Dr. Todd Queen
Executive Director

Dr. Todd Queen serves as Dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. His unique combination of teaching, directing and performing experience has allowed him to travel the world as a teacher, stage director, singer and arts advocate.   In 2012 Queen was the catalyst in forming the LEAP (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Arts Advocacy and the Public) Institute for the Arts at Colorado State University, an interdisciplinary academic unit that houses both an undergraduate minor and graduate program in Arts Leadership and Administration.  At LSU, he recently led a faculty committee through a complete music undergraduate curriculum revision, adding in courses that include music technology, arts leadership and advocacy, and business and marketing skills.

Dennis Jesse

Artistic Director

Baritone Dennis Jesse has performed in a wide range of styles from grand opera, operetta and musical theater.  He has appeared in numerous productions with New Orleans Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opéra Louisane, Arizona Opera, Opera Orlando, Eugene Opera, Knoxville Opera, Nevada Opera, Sacramento Opera, Pensacola Opera, Opera Idaho, Da Corneto Opera, Triangle Opera Theater, Amarillo Opera, Metro Lyric Opera, El Paso Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Southwest, Ohio Light Opera, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Opera Lenawee, National Opera Company and Jefferson Performing Arts Society. His operatic credits include the roles of Rigoletto, Scarpia, Amonasro, Don Giovanni, Gianni Schicchi, as well as lead roles in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, I Pagliacci, Madama Butterfly, Faust, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, La Bohème, Cavalleria Rusticana, Carmen, Romèo et Juliette, Così fan tutte, L’Italiana in Algeri, L’Elisir d’amore, and The Crucible.

Also an experienced concert performer, he has sung Elijah, Messiah, Carmina Burana, Ein deutsches Requiem, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Sea Symphony, The St. Matthew Passion, Haydn’s The Creation and had a Carnegie Hall performance of Schubert’s Mass in G and Mozart’s Te Deum and Regina Coeli.


Students who have studied with Professor Jesse have gone on to appear at: Houston Grand Opera, Florentine Opera, Wolf Trapp, Ohio Light Opera, Opéra Louisiane, New Orleans Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, San Diego Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Dayton Opera, Opera Memphis, Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Opera in the Heights, and Brevard Music Festival. 

Mr. Jesse joined the faculty of Louisiana State University and is an Associate Professor of Voice. He is also a member of the faculty of La Musica Lirica, an intensive opera program in Novafeltria, Italy and was recently named Artistic and General Director of Operafestival di Roma. 

Dr. Sam Savage

Sam Savage is a tenor whose varied performance experience includes opera, oratorio, musical theater and recitals. He has over thirty roles in his repertoire and has appeared with the, New York City Opera's national tour, the Operafestival di Roma, the Virginia Opera, the Sarasota Opera, the Maryland Opera Studio, and the Western Plains Opera and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus.  As a young artist, Savage performed with the Pittsburgh Opera Center and Glimmerglass Opera.  Savage made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1996 performing the tenor solos in works by Leonard Bernstein and Adolphus Hailstork.Dr. Savage awards include the Virginia Music Teachers Concerto Competition, the A. Eli and Esther Nisenfeld Award for Outstanding Tenor, and a finalist in the Richard Tauber International Competition for Tenors.

Dr. Savage, a Pi Kappa Lambda Scholar, received his DMA degree from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2002.  Dr. Savage's previous teachers include the late Maestro Franco Corelli, Vladimir Chernov, David Jones, Linda Mabbs and Dr. Kenneth Bowles.

Currently, Dr. Savage, Coordinator of Studio Voice at Indiana University- Purdue University Fort Wayne, teaches private voice, vocal pedagogy, vocal literature and directs the opera ensemble.  His previous teaching appointments include The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Virginia, the Operafestival di Roma, Longwood University and the University of Richmond.

Students who have studied with Dr. Savage have appeared on and off-broadway, in film and television, leading regional opera houses, national and international summer festivals, and major apprentice programs. They have been winners of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and regional finalists as well as winners and the recipients of the highest awards at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions and regional finalists.  Some of these same students have been the highest recruits at prestigious graduate programs such Eastman School of Music, The University of Michigan, The University of Maryland at College Park, Baylor University and Texas Christian University.

Sandy Moon


 American soprano Sandra Moon made her professional debut in the role of Frasquita in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's staging of Carmen with Placido Domingo at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her first engagement in Europe was at the Stadttheater in Aachen where she sang such roles as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Pamina, Susanna, Oscar and Norina. 

From 1992 - 1997 Sandra was engaged at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe where her repertoire was extended to such roles as Mimi, Liu, Manon, Donna Anna, Adina, Fiordiligi and Maria Stuarda. At Munich's Gärtnerplatz Theater, where she was engaged from 1997 until 2012, some of her roles included Violetta, Butterfly, Giovanna d'arco, Amalia in “I Masnadieri”, Martha, Agathe and Alice Ford. Her extensive repertoire of over 100 roles has lead her to other cities including Düsseldorf, Cologne, Berlin, Dresden, Paris, Warsaw, Mallorca, Zürich and Vienna. 

Sandra Moon made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the role of Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos with James Levine conducting. She has since sung at the Met in roles such as Cleopatra in Händel’s Giulio Cesare, Flower Maiden in Parsifal, and Zdenka next to Renee Fleming’s Arabella. In 2005 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the role of Ännchen in Der Freischütz under the baton of Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York. 


She has sung with the New York City Opera (Pamina, and Rose in Street Scene), Glimmerglass Opera (Marzelline in Fidelio), Portland Opera (Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor), Florentine Opera (Musetta and Antonia), Opera Columbus (Musetta, Countess, and Donna Anna), Cleveland Opera (Cleopatra and Gilda), and Adina and Nedda at the Lake George Opera Festival. 

While working in Europe, Sandra has been able to focus on baroque repertoire. She has sung in the Händel Festivals of Karlsruhe and Halle, as well as the Dresden Music Festival. Some of her baroque repertoire includes the Bach Passions, as well as the roles of Asteria in Tamerlano, Onoria in Amadigi, Fulvia in Ezio, and Emilia in Ferrandini’s Catone in Utica which has been released on Oehms Classic CD. 

Sandra Moon is a native of Dayton, Ohio and received her musical training from the Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music as well as being in the young artist programs of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Sante Fe Opera. 


Sandra Moon is currently Assistant Professor of Voice at Louisiana State University. She recently tackled the massive role of Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Master Class. 

Laura Friesen


Laura Friesen, Pianist, originally from Toronto, Canada is well-known and highly respected for her exceptional skills as Pianist/Accompanist and Vocal Coach. A recipient of the much sought after Canada Council Grant, and a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ms. Friesen obtained her Masters of Vocal Accompaniment and Chamber Music Degree as a student of the esteemed Martin Katz. 

Continuing to enjoy a long and ongoing career as a highly successful Operatic Coach and Pianist, Ms. Friesen has spent the past 10 years with various Opera Companies in the United States, Canada and Europe in addition to various International Summer Opera Festivals. 

For the past six years Ms. Friesen was Principal Coach and Principal Main Stage Pianist at the Virginia Opera and was also appointed Musical Director of their Emerging Artist program. Prior to this engagement, she spent four years with the Pittsburgh Opera as Main Stage Pianist and Head Coach of the Young Artist Program. In addition, Ms. Friesen has worked with the Canadian Opera Company and the University of Toronto Opera Department. Most recently, Ms Friesen was the Music Director of the Young Artist Program at Opera Naples, Naples, FL, and currently is the Principal Coach for Gulfshore Opera, Naples, FL. 

Ms. Friesen has spent many summers as Coach/Pianist with the Des Moines Metro Opera Summer Festival, and this upcoming May sees her returning to Rome, Italy for her 4th year as Coach/Pianist with Opera Festival di Roma. Her work with many prominent International conductors has consistently been met with high acclaim. 

In addition to her work in the operatic world, Ms. Friesen is an avid and passionate recitalist and is widely sought after as a recital collaborator.

Dugg McDonough


Dugg McDonough (Stage Director/Teacher/Writer) has staged operas, operettas, and musicals, from Monteverdi to Sondheim, for companies ranging from the New York City Opera to the Taipei International Arts Festival. Recent professional successes have included Little Women, La cenerentola, The Medium, La tragédie de Carmen, Sweeney Todd, and Out of Darkness (Heggie/Scheer workshop premiere) for Pensacola Opera; Susannah, Dialogues of the Carmelites, La rondine, Elektra, and The Tragedy of Carmen for Des Moines Metro Opera; Turandot and Madama Butterfly for the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; L’Ile de Merlin and The Awakening (world premiere staging) for the New Orleans Opera Association; Madama Butterfly for Opéra Louisiane; Così fan tutte for Land of Enchantment Opera; and Le nozze di Figaro for both Land of Enchantment Opera and Operafestival di Roma. Other companies for which he has worked include The Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, New York Grand Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, OperaDelaware, Knoxville Opera, Chattanooga Opera, Baton Rouge Opera, Carmel Bach Festival, the Wesley Balk Institute, Opera/Music/Theater Institute of New York, and the Center for Contemporary Opera of New York. One notable achievement was a new production of Tristan und Isolde in Sofia, Bulgaria that resulted in both an acclaimed CD recording and an American documentary film. 


As a committed director and mentor of emerging artists, McDonough was, for 20 years, Co-Director of Des Moines Metro Opera’s Apprentice Artist Program, one of the longest-running and most respected singer training organizations in America. His continual associations with young artists have also provided him opportunities to direct for the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, Florida Grand Opera, the San Diego Opera Center, and the Education Department of the New York City Opera. As an assistant director early in his career, he was given opportunities to work with some of the great theatrical minds of the past century, such as Frank Corsaro, Jonathan Miller, Wesley Balk, and Colin Graham (for whom he was Assistant Director on the American premiere of the completed, three-act Lulu at Santa Fe). 


On the academic front, McDonough has, since 2002, held the titles of Mary Barrett Fruehan Associate Professor of Opera and Artistic Director of LSU Opera at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he has staged over 40 new productions. He began his academic directing and teaching in the mid-1980’s for the Boyer College of Music of Temple University, where he held the position of Director of Opera Theater and produced a noteworthy list of Philadelphia, and world, premieres. Other institutions for which he has staged and taught include Loyola University New Orleans, the University of Tennessee, the University of Oklahoma, and the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University. His outstanding achievements in university opera have included 2007’s LSU Opera revival of Carlisle Floyd’s Willie Stark that produced an acclaimed commercial DVD, as well as another LSU revival, David Amram’s Twelfth Night, the video of which was included in a film documentary celebrating the composer’s 80th birthday. 


As a writer, McDonough authored the libretto for a new American opera, Ordinary People, based on the popular novel by Judith Guest, which received its staged premiere at the Maryland Opera Studio in 2008. He has recently been offered commissions for original libretti for two, new one-act operas. 


McDonough received his music and dramatic arts education at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel, Hill, and Indiana University. His own directing, teaching, and lecturing have taken him to such international destinations as Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, and Finland. 


For this summer of 2017, McDonough will be delighted to make his directorial return to Operafestival di Roma to stage a new production of Don Giovanni in the beautiful, historic Teatro Mancinelli in Orvieto, Italy.

Dr. Tony Offerle



Dr. Anthony Offerle is an active performer and stage director having sung with the Cincinnati Opera, Columbia Opera, Dayton Opera, Pacific Opera, Detroit Philharmonic, and Charleston Symphony. He has directed numerous opera productions in the USA and abroad.  Anthony has performed over 30 leading roles throughout the world in the operatic, oratorio, and musical theatre repertoire.  He has twice been a Metropolitan Opera regional finalist and was one of only ten Americans selected to compete in the Marian Anderson International Vocal Competition.  Dr. Offerle is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and a Dieterle Scholarship recipient at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he was a student of Andrew White.  He is an associate professor at the University of Florida - School of Music where he teaches voice and is director of the opera theatre. 2017 marks his 15th season with the Operafestival di Roma.

Jenese Pentico


Teaching assistant

In May 2019, Janese Pentico, soprano, will receive a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from North Park University in Chicago under the tutelage of Samuel M. Handley. Ms. Pentico’s recent operatic roles include Cendrillon in Massenet’s Cendrillon and Lia in Debussy’s L’Enfant Prodigue at North Park University, Soprano in Isabelle Aboulker’s contemporary opera Les Fables Enchantées with the Franco-American Vocal Academy in France, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Dido in Dido and Aeneas at Southern Utah University. She has also been featured as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah, with North Park University Concert Choir and the Orchestra of Southern Utah, and in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the chamber Orchestra of Southern Utah. Janese has won first prize in various competitions including the graduate division Las Vegas region NATS and North Park University’s Performance Awards. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southern Utah University where she studied with both Lawrence Johnson and Carol Ann Modesitt.

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