Chicago Fringe Opera - Chicago, Illinois

Inspired by The Decameron Day 2, Story 4

You have everything you need. Then you double it. Then you lose it all. How do you get it back? Where do you end up? “Corsair” is one man’s journey from greed to humility, from isolation to community, all told through the epic form of hip-hopera.


Creative Team:

K. F. Jacques, Composer & Librettist
K. F. Jacques [pronounced k. f. Żak] is a classical singer and hip hop producer. He has been featured on the Rosie Show (Oprah Winfrey Network), various Polish Television and radio networks, and has toured the US, Poland, and several other countries! Currently he is the head composer of, and plays the role of Figaro in, “The Rosina Project”, a hip-hopera version of The Barber of Seville with a cast of talented rappers, dancers, a beatboxer, dj, and singers. The Rosina Project was recently included in The Pivot Arts Festival two years in a row, featured on ABC 7 News, Chicago SunTimes, and The Chicago Tribune, and was also featured in a citywide summer tour of Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks. Shortly after completing his Masters in opera performance, bass-baritone Khary Laurent took to producing his own material and creating a brand-new genre on the forefront of hip-hop and opera music under the pseudonym K. F. Jacques. Mr. Laurent has advanced from a chauffeur day job to captivating audiences worldwide with his exceptional fusion of rap, opera, and pop; dubbed OperaTronic. He’s performed multiple times as a headliner at House of Blues Chicago, and has performed his classic solo rendition of the national anthem at United Center, U. S. Cellular Field, and Soldier Field.



Man – K. F. Jacques


Woman – Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas
Singer and actress, Mrs. Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas, is being praised by critics worldwide for her visually, and vocally, compelling performances. Select stage and screen credits include Random Acts of Flyness (HBO), The Verdian Voice (ARTE), Spicks and Specks (ABC TV), Intimate Apparel (Lincoln Center Theater), Tosca (Opera Australia, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Dallas Opera, Colorado Symphony), La bohème (Metropolitan Opera of NY, Opera Australia, Deutsche Oper Berlin), Madama Butterfly (Deutsche Oper Berlin, Slovenian National Theatre), Cassandra / Elektra (Deutsche Oper Berlin), Mefistofele (Opera Montpellier), Marie Victoire (Deutsche Oper Berlin), La forza del destino (Caramoor Music Festival), Il trovatore (Oper Stuttgart, National Theatre Tokyo), Norma (Opera North UK), L’isola disabitata (Gotham Chamber Opera), Bluebeard’s Castle (Oper Köln), Othello and Macbeth (Altamura Center for the Arts). A versatile Classical, Jazz, Soul, and Pop Vocal Soloist, she has also appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Philadelphia Orchestra, Kimmel Center, African American Museum of Philadelphia, Winspear Opera House, Fort Worth Opera & Symphony, Dallas Arts District Tuesday Nite Jazz, Aspen Music Festival, Palm Beach Opera Orchestra, Knoxville Museum of Art, France Musique, MIDEM Festival, Palais des Festivals Cannes, and Broadway In Chicago, including nominations for Germany’s Opernwelt Award for “Female Singer of the Year. With a strong belief in education, creation, and community as evidenced by her recent partnerships with Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas as the first Vocal Artist In-Residence, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the Inaugural Purpose Over Pain Artist, Arranger, and Producer. A performer since the age of two, the Chicago native and alumnae of the lauded University of North Texas and Philadelphia’s storied Academy of Vocal Arts counts music legends McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield and Tina Turner among her relations.


Production Team:

George Cederquist, Concept & Director
George Cederquist is the Artistic Director of Chicago Fringe Opera (called “the city’s alt-opera company” by the Chicago Tribune), which premieres experiential, immersive, and site-specific productions of operas composed in English. Directing credits include WOYZECK, THE LONG CHRISTMAS DINNER and THE GREAT GOD PAN, as well as the company’s long-running hit show THE ROSINA PROJECT, a Hip-Hop adaptation of THE BARBER OF SEVILLE.

In addition, George has directed at Wolf Trap Opera, Chautauqua Opera, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Pittsburgh Opera, the Bay View Music Festival and Chicago Folks Operetta. An inspiring mentor, George is Artistic Director of Opera at North Park University. Now in its fifth season, George hosts OPERA BOX SCORE, America’s Talk Radio Show About Opera.

A recipient of two American Prizes in Directing, George was one of ten Americans to receive the 2011 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, George served as a Regieassistent at the Staatstheater Darmstadt.

George’s training includes residencies with Pittsburgh Opera, the Merola Opera Program, and Wolf Trap Opera. He holds an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University and a BA in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University.

Catherine O’Shaughnessy, Music Director
Catherine O’Shaughnessy is a rising orchestral and opera conductor in the United States and abroad. Avidly committed to Chicago’s dynamic opera scene, she is currently in her fifth season as Music Director of Chicago Fringe Opera, and has appeared with several other area companies and ensembles, including The Floating Opera Company, Opera On Tap, and the 5th Wave Collective.  In recent years, Catherine has appeared in concerts with the Orpheus Kammerorchester Wien and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria. In 2018, she made her New York debut conducting the North-American premiere of Antonio Salieri’s La Cifra with the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble. In Chicago, she conducted the world premiere of Ross Crean’s The Great God Pan and North Park University’s production of Massenet’s Cendrillon.  Catherine holds a doctorate degree in orchestral and opera conducting from Arizona State University and a masters degree in orchestral conducting from Bowling Green State University.


Brad Caleb Lee, Production Designer and Visual Dramaturg
Brad Caleb Lee is an Alabama native now residing in Cardiff, Wales. He is an international award winning designer and assistant director whose collaborators, among others, include Chicago Fringe Opera, Filament Theatre, Summer Theatre of New Canaan, Prague Shakespeare Company, Bros do Prose, Hell In A Handbag, Theatre Tuscaloosa, Music Theatre Wales, ELANFrontoio, The Victoria & Albert Museum, and Welsh National Opera, with work included in World Stage Design and The Prague Quadrennial. Brad has edited a number of publications on scenography and performance design with the Czech Theatre Institute, is the founding editor of Ascending, a digital publication dedicated to the work of emerging designers, and was the programs coordinator (curatorial producer) for PQ 2019. He holds an MA w/Merit from The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and both an honors BA & BS from The University of Alabama. He is a member of Scene/Change, OISTAT, USITT, and SBTD

Rick Schuler, Director of Photography and Editor

About Chicago Fringe Opera:

Founded in 2014, Chicago Fringe Opera (CFO) is dedicated to presenting innovative vocal and operatic works with an emphasis on new and contemporary styles, engaging with the Chicago community through intimate and immersive performance experiences, and empowering local artists.


George Cederquist, Artistic Director (bio above)


Laura Smalley, Executive Director
Laura Smalley is passionate about expanding the reach of opera and championing the art form for modern audiences. She has worked in marketing and development with many prominent arts organizations, including Des Moines Metro Opera, Stage 773, and Chicago Opera Theater. She has worked with Chicago Fringe Opera since 2016, previously serving as Development Director (2017-2019), where she oversaw the expansion and growth of the company’s fundraising activities and grant writing. She is also an alumna of the 2018 Hart Institute for Women Opera Administrators, a professional development program at The Dallas Opera. A lifelong lover of music, Laura holds a BM in Vocal Performance from DePaul School of Music, and works regularly as a singer and performer in the Chicago area.

Catherine O’Shaughnessy, Music Director (bio above)