2023 Directors, Designers & Choregrapher
Associate Director, Opera Conservatory
Stage Director, Gianni Schicchi / Suor Angelica and Lady in the Dark
For the Opera Conservatory, John Giampietro has directed numerous operas including The Cunning Little Vixen, Hänsel und Gretel, Le nozze di Figaro, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. John is a Vocal Arts Acting Faculty member and Stage Director at The Juilliard School where he teaches across all degree programs. He is also a faculty member of The Curtis Institute of Music where he teaches acting in the Vocal Studies and Opera Theater Department.
John’s opera and theatre productions have been seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Urban Stages, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Vermont Shakespeare Festival, Curtis Institute of Music, The Flea Theater, Yale School of Music, and Shenandoah Conservatory among others.
John is an artist-member of Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC where he is a frequent director with the Obie award winning playwriting group, Youngblood. At EST, John directed the NY Times acclaimed production of Year of the Rooster.
John’s writing includes new English dialogue versions of Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor by Otto Nicolai, Mozart’s The Impresario and Die Zauberflöte. He has written three plays; The Immolation of Kathy Chang(e), M. of Versailles, and Strength of God and other grotesques, based on Sherwood Anderson’s novel “Winesburg, Ohio”.
Stage Director, La Tragédie de Carmen
Chía Patiño recently directed Don Giovanni for the Aspen Music Festival, Florencia en el Amazonas for Opera Tenerife, Orpheus & Eurydice for Seattle Opera, Suite Española: Exploring Iberia and Exploring the Caribbean for Houston Grand Opera, La Cenerentola and Tosca for Northern Lights Music Festival, Don Giovanni for Butler Opera Center, and her adaptation of the Magic Flute using the Andean cosmovision: La Flauta Mágica de Los Andes. Other works include Faust, La Traviata, Hansel and Gretel, Rusalka, Dido and Aeneas, Carmen, Così fan tutte, Transformations, Luisa Fernanda, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Spring Awakening, and Los Miserables.
She conducted the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitán in the opera mariachi Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, commissioned by HGO in 2009 at the Chatelêt Theater in Paris, Arizona, Phoenix, San Diego, Fort Worth, Chicago, and El Paso and the choral world premiere at the Teatro Nacional Sucre in Ecuador.
Set Designer, Sweeney Todd
Brian Ruggaber is an award-winning scenic designer who is delighted to be returning to Chautauqua. Currently in his ninth year with the University of Memphis, he heads The Department of Theatre & Dance’s scenic design program and has designed scenery for over 180 productions including opera, drama, musical theatre, and dance. He has a strong interest in developing work with diversity, equity, and inclusion as core themes. His work has been seen in regional theatres, international festivals, and Off Broadway. Prior to joining UM’s faculty, he was a Resident Designer for The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and an Associate Professor of Design at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His students have successful careers in theatre, film, television, and themed entertainment. Brian is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829, IATSE 492, and an active member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).
Stage Director, L’enfant et les sortilèges
Marcus Shields is a visual artist, filmmaker, and stage director based in New York City. As a stage director, his professional affiliations include The Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Merola Opera, The Curtis Institute, The Juilliard School, The Atlanta Opera, the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Theatre St. Louis, the Santa Fe Opera, and Opera National de Lyon.
He is the co-founder of OSSIA, a company exploring cultural communication of classical music, and the Up Until Now Collective, an experimental performance collective. With UUN, Shields has created multiple films and music videos including Up Until Now, Georgia, and Bad Choices. Georgia was featured as the July 2021 installation in Times Square as part of the Times Square Midnight Moment. Up Until Now, a live performance film, has been featured in NewFest and, in September of 2022, was presented as a performance installation at the Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn. Shields is a winner of the Opera America Tobin Director / Designer competition, a graduate of the Merola Opera program, and a 2017 Drama League Director Fellow. Shields is currently a full-time member of the Stage Directing Staff at the Metropolitan Opera and creates work throughout the United States.
Upcoming projects include: La Voix Humaine (Curtis Opera Theatre), Our Goode Friend Byrde (Guildhall), and Drawing from the Endowment (A/Jane Performance Space).
Kia S. Smith
Choreographer, Sweeney Todd
Assistant Director, La Tragédie de Carmen
Kia S. Smith is a Chicago native, the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of South Chicago Dance Theatre as well as the company’s Resident Choreographer. Smith recently closed SCDT’s sixth season with the premiere of her first Dance Opera Memoirs of Jazz in the Alley, also marking the company’s debut at the historic Auditorium Theatre of Chicago. As a freelance choreographer, her recent and upcoming commissions include Madison Ballet (2021), Chicago Repertory Ballet (2022), Houston Contemporary Dance Company (2023), Chicago Opera Theater (2023) and Giordano Dance Chicago (2023). Smith was recently named a Rising Star in 2023 by Chicago Magazine and Player of the Moment in the category of Dance for New City Magazine’s annual 50 Players List.
Dennis Whitehead Darling
Stage Director, Sweeney Todd
Dennis Whitehead Darling is an award-winning Stage Director working in opera, theatre, musical theatre and film. His recent directing credits include: World Premieres of Marian’s Song (Houston Grand Opera), Sanctuary Road (North Carolina Opera), “Why I Live at the PO” (UrbanArias), Buried Deep (End Station Theatre) and The Secret River (Opera Orlando). Other works include Jelly’s Last Jam – A Concert Reading (Long Wharf Theatre), The Falling and the Rising (Arizona Opera), La bohème (Opera Columbus), Lost in the Stars (Annapolis Opera), The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Red Mountain Theatre), Independence Eve (Opera Birmingham), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Hattiloo Theatre/Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Jelly’s Last Jam (Hattiloo Theatre), The Parchman Hour (Hattiloo Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Intimate Apparel (University of Memphis), Movin’ Up in the World (Opera Memphis), Sunset Baby (Hattiloo Theatre), James and the Giant Peach (Circuit Playhouse), and Blue Viola (Opera Memphis).