Victoria Cannizzo, Leonora
Rising soprano Victoria Cannizzo was recently praised for her “complex” and “absolutely exquisite” portrayal of Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Tri-Cities Opera. A 2012 scholarship recipient at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel, Ms. Cannizzo covered the role of Rosalinde in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. She also appeared as Donna Elvira in scenes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and as Violetta in excerpts from Verdi’s La Traviata. Her January 2011 performance of the full role was hailed as “a mark of artistry…strikingly beautiful, Cannizzo captured the genesis of Violetta’s hopeful but tragic circumstance – to love and to be loved.”
Ms. Cannizzo was the 2011 winner of the St. Bonaventure Prize from the Liederkranz Foundation in New York, where she appeared at the Winner’s Concert in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. The following May, she was one of two singers from New York chosen to advance to Vienna, Austria to compete in the prestigious Hans Gabor Belvedere International Singing Competition. Ms. Cannizzo remained in Europe, and in July 2011 was awarded two Young Artist Scholarships from Raina Kabaivanska and Renato Bruson for her participation in their master classes at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. She was subsequently awarded a grant from the Raina Kabaivanska Fund and the America for Bulgaria Foundation, and made her European concert debut at the Sofia National Opera and Ballet Theater in Bulgaria in August 2011.
Ms. Cannizzo regularly performs throughout her native New Jersey with the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea, as well as in recital with Jane Steele. She has performed the roles of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, Liù in Turandot, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, and Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. Other awards received include a 2010 Encouragement Award from the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, which was renewed the following year, and the 2009 Rising Star Scholarship from the St. Cecilia Foundation. Ms. Cannizzo holds a Master of Music in Opera from Binghamton University/Tri-Cities Opera, and a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Chicago.
Kirk Dougherty, Manrico
Tenor Kirk Dougherty has a thriving career in concert and opera. Opera Magazine (UK), Operapulse.com, and Opera News describe his voice as a “tenor on the rise”, “an “exceptionally beautiful tenor”, and a “limitless, iridescent instrument”. He performs with a number of renowned musical organizations, including the Castleton Festival, Sarasota Opera, Anchorage Opera, OperaDelaware, Opera Naples, as well as many others.
During the 2013-2014 season at Sarasota Opera, OperaDelaware, and Baltimore Concert Opera, Kirk Dougherty sings the role of Manrico in Il Trovatore. He sings the role of Luigi in Puccini’s Il Tabarro at the Buck Hill-Skytop Festival and the North Shore Music Festival. He returns to Anchorage Opera as Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and also to Teatro Grattacielo in a rare concert performance of Franco Alfano’s opera, Sakuntala.
He appears as a concert soloist: at American Symphony Orchestra in Max Bruch’s Moses, and; at Glacier Symphony’s two performances of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde; at the Helena Symphony’s ‘Viva Verdi’ gala event; at Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s Elijah. At the 2013 Castleton Festival, he appeared in three different roles: as the bartender Nick in Puccini’s Fanciulla del West, and as both Cassio and Otello in various performances of Verdi’s Otello.
Kirk Dougherty is from Sleepy Hollow, NY. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. He began his operatic training as a festival artist at Utah Festival Opera and as an apprentice artist at Central City Opera. He lives in New York City with his wife, mezzo-soprano Cabiria Jacobsen.
Lauren Curnow, Azucena
Upcoming engagements for the 2013-2014 year include performing a song cycle entitled “She Sings,” written by Dr. Douglas Ovens, composer, as part of the concert “Love Songs and Other Wonders” at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Lauren will be making her Boston area debut in May as soloist with the Concord Women’s Chorus in a concert honoring women composers. In June, Ms. Curnow will be joining the members of Chicago’s Second City to participate in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s highly successful production of “The Second City Guide to the Opera.” Lauren will also be debuting the role of Amneris in Aida alongside acclaimed singers Jennifer Check and Noah Stuart as part of the Berks Opera Workshop season in August of 2013. This fall finds Ms. Curnow making her Los Angeles, CA debut, where she will be performing the role of Telli in Arshin Mal Alan, or “The Cloth Peddler,” a one hundred year old operetta from the country of Azerbaijan. In the spring of 2014, Lauren will be making another role debut, Azucena, in Baltimore Concert Opera’s concert version of Verdi’s masterpiece, Il Trovatore.
Recent engagements included singing the role of Kate Pinkerton in the Saito-Kinen Festival’s production of Madama Butterfly, which was performed in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kyoto, Japan, conducted by Pierre Vallet and overseen by Maestro Seiji Ozawa. Ms. Curnow also made her role debut as Little Buttercup in Muhlenberg Summer Theater’s 2012 production of H.M.S. Pinafore. In the fall of 2011, she was soloist in a world premiere concert of Luxembourgian composer Victor Fenigstein’s musical settings of the sonnets of William Shakespeare, which was a co-production of departments of music and languages at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.
In 2010, Ms. Curnow was heard singing the role of Marcellina in The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro, which included such notable artists as Joyce DiDonato, Mariusz Kwiecien, Nicole Cabell and Danielle De Niese. The 2009 season found Ms. Curnow travelling to Venice, Italy in 2009 to perform the Folksongs of Luciano Berio in the Teatro Malibran of La Fenice, under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis. She also had the privilege of singing the role of the Fox in Leos Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy, in a production directed by Laurent Pelly and conducted by Maestro Seiji Ozawa. Ms. Curnow also sang the role of the Fox for the premiere of the Pelly/Ozawa production in 2008 for the Saito-Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan. She debuted the role of the Fox with The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production in 2004, which was conducted by Sir Andrew Davis and directed by Chas Rader-Shieber.
Past operatic engagements have included performing the roles of Elle in La Voix Humaine with the Wexford Festival Opera in Wexford, Ireland, Hansel in Hansel und Gretel with Opera Philadelphia, Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Papagena in Die Zauberflote with The Lyric Opera of Chicago and Donna Elvira in Austin Lyric Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. Ms. Curnow has also appeared with The Opera Theater of St. Louis, The Santa Fe Opera and The Wolftrap Opera.
Lauren is a graduate of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, an apprentice program for opera singers at The Lyric Opera of Chicago. During her time with The Lyric Opera of Chicago, Ms. Curnow was fortunate to sing alongside and understudy many world renown opera stars, including Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Florez, John Osborn, Susan Graham, Nuccia Focile, Natalie Dessay, Vesselina Casserova, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Nathan Gunn and Allesandro Corbelli.
She holds masters degrees in Music and Opera Performance from The Juilliard School and The Curtis Institute of Music, respectively, and has also earned a Bachelor of Arts from Muhlenberg College in Theater Arts and English.
Lauren is the winner of the Edith Newfield Scholarship from the Musicians Club of Women in Chicago, the Rose M. Grundman First Place Award of the Union League Civic Arts Foundation in Chicago, and received a Special Judge’s Award, District Level, from the Metropolitan Opera National Council. She is also the recipient of grants for the arts from the Anna Sosenko Trust Fund and the Rader-Shieber Foundation.
Ms. Curnow currently serves on the music faculty of her alma mater, Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, PA.
Timothy Mix, Count di Luna
Recipient of a 2008 Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant, Timothy Mix is recognized for the beauty of his voice and his compelling stage presence. He received critical acclaim for his pivotal role as Edward Gaines in the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison’s Margaret Garner, in a new production by Tazewell Thompson, for which the American baritone received New York City Opera’s 2008 Christopher Keene Award.
The 2008/09 season features a pair of notable house debuts: at Dallas Opera as the Duke of Nottingham in the Stephen Lawless production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereaux, conducted by Graeme Jenkins, and at Michigan Opera Theatre as Edward Gaines in Kenny Leon’s production of Margaret Garner. Mr. Mix also takes on the role of Marcello in La Bohème at both Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Palm Beach Opera. His concert calendar includes Fauré’s Requiem with the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Beethoven’s Mass in C and Dvorák’s Te Deum with Voices of Ascension.
During the 2007/08 season, Timothy Mix made his debut at the Boston Lyric Opera as Marcello in La Bohème, and sang Ford in New York City Opera’s Falstaff. He also performed principal roles in two recent American operas: the aforementioned Margaret Garner, and Clayton McAllister in the Atlanta Opera production of Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree.
Matthew Curran, Ferrando
Praised for his powerfully engaging stage presence, his true bass voice of rare beauty, and the musicianship and artistry for great affect in a wide range of repertoire, Matthew Curran is an outstanding and sought after talent. Whether in concert, standard opera roles such asSarastro, Raimondo, Figaro, Colline, Frère Laurent, Daland, Sparafucile and Gremin, or in modern works like Britten’s Gloriana, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Rape of Lucretia, Hagen’s Shining Brow, Lieberman’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Tarik O’Regan’sHeart of Darkness, and Christopher Berg’s Cymbeline, his performances draw wide praise. Critics have described him as having “the voice of a poet,” and a sound “that is confident and comes with a twinkle.” “Elegantly and powerfully, the bass stole the spotlight.” “Curran sang and looked like a God.”
The current season includes debuts and return engagements. Making his Wagner debut, he sings Daland in Der Fliegender Holländer under the baton of Steven White with Opera Roanoke. He will debut with Opera Memphis as Colline in La Bohème in the fall and return in the spring as Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia. In concert, for a second consecutive year he will join the Long Island Choral Society for Handel’s Messiah and return to the Jacksonville Symphony to reprise the famous Ode to Joy in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and singLodovico in Verdi’s Otello conducted by Fabio Mechetti in his final opera as music director. In the spring, he makes his Hawaii Opera Theatre debut as Angelotti in Tosca.
Last season he debuted with the Saint Louis Symphony as Sarastro in a family performance of The Magic Flute. The role of Colline in La Bohème brought him to both Opera Grand Rapids and Jacksonville Symphony, where he later returned as Bass Soloist in Beethoven’sSymphony No. 9. In Lucia di Lammermoor with Baltimore Concert Opera, “Matthew Curran, as Raimondo, summoned a rich, smooth sound and shaped the music with stylish power,” wrote Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun. He also appeared as Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figarowith El Paso Opera, Masetto in Don Giovanni with the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice, Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata with Lyric Opera of Virginia, and sang in Duluth Festival Opera’s Night at the Opera. The season was capped off by creating the role of Helmut Langeschlangein the new opera by Gordon Beeferman, The Enchanted Organ: A Porn Opera.
Other notable credits include appearances with Atlanta Opera as Colline in La Bohème, Seattle Opera as Zaretzky in Eugene Onegin, Skagit Opera as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, New York City Opera, covering the role of Inspector Watts in Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon and also singing in a number of new works over the years as part of their Vox Opera Lab Concerts. He has performed Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette, Don Alfonso in Cosi Fan Tutte, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, andPistola in Falstaff for Opera New Jersey. He sang Mat of the Mint in The Beggar’s Opera with the Castleton Festival in performances conducted by Lorin Maazel. Concert appearances include Symphony Silicon Valley as soloist in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, American Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, La Chef de la Flotte in Bérénice at Carnegie Hall, and Penvald in Fervaal by Vincent D’Indy at Avery Fisher Hall, and highly praised interpretations of the bass solos from Handel’s Messiah with the Garden State Philharmonic and others.
An eager performer and advocate of new works, Mr. Curran was particularly honored to be chosen by composer Daron Hagen to sing Edwin Cheney in Shining Brow, which was recorded live with the Buffalo Philharmonic under JoAnn Falletta and released on the Naxos label. He sang Basil in Lowell Lieberman’s The Picture of Dorian Gray with Center City Opera Theater and has also enjoyed a long association with American Opera Projects, appearing in numerous works in development as well as being a resident singer for their Composer and The Voice workshop for three seasons.
A cum laude graduate of the Loyola University New Orleans School of Music, he received his Master’s degree at the prestigious Indiana University School of Music where he worked with notable conductors Imre Palló and David Effron as Count Waldner in Arabella and theDoctor in Wozzeck. He subsequently joined Seattle Opera’s young artist program where he sang Colline in La Bohème, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola and Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin on the main stage. Following Seattle he furthered his training at the International Opera Studio in Zurich, where he sang Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Macrobio in Rossini’s La Pietra del Paragone, and Max Hammer in Der Musikfeind along with numerous smaller roles on the main stage along side many of the world’s top names. He has performed with Seattle Opera, Zürich Opera, Opera New Jersey, New Orleans Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Chautauqua Opera, Central City Opera, El Paso Opera, Skagit Opera, Washington East Opera, and Opera Company of Brooklyn, among others.
Heather Kniotek-DeSimone, Ines
Heather Kniotek-DeSimone has sung to critical acclaim, “melting minds and hearts with appropriate power” and “enticing with her luminosity,” according to German reviews in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Münchner Merkur while singing with the Elysium- Between Two Continents Academy and Festival. A Baltimore transplant, and New York native, Ms. Kniotek DeSimone received her undergraduate degree in Classical Voice from the State University of New York, Purchase College Conservatory of Music, and her Masters of Music from the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University where she was awarded merit based scholarships and the Charles M. Eaton Memorial Voice Award. Heather is equally at home performing concert, oratorio, and opera repertoire, as well as liturgical works as Soprano soloist at Catonsville United Methodist Church. Ms. Kniotek DeSimone was hailed as a “rich, warm soprano [that] was agile and positively sparkling on top” (The Baltimore Examiner), as Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Baltimore Concert Opera. Her additional opera credits include Giovanna in Rigoletto with Baltimore Opera Theatre, Spirit of Antonia’s Mother in Les contes d’Hoffman, with the Peabody Opera Theater, Mimi in La Boheme with the Peabody Conductors Orchestra Project, and The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Purchase Concert Opera. Ms. Kniotek DeSimone is a recitalist at heart with a passion for Art Song and works of the Verismo and Romantic period. She is delighted to be singing with the wonderful Baltimore Concert Opera once again.
William Clark, Ruiz
Tenor, William Clark, has received acclaim in opera, oratorio and sacred music. His operatic appearances include the Dicapo Opera Theater, the Baltimore Opera Company, Opera Roanoke, and South Carolina’s Columbia Lyric Opera. His lyric tenor repertoire includes the standard Mozart roles of Tamino, Belmonte, and Don Ottavio as well as the love struck Camille de Rossillon from the Merry Widow and equally love struck Fenton from Verdi’s Falstaff. Notably, Mr. Clark premiered the heroic title role from the opera Blake by celebrated African-American composer, Leslie Adams here in Baltimore. Audiences in Baltimore also heard Mr. Clark perform at ArtScape as William Grant Stillin the production She Never Lost a Passenger, directed by James Harp.
His concert and oratorio appearances include performances at the Salisbury and Gloucester Cathedrals, the Washington Bach Consort, as well as the tenor soloist in Joseph Parry’s oratorio “Emmanuel,” with Cor Rehoboth in both Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Cardiff, Wales.
Mr. Clark continues receiving much praise for his concerts featuring Negro Spirituals and songs by African American composers.
Giovanni Reggioli, Conductor
Elegant phrasing, eloquent, intense, disciplined, incandescent are but a few of the words used to describe the music-making of internationally acclaimed conductor Giovanni Reggioli. Recent highlights include performances of Manon with Ópera de Colombia, Falstaff in Caracas, Aida at Rome’s famed Baths of Caracalla, Il Trovatore with the Minnesota Opera, Le Nozze di Figaro with the Manhattan School of Music, performances of Madama Butterfly and Un ballo in maschera for the Opéra de Québec, Il barbiere di Siviglia for PortOpera and opera galas Bravissimo! in Toronto and the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s Black & White in Ottawa. A perennial favorite with Australian audiences, Giovanni has lead performances of Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Falstaff, La Traviata, Otello, Nabucco, La Boheme, and Turandot. During his long association with the Washington National Opera, he has conducted I Vespri Sicilani, Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Samson et Dalila, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Bluebeard’s Castle and Gianni Schicchi. Giovanni is a dedicated and highly sought after vocal coach, working with artists at the New York City Opera, Juilliard Opera Center, the Maggio Musicale in Florence, the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo, the Barga Opera Festival, and the Settimana Musicale Senese in Siena.
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.