Bon Operatit! is a vocal ensemble that includes singers Lauren Mouney Gisclair, Mary Penick Akin, Joseph Akin, and Jabob Penick. 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 with the New Orleans Opera Association. Besides entertaining at parties, weddings, and on the opera and musical theatre stage, Lauren maintains a busy schedule as a teacher at the Jewish Community Day School and a voice teacher in the New Orleans area.
Lauren has coached singers who currently and have performed on Broadway, in Broadway national tours, on TV, on the big screen, and in local theater productions. In 2012, she worked with actress, singer, and dancer Julianne Hough as her personal vocal coach while filming the movie Paradise directed by Diablo Cody.
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.
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.
Jake Penick is a native of New Orleans who attended Loyola University of New Orleans' Vocal Performance program and graduated in 2012. He began his musical journey at 12 years old when his sister dragged him into the Jefferson Performing Arts Society Youth Chorale's summer musical Oklahoma where he landed his first lead role of Judd Fry. He then started private voice lessons with Chris Titko who was the JPAS choir director. He continued performing in musical theater at Jesuit High School where he was the only 8th grader in their performance of West Side Story under the direction of Sonny Borey. He continued to perform under direction of Sonny Borey and Derek Franklin at Le Petit Theatre where he performed in Grand Hotel and Barnum.
He entered Loyola University of New Orleans' Vocal Performance program in 2009 and began to sing in the New Orleans Opera Chorus and sang several lead roles in Loyola Opera including Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore, Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance, Olin Blitch in Suzannah, and Pangloss/Voltaire in Candide. In the spring of 2011 he won the Southern Region NATS competition in his age group, and in the summer 2011 he had the privilege of studying with world-renowned mezzo Marilyn Horne and esteemed conductor Warren Jones at the Music Academy of the West where he covered the role of Doctore Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini. His recent roles with New Orleans Opera Association include Don Cairo in Carmen, Marquis in La Traviata, and Motorcycle Cop in Dead Man Walking.
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.
Gloria Cuadrado has been a music educator and accompanist in the New Orleans area for over 30 years. She is presently the general music instructor and choir director for Kehoe-France School in Metairie. Gloria has been the organist and choir director at Old Metairie Protestant Church for 33 years and at Metairie Ridge Presbyterian Church for 20 years. She holds a vocal music education degree form Loyola University in New Orleans and a Master's degree in Piano Performance from Western Kentucky University where she was awarded a full assistantship in accompanying and had the honor of studying with Argentinean concert pianist Sylvia Kersenbaum. She has accompanied and served as vocal director for over 40 musical theater and opera productions at area schools, Western Kentucky University, Slidell Little Theater, Tulane Junior Lyric Theater, Rose Dinner Theater, St. Pius, New Orleans Children's Theater, NORD and NOCCA. Gloria has also been an accompanist and vocal coach in the Classical Vocal Department at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts for ten years.
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.
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. Anthony of Padua. In addition to performing for weddings, and private parties, Jesse is a retired 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.
James Rosenbloom is a renowned musician and composer of sacred music. His works have been performed in twenty-one states, and in five countries. His debut album, “Small Things With Great Love” reached the top ten on the iTunes ‘instrumental music’ charts, and has been heralded as being, “a breath of fresh air” and one that “speaks to the love of the artist.” James is currently based in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he continues to pursue both composing and performing.