Francesca Mondanaro, Norma
A specialist in Verdi and heavier bel-canto repertoire, Francesca Mondanaro’s 2013-2014 season includes her Lyric Opera of Baltimore debut as Abigaille in NABUCCO. Having previously covered the title role of NORMA there with Maestro Christian Badea, this season will see her starring in productions of the same bel canto heroine with companies including Baltimore Concert Opera and Taconic Opera. She has already peformed NORMA in concert for the Calvary Concert Series of New York and the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Also in 2013, for Opera Delaware she will reprise her recitals with stage director Fabrizio Melano (Metropolitan Opera), based on the life and career of Maria Callas. In recent seasons she sang Lady Macbeth in MACBETH for Baltimore Concert Opera, a role she has peformed for Taconic Opera and Sarasota Opera (where she sang both versions of the opera in the same season), Margherita /Elena in MEFISTOFELE for Taconic Opera, and the Mother/Witch in HANSEL AND GRETEL for Boheme Opera of New Jersey. Recently she sang Abigaille in NABUCCO for Taconic Opera and Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA with New Jersey Verismo Opera and the Baltimore Concert Opera. 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.
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 the Spontini Festival in Italy.
Mondanaro has broad experience with recital, vocal and sacred music. In 2013 she is the soprano soloist in Brahms’ EIN DEUTCHES REQUIEM for the Fairfield County Chorale. Most recently 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 sang the role of Lady Macbeth for 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, “THE STREPPONI PROJECT”, a planned 2014 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.
Jennifer Holbrook, Adalgisa
Jennifer Holbrook, soprano, has been praised by the Baltimore Sun for her “radiant, silvery voice, gleaming agility and elegant style.” Recent performances include Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Repertory Opera Theater of Washington, the title role in Massenet’s Manon with Peabody Opera, Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette with Bel Cantanti Opera and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos with Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program. Other recent operatic roles include Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Violetta in La Traviata and Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
Ms. Holbrook performed the roles of Violetta in La Traviata, Gunnhild in Satan’s Bride and in numerous Cabaret concerts with the Center City Opera Theater of Philadelphia as part of their 2012-2013 season. In 2012 Ms. Holbrook made her debut at the Model Performing Arts Center at The Lyric Opera House, performing as soprano soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana with Concert Artists of Baltimore. She has also performed as soprano soloist in the Mozart Requiem with the Sioux City Symphony, as a featured soloist in the 2011 International Music Festival at the State Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, and as a guest artist with the Fuzhou Philharmonic Orchestra in Fuzhou, China.
Ms. Holbrook attended the University of Central Arkansas where she received a Bachelor of Music under the tutelage of Dr. Martha Antolik. She continued her studies at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she was a recipient of the Lydia Richard Gillespie Endowed Scholarship and studied with soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson. Ms. Holbrook completed a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and a Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera. While at Peabody Ms. Holbrook performed the as a soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. As a winner of the 2010 Art Song Discovery Series she presented four art song recitals with Vocal Arts DC. Ms. Holbrook was a District winner of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, a winner in the Virginia Opera Bravissimo Society Competition, the Russell C. Wonderlic Voice Competition, the Rhode Island Bel Canto Competition, the Sylvia Green Competition and a two-time winner of the University of Central Arkansas Aria/Concerto Competition. Ms. Holbrook is currently a student of Dr. Stanley Cornett.
Jason Wickson, Pollione
Possessing a voice that is currently being recognized for its vast power and beauty, young Tenor Jason Wickson is emerging as one of the next leading tenors in the U.S. In a recent performance as Erik in The Flying Dutchman, The New York Times wrote, “Best was another tenor, Jason Wickson, as a passionate, bronze-toned Erik. With his hapless love for Senta, Erik seems ridiculous in many productions, but Mr. Wickson gave him affecting seriousness.” He will reprise the role for Piedmont Opera this fall as well as make another role debut as Calaf in Turandot with Shreveport Opera.
Last season, Wickson made a number of important role debuts including Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del Westwith Mobile Opera which he also covered at the Castleton Festival, Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth with Opera Delaware, and Erik in The Flying Dutchman with the Princeton Festival. In addition, he performed Don Jose in Carmen with Piedmont Opera, the Tenor soloist in Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and returned to the Michigan Opera Theatre as the Florestan in Fidelio.
Other roles to be noted in Wickson’s repertoire include Cavaradossi in Tosca, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, the title role in Peter Grimes, Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, Canio in I Pagliacci, and Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera. Prior engagements in his young career have included Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor with Chautauqua Opera and the title role in Britten’s Albert Herring with Palm Beach Opera.
On the concert stage, Wickson has performed as the Tenor Soloist in the works of Verdi’s Requiem, Beethoven’sNinth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s Carmina Burana (in Michigan Opera Theatre’s highly successful staged production in collaboration with the famed Cirque du Soleil), Mozart’s Requiem and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. In addition, he has been a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Winter Opera Saint Louis and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.
Wickson has been a member of various apprentice programs, such as the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers, the Palm Beach Opera Resident Artist program, and Michigan Opera Theatre’s Joyce Cohn Young Artist Program. He was also named a finalist in the 2012 Giulio Gari competition as well as winner of the Stanley Hollingsworth Grant. He is a graduate of Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Matthew Curran, Oroveso
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.
Catrin Rowenna Davies, Clotilde
Described as having “…bright vocalism and flawless diction…” by the Baltimore Sun, mezzo-soprano Catrin Rowenna Davies has established herself as a presence on on the operatic and concert stage. Born in Washington, DC, but possessing EU citizenship, Ms. Davies has lived and performed in the United States, Canada, and the UK.
Most recently, Ms. Davies made her Toronto debut as a soloist at the North American Festival of Wales. In 2014, she makes an important role debut as Carmen for Opera AACC. In the 2012-2013 season, Ms. Davies made her solo debut on the stage of the Modell Performing Arts Center with Lyric Opera Baltimore in their Bravissimo Bel Canto! gala concert. She was also the mezzo-soprano soloist in Einhorn’s Voices of Light and Handel’s Messiah, both with the Annapolis Chorale. In the latter, the Baltimore Sun said her performance was “…serenely assured.”
Ms. Davies has performed roles with Baltimore Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Annapolis Opera, Live Arts Maryland, Young Victorian Theatre Company, and Baltimore Concert Opera. As an oratorio soloist, she has been seen with Annapolis Chorale, Handel Choir of Baltimore, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Prince William Symphony Orchestra, and Peabody Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Davies specializes in Welsh repertoire, and won the mezzo-soprano competition at the National Eisteddfod in Wales in 2012. She is a frequent soloist with Welsh choirs, and has performed up and down the Eastern seaboard, including an engagement at the Smithsonian.
She is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, McGill University, and Oxford University.
David Artz, Flavio
A native of Central New York and graduate of both Syracuse University and Peabody Conservatory, David Artz has sung with the Oswego Opera Company, Syracuse Opera Company, Syracuse University Opera Theatre, Peabody Conservatory Opera Theatre, Lyric Opera Baltimore, Opera Delaware, Bel Cantanti Opera Company, Young Victorian Theater Company, Baltimore Concert Opera, Operafestival di Roma program, AIMS in Graz program, and Accademia Europea dell’Opera program.
A high lyric tenor with an extended leggiero range, David is well at home in the roles in Bel Canto style (Ernesto, Tonio, Almaviva, Arturo, Nemorino), roles of French style (Nadir, Des Grieux, Don Jose, Romeo, Gerald), in the grand roles of Verdi and Puccini (Alfredo, the Duke of Mantua, Rodolfo, Rinuccio, Prunier), and the lighthearted roles of German-style Operetta and Light Comic Opera (Alfred, Blind, Ralph Rackstraw, Detlef, Barinkay, Danilo, Nanki-Poo).
Roles sung on mainstage or in scenes recently include Le Remendado in Carmen, Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Judge Danforth in The Crucible, Sellman in Peabody composition student Kyle Rotolo’s new short opera Marilyn’s Room, Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi, Monostatos and Tamino in Die Zauberfloete, Nadir in Les pecheurs de perles, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Prunier in La rondine, Arturo in I puritani, Bill in A Hand of Bridge, Sabinin in A Life for the Tsar, Blind and Alfred in Die Fledermaus, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Tyson Deaton, Conductor
Tyson Deaton has gained attention as one of the busiest collaborators of his generation. Known for his vast repertoire and versatility of style, he is sought out by singers and instrumentalists alike. Performing partners have included Michael Norsworthy, Linda Wang, Adrienne Danrich, Judith Kellock, Julie Landsman, Victoria Livengood, Craig Mumm, Othalie Graham, Marjorie Owens, and Matthew Worth, among many others. He was recorded on a disc entitled “In Jest” with soprano Julia Kogan at Champs Hill in Great Britain, which is expected to be distributed by Harmonia Mundi (UK) in the coming year.
Mr. Deaton made his Fort Worth Opera conducting debut in the inaugural production for the Opera Unbound Series with Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, a live performance of which has been released on Albany Records. He made his Kennedy Center debut alongside tenor Matthew Grills this Spring, and travels to open the Anchorage Opera season conducting Lucia di Lammermoor. Throughout 2014, in addition to a busy recital schedule partnering with baritone Matthew Worth, he was invited to be Artist-in-Residence at McGill University in Montreal, and will be conducting workshops for Libby Larsen’s technologically innovative operatic version of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, for which he will conduct the world premiere in 2015. Maintaining his primary coaching studio in New York City, singers he has coached occupy the rosters of most of the major opera houses worldwide.
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.