Ben Robinson is the Artistic Director of Opera Ithaca (New York) and Raylynmor Opera (New Hampshire), and the Managing Director of Lyric Fest (Philadelphia’s art song concert series). As a stage and film director, he has mounted numerous productions, highlighted by new productions for which he also wrote new English libretti: Madame Butterfly, Macbeth, Hansel and Gretel, The Barber of Seville, Die Fledermaus, Bastien and Bastienne, and Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon. Recent directing credits include Suor Angelica, La tragédie de Carmen, and Iolanthe, co-creating Lyric Fest’s video series, #ConqueringSocialDistanceOneSongataTime, and film productions of Pagliacci for Raylynmor Opera and Gianni Schicchi for Opera Ithaca, the latter of which Opera Magazine heralded as the "deftest use... of Covid-era technology as part of modern operatic reality." This season, projects include film productions of Hansel and Gretel and The Impresario, stage productions of The Medium (Amarillo Opera), L’enfant et let sortilèges (Ithaca College), Così fan tutte (Cedar Rapids Opera), We Wear the Sea Like a Coat (World Premiere), Le nozze di Figaro, La Cenerentola, and Falstaff, and the first ever music video by the Opera Cowgirls.
Recent performing credits include Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore with Eugene Opera, Chip in On the Town with Resonance Works Pittsburgh, and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra. Other credits include the Game Keeper in Rusalka with Resonance Works Pittsburgh, the title role in Candide and Alfred in Die Fledermaus with Opera in the Heights, Joe in La fanciualla del West with Michigan Opera Theatre, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Indianapolis Opera, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance with Amarillo Opera, the Electrician in Powder Her Face with Skylight Music Theatre, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Anchorage Opera, Flamand in Capriccio with Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, and Basilio/Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro with Salt Marsh Opera. He recently appeared with the Southwestern Suburban Symphony in an all-Bernstein program, including Tony in the West Side Story Suite, Jim in Gift of the Magi with Queens Opera Theatre, and made his Carnegie Hall debut singing the role of Draco from the Final Fantasy video game opera, Maria and Draco.
Other career credits include Hydrogen Jukebox, Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Orpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld, Abdallo in Nabucco, Don Anchise in La finta giardiniera, Henrik in A Little Night Music, Antinoo in Antígona Furiosa, Spoletta in Tosca, Malcom in Macbeth, Charles in The Hotel Casablanca, Laurie in Little Women, Gernando in L'isola disabitata, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, and the title role of The Wandering Scholar.
Gretchen Van Valen joined Opera Ithaca as Managing Director in July 2023 having previously served as Director of Alumni and Family Engagement at Ithaca College Gretchen bringing with her over 25 years’ experience as a strategic and visionary professional in higher education and non-profit constituent engagement. In addition to her experience in philanthropy and engagement, she is also a lyric soprano and voice teacher. Her years of performance experience include solo, recital and choir work, Ithaca Opera and The Savoyards performances, and the role of Pamina in The Magic Flute at Ithaca College. Gretchen is on the Board of Directors and teaches private voice lessons at the Trumansburg Conservatory of Fine Arts in Trumansburg, NY. Gretchen earned her Bachelor of Science in Vocal-Choral Music Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College.
Director of the Apprentice Artist Program
Lynn Craver is a versatile coloratura soprano and actress. She has performed roles including Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Marion in The Music Man, Hélène in Une éducation manquée , Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Madame Hertz in Der Schauspieldirektor, Erste Dame in Die Zauberflote, Ermia in Il Sogno, The Dew Fairy in Hänsel und Gretel, and Cunegonde in Candide among others. An active member of the Ithaca arts community, Lynn is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of Opera Ithaca, served as Development Assistant for the Kitchen Theatre, was Production Coordinator for the former Ithaca Opera, and has performed with community arts organizations including the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Triphammer Arts Inc., Cornell Savoyards, Kitchen Theatre Company, and Women’s Works as well as appearing in recital at various local venues. Also dedicated to the art of teaching, Lynn instructs voice at the Performing Arts Department, SUNY Cortland, is the Director of the Apprentice Artist program at Opera Ithaca, and teaches a private voice studio in Ithaca, NY. Lynn earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College.