Casting for Miles and Flora draws on budding local talent

Madison Opera is excited to announce the casting of Alistair Sewell and Jennifer DeMain in the roles of Miles and Flora for Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. To classical music lovers in Madison, these are familiar names: Alistair is the son of Maestro Andrew Sewell, music director of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and Jennifer is the daughter of Maestro John DeMain, Madison Opera’s artistic director and the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s music director.

Casting the children in The Turn of the Screw is notoriously difficult. The roles require exceptional vocal skill combined with adept musical and dramatic proficiency. After an extensive audition process, General Director Allan Naplan was thrilled to discover Mr. Sewell, 13, and Ms. DeMain, 17, were suited perfectly for the parts.

Boy soprano Alistair Sewell will be making his Madison Opera debut as Miles. A former member of the Madison Boy Choir, Alistair continues to sing regularly and last year appeared as soloist in Howard Blake’s The Snowman with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. Alistair is currently a member of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony – Philharmonia Orchestra, as a cellist, and also participates in the chamber music program. He is the first trumpet in the 8th grade band and jazz band at Jefferson Middle School. Alistair has a keen interest in acting, movie making and composition, and has performed several of his own compositions locally. He works regularly as a model with the Rock Agency in Madison and has studied with acting coach John Kirby in Los Angeles. In 2009, Alistair appeared as Wally in the production of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town at the Masterworks Festival in Winona Lake, Indiana.

A performer of diverse talents, Jennifer DeMain is currently completing her senior year at Edgewood High School in Madison. At Edgewood, she has appeared as Juror #4 in Twelve Angry Jurors; Rosemary in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; Minnie Fay in The Matchmaker; and Nicky Cricker in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In addition to her work as a vocalist, Jennifer is principal cellist of the Edgewood High School String Orchestra, and pianist for the Edgewood High School Jazz Ensemble. She began on stage at the age of five as a super in Madison Opera’s production of Help! Help! The Globolinks and later joined the Madison Opera Children’s Chorus for productions of Carmen, La boheme, Turandot, and Il trovatore. Other credits include the children’s chorus in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with South Australian Opera and work locally with Children’s Theater of Madison and Four Seasons Theater. Jennifer currently studies voice with Andrew Abrams.

Performances of The Turn of the Screw will take place in The Playhouse at Overture, January 28-31, 2010.

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