pray for a better day
I may never see.
I cry myself to sleep,
I need help along my way.
 
Transcendence.
What we do today
The world is yearning for.
 
 Transcendence.