Everett McCorvey, Artistic Director
Executive Producer and OperaLex Endowed Chair in Opera Studies
Professor of Voice & Opera-University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
Founder and Conductor – American Spiritual Ensemble
Everett McCorvey is in his fourth season as the Artistic Director of the National Chorale.
Vocal Excellence is a hallmark of Dr. McCorvey’s work with professional choirs and with professional singers in concerts, masterclasses and workshops throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Asia, Poland and other countries. Over a span of almost 30 years, Dr. McCorvey has engaged choirs and audiences in moving and dynamic experiences with his unique and committed interpretation of choral music of all genres. Dr. McCorvey is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. He received his degrees from the University of Alabama, including a Doctorate of Musical Arts. He has performed in many cities and theatres around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, Aspen Music Festival, Radio City Music hall, Birmingham Opera Theater, Teatro Comunale in Florence, Italy, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, England, as well as performances throughout Spain, the Czech and Slovac Republics, Austria, Japan, China, Brazil, Ireland, Poland, Portugal and Hungary, Mexico, Peru and France.
Dr. McCorvey is also the founder and Music Director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, a group of 24 professional singers performing spirituals and other compositions of African-American composers. In its 22-year history, the group has presented over 400 concerts including 17 tours of the United States and 16 tours of Spain. In February of 2017, US Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) presented a nation-wide special featuring the American Spiritual Ensemble.
Raised in the belief that every citizen in the country should find ways to give back to his or her community, city and country, Dr. McCorvey has been very active in his volunteer activities, working to keep the arts as a part of the civic conversation locally, regionally and nationally. He is a frequent advisory panelist and on-site reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. and he has served on the Boards of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, National Opera Association and the Kentucky Arts Council. Dr. McCorvey has recently been invited to serve as a jurist on the Opera For All Voices initiative established by San Francisco Opera and Santa Fe Opera. The panel will review new operatic works for the industry with the goal of bringing new audiences to opera
Dr. McCorvey has served on the faculties of the New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga Springs, New York and the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria. He holds an Endowed Chair in Opera Studies and Professor of Voice position at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.
In September of 2010, Dr. McCorvey served as the Executive Producer of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Alltech 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games held in Lexington, Kentucky. The Opening Ceremony was broadcasted on NBC Sports and was viewed by over 500 million people worldwide. The Alltech 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games was the largest equestrian event to ever be held in the United States. He is married to soprano Alicia Helm. They have three children. On working with the National Chorale, Dr. McCorvey says that “Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of great choral singing with the National Chorale is indeed an honor and a privilege. It is my fervent hope that we can continue to sing, share and experience the goodness of humanity through music and learn of each other better through sharing in the arts.”
The National Chorale
The National Chorale, New York’s premier professional choral company, will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary Lincoln Center Season during 2017-2018, with infrequently performed works, and its continuing series of 20th century American Classics.
Founded in 1967, the National Chorale is the only professional choral company in the United States to have established and maintained an annual subscription season in the major New York City concert halls – 50 seasons in David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) with additional concerts at Carnegie Hall. The Chorale presents a broad repertory of choral-orchestral works; seldom-performed works from many stylistic periods; opera-in-concert; American music theatre; and contemporary works, including commissions by the Chorale for its Lincoln Center Season.
In addition to its David Geffen Hall series, the Chorale has toured nationally; presented 19 summer seasons of New York Festival of American Music Theater concerts in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park and parks throughout the New York area; concert tours of New York State and New York City; vocal-instrumental chamber music series. and Concerts for Young People.
For 50 years the Chorale has also had a continuing major vocal-choral music education initiative in the New York public schools in cooperation with the NYC Department of Education and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. This initiative includes city-wide artist-in-residence programs; after-school high school choral programs; special contemporary music residencies; the popular New York City High School Choral Festival and the new Elementary and Middle School Choral Festivals.
In addition, the Chorale has a Partnership with the New York City Professional Performing Arts High School, now in its 8th year, providing vocal and choral training to young people who plan to enter the music profession as performers or music educators.
The Professional Performing Arts High School
The Professional Performing Arts High School works in partnership with the National Chorale, which provides vocal music instruction to PPAS Vocal students. These students live throughout New York City and are accepted into the school through a series of competitive auditions.
Students perform throughout the school year in both solo and ensemble performances. In addition to performances at the Professional Performing Arts High School, the Choir has performed at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, The National Arts Club, The Signature Theater, the Manhattan Theater Club, by invitation for the NYC Department of Education’s School’s Chancellor, at the United Nations and the New York Stock Exchange in collaboration with UNICEF for the #Imagine project, at the Invitational New York City High School Choral Festival at Hunter College/CUNY, and at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum for the Dedication Ceremony of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.
National Chorale and PPAS will be in their 8th year of Vocal Partnership in the 2017-2018 season.
2017 – 2018 Soloists
November 3, 2017 Carl Orff, Carmina Burana
Elizabeth Caballero, Soprano
Soprano Elizabeth Caballero’s performance in her signature role, Violetta in La traviata, is touted as “animated, communicative and believable, singing with a big, facile, focused sound while making the vocal demands of the role seem easy and natural.” Her dramatically compelling interpretation of Violetta led to recent engagements to perform the role for houses across the country, such as Florentine Opera, Madison Opera, Pacific Symphony, and the Orlando Philharmonic. This season, Ms. Caballero will reprise her Violetta in La traviata with la Compañía Lírica Nacional in Costa Rica; sing the soprano solo in Carmina Burana with Asheville Symphony; return to The Metropolitan Opera for their production of La bohème; and reprise the title role of Daniel Catán’s Spanish opera Florencia en el Amazonas with Madison Opera. She will also perform Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and make returns to New York City Opera and Austin Opera. Future seasons will see Ms. Caballero making returns to Seattle Opera and Austin Opera.
Matthew Truss, Countertenor
Matthew Truss has garnered critical acclaim both nationally and internationally on the concert and opera stage. Praised for his “mellifluous voice and ebullient manner,” Matthew is making his mark as a countertenor whose “precocious” voice “boasts both beauty and volume.” Recent performances include international and national tours with the American Spiritual Ensemble (Lexington, KY), concerts with Coro Lutero King (São Paulo, Brazil), the Lexington Symphony (Lexington, MA) and the Orchestra of Indian Hill (Littleton, MA). To his credit are the opera roles of Akhnaten (Glass), Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten), Belize in Angels in America (Eötvös), and the premiere roles of Rev. Eli Hunt in We Are Sons (Rojahn), and The Miller in Rumpelstiltskin (Epstein). Matthew has been the recipient of many awards including the Jerry Hadley Award in the 2008 Elardo International Opera Competition (Bruges, Belgium) and being a two-time finalist in the New England Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. An alumnus of Boston Conservatory, Matthew joined the voice faculty of the Berklee College of Music City Music Boston program in 2011 where he continues to hone his craft as a teaching artist.
Johnathan McCullough, Baritone
Baritone Johnathan McCullough spends the 2017/18 season as an Emerging Artist at Opera Philadelphia where he will sing Mr. Greatorex in the world premiere of Elizabeth Cree by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell, as well as Moralès in a new production of Carmen. At the Komische Oper Berlin, he will return for a new Calixto Bieto production of Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten after his recent successful debut as Oromasès in a new production of Rameau’s Zoroastre conducted by Christian Curnyn. He will cover the role of Hawkins Fuller in Fellow Travelers at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In concert, he will sing Carmina burana with the Boise Philharmonic.
Operatic credits include J. Robert Oppenheimer (Doctor Atomic), Il Conte (Le nozze di Figaro), Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia), Schaunard (La bohème), Harlekin (Ariadne auf Naxos), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Belcore (L’elisir d’amore), Lescaut (Manon), Apollo (Apollo e Dafne), Gendarme (Les mamelles de Tirésias), Ibn-Hakia (Iolanta), Blansac (La scala di seta), Mandarino (Turandot), Marco (Gianni Schicchi), Le Geôlier (Dialogues des Carmélites), Reverend Monroe and Pangle in the workshop production of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain. Other roles have included Charles Rosen in the world staged premiere of The Classical Style, Lord Henry Wotton (The Picture of Dorian Gray), Maximillian (Candide), and A-Rab (West Side Story).
In addition to the standard repertoire, Johnathan is an avid interpreter of new music, working directly with composers Carlisle Floyd, Jennifer Higdon, David T. Little, Lowell Liebermann, Missy Mazzoli, John Musto, Rene Orth, Kevin Puts, Steven Stucky, Eli Villanueva, and many more. He recently made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Berio Sinfonia for 8 solo voices. Other concert appearances include Harris Concert Hall with Maestro Harry Bicket, John Musto at Songfest, and the Broad Stage in Los Angeles.
Johnathan discovered his love of opera in LA Opera’s Community and Education program where he returned in 2010 and 2012 to sing the roles of Messenger and Noble in the Los Angeles Opera production of The Festival Play of Daniel at the Los Angeles Cathedral. Johnathan was also part of the 2012 Young Artist Vocal Academy summer program at Houston Grand Opera where he returned in 2016 to cover the title role in the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players. He is a recipient of the Partners for the Arts First Prize in the Promising Young Artist Category, second place in the Mario Lanza Voice Competition, the Bel canto vocal scholarship, a 2013 Career Bridges grant and a 2012 George London Foundation Encouragement Award. Other prizes include awards from the NFAA, the Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation, the Bev Sellers Memorial and Shirley Rabb Winston Scholarships, and first prize in both the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts competition and The Los Angeles Music Center’s Spotlight Awards in 2010.
He received a Bachelor of Music degree, Master of Music in Opera degree and Artist Diploma, all from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He has been a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the Aspen Music Festival.
Benjamin P. Wenzelberg, Countertenor Talented Countertenor Benjamin P. Wenzelberg has appeared onstage as a singer, composer, conductor, and pianist. He has performed as soloist and chorister with the Metropolitan Opera for eight seasons, and as a soloist with such companies/venues as New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, the NY Philharmonic, Shakespeare in the Park, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The New World Center, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He made his European composition and conducting debut with an orchestral composition at the Grafenegg Festival in Austria last year; the piece won first prize and will be reprised by the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Vienna Musikverein’s Golden Hall this winter. The opera he composed for family audiences, “The Sleeping Beauty,” won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and their Charlotte V. Bergen Scholarship. Benjy studied composition with Dr. Eric Ewazen at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division for eight years and is a current freshman at Harvard University. He is a proud 2017 National Merit Scholarship Winner and US Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
December 15, 2017 50th Handel’s Messiah Sing-In
Joanna Mongiardo, Soprano Versatile soprano Joanna Mongiardo is recognized for her effortless coloratura and spellbinding charisma on stage, and is in high demand for both operatic and symphonic repertoire internationally. This season, she makes her New York City Opera debut in Resphigi’s La campagna sommersa, returns to Boston Midsummer Opera as Adina in The Elixir of Love, and sings soprano solos in Mozart’s Exultate, jubilate and Requiem with the Commonwealth Chorale. Most recently, Joanna has had great success as Cinna in Mozart’s Lucio Silla with Odyssey Opera and in the title role of Flotow’s Martha with Boston Midsummer Opera. The 2014-2015 season included a role debut as Rossini’s Semiramide with Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, her Dallas Opera debut as Brigitta in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and a return to the Back Bay Chorale for Mozart’s Mass in C minor.
In recent seasons, Joanna has brought the “energy and charm [of] her delicious Blonde” (ForumOpera Magazine) to more than 30 performances of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, including productions at Grande Théâtre de Genève, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, and Deutsche Oper am Rhein. A gifted comedienne, her Rosalina in Il Re with Teatro Grattacielo was named “Best Individual Performance of 2011” by Das Opernwelt Jahrbuch, with Opera Today writing, “Joanna Mongiardo, who has a voice of impressive size and warmth, as well as a technique with ornament…also has a putty face, capable of expressing several emotions at once and making fun of herself while expressing them.” Opera News raved, “As the besotted Rosalina, lyric coloratura Joanna Mongiardo scored a triumph, effortlessly negotiating the fiorature, extended trills and stratospheric high notes.”
As an ensemble member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Dusseldorf, Joanna performed lead roles including Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Nannetta in Falstaff, and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. In America, her turn as the title character in the 50th Anniversary production of The Ballad of Baby Doe at Central City Opera was praised by Opera News: “Petite, with a theater-filling smile, Mongiardo radiated warmth through her unforced, pearly-fresh timbre.” Reengagements at Central City have included Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld, Thérèse in Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Debuts as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette with Dayton Opera and Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress with Toledo Opera were similarly praised, with Opera Magazine raving, “Mongiardo’s sunny lyric sound surely won all hearts.”
Joanna has graced concert stages from Bellingham, Washington, to Shanghai, China, and has performed her signature Carmina Burana with more than 15 orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, and Oratorio Society of New York. Works by Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Schumann have taken her to the Pittsburgh Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, under the batons of Charles Dutoit, Philippe Auguin, Jonathan Darlington, John Fiore, Leopold Hager, Neemi Jarvi, JoAnn Falletta and Carlos Miguel Prieto.
Tenor John Wesley Wright, was the gold medalist and top prize winner of the American Traditions Vocal Competition 2000, and has claimed top prizes from the National Federation of Music Clubs, Metropolitan Opera National Council, and the International Schubert Competition in Vienna, Austria. Holding degrees from Maryville College and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, his diversity as an artist has afforded him nationally televised concerts for the Belgian Royal Family (Brussels, Belgium), the John F. Kennedy family in a 50th Year Celebration of John F. Kennedy’s visit to New Ross, Ireland, as well as tours as a soloist and with professional ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan.
With a host of opera and oratorio roles, art songs, spirituals, chamber and cabaret music in his repertoire, Wright is a member of the internationally acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble. His rendition of “Here’s One” is highlighted in the PBS documentary, The Spirituals: Featuring the American Spiritual Ensemble, released in 2007. In recent years, Wright was guest soloist for the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Magnificat); Dayton Bach Society (St. Matthew Passion, Evangelist); Messiah Festival of the Arts in Lindsborg, Kansas (Messiah, St. Matthew Passion); and performed in Lucerne, Switzerland where he was guest artist with the choir Matthäuskantorei for a program entitled “Black and White Spirituals”.
Having worked with such conductors as Tom Hall, Nicolas McGegan, Ton Koopman, and Robert Page, many of Wright’s concert career experiences have been under the baton of Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. With Gittleman and the DPO, he has sung the title roles of Bach’s Passions, Britten’s War Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, and Einhorn’s Voices of Light. In May of 2011, Wright returned to Ohio and triumphed in the role of the Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers, reviews praising his “mastery of the oratorio genre” and “impressive acting range and voice”.
A native of Rome, Georgia, Dr. Wright is coordinator of the voice and opera programs at Salisbury University (Salisbury, Maryland). He is an active clinician, consultant and leader of workshops on voice production, song interpretation, and African-American song tradition.
Michael Nansel, Baritone
Michael Nansel, is an award winning singer and actor. Best-known as an opera singer, he is also an accomplished recitalist and concert artist, and appears frequently in musical theater classics. Mr. Nansel has 66-roles to his credit. “Michael Nansel won the hearts of audience members in his portrayal of the brash and conceited Belcore, his baritone voice in fine, fluid form throughout the performance.”—Wichita Eagle
He sings music from the Mozart to Sondheim, from Verdi to Rodgers & Hammerstein. He was the Wichita Grand Opera Singer of the Year in 2012 and was the dual winner in 2003 of the Washington Area Theatre Community Honors for Outstanding lead actor in a musical and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical. He has also twice been a member of Casts nominated for Helen Hayes Awards.
His voice has been described as “stentorian”, “rich” with “great vocal and emotional power”. Reviewers have also remark that his acting “communicates deep humanity”, can be “tender and anguished” and that he is “the top banana”.
Mr. Nansel possesses a diverse repertoire ranging from the comedic Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni) and Belcore (L’Elisir d’Amore) to the dramatic Count Di Luna (Il Trovatore) and Escamillo (Carmen). Among his most widely acclaimed roles are the Di Luna (Il Trovatore), Iago (Otello), as well as Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Danilo (The Merry Widow), and the Title Character in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
His concert credits include: Mendelsohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ Requiem, and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major.
March 16, 2018 Angela Rice, Thy Will Be Done
Gregory Turay, Tenor
American tenor Gregory Turay is the recipient of several of classical music’s most coveted honors. Winner of the Richard Tucker Award, George London Foundation Award, ARIA award, and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Turay was hailed early in his career by the London Times as “one of the brightest natural talents to have emerged from the US in recent years.”
A chronicle of international opera and concert engagements merit Mr. Turay’s critical acclaim: San Francisco Opera debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and return as Camille de Rossillon in The Merry Widow; European debut at the Welsh National Opera as Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte; Deutsche Opera Berlin debut as Tamino in Die Zauberflote; Santa Fe Opera debut as Fenton in Der Rosenkavalier; Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore at the Boston Lyric Opera; Nadir in Les Pecheurs de Perles, the title role in Orfeo and Ernesto in Don Pasquale at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Fenton, Palino in Il Matrimonio Segreto and Zeferino in Il Viaggio a Reims at Wolf Trap Opera Festival; debut with the Cleveland Orchestra and Christoph von Dohnanyi in Berlioz’s Te Deum; Handel’s Messiah with San Francisco Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra; Mozart’s Coronation Mass at the Mostly Mozart Festival; Tanglewood Festival; Mozart’s Mass K 139 at the Salzburg Festival; Berlioz Requiem at the Edinburg Festival conducted by Don Runnicles; Nadir with the Washington Concert Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago as Sam Kaplan in Weill’s Street Scene; and Ravinia Festival “Rising Stars” concert. Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions at the age of 21 and alumnus of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, Mr. Turay made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Bringhella in Ariadne auf Naxos and has returned for many engagements including Don Ottavio, Camille de Rossillon, Bringhella, and Ferrando.
Mr. Turay’s distinguished career is punctuated by his creation of the role Rodolpho in William Bolcom’s opera A View from the Bridge for the world premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the ensuing recording of the original cast, numerous performances at the Metropolitan Opera, a televised gala honoring Seiji Ozawa of Haydn’s Creation with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of James Levine, and Saito Kinen Festival debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Most recently, he has been heard with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring Act III of La Boheme under the baton of Robert Spano and with the Netherland Radio Orchestra for the rarely-performed Davide Penitente by Mozart.
An admired chamber recitalist, Mr. Turay has appeared under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation in New York and Palm Springs; the 92nd Street Y and Alice Tully Hall under the auspices of Young Concert Artists; at the Edinburgh Festival; the Vocal Arts Society in Washington, D.C.; Wolf Trap; in recital throughout the Southeast United States; at the Danny Kaye Playhouse in New York, and a collaborative performance of Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes with pianists James Levine and Ken Noda in Weill Recital Hall, New York.
Other honors include the Richard Gaddes Award from the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, first prize in both the D’Angelo Young Artists and Catherine E. Pope Competitions, and the Orchestra New England Soloist Prize. Mr. Turay is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. He currently studies with Dr. Everett McCorvey.
Catherine Martin, Mezzo-Soprano
American mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin has been praised by The Washington Post for her “gorgeous, warm voice that you want to keep listening to,” and she continues to make an impact in repertoire ranging from Verdi and Wagner to Strauss and Bellini.
Her 2016-2017 season begins in Taiwan at the National Taichung Theatre reviving Wellgunde in Das Rheingold with the La Fura dels Baus production team, a debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago singing Hécube and covering Didon in Les Troyens, a concert with The Dallas Opera at the Winspear Opera House, as well as the final installment of the Ring Cycle at Houston Grand Opera, singing Wellgunde in Götterdämmerung with La Fura dels Baus.
The 2015-2016 season included debuts with Opera Colorado in her signature role of Amneris in Aïda and a role debut with Florida Grand Opera as Adalgisa in Norma, a return to Washington National Opera as Wellgunde in Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung and Grimgerde in Die Walküre.
Engagements for the 2014-2015 season included her debut with Dayton Opera as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking, Waltraute in Die Walküre with Houston Grand Opera, a return to Opera Santa Barbara as Maddalena in Rigoletto, and Genevieve in Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner with the American Symphony Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall.
Her landmark 2013-2014 season included two important assignments for Houston Grand Opera: Amneris in its season-opening production of Aïda, filling in at the last minute for an indisposed artist, and her role debut as Wellgunde in Das Rheingold for the company’s first-ever Ring cycle. Adding several key Strauss roles to her repertoire, she made her role debut as Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos at The Glimmerglass Festival and sang Annina and covered Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Other performances included Mary in the world premiere Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me with Washington National Opera, Amneris for her debut with Opera Santa Barbara, leading roles in the double bill of Musto’s Bastianello and Bolcom’s Lucrezia at UrbanArias outside Washington, D.C., and Schubert’s Mirjams Siegesgesang with the San Antonio Symphony.
Other highlights from 2013 included the role of Sara Miller in the world premiere of Approaching Ali with Washington National Opera, performances in the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival, her debut with the New Haven Symphony performing Elgar’s rarely heard masterwork The Dream of Gerontius, and her debut with Vancouver’s West Coast Chamber Players singing Alan L. Smith’s Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman.
An alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Catherine spent three seasons from 2009-2012 performing roles such as Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Anna in Maria Stuarda, Flora in La traviata, Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos. She also had the opportunity to work extensively with conductor Patrick Summers and to cover artists such as Susan Graham, Joyce DiDonato, and Michelle DeYoungin roles such as Der Komponist, Sister Helen, and the title roles of Xerxes and The Rape of Lucretia. In 2012 she was a member of The Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists Program, making her role debut as Amneris. In 2011 and 2010 she was a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where her roles included Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zaida in Il turco in Italia, plus multiple recitals with accompanist and vocal coach Steven Blier.
Winner of the 2011 National Opera Association Competition, Catherine was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a finalist in the 2012 George London Competition, a 2nd place winner in the 2013 Jensen Competition, a semi-finalist in the 2013 Hans Belvedere Competition, and won awards in the Eleanor McCollum Competition at Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera Guild, Annapolis Opera. She has received The Richard F Gold Career Grant at both Houston Grand Opera and Wolf Trap, and the Catherine Filene Shouse Career Grant. A native of San Antonio, Texas, she holds a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music and a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of North Texas.
Kenneth Overton, Baritone
Kenneth Overton is lauded for blending his opulent baritone with magnetic and varied portrayals that seemingly “emanate from deep within body and soul.”
Heralded by the BBC for his “exceptional voice,” Kenneth made his New York City Opera mainstage debut in 2012 as Doctor Grenvil in Verdi’s La Traviata. That season, Kenneth also made an acclaimed debut in the world premiere of David Ott’s The Widow’s Lantern at Pensacola Opera, whereby he was immediately re-engaged to star as Joe in Showboat. 2012–13 included debuts with New Jersey Symphony (Bruckner Te Deum) and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra (Verdi concert).
In collaboration with pianist Kevin Miller, Kenneth released his first solo CD in the fall of 2013. Been In De Storm So Long: Songs My Fathers Taught Me, is his homage to the spiritual tradition that has been formative in his artistic life. In step with this legacy, Kenneth is also co-founder and artistic director of Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization created to empower African-American artists to reach their full creative potential in a creative supportive environment.
Career highlights include Kenneth’s San Francisco Opera debut as Lawyer Frazier with in Porgy and Bess and Germont (La Traviata) with Sacramento Opera and Boheme Opera (NJ). As a leading baritone, Kenneth has sung with Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera, Connecticut Opera, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Boheme Opera of NJ, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Opera Delaware, Sacramento Opera and Opera Carolina. His roles with these companies include Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Sharpless (MadamaButterfly), Leporello (Don Giovanni), Schaunard (La bohème), Ping (Turandot) as well as Angelotti (Tosca), Bello and Sid (La Fancuilla del West).
Kenneth’s interpretation of the title role in Porgy and Bess has been acclaimed as “breathtaking.” He made his international debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin in the critically-acclaimed production from South Africa’s Cape Town Opera. Kenneth portrayed Porgy with Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Opera Memphis, Opera Carolina, Lexington Opera Society, the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Paducha Symphony and on tour throughout the British Isles. As Jake in Porgy and Bess, he performed at Stadttheater Klagenfurt and Princeton Opera Festival. In 2014, he debuts with Opera de Montreal and the Royal Danish Opera as Porgy.
Kenneth is widely recognized for his concert work, having performed with Phoenix Symphony, Norwalk Symphony, Montclair State University, New Jersey’s Cathedral Basilica, Duluth Superior Symphony, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Yonkers Philharmonic, Oratorio Society of New Jersey, Summit Chorale Festival (NJ), New York City Opera’s Schomberg Series, Sarasota Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and Richmond Symphony. His concert and oratorio repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Vaughn Williams’ A Sea Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Schubert’s Mass in A-flat, Haydn’s Creation and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. Kenneth is also featured in the American Spiritual Ensemble as a soloist for annual performances in the USA and international tours of Spain, Ecuador and France.
Kenneth has a passion for both musical theater and new works, and he made his Broadway debut in Baz Luhrman’s La Bohème. He was featured in City Center Encores’ production and recording of Romberg’s The New Moon, and sang the role of Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars with Skylark Opera. His Carnegie Hall debut was as the baritone soloist in Come Follow Me by Jackson Berkey with the Westfield Symphony Orchestra (Mid-America Productions). Kenneth has also excelled in diverse contemporary works including performances of Corps of Discovery by Michael Ching at Opera Festival of New Jersey; Six Characters in Search of An Author by Hugo Weisgall; and The Gilded Cage by Kioulaphides with Nexus Arts (NY).
Kenneth is a winner of the Liederkranz Competition, Connecticut Opera Guild Competition, Rosa Ponselle Competition (Meriden, CT) and a national winner of the Leontyne Price Vocal Competition.
Rebecca Farley, Soprano
Rebecca Farley, soprano, hails from Henderson, KY and is a Master of Music student at The Juilliard School. Last season she made her New York debut as Bubikopf in Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis, which she followed up this season with dazzling performances as the Controller in Jonathan Dove’s Flight. Other operatic roles include Gilda in Rigoletto, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Nannetta in Falstaff, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Last December she appeared alongside Brian Zeger at Alice Tully Hall where they performed obscure Liszt lieder. As a concert soloist, she has sung in Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, and premiered the role of Mary the Mother in Angela Rice’s oratorio Thy Will Be Done. She is thrilled to be singing with The Cecilia Chorus of New York and adding Bach’s Magnificat to her repertoire.
Ms. Farley received her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Kentucky where she was an Alltech Scholarhip recipient. As an Alltech Scholar, she did concert tours in Normandy, Ireland, Peru, and Mexico. Currently, Ms. Farley is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at The Juilliard School.
Anthony Clark Evans, Baritone
Rising American baritone Anthony Clark Evans makes major debuts in the 2016-2017 season, firstly as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the San Francisco Opera. Later in the season, he makes his Metropolitan Opera debut as the Huntsman in Rusalka while also covering Riccardo in I Puritani. Last season, Mr. Evans made debuts with San Diego Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Marcello in La bohème. He returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago to create the role of Simon Thibault in the world premiere of Bel Canto, adapted from Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel into an opera by composer Jimmy Lopez and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Nilo Cruz.
Mr. Evans recently completed a two-year tenure at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s prestigious Ryan Opera Center, where he has been heard as Montano in Otello for his debut with the company, Yamadori (Sharpless cover) in Madama Butterfly, the Jailer in Tosca (while covering the Sacristan), the Servant in Capriccio (while covering the Count), the Hunter (Gamekeeper cover) in Rusalka, Commissario (Baron and Marquis cover) in La traviata, and covers of Leporello in Don Giovanni, Wolfram in Tannhäuser, and Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Recent concert engagements include Faure’s Requiem with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and his Ravinia Festival debut singing in Bernstein’s Songfest with Ensemble dal Niente. In the summer of 2014, he performed Leporello in Don Giovanni in the Ryan Opera Center’s Workshop, as well as sang the Theatre Director in Les mamelles de Tirésias with the Chicago Civic Orchestra.
In 2012, Mr. Evans was thrust onto the international operatic scene as a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Prior to this, he was working as a car salesman in Kentucky. The Met Auditions were only the first of a lengthy list of awards granted this gifted baritone: the following year, he received top prize in the Lissner, Albanese-Puccini, Giulio Gari, and Mario Lanza vocal competitions, as well as second prize in the Liederkranz and Opera Index competitions. His success continued in 2014 with awards from the Sullivan Foundation, the Luminarts Fellowship, and the American Opera Society, as well as a Sara Tucker Study Grant.
Anthony Clark Evans studied voice at Murray State University, where he portrayed Sir John Falstaff in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor and was involved in various ensembles. He was an apprentice artist with Opera in the Ozarks (Arkansas) in 2008 and was featured there as Marcello in La bohème and Pish-Tush in The Mikado. Mr. Evans resides in Elizaebthtown, Kentucky with his wife, Kim, and daughter, Bryn.
Kevin Thompson, Bass
The American Bass, Kevin Thompson, possesses a voice with extraordinary range, depth, color combined with a commanding stage presence. “A mountain of a voice, with resonance from the Escorial of Philip II, the throne of Boris Godunov, and the majestic court of Sarastro. Thompson delivered all the goods…” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Kevin began the 2014- 2015 season singing the role of Ahmed Sumani in the world premiere of Qadar at the Kennedy Center; a return engagement with Opera Santa Barbara as Sparafucile in Rigoletto; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, also at the Kennedy Center and with the Washington Chorus; and his debut as Osmin in Die Entfuhrung as dem Serail and the role of Mephistopheles in Faust with West Bay Opera. Other more recent engagements included his debut with Opera Carolina as Zemfira’s father in Aleko, Verdi’s Requiem with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall, Wagner’s Rienzi at the Kennedy Center, Handel’s Messiah with the National Philharmonic, Osmin in Die Entfuhrung as dem Serail at the Walnut Creek Festival, and the role of Captain in Daniel Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas with the New York City Opera. Engagements in 2016-17 included the Mozart Requiem with Maestro David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem with Tallahassee Symphony, Basilio in the Barber of Sevillewith Opera Hong Kong, the Old Gypsy in Aleko with the New York City Opera, and the role of Angelotti in Tosca with Opera Tampa. In 2017-18 he will return to Bob Jones University as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor , perform Thibault in The Maid of Orleans with Odyssey Opera, and the role of Ramphis in Aida with Knoxville Opera.
In recent seasons, Mr. Thompson has appeared as Ramfis and Il Re in Aida; Sarastro; Mephistopheles; Oroveso; Sparafucile; Grand Inquisitor; Lodovico; Il Commendatore; Colline; Crespel, Schlemil and Luther (Les Contes de Hoffman, Ned (Treemonisha); Judge Turpin (Sweeney Todd); Hans Schwartz (Die Meistersinger); the Verdi Requiem; Mozart Requiem; Haydn’s The Creation and the Lord Nelson Mass; Handel’s Messiah; and, Stravinsky’s Les Noces.
Performing under the baton of a distinguished roster of conductors, including Edoardo Muller, Andreas Delfs, Julian Wachner, Christopher Allen, Grant Gershon, Leon Botstien, Joel Revzen, Alexander Kalajdzic, Mark Flint, Dean Williams, David Zinmin, and the late Julius Rudel, Mr. Thompson is at home on both the opera and concert stage having performed since 2008 with the Hannover Staatsoper, Fundacion Teatro Nacional Sucre in Ecuador, Teatro Verdi Trieste, Teatro Regio Parma, Opera Kiel, the Gasteig in Munich, Wexford Opera House in Ireland, La Folle Journee, New York City Opera, Ash Lawn Music Festival, Sarasota Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Knoxville Opera; and, in Augusta, Shreveport, the American Cathedral in Paris, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Pentagon and Library of Congress.
Mr. Thompson appeared in the world premiere of Die Weisse Furstin in Munich and in the US premiere of Haggadah shel Pesah (Passover in Exile) at Carnegie Hall in New York. As a permanent part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Hirschorn Gallery in Washington, D.C., Mr. Thompson is featured singing “Old Man River” in occurring audio walk artwork exhibit entitled “Words Drawn in Water” by artist Janet Cardiff.
He is a graduate of Juilliard, AIMS Graz (American Institute of Musical Studies) and Aspen Music Festival. He has studied with Dolora Zajick (Institute for Dramatic Young Voices), Catherine Malfitano (Act-Sing), and is currently with studying Bill Schuman in New York. Mr. Thompson is the recipient of numerous awards including those from the National Symphony Competition, the Don Giovanni International Competition, the Meistersinger Competition, Marian Anderson Scholar, the Paul Robeson Competition, and the Rosa Ponselle Competition.
April 13, 2018 Beethoven, Symphony No. 9
Amy Shoremount-Obra, Soprano
Soprano AMY SHOREMOUNT-OBRA made her much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera Debut in October 2014 as “First Lady” in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, singing all nine performances of the opera, three of which were Sirius XM Satellite Broadcasts. In previous seasons at the Met, she has covered the roles of “Donna Anna” in Don Giovanni, “Anna” in Nabucco, “Clotilde” in Norma, “Aksinya” in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and “Queen of the Night” (also in Die Zauberflöte). Ms. Shoremount-Obra’s other recent operatic appearances have included “Donna Anna” in Don Giovanni with Opera Las Vegas, The Savannah Voice Festival, and NYC’s new Venture Opera, “Musetta” in La Bohème with the Savannah Philharmonic, “Marchesa” in Verdi’s Un Giorno di Regno with Odyssey Opera of Boston, “Fiordiligi” in Cosi fan tutte with Annapolis Opera, and most recently, “Leonore” in Beethoven’s Fidelio with Grand Harmonie. During the 2016-17 season, she performed in concert at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ, returned to the Metropolitan Opera to cover “Anna” in Nabucco, “First Lady” in Die Zauberflöte, and “Donna Anna” in Don Giovanni, performed two new operas as part of Opera America’s New Opera Showcase and a recital in Lincoln Center with Tenor Cameron Schutza for the Wagner Society of New York, appeared in concert with Violinist Eric Silberger and Pianist Carlin Ma at The Old Church in Portland, OR, made a special appearance at the 2017 Sherrill Milnes Gala in NYC, and appeared as the soprano soloist in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the New Choral Society (Scarsdale, NY) under the baton of John King and in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at SUNY Purchase under the baton of Justin Bischof. She also traveled to Mexico for an Artist-In-Residency at the Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua in collaboration with Opera Guadalajara which culminated with a performance with Mexican Tenor Manuel Castillo. During the summer of 2017, she will cover the role of “Freia” in Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” with the New York Philharmonic and travel to Hawaii for concerts as part of the Hawaii International Music Festival, a festival she co-founded with Virtuoso Violinist Eric Silberger. Her performances in Hawaii will include her first collaboration with Argentinean Bandoneon player JP Jofre at the Blue Note. The 2017-18 season sees her return to the Metropolitan Opera in the role of “First Lady” for the English version of The Magic Flute. She will also travel to Guadalajara, Mexico for concerts with Opera Guadalajara and in the spring of 2018, she will make her debut as “Sieglinde” in Wagner’s Die Walküre (more information coming soon). She will also be making her Major Hollywood Motion Picture debut as Joan Sutherland in a scene from Bellini’s “Norma” in the film “Untouchable” – starring Nicole Kidman, Brian Cranston, Kevin Hart and Julianna Margulies. Directed by Neil Burger, the movie is set to release in 2018.
Recent solo concert engagements include the Fauré Requiem at Carnegie Hall with MidAmerica Productions, Haydn Lord Nelson Mass and Mozart Coronation Mass with the New Choral Society, various performances at the Viennese Opera Ball of New York and the Fire Island Opera Festival (including a concert in Marfa, TX with Marfa Live Arts), appearances with the FL Keys Concert Association in two concerts of operatic favorites, and a solo recital with pianist Eunjung Lee as part of the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center. This recital aired live on WFMT, Chicago’s Classical Station. During the 2015 season, Ms. Shoremount-Obra also toured with a recital program of Rachmaninoff songs with Pianist Christopher Cooley. In 2016, Ms. Shoremount-Obra made debut at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center as the Soprano Soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the National Chorale, appeared as the Soprano Soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G at Carnegie Hall with MidAmerica Productions, and appeared in concert at the Savannah Music Festival. During the summer of 2016, she appeared in Honolulu, on The Big Island of Hawaii and in Maui with Virtuoso Violinist Eric Silberger, Louisiana Philharmonic Cellist Daniel Lelchuk and Canadian Pianist Ian Parker for the first season of the Hawaii International Music Festival. Her performance at the Blaisdell Concert Hall included a collaboration with world renowned Taiko Artist Kenny Endo.
Other notable past engagements include her European Operatic Debut as “Ifigenia” in Handel’s Oreste at the Spoleto Festival Italy, and a performance of Brahms Requiem in her debut at Carnegie Hall with the Juilliard Orchestra under the baton of the late James De Preist.
A champion of new music, Ms. Shoremount-Obra has premiered/collaborated with some of today’s most popular and notable composers including Tarik O’Regan, John Zorn, Paola Prestini, and Mikael Karlsson. She completed a one-year residency in 2011/12 with American Opera Projects as part of their Composers and the Voice Program, where she premiered music written specifically for her, by a team of six composers/librettist teams. Most recently, she has collaborated with Mikael Karlsson and designer Elle Kunnos de Voss on a one woman monodrama written for her, called The Echo Drift, which premiered in December 2014 at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC.
Ms. Shoremount-Obra is a 2004 New York Regional Winner and National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She has also won numerous awards from other organizations, including the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, which she was awarded at her graduation from The Juilliard School and has since been supported with supplemental grants from the same foundation. Most recently she is the 2016 winner of the Ursula Springer Award from the Wagner Society of New York. She is a native of New Jersey and holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music (BM, MM) and The Juilliard School (AD).
Janara Kellerman, Mezzo-Soprano
Often referred to as “sultry,” “elegant,” and “compelling,” mezzo-soprano Janara Kellerman is quickly making a name for herself among opera lovers and critics alike. Hailed by Opera News for her “keen dramatic instincts” and “voluptuous tone,” Ms. Kellerman is delighting audiences throughout the world.
This season Ms. Kellerman joined an all-star cast in an October Gala for New Amsterdam Opera and returned to Cedar Rapids Opera as Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana. She will make her debut with Opera Delaware in their Inside the Opera Studio/Ladies Night Concert Series, with New Amsterdam Opera in March will debut the role of Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino, a return engagement with Mineola Choral Society as the alto soloist in Mendellsohn’s Elijah and upcoming with Eliano Productions she will be seen as Eboli in Don Carlos.
Most recent performances include concert performances in New York City as the Alto Soloist in Durufle’ Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Mendellsohn’s Magnificat. She made her role début as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Musica Viva Hong Kong; Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera with Indianapolis Opera; Dido in Dido and Aeneas with MidAtlantic Opera; the Old Lady in Candide with Fresno Grand Opera; and Little Buttercup in HMS Pinafore with Opera Saratoga and Lyric Opera San Antonio. She also made her Carnegie Hall début as the mezzo-soprano soloist in the New York première of Stephen Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn; and sang the alto soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with New Jersey Symphony and Mississippi Orchestra. This past December the New Jersey Symphony released the recording of the Verdi Requiem performance under the baton of Maestro Jacques LaCombe and joined by soloists, Marianne Fiset, Russell Thomas and Peter Volpe.
Ms. Kellerman is gaining critical attention for her portrayal of the title role in Carmen after making her role début with Des Moines Metro Opera. “When Janara Kellerman struts on stage and launches into the famous Habanera’s slinky chromatic descent, it’s easy to forget everyone else. Her voice is simultaneously agile and strong… With her thick black hair, smoldering gaze and brazen swagger, Kellerman casts a spell more potent than any cloud of smoke. She deftly combines her character’s dramatic sense of abandon with the score’s demand for vocal control.” (Des Moines Register)
On the concert stage, Ms. Kellerman reunited with Robert Aldridge and the Topeka Symphony Orchestra for a world première as the alto soloist in his grand oratorio, Parables, and was later engaged for repeat performances. Other notable concert performances have included the alto solo in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in her Avery Fisher Hall début; Azucena in Il Trovatore in concert with the Westfield Symphony; soloist in Mahler’sSymphony No. 2 with Dubuque Symphony Orchestra; a return to Iowa for a concert of Schumann works; and the soloist in a concert with the Continuo Arts Foundation.
She has also performed the alto solos in Händel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Mass in C Minor, Bach’s St. John’s Passion, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem.
Prior engagements include a gala performance of excerpts from L’italiana in Algeri and Samson et Dalila with the New Jersey State Opera featuring Samuel Ramey and Paul Plishka; Amneris in Aïda and Fenena in Nabucco with New Jersey State Opera; and a return to New York City Opera for their production of Antony and Cleopatra and as the cover Carmen and Malcolm in Rossini’s La Donna del Lago. Ms. Kellerman also worked with Grammy-winning composer Robert Aldridge when she stepped in at the last minute as Sharon Falconer in his opera Elmer Gantry. She was also seen as Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice and as Arsace in Rossini’s Semiramide as part of a tour in Italy.
Roles in Ms. Kellerman’s repertoire also include Charlotte in Werther, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Adalgisa in Norma, and Eboli in Don Carlos, Madame Flora (Baba) in The Medium . In addition, she is particularly noted for her comedic portrayals, such as Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Katisha in The Mikado, and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
Ms. Kellerman completed her first recording with the Michael O’Neal Singers in Atlanta as the alto soloist in Honegger’s King David to which the Atlanta Journal said “all the soloists were very good, especially Janara Kellerman – a creamy, rich mezzo.
She is the recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grand from the Shoshana Foundation and a winner in the Koussevitzky and Liederkranz Competition, as well as, a finalist in the Jensen and YPO/FGO Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2015 Joy in Singing Competition.
Issachah Savage, Tenor
Dramatic tenor Issachah Savage is garnering acclaim as a “heldentenor par excellence” with “trumpet-like, clear, open-throated, powerful” singing (San Francisco Examiner). Praised for his “impressive natural instrument” (Opera News), Mr. Savage is the winner of the 2014 Seattle International Wagner Competition earning the main prize, audience favorite prize, orchestra favorite prize, and a special honor by Speight Jenkins.
In the 2015 – 2016 season, Issachah Savage makes his role debut in the title role of Rienzi with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore Hall. He also debuts at Austin Lyric Opera as Radames in Aida and with the San Antonio Symphony as Manrico in Il trovatore under Sebastian Lang-Lessing. He will also be seen in his first performance of Verdi’s Otello with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert and will sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Mr. Savage made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Don Riccardo in Verdi’s Ernani under James Levine in the 2014 – 2015 season. He recently sang Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Canadian Opera Company under Johannes Debus to great critical acclaim and made his mainstage debut as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos at Seattle Opera. He also debuted with Orchestre National de Bordeaux-Aquitaine under Paul Daniel in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and at the Aspen Music Festival as Radames in Aida under conductor Robert Spano, a role he sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood under Jacques Lacombe in the summer of 2014.
In the 2013 – 2014, season, Issachah Savage made his Houston Grand Opera debut as Radames in Aida opposite Liudmyla Monastyrksa and Dolora Zajick, for which Opera Warhorses declared, “The performances of Monastyrska and Savage were brilliant examples that Verdian voices continue to be produced.” He was also seen in concert with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center singing Act 2 of Verdi’s Aida. In the summer of 2013, Mr. Savage participated in San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program for gifted young singers singing the finale to Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Merola Grand Finale concert. Writing of his performances of the last act of Otello in the Schwabacher Summer Concert series, the San Francisco Chronicle stated, “From his opening notes – impeccably shaded and coiled with repressed fury – to the opera’s final explosion of grief and shame, Savage sang with a combination of power and finesse that is rare to observe.”
Recent performances for the dramatic tenor include the world premiere of Wynton Marsalis’s All Rise with Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic, the world premiere of Leslie Savoy Burr’s Egypt’s Night with Philadelphia’s Opera North, with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony in Gershwin’s Blue Monday, and with the Opera Orchestra of New York alongside Elina Garanca in Massenet’s La Navarraise. He also made his role debut as Radames in Aida at North Carolina Opera.
With a sound that shines in Verdi and Wagner, Mr. Savage has participated in a number of programs designed for young artists with powerful voices including Evelyn Lear and Thomas Stewart Emerging Singers Program, Dolora Zajick’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices where he performed scenes from Otello and ACMA’s Wagner Theater program where he performed scenes from Die Walküre, Parsifal and Samson et Dalila.
Acclaimed for a voice with both dramatic and lyrical qualities, Mr. Savage excels on the concert stage and has performed with many notable conductors and ensembles. In addition to those mentioned above, he has performed Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the Flint Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the New Dominion Chorale, Mendelsohn’s Elijah with One Voice Chorale and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with Morgan State University.
In addition to his 2012 grand prize with the Marcello Giordani International Competition, Issachah has received a number of prestigious awards, recognition and career grants from institutions such as Wagner Societies of New York, Washington, D. C., and Northern California, Licia Albanese International Puccini Foundation, Olga Forrai Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Jensen Vocal Competition, Opera Index, and Giulio Gari Foundation. The tenor’s special talents were recognized early on by the Marian Anderson Society of Philadelphia, where he honored as its very first Scholar Artist and then again in 2009 as a prize winner in their Classical Icon competition. He has received two first places prizes in the esteemed Liederkranz Foundation competition, most recently in the 2012 Wagner Division and for General Opera in 2009.
Born into a musical and religious family in the Philadelphia area, Issachah vividly remembers his first public performance – in church at age 5. A last minute decision to audition for CAPA secured him a place at the school and it was CAPA’s choral director, David King, who first introduced him to opera through a recording of Jussi Björling singing “Ingemisco” from Verdi’s Requiem. Mr. King went on to serve as an important mentor, encouraging the young artist to undertake rigorous vocal study and seriously consider a career as a professional singer. He possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance from Morgan State University and a Master’s Degree in Opera Voice Performance from The Catholic University of America.
Reginald Smith, Jr., Baritone
A Grand Finals winner of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a recent graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, baritone Reginald Smith, Jr. has been praised by the New York Times as “a passionate performer” and by Opera News for his “powerful and attractive voice.” In the 2016 – 2017 season, Mr. Smith will make his company debut with Opera
Memphis as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Dallas Opera as Bonzo in Madame Butterfly, and Opera Carolina as Giorgo Germont in La Traviata. He will join the Toledo Symphony Handel’s Messiah, and he will join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as the Bass soloist for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
In addition to operatic and symphonic works, Mr. Smith will make his New York City recital debut this spring with Soprano, Amber Wagner, on the George London Foundation Recital Series.
Previous operatic highlights include La Boheme (Marcello), Die Fledermaus (Falke), Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Capulet), Porgy and Bess (Jake/Lawyer Frazier), The Pirates of Penzance (The Pirate King), and Rigoletto (Marullo) among others. The concert stage has Mr. Smith in
performances of Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems, Schubert’s Mass in G, Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte, Handel’s Messiah, and Roméo et Juliette by
Mr. Smith has been seen in performances with Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Toledo Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. In concert, Mr. Smith has performed with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops, Lexington Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony Orchestra (GA), Johnson City Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, Russia, among others.
In addition to receiving recognition from the Dallas Opera Guild Competition, the Mildred Miller International Vocal Competition, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition, Mr. Smith has won first place in the National Opera Association Competition: Scholarship
Division, Orpheus Vocal Competition: Young Artist Division, George London Vocal Competition: Top Prize (George London Award), Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition: Top Prize, received a 2015 Sarah Tucker Study Grant, and he has received a 2016 Career Grant
from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation.