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Q4 2017 Vocal and Opera News

  • University of Oklahoma presents children’s opera "Starbird" by Henry Mollicone

    The University of Central Oklahoma School of Music Opera presents the Henry Mollicone's children’s opera Starbird on November 15-17 at the UCO Jazz Lab.

    A performer dressed as a bird stands to the left of another performer dressed as a dog.Starbird, featuring libretto by Kate Pogue, premiered in 1981 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Set in New York City, Starbird follows a dog, a cat and a donkey as they meet by chance one summer evening in Central Park. After falling asleep, they are awakened by the sound of a landing space ship and greeted by the Starbird, whose warnings they ignore. The animals board the ship, hoping it will take them to their new lives. Soon, the animals realize they are in danger and require saving. They call upon the Starbird for help, and in rescuing the group, the Starbird teaches them a valuable lesson about working with each other’s differences.

    Robert Glaubitz, director of opera at Central, notes, “We chose ‘Starbird’ as our fall opera because the storyline and characters are so unique and the music is so beautiful. It’s a great show for kids or adults. My favorite part of working on the opera is watching each singer find their robot or animal character over the rehearsal process.”

    Starbird has been called a “fetching space-age children’s fable” by Newsweek and “funny for both children and adults” by The Guardian.

    Source: UCO Press Release: UCO School of Music Presents Children's Opera 'Starbird,' Nov. 15-17

  • Juliana Hall: October & November Performances

    Several works from Juliana Hall's vocal catalog were featured in performances in October and November.

    October 1:  Renee Calvo, soprano, presented selections from Night Dances in a recital at the University of San Diego. Click here to learn more.

    October 13-15: Members of Northwest Art Song (soprano Arwen Myers, mezzo Laura Beckel Thoreson, and pianist Susan McDaniel) partnered with The Ensemble of Oregon to share a concert series titled "Nevertheless, She Persisted: Voices of Women in Music & Verse." The concert featured Music Like a Curve of GoldClick here to learn more.

    October 22: Piper Pack-Smith, mezzo-soprano, and Kyung Sun Choi, piano, performed four songs from Letters from Edna in a DMA recital at the University of Arizona.

    October 27 & 28: Great Camelot"Austism Advocacy Project", based on poems by Sameer Dahar, was commissioned and premiered as part of Lynx Project's The performances featured tenor Steven Humes and pianist Florence Mak. Click here to learn more.

    October 29 & 30: "Theme in Yellow" from Theme in Yellow was performed by Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano, and Eunmi Ko, piano in Jamaica Plain, MA. The performance took place as part of a GroupMuse event. The performance was repeating the Sound of Music Performance Series at Temple Shalom in West Newton, MA.

    November 3: Music Like a Curve of Gold was performed Rebekah Smeltzer Staley, soprano, and Julie Silva, mezzo-soprano, as part of One Ounce Opera's 2nd Annual Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song competition, of which Hall was named a winning composer. Click here to learn more.

    November 18 (Cambridge, MA), 22 (London), & 23 (Oxford): Christopher Eaglin, tenor, and Nicole Panizza, piano, present two concerts featuring The Holy Sonnets of John Donne at Harvard Memorial Church (MA), Coventry University (UK), and the University of Oxford (UK).

    November 28: Middlesex Community College hosts a free concert "And the Barriers Had Vanished: Exploring LGBT Issues through Music," which will include a performance Night Dances. The performing artists are soprano Anna Ward and pianist Elaine Rombola.

    For more information about Juliana Hall's art song catalog, click here.

  • University of Delaware Opera Theatre presents David Conte & Michael Ching operas

    UD Opera Theatre stages David Conte's The Gift of the Magi with Michael Ching's Speed Dating Tonight on November 12, 2017. 

    David ConteThe Gift of the Magi's libretto, written by Nicholas Giardini, captures the essence of the operatic drama contained in the classic O. Henry short story. Della (Soprano) and Jim (Baritone) are a young, poor couple in love, entirely devoted to each other. The action takes place late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. After having pledged not to exchange Christmas gifts, both decide to sell their own most precious possession in order to buy what each thinks will make the other most happy. Even though Jim adores her long, flowing tresses, Della sells her hair to wig makers so she can buy Jim a chain for his pocket watch. When Jim buys Della an exquisitely elaborate comb for her hair, the only way he can raise the money is to sell his heirloom watch. In separate scenes, both lovers have confidants who try to dissuade them of their plans, each without success. In the final scene, after the couple has exchanged their gifts, Jim and Della reaffirm their love for one another, which they now realize is the greatest gift of all.

    Michael ChingSpeed Dating Tonight! is considered one of the most popular operas in the 21st-century. It is an one act American opera that tells the story of a single hour in the lives of a group of people experiencing speed dating for the first time. It takes place in a local restaurant and includes colorful characters like a car salesman, origami designer, realtor, Tech addicts (OSD), and an over-the-top cat lover. Love at first sight, as well as two exes running into each other, are just two of the comical and romantic moments. This performance will feature two new "Delaware Dates" written especially for UD Opera Theatre.

    Source: UD Opera Theatre - University of Delaware

  • "Glory Denied" by Tom Cipullo at Tri-Cities Opera

    On November 10-12, 17, and 19, Tri-Cities Opera will stage Glory Denied by Tom Cipullo.  The performance features the voices of Scott Purcell, Tascha Anderson, Frederick Schlick, and Stacey Geyer, and the TCO debut of conductor Joshua Horsch.

    America’s longest held prisoner of war returns to a country he no longer recognizes and a family who barely recognizes him. Glory Denied tells of the plight of so many veterans who serve their country, but face incredible challenges when returning home. A man kept alive by hope and prayer during his captivity  in the jungle of southeast Asia, and his personal struggles following his liberation and repatriation. It is a story of a nation divided and a country that changed significantly in the decade of his imprisonment.

    Glory Denied will be available soon from E. C. Schirmer.

  • Houston Grand Opera performs "Glory Denied" by Tom Cipullo

    On November 6 and 9, Houston Grand Opera presents Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied, as part of the Veterans Songbook Project. Opera attendees can donate a ticket to allow a Houston Veteran to attend the performance for free.

    Based on the book by Tom Philpott, Glory Denied takes place during the Vietnam War and tells the true story of Colonel Floyd Joel Thompson, America’s longest-serving Prisoner of War from 1964-73. The opera details Thompson’s imprisonment in southeast Asia and his personal struggles following liberation.

    Glory Denied will be available soon from E. C. Schirmer.

  • Daron Hagen: Shining Brow performance, Urban Arias

    UrbanArias presents a new production of the Hagen-Muldoon opera Shining Brow at the Paul Sprenger Theatre of the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. This new production has been dubbed the Usonian Version. It reinstates choruses and other material previously excised by the composer for the Fallingwater Version staged (by director Jonathan Eaton and conductor Robert Frankenberry) and toured last season by Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Two other versions of the opera exist: the original opera house version commissioned and premiered by the Madison Opera, and a reduced orchestration for Chicago Opera Theater suitable for smaller houses.

    UrbanArias describes their new, composer-sanctioned production as follows: "What justifies narcissism? Genius? If you’re brilliant, should society give your bad behavior a pass? SHINING BROW explores the early career of celebrity architect Frank Lloyd Wright, his adulterous affair with Mamah Cheney, and the consequences of his enormous self-regard. Of the premiere, The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Hagen has a gift for the big tune, and he serves up some beauties...”  Join us for an evening of gorgeous music and a fascinating psychological portrait of one of America’s greatest minds.

    Robert Wood, Artistic and Executive Director of Urban Arias, has announced the cast:

    Event description by Daron Hagen.

    Performances take place October 14 - 15, 20 - 21

    Source: SHINING BROW — Daron Hagen

  • Brian Thorsett performs David Conte

    David Conte's Elegy for Matthew will be performed by tenor Brian Thorsett on Saturday, October 7. The performance is part of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin's Candelight Concert SeriesElegy for Matthew was commissioned in memory of Matthew Shepard by James Geiger for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, Barry Oliver, conductor. The work received its premiere performance on June 17th, 1999 at Carnegie Hall, New York City.

    Click here to learn more.

    Brian Thorsett Brian Thorsett

    Hailed as “a strikingly gifted tenor, with a deeply moving, unblemished voice” (, Brian Thorsett is excelling in opera, oratorio and recital across the world. Since taking to the operatic stage, he has been seen and heard in over 100 diverse operatic roles, ranging from Monteverdi to Britten, back to Rameau and ahead again to works composed specifically for his talents. He is a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artist program, American Bach Soloists’ Academy, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh, England and spent two summers at the Music Academy of the West. Brian is currently Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech and previously served on faculty at Santa Clara University and University of California at Berkeley.


  • Cory Schantz performs Daron Hagen song cycle

    Cory Schantz Cory Schantz

    Baritone Dr. Cory Schantz will perform Daron Hagen's cycle Songs of Experience alongside the music of Jacques Ibert, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Mitch Leigh. The performance is part of a Guest Faculty Voice Recital at the University of South Alabama on September 24. Songs of Experience are six musical settings of texts by Walt Whitman, Gardner McFall, Sara Teasdale, Stephen Dunn, Emily Lawless, Emily Dickinson.Dr. Cory Schantz, baritone, is Director of Opera and Assistant Professor of Voice at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia. His teachers have included Marilyn Horne, Sharon Mabry, John Gillas, Kenneth Shaw, and Linda DiFiore. He has sung under the batons of notable conductors such as Arthur Fagen, Joseph Resigno, Craig Kier, and Keith Chambers.

    Dr. Schantz maintains an active career as a performer both on the stage and in the concert hall. He has appeared in principal roles with Tulsa Opera, Atlanta Opera, Baltimore Opera, First Coast Opera, and Wichita Grand Opera. He will make his Opera Birmingham debut in 2017, singing the role of Capulet in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. He has recently appeared as soloist with Rome (GA) Symphony Orchestra, Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Schantz will perform recitals at Middle Tennessee State University and Austin Peay State University in February 2017.

    Source: Songs of Experience — Daron Hagen

  • REV. 23 premiere: new opera from Julian Wachner & Cerise Jacobs, the sequel to Revelations

    On September 29, a new opera from Cerise Jacobs and Julian WachnerRev. 23, premieres at Boston's John Hancock Theater. The premiere kicks off the Boston New Music Festival and features White Snake Projects production company, who shares new, relevant opera based on the stories of Cerise Jacobs. Rev. 23 will be available soon from E. C. Schirmer.

    Rev. 23 is the sequel to the Book of Revelations. It is told from the perspective of St. John the Divine and "transcribed" by Cerise Lim Jacobs. The opera narrates the last battle to recapture Paradise-on-Earth and restore the balance of good and evil to our world. Persephone, the only being able to pass freely between Hell and Earth, is recruited by Lucifer in the fight against the rulers of Paradise-on-Earth. No one is exempt from this battle. The opera transcends the Biblical narrative, and pulls characters from mythology and Chinese history.

    Cerise Lim Jacobs has earned a place as one of the most creative and imaginative thinkers of our time. Born in Singapore, Jacobs eventually moved to Massachussetts where she worked as a trial partner at one of New England's largest law firms, practicing law for more than two decades. Three years into her retirement, a song cycle written for her husband turned into her first, full-length opera Madame White Snake. The music by Zhou Long won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.

    Jacobs writes, "I dreamed up REV. 23 one day as I was thinking of where I would meet my husband Charles again since he passed from this world. It amused me that my incorrigible, irascible and impossible husband wouldn't be caught dead (pardon the pun) in Paradise (not that he'd be entirely welcome there) as some of the most interesting people seem to be consigned to that other place. This led to more musing about what Heaven was like and concomitantly, what that other place was like.

    I was aided in these musings by the fact that I was a Singaporean Methodist, a product of an American Methodist Missionary school and deeply steeped in biblical lore. So I turned, naturally, to the most detailed account of Paradise-on-Earth familiar to me, the divine visions of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation.

    Poring over the Book of Revelation over and over again (it's a very short book), I couldn't shake away the sense of unease that grew stronger with each read, that perhaps I wouldn't be perfectly happy in a place of perfect happiness. As I began to explore why I felt uneasy, the framework for Rev. 23, the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, began to take shape."


    Julian Wachner, Grammy-nominated composer, is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought after as composer, conductor, educator and keyboard artist. He is currently Director of Music and Arts at Trinity Wall Street and Music Director of the Grammy award winning Washington Chorus.

    With over 80 works in his catalog, Wachner’s music has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” (Boston Globe), having “splendor, dignity, outstanding tone combinations, sophisticated chromatic exploration…a rich backdrop, wavering between a glimmer and a tingle...” (La Scena Musicale), being “a compendium of surprises” (Washington Post), and as “bold and atmospheric”, having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting” and noted for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” (New York Times.) The American Record Guide noted that “Wachner is both an unapologetic modernist and an open-minded eclectic – his music has something to say.” In 2010, He made New York City Opera history when he was selected as both conductor and composer at the company’s annual VOX festival of contemporary opera leading to the invitation to be the sole conductor of this Festival in 2012.

    To learn more about the opera, click here.

    Read Harvard Magazine's January 2017 Interview with Cerise Jacobs here.

    Read Elena Ruehr's interview with Cerise Jacobs and Julian Wachner here.

    Source: REV. 23, from Creator and Librettist Cerise Jacobs and Composer Julian Wachner, Premieres at Boston’s John Hancock Theater September 29; Tickets on Sale May 1 - 21C Media Group - Publicity. Digital Media. Consulting. For Music, Culture, & the Performing Arts

  • Modern Singer Magazine interviews Juliana Hall

    Modern Singer Magazine is written for singers by singers. The magazine offers a variety of information for readers, from artist showcases to audition tips to advice on updating one's recital wardrobe, the magazine offers perspectives in all aspects of a singer's life.

    The Modern Singer recently interviewed and featured Juliana Hall. The interview, led by Editor-in-Chief Ellen Hinkle, touched on Hall's passion for Art Song, her inspiration for new music, and favorite composition in her catalog.

    Juliana Hall Juliana Hall

    Hall states, "I write art songs to share poetry. Poets see truth and beauty in even the most ordinary of things and that is what I wish to express... The structure of the text and musical architecture of my song should be in sync in order to express the truth and beauty a particular text illuminates. That truth and beauty is outside of me." She goes on to reflect on how her technique for inspiring new music has changed over time. When Hall first began composing, she would focus on an image. "When asked to write a song cycle for Dawn Upshaw, I had an image of dark interspersed with light." Nowadays, Hall turns to her poetry books to "see if anything sticks. The type of voice I am writing for often guides these questions."

    To read the entire interview, click here. 

    To learn more about Juliana Hall, click here. 


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