as Gianni Schicchi (Gianni Schicchi)
and Michele (Il Tabarro)
David Murray’s rich baritone voice, dramatic presence, and versatility as a performer has brought him acclaim from critics and audiences throughout the world. Recognized for his steady lyric tone Mr. Murray has triumphed in many of the great operatic roles including: Figaro in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata, Eisenstein in J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Equally at home on the concert stage, David has performed with the Boston Pops, Keith Lockhart and John Williams conducting, The Handel & Haydn Society, The Tokyo Philharmonic, The Telemann Orchestra of Japan, The New Japan Philharmonic, The Boston Academy of Music (Opera Boston), Theatre Lyrique d’Europe, Chorus proMusica, Boston Lyric Opera, Back Bay Chorale, as well as leading roles with Lake George Opera, Central City Opera, Eugene Opera, and Connecticut Concert Opera. Upcoming engagements include Soloist in Bach’s B minor Mass with the Annapolis Chorale, and Michele in Puccini’s Il Tabarro, and Gianni in Gianni Schicchi with the Baltimore Concert Opera.
Elizabeth Brooks as Georgette (Il Tabarro) and Suor Angelica (Suor Angelica)
Ms. Brooks received her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2000. There she studied with Charles Lynam and performed in the ensembles of the opera productions each year. Ms. Brooks received her Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in 2002. There she studied with renowned soprano, Ashley Putnam. While at Eastman, Ms. Brooks performed the title roles in Barber’s Vanessa (scenes) and Puccini’s Suor Angelica. She also performed the role of Musetta in Puccini’s La boheme. Ms. Brooks has participated in many Young Artist Programs such at the Seagle Music Colony, Aspen Music Institute, Opera Colorado Outreach Ensemble, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Utah Festival Opera. Her favorite roles include Helena from Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Donna Anna from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Desdemona from Verdi’s Otello, and the Witch in Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel. Ms. Brooks covered the role of Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and performed the role of Nimue in Camelot with the Utah Festival Opera in 2009. In her second season with Utah Festival Opera, Ms. Brooks was seen as Annina in La Traviata and Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music. Ms. Brooks also won the Michael Ballam International Vocal Competition, resulting in competing in another competition in Alexandria, Italy. In the summer of 2011, Ms. Brooks participated in the AIMS in Graz singing program in Graz, Austria. There, she was a selected soloist in the Voices of Summer concert series and an Honorable Mention in the Meistersinger competition.
Ms. Brooks currently resides in New York City and studies with Mark Oswald.
Sharin Apostoulou as Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) and Suor Genoveffa (Suor Angelica)
Praised by Opera News for singing with “eloquence and shining focus,” New Jersey native Sharin Apostolou begins the 2011-2012 season as Alinda in Cavalli’s Giasone with Opera Omnia at Le Poisson Rouge, debuts her first Susanna in a condensed Le nozze di Figaro as part of the Bryant Park Fall Festival, covers Fortuna in Mozart’s early gem Il Sogno di Scipione with Gotham Chamber Opera, performs Alison in Holst’s The Wandering Scholar with the Little Opera Theatre of New York, returns to the Caramoor Festival as Argene in Rossini’s Ciro in Babilonia, and joins the Baltimore Concert Opera for Il Trittico; performing Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Suor Genoveffa in Suor Angelica. Last season she was seen as Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with the Macao International Music Festival, returned to Portland Opera as Fire, Nightingale, and Princess in L’Enfant et les sortileges; and made debuts with Utah Opera as Nannetta in Falstaff, at Avery Fisher Hall as the soprano soloist in Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, Mozart Requiem, and Messiah; and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in an all baroque program with Susan Graham. Ms. Apostolou is a graduate of the Portland Opera Studio, where she sang the titles roles in Rodelinda and La Calisto, Ms. Wordsworth in Albert Herring, Frasquita in Carmen, Clorinda in La Cenerentola, Annina in La Traviata, and Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto. Other roles include Gilda in Rigoletto, Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Romilda in Serse, Musetta in La boheme, Marzelline in Fidelio, Noemie in Cendrillon and the Governess in The Turn of the Screw. Ms. Apostolou has also appeared with the Portland Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bremen Philharmoniker, Portland Chamber Orchestra, American Opera Projects, and Bel Canto at Caramoor. She holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music and Carnegie Mellon University.
Ben Hilgert as Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi) and Tinca (Il Tabarro)
Ben Hilgert recently joined the US Army Field Band as a featured soloist with the Soldier’s Chorus. In his first year with the Field Band he has performed in over 30 states, the highlight of which has been singing with the Soldier’s Chorus on the nationally broadcast July 4th concert with the Boston Pops.
After completing an apprenticeship with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in 2009, Ben spent a season in Germany performing with Theater Görlitz. Other recent credits include Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte at Cedar Rapids Opera Theater, Ernesto in Don Pasquale with Kansas City Civic Opera, and Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Prince Charming in Massenet’s Cendrillon at the Aspen Music Festival.
Ben has performed with many other festivals and opera companies including Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, and Indianapolis Opera. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Indianapolis and a master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Tom McNichols as Talpa (Il Tabarro) and Simone (Gianni Schicchi)
Described by the NY Times as an “oceanic bass” Tom McNichols continues to garner praise for work ranging from internationally acclaimed premiers with original cast recordings to standard concert repertoire. In the last 10 years, his voice has been heard on five continents in live performance, live and recorded radio broadcasts and eleven studio recordings. Highlighted performances include the narration of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with the Boston Pops, International premieres of new operatic works, full time touring in the acclaimed ensemble CANTUS as well as a yet to be released film adaptation of La Boheme and features on the Gotham/Naxos release of In Parasdisum with the South Dakota Chorale and the original cast recording of Death and the Powers.
Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte has proven a signature role, sung with Opera Grand Rapids, Boheme Opera and Opera Omaha in just a 12 month period of 2012/2013.
Tom holds a BA in Theater Performance from The State university of NY-Plattsburgh and MM from The Peabody Institute at The Johns Hopkins University. He resides in NYC where he studies with Michael Paul and is proud to claim the great British Baritones Norman Baily and John Shirley Quirk as his mentors during his studies. All of his recorded work is available on iTunes.
Madeleine Gray as La Frugola (Il Tabarro) and La Zelatrice (Suor Angelica)
Madeleine Gray, mezzo soprano, was born in New York, but for many years made her home in the United Kingdom, where she studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Northern College of Music.
Recent US performances include Aurelia in The Chocolate Soldier at the Bard Festival in New York, The Witch (Hansel and Gretel) with Opera on the James, Katisha (Mikado) and Marcellina (le Nozze di Figaro) with Annapolis Opera, Mama Lucia (Cavalleria Rusticana) for Washington National Opera and Toledo Opera and Emilia (Otello) with Opera Roanoke. A regular performer in the Baltimore/Washington area, she has recently been heard as mezzo soloist in the Verdi Requiem with the Annapolis Chorale, and Marcellina (le Nozze di Figaro) with the new Lyric Opera Baltimore in its successful inaugural season. She performed many times with the former Baltimore Opera, where her roles included, among many others, Berta (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Baba (The Medium), Marcellina (le Nozze di Figaro) and Anna (Maria Stuarda).
Concert appearances include mezzo soloist in Beethoven’s (9th Symphony) with the York Symphony and Quad City (Iowa) Symphony orchestras, her Avery Fisher Hall debut as alto soloist in (Messiah) with the National Chorale, alto soloist in (Messiah) with the Annapolis Chorale, and a return to the National Cathedral Choral Society as mezzo soloist in the Mozart (Requiem). She and her husband, musician, writer and lecturer Bill Scanlan Murphy, recently collaborated on the words and music program, “Telltale Hearts and Twilight Fancies: music inspired by the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe”.
Laura Zuiderveen as La Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica)
Laura Zuiderveen, mezzo-soprano, makes her debut with Baltimore Concert Opera as La Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica.
Earlier this month, Ms. Zuiderveen was the alto soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with New Dominion Chorale. She was also their alto soloist in Liszt’s Christus and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.
A favorite of Maestro Norman Scribner of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, he specifically selected Ms. Zuiderveen last November to perform Prokofiev’s The Field of the Dead from Alexander Nevsky in Choral Arts’ Homage to Modern Classics. She also was their alto soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, Choral Music 101, and Rachmaninoff’s Vespers.
Last spring, Ms. Zuiderveen sang Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with the Charlottesville University and Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Zuiderveen has performed the critically acclaimed roles of Aunt Cecilia March in Adamo’s Little Women, Madame de la Haltière in Massenet’s Cendrillon, and La Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with Summer Opera Theatre, and Katisha in Mikado with the Washington Savoyards.
She sang with Washington Concert Opera as Frugola and Mamma Lucia in Il Tabarro and Cavalleria Rusticana.
Laura Zuiderveen received first prize in the Wagner division of the Liederkranz Foundation annual vocal competition in 2000. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University.
Kevin Wetzel as Marco (Gianni Schicchi)
From Calabasas, CA, Kevin earned his BA at Westmont College and both his MM and GPD at Peabody Conservatory. Known for his “sturdy, warm-voiced baritone” and “admirably finished product” (Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun), Kevin’s appearances include Wagner in Faust with Lyric Opera Baltimore; Escamillo in Carmen with Sarasota Opera; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and Renato in Un ballo in maschera, with Opera in the Heights; Samuel in Pirates of Penzance, Morales and Le Dancaïre in Carmen, the Mandarin in Turandot, and Montano in Otello, with Arizona Opera; Assan in The Consul, and the Commissionario in La traviata, with Glimmerglass Opera; and the Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly with Baltimore Opera Company, among others.
Melissa Kornacki as The Abbess (Suor Angelica) and Zita (Gianni Schicchi)
Melissa Kornacki, American Mezzo-Soprano, is a native of the Washington DC area and has performed widely across the United States and abroad. Highlights include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony both at Avery Fischer Hall, New York and the Grand Auditorium in Ocean Grove, New Jersey; Live recording by AMP of Handel’s Messiah; 2007 international debut in the United Arab Emirates performing the role of Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti; and participation in two world premieres covering the role of Orfeo in a new adaptation by Five Words in a Line entitled, Orfeo, Eurydice and The Serpent in New York City, and performing the role of Sage2/Dr.Greene in composer Kyle Gullings’s new opera, Oblivion. Opera credits include Gertrude (Romeo et Juliet), Third Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Mrs. Page (Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Hansel (Hansel und Gretel), Dorabella (Cosi Fan Tutte), Augusta (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Charlotte (Werther), Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Dinah (Trouble in Tahiti), Anita (West Side Story), La Ciesca (Gianni Schichi), and the title roles in Giulio Cesare and Carmen. Ms. Kornacki currently performs with the Lyric Opera of Baltimore chorus, was a featured artist for the 2011-2012 season with the Concert Artists of Baltimore, and in June will begin the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Emerging Artist Program for Opera New Jersey covering the role of Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore.
Timothy Kjer as Betto (Gianni Schicchi)
Bass Timothy Kjer has performed with many leading music organizations in the Baltimore-Washington area including Annapolis Opera, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Baltimore Opera, Concert Artists of Baltimore, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Washington Summer Opera, Washington National Opera, Washington Concert Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and Young Victorian Theatre.
Operatic roles include Bartolo (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Taddeo (L’Italiana in Algeri), Sacristan & Angelotti (Tosca), Skeeter/Simone (The Tale of Johnny S. Kickey/Gianni Schicchi), Doctor Grenvil (La Traviata), Prince Yamadori (Madama Butterfly), Lodovico & Montano (Otello), Giuseppe (The Gondoliers), Usher & Counsel (Trial by Jury), Dick Deadeye (H.M.S. Pinafore), Notary (The Sorcerer), and Sergeant (The Pirates of Penzance).
James Harp Chorus Master and Pianist
James Harp is well known in the Baltimore area as a pianist, organist, stage director, singer, composer, lecturer, writer and conductor. He began his musical career at age 7 as a church soloist, and has concertized in Italy, France, Greece, Israel, the Bahamas, and extensively throughout his native Southern United States. Among his more unusual musical experiences include singing “My Old Kentucky Home” as a soloist on National Television at the 1981 Kentucky Derby, coaching Lily Tomlin in arias from Aida for an Emmy-nominated “Homicide” segment, and nearly drowning after falling backwards into the Sea of Galilee while conducting madrigals.
He is the Artistic Director of Lyric Opera Baltimore, a new grand opera company for Baltimore being supported by the Lyric Opera House, where he oversees opera productions in the theatre as well as directs a significant program of education/outreach programs. He is also heavily involved in pursuing and nurturing partnerships and collaborations with arts organizations both locally and nationally in order to sustain the art forms of opera and music for perpetuity.
He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He was the Artistic Administrator of the Baltimore Opera Company beginning in 1989 and was the Chorus Master since 1993. Since 1983 he has served as organist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and since 1987 has been the Cantor (Organist/Choirmaster) for Baltimore’s historic St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, where he also serves as Artistic Director of the St. Cecilia Society Concert Series. He formerly served as Music Director of the Baltimore Men’s Chorus from 1989-1995 and was the accompanist for the Baltimore Symphony Chorus from 1982-1999. He is very proud to be the Principal Accompanist and Chorus Master for Baltimore Concert Opera since Spring of 2009.
Knowledgeable in many areas of music, he has lectured extensively on opera in many venues, including the Towson Arts Festival, the Maryland Opera Society, the Biblical Archaeology Society, and the Joy of Opera Series. He is on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Continuing Education. Successful as a writer of operatic children’s programs, he and his work Puppets & Pagliacci were featured on a PBS documentary. His reworking and staging of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, changed from Florence, Italy in 1299 to Florence, Alabama, in 1929 and retitled The Tale of Johnnie S. Kickey, has been well received and performed in several regional opera companies and universities. He has served on several national advisory boards as a consultant and advocate for arts agencies.
As a stage director he has directed many operas for Artscape, Baltimore’s summer festival of the arts, including The Medum, Too Many Sopranos, Slow Dusk, and Beauty and the Beast. He has directed The Sorcerer, HMS Pinafore, The Gondoliers, Iolanthe and The Pirates of Penzance with the Young Victorian Opera Company. He has also staged operas at Anne Arundel Community College, where his version of The Elixer of Love, transplanted to Tennessee during Prohibition, was well received, as well as his productions of The Magic Flute and Die Fledermaus.
Sought after as an orchestral musician and accompanist, he has been featured as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in works ranging from Saint-Saens Organ Symphony to Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. He has appeared as continuo (harpsichord/organ) soloist with many local orchestral and choral groups, where his informed and histrionic realizations of baroque figured bass have won acclaim. Accompanist to many local singers, many of whom feature his own compositions, he has also accompanied such artists as Leontyne Price, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Licia Albanese, Anna Moffo, Chris Merritt, Lucine Amara, and Paul Plishka.
An aficionado of gardening, theology, genealogy and all things Victorian, he lives in the Bolton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore with his three gregarious pugs, Vivian, Jewell, and Woodrow.