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Meet the Artists

of The Palmetto Opera's upcoming production of Rigoletto! Artists biographies and headshots can be viewed here.



Michael Nansel is an award-winning singer and actor. Best known as an opera singer, he is also an accomplished recitalist and concert artist, and appears frequently in musical theater classics. Between Opera and Musicals, Mr. Nansel has over 80-roles to his credit. He sings music from the Mozart to Sondheim, from Verdi to Rodger & Hammerstein. He was the Wichita Grand Opera Singer of the Year in 2012 and was the dual winner in 2003 of the Washington Area Theatre Community Honors for Outstanding lead actor in a musical and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical. He has also twice been a member of Casts nominated for Helen Hayes Awards.

His voice has been described as “stentorian”, “rich” with “great vocal and emotional power”. Reviewers have also remark that his acting “communicates deep humanity”, can be “tender and anguished” and that he is “the top banana”. Mr. Nansel possesses a diverse repertoire ranging from the comedic Figaro (BARBER OF SEVILLE), Don Giovanni (DON GIOVANNI) and Belcore (L'ELISIR D'AMORE) to the dramatic Count Di Luna (IL TROVATORE), Scarpia (TOSCA) and Escamillo (CARMEN). Among his most widely acclaimed roles are the Di Luna, Iago (OTELLO), Figaro, as well as Danilo (THE MERRY WIDOW), and the title Character in SWEENEY TODD: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street as we as Germont in LA TRAVIATA and Marcello in LA BOHEME. His concert credits include: MENDELSOHN’S ELIJAH, HAYDN'S CREATION, MOZART'S REQUIEM, FAURE'S REQUIEM, HANDEL'S MESSIAH, BRAHMS’ REQUIEM, BEETHOVEN’S MASS IN C MAJOR, and Block’s SACRED SERVICE (Avodat Hakodesh). He has been conducted by several Maestros of note including; Julius Rudel, Plácido Domingo, Eugene Kohn, Marin Alsop, Steven Mercurio and Gregory Buchalter. Directors of note include Stephen Lawless, Jonathon Loy, Jayme McDaniel, James Marvel and Scott Schwartz. He has shared the stage with Joyce DiDonato, Salvatore Licitra, Yunah Lee, Denise Graves, Lucas Meachem, Samuel Ramey and Paul Plishka. Currently, Mr. Nansel resides in the Washington, DC area with his wife of 36 years and their pack of dogs, lizards and various fosters.

“In the title role, Michael Nansel exhibited an exceptionally vivid and powerful baritone, and he swaggered and blundered with engaging unself-consciousness.” OPERA NEWS, Joanne Lessner

“Baritone Michael Nansel’s Count Di Luna displayed a great vocal and emotional power making his character compelling and believable.” WICHITA EAGLE, David Baxter


KIRK DOUGHERTY (Duke of Mantua)

With a sound combining clarity, strength, and integrity, Kirk Dougherty is one of the most exciting voices entering the opera circuit today. His expressivity and commitment to both musical and dramatic interpretation has earned him continuous appearances as a leading tenor since he began a serious foray into the repertoire just six years ago. Of his recent performance in TOSCA, the San José Mercury News exclaimed, “Kirk Dougherty shined…The unique timbre and expression of his handsome voice, coupled with refined, satisfying phrasing, provided noteworthy, heartfelt performances of ‘Recondita armonia’ and ‘E lucevan le stelle,’ two of the treasured arias of the repertoire.

Upcoming engagements include Alfredo in LA TRAVIATA with Opera Southwest, Faust in Boito’s MEFISTOFELE with Knoxville Opera, and the Duke in RIGOLETTO with Orlando Opera and Teatro Lirico D’Europa. Other recent engagements include the role of Rodolfo in LA BOHÈME with Salt Marsh Opera, Lionetto in GLORIA with Teatro Grattacielo, Leicester in MARIA STUARDA with Piedmont Opera, Mr. Cannelloni in THE IMPRESARIO and Rinuccio in GIANNI SCHICCHI with Knoxville Opera, Almaviva in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA with Raylynmor Opera, Cavaradossi in a concert production of TOSCA with Helena Symphony and in full production with NJ Festival Orchestra, the tenor solo in Verdi’s REQUIEM with Allentown Symphony, performed as a soloist in concert with Opera Delaware, sang the role of Cavaradossi/Rodolfo in PUCCINI AT THE PENDRY concert with Maryland Opera, Handel’s MESSIAH with National Chorale, the role of Duke of Mantua in RIGOLETTO with Opera Las Vegas, Edgardo in LUCIA DILAMMERMOOR with Bob Jones University, Tamino in DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE with Glacier Symphony as part of their Festival Amadeus, Mozart’s SOLEMN VESPERS for MidAmerica Productions at Carnegie Hall, Rinuccio in GIANNI SCHICCI/BUOSO’S GHOST with Opera Delaware, Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY and the tenor solo in STABAT MATER with Wichita Grand Opera, Nikolaus Sprink in SILENT NIGHT with Piedmont Opera, and both Count Almaviva in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA and Albert in THE SECRET GARDEN with the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre.

Other recent appearances included a return to Anchorage Opera as Don José in CARMEN and Verdi’s REQUIEM with the New Jersey Choral Society.Mr. Dougherty made his Opera San José début as the Duke in RIGOLETTO, and later returned to the house as Tamino in DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, Philip in the world première of WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD by Mark Weiser, his role début of Cavaradossi in TOSCA, and the roles of Don José in CARMEN and Mitch in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Additionally, Kirk performed the role of Pinkerton in MADAMA BUTTERFLY for Anchorage Opera, where he previously sang the roles of Arturo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and Joseph Treate in the world première of Victoria Bond’s MRS. PRESIDENT. Previous seasons include his company débuts with Sarasota Opera in the role of Manrico in IL TROVATORE, the American Symphony Orchestra portraying Aaron in Bruch’s oratorio MOSES at Carnegie Hall, the Glacier Symphony performing Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE, Salt Marsh Opera as Ernesto in DON PASQUALE, and the title role in FAUST for Opera Louisiane.


Carla Portillo - GILDA

Carla Portillo is an American soprano, born in California, of Mexican heritage. She has participated in various opera and zarzuela productions and galas in Mexico and the United States. She has performed a wide range of repertoire with orchestra, including Bach’s CANTATA BWV 51 - JAUCHZET GOTT IN ALLEN LANDEN, Mozart’s REQUIEM, Verdi’s REQUIEM, Puccini’s LA BOHEME and MADAMA BUTTERFLY, and several opera and zarzuela galas. Orchestras that she has collaborated with include the Chihuahua State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of the Autonomous University of Chihuahua, the Sinaloa Symphony Orchestra of the Arts, and with the Pueblo Symphony Orchestra.She has worked under the baton of many well renowned conductors, such as Armando Pesqueira, Enrique Patrón de Rueda, Jacob Chi, Gordon Campbell, Miguel Salmón del Real, Raúl García Velazquez and Felipe Tristan.

In 2018 she performed the role of Nedda in the Chihuahua State Philharmonic production of Leoncavallo’s I PAGLIACCI, under the baton of maestro Armando Pesqueira. Later that year she sang Adele in the Opera de Tijuana production of DIE FLEDERMAUS, performed during the Festiva Opera en la Calle, under the musical direction of maestro Enrique Patron de Rueda and stage direction of maestro Jose Medina. In 2020 she appeared in the film production of Wolf-Ferarri’s IL SEGRETO DI SUSANNA with the Mexico Opera Studio directed by Rennier Piñero which will be released in a future date. In 2016 she was selected to attend Opera Arte Escénica International Workshop where she performed as soloist in Palmeri’s MISSA-TANGO. From 2017 to 2019 Carla Portillo was part of the Opera Workshop of Sinaloa. And from 2019 to 2020 she worked with the Mexico Opera Studio in the city of Monterrey.

She has received master classes with distinguished teachers and coaches that include Arturo Rodríguez, Ricardo Herrera, Olivia Gorra, Eugenia Garza, Luis Ledesma, Milena Kitic, Alejandra Sandoval, Amelia Sierra, Maureen O’Flynn, Katherine Ciesinski, Claude Corbeil, Yvonne Garza, Encarnación Vázquez, Mark Salters, Angel Rodríguez, Ugo Mahieux, Vlad Iftinca, Jorge Parodi, Andres Sarre, Teresa Rodriguez and Alejandro Miyaki. and André Dos Santos. She finished her voice studies at the department of the Autonomous University of Chihuahua in 2016. She currently is studying with the distinguished voice teacher Dr. Carlos Conde.



American bass, Valerian Ruminski has performed with many of the leading international opera companies including the METROPOLITAN OPERA NEW YORK, the NEW YORK CITY OPERA, OPERA DE MONTE CARLO, DALLAS OPERA, SANTA FE OPERA, SEATTLE OPERA, MIAMI OPERA, MINNESOTA OPERA, MICHIGAN OPERA THEATRE, OPERA IRELAND, OPERA DE MONTREAL, BIRMINGHAM OPERA, HAWAII OPERA THEATRE, OPERA DE QUEBEC, VANCOUVER OPERA and the CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY. His repertoire includes the roles of Figaro and Bartolo in Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, Ferrando in Verdi’s IL TROVATORE, Sparafucile in Verdi’s RIGOLETTO, Colline in Puccini’s LA BOHEME, Commendatore in Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI and Sarastro in Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE, Sam in Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, the King Of Egypt in Verdi’s AIDA and Dr. Grenvilein Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA, Zuniga in Bizet’s CARMEN, Dalandin in Wagner’s THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, Don Magnifico in Rossini’s LA CENERENTOLA and Dulcamara in Donizett’s L’ELSIR D’AMORE, Basilio in Rossini’s THE BARBER OF SEVILLE and Frank in Strauss’ DIE FLEDERMAUS, Gremin in Tchaicoovsky’s EUGENE ONEGIN and many more!

He made his debut at THE METROPOLITAN OPERA as Zuniga in Bizet’s CARMEN in 2001 and returned to appear as Gualtiero in Donizetti’s I PURITANI in 2007 and Nikitisch in Moussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOV in 2011. Other engagements during this same period included major roles with NEW YORK CITY OPERA, OPERA DE MONTE CARLO, FLORIDA GRAND OPERA, SEATTLE OPERA, HAWAII OPERA THEATRE, NEW ISRAELI OPERA OPERA PACIFIC and OPERA IRELAND. Valerian Ruminski’s roles in recent seasons have included Daland in THE FLYING DUTCHMAN during 2014, and Nikalantha in LAKME both for CALGARY OPERA, Timur in TURANDOT for MANITOBA OPERA and Don Alfonso for OPERA IM PARK in Vienna all during 2015, Lodovico in OTELLO for OPERA DE MONTREAL and Bartolo in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE for OPERA SAN JOSE in 2016, a return to HAWAII OPERA THEATRE to sing Crespelin THE TALES OF HOFFMAN, Dulcamara in L’ELISIR D’AMORE for MUSICA VIVA HONG KONG, The Commendatore in DON GIOVANNI for GENEVA LIGHT OPERA, and the Sacristan in TOSCA for OPERA DE MONTREAL all during 2017.

On the concert stage his engagements have included Handel’s MESSIAH with the ITHACA SYMPHONY in New York and at the BELLE IL EN MER FESTIVAL in France, performances of Mozart’s CORONATION MASS at CARNEGIE HALL, ALEXANDER NEVSKY with the PHILADELPHIA CHORALE, Beethoven’s SYMPHONY NO.9 with the HONOLULU SYMPHONY and the BUFFALO PHILHARMONIC, four return engagements, between 2004 and 2014, to appear as soloist in OPERA DE MONTREAL‘s opera gala and THE METROPOLITAN OPERA‘s RICHARD TUCKER GALA in 2000, with fellow soloist Ruth Ann Swenson, conducted by Julius Rudel. Valerian Ruminski‘s recordings include the NAXOS label release of NIGHT AT THE OPERA with other singers whom have debuted at THE METROPOLITAN OPERA as well as the newly released VICTOR HERBERT: COLLECTED SONGS on NEW WORLD RECORDS



Mezzo Soprano Christina Lamberti has garnered critical acclaim throughout her successful career as a performer, but she always felt there was something missing. A darker sound with a shimmering top, her protean vocal presence was assumed to be that of a lirico-spinto soprano with much color. And while the versatility remains, her robust voice has only recently made it clear that its true form was being hidden in the spinto repertoire. Now fully realized as a dramatic mezzo- soprano, Christina is primed for roles such as Eboli (DON CARLO), Santuzza (CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA), Amneris (AIDA), and the title role in CARMEN.

Recognized internationally, Christina has been hailed for a sound that ranges from "a full- throated performance, riveting in sound and fury" to "such delicate nuances that only the greatest masters can portray." She has performed for some of the world’s leading organizations, including San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Delaware, Buffalo Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Estonian National Opera, Slovenian National Theatre, Singapore Lyric Opera, Singapore Symphony, Teatro Comunale di Atri, and Stattheater Regensburg, where she enjoyed three seasons as the resident leading soprano. In her former repertoire, Ms. Lamberti excelled as the title roles of MANON LESCAUT and NORMA, Leonore (IL TROVATORE), Desdemona (OTELLO), Amelia (UN BALLO IN MASCHERA), Donna Elvira (DON GIOVANNI), and Vitellia (LA CLEMENZA DI TITO). Her initial operatic experience began as an undergraduate chorister at Westminster Choir College participating in the Philadelphia Orchestra's concert productions of NABUCCO and TOSCA, conducted by Maestro Riccardo Muti. She continued her studies at Duquesne University and participated in the EPCASO program in Italy, studying the Bellini and Donizetti repertoire under the rigorous tutelage of Enza Ferrari and Claudia Pinza (daughter of famed basso Ezio Pinza).

Her striking young talent was recognized as she began earning young artist residencies in quick succession, including those with Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Opera, and The Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA). Christina began a long-standing relationship with San Francisco Opera as a young artist in the Merola Opera Program. The company immediately engaged her as an Adler Fellow for three years, during which time she starred in the title role of a controversial production of Gluck's (IPHIGÉNIE EN TAURIDE), performed to critical acclaim. Her efforts in the early Romantic bel canto repertoire were encouraged by the late Dame Joan Sutherland and the company's director, the late Lotfi Mansouri. Most recently she has been touring Denmark with her husband, classical guitarist Lars Frandsen. Upcoming engagements include the role of Maddalena in RIGOLETTO with the Teatro Lirico D’Europa. They will be performing at major venues in Florida, South Carolina, and New York in January and February of 2022.



Bulgarian bass Vladimir Hristov graduated from the National Academy of Music in Sofia. He has been a soloist with Teatro Lirico D'Europa on its U.S. and European tours since the winter of 2003 performing roles in Verdi’s RIGOLETTO, NABUCCO, LA TRAVIATA and AIDA, Puccini’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY and TOSCA, Rossini’s IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA and others.



Maestro Gregory Buchalter will be conducting productions of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at Florida Grand Opera, RIGOLETTO with Opera Orlando, CARMEN, SUOR ANGELICA/GIANNI SCHICCHI and Rossini's STABAT MATER with Varna International, RIGOLETTO and IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA with Teatro Lirica D'europe and guest appearances with the South Florida Symphony Orchestra this season. Maestro Buchalter was just appointed Music Director of Varna International. Immediately before the pandemic he conducted IDOMENEO at New England Conservatory of Music. Maestro Buchalter was Music Director at Opera Fairbanks for ten years and Music Director of Opera Las Vegas for five years. At Opera Fairbanks he conducted L’ITALIANA IN ALGERI, CARMEN, LA BOHEME, L’ELISIR D’AMORE, DON GIOVANNI, TOSCA, LA CENERENTOLA, and a Gala performance celebrating Alaska’s 50th anniversary featuring Vivica Genaux. During his leadership with these companies, he has brought in many internationally renowned singers including Paul Plishka, Sondra Radvanovsky, Francisco Casanova, Alessandra Marc, Cynthia Lawrence, Luana DeVol, Alexandra Deshorties, and Richard Bernstein.

Maestro Buchalter is also an active symphonic conductor. He has also conducted SALOMÉ at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland with Maria Ewing and Helga Dernesch, DIE FLEDERMAUS at the Vienna Volksoper, and Mozart’s ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL at the Spoleto Festival. Mr. Buchalter is currently on the music staff at the Metropolitan Opera where the position of “Maestro di Banda” was created for him. He has worked extensively with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and has been Chorus Master at the Met for several productions including the telecast of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of DON GIOVANNI and Gershwin’s PORGY AND BESS.

He has also prepared several world premieres at the Met: John Corigliano’s THE GHOSTS OF VERSAILLES, Philip Glass’ THE VOYAGE, and John Harbison’s THE GREAT GATSBY. In the latter, Mr. Buchalter created the on-stage part of the jazz band conductor. In October 2011, Mr. Buchalter conducted the American Premiere of Mercadante’s I DUE FIGARO with New York’s Amore Opera and received glowing reviews for the performances. He was the first American to conduct with the Kazakhstan State Opera; the performances there included a televised Gala concert for the President of Kazakhstan. Mr. Buchalter has been Chorus Master of the Santa Fe Opera, where he received great acclaim for his choral preparation for PETER GRIMES, TURANDOT and many other operas. In addition he was Chorus Master at the Bregenz Festival in Austria, Theater des Western in Berlin, and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

In February 1992, Mr. Buchalter founded his own chorus, Choros Aristos, and led them in a performance of Rossini’s PETITE MESSE SOLENNELLE at New York’s Merkin Hall in commemoration of the composer’s 200th birthday. In 1995, he conducted the Metropolitan Consort, a group composed of members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in a highly successful concert of Baroque music. For many seasons he was a guest conductor with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble where he has conducted such works as Prokofiev’s ALEXANDER NEVSKY. As both pianist and conductor, Mr. Buchalter has toured such places as Cairo, Kuwait, Malaysia, Turkey, and Hong Kong. As a lecturer and speaker he has been invited to hold Master Classes throughout the United States.



(Artistic Director/Stage Director)

About Teatro Lirico D’Europa

Teatro Lirico D’Europa was created in 1988 by the late Yves Josse, a former ballet divo and brilliant French arts promoter, and Giorgio Lalov, a young Bulgarian opera singer who made his debut at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, at the age of 25, while participating in Scala’s famous international training program for young singers. The collaboration between Josse and Lalov was a huge success in a very short time, resulting in tours with over 250 performances a season throughout France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Portugal. Performances included those for Opera Dijon, at Salle Pleyel and Pavillion Baltard in Paris; Okinawa Performing Arts Center; Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen; Theatre Carre in Amsterdam, Congresshaus in Zurich; Theatre Trinidade in Lisbon; Teatro Atlantida in Barcelona; Salida de La Compania, Teatro Cervantes, Teatro Bueno Vallejo in Madrid; Teatro Lope de Vega in Seville; Le Cirque Royale in Brussels, and L’Atrium Theatre on the Island of Martinique.

Mr. Lalov created the sets and costumes for the productions and organized the chorus and orchestra in Bulgaria. He drew the soloists for the productions from a huge reservoir of operatic talent in Bulgaria, central Europe and the United States, where he held yearly auditions that resulted in the engagement of well over a hundred American singers. Mr. Josse booked the performances for the company from his office in Paris. From the very beginning, the company established itself as highly competent in delivering traditional, full-scale productions featuring a professional orchestra and chorus and outstanding soloists who performed at the top national theatres in their native countries. The unusual chemistry of the company proved to be very popular with European audiences.

Teatro Lirico D’Europa had completed over 2,000 performances worldwide before embarking on its first U.S. tour in the winter 2000 season. Teatro Lirico D'Europa had developed a well-documented history of success with a portfolio of hundreds of rave reviews for full-scale opera productions that had been presented at 180 different venues, including Italian summer festivals such as Festival Busetto, Festival San Giovanni Valdarno, and open-air festivals in Spello, Montecatini Terme, Siena, Chianciano Terme, Cortona, Padova and Aimini.

The company also has a fine collection of outstanding, professionally mastered live CDs. The response to the debut tour from both press and theater management was very positive. The popular company has now completed 17 consecutive U.S. tours with over 800 performances at 140 different venues, including performances for 11 American regional opera companies. The February 2002 issue of OPERA NEWS presented a four-page article on Teatro Lirico D'Europa entitled “Road Warriors,” written by former BOSTON GLOBE opera critic Richard Dyer that stated:

In the past couple of years, the company has presented TURANDOT, AIDA and NABUCCO in Boston. The physical productions and Lalov's stagings were reassuringly traditional. Lalov's stagings tell the story clearly. The solo and ensemble singing in all three operas was lusty, whole hearted-full throated and honest. Something personal and passionate that is often missing from evenings of opera. OPERA NEWS–Richard Dyer

Most recently, in addition to its tours in the USA, the company has toured in in Europe, in France, Spain and Italy at major venues and summer festivals with CARMEN, LA TRAVIATA, RIGOLETTO and NABUCCO, including five performances in Paris presented in collaboration with Opera de Massy.

Rigoletto will be at the Koger Center for the Arts for one performance only on Sunday, January 30, 2022 for a special 3:00 pm matinée.

A classic tale of tragedy, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto is one of the most famous operas ever written. It follows the unforgettable story of a court jester who becomes cursed after enraging the courtiers at the home of The Duke of Mantua. When Rigoletto’s daughter, Gilda, is kidnapped by the duke, a father’s determination to save the daughter he loves leads to betrayal and revenge.

Despite the comedic implications of the opera’s title role, Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic story of corruption and moral ambiguity was one of the most courageous operas of its time. Rigoletto’s captivating melodies and classic story are what make it a cornerstone of opera today. With famous arias as Caro nome and La donna è mobile, Rigoletto will be appreciated by opera lovers and newcomers alike.

Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission Sung in Italian with projected English supertitles.

Individual and season tickets are available at the

There is an additional $2 Koger Center restoration fee

for each ticket purchase.

Individual Tickets: Season Tickets:

Premium Orchestra-$55 Premium Orchestra-$100

Side Orchestra-$50 Side Orchestra-$90

Accessible-$45 Accessible-$80

Seniors-$5 off Seniors-$10 off

*$4 Koger Restoration fee per



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