The Heart of Oksana:
A Recently-Rediscovered Ukrainian Chamber Opera-Ballet
by Stefania Turkevych (1898-1977)

 

US Premiere Performance

Conducted by Erica Glenn

 

Organ Hall

Oksana: Melanie Holm
Tsar Okh: Stephanie Sadownik
Vlodko: Taryn Cantrell
Roman: Emily Benoit Smith
Mother: Samantha
Dávalos
Sun: Haley McHardy
Moon: Jill Khaleghi
Wind: Tanya Landau

Female Chorus: Catherine Baldwin, Maggie Berry, Evening Calabrese, Dhanya Chandrasekharan, Zoe Cummard, Mary DeWitt, Brooke Durborow, Jill Khaleghi, Alyssa Marksz, Taryn Landis, Julia Legler, Eliana O'Brien, Sofya Pangburn, Sarah Shipley, Kiernan Steiner, Amanda Stone


Dancers: Maggie Berry, Shery Chang, Tarryn Gould, Alexis Jackson, Taryn Landis, Jazmin Parker, Amy Symonds, Natasha Villegas

Orchestra:

Flute: Katelyn McClain

Violin I: Izayah Dutcher

Violin II: Jamie Wu

Viola: Courtney Ferry

Cello: Cameryn Baum

Bass: Karl Kessler

Piano: Aida Olarte

Director/Conductor: Erica Glenn
Choreographer: Mikaela Wisniewski
Chorus Master: Kiernan Steiner

Assistant Choreographer: Maddy Cafaro
Assistant Chorus Master: Eliana O'Brien
Dialect Coach: Erica Glenn
Transcriptions: Jarron Carlson
Translation / Transliteration: Erica Glenn
Translation Assistant: Maria Lukianowicz
Subtitle Preparation: Lindsey Murphy

 

Special thanks to Dr. David Schildkret, Dr. Kay Norton, and Brian DeMaris.  Additional thanks to Pavlo and Larysa Hunka, Anya Bigun Beus, Anna Bigun, Hilde Hoogenboom, David Brokaw, Cathy Martin, Rick Florence, Patrick Driscoll, Sharlee Glenn, James Glenn, Devin Glenn, the ASU Melikian Center, and the ASU School of Music.

 

Materials from the original production of Heart of Oksana in Winnipeg, Canada, 1969.

An original page from the handwritten score for Heart of Oksana.

Stefania Turkewich, early 20th century.

Principals

Melanie Holm (Oksana):  “Mischievously effective” (Lincoln Journal Star). Ms. Holm was recently an Emerging Artist and Pre-Season Outreach Artist with Opera in the Ozarks and a featured performer with the 2019 OME New Music Festival. She also joined Arizona Opera as a 2018 Education Artist, singing nearly 100 performances of Hansel and Gretel (Gretel) to over 40,000 students. An Encouragement Award Winner at the Metropolitan Opera District Auditions and Semi-Finalist in the Phoenix Opera Southwest Vocal Competition, Melanie holds degrees from ASU (MM/Opera Performance), and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BM/Voice with a Dance Minor).

Stephanie Sadownik (King Okh) is a doctoral candidate at ASU. She has performed with Sarasota Opera and PORTopera and was a three-time Opera Fellow awardee for the Aspen Opera Center.  Critically-acclaimed roles include Marcellina, Madame Flora, La Zia Principessa, Mrs. Lovett, Arnalta /L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Samira. She has performed under the batons of Marin Alsop, Michael Christie, Jane Glover, Stephen Lord, and Robert Spano. Stephanie is also co-founder and president of the Arizona Women's Collaborative, a new works initiative which has a second cycle scheduled for performance in March 2020.

Taryn Cantrell (Vlodko) is honored to play Vlodko in the US Premiere reading of The Heart of Oksana! Taryn received her Bachelors degree in Vocal Performance from ASU in 2019. With a love for musical theatre and opera, recent roles include “Esmeralda” in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Zao Theatre) & Third Lady in The Magic Flute (International Performing Arts Institute).

Emily Smith (Roman) is an undergraduate senior in a vocal performance degree at Arizona State University. She is a mezzo soprano and has sung roles in The Secret Garden by Simon and Norman (AriZoni recipient for Lily Craven), Xerxes by Handel, and is currently in Suor Angelica by Puccini as Suor Osmina at ASU. She loves art, drawing, and of course, music. She would like to thank Erica, her fellow castmates, and her husband for their support in this project. 

Samantha Dávalos (Mother) is a soprano from El Paso, Texas and current Master of Music candidate in Opera Performance at Arizona State University.  Most recently, she was seen as Mother Abbess in ASU's production of Suor Angelica.  Samantha received her bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2019.

Haley McHardy (Sun/Sontse) is a native Arizonan. She graduated from Arizona State University with the bachelor of music degree in vocal performance in May of 2018. Her most recent credits include Mabel in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance (Mesa Encore Theatre), Papagena in Mozart’s The Magic Flute (ASU Music Theatre and Opera), and La Fée in Viardot’s Cendrillon (ASU Student Lab).

Jill Khaleghi (Moon) graduated from ASU in 2018 with the MM in Vocal Performance, concentration in Pedagogy. She has worked for the past decade as a music educator in various capacities, and currently runs a growing voice studio specializing in contemporary techniques. Prior roles performed include Pitti-Sing from The Mikado, Jack’s Mother from Into the Woods, and Shirley Kaplan from Street Scene.

Tanya Landau (Wind) is an undergraduate junior in Vocal Performance and a student of Carole FitzPatrick. She was last seen as “Novice” in ASU MTO’s production of Suor Angelica.  This past summer, she sang the role of “Brigitta” in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, at the Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia. She was also seen last year with MTO’s Lab production of Trouble in Tahiti as the cover for “Girl” and was a part of the chorus of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. She would like to thank her friends and family for their unending love and support! 

Production Team

Erica Glenn (Conductor) is a doctoral student in Choral Conducting at ASU where she leads the Women’s Chorus, teaches Beginning Conducting, co-founded the Arizona Women’s Collaborative, and was a 2019 recipient of the GPSA Teaching Excellence Award and a $10,000 Title VIII Grant for Eastern Europe Research. Erica has presented at ACDA, AATSEEL, and Harvard’s Arts in Education Conference.  She is also an award-winning composer of opera, choral music, and musical theatre. Research interests include the effects of Dalcroze music education on Eastern European orphans with Reactive Attachment Disorder and the lost history and music of female composers from Russia and Ukraine.

Mikaela Wisniewski (Choreographer) has spent a majority of her life training in classical ballet, modern, and contemporary. She is currently in her senior year at ASU working towards her BFA in Dance Education as she focuses on dance ethics and somatic pedagogical principles within a variety of dance settings and techniques.  Mikaela teaches professionally in the community.

Kiernan Steiner (Chorus Master) is a second year doctoral student in the Choral Conducting program at Arizona State University. Her research interests include gender studies and 20th century American music.  Currently, she is serving as the Encore Choir director for the Chandler Children’s Choir program located in Chandler, Arizona. 

Madison Cafaro (Assistant Choreographer) grew up dancing under the direction of Ballet Etudes. From there, Madison went on to dance professionals in the Fort Wayne Ballet company, performing corps, soloist, and principal roles. During this time Madison received her Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Dance through the Conservatory of Fort Wayne Ballet at University of Saint Francis. She is known for being a children’s Repetiteur for many ballets, and has had the wonderful opportunity of setting Fort Wayne Ballet’s The Nutcracker in Erie, Pennsylvania. Maddy is thrilled to be back in the valley teaching and founding Gold Canyon School of Ballet. 

Eliana O’Brien (Assistant Chorus Master) is a multi-instrumentalist and houseplant enthusiast from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is currently in her third year of undergraduate music education studies at Arizona State University, with an instrumental focus in euphonium.  Eliana also enjoys conducting, playing piano, and reading a darn good book.

Jarron Carlson (Transcriptions) is a composer, performer, and full-time creator. Since he was young, Jarron has displayed an undeniable passion for the process of creation. He relishes in artistic collaboration and hopes to foster meaningful connections and empathy in our increasingly divided world through his performances and compositions. Currently, Jarron is pursuing a BA in Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Maestra Elinor Armer.

Lindsey Murphy (Layout Assistant) is an undergraduate, studying Economics, International Relations, and Mathematics at Emmanuel College in Boston. She is an advocate for education and economics as an Economics Ambassador of EC, has presented research at the Northeast Political Science Association’s Annual Conference, and participated in EC’s Eastern Mediterranean Security Institute. She hopes to join others in building a sustainable world for all generations to come.

Chorus

Catherine Baldwin (Chorus) is a freshman undergraduate student at ASU majoring in Human Systems Engineering. Music has always been a huge part of her life, so she loves that she now gets to sing with ASU Women's Chorus and New American Choir. She is very excited to be a part of this production!

Margaret Berry (Chorus/Dancer) is working to complete her Bachelors in Music in Music Education with an emphasis in Voice. She hopes to pursue a masters in music as well as teach both in a school and privately. Margaret is honored  and excited to be part of this special project. 

Dhanya Chandrasekharan (Chorus) is a freshman undergraduate student at ASU Barrett, the Honors College and is majoring in Biomedical Sciences on a Pre-Med. track. She has been singing since she was 3 years old. She was very involved with choir in high school and is now in the ASU Women’s Chorus, as well as New American Choir. She is very excited to be involved in this production of The Heart of Oksana! 

Zoe Cummard (Chorus) is a freshman undergraduate student in Music Education at Arizona State University. She has a vocal emphasis and holds a heavy interest in choral conducting. She is very excited to be involved in this production of The Heart of Oksana!

Mary DeWitt (Chorus) is a Freshman at Arizona State University and has been singing since she was about two years old. In her free time, she also enjoys playing the piano/guitar and composing her own original music.

Brooke Durborow (Chorus) is a junior undergraduate student in Music Education at ASU. She has an emphasis in voice where she studies with Andrea Will and sings in both Concert Choir and the ASU Gospel Choir. She is actively involved in ACDA at both the collegiate and state level, and dreams of being a choral teacher/conductor. She is excited to be in this wonderful production of The Heart of Oksana!

Taryn Landis (Chorus/Dancer) is excited to be performing this important piece of art!  She is a double major in Music (Voice) and Performance & Movement (Music Theatre). Taryn recently played Gherardino in Gianni Schicchi at ASU. Other favorite roles include Mrs. Winthrop, Henrietta, and Mrs. Tottendale. She had the privilege of performing as a guest dancer in AYOT's November Dance Showcase. She is radiating love for everyone who has supported her through this wild ride of life!

Julia Legler (Chorus) is a junior in her undergraduate degree for Music Therapy at ASU. She has a primary focus in voice but loves learning all the instruments she can get her hands on and adding them to her Music Therapy toolbox. She is thrilled to be a part of such a beautiful and unique production. 

Alyssa Marksz (Chorus) is a freshman at Arizona State University studying Communication and Vocal Performance. She is currently in Women's Chorus and New American Chorus, and looks forward to becoming more involved in the School of Music throughout her time at ASU. She is delighted to be participating in such a unique project!

Amanda Stone (Chorus) is a first-year at Arizona State University and from Albuquerque, NM. Having experience as an All-State and NAfME All-National singer in high school, Amanda now participates in the ASU Barrett Choir, ASU Women's Chorus, New American Choir, and Newman Center Liturgical Choir. She plans on receiving degrees in both Engineering and Music from ASU to fulfill her dreams of becoming an engineer and conductor.

Dancers

Shery Chang (Dancer) is an assistant professor at ASU. She studies ballet at Ballet Arizona and Ballet Fusion Fitness. This past summer, Sherry was a featured dancer in Panoramic: Celebration Dance Project at Tempe Center for the Arts. She is thrilled to be part of this exciting production.

Alexis Jackson (Dancer) has been dancing for 9 years, starting her training at On Stage Dance Academy in various styles and continuing her training through various show opportunities, drop-in classes around the valley, and her position on the Solar Squad NBA dance team for the Phoenix Suns. 

Jazmin Parker (Dancer) started dancing at the age of 8 in her hometown in B.C Mexico. When she moved to the United States at 18, she enrolled in community college where she graduated with an AA in dance, and now she is getting her degree in dance education at ASU.

Amy Symonds (Dancer) began dancing in her teens and discovered a love for it. She danced with Youth American Ballet Company for two seasons performing soloist and principal roles in The Nutcracker, Firebird, Giselle, and Paquita. Since then Amy has worked on numerous projects with Convergence Ballet Company, Scorpius Dance Theatre, JordanDanielsDance, and CONDER|dance.

Natasha Villegas (Dancer) has been dancing since she was 2 years old. She is currently a student at ASU majoring in Dance, English, and minoring in Spanish. 

Instrumentalists 

Cameryn Baum (Cellist) is a senior studying Cello Performance at ASU. Not only a student, Cameryn finds unique opportunities to engage with her local arts community, both musically and not, including Phoenix Ringing, Gilbert Town Fiddlers, ASU Sexual Violence Prevention Program, ASU Undergraduate Student Government, Mesa Arts Center, and more!

Izayah Dutcher (Violin/Concertmaster) is completing his Master of Music degree in Violin Performance at ASU, under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Swartz. Izayah has studied performance through solo repertoire, chamber music, and orchestral works for fifteen years, and is currently a member of the Tucson Symphony and the MusicaNova Orchestra.

Courtney Ferry (Viola) is currently a senior studying Viola Performance at ASU and will graduate this spring with honors before re-entering ASU next fall to attend law school. She plans to continue to participate in musical opportunities such as this as much as she can after graduation, and looks forward to performing Oksana!

Katelyn McClain (Flute) is a senior in her undergraduate at Arizona State University studying Flute Performance with Dr. Elizabeth Buck and will graduate with her Bachelor of Music in May.  At ASU, she plays with many ensembles including ASU Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Chamber Winds. She is excited to be a part of this Oksana project.

Aida Olarte (Piano), a native of Colombia, is currently earning a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative piano at ASU with Professor Russell Ryan .She earned her Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Duquesne University in the piano class of

Natasha Snitkovsky, as well as a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from

Duquesne University.

Jamie Wu (Violin 2) is from Taiwan. She graduated from National Taiwan Normal University with both Bachelor and Master degree on Music in Violin Performance. She is currently doing her second Master degree in Violin Performance Pedagogy at ASU, under the guidance of Dr. Danwen Jiang. 

SYNOPSIS

ACT I:  Evening. 

In a Hutsul cottage, deep in the mountain regions of Western Ukraine, Mother serenades her baby with a lullaby about Father, who is off in battle, defending the Ukrainian border.  When she exits to gather strawberries from the garden, her oldest three children, Oksana (age 8), Vlodko (age 9), and Roman (age 11), begin to tease one another.  Roman believes he is the wisest.   Vlodko believes he is the most talented.  Oksana expresses a desire to learn how to dance, but the boys cut her short and belittle her, claiming that their talents are superior. Mother returns and sends the boys into the forest to deliver strawberries to their grandfather.  Oksana asks to accompany them, but Mother makes her stay behind.  Disappointed and frustrated, Oksana begins fiddling with her brothers' toys and reading their books--including a Ukrainian folktale about the terrifying Tsar Okh who rules a vast forest kingdom and a comic story about a battle between beetles and mosquitoes.  Oksana drifts off to sleep while reading, and as she does, the creatures in the story come to life around her.  She rises and exits the house in search of her brothers.

 

ACT II:  Nighttime.  

Roman and Vlodko have lost their way in the forest and are becoming increasingly frightened by the noises and shadows.  They bicker with each other and cry out, "Oh, oh, oh," inadvertently summoning Tsar Okh, who decides to teach them a lesson for invoking his name carelessly and not thinking before they speak.  To capture the boys, he gives them boots and a hat that are enchanted with a spell.  His servant lures the boys away to Okh's kingdom in the clouds despite the efforts of the Wind, who tries to prevent the kidnapping. A few moments later, Oksana enters the forest, anxious to find her brothers. She offers the Wind her red shoes (so Wind can move about more easily) in exchange for assistance, but the Wind doesn't know where the boys were taken.  As the Wind exits and Oksana weeps silently, the Stars appear.  She offers the Stars ribbons from her hair, and they guide her through the forest. As Oksana ascends towards Okh's kingdom, she begs the Moon to show her the way in exchange for a lock of hair to keep the Moon warm.  The Moon accepts the braid of hair but is bound to preserve its secrets.  The Stars disappear and the Moon sleeps; Oksana is left completely alone. In desperation, she cries out to the Sun, who appears in a blaze of glory.  Oksana has nothing left to give but her heart, which the Sun accepts.  The Sun leads her away towards King Okh.

 

ACT III:  Early Morning.  

The servants, courtiers, and forest creatures of Tsar Okh's kingdom perform a stately dance before his throne.  Okh gathers his subjects and explains that the Sun seems to be missing (along with all light and happiness).  To everyone’s joy, the Sun suddenly appears with Oksana. The Sun pleads Oksana's case before King Okh, and he agrees to release Roman and Vlodko in exchange for Oksana's heart.  A servant returns the boys and removes their gags. The brothers immediately begin singing and dancing recklessly. They finally notice Oksana, but because she has sacrificed her heart, she can no longer feel anything, and she rejects them coldly.  Tsar Okh agrees to return Oksana's heart to her distraught brothers if they can answer two riddles (anagrams for "Ukraine" and "Tsar Okh").  The boys solve both riddles, and Okh hands them

Oksana's heart, which they immediately return to her. She revives, and the siblings embrace.  Tsar Okh is quick to explain, however, that there is a catch: In exchange for her heart and her brothers' freedom, Oksana must now remain with Tsar Okh forever. The boys throw themselves at Okh's feet and offer themselves as captives in place of their sister. The Sun witnesses this noble gesture and appears again to break Okh’s spell and release all three children. She guides them home where they embrace their mother and each other as the whole forest rejoices.

A young Stefania Turkewich.

A Canadian division of the Ukrainian organization Prosvita, which later produced The Heart of Oksana (1969).   Pictured here:  A Ukrainian folk choir (1926).

© 2020 by Erica Glenn