The Little Opera Team


EB Headshot 1Erin Bregman
Founder & Artistic Director

Erin is a San Francisco playwright and Teaching Artist. As an educator, she has led nearly 100 classes through the creation of original operas. She has taught and developed curriculum for San Francisco Opera’s ARIA program, where the astoundingly high quality of mini-operas her classes kept churning out became the impetus to begin Little Opera. Her own work has been produced throughout the Bay Area, and developed across the country. Erin is a proud recipient of a 2014 Individual Artist Commission Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission for an upcoming musical collaboration with composer Alex Stein.


Me and Jess and Marks WeddingClaire Quinn-Shaw
Managing Director & Lead Teacher

Claire is a trained opera singer and arts education professional with 10 years of arts management experience cultivated in organizations both in the UK and USA. She learned to create operas with children and guide teachers through the process during her 1.5 year tenure with the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Children Compose Opera and The Opera Learning Network. When not at Little Opera, she can be found writing children’s picture books.


leafEva Langman
Lead Teacher

Eva’s background is in theatre and cultural anthropology, and she’s had training in counseling psychology and drama therapy. In addition to teaching at Little Opera, she currently works as a freelance ghostwriter and editor, and is collaborating on a musical comedy in which, finally, she confesses to being a clown.


Suzanne Vradelis
Lead Teacher

Suzanne Vradelis brings 23 years of classroom experience to Little Opera. She is a recipient of the 2007 SF State University Alumni Award for Teacher of the Year, and 826 Valencia’s Teacher of the Month prize. During her tenure at West Portal she wrote, directed, and produced 13 original musicals with 1,000 students. Suzanne trained in ballet and modern dance — she taught dance at Antioch college in Ohio and worked as dance director for Otrabanda Theater Company in New Orleans before coming to San Francisco.

2013-2014 Teaching Artist Apprentices

SharonLilOperaPicSharon Benitez

Sharon Benitez is a Mexican Folk Dancer and Musician who has taught and performed in the Bay Area, Mexico, Nicaragua, and London. Native to the South Bay, she graduated from Santa Clara University with dual degrees in English and Ethnomusicology. Currently, she teaches for the New Conservatory Theatre Center, leads a children’s Mexican folk dance group called Grupo Folklorico Los Ositos in San Jose, and performs with a Mexican folk music and dance collaboration called Son Los Panaderos. She is thankful for her time with Little Opera as it continually inspires and influences her thoughts on arts education.


wendy headshot

Wendy Buzby

Wendy is quickly becoming one of the in demand young mezzo-sopranos singing today. Recent engagements include; Mary in Der fliegende Höllander, the Sandman in Hansel and Gretel as well as the Hansel cover. Wendy sang as a Resident Artist with Syrause Opera where she received Artist of the Year Award in 2010.  She sang and covered Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Opera Colorado, and sang the title role in Opera Colorado’s outreach performances of Rossini’s Cinderella. Wendy will be singing with the San Francisco Symphony, Opera San Jose, and the San Francisco branch of Opera On Tap in the coming year.



Danny Clay

Danny is a composer and general noise-maker based in San Francisco who works in a variety of media. He “daylights” as an elementary school music teacher, where he has curated collaborative projects between young creative minds and professional organizations around the country, including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), 826 Valencia, Nonsemble 6, the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival, and Friction Quartet. As a teaching artist, he works with Little Opera and the San Francisco Opera ARIA Network. He has been commissioned by groups such as Kronos Quartet, Phyllis Chen, Sarah Cahill, and many groups throughout the Bay Area.


Ken HellmanKen Helman

Ken is a current faculty member at the Berkeley Jazz School, and has maintained teaching studios for 35 years. He holds a BM in Piano Performance from the Peabody Conservatory, and held post-grad fellowships at Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the American Opera Center. As a performer, Ken has appeared as singer/pianist in numerous venues, including Carnegie Hall, Maximes, The Town Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, The Lensic Theater, Count Basie Theater, The Rainbow Room, and The Algonquin Hotel. He has worked extensively with Sting on numerous projects, both onstage and in the recording studio. As a songwriter, Ken produced an album of songs in 2009 entitled “Emerging”.

Advisory Council

Alona Bach

Caitlin Brune
Program Officer, AdminiTrust

Paul Cello
Organization and Learning Consultant

Melissa Smolensky
Director of Communications and Marketing, Chartio