Grant Youngblood as Macbeth
Hailed as a tall, dashing baritone “with a robust sound with ringing top notes,” Grant Youngblood’s many orchestral appearances have garnered enthusiastic praise for his “smooth lyric baritone voice bringing beautiful shading and color to the score.”
Recent engagements for Mr. Youngblood include a Metropolitan Opera debut & telecast in their recent production of Strauss’ Capriccio, a debut with Opera North in the role of Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and a company debut at the Nashville opera in his signature role of Giorgio Germont inLa traviata. Upcoming performances will include a return to Sugar Creek Symphony & Song in Illinois for a production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and a return to the Harrisburg Symphony for concert performances of La traviata.
Having performed leading roles with opera companies in America & internationally, Mr. Youngblood made his international concert debut with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in the 1999 Liturgica Festival. He has performed Reynard, Mass, Requiem Canticles, and Canticum Sacrum for a Stravinsky Festival mounted by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; and he has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in concert performances of Copland’s Old American Songs under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Opera-in-concert appearances have included Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Buffalo Philharmonic, as well as Ruggiero in Halevy’s La Juivewith Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall.
Recent concert highlights have included Handel’s Messiah with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Duke University Chapel Choir, and the Delaware Symphony; Carmina Burana with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Charleston Symphony, and the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra; the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Princeton University Concert Choir; Copland’s Old American Songs with the Delaware Symphony; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall; the Mozart Requiem with the Master Chorale of Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center, and with the Phoenix Symphony under the baton of Robert Moody; the Brahms Requiem with the Boise Philharmonic, and the Anchorage Symphony; Mahler’s Symphony #8 with the Grand Rapids Symphony; Britten’s War Requiem with the North Carolina Master Chorale; and Opera Gala concerts with Orlando Opera, L’Opéra de Montréal, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Sugar Creek Symphony & Song.
Mr. Youngblood’s orchestral repertoire includes major works of Bach, Barber, Beethoven, Brahms, Copland, Duruflé, Fauré, Gounod, Handel, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Orff, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Stravinsky, and Vaughan Williams. Additional concert engagements have included appearances with the Dallas Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Florida Philharmonic, the Chautauqua Symphony, the Louisville Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, and the Bucharest Philharmonic, among others. Mr. Youngblood has been praised as well for his exceptionally expressive artistry in recital, with appearances throughout the United States.
Francesca Mondanaro as Lady Macbeth
Francesca Mondanaro’s recent performances as Abigaille in Taconic Opera’s Nabucco drew lavish and extensive praise from international webmagazine Musicalcriticism.com:
“[Mondanaro’s] could well be the best interpretation of Abigaille I have ever heard live or on record, one that compares favorably with Maria Callas’s and Marisa Galvany’s, to name two…Mondanaro’s voice conjures up shades of a kind of Verdi soprano that has seemingly all but vanished…The voice is unforgettable – voluminous, lush, and beautiful, with a contralto-like darkness and an attractive vibrato. Chest notes were powerful and incisive, and the role’s perilous leaps were nailed without the smallest hesitancy or misstep in intonation…truly an exceptional performance that will not soon be forgotten by those lucky enough to experience it.”
A specialist in Verdi and heavier bel-canto repertoire, Mondanaro’s past engagements have also included Lady Macbeth with the Taconic Opera and the Sarasota Opera, and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with New Jersey Verismo Opera and the Baltimore Concert Opera. Ms. Mondanaro’s engagements during the 2008-09 season included covering the title role in Norma for Baltimore Opera under Maestro Christian Badea, a role she also sang for the Calvary Concert Series of New York and for the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. She has performed the title role of Anna Bolena for both the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Concert Series and Tel Aviv’s International Vocal Arts Institute, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Baltimore Concert Opera. Besides singing her first Abigaille, 2012 also saw her as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel at Boheme Opera New Jersey. For the 2012-13 season and beyond, she will add the roles of Margherita/Elena in Mefistofele as well as Leonora in Il Trovatore to her growing repertoire.
She created the role of Clara in the world premiere of The Sandman by Thomas Cabaniss, Music-Animateur of the Philadelphia Orchestra and sang in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award winning play Masterclass at the Beam Music Center in Las Vegas, and at the Edward Albee Theater Conference in Valdez, for an audience which included August Wilson, John Guare, and Edward Albee. Additionally, Ms. Mondanaro has sung leading roles with such companies as the Anchorage Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Skylight Opera Theatre, and Spontini Festival in Italy.
Mondanaro has broad experience with recital, vocal and sacred music. She was featured as the soprano soloist in the Verdi Requiem with the Southwest Florida Symphony, and made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New England Symphonium as the soloist for Schubert’s Mass in G and Haydn’s Orgelmesse. She performed Mozart’s Bella Mia Fiamma for the Bach Society of New York.
Notable recital and concert appearances include a tribute to Maria Callas with stage director Fabrizio Melano for Baltimore’s Artscape Music Festival; Mondanaro co-starred in a Bel Canto Heroines recital at the Argentine Consulate in New York City (for which she sang a demanding program of the final scenes of Anna Bolena and Roberto Devereux, and excerpts from Norma). In 2012, Mondanaro starred in a sold-out lecture/concert, Masterly Singing: Power Behind the Throne: Creating Lady Macbeth for the Metropolitan Opera Guild. An avid student of vocal heritage, Ms. Mondanaro has been invited to be the featured soloist in a planned 2013 recital tribute to the career of soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, which will include arias not heard since the 19th century.
Mondanaro has been the recipient of many awards, including a grant from the prestigious Amadeus Fund in 2005. She was a finalist in the Licia Albanese Puccini Festival, and a winner of the Career Bridges Foundation Competition in 2006. Additionally, she was a grant winner from the Olga Forrai Foundation, and a prize winner of the Silverman Prize at the International Vocal Academy of Israel, the Anna Maria-Saritelli-diPanni Bel Canto Competition, the Metropolitan Opera Northwest Council Scholarship Award, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (district), the Stanley L. Richman Award at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Five Towns Music and Art Competition, and the NFAA Arts Competition.
Tom McNichols as Banquo
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.
Thomas Booth as Macduff
Internationally acclaimed tenor Thomas Booth has performed widely in opera and concert around the United States and throughout Europe and other parts of the World. His principal vocal training was at the Juilliard School in New York with Russian Bass Alexander Kipnis and also privately with Metropolitan Opera tenors James King and John Alexander. He holds his Masters in Voice and Opera Performance form Northwestern International University in Denmark and his Bachelors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Under management with Columbia Artists and later ICM Artists Ltd., Mr. Booth sang with the Metropolitan Opera in Principal and Leading Roles for nine seasons and sang for five seasons with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and also with the New York City Opera. He has performed across the United States in most every state and in New Orleans, Miami, Memphis, Seattle, Dallas, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Portland (Maine and Oregon), Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Disney’s Epcot Center, The Spoletto Festival USA and many other cities. In Europe and Internationally Mr. Booth has sung in Rome, London, Nice on the French Riviera, Nantes and Montptellier, France, in Belgium, Ireland, Warsaw, Stockholm, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Monterrey, Montreal, the Spanish Canary Islands, Frankfurt, Aachen, Saarbrucken and other German cities, in South Africa and Tokyo. He has sung the World Premier of George Lloyd’s The Vigil of Venus at London’s Royal Festival Hall, The American Premier of John Cage’s Europa in New York the Israeli Premier of Naom Sherif’s The Sephardic Passion in Tel Aviv. Mr. Booth has been heard numerous times on National Public Radio via performances from the Met, Lyric Opera and broadcasts of his recordings of John Socman and The Vigil of Venus and Boris Godunov. He has appeared on PBS in Illinois in a US premier of Verdi’s Messa Solenne. He has also appeared onstage with each of the Three Tenors.
Frédéric Rey as Malcolm
Canadian tenor, Frédéric Rey’s operatic performances include Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor) ,Captain Richard Warrington (Naughty Marietta), Goffredo (Rinaldo) and Ralph (HMS Pinafore) among others. Orchestral works include Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, J. S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Haydn’s Nelsonmesse and Paukenmesse and Mozart’s Requiem. Companies Mr. Rey has performed with include Washington National Opera, Sarasota Opera, Annapolis Chorale, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Opera Vivente, Bay Atlantic Symphony, Hopkins Symphony, Southern Delaware Choral Society, Washington Savoyards, Lake George Opera, Baltimore Opera and The Peabody Opera Theatre. Frédéric is delighted to make his Baltimore Concert Opera debut as Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth.
Natalie Conte as Dama
Soprano Natalie Conte, a devoted performer in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area, is delighted to return to the Baltimore Concert Opera stage singing the role of Fiordiligi. She most frequently appears as a soloist in Outreach programs for the Lyric Opera House of Baltimore. She also has concertized at the Russian Embassy, with the Baltimore Vocal Arts Foundation, the Young Victorian Theatre Company, Live Arts Maryland, at the State Departmen, and with Opera Lancaster where she was described as a “show stopper”. In addition to recitals, Natalie’s opera and oratorio credits include the roles of Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Musetta in La Bohème, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Casilda in The Gondoliers, Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, the Countess in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and the soprano soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Beyond the local stage, Natalie has performed in her hometown Detroit, Michigan as well as internationally in Rome, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Along with her performance credits, Natalie teaches voice both privately and at Shepherd University where she has held an adjunct voice faculty position since September of 2008. Natalie is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University where she earned a Master and Bachelor of Music. While there, she won awards for excellence in both performance and academics, and studied with John Shirley-Quirk and Phyllis Bryn-Julson. In April, 2011 she won second prize in the Russell C. Wonderlic Memorial Competition. She currently studies with Barbara Dever. Natalie is looking forward to performing Richard Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder this October in Baltimore as well as Nedda in I Pagliacci with the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts.
Eric Bash as Doctor
Eric Bash is a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music where he received both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Vocal Performance. Mr. Bash also served 4 years active duty and was honorably discharged from the United States Navy. He has performed with companies throughout the country including Lyric Opera of Baltimore, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Festival di Lucca, and Converse Opera Theater. His favorite roles include Gianni Schicchi and Spinelloccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. Eric last appeared with the Baltimore Concert Opera as Angelotti in Tosca. He now lives in Philadelphia, PA.
Thank you to his family and friends for his love of music and entertaining.
David Lawton Conductor
David Lawton (conductor) is a frequent guest conductor in regional American opera companies. Recent engagements include La traviata, Der Freischütz, and Fidelio for Occasional Opera Company in New York City, and Little Women, Carmen, Rigoletto, Turandot, Aida, Les contes d’Hoffmann and Otello for OperaDelaware, where he served for many years as Artistic Consultant. In 2004 he made his Chautauqua Opera debut, conducting Verdi’s Stiffelio. Mr. Lawton has conducted many productions for Summer Opera Theatre in Washington, D.C. In 1996 he made his Sarasota Opera debut, leading the American premiere of Bizet’s La jolie fille de Perth. Other regional credits include The Washington Opera (Don Carlo), Cincinnati Opera (Rigoletto), The Tulsa Opera (Rigoletto, and Le Trouvère), the Berkshire Opera Company (La finta giardiniera), National Grand Opera (Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata, and Carmen) and the Teatro comunale di Modena in Italy (La traviata). A noted Verdi scholar, David Lawton is volume editor for Il trovatore, Le trouvère, and Macbeth in the critical edition of the Works of Giuseppe Verdi, a joint publication of the University of Chicago Press and the Casa Ricordi, Milano. In 2006 his critical edition of Macbeth was awarded the Claude Palisca prize for the best edition by the American Musicological Society. Mr. Lawton is Professor of Music at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he served as Director of Graduate Studies from 1986-1996, and Department Chairman from 1996-2000.
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.