Meet the Musicians for “An Afternoon of Opera”

Ovation West Performing Arts presents a Shining Stars ConcertAN AFTERNOON OF OPERA – FROM MOZART TO MUSICAL THEATRE
Where the music comes from…
Sunday, November 17, 2019


Christine Honein, Soprano  Praised for her vocal clarity, crystalline coloratura, and abundant musicality, Lebanese-American soprano Christine Honein has been featured on the stages of the United States and the Middle East.  In December 2019, Christine will be the soprano soloist with the Lebanese Philharmonic under the baton of Harout Fazlian for a Christmas concert.  In November, Christine will be featured in Boulder Opera’s Carmen highlights as Frasquita.  Other appearances include a concert tour in Florida featuring music from her recently released album titled “Road to Light” and a concert titled “The Lebanese Experience” with the Fine Tuned Society.

Most recently, Christine was the featured soloist in Imant Raminsh’s Missa Brevis with the ASTER choir and CU Women’s choir, and performed the role of Miriam in a workshop of Leanna Kirchoff’s new chamber opera Friday After Friday, a work that addresses Syrian women’s unique experiences of living through the war crisis.  Last Fall, Christine performed the role of Maria in Eklund Opera’s production of West Side Story.  Christine made her debut with the company in 2018, playing the role of Dalinda in Handel’s Ariodante.  In April 2019, Christine premiered selections from Art Songs in Arabic on Poems by Said Akl, by Lebanese composer Iyad Kanaan.  Christine enjoys performing a wide variety of music, including Baroque.  She has been a featured soloist with the CU Early Music Ensemble, and covered the soprano solos of Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Boulder Bach Festival last fall.

Christine hopes to continue using music to express, expose, and introduce audiences to the beautiful and rich culture of the Middle East.  In Summer 2020, Christine looks forward to premiering Qudomous, an opera by Said Akl at the Baalbak Festival in Lebanon.

Kira Dills-DeSurra
Kira Dills-DeSurra is a vibrant American mezzo-soprano who exudes effortless charm and truth with her magnetic stage presence. With background of performance and leadership in a variety of styles including opera, improv, and circus arts, she always brings a unique, multi-faceted presence to stage.

Last season she debuted with Opera Colorado as Flora (La Traviata), Gertrude Stein (Tom Cipullo’s After Life), and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro). She was also featured in touring productions as Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) and Hansel (Hansel and Gretel). Dills-DeSurra was a Central City Opera Apprentice Artist 2017 and 2018, singing Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte) and Mercédès (Carmen). This summer she endeavored into early music, playing Diana in La Calisto with Opera NEO. In 2019/20 she returns to Opera Colorado as an Artist in Residence for a performance of Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Shepherd Boy (Tosca). A champion of new and rarely performed works, Dills-DeSurra has performed in many American premieres, including several coproduction’s with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera. Dills-DeSurra earned her Artist Diploma and Master of Music from Roosevelt University: Chicago College of Performing Arts and Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California.

Thomas Cilluffo
Thomas Cilluffo received his MM in Voice Performance in 2017 from the University of Michigan where he studied under the legendary tenor, George Shirley. Tom grew up in Traverse City in northern Michigan where he developed his love for music and theater, but he also has many other passions. He is an avid craftsman and enjoys making jewelry, woodworking, and blacksmithing. For the past seven years, Tom has held a “second job” making fine custom conducting batons for orchestral and choral conductors all over the world. He’s even been known to make a magic wand or two! Other than making loud noises while singing opera, he also plays the Highland Bagpipes, making him a favorite of the neighbors…
Before coming to Opera Colorado where he is currently an artist in residence, Tom was the tenor resident artist with Portland Opera in Portland, Oregon where he sang Contino Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera, Borsa in Rigoletto, and the Sergeant of Police in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Other credits include Spoletta in Portland Summerfest’s Tosca, Adolfo Pirelli in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s Sweeney Todd, Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), and Roméo (Roméo et Juliette).



Eric J. McConnell
Denver native Eric J. McConnell, bass-baritone, is quickly garnering acclaim in the American opera community for his distinctive dramatic voice and his theatrical interpretations of both comic and tragic characters. He began the 2019-2020 season with a return as an Opera Fellow to the Aspen Music Festival, where he performed the Sodbuster in Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up and covered Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. He then returned as an Artist in Residence at Opera Colorado, where he recently performed as Bartolo in the Student Matinee performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia. He also recently made his debut with the Denver Philharmonic, singing the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem.

Previous seasons have seen McConnell in professional debuts with Opera Colorado (Figaro/Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro and Dr. Grenvil in La traviata), Central City Opera (Jailer in Tosca, William Jennings Bryan in The Ballad of Baby Doe, and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro), the Albany Symphony Orchestra (Elisha Fitzgibbon in the orchestral premiere of Evan Mack’s Roscoe, a performance featuring renowned soprano Deborah Voigt), Opera Saratoga (President Prexy in Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock), and the SoBe Arts Institute (Science Officer Curium Black in the world premiere of Carson Kievman’s Intelligent Systems).  He has trained as a young artist with Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, the Aspen Opera Center and Seagle Music Colony. He holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami. He returns to Opera Colorado in Spring 2020, singing Angelotti and study-covering Scarpia in Tosca.


Jordan Ortman
Jordan Ortman is a collaborative pianist and vocal coach based in Denver, Colorado.  As an enthusiast of both opera and musical theater he has worked offstage as pianist, coach, music director, and conductor for productions with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Arvada Center, and Inspire Theater Company and has performed on stage in productions of Oliver, Pirates of Penzance, Fiddler on the Roof, Into the Woods, and Masterclass.  During the 2017-2018 season, he was the coach and pianist for the Young Artist (now Artist in Residence) Program at Opera Colorado.  He is an Affiliate Faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Denver, where he teaches Class Piano, Theory Lab, and accompanies and coaches voice and instrumental students.  He is the assistant music director at First United Methodist Church of Boulder, Colorado.  He received a BA in Music from Bethel College (KS) and a MM in Collaborative Piano from the University of Northern Colorado, where he studied with Dr. Willem van Schalkwyk.