Wolf Trap Opera and Halcyon Stage Present Philip Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher

Site-Specific Production at Dock5 at Union Market, One Night Only, Saturday, June 17

Vienna, VA (June 8, 2017) – On Saturday, June 17, Wolf Trap Opera, in partnership with Halcyon Stage, will present a one-night-only performance of Philip Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher. The fully-staged production will take place at Dock5 at Union Market, an urban warehouse space that has become the Washington region’s newest destination for innovative and edgy art. See below for complete casting and ticketing information. High resolution production images may be available upon request.

The Fall of the House of Usher is a wonderful example of an exciting new trend that takes opera out of traditional theaters and into communities,” stated Kim Pensinger Witman, Senior Director of Wolf Trap Opera, a premier training ground for opera talent. “Wolf Trap Opera’s partnership with Halcyon is an incredible opportunity for our artists and our audiences to experience art in a completely new context.”

The Fall of the House of Usher is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic tale, which tells the story of Roderick Usher and his unraveling. Roderick, the reclusive heir to the Usher fortune, resides with his ill twin sister in their decaying ancestral home. When Roderick’s old friend visits, relationships are tested and secrets are unearthed in a psychologically gripping, hallucinatory plot.

Poe’s eerie story is accentuated by Philip Glass’ haunting score, which includes the composer’s signature minimalist style and use of repetition. In the composer’s words, the work “immerses a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.” The production, as well as WTO’s August production of The Juniper Tree, is part of Glass@80, an international celebration of the American composer’s 80th birthday year.  

The Fall of the House of Usher is directed by Halcyon’s Artistic Director Septime Webre and features a punk-goth concept developed especially to suit Dock5’s raw, gritty space. A dancer and choreographer, Webre’s production is highly physical, and features dancers from CityDance Ensemble. Conductor Joseph Li leads the singers and the 11-piece Inscape Chamber Orchestra, with video projection design by Brandon Morse.

Continuing Wolf Trap Opera’s tradition as a top-tier operatic training program for emerging artists, the ensemble cast of principals is composed of Filene Young Artists. Wolf Trap Opera’s elite group of young singers is chosen through a highly selective annual nationwide audition tour.

The Fall of the House of Usher is part of WTO’s new UNTRAPPED initiative, which features performances in new spaces and unexpected places. WTO’s expanded summer 2017 season includes five new productions, including a children’s opera commission, as well as recitals throughout the region. Visit wolftrap.org/opera for more information.


Special thanks to Dan and Gayle D’Aniello, Wolf Trap 2017 Season Underwriters
and Virginia McGehee Friend, 2017 UNTRAPPED Series Sponsor.

Wolf Trap Opera is a program of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, produces and presents a full range of performance and education programs in the Greater Washington area, as well as nationally. Wolf Trap features three performance venues: the outdoor Filene Center and Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, both located at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and The Barns at Wolf Trap, located down the road from the national park and adjacent to the Center for Education at Wolf Trap. The 7,028-seat Filene Center is operated in partnership with the National Park Service and annually showcases an extensive array of diverse artists, ranging from pop, country, folk, and blues to classical music, dance, and theatre, as well as multimedia presentations, from May through September. The Barns at Wolf Trap is operated by the Wolf Trap Foundation year round, and during the summer months is home to the Grammy-nominated Wolf Trap Opera, one of America’s outstanding resident ensemble programs for young opera singers. Wolf Trap Foundations’s education programs include the nationally acclaimed Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, a diverse array of arts education classes, grants, and a nationally recognized internship program.

Halcyon Stage @ Dock 5 is a partnership with EDENS and Union Market dedicated to spreading creativity across Washington D.C. and to offering performances and immersive experiences in one of the fastest growing sections of our city.

Media Information

(Please do not publish contact information)

Michelle Pendoley, Director, Public Relations
703.255.1917 or michellep@wolftrap.org

Press passes and high-resolution production photos may be available upon request.


The Fall of the House of Usher
New production, in collaboration with Halcyon Stage
Music by Philip Glass | Libretto by Arthur Yorinks
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe

Saturday, July 17, 2017

8:30 p.m. Performance | 10:00 p.m. Meet-the-Artist Reception
Dock 5 at Union Market, 1309 5th St NE, Washington D.C. 20002
90 minutes with no intermission | In English

Tickets are $40 and are available at halcyonhouse.org.


In order of vocal appearance

William          Ben Edquist

Servant          Matthew Adam Fleisher
Physician       Nicholas Nestorak 
Roderick        Jonas Hacker 
Madeline       Madison Leonard

Featuring the Inscape Chamber Orchestra and CityDance


Conductor                   Joseph Li
Director                       Septime Webre

Video Projection Designer  Brandon Morse

Costume Designer     Donna Breslin

Assistant Director      Mo Zhou
Stage Manager          Evelyn Rossow



Cast Bios 
(In order of vocal appearance)

Baritone Ben Edquist (William) is a recent member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. Originally from Lake Jackson, Texas, Mr. Edquist has been a part of numerous world premieres including playing the lead role of Edward Kynaston in Carlisle Floyd’s most recent opera, The Prince of Players. He spent two summers with the Glimmerglass Festival playing Jigger Craigin in Carousel and Papageno in The Magic Flute. While at Houston Grand Opera, he performed the roles of the Pilot in The Little Prince, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Wagner in Faust, and numerous others.Mr. Edquist is a recent recipient of a 2016 William Matheus Sullivan Music Award and the first place winner of the 2014 Lotte Lenya Competition. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and completed his master’s at Rice University. He was a 2013 Wolf Trap Opera Studio Artist. Ben will be featured in WTO’s 2017 productions of Glass’s The Fall of the House of Usher (William) and Glass/Moran’s The Juniper Tree (Father.)


Tenor Nicholas Nestorak’s (Physician) 2016-2017 engagements include Gastone in La traviata and Trin in La fanciulla del West at Opera Carolina, Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro for Toledo Opera and Ali in Zemire et Azor for Skylight Music Theatre. In 2016, he was Tobias in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd at the Glimmerglass Festival, having debuted there as Monastatos in Die Zauberflöte in 2015. He also appeared in the title role of Albert Herring and as Jupiter in Semele at Opera MODO, and as Lord Geoffrey in The Picture of Dorian Gray at Opera Fayetteville. Mr. Nestorak was a Benson Young Artist at Palm Beach Opera and a member of the Young Artist Program at the Crested Butte Music Festival. He holds a Master of Music degree in Voice from University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Music degree from Hillsdale College, and his training also includes the Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar. Nicholas will be featured in WTO’s 2017 productions of Tosca (Spoletta) and Glass’s The Fall of the House of Usher (Physician.)




Tenor Jonas Hacker (Roderick) hails from Lake Delton, Wisconsin and is a recent graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts. He was as a 2016 Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where he sang Sospiro in Gassmann’s comic opera “L’Opera Seria” and presented a concert with collaborator Steven Blier. That same year he was selected as one of the nine Grand Finalists in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, was one of nine Finalists in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, won second place in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition, and sang in Washington Concert Opera’s 30th Anniversary Concert under the baton of Maestro Antony Walker.Mr. Hacker’s recent engagements include George Gibbs in Ned Rorem’s Our Town with Townsend Opera and Fresno Grand Opera, Jaquino in Leonore with Washington Concert Opera, and the tenor soloist in Bach’s Cantata 150 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Jonas is featured in WTO’s 2017 productions of Glass’s The Fall of the House of Usher (Roderick) and Musto’s Bastianello (Bastianello the Younger), and he will appear in recital with Steven Blier.




Soprano Madison Leonard (Madeline) is a native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and she made professional debuts this season as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Amarillo Opera, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Coeur d’Alene, and Adele in Die Fledermaus with Opera Idaho. Other roles include Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Despina in Così fan tutte, Ginevra in Ariodante, Kitty Hart in Dead Man Walking, and Madame Herz in The Impresario.  She was the first-place award winner at the 2016 Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. At the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, Ms. Leonard performed Monica in The Medium and portrayed Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel for the Grand Finale Concert, receiving praise as “the best vocal performance of the entire evening” (Mark Rudio, A Beast in a Jungle). She is an alumna of Northwestern University (M.M.), Pepperdine University (B.A.), and the Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Program. Madison will be featured in WTO’s 2017 productions of Glass’s The Fall of the House of Usher (Madeline) and Glass/Moran’s The Juniper Tree (Daughter.) She will also appear in recital with Steven Blier and as soprano soloist in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the National Orchestral Institute + Festival at The Clarice. http://www.madison-leonard.com/