The mission of FBN Productions is to promote music-drama as a synthesis of all disciplines of the human experience, for everyone from school children to senior citizens.
Every civilization has sought to express itself in song, word, movement and picture. This total experience has been separated into the concentrations we study in the classroom: history, language, mythology, science, physical education and the arts. Students rarely have the opportunity to witness what they study combined in a live, interactive format.
Opera is the one medium that combines these elements to touch all of the human condition. It can touch your students. It can be part of their education.
FBN believes that presenting new and existing opera in the class room provides a unique forum for multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural pursuits.
FBN's Annual Touring Program
Co-Sponsorship of Carolina Opera Experience
- At Carolina Opera Experience, students learn the art of props, make-up, costumes, scenery, and musical preparation in a week-long experience for 5th through 10th graders. COE is presented in collaboration with Opera at USC.
Co-Productions of children's operas
- Past collaborations: Brundibar (2012), a children's opera by Hans Krása, produced in collaboration with Opera at USC and Operatunity Foundation for the Arts
About our General Director
Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, Founder and General Director
A sought-after director of opera and theater, Schlaefer’s work has been seen at The Washington Opera (now known as The Washington National Opera), Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Carolina, Connecticut Opera, Opera Illinois, Orlando Opera, Opera Memphis, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Augusta Opera, Piedmont Opera, Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Tour, Opera on the James, Green Mountain Opera Festival, Brott Opera, Trustus Theatre, Workshop Theatre of South Carolina, Shenandoah University, Coastal Carolina University, and the University of Dallas.
Schlaefer served as the Production Stage Manager for The Santa Fe Opera from 1987 until 2000 and for the Washington Opera (now known as The Washington National Opera) from 1986 to 1994. Additional stage managing credits include productions with Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, The Washington Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Pacific and the Merry Go Round Playhouse.
Early in her career, Schlaefer assisted directors Francesca Zambello, Gian Carlo Menotti, Julius Rudel, Sonja Frissell, Ann-Margret Pettersson, Ted Pappas, Michael Ehrman, Baayork Lee and Roman Terleckyj on productions with The Washington Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Charleston Symphony, The Israel Festival (Jerusalem, Israel), Teatro Comunale di Modena (Italy), Spoleto Festival (Melbourne, Australia) and New York Harlem Productions (Munich, Germany).
In the spring of 2004, Schlaefer was appointed director of Opera Studies for the University of South Carolina School of Music, where she has directed numerous productions and teaches undergraduate and graduate opera workshop courses, production classes, and student-designed independent studies in opera history and vocal literature.
Dedicated to arts education, Schlaefer is founder and general director of FBN Productions, Inc. Opera for Kids. Since 1994, FBN has shared the joys of live opera with over 300,000 young people.
Collaborative Artists / Senior Staff
Alexis Doktor (Costume Coordinator) is from New York, New York, and holds a degree in fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Her career began in professional ballet and led her into costume design, where she has worked under designers such as Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang. She also designs for Opera at USC, Columbia City Ballet, Trustus Theatre, Workshop Theatre of South Carolina. Her work for FBN Productions includes Pinocchio, Opera USA, and Petunia.
Daniel Gainey (Dramaturge) is Director of Music and Organist at St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Brevard, NC. Previously he served as the Director of Music and Creative Arts at College Place UMC in Columbia, SC. He is a past president of Workshop Theatre of South Carolina and has served as a frequent music director for theaters in the Midlands of South Carolina with recent credits including Oklahoma! at Town Theater and Songs for a New World at Workshop. Gainey also directed Workshop Theatre's production of The Dining Room and was the Assistant Director for Quisisana's (Maine) Madama Butterfly. His connection to FBN Productions formed while studying with Ellen Schlaefer at USC, and upon graduation, Gainey went on tour with the FBN's productions of The Coffee Cantata, Pinocchio, Petunia, and Jack and the Beanstalk. In addition to his performance work with FBN Productions, Daniel has been the booking representative since 2012. He looks forward to helping this art form continue by crafting new operas for children, including the upcoming All According to Taste: the Three Bears' Guide to Porridge Making.
Soprano, Serena Hill LaRoche (Administration/Production Associate), is currently an applied voice instructor at the University of South Carolina. Hill’s recent performance and/or master class engagements include East Tennessee State University, Greenville Light Opera Works, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, South Carolina Philharmonic, University of South Carolina, Columbia College, Bechtler Museaum of Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, Palmetto Opera, University of Maryland, Central Florida Lyric Opera, Firenze Lirico, Columbia Museum of Art, and Abadía Benedictina de la Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos as well as other performances in both Spain and Italy. An award winning vocal artist, Hill was a 2003 finalist in the Southeast Regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions, a 2012 and 2008 NATSAA Regional Finalist and the 2006 Artist of the Year with FBN Productions, Inc. In 2003, she was the Bizet Award winner for the Orpheus National Young Artist Vocal Competition and a Palmetto Opera Competition Finalist in 2005. Hill received a Doctorate in Musical Arts and a Master of Music from the University of South Carolina, both in Vocal Performance, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Alabama. Recent engagements include performances of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Herbert Howells’s Hymnus Paradisi, Bach’s Cantata No. 1, Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem, Britten’s Les Illuminations, Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise, Mozart’s Requiem, and Werner Jaegerhuber’s Messe Folklorique Haïtienne as well as a series of recitals down the East Coast.
Teddy Moore (Resident Scenic Designer/ Company Manager) holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree in Scenic Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He is the resident designer for Opera at USC and works as Head of Properties at the Castleton Festival in Rappahannock County, Virginia. Previously, he has designed for Asheville Lyric Opera, Opera on the James, Florida State University Theatre, Columbia City Ballet, The Mostly Baroque Players, Connecticut Opera Express. Mr. Moore has served as Props Artisan for Tanglewood Music Center, Connecticut Opera, Berkshire Opera, and Shakespeare & Company. His work for FBN Productions includes scenic and prop design for Pinocchio, Petunia and Opera USA.
Kaley Karis Smith (Booking Coordinator) is an alumna of both the University of Nebraska, graduating with degrees in Vocal Performance and English Literature in 2012, and the University of South Carolina, earning her MM in Opera Direction in 2014. Recently, she has directed John Davies’s The Bremen Town Musicians at Opera on the James, Robert Ward’s The Crucible with Chicago Summer Opera, Le Nozze di Figaro at Augusta University, and has remounted productions of Petunia and Jack and the Beanstalk with FBN Productions, Inc. She has also worked as a stage manager and assistant director with Opera North, Opera Saratoga, Opera Delaware, Opera Omaha, Central City Opera, Opera on the James, Opera Columbus, the University of South Carolina, and Indiana University. Last spring, she was the Assistant Director and Choreographer for the world premiere of Stranger from Paradise, based on the life and poetry of William Blake, and Cosi fan Tutte at Opera Omaha.