Bon Operatit! is a vocal trio that includes singers Lauren Mouney Gisclair, Mary Penick Akin, and Jesse Nolan. We invite you to learn more about each of these artists below.
Originally from New Orleans, soprano Lauren Mouney Gisclair has enchanted audiences throughout the United States with her versatile voice and elegant stage presence. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Music, Lauren earned a Bachelor of Music in 2004. During her studies at Indiana, she sang the roles of Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro) with Indiana University Opera and Hebe (H.M.S Pinafore) with Bloomington Music Works. In opera workshops, she sang the roles of Maria (West Side Story), Lisette (La Rodine), and Nella (Gianni Schicchi).
Mrs. Gisclair also holds a Master of Music from Penn State University where she presented a Master’s Lecture Thesis on the songs of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. At Penn State, she took on the roles of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, the Security Officer in Milton Grainger’s The Proposal and Sophie in scenes from Der Rosenkavalier. In spring 2007, Lauren had the privilege to perform in the world premiere of the opera Chicken Little (by Trinkley and Charnesky) as the title character.
In the fall of 2009, Lauren joined the cast of Hansel and Gretel as Gretel with MetroPelican Opera Education. Besides entertaining at parties, weddings, and on the opera and musical theatre stage, Lauren maintains a busy schedule as a teacher at The New Orleans Jewish Day School and a voice and piano teacher in the New Orleans area.
Jesse Nolan, a product of Philip Frohnmayer at Loyola University, has captivated audiences with his vibrant tenor voice and dynamic stage presence. He has performed in numerous venues around the New Orleans area including New Orleans Opera, Loyola Opera Theatre, UNO Opera Theatre, Genghis Khan Restaurant and Cafe´ Giovanni. In 1993, he was a fellowship recipient of Aspen Opera where he performed the role of the Preacher in Bernstein’s A Mass. His favorite roles have been Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly) with UNO Opera Theatre and Mr. Snow (Carousel) with Loyola Opera Theatre. In previous summers, Jesse worked as an entertainment director for Glacier National Park where he produced and performed in nightly shows.
Currently, Mr. Nolan is a cantor for St. Rita Catholic Church. In addition to performing for weddings, and private parties, Jesse is a veteran special education teacher with St. James Parish Schools and in 2003 he was honored as the Teacher of the Year for the Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children. You can find Jesse singing with the New Orleans Opera and Opera on Tap.
Mary Penick Akin, mezzo soprano, is a graduate from Loyola University’s School of Music. Ms. Akin’s dramatic stage presence and golden vocal qualities have graced many a local stage. In the Loyola Choral productions, Ms. Akin was a featured soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and most recently sang the beloved Habañera in the fall 2008 concert. She has been featured in Loyola operas in the roles of Giulia in The Gondoliers (2007) and Venus, in Orpheus in the Underworld (2008).
She recently sang the title role of Dido in Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and as a result of winning the 2008 Loyola Concerto/Aria Competition, she sang the highly acclaimed Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix with full orchestra. An active member of the New Orleans Opera, she made her solo debut with the company as a bridesmaid in Le Nozze di Figaro, and has performed the roles of Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, and The Singer in Manon Lescaut. Ms. Akin is also a frequent performer for the New Orleans Opera on Tap program and most recently performed in NOOT’s debut performance on the Nachez Riverboat.
Bon Operatit! works with a variety of musicians throughout the year depending on the occasion. We invite you to learn more about the guest artists we work with most frequently below.
Frankie J. Kelly works as a collaborative pianist and professional clarinetist at large in the City of New Orleans. As an orchestral clarinetist, she has recorded with the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Mineria Festival Orchestra, the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Greenville (SC) Symphony. She has performed with many opera singers in New Orleans as pianist and directed numerous shows for the American community of Mexico City through the American School Foundation. She has also recorded a CD of arts songs with distinguished Mexican baritone Roberto Banuelos.
Frankie has been recognized internationally through her latest CD recording, "Tapestry: New Music from the Americas". The CD features commissioned works for clarinet and various combinations of instruments and links Latin American and American artists to each other. She supports the youth of our region through her association as coach/collaborative pianist with GNOYO, LPO artists/teachers, and Suzuki Instructors. She is honored to join Bon Operatit on its journey into opera entertainment for the great city of New Orleans.
Joseph Oliver Akin grew up in Pensacola, but after living in New Orleans for the past 15 years, he is now proud to call "The Big Easy" his home. Joe, as he likes to be called, has performed in various shows such as Shakespeare's Pericles and Ubu Roy at Tulane's Lupin Theater; Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Will Rodger's Follies, and Annie Get Your Gun at Tulane's Summer Lyric Theater, and he has held leading roles in My Fair Lady, Pirates of Penzance, West Side Story, and Showboat. He was also highly praised for his role as "the gentleman caller" in The Glass Menagerie at The Contemporary Arts Center. He has also been seen as Baron Van Swieten in Amadeus at JPAS' Westwego Theater. Joe made his debut at Loyola University with a leading role as Marco in The Gondoliers. He studied voice with Michael Howard at Tulane University for 3 years and also briefly with Phil Frohnmayer at Loyola University.