Acclaimed Opera and Musical Theatre Star John Riesen Releases Visual EP, “What You’d Call a Dream” from DIAMONDS

The original video features Riesen’s newborn son, Roman, in a collaboration with pianist and videographer Neill Campbell.



Award-winning American tenor John Riesen, whose career boasts a variety of roles in opera, musical theater, studio recording, and concert, enters 2021 with a new co-star: his son, Roman.  Riesen, whose two studio recording albums, “What You’d Call a Dream” (2019) and “Christmas at Home” (2020), have reached over 500,000 streams on Spotify and Apple Music, is proud to launch a new video featuring the title soundtrack from his 2019 album.  “What You’d Call a Dream,” the visual experience, features his newborn son in a heartfelt tribute to the power of one’s life journey.  The video, co-created with long time collaborator Neill Campbell, is available now at

What You’d Call a Dream,” with words and music by Craig Carnelia, was originally featured in the baseball themed musical review Diamonds.  It’s a fitting work for Riesen, given he avidly pursued athletics and attained Academic All-State honors in 2008 in baseball and All-Region in 2006 and 2007 (also for baseball) in the state of Michigan. His athletic career segued quickly into his singing during college, and has helped influence his performing ever since.  Riesen’s long-time partnership with Neill Campbell is also the highlight of the video.

“Neill and I met at Michigan State University as undergraduates,” notes Riesen.  “As the years progressed, not only did our friendship grow, but we had a running tally of competition wins in the surrounding region.  At one point, we won prizes in 12 straight competitions as a pair.  We have done countless living room and garage concerts, and have become known for sharing our life stories through song. This song, ‘What You’d Call a Dream,’ has become a hallmark piece for both of us, and I’m thrilled to share the spotlight in this video with my son Roman.”

Once Riesen and Campbell graduated with their advanced degrees from Michigan State, they both became resident artists with Shreveport Opera. Both performers continued to work together professionally for years to come, both at opera companies (Pensacola Opera, Brevard Music Festival, Gulfshore Opera) and in private concerts and donor events (Saugatuck Performing Arts Center, Hart Performing Arts Center, Shreveport Opera, Shades of Pink Organization, FAR Conservatory, etc). During the COVID-19 crisis, Riesen, along with his wife, Gillian Lynn Cotter, recorded a Christmas album with Campbell, and performed in several charity performances both live outdoors and live streaming online.  The collaborators are also in the works of releasing a new pop opera single called, “What You Came Into My Life” with operatic composer Evan L. Snyder.

John’s recent stage credits include role debuts at Michigan Opera Theater as Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, his debut with the New York Oratorio Society as the tenor soloist in Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, a return to Intermountain Opera Bozeman as Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate, Prince Charmant in Cendrillon (Opera Company of Middlebury), Lensky in Eugene Onegin (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), Alfredo in La Traviata (Gulfshore Opera, Tri-Cities Opera), Younger Thomspon in Glory Denied (Opera Birmingham, Des Moines Metro Opera), Candide in Candide (Chautauqua Opera), and his Lincoln Center debut as Tony in West Side Story Suite (New York City Ballet).

In the last several seasons, John performed across the U.S., including appearances with the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, FAR Conservatory, Shades of Pink Foundation, NY Oratorio Society, Marshall Symphony, Jackson Symphony, Texarkana Symphony, Shreveport Symphony and Cuttime productions, as well as in concerts in Texarkana, TX; Pensacola and Miami, FL; Detroit, MI; Tulsa, OK; and more. Theatrically, Mr. Riesen was featured as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast at Shreveport Opera, Tony in West Side Story with the Boulder Philharmonic/Central City Opera, Tony in West Side Story with the New York City Ballet  at the Lincoln Center, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (Pensacola Opera), Rodolfo in La Boheme (Shreveport Opera) and Frederic in Pirates of Penzance (Opera Ithaca, Shreveport Opera).  Riesen has also collaborated with Emmy-nominated PBS TV pianist Marina Arsenijevic in both video performance (during COVID-19) and in studio recordings.  More information at

Campbell has been a Director/Coach for the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Gate City Bank Young Artist Program, pianist/coach at the Seagle Music Colony, Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center, Gulfshore Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Shreveport Opera. At Shreveport, he served for two years as chorus master, rehearsal pianist, and pianist for the Shreveport Opera Xpress outreach and touring program. Most recently, Neill was the principal coach and chorus master for the 2019 touring season of Gulfshore Opera, where he prepared choruses for Don Pasquale and La Traviata. Neill has performed across the United States and internationally in Italy and in Havana, Cuba. Neill is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he received both his MM in Collaborative Piano, and his BM in Piano Performance.


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