'Fellow Travelers' makes CCM debut March 30-April 2

A decade after its OF:NW workshop, the dramatic love story is presented in Patricia Corbett Theater

Story by CCM Graduate Student Chet Rhodes

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) Opera series continues with dramatic love story Fellow Travelers, which runs March 30-April 2, 2023 in Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets are available now through the CCM Box Office!

First workshopped in 2013 as part of CCM and Cincinnati Opera’s Opera Fusion: New Works partnership, Fellow Travelers is finally making its CCM debut a full decade after its original workshop. This moving new work is based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel by the same name, and features unforgettable music by Gregory Spears and a gripping libretto by Greg Pierce. Co-directed by CCM artist diploma student Daria Zholnerova and CCM Opera Professor Greg Eldridge, Fellow Travelers features alumni guest artists William R. Langley (MM Orchestral Conducting, ’18) as the conductor and Michael Pandolfo (MM Voice, '21) in the role of Hawkins Fuller during select performances.

Set in 1950s Washington D.C., Fellow Travelers follows deeply religious college graduate Timothy Laughlin as he eagerly enters the world of politics, adding his voice to the Cold War fight against communism. Laughlin’s picture-perfect world is soon turned upside-down, however, when a chance encounter leads to his first love affair with State Department official Hawkins Fuller. Struggling to reconcile his love for Fuller, God and his political convictions, Laughlin finds himself embroiled within a double life of lies, joy, fear and self-discovery.

Suddenly faced with the terrifying governmental purging of “sexual subversives” during the “Lavender Scare,” and finding himself as the target of a violent new wave of McCarthyism, Laughlin experiences the unimaginable — the demand to choose between love and life. Ending in a shocking act of betrayal, audiences are sure to be moved by the deep emotional conflicts depicted on stage in this masterful new opera.

The Fellow Travelers world premiere was performed by the Cincinnati Opera in 2016. Recent productions of Fellow Travelers from such revered companies as Virginia Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Minnesota Opera have emphasized the importance of the visibility and awareness that the opera provides. The lush, almost cinematic score, along with the historically melismatic turned minimalist libretto, has been lauded by The New York Times for its effectivity in immortalizing this vital work and its heartfelt messages.  

This staggeringly weighty work truly exemplifies CCM’s traditions of collaboration and creativity, and brings together numerous departments from throughout the school. Co-Director Eldridge thanks the many students from costume design, lighting design, wig and make-up, sound design and set design for the precise and continual efforts that they have put into this production.

Fellow Travelers is many things,” Eldridge says.  “A social critique, an alarming portrait of a world in which multiple bigotries influence all aspects of governance, a questioning of the compatibility between religion and lived experience, but it is — above all else — a love story.” Come witness this heartbreakingly familiar tale, masterfully told by the amazing students of CCM. Get your tickets now through the CCM Box Office.   

Cincinnati Opera and CCM foster the development of new operatic works in their joint program: Opera Fusion: New Works. Two new operas—Robeson by Scott Davenport Richards and David Cote and The Righteous by Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith—will receive workshops this spring, and the public is invited to attend a sneak peek! Learn more.

Alumni Guest Artist: William R. Langley (MM Orchestral Conducting, ’18)

A Headshot of William Langley

© Simon Pauly (Berlin)

Founding Music Director of the Memphis Repertory Orchestra, William R. Langley, began his career as an orchestral conductor at age 16. In 2009 he founded the Wolf River Chamber Orchestra and in 2011 the MRO. The MRO served as the Orchestra in Residence at the Buckman Performing Arts Center where he has given over 45 performances in the Memphis area. Langley also serves as conductor of the Blueshift Ensemble and frequent guest conductor with All of the Above Ensemble, contemporary ensembles dedicated to programming and promoting new and existing chamber works while incorporating multi-genre collaborations. 

An avid performer, the young Maestro has appeared as guest conductor with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Starling Chamber Orchestra, Blueshift Ensemble, Concert:Nova, and All of the Above ensemble. In 2017 he made his opera debut with the CCM Opera Theatre where he conducted a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide as a part of their "Bernstein at 100" centennial celebration and has since gone on to work with the opera companies of Cincinnati (as the John L. Magro Resident Conductor 2021-2022) workshopping, covering, and performing various operas since 2018 and in Naples (Florida) covering Ramon Tebar and making his debut (2022) in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied. Langley has recorded albums with the Memphis Repertory Orchestra (Dvorak + Tchaikovsky, “Voyagers : Scheherazade + Mitton”) and All of the Above Ensemble (Double Portrait), the latter of which led to his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall in the fall of 2018. Next season (2022-2023) will feature a return to Cincinnati Opera, his debuts with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, cover weeks with the ASO and Opera Naples, and a return to CCM to conduct their spring production of Fellow Travelers. 

In demand as a cover conductor, Langley has been a frequent cover with both the Atlanta and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras covering such conductors as Sir Donald Runnicles, Louis Langrée, Carlos Kalmar, Juanjo Mena, Ramón Tebar, Peter Oundjian, Nathalie Stutzmann, Nicola Luisotti, Xian Zhang,  Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and Han-Na Chang, to name a few.

Langley holds a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the UC College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in Cincinnati where he studied under the tutelage of Maestro Mark Gibson. He was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the American Austrian Foundation to be awarded one of two esteemed Ansbacher Fellowships for Young Conductors with the opportunity to study in Austria at the 2019 Salzburger Festspiele.

Langley, who “conducts with considerable theatricality, elicited a dramatic performance from the orchestra.” (Jon Sparks/Commercial Appeal), was the subject of a featured article entitled “Young Conductor Realizing Dreams” in the Commercial Appeal as well as the Memphis Flyer’s cover story “20 < 30” as one of “20 young Memphians shaping the city’s future”. 

Alumni Guest Artist: Michael Pandolfo (MM Voice, '21)

Michael Pandolfo

Hailed as "show stopping!", baritone Michael Pandolfo has become one of the most sought-after and exciting singers of his generation. Noted for his bright voice and confident high notes, his high caliber performances at Florida Grand Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival and Des Moines Metro Opera have garnered attention and critical acclaim.

In the Spring of 2022, Michael made his Florida debut as a Studio Artist with Florida Grand Opera, singing a well-reviewed performance of Marullo in Rigoletto, in which he was praised for his standout "manly baritone". He also sang the bombastic role of Senator McCarthy in Fellow Travelers. That summer, he made his debut with Des Moines Metro Opera as Robin Starveling in Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which he will also be covered the role of Demetrius. In November of 2022, Michael made his principle debut as Count Robinson in a brand new Spanish language version of Il Matrimonio Segreto with Florida Grand Opera.

Looking ahead to 2023, Michael is engaged in a number of contracts including some concert work at home in North Texas, and venturing back to his musical theatre roots to sing Anthony in Sweeny Todd at Opera Tampa. He will be spending his summer as a Young Artist with Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico.

Mr. Pandolfo graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2018 with his Bachelor's of Music in Vocal Performance, where he studied with renowned soprano Cynthia Lawrence. In 2021 he graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with his Masters in Music, where he studied with revered teacher Professor William McGraw.

Preview Photos

All photography by Mark Lyons. View complete cast and crew credits here.

View additional photography by visiting CCM's Facebook page.

Fellow Travelers

An Opera by Gregory Spears 
Libretto by Greg Pierce 
Based on the 2007 novel “Fellow Travelers” by Thomas Mallon 

Fellow Travelers was originally workshopped at CCM in 2013 as part of the college’s Opera Fusion: New Works (OF:NW) partnership with Cincinnati Opera.

Content advisory: This production features adult themes and situations and is intended for mature audiences.

  • Conductor | William R. Langley 
  • Directors | Daria Zholnerova*, Greg Eldridge
  • Scenic Designer | Mark Halpin
  • Lighting Designer | Baron Leon *
  • Costume Designer | Brittannie McKenna Travis *
  • Sound Designer | Kaitlin Barnett *
  • Wig & Make-Up Designer | Tiara Jones *
  • Production Stage Manager | Quinn Morgan*
  • Intimacy Director | Susan Moser  

*CCM Student

  • Timothy Laughlin | Henry Benson*# , Logan Wagner^+
  • Hawkins Fuller | Erik Nordstrom^+, Michael Pandolfo*#
  • Mary Johnson | Emily Garcia*+, Emma Marhefka^#
  • Senator Potter/General Airlie/Bartender | Joseph O’Shea
  • Estonian Frank/Interrogator/Senator McCarthy | John Potvin
  • Potter’s Assistant/ Bookseller/ Party Guest/ Technician/ French Priest | Sam Dhobhany
  • Tommy McIntyre | Ryan Henry
  • Miss Lightfoot | Erin Alcorn*+, Ashlyn Rock^#
  • Lucy | Maren Hrivnak*#, Candace WIlliams^+

* Performs Thursday  
^ Performs Friday
# Performs Saturday
+ Performs Sunday

Performance Time

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, March 30
  • 8 p.m. Friday, March 31
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 1
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, April 2 


Patricia Corbett Theater, CCM Village 
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets

Tickets are $39.50; student and group discounts available. Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online now through our e-Box Office!

Learn about additional ticket options for current CCM students.

Directions and Parking

CCM is located on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. For detailed driving directions, visit ccm.uc.edu/directions.

Parking is available in UC's CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. 

CCM OnStage patrons can add pre-paid parking to their checkout carts when purchasing tickets. Pre-paid parking is date/performance specific. CCM Garage parking rates for a performance or special event is usually available for $10-15. Learn more about parking at UC's CCM Garage.

For additional information on parking at UC, please visit uc.edu/about/parking.

Louise Dieterle Nippert Trust
Scholarship and Resident Artist Sponsor
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Sponsor
The Corbett Endowment at CCM
Dance Department Sponsor
All-Steinway School Sponsor
Louise H. & David S. Ingalls Foundation, Inc.
Community Partners
The Joseph and Frances Jones Poetker Fund of the Cambridge Charitable Foundation, Ritter & Randolph, LLC, Corporate Counsel
Visiting Artists & Thinking About Music Sponsor
Dr. & Mrs. Carl G. Fischer 
Greg Mathein 
Gary & Barb Cummins 
Jim & Linda Miller 
George & Carroll Roden
Musical Theatre Department Sponsors
Genevieve Smith
Opera Production Sponsor
Rafael and Kimberly de Acha
Opera D’Arte Sponsor
An Anonymous Donor
Estate of Mr. William A. Friedlander
Mrs. William A. Friedlander
Dr. Randolph L. Wadsworth
Judith Schonbach Landgren and Peter Landgren
Mr. & Mrs. Harry H. Santen
Elizabeth C.B. Sittenfeld
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas E. Stegman
Mrs. Theodore W. Striker
Mrs. Harry M. Hoffheimer
Ariel Quartet Sponsors
Jan Rogers
Willard and Jean Mulford Charitable Fund of the Cambridge Charitable Foundation
Choral Studies Sponsors
  Classical Guitar Sponsor

Mr. & Mrs. Joseph W. Hirschhorn
Orchestral Sponsor
Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation
Starling Pre-Collegiate Sponsor
Starling Strings Sponsor
Dr. Timothy E. and Janet L. Johnson
Thom Miles and Roberta Gary
Organ Department Sponsors
Keyboard Club of Cincinnati
Louis and Susan Meisel
Piano Department Sponsors
Kevin and Nancy Rhein
   Wind Studies Sponsor
Buddy Rogers Music
LINKS Sponsor
Sponsors listed as of Sept. 7, 2023

Featured image at the top: A promotional image for Fellow Travelers featuring two actors sitting on a bench in Washington DC. Photo by Mark Lyons. Graphic design by Mikki Graff.

Headshot of Chet Rhodes

Chet Rhodes

CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications

Currently a Bassoon Performance master’s student at CCM, Chet received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Utah. He has held positions with the Salt Lake Symphony and the Utah Philharmonia.

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