Keiko Kagawa (Soprano)
Japanese born and educated, Keiko’s operatic roles include Cio-Cio San (Butterfly) in Madama Butterfly with North Bay Opera, Montana’s Rimrock Opera, Oregon’s Rogue Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, and Golden West Opera Company. Other roles include Violetta in Traviata, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Micaela in Carmen, Nedda in Pagliacci, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Suor Angelica in Suor Angelica, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Marguerite in Faust, the First Lady in The Magic Flute, the Mother in Hänsel and Gretel, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Tosca in Tosca, Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, and the First Lady in Christopher Sly. In addition to the operax companies already listed, Keiko has also performed with Golden Gate Opera, City Summer Opera (San Francisco), Oakland Lyric Opera Company, Goat Hall Productions (San Francisco), Marin Opera Company, Cal State East Bay Summer Opera and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has also made a number of appearances as the Soprano Lead in Handel’s Messiah. Keiko also gives occasional recitals, as well as participating in an annual vocal concert in Japan.
Keiko will be performing in “Sisters and Friends USA” in Saratoga, CA in May 2017. She will be performing Adina from Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” in April/May 2018.
Musical theater and dance work includes performances with the Oakland Lyric Opera, San Francisco City Light Performing Arts Company and Infinite Reflections Dance Company.
In Japan, Keiko’s recorded appearances include several works of Praise Songs and Contemporary Christian Music. In the U.S. Keiko can be heard on recordings by Noel McFarlane and the group “Hikari.” Keiko is also the former band leader, keyboardist and lead singer of “Lovely Wind,” a Tokyo based Gospel Jazz Trio.
Keiko’s on-air television work include performance in Japan and on “Morning Sunrise” on KRON in San Francisco. Keiko is also the former on-the-air hostess for the “Miemasuka Ai” program on Fuji TV, KTSF Channel 26 in San Francisco. Behind the scenes television work includes professional make-up work for shows on KQED (“Yan Can Cook”), KTVU (“Mornings on 2″), KRON and corporate clients such as AT&T, Apple Computer and Hewlett-Packard.
Keiko also teaches voice and piano and serves as the conductor for Choral Cosmo/Silicon Valley Community Chorus www.choralcosmo.com. Aldersgate United Methodist Church of Palo Alto choir director and Calvary United Methodist Church music director/choir director.
Keiko holds the degree of Master of Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her undergraduate degree, a Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance and a Teaching Credential in Music Education are from Tokyo’s Kunitachi College of Music（国立音楽大学）.
Yuko Matsumoto (Soprano)
Yuko is a member of several performing arts groups in Japan and participates in concerts with group “Reki 礫” annually. She has sang in Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s cantata as a soloist. Her Japanese art song recital in 2015 received rave reviews. She is the original member of “Sisters and Friends” concert series in Japan. This is the group’s 15th season. In recent years, Yuko specializes in Japanese art songs. Yuko holds a Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance and a Teaching Credential in Music Education from Tokyo’s s Kunitachi College of Music（国立音楽大学）.
Krassen Karagiozov (Baritone)
Baritone Krassen Karagiozov was born in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, where he began his musical studies as a pianist. In addition to concert work as a collaborative pianist in Bulgaria, Turkey, and USA he appeared as baritone soloist for a recital and recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio. During the 2008 – 2009 season, he made his debut as a member of Opera San José‘s resident principal artists, appearing in the title role of Eugene Onegin, Sgt. Belcore (The Elixir of Love), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Escamillo (Carmen). Among the roles that he has performed are Papageno, Conte di Luna, Enrico, Germont, Marcello, Vallentin, Figaro, Sharpless, Vronsky, Count Almaviva, Dandini, Don Giovanni, Tarquinius, Silvio, Schaunard, Lescaut, Masetto, Gianni Schicchi, Harlequin, Peter, Daniello, Angelotti, Rambaldo, Raoul de Gardefeu. Mr. Karagiozov has appeared with opera companies such as New York City Opera, Caramoor Festival, Opera San José, Opera Carolina, Opera Santa Barbara, Lake George Opera Festival, Spoleto Opera Festival, Aspen Opera Theater, West Bay Opera, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, The Opera Company of NorthCarolina, Opera Roanoke, Piedmont Opera Theater and Capital Opera Raleigh. He has also appeared as a soloist for the Fresno Community Chorus and Orchestra, Santa Clara Chorale, Symphony Silicon Valley, the Bulgarian Radio-Symphony Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Carolina Chamber Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra, and Enid Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Karagiozov is a North Carolina district winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and First Prize winner of the Charlotte Opera Guild Competition as well as a finalist of the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition and Heinz Rehfuss Vocal Competition.
“Baritone Krassen Karagiozov gave a superb performance as her beloved Silvio; their love duet was a high point of the performance.”
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, November 13, 2011
“As Count Almaviva, baritone Krassen Karagiozov was excellent, his voice mellow and burnished, his character a despicably self-important man, but one capable of reflection — and funny.”
-Richard Scheinin, Mercury News, San Jose, CA February 7, 2010
“Baritone Krassen Karagiozov (Guglielmo)… sang with ardor and dramatic flair.”
-Scott MacClelland, Metro San Jose, CA, February 10, 2009
“Baritone Krassen Karagiozov as Belcore, the army sergeant and Lothario… sang with buttery ease …”
-Richard Scheinin, Mercury News, San Jose, CA, November,10, 2008
“Her sorely-tried fiancé, Masetto, was strongly portrayed and sung by baritone Krassen Karagiozov.”
-William Thomas Walker, CVNC, Charlotte, NC, March 30, 2008
“The true male lead is Alfredo’s father, Giorgio, whose music calls for pages of smooth, powerful singing. Krassen Karagiozov’s confidently supported, attractive baritone brought out much of the part’s beauties, especially in the aria ‘Di Provenza il mar’.”
-Roy C. Dicks, Raleigh News and Observer, October 22, 2007
“The man who gave a bravura performance in La Traviata was the magnificent baritone, Krassen Karagiozov, as Giorgio Germont, father of Alfredo. Later, Karagiozov demonstrated in two great arias all the qualities one listens for in an excellent baritone: vocal strength and authority, beauty of tone, great range, and the ability to utilize all these strengths to sustain his part in the drama.”
-Martha A. Fawbush, CVNC, October 19, 2007
“Bulgarian baritone Krassen Karagiozov was excellent as the Father.”
(Hansel and Gretel- Opera Roanoke)
-Seth Williams, Roanoke Times, September 29, 2007
Mayumi Ashiya (Yamaha Electone)
Born and raised in Japan, Mayumi began taking lessons on the electric organ at the Yamaha Music School when she was four years old. She continued her studies through college where she majored in electric organ. Upon graduation, Mayumi became an instructor of electric organ at the Yamaha Music School. In 1992, while teaching there, she won the 1st place in “Classical Category” at Yamaha Japanese National Electone Festival & Competition. She was subsequently chosen to represent Japan in the Yamaha International Electone Competition where she won the Bronze Medal. In each case she played Rachmaninoff’s very demanding “Symphonic Dances.” Since then, Mayumi has given a number of solo concerts in and around Tokyo. Other performances include collaborations with various choral and opera groups including Toyama Civic Opera, Ibaraki and Takatsuki-shi Civic Operas, playing Humperdinck’s Hänsel and Gretel and Onna wa Suteki. In the choral music area, she has collaborated with Keio University（慶応大学） and Nihon Joshidai （日本女子大学）in Dovorak’s Requiem and Fauré’s Requiem, and with Nihon Gakuen （日本学園）where she played the organ transcription of Rigoletto by Verdi. She has also performed Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love” and “Don Pasquale”, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Madama Butterfly”. Mayumi and Keiko have collaborated and performed together since 2003.
Miho Ogawa (Soprano)
Miho was born and raised in Yamagata, Japan. She graduated from Kanazawa University with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Japanese Education. After for two years working as a Japanese teacher at a public high school in Yamagata, she traveled with her husband to Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, visiting more than twenty countries along the way. She has lived in Austin, Texas, Anchorage, Alaska and San Francisco, and currently resides in Tahoe. She has a seven-year old daughter, three-year old son, and a boxer puppy.
Though she grew up playing the piano and the flute, she now focuses on singing. She has sung with many chorus groups, including the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa Chorus (led by Music Director Hiroyuki Iwaki), where she performed as a soloist and member of the opera chorus.
Miho is a former member of the Chorus Austin, the San Francisco Forest Choir, and the San Francisco Choral Society. She is currently a member of the Reno Philharmonic Chorus and the Tahoe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.
Kaori Izutani (rehearsal pianist)
Christopher Bengochea (Tenor)
Praised as having “power, sure intonation, and fine diction that come in a package tied with a ribbon of ‘natural sound.’ tenor, Christopher Bengochea has delighted audiences with his unique combination of vocal and dramatic interpretations in performances ranging from oratorio to opera. It is a unique, broadly-projected “wide” sound that can serve lyrical or heroic music equally well.”
This Basque American tenor began his musical career as a pianist then moved into the study of opera at age 18 during his time at Montana State University and later the University of Montana. After becoming an award winner at the Northwest Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and winning third prize at the Internationale Societa Concertistica Vocal Competition in Santa Margherita-Ligure, Italy, Bengochea decided to pursue singing entirely. It was in Italy where Bengochea had the opportunity to study and work with reknowned tenor, Gianni Raimondi who described Bengochea as “having a voice most brilliant and romantic: that will become very important in the future of opera”.
Mr. Bengochea’s operatic repertoire embraces a wide range of roles, including Rugeero Lestouc in La Rondine, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Erik in Alva Henderson’s Nosferatu, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Alfredo in La traviata, and Cavaradossi in Tosca. Companies with which Christopher has performed include: Opera San Jose, Atlanta Opera, Opera Idaho, Opera Canada, da Corneto Opera, Center City Opera, Opera Company Brooklyn, Jarvis Conservatory, Intermountain Opera, Townsend Opera, Rimrock Opera, Pacific Repertory Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, West Bay Opera, Teatro Felice, Caramoor Opera, and the Tigulio Festival Opera.
Bengochea performed the title role of Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani. Where Richard Covello of the Chicago Tribune described Mr. Bengochea’s performance as “flawless….He has command of Italianate style along with ringing top notes and a smooth legato – a fine, even dramatic, tenor in the making”. This award winning tenor also performed the title role in Poliuto where Laura Emerick of The Chicago Sun Times acclaimed, “with his ringing sound and elegant phrasing Bengochea was the very model of a martyred hero.”
For the past three seasons Mr. Bengochea has been a resident artist of Opera San José where he has been heard in a variety of roles from Reverend Samuel Parris in The Crucible to King Gustavus in Un ballo in maschera. Richard Scheinin of The Mercury News described “to hear Bengochea expand into big, lusty high notes — Verdi specials — were thrilling…. Bengochea, could be the tenor the company has been waiting for.” During his residency at Opera San Jose he performed Rodolfo in La bohème. The San Jose Mercury cheered, “He sings lustily, gamely expanding into high notes- a throbbing high C… he’s got soul”. He also performed Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, the title role in Roméo et Juliette, Alfredo in La traviata, and Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, the title role of Werther, the Duke in Rigoletto, and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.
At home on both the operatic and concert stages, Bengochea was heard as the Evangelist in Bach’s Weihnachts Oratorium with the New York City Chorale Society. Other Oratorio engagements include: Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, and Tallis’s The Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet and Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, Beethoven’s infamous Symphony No. 9, and Verdi’s Messa de Requiem, the world premiere of Alva Henderson’s “From Greater Light,” performed under world renown Carl St. Claire and the Orange County Symphony Orchestra.
Future engagements for Mr. Christopher Bengochea include Vasco da Gama in Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine, in his Carnegie Hall debut, the title role in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffman, Pablo Neruda in Il Postino, the title role in Mozart’s Idomeneo, the title role in Rossini’s Othello, Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in Spain.
Michael Boley (Tenor)
American tenor Michael Boley is rapidly climbing the operatic ranks. A native of Ohio, Michael began his career with Columbus Opera. Mr. Boley appeared there in productions of La Bohème, Aida, Rigoletto, Tosca, Carmen, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, Susannah and Camelot. Of his Columbus Opera performances, the COLUMBUS DISPATCH extolled, “tenor Michael Boley sings with operatic power and resonance—a true find!”
An exponent of the romantic French and full-lyric Italian repertoire, recent performance highlights for the tenor include the title role in Les Contes de Hoffmann, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, Lenski in Eugene Onegin and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. Career highlights for the tenor include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Helena Symphony Orchestra, Calaf in Turandot for Dicapo Opera, the world premiere of Anton Coppola’s La Coupe et les Lèvres at the Danny Kaye Playhouse in New York City with Inter-Cities Performing Arts and The Crucible at the National Theatre of Pécs and the Szeged National Theater in Hungary with performances telecast internationally.
With Dicapo Opera in New York City and on tour with National Lyric Opera, Mr. Boley created a significant impression in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West. Reviewing his performance, the CAPE COD TIMES was effusive in praise of his craft, “Outstanding among these, was tenor Michael Boley. Boley’s firm ringing tenor and suave stage demeanor augur well for a rewarding career in opera.” Further successes include his turn as the Chevalier de Danceny in Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons, and the Beast in Giannini’s Beauty and the Beast for Dicapo Opera, of which the NEW YORK TIMES commented, “Michael Boley sang the Beast ardently.”
The 2011/2012 season included Scriabin’s Symphony No. 1 with Helena Symphony Orchestra, Eurofest with Opera Naples and Carmen with Denyce Graves in a critically acclaimed production for Opera Charleston. This season finds the tenor as Cléon in Gluck’s rarely performed The Reformed Drunkard for Little Opera Theater of New York, Lenski in Eugene Onegin for Opera Company of Middlebury and Rodolfo in La Bohème with Staten Island Philharmonic among others. In the 2014-2015 season, Michael will be a Resident Artist with Opera San Jose, where he will assume principal assignments in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Weiser’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
Michael holds a BA in vocal performance from the College of Wooster and an MM in vocal performance from the University of Akron.
Michael Taylor (Baritone)
Michael graduated from San Francisco Conservatory of Music with his masters degree in 1990. He has appeared as soloist with many opera companies including Sacramento Opera, Opera San Jose, Marin Opera, Oakland Opera, West Bay Opera and Townsend Opera Players where he sang such roles as Gianni Schicchi, Escamillo in Carmen, the Count in The Marriage of Figaro, Scarpia in Tosca, Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Don Giovanni, Belcore in The Elixer of Love, Tonio in Pagliacci, Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Dandini in Cenerentola and Marcello in La Bohème. Mr. Taylor has appeared in concert with the Masterworks Choral, Berkeley Symphony, Vallejo Symphony, Fremont Symphony, Sacramento Choral Society, Schola Cantorum and performed as a vocal soloist with the Oakland and San Francisco Ballet.
A regional finalist in both the San Francisco Opera Merola Auditions and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, Mr. Taylor was also a participant in the San Diego Opera Apprentice Program. A winner of the 1989 Bel Canto Foundation competition, Mr. Taylor spent 6 weeks in Siena, Italy studying with coaches from La Scala. Mr. Taylor was also a member of the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera at the Curran Theater in San Francisco from 1993 to 1998. In addition to performing, he is also an active voice teacher and stage director.
Masae Nagai (Soprano)
Masae Nagai, soprano, came to the U.S.A from Japan in 1995. She studied vocal performance and graduated from Notre Dame de Namur, Belmont, CA. She participated BASOTI program and has been featured in productions with Lamplighters, Goat Hall, Opera Rouge and Berkeley Opera. She also enjoys performing in Kokoro Vocal Trio, which was formed in 2006 and has been performing locally at church services and community events. The group enjoys Japanese traditional folk songs and classical music from various periods.
She is a licensed Kindermusic teacher. She taught music fundamental classes for children, piano, voice and choir at Myriad Music School in San Mateo until 2009. She spent recent past 2 years in Japan and returned to US in 2011. She resides in San Francisco and works at YesStyle Fashion Inc. Besides singing, she enjoys rock climbing and hiking.
Kazuko Oishi (Piano)
She is currently a conductor of the women’s “Choir Florian” and is an accompanist of the mixed chorus groups “Tokyo Rakuyu Harmony” and “Cosmo Japan” in Tokyo. She has been a full member of the Fortnightly Music Club in California since 2009 and she performs in Fortnightly Music Club concerts.
John Minágro (Bass Baritone)
Versatile John Minagro is frequently seen in many genre of vocal music including Opera, Oratorio, Concert and Musical Theater. Theater credits include the roles of Bill in Applause, Abner in Li’l Abner, the Ghost in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Guido in Nine, and Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha. Both the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle and the Sacramento Regional Theater Alliance nominated John for Best Actor in a Musical.
A NATS First Place division winner, he has performed the title roles in Gianni Schicchi, Aleko, Ruslan and Ludmila, Noyes Fludde, and the Mephistopheles in Faust, Scarpia in Tosca, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Amonasro in Aïda, Alfio in Cavelleria Rusticana, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, and two of the Kings in Amahl and the Night Visitors (along with his son Jeremy as Amahl) with various companies.
John has performed chorus or solo work in locations from Lincoln Center in New York, to the Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle, and locally at the Concord/Chronicle Pavilion. He was a featured soloist on a 1993 PBS children’s special performing his own composition called The Piano. He played the laced and coifed figure Don Attilio in the San Francisco tour of The Phantom of the Opera, which played for 5 years at the Curran Theater from December 1993 to 1998.
He has also been the guest soloist with the San Francisco Symphony at their Summer Broadway Pops Concert, and can be heard singing “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch!” on the Christmas CD Christmas Center Stage, an album featuring the San Francisco cast of The Phantom of the Opera. He can also be heard on the world premiere album of the new opera Corpus Evita singing the role of Juan Peron. This CD was nominated for a Grammy in 2005 for Best New Classical Recording. For the past few years he has traveled to Osaka, Japan performing at the Ritz Carleton Hotel.
In the fall of 2004 he covered several roles with San Francisco Opera, including that of Astrodamors in Ligeti’s U.S. premier of Le Grand Macabre. Just recently he had the privilege of working with Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton in the world premiere production of Appomattox, originating the role of Confederate General Howell Cobb. In June 2009 at San Francisco Opera he performed the role of the Coroner in Porgy and Bess, and can be seen and heard in the soon to be released DVD in 2011.
Steve Spike Wong (Narrator)
Steve “Spike” Wong is the founding director of Soaring Dragon Endeavors, a theater production, direction, and writing group that focuses on Asian-American issues. His theater passion is fueled by projects that require energetic commitment to unique works of significance and creativity. He has pursued stage acting (most notably in Rashomon), musical theater (as Doc and a gangster in West Side Story; as the Doctor in Bread), technical crewing (worked with the “Flying by Foy” company, installing and working flying wires in Peter Pan), writing (including a short play, Habits, which was produced off-Broadway in New York city by Streetlight Productions), set designing, and directing (including works such as Wit, Rashomon, Cyrano de Bergerac, Whose Life Is It, Anyway?, and the premiere production of K2 / Lifeline). As a writer, director, and actor, Spike has been associated with plays and films at/with the Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, Cabrillo College, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Paramount Network Television, Lupen Productions, Golden Crow Productions, and Los Gatos High School. Spike appeared as the Narrator in Sopianos’ production of La Traviata.