Meet the Guests: Bios

Samantha Hankey

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American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, Grand Finals winner of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and First Prize winner of the Dallas Opera Guild Competition is quickly making a name for herself at home and abroad. Acclaimed by Opera News as an “ingenious square-shouldered beauty with a maple-flavored mezzo”  and as “serious and penetrating” by The New York Times, she was recently an artist at the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, and performed the title role in La Cenerentola. In the 2017/18 season, Ms. Hankey makes her debuts as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Den Norske Opera and as Siébel in Faust at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. She will also make her Carnegie Hall debut in Handel’s Messiah with Musica Sacra. 

Recent engagements during the 2016/17 season included the title role in Handel’s Agrippina at The Juilliard School, about which Opera News wrote she “zipp[ed] through Agrippina's punishing music with beautiful tone, immaculate prosody and queenly authority”, as well as Varvara in Stephen Wadsworth’s production of Káťa Kabanová. Equally gifted in recital, Samantha presented two concerts at the Alice Tully Hall: 'Juilliard Songfest: Songs of Richard Strauss’ curated by Brian Zeger; and a program of Liszt, Schumann, and Strauss songs that she presented as winner of the Vocal Arts Honors Recital. She also appeared in a concert of the Rossini Stabat Mater with The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle in North Carolina and the workshop, The Wake World, a new commission by David Hertzberg for Opera Philadelphia.

In prior seasons, Ms. Hankey has appeared as Diana & Diana in Giove (La Calisto),Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), and Mercédès (Carmen).  Additionally, she was  featured in the HBO documentary A YoungArts MasterClass with soprano Renée Fleming, and has been heard on NPR’s From the Top as a recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, as well as on radio broadcasts played on WQXR and BR Klassik. Other notable accolades include a 2017 Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship, a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, and prizes from The James Toland Vocal Arts Competition, The Carolyn Bailey and Dominick Argento Vocal Competition, the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, the Gerda Lissner Foundation Opera and the Lieder & Song Competitions, and Opera Index. 

A recent graduate of The Juilliard School, she was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon receiving her Bachelor of Music degree and went on to become a Kovner Fellow during her Master of Music degree. Ms. Hankey is a native of Marshfield, Massachusetts and attended the Walnut Hill School for the Arts.

Doug Martin - Pianist

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Mr. Martin conducts Fledermaus this Holiday season for Amore Opera. Last season Maestro Martin conducted a gala at Amore which featured Met singers Francisco Casanova and Aprile Millo. He has treasured an association of almost 20 years with the astounding Eve Oueler who will celebrate her 50th year with Opera Orchestra of New York this coming season. Mr. Martin is one of very few who can say they've conducted 100 performances of Puccini's La Boheme; Doug was one of two conductors of Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme on Broadway, which was sung without cuts in Italian with 28 piece orchestras in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. Mr. Martin has a Performer‘s Certificate in piano from SUNY Fredonia, and a Masters of Music degree in piano performance from University of Indiana Bloomington, where he worked extensively with Virginia Zeani, and John Wustman. As an Associate Instructor at IU - he coached productions including Wozzeck, and Love for Three Oranges; while attending classes alongside Gayletha Nichols!

Meet the Judges: Region Finals 2018

THOMAS MURACO

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Thomas Muraco "is simply one of the finest collaborative artists before the public today; his contributions were models of complete support and specific understanding ‐they were songs without words." (Richard Dyer, Boston Globe)

“...Le chef Thomas Muraco a tiré plein parti de leur excellente préparation. Depuis son podium, c’est lui, l’étoile de la soirée. Il anime la musique en maître et donne du piquant comme du sentiment à tout ce qu’il fait.” (Conductor Thomas Muraco made full use of their excellent preparation. From behind his podium, it is he, the star of the evening. He animates the music masterfully, and infuses everything he does with poignancy and sentiment.) Le Devoir, Montréal

For Idomeneo, Jan 2004.

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Mr. Muraco has earned such accolades through a combination of technical virtuosity, tonal beauty, and a unique understanding of the underlying poetry of music. His performances in major concert halls throughout the United States, Canada, Central America, Europe, and Asia reflect his command of a repertoire remarkable for its complete range of musical styles, periods and forms. He has been praised for his insightful interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Wolf, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, and premieres of William Schuman and George Perle.

Mr. Muraco has partnered with distinguised musicians such as Adele Addison, John Aler, Martina Arroyo, Arleen Augér, John Cheek, Phyllis Curtin, Mary Dunleavy, Faith Esham, Maureen Forrester, Denyce Graves, Ben Heppner, Henry Herford, Ying Huang, Sumi Jo, Susanne Mentzer, Chris Merritt, Roberta Peters, Hermann Prey, Twyla Robinson, Jennie Tourel, Benita Valente and Dolora Zajick, and instrumentalists John Graham, Wolfram Koessel, Robert Mann, Arnold Steinhardt, Zara Nelsova, Ransom Wilson, Peter Winograd, and the American and Shanghai String Quartets. Highlights of his career include appearances at The White House, the Library of Congress, the Aspen, Banff, Bermuda, Casals, Cincinnati May and Ravinia Festivals, and on recital series at New York's major concert halls and at museums, universities and cultural centers throughout the US, Europe and Asia.

Mr. Muraco has recorded on the Serenus, CRI and Musical Heritage labels, including a program of music for viola and piano by Britten, Shostakovitch, Bergsma and Shapey with John Graham as well as a Liederabend of Brahms with contralto Maureen Forrester on CBC records.

In addition to his busy performing schedule, Mr. Muraco has been a member of the faculties of the Cleveland Institute of Music, the State University of New York at Stony Brook., and is presently on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music. There he trains pianists in the art of accompanying and coaching, as well as singers in all aspects of the art. He has taught master classes for pianists and singers at the Aspen and Banff Music Festivals and the St. Louis Conservatory as well as at the Eastman School of Music. In such master classes he emphasizes the unique relationship of poetry and music in all aspects of the vocal repertoire, bringing to bear his extensive knowledge of languages ‐‐ French, Italian, German and Portuguese among others. Influential teachers in Thomas Muraco's own training include Brooks Smith at the Eastman School of Music, from which he graduated with distinction, and Jeaneane Dowis at the Aspen Festival and in NYC, and conductors David Gilbert and John Nelson.

Often asked to judge competitions such as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Mr. Muraco has been the chairman of the jury of the annual international vocal competition held in Vivonne, France, “De Vive Voix” at which festival he conducted a program of opera scenes in 2007 and in 2008 performed “Die Winterreise” to great acclaim.

In August 2000 he conducted Lakmé in Tel‐Aviv for the International Vocal Arts Institute, La Bohème at the Manhattan School of Music in 2000, La Traviata at the Manhattan School of Music in April 2001 and Carmen there in April 2002. La Cenerentola was his debut with Opera San José in September 2002, in 2003 Die Zauberflöte, Idomeneo in January 2004 at Opera Mc Gill, Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni, Dialogues des Carmélites, Il Tabarro/ Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto, Falstaff, Lucia, Faust, Hänsel und Gretel, Capuleti e i Montecchi, Lakmé, Luisa Miller and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Don Pasquale, La Voix Humaine/ Suor Angelica, all at the Manhattan School of Music in his Opera Repertory Ensemble where he prepares and conducts the chorus and the principles. In April 2015 he made his debut with Tri-Cities Opera to critical acclaim conducting Faust.

Mr. Muraco had the honor of assisting in the preparation of performances and a recording of La Bohème under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. In addition, he has assisted in preparing both operatic and symphonic repertoire for conductors John Nelson: in the US at Carnegie Hall (Verdi Requiem), with the New Japan Philharmonic (La Traviata and Schumann Scenes from Faust) ,with L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris (Entführung aus dem Serail), and in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Santa Fe Opera as well as for James Conlon (with the Cincinnati Symphony) adding yet another aspect to a career which has already established him in the front ranks of American musicians.

During the 2007-2008 season, Mr. Muraco was the Studienleiter- Kapellmeister at the Theater Bremen where he conducted many performances of the 2007-2008 season including Nabucco and Merlin of Carl Goldmark as well as overseeing the preparation of all repertoire in the season.
During Jan-Feb, 2009 he performed to great acclaim with tenor Ben Heppner at La Scala, Dortmund Konzerthaus, Opéra National de Paris, Berlin Philharmonie and at the Barbican Centre in London. In August, 2012 he was the Music Director of a new training program in Siena, Italy in which he conducted Orlando of Händel and Suor Angelica of Puccini and in the summer of 2013 assisted John Nelson at the Santa Fe Opera on Le Nozze di Figaro as well as performing and teaching at the Banff Centre and at Opera Advantage. He judges the Met Opera National Council auditions every year and is on the Advisory Board of the Art Song Preservation Society. He regularly teaches at Dolora Zajick’s Insitute for Young Dramatic Voices and CoOPERAtive at Westminster Choir College. 

JOSHUA WINOGRADE

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Joshua Winograde is the Associate Artistic Administrator of The Metropolitan Opera and also the Director of the Met National Council Auditions. Prior to The Met, he was Senior Director of Artistic Planning at Los Angeles Opera, and before that he created and oversaw the Opera Studio at Wolf Trap Opera in Washington DC.  Joshua has served on many competition juries including the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Awards, The Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals, the Innsbruck Alte Musik Festival Cesti Competition, The Galina Vishnevskaya International Competition in Moscow, The International Singers Fair in Baku, Azerbaijan, and the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. Before working behind the scenes, Joshua earned both his bachelor and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School and sang professionally with Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra and American Symphony Orchestra, among many others.

CORI ELLISON

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Cori Ellison, a leading creative figure in the opera world, has served as staff Dramaturg at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and New York City Opera. She has served as a production dramaturg at companies including Cincinnati Opera, Washington National Opera, Bard Summerscape, and National Sawdust. She is a member of the Vocal Arts faculty at the Juilliard School and a master teacher at the Ravinia Steans Music Institute Program for Singers and the Crested Butte Opera Studio.  She has coached and taught master classes for singers at institutions including Glyndebourne, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Indiana University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Mannes College, University of Texas at Austin, Boston University, Boston Conservatory, Michigan State University, DePaul University, University of Illinois, and Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance program, and regularly serves as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and other competitions. Active in developing contemporary opera, she teaches dramaturgy for American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program and is a sought-after dramaturgical consultant to companies including Glyndebourne, Canadian Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Fort Worth Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Beth Morrison Projects. She creates supertitles for opera companies across the English-speaking world, and has written English singing translations for City Opera, English National Opera, and the Bard Festival. She has often written for the New York Times, and has contributed to books including The New Grove Dictionary of Opera and The Compleat Mozart.

Meet the Singers: Interview with Soprano Malorie Casimir

Q: What motivates you every day to keep working at your art? 

A: The current state of America is what keeps me working at my art. Art is more important now than ever in a time when so many people are feeling hopeless and helpless. We can only hope to touch, move and inspire those we can through our art.

Q: How do you think opera can be made more appealing to a younger audience?

A: As a young opera singer, I think accessibility is one of the many things that will make opera more appealing to a younger audience. I grew up in a place where opera was not a part of my upbringing. Not even a little bit. It wasn’t until I joined a program that introduced me to classical music and opera in a way that I could understand that I began to explore those two worlds. Making these types of programs accessible and most importantly, affordable, is what will dictate the longevity of not only this amazing art form but others as well. I also think opera singers themselves need to be accessible to a certain degree. Many of today’s opera stars are becoming more and more involved on social media and I think if younger people see these stars as regular people, like Twitter has done in the past decade with many Hollywood stars, it will enable them to relate to not only the person but also to what they stand for as performers. 

Q: When did you know you wanted to be an opera singer?

A: I knew I wanted to be an opera singer the moment I finished watching a YouTube video of Diana Damrau singing the Queen of the Night’s famous aria, “Der Hölle Rache”. I was about 15 years old. Up until that point, I loved to sing but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. Watching that video was one of the few moments in my life where something felt completely and absolutely right. I was completely and without a doubt sold on how cool and amazing opera is and I had to be involved in it. In the week after watching that video, I learned the aria German, English and I would have gotten Hungarian in there too if it weren’t for my parents complaining about all the singing!

Q: How will you be preparing for the Region Finals? On the day of a big audition, do you have any rituals you follow?

A: I’m preparing for the Region Finals by not getting too much in my head about it and psyching myself out. This is, of course, in addition to my regular voice lessons and coachings leading up to the finals. On the day of a big audition I make sure to take it easy. First thing in the morning, I snuggle with my cat, Aspen and stretch before I even get out of bed. A few hours before, I’ll warm up for no more than 15 minutes. If I’m feeling nervous in the moments leading up to the audition, I pop in my earphones and listen to Beyoncé. If you haven’t tried listening to Beyoncé while in a stressful situation, I highly recommend it!

Meet The Singers: Region Finalists 2018 Full Bios

Malorie Casimir

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Malorie Casimir is a Region Finalist in the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the eastern region. She was recently seen at the Aspen Music Festival where she sang in opera scenes and as the soloist in George Crumb’s The Winds of Destiny with the Aspen Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Jonathan Haas. Prior performances also include Despina in Mannes Opera’s production of Cosi fan tutte, and the New York premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s chamber opera, A Coffin in Egypt alongside internationally renowned mezzo-soprano, Frederica von Stade. Upcoming performances include the role of Marzelline in Heartbeat Opera’s production of Fidelio.

She holds awards from the Kristin Lewis Foundation Vocal Scholarship Competition, Harlem Opera Theater Competition, the Crescendo International Competition and Joy in Singing’s Positively Poulenc Competition.  With the Crescendo International Competition, Malorie made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Winners' Concert after receiving first place honor.

Malorie spent a year studying and performing at the Palais Corbelli in Vienna, Austria with the Music Performance Workshop of IES Abroad Vienna. She also performed in Hungary with the Crescendo Summer Institute.

A native of Brooklyn and of Haitian lineage, Malorie began her musical training at the age of 11 as a member of the prestigious Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy.  Her time there included singing under the batons of Lorin Maazel, John Adams, and James Levine.

Malorie holds degrees from The Hartt School in Connecticut and Mannes School of Music in New York.

Emily Misch

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A coloratura soprano praised for her "scintillating precision" (Opera News), Emily Misch is establishing herself as a clear-voiced, versatile, and intelligent performer. Her 2017-2018 season includes Olympia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Opera North, Valeria in the workshop of Tom Cipullo's new opera Mayo at the National Opera Center, the soprano solos in Mozart's Requiem and Haydn's Paukenmesse with Huntington Choral Society, and the soprano solo in Carmina Burana with Altoona Symphony Orchestra.

Recent engagements include the Ravinia Festival's Steans Music Institute (Vocal Fellow), Leah in Joel Mandelbaum's The Dybbuk at Queens College, Mahler's Symphony No. 8(Mater Gloriosa) with Berkshire Choral International, Carmina Burana with the Westchester Choral Society, and Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165 with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. Her 2015-2016 season included Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Opera in Williamsburg and Le feu, La princesse, and Le rossignol in L'enfant et les sortilèges with Opera on the Avalon. She is a recent graduate of Mannes College of Music, where she was heard as the Controller in the New York premiere of Jonathan Dove's Flight and Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia.

Concert performances include Respighi's Deità silvane (Ravinia's Steans Music Institute), Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire (Neue Galerie New York), and Benjamin Britten's Les illuminations (Garden City Chamber Music Society). She was a featured soloist on the New York City Opera gala in honor of Julius Rudel alongside Fredericka Von Stade, Christine Goerke, Placido Domingo, and others.

She has been awarded prizes from the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, the Gerda Lissner Foundation in association with the Liederkranz Foundation, Mannes College, and Yale University, and has participated in young artist training programs at Wolf Trap Opera Company, Opera North (NH), and Opera on the Avalon. She received a BA in Music from Yale University, where she graduated magna cum laude.

Anna Laurenzo

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Mezzo-soprano Anna Laurenzo has gained experience in a wide ranging repertoire in her young career, with a strong accent on contemporary American work. A veteran of multiple world premiere productions, she has collaborated with composers such as Carlisle Floyd, Jeff Myers, Scott Wheeler, David T. Little, and Libby Larsen. With Fort Worth Opera, Ms. Laurenzo participated in the company's new works initiative Frontiers as well as workshops of Libby Larsen's A Wrinkle in Time and David T. Little's JFK. She performed in the company's 2016 and 2017 festival seasons as GPS in Patrick Soluri's Embedded, the Undertaker in Jeff Myers' Buried Alive, and Alycia Simpson in Matthew Peterson's Voir Dire.

Ms. Laurenzo made her initial appearances on the New York classical performance scene in the autumn of 2017. She joined New York Theatre Ballet as mezzo-soprano soloist for La Malinche, a rarely-performed work by famed choreographer José Limón, and appeared as the featured artist on a concert program with the Metropolitan Opera Guild.

In the classical operatic repertoire for mezzo-soprano, Ms. Laurenzo has most recently performed Mercédès in Carmen and covered Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. She has also been heard as Pedrillo in a rare mounting of Telemann's Don Quichotte, Farnace in Mozart's Mitridate, re di Ponto, Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri, Olga in Eugene Onegin, Ida in Die Fledermaus, Emma Jones in Street Scene, and Paquette in Candide.

Ms. Laurenzo fulfilled young artist residencies with Fort Worth Opera, Central City Opera, Madison Opera, and the Seagle Music Colony. In 2017 she was second place winner for the Fielder Grant, and in 2016 she won an encouragement award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

A native of Urbandale, IA, Ms. Laurenzo holds a Master of Music degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

WooYoung Yoon

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“In the title role, Woo young Yoon's dark voice and verismo aesthetic lent a touch of melancholy to the enlightened Emperor. Yoon's many recitatives were thoughtful and well delivered, and his vocal poise helped convey nobility and anger in the aria "Se all'impero.”

– La Clemenza di Tito, Judith Malafronte – Opera News

A Professional study’s student at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Neil Rosenshein, Korean tenor WooYoung Yoon recently has contracted as Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with the Empire Opera for the fall 2018. He will be performing as Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte for the spring 2018 with MSM opera department.

He has performed in as cover role of Don Jose in Carmen for the Martina Arroyo Foundation 2017 Prelude to Performance under the baton of Maestro Daniel Lipton, also as cover role of Ottokar in der zigeunerbaron for the spring 2017, and as Tito in La clemenza di Tito for the fall 2016 with the main stage opera at MSM. In the summer of 2016, he made his Italy debut as Don Jose in Carmen with the Trentino Music Festival.

WooYoung previous had been credits tenor roles, including Luisa Miller(Rodolfo), Die Entführung aus dem Serail(Belmonte) with MSM, Un bello in maschera (Riccardo), La Boheme (Rodolfo) with KyungHee University in the Republic of Korea. Mr. Yoon is currently the recipient of the MSM Scholarship in Voice and was the recipient of the Dean’s scholarship as an undergraduate at KyungHee University. He was a finalist in Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition 2017, and in the Alfredo Silipigni Vocal Competition 2017, And he received Honorable Mention from Metropolitan International Vocal Competition in 2016.

Britany Nickell

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Soprano Brittany Nickell, is a graduate of Jacksonville University where she received herBachelors in Vocal Performance and Manhattan School of music where she obtained both aMasters in Music and a Professional Studies degree. In October of 2017 Brittany was awardedthe Opera Index award a top prize at the Opera Index Competition in NYC. In January MissNickell made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Song Continues Series under the direction ofMarilyn Horne. In 2016 Brittany was one of four soprano fellows with the Music Academy of theWest, where she performed Ludmila in The Bartered Bride and Elizabeth in Second Nature, anopera written and conducted by Matthew Aucoin. Previous credits include Madame de Volangesin the MSM Opera Theater production of The Dangerous Liaisons under the baton of GeorgeManahan, Lady Macduff in Bloch’s Macbeth with MSM Opera Theater, Helen in Three SistersWho Are Not Sisters, and Sancta Susanna (Susanna cover), also at Manhattan School ofMusic. Other credits include Street Scene (Anna Maurrant), The Gondoliers (Fiametta), and DerVampyr (Emmy Perth) with Jacksonville Univeristy.

Danielle Beckvermit

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Soprano Danielle Beckvermit is a Professional Studies student at Mannes The New School for Music in Manhattan where she developed a strong affinity for new music. She previously received her Master’s Degree from Mannes in 2017 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice from SUNY Fredonia in 2015. She has sung with several festivals including Charlottesville Opera, Chautauqua Festival, SongFest and Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. While at SongFest Danielle sang the west coast premiere of John Musto’s Song Cycle, “Be music, night”. Complete roles include, Fiordiligi (Mozart), Donna Anna (Mozart), Donna Elvira, (Mozart), Susannah (Floyd), Beth (Adamo), and Madeline Usher (Glass). Future roles include Anne Trulove (Stravinsky) with Mannes Opera and Alice (Verdi) with the Crested Butte Opera Studio. Danielle has been recognized in several competitions including The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as an encouragement award winner and regional finalist, a finalist and award winner in The George London Foundation Competition, first place winner in The Classical Singer Online Competition and was also the first prize winner in the Civic Morning Musicals Competition in 2017. Danielle is a proud student of Amy Burton.

Bryan Murray

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Baritone, Bryan Murray, is currently pursuing a Master of Musical Arts degree in Opera performance at Yale University’s School of Music under the tutelage of Richard Cross and Doris Yarick-Cross. Mr. Murray received an Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree from the Purchase College Conservatory of Music where he studied with Bonnie Hamilton and Jacque Trussel; and a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Stony Brook University where he studied with John Fiorito. Bryan is excited to be a recipient of the Berlin Opera Foundation Scholarship to join Deutsche Oper Berlin in their 2018/19 season. Bryan is also the grand prize winner of the 2016 Heida Hermann’s International Voice Competition, the winner of the “Sachi Liebergesell” award from the Opera Index Competition, a finalist in the Eastern Region of the Met Council auditions, and the winner of an Encouragement Grant from the Premiere Opera International Voice Competition.

During his studies, Bryan appeared as Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Smirnov in William Walton’s The Bear with Yale Opera; John Proctor in Robert Ward’s The Crucible, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Father in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel with Purchase Opera; and the Consul in Pier Francesco Cavalli’s Eliogabalo with Stony Brook Opera. Following the production of the The Crucible, Bryan recorded John Proctor in Albany Records’ new CD recording of The Crucible, released in January, 2017.

On the concert stage, Bryan was recently the baritone soloist in the Fauré Requiem with the Jacksonville symphony, bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the New Haven Symphony, the baritone soloist in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Yale Symphony, and the baritone soloist in the world premiere of Transfiguration by Robert Kyr with the Yale Camerata and orchestra. Bryan is looking forward to singing Bernstein’s Opening Prayer with Marin Alsop conducting the Yale Philharmonia in April 2018.

Jacob Scharfman

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Baritone Jacob Scharfman will soon complete his Master of Music at the Juilliard School. Opera News has lauded his “attractive, rounded baritone” and Voce di Meche proclaims him “irresistible… Mr. Scharfman’s performance was marked by the expansiveness of a generous spirit and a personal involvement with the text and music.” Jacob has won prizes at competitions held by the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Metrowest Opera, the Arlington Philharmonic Society, and Piccola Opera. This year at Juilliard, Jacob sang Nardo in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and covered Fluth in Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor. Honored with Juilliard’s Risë Stevens and Mitzi Foundation Scholarships, he traveled to Taiwan for a recital tour in December 2017. Jacob spent the summer of 2017 as a Studio Artist with Central City Opera in Colorado, winning the Iris Henwood Richards Memorial Award for his dedication and collegiality. During the 2016-17 academic year at Juilliard, Jacob enjoyed his Alice Tully Hall debut as Pallante in Handel’s Agrippina and covered Steward in Jonathan Dove’s Flight. He sang masterclasses with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Pablo Heras-Casado (both available at Medici.tv) and participated in a recital of protest songs with the New York Festival of Song, repeated at his Merkin Hall debut in February 2018. Recent operatic credits include Charlie in Heggie’s Three Decembers with Opera Fayetteville; Rugby in Vaughan Williams’ Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera; Mr. Webb in Rorem’s Our Town with Boston Opera Collaborative; and Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades with Harvard’s Lowell House. Jacob has enjoyed concert engagements with Boston Baroque, the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, the Brown University Chorus, Boston University’s Marsh Chapel, and Trinity Church Boston. Follow his progress at jacobscharfman.com.

Nathan Matticks

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American baritone Nathan Matticks is rapidly establishing himself as one of opera’s brightest young prospects. The 2018/2019 season include important role debuts as Figaro in Palmetto Opera’s production of IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA at the Koger Center for the Arts followed by a Tour of MADAMA BUTTERFLY as Sharpless, and capping off the end of Winter with a return to Taconic Opera as Renato in Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. The 2017 season also saw major role debuts as Verdi’s RIGOLETTO with Teatro Lirico d’Europa at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts and the Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. Nathan has also bowed with Opera North as Yamadori in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, a role he recently performed on tour with Teatro Lirico d’Europa and assumed the role of Sharpless for outreach performances of MADAMA BUTTERFLY in addition to performances of Offenbach’s LA BELLE HÉLÈN and Porter’s KISS ME KATE with the company.


Critically acclaimed for his “suave baritone” (Broadway World) and the “sonorous, full-voiced”(Parterre) quality of his singing, Matticks has recently appeared as Valentin in FAUST for Taconic Opera in addition to metro New York City productions of DON GIOVANNI (DonGiovanni), LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR (Enrico), CARMEN (Escamillo), MANON LESCAUT(Lescaut), I PAGLIACCI (Silvio) and THE MERRY WIDOW (Danilo). In 2013, Nathan made his professional operatic debut as Morales in CARMEN opposite Denyce Graves with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Louis Salemno and was selected by Marilyn Horne as a participant in THE SONG CONTINUES programming at Carnegie Hall. A recipient of a BM in Vocal Performance and Artist’s Diploma at College of Charleston in South Carolina, Nathan appeared there in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (Almaviva), GALLANTRY (Dr.Gregg), THE MIKADO (Poo-Bah) and GIANNI SCHICCHI (Simone). While at the College of Charleston, the baritone was selected as a featured performer for the Jussi Bjorling Society annual conference in Minneapolis and to appear in masterclass with Christa Ludwig at Carnegie Hall. Additionally, he was a district and regional winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Vocal Competition and finalist of the Metro West Opera Vocal Competition. On theconcert stage, Nathan has performed frequently with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and appeared at Charleston’s renowned Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

Hayan Kim

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Hayan Kim, Soprano

Impressive was the light, effortless-sounding soprano of Hayan Kim(Servilia). –Marc Shulgold, Opera News

Sopano Hayan Kim, as Servilia, Sesto’s sister, brought silvery tone and youthful presence to her assignment. –Harvey Steiman, AspenTimes

Her soprano is full and she sang of love in a light, lively and spirited manner with some adolescent awakening and carried us all with her newfound joy. Ms.Kim was a delightful Juliette of bright vocal potential and a visceral Veronese enchantress. Nino Pantano, Brooklyn Discovery

Hayan Kim, soprano, recently graduated with her professional studies degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Korea National University of Arts and her master’s from the Manhattan School of Music. Ms.Kim was recently appeared as Servilia in La Clemenza di Titio conducted by Jane Glover at the Aspen Music Festival and George Manahan in this past December at Manhattan School of Music. Previous credit include Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Konstanze), L'Elisir d'Amore(Adina), Così fan tutte(Despina), Die Fledermaus(Rosalinde) and La Bohème(Musetta), Hansel and Gretel(Dew Fairy) with Korea National University of Arts and Manhattan School of Music. Also, She was the Soprano soloist in Haydn's Die Schöpfung (Gabriel). She has also been invited to sing in many concerts in Korea and the United States. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Winners’ Recital after receiving first place honor. Ms.Kim has received awards and recognitions from the Opera Index Competition, East Coast International Competition, Berliner International Music Competition and awarded the Minister for Culture Prize in Korea. She has been received a full scholarship for both her undergraduate and graduate careers. She has also been awarded the AOC Fellowship, in honor of Renée Fleming.

Hongni Wu

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Mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu is a Professional Studies degree candidate at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Joan Patenaude-Yarnell. Previous credits include La clemenza di Tito (Sesto) and L’enfant et les sortilèges (La Libellule) with Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, Die Fledermaus (Orlofsky) with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to performance program, Carmen (Carmen) with Xinghai Conservatory of Music, Chinese opera Qingling song (Mrs Umeya) with Guangzhou Opera House. Scene work include Die Fledermaus (Orlofsky) and Der Rosenkavalier (Octavian)with Manhattan School of Music. This past summer she performed with Scuola di Belcanto in Urbania and Bel Canto in Tuscany in Italy with scholarship. Plans include appearances with La Cenerentola (Cenerentola) for Manhattan School of Music, the Gerdine Young Artist Program at Opera Theatre of St Louis and Le nozze di Figaro (Cherubino) for Opera Maine. She will join the Jette Parker Young Artists Program of the Royal Opera House in September 2018.

            

Natalia Kutateladze

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Mezzo-soprano Natalia Kutateladze was born in the Republic of Georgia and graduated from the Central Music High School in Tbilisi as a pianist before being accepted on full scholarship to the Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi Conservatoire as a classical opera singer, where she graduated with honors. In 2015 she was accepted into Juilliard where she is currently studying towards her master’s degree with Edith Wiens. Ms. Kutateladze appeared last season as the Minskwoman in Juilliard Opera’s production of Jonathan Dove’s Flight. Ms. Kutateladze has also participated in the Baltic Season Music Festival, Spivakov International Music Festival, and the International Classical Music Festival of Georgia.

Courtney Johnson

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Courtney Johnson, soprano, is currently a graduate student at Mannes College of Music in New York. A native of Chesapeake, Va., she studied at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts and was a chorus member in Virginia Opera’s 2008 production of Il Trovatore. In 2009, she won the Silver Award at the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Young Arts program in Miami, Fla., and in 2010 she participated in La Lingua della Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy.  In the summer of 2011, she participated in the International Vocal Arts Institute.  She received an Encouragement Award for the 2012 George London Foundation Competition, and Second Place in the 2012 Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition.  She is also a 2013 grant winner of the Opera Index competition and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.

Recent engagements for the young Ms Johnson include her being a Studio Artist in Wolf Trap Opera's 2012 and 2013 season.

In 2013 she made her Opera Orchestra of New York debut in Avery Fisher Hall under Eve Queler as Sofia in I Lombardi.

Meet the Singers - District Auditions 17/18

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Jacob Scharfman is a second-year Master’s candidate at the Juilliard school, studying with Dr. Robert White. He began singing with a children’s opera company in a church basement in his native Boston, mostly because he was rubbish at soccer. His dream roles for the near future include lots of Mozart, Britten, Heggie, and maybe crossover rep / musical theater. His dream roles further on include lots of Verdi, Donizetti, Bellini, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, contemporary English works, and maybe a Pelleas. If he’s traveling the world singing for his supper—with his beloved partner and their someday dog, Barkley—, he’ll be very content indeed. Retiring around 60 sounds nice, to focus on teaching and enjoying life. Find him at jacobscharfman.com!
— Baritone Jacob Scharfman
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A few years ago I had developed some vocal problems that stemmed from misuse and abuse at my college, which is why I did not graduate and why my career has been stunted the last few years. I have been working on my technique and finally feel like my voice is healthy again! It has been my dream, since I was 13, to sing opera and I can’t imagine my life without pursuing this dream.
My family was very poor as I was growing up and we didn’t have money for lessons; but, I listened to singers like Maria Callas, Edita Gruberova, and Natalie Dessay and tried my best to create the same sounds as they were singing.
When I was about 14 I started reading books on vocal technique and tried my best to master it without the aid of a teacher. Thankfully my high school choir director took an interest and helped me with some exercises. After I graduated I felt like there really wasn’t hope for me to go to college, because of my family’s income; however, I had entered a Christian singing contest that year and one of the colleges attending called me and offered me a merit based full tuition scholarship. I was finally able to take lessons with Ms. Sandra Carney, who became such a wonderful mentor to me.
All throughout college she kept telling me to start my career, but I allowed other professors to push me into different directions vocally that ended up causing muscular confusion, swelling, and injury. I left college and went on vocal rest for 6 months. This was a very difficult time in my life in which I became depressed and almost gave up singing completely.
Since college I have worked to make my voice healthy again with the techniques I learned from Ms Carney. I have recently competed in a few Internet vocal contests, but have not been able to continue my opera career due to my work schedule.
A few months ago, with the encouragement of my instructor, I have worked to become ready to start my life and, what I hope to be, a lasting opera career again.
— Soprano Stephanie Rhodes
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My favorite opera currently is The Rake’s Progress by Stravinsky. Before focusing my artistic training on classical singing, I very seriously studied fine art, art history and specifically, mixed media painting and sculpture. When I first made the transition from fine art to voice, I would frequent the art museum treasures of NYC and imagine the artwork as an opera; which is exactly what Stravinsky did (and thankfully dictated!) so that we all can participate in his imagination. I sing because I believe in connection, generosity, self reflection/growth and love. I love history, literature, language, music, design and all of these joys in my life (and more) are married in Opera. When I started viewing singing as sculpting with air, I feel in love and haven’t been able to shake my obsession since!
— Soprano Amanda Rose Austin
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Favorite Opera: It’s really hard to choose, but I am a sucker for La boheme. It was the first opera I ever saw and it holds a special place in my heart.
Why I Started Singing: Before I got into singing, I was training for the Olympics in competitive swimming. When I finally reached qualifying times in the 50 freestyle, 50 backstroke and the 100 backstroke I suffered a back injury. Unsure what to do with my life after; my choral director suggested I start taking vocal lessons. In those lessons is where I was introduced into the world of opera and fell in love.
Why I like opera: I am drawn to opera because of its parallels with that of the sports world; both worlds hold a unique physical passion for perfection which can only be obtained through dedication and determination of a single goal to be the best athlete or artist you can be.
Dream Role: Salome from Strauss’ Salome. I want to make out with a dead head.
— Soprano Samantha Nahra
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I’ve identified as a singer for as far back as I can remember, but started voice lessons officially when I was 15 years old. I’ve always gotten a kick out of performing. I used to make a stage out of my costume boxes right in the doorway between the foyer and the living room, and put on “concerts” for my family. I even attached a sheet to the ceiling for a curtain. Musical Theatre was my first love, and as I continued my studies into college and grad school I began to fall in love with opera as well. In opera, nothing is toodramatic or too emotional to be considered. Its job is to take you on a journey and tell an amazing story through music. It was through opera that I realized my true potential as a performer.
BM: Penn State University
MM: Peabody Conservatory
Favorite Opera: La Bohème
Dream Roles: Amy (Little Women), Juliette (Romeo et Juliette) and Adina (L’elisir d’amore)
— Soprano Sarah Baumgarten