Who We Are

Black Box Baroque was founded in 2013 by Sara Hagenbuch in collaboration with San Francisco Bay Area musicians passionate about historically informed performance and staged opera. BBB has produced four fully staged Handel operas with orchestra: Orlando in March 2014, Ariodante in March 2015, Alcina in April 2016, and Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo in May 2017.

Our artists have performed with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists Festival, Tanglewood Festival, and the Amherst, Madison, and Boston early music festivals. We’re graduates of Juilliard, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, and Oberlin College. Our orchestra for Ariodante, Alcina, and Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo was the venerable Albany Consort under director Jonathan Salzedo, who has also performed with groups such as the San Francisco Symphony and California Bach Society.

About the Artists

Mezzo-soprano Ellen Presley is thrilled to be returning to Black Box Baroque to sing the role of Galatea in Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo. Ellen performed as Bradamante in Alcina and Polinesso in Ariodante with Black Box Baroque in their recent sold-out productions. Other recent roles include Ottone in L'incoronazione di Poppea with Opera Theater Unlimited, Pisana in Verdi’s I due Foscari with West Edge Opera, and Lieutenant Marshall in South Pacific with Foothill Theater. An avid performer of new music, Ellen recently sang in workshops for Shalimar the Clown by Jack Perla, commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and The R(evolution) of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates, commissioned by Santa Fe Opera. At San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Ellen performed Lady with a Hat Box (Postcard from Morocco), Arsamene (Serse), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), and Alma March (Little Women). Ellen has sung roles from Mozart to new music with Opera Parallèle, Sacramento Opera, Opera Academy of California, Sacramento State Opera Theatre, SFCM New Music Ensemble, BASOTI, University of Miami Frost School of Summer Music at Salzburg, and San Diego Opera Summer Intensive for Young Singers. She holds an MM from SFCM, where she won Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Opera and Voice departments.

Soprano Sara Hagenbuch, founder of Black Box Baroque, is active as a soloist and choral singer in the Bay Area with The Handel Opera Project, SF Contemporary Music Players, Opera on Tap, Opera Theatre Unlimited, and the St. Dominic’s Schola Cantorum. Sara is particularly passionate about the music of Handel, with favorite roles including Morgana (Alcina), Dalinda (Ariodante), Seleuce(Tolomeo), and Dorinda (Orlando). As Morgana, Sara was praised by San Francisco Classical Voice for her “well-grounded voice…Her trills and ornaments were excellent, and her lively 'Tornami a vagheggiar' left more than one audience member humming at intermission.” She received her BM summa cum laude from Ithaca College and MM from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Sara is thrilled to sing Aci in Handel’s Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo with BBB. For more information, visit Sara's website.

Bass-baritone Ben Brady has been living and performing in the Bay Area for over three years now. Recent roles include the title role in Lamplighters' The New Mikado, Trinity Moses in Redwood Symphony's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and Tonio in Pocket Opera's I Pagliacci. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he received his BM in Vocal Performance at the University of Michigan where he studied with Stephen West. Along with his classical performance work, Ben teaches voice regularly at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre and is a prominent member in the Oakland-based rock band Suits of Steel.

Katie Nix is a soprano, stage director, and arts administrator. Hailed as “sensational” by the San Francisco Examiner, her wide repertoire as a performer ranges from Baroque chamber opera to contemporary musical theatre. Operatic roles include Lucano/Valletto in L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Amy in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Antigona in Handel’s Admeto and First Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Favorite theatrical appearances include Dot in Sunday in the Park with George and Imogen in Shakespeare's Cymbeline. As a director, she staged the world's first professional wrestling opera The Final Battle For Love with Thompson Street Opera (Louisville), and has worked with with San Francisco's Fete Concerts and with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For more information, visit Katie's website.

Since moving to California 33 years ago, British-born harpsichordist Jonathan Salzedo has become a popular collaborator with leading Bay Area orchestras (Jubilate, San Francisco Symphony, Monterey Symphony), choruses (Soli Deo Gloria, California Bach Society, Coro Hispano) and ensembles (Whole Noyse, Santa Cruz Chamber Players, Momsemble). With his wife Marion Rubinstein, he co-directs the Albany Consort, now in its 40th year, which tackles the entire spectrum of baroque music from duos to opera. He performs new music and works with innovative soloists creating varied programs using the harpsichord in new contexts. Once a maker of instruments, Jonathan still enjoys the challenges of moving harpsichords (generally single-handedly) and tuning them (he is an expert on early tuning systems). Jonathan has two grownup children who are both fine musicians. In his spare time, he sings at Congregation Etz Chayim, Palo Alto, teaches Alexander Technique, and runs a software consulting business. Jonathan first took up harpsichord while a mathematics student at Oxford University. Prior to that he had been an active and occasionally prize-winning pianist through his youth. After graduating, he intended to study harpsichord seriously with someone really famous, but ended up learning most of what he knows from careful listening and from working with terrific soloists.

Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo performs regularly on period and modern instruments in the US, Europe, and Asia. She has appeared as viola d’amore soloist with Juilliard415 and New York Baroque Inc., and has performed as violinist and violist under Nicholas McGegan (as principal second), Masaaki Suzuki (as violinist and principal violist), William Christie, Richard Egarr, Jordi Savall, Monica Huggett, Mark Morris, Manfredo Kraemer, and Jeffrey Thomas. Ms. Rubinstein-Salzedo has performed with Juilliard415, New York Baroque Inc, Clarion Music Society, Sacramento Baroque Soloists, Lyra Baroque Orchestra (under Jacques Ogg), San Jose Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Bach Choir, UC Berkeley Chorus, and many more. Her summer festival appearances include Lake Tahoe Music Festival (as concertmaster), American Bach Soloists Festival, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, and the Bear Valley Music Festival. A dedicated teacher, Ms. Rubinstein-Salzedo teaches throughout the Bay Area and regularly coaches the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and Sacramento Youth Symphony Summer Workshop. Ms. Rubinstein-Salzedo studied with Elizabeth Blumenstock and at the Juilliard School with Monica Huggett and Cynthia Roberts. She plays a 1690 Caspar Borbon violin, made in Brussels. When not making music, Laura enjoys baking, photography, knitting, and playing with her cat, Sherbert.

Artists from Alcina

Mezzo-soprano Danielle Sampson is an avid performer of baroque, classical, and contemporary music. Highlights of her last concert season included a tour of Charpentier’s La Couronne de Fleurs and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, Handel’s Messiah with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Bach’s Magnificat with American Bach Soloists. In the coming season Danielle will appear with the Boston Early Music Festival, Pacific MusicWorks, and Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra. She performs frequently with lutenist/theorbist/guitarist Adam Cockerham as the duo Jarring Sounds and is a founding member of the Bay Area baroque chamber ensemble Liaison. Danielle teaches voice and piano privately and through schools. She earned her BM at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, and her MM at SFCM. Danielle currently resides in San Francisco.

Soprano Kelly Rubinsohn is originally from Newtown, PA. She has enjoyed performing roles such as Ginevra (Ariodante), Angelica (Orlando), Donna Anna and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), and Lucy Brown (Threepenny Opera). Frequently seen in the Bay Area, Kelly is a founding member of Opera Theater Unlimited and has appeared with Black Box Baroque, Opera Parallèle, Pocket Opera, and Opera on Tap San Francisco. Programs include OperaWorks (Advanced Artist), Opera Academy of California, Lyrique en Mer Festival (France), AIMS (Austria), and University of Miami Frost School of Music at Salzburg. In 2012 Kelly won an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (San Diego), and she has won First Place in the East Bay Opera League Scholarship. Kelly holds degrees from SFCM (MM) and Carnegie Mellon (BFA). This fall she will perform the role of Governess in The Turn of the Screw with Opera Theater Unlimited. For more information, visit Kelly's website.

Jonathan Smucker’s repertoire spans more than forty roles from baroque to contemporary, encompassing opera, oratorio, operetta, and musical theater.  In 2014, he made his Lincoln Center and Tanglewood Festival debuts in Handel’s Teseo with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Jonathan has sung roles with Aspen Opera Theater Center, SF Opera Guild, Festival Opera, Opera San Jose, Opera Parallèle, Opera San Luis Obispo, Townsend Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and in preview concerts for Opera Santa Barbara. Current season highlights include Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with Stanford Symphony, Pulcinella and the Mozart Coronation Mass with Santa Rosa Symphony, Oronte in Alcina and Ferrando in Così fan tutte with Pocket Opera, Dead Man Walking with Opera Parallèle, and the title role in Candide for Pasadena Opera. An Ohio native, Jonathan holds BM, MM, and postgraduate degrees in voice from SFCM with special honors for excellence in operatic and baroque performance. He is a member of the voice faculty at the SF Community Music Center.

Canadian soprano Siobhan Raupach is a versatile performer and is comfortable in opera, art songs and oratorio. She made her professional symphonic debut the dual role of Gabriel and Eve in Die Schöpfung with the Okanagan Symphony. Recently performed operatic roles include Despina in Così fan Tutte and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. Operatic scene work includes Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Leila in The Pearl Fishers and Gretel in Hansel and Gretel. Siobhan received her B.Mus from McGill University in 2013 and her M.Mus from San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2015. She is currently in her final semester of Post-Graduate Studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studies with Catherine Cook.

Baritone Matthew Peterson has appeared as a professional singer in the Bay Area since 2006. During the 2014-15 concert season, he performed as a soloist with the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Choral Fantasy, Stravinsky's Mass, and the Magnificat from Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610. He has also appeared as a soloist with Cappella SF, Opera San Jose, the Guerilla Composers Guild, the San Jose Symphonic Choir, the Washington Master Chorale, and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. He is currently in his fifth season as a member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Matthew studied piano with Hans Boepple and voice with Paul Murray at Santa Clara University. He has been fortunate to call San Francisco his home for the past five years.