Euridice Artist Interview: Elyse Kakacek

Get to know the cast of Euridice

Elyse Kakacek, soprano, portrays Dafne in Caccini's Euridice on February 23 - 25, 2018 at The Alchemical Studios.  

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Elyse, sum up the character of Dafne in a few words. 

Nurturing, strong, empathetic, stubborn, fiery

Ok, we're hooked. Tell us more! 

Some context in a nutshell: Dafne is a self-sworn virgin who wants to devote her life to protecting and exploring the forest and water. Her father the river god fights with her endlessly because he wants her to give him grandchildren- but she refuses because she does not want to be tied to a man. The god Apollo becomes enamored with Dafne and will not stop chasing her- to the point where she begs her father for help. Her father's reaction is to transform her into a laurel tree for all eternity. Rather than preserve her liberated feminine energy in human form, he chooses to trap her in a tree that is unable to move- which Apollo later chooses to make evergreen...

In today's political climate, a woman's right to make choices about her own body are being called into question regularly. The #metoo movement is a testament to how many women feel trapped and unable to express their femininity without being objectified or assaulted. Studying this character has been very emotional for me as a woman during this time in our country, because Dafne is exactly that. 

Director Bea Goodwin's staging incorporates elements of traditional Greek theater. What role do those elements play in telling the story of Euridice? 

So far, I have found the Greek theater traditions to be very helpful and emotionally driving in this production. A beautiful thing about this opera is, while many of us are named characters, we all operate from within one group of people experiencing tragedy and mystery- which Bea is treating as a greek chorus. Greek choruses were fashioned to express reactions to the conflict in efforts to liberate the audience- giving them the unspoken permission to feel and experience the story with more abandon. This mentality is essential to the ensemble work we are doing both with our voices and with Bea's concept of movement in this piece. It makes each of our individual journeys much more meaningful. 

Enough about the show - Elyse, tell us more about yourself!

Sharing music with people is my favorite thing to do- I love the sense of belonging that washes over everything when people come together to create and experience it, and I am grateful that I get to participate so actively in that! I have an unhealthy obsession with sunshine, baking (and eating) cookies, and I get ridiculously happy when my bitty piano students are successful at interval recognition (yes, I am a theory nerd). I am passionate about hot yoga and love to bring people to practice with me (seriously, reach out if you want to come with me!), I enjoy painting, I have an adorable cat named Lyla and an equally adorable boyfriend. 

What about living in NYC makes you smile? 

People living loudly and joyfully; whether it be a woman walking down the sidewalk with three cats attached to her, someone singing their heart out on the subway, or showtime (what time is it?!). Also- how often it is that you run into people you know!!! It really can be a small town :)

Magic & Mayhem Artist Interviews: Claire Townsend

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Meet Claire Townsend! 

Costume designer Claire Townsend created over 15 original masks to be worn in our '17-'18 season opener, Magic & Mayhem. Masks will be available for purchase after the show. Buy your tickets!  

Claire, how did you get into costuming? 

I started in a fashion foundation at London College of Fashion and had a one week intro to Theatre Costuming as part of that course and absolutely loved it. I found it immensely rewarding to create clothes for real people with personalities and quirks, and getting to learn about their histories and stories. So I jumped over to Costume Design instead.

What sources of inspiration do you draw from for your pieces?

For inspiration I always start with the text, invariably there are images within a text that will point me in a direction to start researching. I also look at period sources: art, fashion and architecture from the period, as well as modern art to help create an atmosphere or mood.

What is your favorite kind of garment to make?

That's a hard one! I love fantasy, but I really love creating garments in which I am working with a challenge, for example garments that have to function a specific way in a certain scene; it's fun for me to create something beautifully designed but also be functional, practical, and have an element of magic to get it to do what the performer wants it to do in a scene.

What is your dream show to costume?

Alice in Wonderland! But I am also itching to design Pagliacci. They both have such rich characters and a element of surrealism. I love designing shows where there is a balance of creating different worlds and seeing how characters change within each habitat.

Please visit Claire's website at

Magic & Mayhem Artist Interviews: Sangying Li

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Get to know the cast of Magic & Mayhem!

Sangying Li, soprano, will be performing "O zittre Nicht" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte , "The Phantom of the Opera" (Webber) with tenor Marques Hollie, and "Der Tod und das Mädchen"(Schubert) with mezzo-soprano Kirsti Esch.

Tell us about what you’re singing and how it fits into the “Magic and Mayhem” theme.

The aria from Die Zauberflöte shows the different sides of the Queen--the angry dark power, the false sadness, and the crazy ecstasy when she finally tries to convince the prince to rescue her daughter. While the first Queen of the Night aria is not as famous as the second one, I actually like it better. The coloratura part at the end is so beautiful!  “The Phantom of the opera" duet is full of mysteries, I always feel so excited when the melody is played. “Das Tod und das Mädchen ” is actually my favorite. I'll be singing the Maiden part---she is so frightening and scared when seeing the death at the beginning, but the death was very powerful and peaceful at the same time for taking her to a beautiful place.

Describe your dream role.

The Queen of the Night :)

If you weren’t an artist, what would your dream job be?

I would like to be a chef!

Tell us something unusual or bizarre about your hometown.

My hometown, Hunan, is so famous for spicy food and spicy food and spicy food.

What’s on your schedule after Magic & Mayhem?

I'll be singing Rosina with Vocal Productions NYC in December.

Magic & Mayhem Artist Interviews: Maria Didur

Get to know the artists behind Magic & Mayhem!

Maria Didur is the collaborative pianist and musical coach for Magic & Mayhem. Buy your tickets today to see Maria's performance on Oct 27th! 

Tell us about your musical background.

I was born in Russia and moved to the U.S. in 1999. I started going to music school at the age of 5, later attending Coronado School of the Arts, Manhattan School of Music and Hunter College. I fell in love with collaborative piano and worked at San Diego State University for the past 8 years. I moved back to NY in August and currently work at Manhattan School for Children, teaching K-8.

How did you start working with singers? 

My first collaborative experience was in high school and I was hooked. I played the Flute Concertino by Chaminade and instantly felt like I was a part of something bigger. It was so exciting to share a stage with another musician and to play off of each other. I worked with singers in grad school and got a job at SDSU playing for a voice studio, later adding choir to the list. I enjoy collaborative piano in all shapes and sizes, instrumental or vocal.

Who is your favorite composer to play?

To this day I can say that Concerto for Two Pianos and part I of the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky go down as my top favorite pieces to perform. 

If you weren’t an artist, what would your dream job be?

I would probably want to be a sky-diving instructor. 

Tell us something unusual about your hometown.

My hometown, Ozyorsk, was the birth place of Soviet nuclear weapons program after WWII.

What’s on your schedule after Magic and Mayhem?

After Magic and Mayhem, I am preparing my choir to perform at two different concerts. My younger students will be performing at Carnegie Hall in May and I look forward to finding more opportunities to play good music with talented people. 

What's one song on your playlist you can't help but dance to?

"Welcome to My Life" by Empire of the Sun. 


Visit Maria's website at