Kyle Albertson, Bass-Baritone
Role: Porthos in les Trois Mousquetaires
Renowned not only for his voice--“drop-dead gorgeous,” raved the Dallas Morning News--but for his versatility, style, and ability to bring a character to life on stage, Kyle Albertson made his opera debut in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with Opera Grand Rapids and has been expanding his repertoire ever since. After having worked five season at The Metropolitan Opera of NY, Kyle Albertson made his debuts, this season as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Lieutenant Horstmayer in Silent Night, DeGuiche in Cyrano, and Donner in Das Rheingold both in Minnesota and in his house début at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Next years engagements include a role debut as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, and a company debut at San Francisco Opera working on their Ring cycle. A sought-after concert artist, Kyle has performed the bass solo in Verdi’s Requiem with The Händel Society of Dartmouth, Papageno in Boston Youth Symphony’s concert performance of Die Zauberflöte at Symphony Hall, a Carnegie Hall début in Rutter’s Mass of the Children, and a concert version of Der Rosenkavalier with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony. He has been closely associated with the legendary Santa Fe Opera, where he served as an Apprentice Artist for two seasons, and he is a graduate of the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera.
Mireille Asselin, Soprano
Role: Musetta in La Boheme and A French Affair
Praised for her “vivacious stage presence” and a soprano voice “that charms and brightens a room,” Mireille Asselin is a young artist at the start of an exciting career. She made waves in December 2015 when she jumped in as Adele for the opening night of Die Fledermaus at the Met under the baton of James Levine. Critics raved that she “stole the show” with her “crystalline voice” and “abundant charm”--in a performance that was only the start of Mireille’s Met career, now in its fourth season. She made her European opera debut as Princesse Andromède in Lully’s Persée at Versailles in 2014 and recently sang the title role in Handel’s Berenice at the 2016 Göttingen International Handel Festival, Germany. 2016-17 also sees her at Opera Atelier and the Royal Opera of the Palace of Versailles as Créuse in Charpentier’s Medée and making her debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah and with the Handel and Haydn Society singing Iris in Semele. Mireille appears regularly with Toronto’s Opera Atelier at the Boston Early Music Festival.
Composer, Les Trois Mousquetaires
Mitch Bach debuted his first opera, Every Model Line, in 2001 in Wellington, New Zealand. Since then he’s composed choral, sacred and orchestral works for ensembles around the world. He made his Phoenicia Festival of the Voice debut in 2010 with a concert of sacred works and his own compositions, and is excited to return with the Musketeers. He has studied piano and composition at the Sydney Conservatorium (Australia) and Paris Conservatoire, and is also a graduate of the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He lives in New York City.
Stephanie Backofen, soprano
Young Artist Program
Stephanie Backofen of nearby Wallkill began her musical education under the tutelage of Maestro Ron De Fesi and pursued studies in both clarinet and voice at the Universities of SUNY Ulster and The Crane School of Music under Professors Janet Gehres and Jeffery Francom. For the past several years, she has concentrated on vocal performance, working closely with Maria Todaro and Louis Otey. She is active in numerous choirs around the Hudson Valley region and also performs as a soloist. This past season, with the ensemble group Kairos: A Consort of Singers, she participated in Choral Fest, singing at New York City’s Symphony Space. She is currently a soprano section leader at the parish of St. George's Episcopal Church in Newburgh, New York. Stephanie was a member of the chorus of Otello in the 2016 Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, and this season, audiences will see her both in the chorus of La Boheme and as a featured Young Artist.
Robert Balonek, Baritone
Role: Duke of Buckingham Les Trois Mousquetaires
Starting as a student at SUNY Purchase, Robert Balonek performed the title roles in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. He sang Ottone in Monteverdi’s Poppea, both Ferdinand and Prospero in the New York premiere of Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest, and in the world premiere of Raphaël Lucas’s Confession. He also recorded both The Tempest and Confession with Albany Records--all while an undergraduate. He then moved to New York and received a professional studies diploma from the Mannes School of Music, where he studied with Bonnie Hamilton. While at Mannes, Robert performed Guglielmo in Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart and Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff. He also performed the solo bass role in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Mannes Baroque Ensemble and soloed in the Faure Requiem with the Westchester Choral Society. Since leaving Mannes, Robert has worked in collaboration with a number of contemporary composers--among them M. Zachary Johnson (Boston Tea Party Opera), Gerald Cohen (Steal a Pencil for Me), Mohammed Fairouz (Furia), and Stefania DeKenessey (Bonfire of the Vanities).
Barynya Can-can dance troupe
A French Affair
Eight women and two men comprise the NYC Cancan Cabaret, the dance group that performs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in cabarets and clubs around New York City--for example, at the famed Tatiana nightclub in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. Professionals all, who have performed on such stages as Carnegie Hall’s, these dancers just can’t stop moving. In costumes made for them at the historic Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia,they will have you kicking up your heels as well.
Role: Colline in La Boheme
A Metropolitan Opera company member since his debut in 1995, acclaimed bass Richard Bernstein has appeared in 374 performances and in more than 110 live international broadcasts. Highly valued for his versatility in a wide-ranging repertoire embracing multiple languages and in styles from classical through contemporary, Richard performs around the country and across the world. Especially noted for his signature roles of Figaro and Leporello in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni respectively, he has also notably performed Olin Blitch in Susannah, Frank Maurrant in Weill’s Street Scene, and Orville Mason in Picker’s An American Tragedy. He has collaborated with a host of major American symphony orchestras, from the New York Philharmonic to the Chicago Symphony to the Philadelphia Orchestra, and has been a guest at such festivals as Spoleto, Ravinia, and Tanglewood. And this New York native has performed under the batons of the most important conductors of the day, including James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers, and Fabio Luisi.
Joseph Michael Brent, Tenor
Role: D’Artagnan in Les Trois Mousquetaires
A member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio, Joseph Michael Brent has most recently performed Laurie in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, the Kronprinz in Kevin Puts’s Silent Night, Trin in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, and El Remendado in Bizet’s Carmen. Praised for the beautiful and powerful quality of his voice and for “a handsome stage presence” as well, Brent has performed such classic romantic-hero roles as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly and is also a sought-after concert soloist and recitalist. He most recently performed Ralph Vaughan William’s s song cycle for tenor and piano quintet On Wenlock Edge, and he was selected by composer Michael Fiacc to premiere four songs for tenor and piano. He has performed the tenor soloist role in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and the Schubert Mass. He hails from down the river in New York City, is a proud graduate of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and holds an undergraduate degree from the conservatory of music at Purchase College SUNY.
Fidelia Esther Darmahkasih, Soprano
Young Artist Program
A native of Indonesia, Fidelia Darmahkasih made her debut with the Nightingale Opera Theater’s young artist production of Little Women in the role of Beth. An active performer with Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit, Fidelia has appeared in Carmen, Little Women, and Cyrano. She was a Young Artist Voice finalist in the 2016 Music Teachers National Association competition, Midwestern semi-finalist in New York Lyric Opera competition, and second-place winner in the Conrad Art Song Competition (graduate division) in collaboration with pianist Anita Chiu. Her opera credits include Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites and the title role in Patience. Fidelia has also performed with Toledo Opera in Lucia di Lammermoor, Tosca, and Porgy and Bess. In 2015, she participated In the OperaWorks Emerging Artist Program in Los Angeles and presented a solo recital in Jakarta, Indonesia. She holds Bachelor and Master degrees from Bowling Green State University.
Norman DeVol, Tenor
Role: Parpignol in La Boheme
Norman Devol is an accomplished tenor soloist and vocal instructor who was for many years a member of the San Francisco chorus and the Assistant Conductor of the award-winning Masterworks Chorale in San Mateo. A California native now living in Oregon, Norman received his Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from San Jose State University, studying with Jeanne Garson, and has performed numerous roles in operas and concerts with many outstanding musical organizations throughout the Greater Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas--including Pocket Opera, West Bay Opera, Mission City Opera, Berkeley Opera, Monterey Symphony, Camerata California, Auburn Symphony, Camellia Symphony, Gold Country Chamber Orchestra, Sacramento State University, Opera La Piccola Scala. and Sierra College. Among his favorite roles are Tamino in The Magic Flute, Ghermann in Queen of Spades, and Rodolfo in La Boheme, for which he was nominated a Sacramento regional theater Elly Award. He is also well known as a professional vocal coach and instructor, teaches privately, and was on the music faculty of Sierra College in Rocklin, CA for ten years.
Toru Dodo, Pianist
The Spiritual Side Of Duke
Born in Tokyo, Toru Dodo started playing classical piano at age 4. While majoring in Economics at Meiji University, he discovered jazz, and he soon began gigging in Tokyo area. He went to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music , graduating summa cum laude in 1998, then moved to New York and began touring as both leader and sideman throughout the U.S.,Japan, Canada, Italy, Africa, and south America. Among the artists with whom he has played are Kenny Garrett, Benny Golson,Curtis Fuller, Louis Hayes, Ruth Brown, Terumasa Hino, Somi, Michelle Walker, Karen Marie, Alicia Olatuja, and Aimee Allen. Dodo has also released five solo albums and is the author of Excellent Jazz Solo Piano, published by Rittor Music in Japan in 2008.
The International Association for Jazz Education awarded Dodo its 2008 prize for outstanding service to jazz education. That same year, he also received the BRIO Award (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) by his home borough.
Robert Edwards, Trombonist
The Spiritual Side Of Duke
One of the bright new voices in jazz trombone today, Robert Edwards was educated at the Juilliard School. Since moving to New York, he has performed with Jimmy Heath, Claudio Roditi, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. His debut CD, on D Clef Records, is Sound Business. Robert Edwards plays Michael Rath trombones exclusively.
Michael Fennelly, Conductor/ Pianist
Les Trois Mousquetaires
A child prodigy who first performed onstage at age ten, Californian Michael Fennelly is a virtuoso piano solo performer, a conductor, and a music director par excellence for opera and concert performances around the world. The United States winner of the Horowitz Competition and a Bösendorfer Artist who represented the US on a tour of Japan for the State Department, Michael made his Carnegie Hall solo recital debut as winner of the Artist International Competition and has performed in many of the world's great concert halls, including Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall, Munich’s Prinzregenten Theatre, and Berlin’s Komische Oper. He has performed in Moscow Conservatory’s International Chopin Symposium, New York’s Schoenberg Music Festival, and Italy’s Wilhelm Kempff Beethoven Seminar, and in master classes under John O’Connor, Richard Goode, and Abbey Simon. In addition to solo performing, Michael conducts, coaches, and directs productions of opera, from Lucia di Lammermoor in concert at Carnegie Hall to the premiere of John Musto's The Inspector with Wolf Trap Opera to serving as music director for La Cenerentola with New York City Opera.
Kevin Glavin, Bass
Role: Benoit/Alcindoro in La Boheme
Basso buffo Kevin Glavin has performed in opera houses and concert halls across the length and breadth of North and South America. Career highlights have included the milestone production of The Nose by Shostakovich at the Metropolitan Opera, Bartolo in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Don Magnifico in that composer’s La Cenerentola with San Francisco Opera, the title role in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at Glimmerglass, and with New York City Opera as Don Pasquale (again), Mustafà in L’Italiana in Algeri, Bartolo (again), Don Inigo Gomez in Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole, and the Sacristan in Tosca. From Seattle to Florida, from Vancouver to Buenos Aires, from Montreal to Edmonton to Quebec across Canada, in the major opera houses of South America, and from sea to shining sea in the U.S., Kevin has wowed and won audiences with his virtuoso singing and his brilliant comedic talents. He is also well known for his performances in Holiday Concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, and with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, conducted by the late Marvin Hamlisch.
Director of The Young Artists Program/Stage Director
Renowned for her work with New York City Opera, where she directed original main stage productions of Turandot and Tales of Hoffmann as well as classic revivals of Der Rosenkavalier, Tosca, La Traviata, La Boheme, and Intermezzo, Beth Greenberg may be best known for her groundbreaking production of Puccini’s Il Tabarro aboard an historic ship moored in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Her collaborations with living composers are legendary, as they work together on all phases of a new show's development from first libretto read to fully staged premieres. Recent examples include Opera Colorado's production of The Scarlet Letter (Laitman & Mason), The Three Feathers (Laitman & Gioia), The Red Silk Thread (Sung & Hilbert), and Pumped Fiction (Eaton). Add her staging of Carmen in Tokyo and Tosca in Lima to works for Crested Butte Music Festival, Utah Festival Opera, Pittsburgh Opera Center, Opera Delaware, and--in her sixth consecutive season--the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music and Brooklyn College, Greenberg apprenticed with Gotz Friedrich at Berlin's Deutsche Oper on a Fulbright.
Sarah Heltzel, Mezzo Soprano
Role : Milady De Winter , Les Trois Mousquetaires
“Vocally striking and visually appealing” (New York Times), American mezzo-soprano Sarah Heltzel consistently “sets the stage ablaze with her vocal and dramatic pyrotechnics” (HoustonChronicle). Heltzel has brought her compelling presence to diverse roles such as Eboli in Don Carlo (Wichita Grand Opera), Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana (String Orchestra of Brooklyn), Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos (Winter Opera St Louis), Romeo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi in Houston (Opera in the Heights), Musetta in La Bohème (Opera on the James), Carmen (Tacoma Opera) and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly (Indianapolis, Amarillo, Syracuse, Nevada, and Opera on the James). Recent roles include Siegrune and covers of Waltraute, Flosshilde, and Zweite Norn in Der Ring des Nibelungen and Flora in La Traviata at Seattle Opera, Jo in Little Women for Opera on the James, and Desirée and Charlotte in A Little Night Music for Syracuse Opera and the Phoenicia Festival. Heltzel closes this season with New York City Opera’s Angels in America, American Opera Projects’ OperaLab collaboration with NYU, and with The String Orchestra of Brooklyn for Respighi’s Il Tramonto. www.sarahheltzel.com
Jon Irabagon, Saxophonist
The Spiritual Side Of Duke
“Revolutionary… a subverter of the jazz form,” declares Martin Longley of Jon Irabagon in the New York City Jazz Record. The winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, Irabagon has since topped both the Rising Star Alto Saxophone and the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone categories in the DownBeat Critics’ Poll and has been named one of Time Out New York’s 25 New York City Jazz Icons. An established bandleader in his own right, Jon is also an integral member of such high-profile ensembles as the Mary Halvorson Quintet, the Dave Douglas Quintet, and Barry Altschul’s 3Dom Factor. His own record label, Irabbagast Records, has released five recordings of Jon working with other musicians as well as his first solo saxophone effort, Inaction is an Action. A native of the Philippines, Jon received a 2012 Mabuhay Award from the National Association of Filipino-Americans and a 2014 Philippine Presidential Award.
Oswaldo Iraheta, tenor
Role: King of France, Les Trois Mousquetaires
Baritone-turned-tenor Oswaldo Iraheta, recognized internationally for his "pure tone filled with emotion," adds to numerous roles in the standard repertoire--Alfredo, Cavaradossi, Rodolfo, Ferrando, etc.-- a litany of opera premieres. He sang Domingo in Luis Díaz Hérodier's El Mozote with Ópera de El Salvador; performed the role of the Prince in Polina Nazaykinskaya's The Magic Mirror for its New York City premiere at the New York International Fringe Festival; and most recently, he had the role of the Shepherd in Dina Pruzhansky's Shulamit in New York City. In addition to performances with opera companies in the U.S., South America, and Europe, Oswaldo performs regularly in concerts and recitals. He recently made his Chicago debut as part of the Sounds of the South Loop concert series with acclaimed Brazilian guitarist Paulinho Garcia and has premiered song cycles by Juan Guerra Gonzalez and chamber works by Polina Nazaykinskaya. He cherishes the memory of a performance with Marvin Hamlisch at Cleveland’s legendary Severance Hall. Oswaldo is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and studied with renowned tenor Vinson Cole.
Justin Kolb: Young Artists Program Career Advisor/Concert Pianist
“Without an understanding of entrepreneurism, community engagement and self-promotion today’s performing artist will neither accomplish nor succeed. “It’s a tough business…but it’s a business!” JK, Chamber Music America, annual conference 2016. Between his 50 annual solo recitals Justin is engaged by conservatories, schools of music, festivals and competitions. His role as lecturer and consultant to emerging artists and ensembles attempting to broaden a developing career focuses on: entrepreneurism, the criticality of community engagement, and tasteful yet productive self promotion. From Budapest to Santa Barbara his partial client list has included: Manhattan School of Music, DePaul, University of Georgia, California State-Northridge, University of Oregon, University of Toronto, Liszt-Garrison Int’l Competition, Franz Liszt Memorial Museum, Catholic University, L.A. Int’l Piano Competition & SUNY. Justin’s solo recitals, conservatory “power talks”, university lectures and motivational “kids clinics” for teens have shaped a successful 21st century performance career for the acclaimed pianist. Justinkolb.com
John Lumpkin II
The Spiritual Side Of Duke
John Lumpkin II is a producer, arranger, and artist of jazz, R&B, and gospel music. At the University of Florida, he obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Studies under the direction of Danny Gottlieb and a Master's under the leadership of Leon Anderson. John grew up in the pentecostal church and declares that “the church is the root of my zeal for music and forever shall be." He has shared stages across the country with such greats as Delfeayo Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Roberts, Arturo Sandoval, Curtis Fuller, Marcus Printup, Houston Person, Rufus Reid, Ben Tucker, James Moody, Nathan Davis, and David Baker. He is on the staff of both the University of North Florida and the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and is also the founder of the Jazz Discovery Series at The Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida.
New York pianist David Mayfield, a specialist in working with singers, trained with famed accompanists John Wustman and Martin Katz and has worked with national opera companies and students alike, honing his interpretative and teaching skills. He has conducted for the Texas Gilbert and Sullivan Company in Dallas, has performed at the Dallas and Fort Worth Operas, toured with the national company of New York City Opera, conducted for three seasons at Utah Festival Opera, and played master classes for Horst Guenther, Dominick Argento, and, at the New School, where he has been vocal coach since 1997, for Liza Minelli. David has been on staff at Manhattan School of Music since 2000 and has also coached and taught Vocal Literature and Diction at New Jersey City University since 2005. He also conducts and performs opera throughout the U.S.; he has performed Dido and Aeneas with period instruments and recently conducted The Magic Flute, directed by Met artist Anthony Laciura. David holds a Master’s in Music from the prestigious University of North Texas.
Rehearsal pianist La Boheme
First-generation Romanian-American pianist Irina Meachem coaches and accompanies as a freelance artist for many opera singers, opera companies, and classical music festivals. Ms. Meachem served as a staff pianist/coach at companies such Palm Beach Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Birmingham, Amarillo Opera, Nashville Opera, Shreveport Opera, OperaWorks, Chicago Summer Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, Bay View Music Festival, The Banff Centre, and the Interlochen Summer Arts Academy.
Irina regularly accompanies her husband, baritone Lucas Meachem, on recitals throughout Europe and the United States, most recently at the Ateneul Music Hall in Bucuresti, Romania. Earlier this summer she performed a recital with soprano Danielle De Niese at the Napa Valley Music Festival.
She earned a Master’s of Music degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor’s of Music from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Additionally, she attended the George Enescu High School of Music in Bucuresti, Romania and received an Artist Diploma Award during her training at the MacPhail Center of Music in Minneapoli
Lucas Meachem, Baritone
Role: Marcello in La Bohème
North Carolina native Lucas Meachem is an internationally sought-after performer whose compelling lyric baritone voice and dramatic interpretations have led him to the world’s most important operatic stages. Hailed by critics for his “fluent, lyrical phrasing” (San Francisco Chronicle) and for his “natural vocalism and theatricality” (Chicago Sun-Times), Meachem performs routinely in major roles in both those cities as well as at the Met, the Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Birmingham, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Kansas City, and Opera Florida, and abroad in London, Vienna, Paris, Dresden, Oslo, and Madrid. His Covent Garden performance as Aeneas in Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas was released on DVD in 2009 on the Opus Arte label. Named the 2016 winner of San Francisco Opera’s Emerging Star of the Year Award, Meachem also performs in concert halls across the country and around the world. He studied music at Appalachian State University, the Eastman School of Music, and Yale University before being named an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera and igniting his busy career.
Latte Lecture Sunday morning: The Spiritual Side of Duke
Canadian-born Menegon--arranger, sideman, bandleader, performer with the greatest jazz musicians of the era, and composer of instrumentals for quartet and quintet, songs with lyrics, big band music, music for film, music for dance, spoken word, and music for solo piano. John’s 2017 release, Blew By Blues, with his new band Quartet East, celebrates Charlie Haden and Ornette Coleman and offers six new compositions as well.
John Osborn, Tenor
Role: Rodolfo in La Bohème
American tenor John Osborn has gained international acclaim performing with leading theaters around the world--at the Met, the Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden, the Lyric of Chicago, the Berlin State Opera, L’Opéra National de Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, Geneva, and the Théâtre de la Monnaie of Brussels. Osborn has been specifically identified as a specialist in the bel canto repertoire and in French grand opera. He made a spectacular debut as Arnold in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia under Antonio Pappano in 2007, and he has since sung the role in Rome, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and in new productions at both the Dutch National Opera and Covent Garden. Other bel canto roles include Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Elvino in La Sonnambula, and the title character in Rossini’s Otello.
Louis Otey: Young Artists Program Voice Technique
In a career spanning 35 years, Louis Otey has performed most of opera’s great baritone roles in most of the world’s major theaters--from Covent Garden to Paris, Brussels to Geneva to Rome to Madrid, San Francisco to Chicago to New York’s Met. Noted for his incisive and in-depth portrayals of great roles in the Italian repertoire--Scarpia, Don Giovanni, and the Verdi canon including Rigoletto, Count di Luna, Macbeth, Germont, Forza, and Falstaff, he has also performed the four villains in Tales of Hoffmann, Jokanaan in Salome, the title role in Der Fliegende Hollander, and Escamillo in Carmen. Last season saw him jet from Hawaii for his first Tonio in I Pagliacci to Rome and London for the title role in Il Prigioniero with the orchestra of Santa Cecilia, Anthony Pappano conducting. The season also saw his returns to Covent Garden for I Due Foscari and to the Royal Danish Opera for Les Vepres Siciliennes. With his wife, Maria Todaro, whom he met when both performed in Brazil, he is a co-founder of the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice.
Joan Marie Peitscher, Mezzo Soprano
Role: Queen of France in Les Trois Mousquetaires
Hailed for her “rich sound and moving performance,” American Joan Marie Peitscher kicked off her career by winning the Young Aspiring Artist Competition at Carnegie Hall in 1997. She majored in Vocal Performance at Gordon College in Massachusetts, then further honed her skills as a Resident Artist at Palm Beach Opera, bringing her uniquely dark, colorful sound to roles in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Robert Chaul’s Alice in Wonderland, and Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. She has since graced stages across the U.S. and abroad—as Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Alma March in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, and Mrs. Trout in Peter Ash’s world premiere The Golden Ticket at New York’s American Lyric Theater. A compelling concert and oratorio soloist, Joan has sung the Verdi and Mozart Requiems and Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Messiah and performed in the world premiere of Secular Requiem: A Tribute to 9/11 in New York City. A student of legendary Met Opera mezzo Mignon Dunn, Joan was the 2007 grant recipient of the Gerda Lissner Competition.
Latte Lecture Sunday morning: The Spiritual Side of Duke
Vocalist Teri Roiger and bassist John Menegon have been collaborating musically--and personally--for more than 25 years, bringing their talent, experience, and knowledge of and passion for jazz to their live performances, original compositions, the recording studio, and their students at SUNY New Paltz, Williams College, Bard, and in master classes around the world. Their profound musicality and their inborn sense of what jazz is all about--its traditions and its ever-fresh relevance--have garnered critical acclaim and audience adulation for years. Known universally as a “vocalist extraordinaire,” Roiger brings a profound sense of phrasing to her highly personal sound. Drawn to jazz by the artistry of Billie Holiday, she pays tribute to Lady Day in her most recent album, Ghost of Yesterday, released this year, which sheds new light on that artist’s multidimensional genius. “Multidimensional” also describes
Daniel Scofield, Baritone
Role: Schaunard In La Boheme
A native of Binghamton and therefore a neighbor of the Phoenicia Festival, Daniel Scofield has been heard at a range of venues in a range of roles--from Pistola in Verdi’s Falstaff at Opera Santa Barbara to Ben in Menotti’s The Telephone at Arizona Opera, from Tonio in Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci at Opera on the Edge to Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro on the stage of the Southern Theatre, from the title role in Rigoletto with Opera in the Heights to Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor for the Southern Illinois Music Festival, and as part of the ensemble of Fidelio at Santa Fe Opera. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in Strauss’s Feuersnot with the American Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leon Botstein and has sung in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Fanciulla del West and in Massenet’s Werther. This onetime apprentice at the Seattle Opera is also known for his recitals of pieces ranging from art song to music theater. He studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Dean Southern and at Indiana University under the instruction of Timothy Noble.
Jason Slaydon, tenor
Role: Aramis, Les Trois Mousquetaires
Winner of a 2012-13 Sullivan Career Grant, tenor Jason Slayden has been celebrated for the warmth and beauty of his voice and for his “considerable subtlety” as an actor. He began his career in the 2014-1015 season at New York’s Gotham Chamber Opera, which was dedicated to producing rarely heard works, in a double bill of Bohuslav Martinů’s Alexandre Bis and Veselohra na Mostĕ (Comedy on the Bridge).The 2015-1016 season saw a number of debuts for Jason--with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, with Virginia Opera as Rodolfo in La bohème, Alfredo in a Cedar Rapids La traviata, Opera Santa Barbara as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Don Jose in Carmen for the Colorado Music Festival, and as Pinkerton with the Berkshire Opera Festival. The current season includes performances as Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra with Pacific Opera Victoria, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Annapolis Opera, Jimmy Ogle in Later the Same Evening with Opera Memphis, and Christian in Cyrano with Michigan Opera Theatre.
Vuyo Sotashe, Vocalist
The Spiritual Side of Duke
Winner of the very first Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Vocal Competition in 2014 and of the Audience Prize at the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in 2015, Vuyo Sotashe also won a Fulbright Scholarship and competed in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocal competition, becoming the first male vocalist ever to place in the finals. He has performed on such international stages as the Arcevia Jazz Fest and the Fermo Jazz Festival in Italy 2012; the Stockholm Jazz Festival with South African National Youth Jazz Band in Sweden 2012; the Cape Town International Festival with George Benson and the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra 2010; and the Johannesburg Joy of Jazz Festival 2012;. He has toured with the band Proxy in the UK and Ireland 2009-2011 and has performed with Grammy Award winning gospel artist, Israel Houghton. as part of New Breed (Africa) Ensemble. Vuyo Sotashe currently performs around New York City with drummer Winard Harper, who has performed with such jazz legends as Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, and many others.
Bradley Smoak, Bass
Role: Cardinal de Richelieu in les Trois Mousquetaires
With a voice of "rich presence and power" (Opera Today), American bass-baritone Bradley Smoak has rapidly emerged as one of opera’s most exciting and sought-after young talents. Known for his compelling presence on both the operatic and concert stages, Smoak continues to delight audiences with his “easy charismatic charm” and unique versatility across a wide variety of musical styles and theatrical characterizations. Past seasons have included a number of important debuts across the US, including with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (L’enfant et les sortileges, Pelléas et Mélisande) under the baton of renowned conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, at New York City Opera (Alice in Wonderland), Opera Omaha (The Magic Flute, Carmen, Fidelio), Annapolis Opera (La bohème), Opera Roanoke (The Pirates of Penzance). and here at Phoenicia in Rigoletto, Barber of Seville, and Otello. Currently a third-year member of the prestigious Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, Smoak has performed seven roles with Lyric Opera of Chicago since his 2014 debut in Strauss' Capriccio, when he shared the stage with the great Renee Fleming.
Barry Stephenson, Bassist
The Spiritual Side Of Duke
Florida-born Barry Stephenson began playing electric bass at 14, inadvertently signed up with the jazz band in high school, and has been a jazz acoustic and electric bassist ever since. Upon graduation from Florida State University, where he studied jazz and classical double bass, Barry moved to New Orleans and played with many of the city's notable musicians while studying for his Master's degree at the University of New Orleans under the tutelage of Roland Guerin. He joined the Glen David Andrews Band in 2011, serving as musical director on Redemption as well as appearing on several on the band's others albums. Barry joined Jon Batiste and Stay Human in 2013 and has since toured the world nonstop. He has performed at the festivals of Montreaux, Montreal, Newport, North Sea, Monterey, Umbria, and Playboy as well as Bonnaroo and Lallapalooza. A bandleader and composer in various musical genres, he was awarded the ASCAP Foundation Louis Armstrong Award in 2011 and the Svenson Composition Award in 2012. His debut jazz album, Basic Truths, features original compositions.
Lynette Tapia, Soprano
Role: Mimi in La Boheme
Bolivian-American Lynette Tapia is consistently acclaimed by journalists worldwide for the “canary-like” purity of her embellishments, for the “crystalline” quality of her coloratura passages, and for what a reviewer in the Denver Post called the “sparkle and clarity” of her voice. A 1996 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and winner of both First Place and the Public’s Choice Award in the Operalia International Voice Competition of Placido Domingo, Ms. Tapia made her European debut singing the title role in Lakmé at the Grand Theatre Municipal de Bordeaux. She has performed with the opera companies of Los Angeles, Portland, Atlanta, Colorado, Washington, the Lyric of Chicago, Arizona Opera, Santa Fe, Opera Pacific, the Opera Orchestra of New York, Netherlands Opera, and the Florentine Opera, and with such orchestras as Dallas Symphony, Washington Concert Opera, at Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Cologne Philharmonic, and the Musikverein in Vienna among others.
Brianna Thomas, Vocalist
The Spiritual Side of Duke
Born and raised in Peoria Illinois, Brianna grew up surrounded by music, guided by her father, vocalist and percussionist Charlie Thomas. Just shy of her teens, Brianna’s talents were discovered by distinguished jazz educator Mary Jo Papich, and soon thereafter, Brianna formally kicked off her career as a jazz vocalist when she toured Europe with Papich’s Peoria Jazz All-Stars. She has since performed across the country as well as in jazz festivals at Montreux, the North Sea, and Umbria. She was a resident in both the 2001 and 2002 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Programs, where she worked with a host of premier jazz educators and performers including Carmen Lundy, Winard Harper, and Nathan Davis. In her soulful sound a listener can discern the influences of the great vocalists who preceded her--Sarah Vaughn, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Dianne Reeves. But she has a talent and style all her own.
DownBeat’s 2001 "High School Jazz Vocalist of the Year," Brianna is the youngest inductee into Peoria’s African-American Hall of Fame (at thirteen!), and has been honored by the state of Illinois.
Maria Todaro is Executive director of The Phoenicia International Festival of The Voice and one of its co-founders. Born into a family of singers, she has from earliest youth been surrounded by music and arts. She has performed classical and contemporary opera, operetta, and concert works around the country and around the world--from Rosina in Barber of Seville to Valencienne in the Merry Widow to the alto lead in Mahler’s Second Symphony. Maria created the role of Elvire in the world premiere of Eric Perre’s m’as tu vu? at the Théâtre Traversière in Paris, where she also held the stage for nine months with her one-woman show, Kilunisan, which she created and directed and in which she sings 12 different operatic arias by composers ranging from Mozart to Bernstein. She is the co-author with Michelle Jennings--together, they are known as Divas Unleashed--of an explosive operatic comedy, The Benefit, and is the librettist with composer Mitchell Bach of Les Trois Mousquetaires, which has its world premiere at the 2017 Phoenicia Festival.
John Viscardi, Baritone
Role: Athos in les Trois Mousquetaires
Native New Yorker John Viscardi is a rising talent noted for the diversity of his vocal repertoire. Most recently a resident artist with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, John also performed the title role in the DiChiera-Uzan Cyrano with Michigan Opera Theatre, returned to San Luis Obispo as Marcello in La Bohème, and headed back to Kansas City to solo in Elvis Costello’s Juliet Letters and to take on the role of the Motorcycle Cop in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking--then flew to Tokyo to perform in a concert. Viscardi moves easily between such classic operatic roles as Silvio in Pagliacci and the equally classic Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate, between a concert of bel canto works conducted by Eve Queler to a performance of Vaughan Williams's Five Mystical Songs at Carnegie Hall and Orff’s Carmina Burana with Opera Philadelphia. This season, in addition to Cyrano with Opera Carolina and the role of Aramis in the world premiere Three Musketeers here in Phoenicia, Viscardi also heads to Italy for recitals in Trevi and Ortona.
Megan Weston, Soprano
Role : Constance in Les Trois Mousquetaires
The very model of a contemporary vocal artist, Megan Weston can sing, act, compose, and collaborate in just about any style from just about any period of musical history--and can do so anywhere in the world. Recognized for what the Financial Times has called her "remarkable virtuosity and charm," for what Opera Magazine dubbed her “gorgeous lyric soprano,” and for what the New York Times has described as her “strong” and “persuasive” acting, Megan first came to attention as Lightfoot McClendon in Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree with San Diego Opera, then burst onto the international scene as Lisa in La Sonnambula with the Caramoor Music Festival and the Orchestra of St. Luke's. She has performed as far afield as Bora Bora in French Polynesia and as close as Carnegie Hall. In addition to opera and concerts, Megan sings operetta and Broadway musicals and is a champion of new music, premiering works by Carlisle Floyd, Nico Muhly, Craig Lucas, Myron Fink, Harold Farberman, Arthur Kopit, Ben Moore, and many more. She has also composed for and acted in network television!
Maria Whitcomb, Soprano
Young Artist Program
A native of New York State’s beautiful Catskill Mountain region, Maria holds both an M.A. from Syracuse University’s Janklow Arts Leadership Program and a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Syracuse’s Setnor School of Music, where she studied under the tutelage of Janet Brown. An affinity for American art song runs like a theme through her career, evidenced in her having been awarded the Ernst Bacon Prize at the 40th annual Civic Morning Musicals Vocal Competition where this season, she will perform her award-winning recital, Escape from Amherst: Emily Dickinson’s Life of Freedom. Maria’s main stage debut came in the 2017 Rigoletto by Syracuse Opera, whose chorus she had graced for two prior seasons, appearing in La Cenerentola, My Fair Lady, and La Bohème. Other favorite credits include Die Fledermaus (Adele), Dido and Aeneas (Belinda), and Too Many Sopranos (Sandman)--all with Syracuse University Opera Theatre; A Celebration Service with Meredith Monk’s M6 Vocal Ensemble and Plymouth Congregational Church; and Jesus Christ Superstar at the Woodstock Playhouse.
David Wroe, Conductor
Music Director of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, a principal conductor of L’Ensemble de Region Normandie in France, and of course the Phoenicia Festival’s Principal Conductor, David Wroe had a long association with New York City Opera, leading numerous productions and performing and assisting in more than 100 presentations. He has conducted orchestras too numerous to mention and ranging from Saint Louis to Shenzen, Heidelberg to Jerusalem, the Royal Scottish and the Ensemble de Paris, and of course the Boston Symphony Orchestra where, as a young assistant to Seiji Ozawa, he led performances at both Symphony Hall and Tanglewood. Maestro Wroe was Music Director of Music on the Mountain: Garrett Lakes Arts Summer Festival in Maryland from 2000–2006, and Music Director and Founder of the Kansas City Camerata from 1990-1996. His diverse experience in cross-over conducting includes concerts with Kristin Chenoweth, Mannheim Steamrollers, The 3 Irish Tenors, Natalie Merchant, Celtic Thunder, and Mstislav Rostropovitch. David devotes considerable time to musical education and has led university orchestras at Brown, New York University, and Montclair State University.