Department of Music - College of Liberal Arts - Texas A&M University Corpus Christi



The TAMU-CC Opera Workshop Presented an Opera for All Ages: “Pinocchio”

Music of Mozart, updated story by Denise Page Caraher

April 4-5, 2019  Performing Arts Center

More production photos available here:  Pinocchio Production Photos

Director's Notes      Story Background      Performer Bios     Opera Friends

Director's Notes

Who doesn't love a good fairy tale? Pinocchio truly has something for everyone.  First, the classic story presents a wonderful message with warmth, humor, and modern-day updates to keep it fresh and fun for today's audiences.  Denise Page Caraher, who adapted the story and created new lyrics to Mozart's beautiful music, has really hit it out of the park with this one.  Beautiful music from Mozart's operas fits the familiar characters in surprising ways.  For instance, music composed for the Basilio, the self-important singing teacher from The Marriage of Figaro, works equally well for Conscience Cricket, who means to help Pinocchio, but also goes off on tangents about mistreatment of insects.  The arias of Despina, the shrewd and opinionated maid in Cosi fan tutte, can also give voice to the bubbly Blue Fairy.  

Pinocchio starts out knowing nothing, but audiences can enjoy watching his growth and the decisions he makes in his quest to become a real boy.  Come learn and laugh along with him and a cast of familiar characters!

Story Background

The original story of The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi and first published in 1881.  It is not a tale that might be considered suitable for children today--the puppet Pinocchio was a disobedient child who suffered bad consequences for his naughtiness, designed to frighten children into being good.  Like many fairy tales, when translated into a Disney film in 1940, Pinocchio had a lighter tone and a positive message for children. Denise Page Caraher's adaptation takes some elements from the original Collodi version and combines them with modern updates, to make a show that is family-friendly and has a positive message for all.

Performer Bios


Skylyn Bennett (Ensemble, Cricket & Fairy Understudy) is a second year voice major at TAMUCC. This is her second semester involved in Opera Workshop; she is a voice student of Dr. Denham. She also performs with University Singers. Skylyn is a soprano and has earned medals in the past for the UIL State Solo and Ensemble competition. In high school she choreographed a dance and taught it to all of the students for Spring Show. In the future Skylyn hopes to become a singer/songwriter and an excellent performer.


Yoseline Castillo (Ensemble, Cat Understudy) is a voice major in her second year at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. She participated in the ensembles of Hansel and Gretel and Pinstripe Harry's Tearoom Cabaret. Yoseline is also apart of the University Singers ensemble. Someday she hopes to teach voice to the generations to come and also create her own music, Yoseline is a voice student of Dr. Ellen Denham.

Frederick Jones (Fox) makes his opera debut in this production.  He also sings in Camerata Isla with Dr. Ross Bernhardt.


Jordan Kuzmack (Gepetto) is from Austin, Texas and is currently a sophomore music education major at TAMUCC with emphasis on early childhood music studies. Previous Opera Workshops include Hansel and Gretel as he was a part of the ensemble and Pinstripe Harry's Tearoom Cabaret where he played Ace. Current ensembles include TAMUCC’s chamber choir, Camerata Isla and Opera Workshop. Jordan is also the music director for Phi Mu Alpha Music Fraternity. He is a voice student of Dr. Ross Bernhardt.


Elizabeth McKinzie (Cat) has been singing in choirs and performing since she was 10. She was in her High school musical, West Side Story, and did choreography for the show. She also choregraphed choir shows as well. She was also a part of the dance team at her high school and joined Artistry Elite Dance Project to compete in dance outside of school. She is now a full-time student at TAMUCC and is majoring in Performance in Music for voice. She spends her time practicing with Dr. Hope Thacker, also in University singers with Dr. Ross Bernhardt, and participating in Opera Workshop with Dr. Ellen Denham.


Joy Puumala (Cricket) is a voice major in her second year at TAMUCC. Last year Joy performed solo for the first time ever on stage for our biannual voice studio recitals. Joy is actively involved on campus in the Honors Program, University Singers, and the Islander Jazz Band. Joy has previously performed and competed at the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition in Temple, Texas. Joy performed in her first opera ever last semester, Pinstripe Harry's Tearoom Cabaret. Joy’s goals are to become a gospel singer/songwriter and successful composer. Joy is a voice student of Dr. Ellen Denham.


Sapphire Rodriguez (Ensemble/Pinocchio Understudy) is a transfer voice student who has been enjoying her first year at TAMUCC. Sapphire will make her Opera debut in Pinocchio. She also performs with the Camerata Isla. Someday, she wants to be a choir director who inspires her students to follow their passion regardless of what it is. She is a voice student of Dr. Hope Thacker.


Sinéad Villarreal (Blue Fairy) is a voice major in her second year at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She makes her opera debut with this production. She is a voice student of Dr. Hoper Thacker, and also performs with Camerata Isla, and University Singers, directed by Dr. Ross Bernhardt.


Theodore Woods IV (Pinocchio) is a Music Bachelor of Arts student at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Previous Opera Workshop productions include Speed Dating Tonight, the witch in Hansel and Gretel and the title role in Pinstripe Harry's Tea Room Cabaret. Recent performances include soloist engagements with Berkshire Choral International, Classical Music Festival, Cornish American Song Institute, Corpus Christi Hooks National Anthem, TAMUCC Bach Festival, and Corpus Christi Chorale. Theodore is a voice student of Dr. Ross Bernhardt.


Dr. Ross Bernhardt (Opera Viking)


Dr. Ellen Denham (Director) joined the music faculty at Texas A&M Corpus Christi in 2017.  Praised for her interpretive skills, clear tone, and effortless ornamentation, Denham is equally comfortable on the opera and musical theatre stage, as a concert soloist, and in multi-disciplinary, collaborative, and improvised works.  At TAMU-CC she has directed Opera Workshop productions of Pinstripe Harry's Tea Room Cabaret, for which she also wrote an original libretto, An Evening with Amadeus, and Hansel and Gretel.  She holds a DMA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a MM from New England Conservatory, and a BM from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.


Dr. Jose Flores (Conductor)


Dr. Sangmi Lim (Collaborative Pianist) is an active performer, appearing frequently as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborative pianist. She has performed in Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout the United States. She earned her B.M. and M.M. in Piano Performance from Ewha Womans University in Korea and also M.M. in Collaborative Piano and D.M.A. in Piano Performance from Michigan State University. Currently, Dr. Lim teaches at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and at New England Music Camp. Additionally, Dr. Lim is a co-director of the Piano Celebration Week at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. 

The TAMU-CC Opera Orchestra is made up of student instrumentalists specially selected by Maestro Flores and their studio instructors.  Our performers are: Anthony Salazar, violin; Gabrielle Choma, viola; Michael Reeves, cello; Amanda Reyna, flute; Aidan Case, bassoon; Olivia Santos, horn; and Jordan Gonzalez, horn.  For more information on our Orchestra program, visit the Orchestra Web Page.


Lauren Walling (Stage Manager/Production Assistant) was so busy making line and blocking notes, researching, designing and constructing set elements, calling places, filling in for missing singers in rehearsals, making parts for the orchestra, reminding the director of pretty much everything, and generally being a repository of knowledge for all things opera that she did not have time to write a bio.  In her spare time, Lauren rules the world.

Be our friend!

This production would not have been possible without friends like John Gow, who built the whale, Ken Markert, who assisted with the whale, Silas Breaux, who built two of our rolling frames, and several neighbors who donated corrugated cardboard.  Our students, and stage manager, Lauren Walling, are also talented visual artists/crafters and are responsible for many of our decorative set items.  We could always use more friends!  Do you like to build things, sew, or maybe have things sitting around your house that would make great opera costumes, props, or set items?  Contact Ellen Denham at  Also, we would love to be your friend on Facebook!

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