Board & Staff

Artistic Staff

CRAIG KIER
Artistic & Music Director

American Conductor Craig Kier has received high praise for his “Tesla-like intensity” and “impeccable orchestral support” while leading performances throughout the United States and on international stages.

Maestro Kier was appointed Artistic and Music Director of the Annapolis Opera in 2020 and has been the Director of the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) since 2014. Productions since the beginning of his tenure with MOS have included Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, La finta giardiniera, and La clemenza di Tito, Handel’s Ariodante, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, Blitzstein’s Regina, Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Owen Wingrave, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Kier’s 2022-2023 season includes productions of Puccini’s La bohème, Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with Annapolis Opera. He also leads productions of La bohème, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up with Maryland Opera Studio and returns to Brevard Music Center. Future seasons include debuts with Opera Columbus and Knoxville Opera. Last season, he led Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and John Musto’s Later the Same Evening with the Maryland Opera Studio and La cenerentola and Into the Woods with Annapolis Opera. In the 2019-2020 season, he led Tosca with Annapolis Opera, was scheduled to return to the Brevard Music Center to conduct their season opening concert and Die Enführung aus dem Serail, returned to Houston Ballet to lead gala performances and The Nutcracker, which he has done since 2011, and continued his association with the National Symphony Orchestra, assisting Gianandrea Noseda. In the 2018-2019 season, he made his San Francisco Merola Opera Center debut, Indianapolis Opera debut, and returned to Opera Birmingham and Houston Ballet. At the University of Maryland, he served as Artistic Director of the year-long Kurt Weill Festival, conducting performances of The Road of Promise, Mahagonny Songspiel, and Street Scene.

Recent season highlights include conducting debuts with Wolf Trap Opera leading Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Brevard Opera Center leading La cenerentola, Anchorage Opera leading Don Pasquale, Arizona Opera leading Madama Butterfly, and Opera Saratoga leading Verdi’s Falstaff.

From 2010-2013, Kier was Associate Conductor under Patrick Summers at Houston Grand Opera. During his time with the company he led dozens of performances including Madama Butterfly, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Die Fledermaus, Trial by Jury and the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s Bound. Additional guest engagements for Kier include La bohème with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Il barbiere di Siviglia with Atlanta Opera, Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the Glimmerglass Festival, The Sound of Music with Central City Opera, Thomas’ Hamlet and La Traviata with Opera Birmingham, L’italiani in Algeri with Opera Santa Barbara, and The Music Man at Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman.

Craig Kier

JUSTINA LEE
Artistic Advisor

American collaborative artist Justina Lee has served as assistant conductor, pianist, and coach for such companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Castleton Festival, and Wolf Trap Opera Company. She is a frequent collaborator with acclaimed tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and has appeared with him on National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Recital highlights include collaborations with Alyson Cambridge, Gordon Hawkins, Kate Lindsey, Linda Mabbs, Lisette Oropesa, Dimitri Pittas, and Tamara Wilson. Ms. Lee has appeared under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation residency program and on recital series that include On Wings of Song at Carnegie Hall, the Harriman-Jewell Series, the Washington Performing Arts Series at The Kennedy Center, and on Renée Fleming’s VOICES recital series. She can also be seen on medici.tv as a pianist for Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute masterclasses with Joyce DiDonato.

Ms. Lee is an alumna of the distinguished Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera and holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Manhattan School of Music. She served as Principal Coach of the Maryland Opera Studio at the University of Maryland, College Park from 2008-2022, and faculty at Prague Summer Nights Music Festival and the International Opera Performing Experience summer program. She joined the faculty at the Juilliard School in 2022, as Associate Artistic Director of Vocal Arts with a focus on the Bachelor of Music degree program.

Administrative Staff

KATHY SWEKEL
General Director

Kathy Swekel, General Director, is a non-profit arts manager with experience in producing national and international performance projects, which include tours, concerts, and recording projects. Ms. Swekel has worked with more than ten major US symphonies, including the San Francisco and Detroit Symphonies, as well as with individual artists, organizations, and performing arts venues.  Ms. Swekel has been responsible for the realization of performance projects at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Kimmel Center and is the co-founder of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, a full symphonic orchestra comprised of young international virtuoso performers presenting concerts in Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York, and Richmond. Her recording projects include works by Barber, Bach, Mozart, Copland, and Bernstein, a collection of jazz standards by the artists of Utopia, and a live recording with American folk legend, Arlo Guthrie.

Kathy Swekel

VICTORIA MANGUM
Artistic Programs Manager

Victoria Mangum has an extensive background in theatrical administration and production, including roles as stage manager, production manager, producer, and more. She has worked with numerous companies, including the Washington National Opera, OperaDelaware, UD Opera Theatre, the Harrington Theatre Arts Company, and 2nd Star Productions. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, with minors in Music Management and Theatre, from the University of Delaware. She is a proud member of Sigma Alpha Iota.

Victoria Mangum

MAURA DULLEA
Operations & Marketing Associate

Maura Dullea is a recent graduate from Salisbury University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications. She graduated summa cum laude and majored in Communications with a track in Public Relations and minored in Marketing. While at school, she was a performing member of the Salisbury University Poms Dance team and a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honors society. Ms. Dullea also spent eight years dancing at Jean Marie Dance Studio where she trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and pointe.

CJ HARTUNG
Administrative Assistant

CJ Hartung is an active opera singer and arts leader. He is a graduate of The Peabody Conservatory and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with the Maryland Opera Studio. He has performed with companies such as Washington National Opera, Maryland Lyric Opera, Annapolis Opera, and more. In addition to his performance engagements, Mr. Hartung has an MBA and works with non-profit organizations in the realms of Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Organizational Management.

Emeritus Staff

RONALD J. GRETZ
Artistic Director and Conductor

Ronald J. Gretz celebrated 37 seasons as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Annapolis Opera, a position that he has also held with both the Chesapeake and Harford Opera companies. Mr. Gretz served as chorus master and assistant conductor with the Baltimore Opera and Chautauqua Summer Opera in New York and has conducted Baltimore Opera’s Summer Opera. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, Mr. Gretz returned to his alma mater for five years [1995-2000] as an Opera Coach. In 2012 he was again appointed to the Vocal faculty as a Vocal Coach where he remains as a part-time faculty member.

In addition to his work in opera, he has conducted musicals with Cock-pit-in-Court and various area dinner theaters. Internationally he has performed twice at the Kanagawa Theater Festival in Japan as well as in Shanghai, China. In 1994 Mr. Gretz was appointed conductor of the Gettysburg Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 10 years. In 2004 he founded the Maryland Philharmonic Orchestra and continued as artistic director and conductor until 2008. Mr. Gretz was named Professor Emeritus upon retiring from teaching at CCBC where he taught music theory for 41 years. His theory textbook “Music Language and Fundamentals,” published by McGraw Hill is used throughout the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Gretz is also the organist and choir director at the University Baptist Church in Baltimore, a position that he has held for 30 years. 

Ronald J. Kretz

BRAXTON PETERS
Stage Director

Known throughout the region, Stage Director Braxton Peters has performed in or directed over eighty operas and musicals. In his twenty-eight years with Annapolis Opera he has directed numerous productions including Don GiovanniLa BohèmeRomeo et JulietteToscaCarmenMadama ButterflyL’elisir d’amoreLa traviataThe Student PrinceThe MikadoDie FledermausDie ZauberflöteIl barbiere di SivigliaRigoletto and Così fan tutte. Mr. Peters is well known as a performer in musical theatre, having starred in Sweeney ToddMy Fair LadyThe Secret GardenCamelotA Little Night MusicFollies, and Man of La Mancha (a role he performed with Annapolis Opera and Virginia Opera companies).

Mr. Peters taught voice at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, Essex, and Catonsville campuses, and served as the Stage Director for Little Patuxent Opera Institute, at Howard Community College.

Braxton Peters

Board of Directors

Board of Trustees

Rev. Dr. Carletta Allen
President

Kathryn Dahl
Vice President

Michael Lehr
Treasurer

Paula Abernethy
Secretary

Betty Austin

Georgianna Crosby

Thomas DeKornfeld

Richard Hack

Richard Krimm

Cary Melnyk

Andrew Noel

Melissa Osmond

Kimberly Ross Page

Lyn Songy

William Tham

Robert Young

Advisory Trustees

Anna E. Greenberg

Leah Solat

David Stern

Lift Every Voice Advisory Trustees

Rev. Dr. Carletta Allen

Betty Austin

Patsy Blackshear

Terry Eberhardt