Roosevelt University Alumni Abound in Chicago Premiere of Danish Opera ‘Maskarade’

Peter Ruger

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–January 14, 2014.  A local premiere of Carl Nielsen’s comic opera Maskarade, which includes performances and artistry by 20 alumni and a current student from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, will open Saturday, Jan. 18 in Chicago. (At right, Roosevelt alumnus Peter Ruger (MM, ’12) shows off a colonial-style wig and antlers that he will don on stage for Maskarade).

Featuring undergraduates and graduates largely from the Voice Performance Program at Roosevelt’s Music Conservatory, the performance of Denmark’s national opera is a rare occurrence this side of the Atlantic. Written in 1906,  it is being staged for the first time in Chicago Jan 18, 19, 21, 23, 24 and 25 by the VOX 3  Collective at the Vittum Theatre, 1012 N. Noble Street, Chicago.

For tickets, visit  or contact 773-784-0425 or [email protected].
Brian von Rueden“One of the things I’ve discovered from my time at Roosevelt is that my fellow alumni understand hard work and have a great deal of determination and skill,” said Brian von Rueden (right, outside the Danish Home of Chicago), a 2006 Master of Music graduate of Roosevelt’s voice program and artistic director of the VOX 3 Collective, which has been staging operas, recitals and cabarets throughout the Chicagoland area since 2007.

Blending traditional ideas about opera with modern approaches to the art form, Maskarade is the highlight of VOX 3 Collective’s Music & Masquerades Festival of Danish Art & Culture, which runs through March 15 in Chicago, including an art song recital at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 in Roosevelt University’s seventh-floor Ganz Hall, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

“Roosevelt graduates know what it takes to make it in opera and they also have a sense of humility, which makes them great people to be around,” said von Rueden, who first became interested in opera directing as a CCPA student.

Since graduating and founding VOX 3 Collective in 2007, the alumnus has directed and cast more than 60 different VOX 3 programs in Chicagoland. Maskarade is among the company’s major productions, presenting a light side in which the spirit of Rooseveltians working together comes through, according to von Rueden.

“This is my first out-of-school production and I’ve got to say that I’ve really gotten to know a lot of Roosevelt people during the Maskarade experience,” said Gabriel Di Gennaro, a member of the show’s chorus and a 2013 Master’s in Music graduate of CCPA’s Voice Performance Program.

“There is a unique kind of support system among us as well as a chemistry and camaraderie,” added Di Gennaro, who believes the casting of so many Roosevelt alumni in the 70-plus-member show is powerful, particularly during the show’s third act, which features a party that many of the Roosevelt alumni get the opportunity to attend on stage together.

The list  of Roosevelt alumni in the show: includes:
Megan Cook Gretchen Adams (BM, ‘07); Karen Ann Baron (MM, ‘13); Christopher Buckler (BM, ‘08); Megan Cook (MM, ‘10) (at right; Cook tries walking with a towering 18th Century wig, modeled after a Danish clipper ship of the time); Magaly Cordero (MM, ‘06); Gabriel Di Gennaro (MM, ‘13); Kimberly Gunderson (BM, ‘06); Meghan Guse, (MM. ’07); Ashlee Hardgrave, (MM, ’04); Brian Hoffman, (BM, ’05), who has one of the lead roles in the production; Ian Hosack, who is currently studying voice at CCPA; Catie Huggins (MM, ’08); Reuben Lillie (MM, ’13); Joachim Luis, (MM, ’09); James Morehead (MM, ’04); Thomas Oswald (MM, ’07); Elizabeth Rudolph (MM, ’05); Peter Ruger (MM, ’12); Jennifer Schuler (MM, ’12); Zachary Vanderburg (MM, ’13); and Brian von Rueden (MM, ’06).

Tickets to Maskarade are $32 for adults and $16 for students and seniors.  For more information and/or to purchase tickets, visit  or contact 773-784-0425 or [email protected].