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Sit, drink, listen, and sing along with beloved jazz standards, Broadway tunes, and opera selections led by some of the area’s finest singers. With the beautiful ambience of the Ideal Theater and Bar, custom opera-themed cocktails, Hangry Lady charcuterie boards, and all your favorite standards from Sinatra to Scarlatti, this premium event is sure to be a feast for all the senses.

Access the full program here:

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Saturday, April 13 at 7:30PM



The Ideal Theater and Bar
213 16th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401, in the Czech Village and New Bohemia


Listed in performance order

Jessica Pray Patel, soprano, holds degrees in Vocal Performance from the Yale School of Music and the University of Iowa. After two years as a Young Artist with CRO, Jessica had her first lead role as Zerlina in
Don Giovanni in 2015 at the Paramount Theatre. In recent years with CRO, she debuted the role of Nan Wood in Strokes of Genius: The Grant Wood Operas and sang Polly in The Threepenny Opera.


2024 performances include the soprano soloist in Elijah with the Iowa City Chamber Singers and soprano
soloist in Elena Kats-Chernin’s Wild Swans Concert Suite with Orchestra Iowa. She will join cellist Anthony
Arnone in a fall recital for Respighi’s Il Tramonto for soprano and string quartet.

Baritone Stephen Swanson has been singing professionally for 60 years. His extremely extensive concert 
repertoire covers all the standard works for baritone from the Baroque to the 20th century. He has 
performed as a soloist under world-renowned conductors. He has performed 108 roles in operas, 
operettas, and musicals in the United States and Europe. In 1994 he joined the faculty of the University 
of Iowa School of Music, from which he will retire in Spring 2024. Steve has appeared with the Cedar 
Rapids Opera in productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Puccini’s Turandot.

Katie Stuelke is a 2019 graduate of Luther College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy with a minor in Music. While at Luther, Katie was awarded the Brudos Prize in Opera Performance, an award given to an outstanding opera performance student. She then went on to pursue masters level coursework in opera performance at Oklahoma City University. Previous roles include Gianetta in The Gondoliers, Mrs. Jenks in The Tender Land, and Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites. Additionally, Katie's cover work includes the roles of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte and Magda Sorel in The Consul.

Janet Satern is the Director of Residence Life at Mount Mercy University. She graduated from Luther College with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Music in 2019. During her time at Luther, she sang in choir, led the gospel choir, participated in a cappella groups, musical theater, and the jazz choir. In 2023, she completed her Masters of Arts in Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs from the University of Northern Iowa. Outside of work and education, Janet dedicates time to the Catherine McAuley Center board, and singing with Vocal Artist of Iowa and the Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale.

Randy Walton is a Certified Celebrant at Cedar Memorial Funeral Home. He currently serves as the Director of Music at Noelridge Christian Church. Randy has been actively involved in the local theater scene and has lent his musical skills to various productions at Theater Cedar Rapids, The Cedar Rapids Opera Theater, and Revival Theater Company. He is passionate about music and has performed at numerous events, including countless weddings and funerals. Randy's commitment to his craft is evident in every performance, and he is widely respected in the community for his dedication and talent.

A talented and diverse musician, Mary Jane Knight is an opera and musical theater performer, director, choral conductor, pianist, organist, and a graduate of Simpson College (BM) and the University of Nebraska (MM). Mary Jane has appeared with companies across the Midwest including Opera Memphis, Opera Quad Cities, Opera Omaha, Des Moines Metro Opera, Theatre Memphis and more. As a concert soloist, Mary Jane is an established Bach Vocal Artist for the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Florida. Other appearances include a regional premier of Jennifer Higdon’s Ruminations featured on a PBS special “Articulate” with the Rhodes Mastersingers and the Memphis Symphony and a performance of Haydn’s Harmonie Messe at Carnegie Hall. She maintains a voice studio in Iowa City. Visit her website:

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Karla Goettel’s soprano voice serves her in a career of extraordinary range. She has performed with the Omaha, Mankato, Dubuque, Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Clinton, Wartburg, and Northwest Iowa Symphonies as well as the Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale (four times) and the Waterloo Metropolitan Chorale in repertoire ranging from Bach, Mozart, and Haydn to Gershwin, Cole Porter and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. She has performed many times with the Cedar Rapids Symphony/Orchestra Iowa in their Classical, Chamber and Pops series, including a Holidays Pops concert that was broadcast on Iowa Public Television. Karla was the soprano soloist with Orchestra Iowa for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at Brucemorechestra, and she held a 12-week contract with Old Creamery Theatre (an Equity company) where she performed 42 performances of the musical “Tintypes.” She has been a frequent guest with Liar’s Theatre of Marion, Iowa where she starred in “Ice, The Opera” and Sondheim’s “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow.” Many of these performances have been broadcast on radio and television. As Maria in “The Sound of Music” she performed for over 10,000 people in sold-out performances. Karla has sung two principal roles with the Cedar Rapids Opera, The Mother in “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and Adele in “Die Fledermaus.” 

Her solo recitals have taken her across the United States, including Boulder and Denver, Colorado, Ft. Smith, Arkansas (twice), a four-city tour through Ohio, Norfolk, Virginia, Wheeling, West Virginia, and a four-city concert tour on the east coast of Florida, which culminated in a performance at the famed Flagler Museum in Palm Beach with Maestro Paul Csonka, conductor of the Palm Beach Opera, at the piano. She was selected by the Iowa Arts Council to perform a half-hour concert for the National Governors Gala at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines in 2005. 

Karla has coached with Metropolitan conductors Richard Woitach and Jeffrey Tate, Richard Boldrey of the Chicago Lyric Opera and Robert Larsen from the Des Moines Metro Opera. Her honors include selection as one of thirteen finalists in the National Opera Association Auditions held in Dallas, Texas and a career development grant from the Young Artist Development Fund in Cleveland, Ohio. She has twice been named an Outstanding Young Woman of America. 

Karla has toured extensively for the Iowa Arts Council, performing and teaching in over 65 Iowa communities. Her CD, “Just Great Songs,” produced in part with a Grant from the IAC and the National Endowment for the Arts, received rave reviews. 

In addition to a performance career, Karla has a private voice studio. Her students have been consistent winners in competitions at the state, regional, and national level and are performing on Broadway and in opera all over the world, as well as teaching from the elementary to the university and graduate level. 

In 2021 she performed the role of Anna Howard Shaw in the Equity world premiere of The Suffragist. 

A respected international artist, Steven Jepson displays a wide range of emotion, vocal agility and acting styles in over 80 operatic and musical theater roles in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Steven has been lauded for virtuoso performances in roles such as Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha), Sweeney Todd, and Emile deBeque (South Pacific). His concert experience is rich and varied, from Broadway pops and cruise ship production shows to cabaret, sacred works, and symphonies. Among his commercial and film work, he created the role of Admiral Conrad Slater in the independent Star Trek features Prelude to Axanar and Interlude. In demand as a teacher and clinician, Steven has served on the faculties of several outstanding colleges.

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Jeffrey Brich, tenor, is now in his 32nd year of collegiate Voice teaching, and has distinguished himself in a broad spectrum of literature, performing with versatility and ease in orchestral, opera and recital venues. His strong creative service to the Cedar Valley and the University of Northern Iowa School of Music is marked by memorable performances with the UNI Lyric Theater, Faculty Chamber Music Series, Iowa Composer’s Forum, and the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival. Professionally, he has performed roughly twenty roles in opera and oratorio, including frequent performances of Handel’s Messiah, Mendlessohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony #9. He last appeared with CRO as “2nd Jew” in their 2010 production of Strauss’ Salome.

Salvadoran-American coloratura soprano Sarah Rosales is known for her performance of the U.S national anthem for the 7th Democratic Presidential Debate in the 2020 election cycle. The event led her to make history, becoming the first Salvadoran individual to perform on CNN LIVE International. Opera career highlights include Belle (Beauty & the Beast, Des Moines Metro Opera), Lauretta/Nan (Gianni Schicchi/American Gothical, Cedar Rapids Opera), Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte, ILA). In addition to opera, Sarah performs musical theater, pop, & cumbia music through concert and cabaret work. Sarah will appear as an apprentice artist in Des Moines Metro Opera’s Frank R. Brownell III’s apprentice artist program this summer. For further information please visit

Evelyn Rush (she/her) holds a Master of Music in voice performance from the Conservatory of Music at University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Bachelor of Music in voice performance from Simpson College. She has enjoyed performing with Concert Operetta Theatre and Center City Opera in Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Cedar Rapids Opera, Hubbard Hall Opera in New York, and at her alma maters. Major roles include Fiordiligi in Cosí fan Tutte, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos, Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac, Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites, Alice in Verdi’s Falstaff (English), Pamina and Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow (English), and Christina in Daron Hagen’s premier of The George Washington Suite. Evelyn has also performed in professional choral ensembles throughout the years and currently performs with Vocal Artists of Iowa. 
Evelyn is part of the adjunct voice faculty at Cornell College and has her own private voice studio.

Benjamin Laur, baritone, has performed the roles of Don Giovanni, Papageno, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Koko. He obtained his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Iowa and holds degrees from Bowling Green State and Central Michigan Universities. Laur is an Artist Instructor of Voice at both Kirkwood Community College and Cornell College where he is a regular recitalist and founder of the current Cornell Opera Scenes program. Recent appearances have been with Crooked Path Theatre of Iowa City as a featured performer in their seasonal cabarets.

American mezzo-soprano Michelle Monroe has appeared as a young artist with Cedar Rapids Opera playing Ruth in Pirates of Penzance and La Madre in Madama Butterfly. Michelle worked as an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera in 2019 and 2021, where she performed Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Une Récitante in Debussy’s La Damoiselle Élue. In May, Michelle will be performing as the Southwind in Mr. Twister and the Tale of Tornado Alley with Opera Kansas. She is pursuing her D.M.A. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy at the University of Iowa and completed her M.M. in Vocal Performance from the University of Northern Iowa.

Thaddeus Ennen, baritone and General Director of CRO, received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Louisiana State University, Master of Music degree from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Bachelor of Music degree from Simpson College. Thaddeus began his time with CRO in 2018 as a Smith Young Artist followed by principal roles in Strokes of Genius: The Grant Wood Operas, The Threepenny Opera, Brigadoon, and Madama Butterfly. Additionally, Thaddeus could be found performing opera and concerts throughout the United States. Recent engagements include performances with Des Moines Metro Opera, Cedar Rapids Concert Chorale, Central City Opera, Opéra Louisiane, Santa Fe Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Knoxville Opera.  

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Soprano Taylor Dengler-Schlicher currently teaches 7-12 grade vocal music at Benton Community in Van Horne, Iowa. Trained at Luther College by Dr. Edwin Andereck and at the University of Northern Iowa by Dr. Jean McDonald and Dr. Korey Barrett, her favorite role to-date is Romilda in Handel’s Serse. Most recently, she presented a recital entitled “Breaking Boundaries: The Joy of Music,” containing spirituals, musical theater, and light opera selections. Holding degrees in Music Education and Opera Performance, she strives to always consider pedagogy and scientific approach to healthy singing when practicing on her own and working with voices of all ages and styles.

Lauren Leman, mezzo-soprano, received her Master of Music degree from the University of Northern Iowa in 2023. At UNI, Lauren performed the roles of Second Witch (Dido and Aeneas) and May in the world premiere of The Beehive by Jorge Sosa and Melisa Tien. She has been a young artist with Cedar Rapids Opera (The Pirates of Penzance), and Bay View Music Festival (Gianni Schicchi), where she will return this summer to sing the role of Angelina in La Cenerentola. Lauren has also performed this season with Cedar Falls Community Theatre, and served as the production manager for CRO’s January production of Tosca.

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