Opening Night!

This past weekhave been busy with rehearsals as the cast of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" prepared for Opening Night---tonight, August 29th, 2016, at the Palladium.

About a month ago, individual rehearsals with myself and each cast member began. Learning new and very difficult music takes time and repetition to master. First rehearsals were with Todd Donovan and Melissa Misener who play the leads, Doctor Dilligaff and his receptionist, Monika because they have the largest roles.  Over the course of the past month, they grew more comfortable with the material and about 2 weeks ago, we met to rehearse their duets, which proliferate the opera. Over the same period, I met with Jenny Kim-Godfrey and Brandon Evans, individually, to teach them their music.

This past week is when we put it all together. Full cast rehearsals to master the ensemble numbers, our first run through of the show, plus a rehearsal with cellist, Lowell Adams, culminated in a dress rehearsal yesterday at the Palladium.

A "concert performance" of an opera, is in essence, a staged reading, meaning that there are no costumes or sets, no choreography or stage blocking. Performers sing the material standing at music desks, and any stage movement that is essential to the understanding of the show is related to the audience by a narrator. Although it may seem limited or 2-dimensional, staged readings are wonderfully entertaining and give the audience a real feel for the show without the cost or time commitment that a full production requires. It is a standard way to begin the life of a show as it heads to a the goal of a full production.

The cast of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" is engaging and I say this from the bottom of my heart: I could not have found a better cast anywhere. No one has ever played these roles before. I may have written the music and the words, but it takes a talented performer to make that character live and breathe on the stage. I couldn't be happier with what Todd, Melissa, Jenny and Brandon have created from the words and little dots I put on a page.

Juliana Davis, our director, worked with the cast to help them make their performances ring true. She has brilliantly incorporated minimal movement to convey the intent of the script in a way that will delight and inform the audience. She also serves as narrator and moderator for the evening's proceedings.

I have to mention Lowell Adams our cellist, as well. He serves as Second Principal Cellist for the Florida Orchestra, as well as playing for Opera Tampa. A big fan of opera, Lowell is a consummate professional and truth be told---I probably wouldn't have been able to procure his services if not for the fact that he and I attended Northern Illinois University together, where we both obtained our Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Music. It has been great to reconnect with him and he brings so much to the score with his sensitive, emotional playing style.

There will be a second performance of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" at the Octagon Arts Center in Clearwater on Wednesday, August 31st. Both performances are free.




Doctor Dilligaff Goes Upstairs

"Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" was originally to be presented in the Side Door Cabaret at the Palladium in St Pete. Management at the Palladium has decided to move us upstairs into Hough Hall---the main stage. The box office has been getting huge response to the upcoming performance, and the Cabaret space has only 180 seats.  

800 seats are now available to see Todd Donovan, Melissa Misener, Jenny Kim-Godfrey and Brandon Evans sing the world premiere concert performance of a brand new opera. There is no admission fee. 

The Palladium performance will be at 7pm on August 29. On the main stage!


Meet the Cast

Little dots on a staff do not an opera make. As a performance art, opera is inherently a collaborative effort. It takes talented performers to bring those little dots to life, to breathe life into lyrics, to create a character that the audience can believe in and root for. Or against!

As composer of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon," I am quite fortunate to have such a talented cast creating the roles of Doctor Dilligaff, Monika, Miss Furst, and Mr. Weasel. These opera singers not only bring their talent and training, but a vast array of experience with other operatic works, which gives them a solid reference into creating new characters whom no one has ever heard or seen before.

Doctor Dag Dilligaff is played by Todd William Donovan.

American Bass-Baritone, Todd William Donovan, has been described by critics as a singer full of confidence, dominating the stage. He is known for his powerful and resonant voice and expressive acting. Mr. Donovan is comfortable both on the Opera and Musical Theater stage where he has performed throughout the United States.

Opera News Online described Mr. Donovan’s performance of Lt. Gunter in Anton Coppola’s world premiere of La coupe et les levres: "Mr Donovan revealed a fine, fresh baritone and used the French language to mold long, shapely musical lines."  St. Petersburg Times Critic, John Fleming has described Mr. Donovan’s performances as "rich, passionate and powerful; A solid performer with splendid acting throughout, bringing down the house."

Mr. Donovan’s most recent operatic roles include: Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata, 2016, Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, 2016, and Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, 2014. Critics said, “Donovan proves adept at comedy with stentorian vocal projection, a very fine Figaro- Strong and flexible, showcasing his own formidable chords.” Olin Blitch in Floyd’s Susannah, 2014, where he was described as “a swaggering rooster,” and “Blitch could be a cardboard villain but Donovan’s performance makes him something more, giving fuller dimension to the character…” Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca in 2013, “giving a deliciously evil interpretation,” Mefistofele in Boito’s Mefistofele,  Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus;  CollineinLa Boheme;  Leporelloin Don Giovanni;  Baron ZetainThe Merry Widow; and Marchese D'Obigny in La Traviata. Todd has also appeared as WotanwithNew Century Opera'sRing Cycle in Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Die Walkure  andSiegfried.  In the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, he has sung the roles of The Modern Major General in The Pirates of Penzance, Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore, and the Mikado in The Mikado.

Mr. Donovan’s most recent role on the musical theater stage was Emile De Becque, 2016. Critics raved: "The South Pacific you knew and loved officially gets into gear in de Becque's Some Enchanted Evening. Donovan's rich bass-baritone voice thrills with a control and a discipline that goes well beyond most Broadway shows passing through the Tampa Bay area.” And, “In this production, in the role of de Becque, Todd William Donovan hits just the right notes, literally. He's likable as an actor, with a decent accent and good connection with his love, Nellie, but it's his songs that are out of this world. The iconic 'Some Enchanted Evening' never sounded better. But that just seemed to be a prelude to his 'This Nearly Was Mine' in Act 2. This was a bona fide make-you-cry powerhouse of a performance; the audience's ovation after the number lasted longer than many curtain calls I've seen.” 

Mr. Donovan has won numerous competitions including 1st place Oxnard $12,000 Gold Medal Award and the Johnny Mercer Award in the American Traditions Competition at the 2009 Savannah Music Festival, singing in multiple music genres including songs from the American Songbook, jazz, musical theater, pop and opera.

Mr. Donovan’s Oratorio and concert repertoire include, Dvorak Stabat Mater, Verdi Requiem, Handel Messiah, Mozart Requiem, Fauré Requiem, Bach Magnificat, Haydn’s Theresiennemesse, Paukenmesse, Harmoniemesse, Nicolaimesse, Die Schöpfung, and Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze, Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh: Sacred Service, Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G, Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives, 9th Symphony and Mass in C, Orff’s Carmina Burana, , and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

Mr. Donovan has sung six consecutive seasons at the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria.

MONIKA is played by Melissa Misener.

Melissa, a native of Tampa, FL,  performs regularly as a Mezzo-Soprano and Opera Stage Director in the Bay area. She is a Resident Artist for the St Petersburg Opera Company, playing roles such as Madame Flora in Menotti’s The Medium, Mrs. Mclean in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Zita in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Giovanna in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Mrs. Anderssen in A Little Night Music by Sondheim. As an Emerging Artist with SPO, she covered the roles of Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Marcellina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus and Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and Bloody Mary in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Melissa routinely sings as a soloist for Opera Tampa as a member of “Opera Tampa Singers”. Earlier this year she played Amahl’s mother in a local production of Mennoti’sAmahl and the Night Visitors.

Melissa made her stage directing debut at USF with Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and was invited back to direct Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, Michael Ching’s Speed Dating Tonight and various other staged shows and cabarets.  She received great reviews for her direction of St Pete Opera Company’s productions of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio. She has gone on to direct shows for Opera Tampa, and other local organizations. Melisa both starred in and stage-directed two productions of Benjamin Britten’sNoye’s Fludde playing the Role of Mrs. Noye.

Melissa runs her own voice studio in Tampa, teaching voice to people of all ages and levels since 2002. Melissa is thrilled to be working with Tom Sivak again, after singing his catchy songs in last year’s staged reading of Sunshine City, She’s excited to be a part of this exciting premier of this marvelously delightful opera.

Jenny Kim-Godfrey plays Miss Furst, as well as Miss Hyde.

Hailed as "...a fearless and confident performer with a beautiful high voice with excellent flexibility," Korean-American coloratura soprano Jenny Kim-Godfrey is quickly gaining notoriety for her "nightingale tone" (Virginia Zeani) and as "an invigorating stage animal and gifted recitalist... A performer ready to forge new vistas!" (Maestro Gary Thor Wedow, New York Philharmonic). Jenny holds her Master of Music degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she studied with Mary Ann Hart and Emmy and two-time Grammy Award-winner Sylvia McNair.

Kim-Godfrey has been the featured soloist with numerous renowned ensembles including the Indiana University Pro Arte Singers (Israelitish woman, Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus), the New York Summer Music Festival (Rutter’s Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana), the Catskill Choral Society (Haydn’s Grosse Mariazeller Messe), the Bloomington Early Music Festival (Bach’s Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ), the Indiana University University Chorale under the baton of Maestro Gary Thor Wedow (Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle), the South Shore Symphony (Handel's Messiah), and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (Holocaust Cantata). Jenny is looking forward to singing Poulenc’s Gloria as the soprano soloist with Gloria Musicae next season.

Kim-Godfrey has been a prizewinner in the National Vocal Competition in Seoul, Long Island Symphony Concerto Competition, and the Indianapolis Matinee Musicale Competition. Kim-Godfrey was also selected as a finalist for the prestigious Georgina Joshi International Fellowship in 2012, and in 2013 was a finalist in the Joong-Ang Competition – one of the most prestigious in Korea. Most recently Jenny won the St. Petersburg Opera Idol and the Sun City Center Opera Idol competition in 2014 – the first contestant in the history of the competition to win both.

Kim-Godfrey has performed numerous operatic roles with the Indiana University Opera Theater, including Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), La Conversa (Suor Angelica), and Emmie Spashett (Albert Herring). She has also appeared with the Tanglewood Institute (Flora, The Turn of the Screw) Classical Singing in New York (Marie, La Fille du Régiment), and the Indiana University Early Music Institute (Nymphe de la Seine, Alceste). In summer of 2013 Kim-Godfrey performed in several concerts in Italy, including scenes from Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Amina (La Sonnambula), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Elvira (I Puritani) with the Classic Lyric Arts.

In addition to her work as a performer, Kim-Godfrey has taught at Bucheon University and Sehan University as an adjunct professor in Vocal Performance and Musical Theater Workshop. Kim-Godfrey also gave a guest artist benefit recital in Paju City Hall, South Korea in 2013, for the cause of young musicians who wish to pursue their dream of becoming a musician without the means to do so. Jenny is also very passionate about animals and fosters many needy pets while supporting animal-rights causes.

Jenny made her company début with St. Petersburg Opera for the 2014-15 season as an Emerging Artist covering Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and made her Canada debut at the Gravenhurst Opera House as a featured artist in their 2015 concert series. Jenny returned to St. Petersburg Opera as a featured soloist on its "Seasonal Sparkle" Holiday Concert series and sang the title role of “Jenny Lind” this past April with Gloria Musicae for the Florida Premiere of Libby Larsen’s chamber opera Barnum’s Bird.

Jenny regularly performs as the soprano half of the guitar-soprano duo Corda Voce, whose energetic and virtuosic performances have been featured throughout North America. When not performing, Jenny is one of the SunCoast’s most in-demand voice teachers and is currently on faculty at the Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida. She is ecstatic to be part of the world premiere production of Tom Sivak’s “Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon.”

Brandon Evans plays Mr. Ohrwachs, as well as Mr. Weasel.

Brandon Evans, is happy to be joining this production of Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon. He most recently appeared with St. Petersburg Opera as Commander Harbison in South Pacific.  Last May, Mr. Evans performed Carl Silverton with Marble City Opera in the professional premiere of Sweets by Kate by Griffen Candey.  Mr. Evans has appeared with the Florida Opera Theatre, South Florida Lyric Opera, Ars Nova, the Janiec Opera Company, St. Petersburg Opera, Emerald City Opera, the Artist Series of Sarasota, Sarasota Opera and Opera North.  His repertory includes Don José(Carmen/ La tragedie de Carmen), Canio(Pagliacci), Njegus (The Merry Widow), and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) and the tenor soloist for Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem, as well as Schubert's song Cycle Winterreiese. He resides in Sarasota and studies with Stella Zambalis.  Other upcoming engagements are Ruiz in Il trovatore with St. Petersburg Opera and Alfredo in La traviata for Marble City Opera.

The Director of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" is Juliana Davis.

Juliana Davis received her BA in Musical Theatre from Lees-McRae College in NC and has been working professionally as an actor, choreographer and director for over 15 years. Most recently, Juliana co-directed The  Elephant Man at The Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville, FL. She has performed locally in The 39 Steps (American Stage), Motherhood the Musical (Straz Center) and Shear Madness (Florida Studio Theatre). Other Credits include: West Side StorySwing!, Collected StoriesHonky Tonk Angles, The Taffetas, The House of Blue Leaves, Aida, Pippin, Doubt and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Juliana has choreographed and directed numerous productions across the US. Director/Choreographer credits include: Hair (2010 Ovation Award), Chicago, Cabaret, Urinetown (2006 Ovation Nom, 2007 Henry Nom), My Fair Lady, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Forever Plaid and Nunsense. In addition, Juliana has worked as a teaching artist and dance instructor working with students of all levels and experience. She is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association.




2nd Performance of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" Added

These kinds of announcements are always accompanied by the phrase, "...due to popular demand." Who am I to reinvent the wheel?

Due to popular demand, a second performance of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" will take place at 7pm on August 31 at the Octagon Arts Center in Clearwater, 2470 Nursery Rd. Admission is free. 

Come see a brand new original opera, written right here in Pinellas County. It is a chamber opera, one hour in length, and starts Todd W. Donovan as Doctor Dilligaff. Todd recently starred in St Petersburg Opera's production of "South Pacific" at the Palladium. Melissa Misener plays the role of Monika, and Jenny Kim-Godfrey and Brandon Evans are featured. Juliana Davis directs, and composer Tom Sivak conducts and plays piano. Lowell Adams, 2nd principal cellist of the Florida Orchestra will perform the cello part. 

If it's more convenient, the opera will also be performed at the Palladium in St Petersburg on August 29 at 7pm. 


Announcing the Cast of "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon"

On August 29, 2016 at the Palladium Side Door Cabaret, the world will hear "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" for the first time. The one act chamber opera will be performed in a concert reading at 7pm.

There will be no admission fee. Thanks to the generous grant provided by Creative Pinellas, you can come see the world premiere of a new opera, written right here in St Petersburg and performed by well-known and talented local artists.


Doctor Dilligaff..............................................................................Todd W. Donovan

Monika.............................................................................................Melissa Misener

Miss Furst/Miss Hyde................................................................Jenny Kim-Godfrey

Mr. Ohrwachs/Mr. Weasel........................................................Brandon Evans


Composer, Music Director........................................................Tom Sivak

Stage Director and Narrator.....................................................Julia Ditmer-Davis


Piano/Conductor..........................................................................Tom Sivak

Cello...................................................................................................Lowell Adam


"Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon"  The tale of a Man and his Monkey, and the Woman who comes between them.  A new opera by T. Sivak.

"Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon"

The tale of a Man and his Monkey, and the Woman who comes between them.

A new opera by T. Sivak.

Tom Sivak

Music is a performance art. Without an audience to complete the loop, music doesn't really exist. Writing and rehearsing music is merely preparing for the performance. Until music is performed in front of an audience, it's little more than an unexecuted thought.

I want to thank Creative Pinellas for endowing me with funds to produce a concert performance of my new chamber opera, "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon." (August 29th, 7pm, at the Palladium in St Petersburg. Admission is free.) This will be its first public performance, completing that loop and consummating years of writing into something that exists.

This is my first opera, although I have written several musicals which have found a life on the stage. Every new show, whether opera or musical, is written in a room by its creative team, who invent a journey for an audience, and imagine taking that journey along with them. Alone in a room, it's difficult to judge each step in that journey. That's why the first audience is so important. It is the first breath of real feedback for an author, lyricist, or composer and an important first step for any new show.

Once again, I'd like to thank Creative Pinellas for allowing my opera to take its first step onto a stage.  Please come be a part of that first audience and take a peek into the life of psychiatrist Doctor Dilligaff.

"Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" --- The tale of a man, his monkey, and the woman who comes between them;  an opera in one act.



Tom Sivak

Tom Sivak is a composer, author, music director and conductor who’s composing credits run the gambit documentary films, musicals such as Sunshine City and a world premiere performance of his Prelude and Fugue for Orchestra by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has a masters degree from Northern Illinois University in music theory and composition. His goal is to “meld together a musical genera that maybe initially unapproachable with one that invites the listener in for a visit with the hope that it may open their ears to a musical experience they have never had before.”

I am producing a concert reading of my opera, "Doctor Dilligaff's Baboon" at The Palladium on August 29, 2016 funded by both St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and Creative Pinellas as well as a second performance of the opera in north Pinellas County (TBD) funded by Creative Pinellas.