Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meet the District Winners 2014: Takaoki Onishi

Takaoki Onishi
Age 28

Aria choices for the Region Finals (subject to change)

1. Largo al factotum della citta - Il barbiere di Siviglia - Rossini
2. Silvio's aria - I pagliacci - Leoncavallo
3. Ja vas lyublyu - The queen of Spades - Tchaikovsky
4. Tanzlied - Die tote Stadt - Korngold
5. Avant de quitter ces lieux - Faust - Gounod

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Takaoki Onishi: I'm from Tokyo, Japan. I graduated Musashino Music Academy in Tokyo and came to the US to continue my studies at the Juilliard school. I've done, among others, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Masetto in Don Giovanni.  

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?  Are you from a musical family?

TO: My father was an engineer who worked for a long time in a big Japanese electric company, so nothing to do with music. But I inherited his Shokunin-damashii (craftsman spirit) which makes me strive for innovation and perfection as much as possible. I also used to play the tuba for 6 years which made me realize the beauty and possibility of music.

OI: How will you be preparing for the Regionals in the next few weeks?  On the day of the auditions, do you have any rituals you follow?

TO: I will get back to NY from Japan five days before the Regionals (which is a 14-hour flight), so how to recover from that is the key for this time. I usually do some sit-ups before I go, but all I can do is go on stage and concentrate on the music.

OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria or composer?  Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?

TO: Tough question. I love all the composers I sing, so it's very hard to pick one person or one piece. But I truly respect Mozart and Tchaikovsky for their dramaturgy, and I love Schubert and Brahms's intimacy. 

OI: What would your dream role be?

TO: Don Carlo di Vargas in La forza del destino.

OI: What did the experience of participating in the auditions last year teach you?  Did you change anything to your repertory or the way you auditioned?  

TO: I used to sing bigger stuff (like Verdi, Verismo arias) and I learned that the more comfortable I sing, the more I can show. All my five reps now suit me very well, so that I can show more personality and sing naturally.

OI: Do you have any upcoming performances?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Meet the District Winners 2014: Viktor Antipenko

Viktor Antipenko
Age 29

Aria choices for the Region Finals (subject to change)

1. Forse la soglia attinse - Un ballo in maschera - Verdi
2. Kuda, kuda vy udalilis' - Eugene Onegin - Tchaikovsky
3. Young gypsy song - Aleko - Rachmaninoff
4. La fleur que tu m'avais jetée - Carmen - Bizet
5. E lucevan le stelle - Tosca - Puccini

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.  
Viktor Antipenko: I grew up at the famous Glinka Choral College in St. Petersburg. The school gave the world such great musicians as Vladimir Atlantov, Evgeny Mravinsky, Konstantin Simeonov and many others.

At first I was studying conducting, but I loved singing from the first grade. As a member of the well known Boy's Choir of the Glinka Choir College, I learned all about performing during our tours in Russia, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland and the rest of Europe. As a descant (boy's soprano), then alto, and finally tenor after my voice changed, I performed almost all existing chamber repertoire. When I was in the sixth grade as an alto soloist, I recorded Prokofiev's On Guard for Peace under famous Russian conductor Yuri Temirkanov.

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?

VA: Right after my graduation from Glinka Choral College I was invited to join the Mariinsky Opera Chorus. And yes, here I extended my views about singing in a choir. For five years I was combining my studies at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory as a conductor with my job at the opera. Upon my graduation I clearly knew what my passion was. I fell in love with this profession - opera singer! I remember my first show at the Mariinsky Opera, Le nozze di Figaro; just a few measures of singing with acting dressed as a woman... Theater, it can be really fun!

During my time at the Mariinsky Opera I memorized over a hundred operas and performed in top opera houses around the world, including Covent Garden, NHK and Wiener Staatsopera. I even got to experience the feeling of being on the MET stage as the Mariinsky brought its Ring Cycle to the MET in 2007 and I sang in the chorus of Wagner's Götterdämmerung. By the age of 23 I was still a chorus member but I was already performing small roles with Maestro Gergiev. However, at one point it was time to make a difficult decision.  I decided not just to leave the chorus, but also to leave this great stage with more than 200 years of history! It was the stage where I grew up as an artist, where I was performing with the stars, where I was already successful at some level. But I understood that if I wanted to sing the solo roles of my dreams I must create a new person. I needed time for coaching and voice lessons; and taking responsibility for my job and making my own mistakes. This is what brought me to another famous place - the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.  Here I was able to focus on my goals.

As Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer with Mardi Byers
as Senta at the Bolshoi in October 2013.
OI: What would your dream role be?

VA: I have to wait a couple of years before I perform Pagliacci and Gherman, but one dream has already become reality.  Last season I made my debut as Don Jose at the Bolshoi State Academic Theatre in Moscow (the Bolshoi Opera). What a role; what a passion! After this successful debut I was invited again, so last October I made my second debut. I sang four performances of Erik in a new production of Der fliegende Holländer directed by Peter Konwitschny.

My current dream role is pretty simple: to sing a Russian role. I have received invitations to sing in German, Italian, French and English, but I have not had a chance to sing in my native language. I would love to bring the Russian passion to the audiences and let people see it in the correct way. The role of Lensky in Eugene Onegin would be the top of my happiness right now. I'm saying "now" because we're all transforming as a person, singer, actor... And while I am still young this role is a perfect match. In 10 years time? Who knows, maybe Otello...

OI: What performances do you have coming up?

VA: I will be performing Don Jose in Carmen at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow on March 6th and 8th, 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Meet the District Winners 2014: Brian Michael Moore

Brian Michael Moore
Age 21

Aria choices for the Region Finals (subject to change)

1. Dein ist mein ganzes Herz - Das Land des Lächelns - Lehàr
2. Dei miei bollenti spiriti - La Traviata - Verdi
3. In qual fiero contrasto… Tradito, schernito - Così fan tutte - Mozart
4. La fleur que tu m'avais jetée - Carmen - Bizet
5. Ah! Viens dans la forêt profonde - Lakmé - Delibes

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Brian Michael Moore: I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived there all my life until I started school at the Manhattan School of Music, where I am currently in my third year. I've loved music since I was little because my parents made my brother, sister and myself take piano lessons when we were very young. I was a very active child; playing a lot of sports and learning to play the piano. When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma in my left leg. I had surgery to remove it followed by a year of chemotherapy and radiation; and I came out fine in the end. My leg recovered, and I was very active with sports again, until three and a half years later my arm started hurting. I thought it was just a pulled muscle from playing basketball, but when it got progressively worse, my mother took me to my doctor.  We eventually found out that it was osteosarcoma, a different type of bone cancer. I had a very involved surgery on my shoulder, another year of chemotherapy, and again I came out fine.  I have been cancer-free for nine years. 

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?

BM: I couldn't play the piano during my recovery. That's when I learned how much I loved music and missed playing the piano. Eventually I regained the use of my arm and the nurses would bring a keyboard to my hospital room so I could practice while getting treatment. I have been playing the piano ever since. Even though cancer robbed me of part of my childhood, I like to think that cancer gave me a gift by helping me realize my love for music.

VSA International Young Soloist Competition
at the Kennedy Center (2013 Winner)
My older sister Lauren studied voice in high school and college and I loved to see her perform! I wanted to take voice lessons too but my mother wanted me to wait until high school to make sure I was mature enough. So when I went to high school, I was lucky enough to be accepted to take voice lessons with a highly recommended teacher in Cincinnati named Karl Resnik. I wasn't very good at all for my first year, but I really started having confidence when I won my first competition as a sophomore in high school... against much older people. I joined all the musicals and had a blast singing classical music as well whenever I could, even though my opportunities were limited. After being cast in the Cincinnati Opera chorus as a high school junior at 17-years-old, I got to see first hand what being in a professional opera was like and I loved it! I then decided to pursue a degree in voice.

OI: How will you be preparing for the Region Finals?  On the day of the auditions, do you have any rituals you follow?

BM: I will be preparing probably much the same way as the other singers - practice practice practice. And occasional resting, I don't want to blow out my voice before the next round. On the day of the competition though, I usually wake up some ridiculous number of hours beforehand, go for a walk to get my morning juices flowing, and then take it easy until the competition.

Ein Tierhandler in Strauss's
Der Rosenkavalier at Cincinnati Opera
OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria, composer?  Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?

BM: My favorite opera tends to be the one I'm currently in, but I'd have to say overall I really love Faust by Gounod. My favorite arias are always changing as well, but my two favorites right now are probably Faust's aria and Don Jose's aria from Carmen, which I will be offering in the next round! I tend to listen to Roberto Alagna for a lot of my french rep, especially his Romeo, but I would definitely not consider him a role model… I think I'll go with Pavarotti as far as overall voice and success is concerned!

OI: What would your dream role be?

BM: My dream role is definitely Don Jose. While I like Faust and Romeo as operas better than Carmen, the role of Don Jose is right up my alley, and I greatly hope I'll be able to play it some day.

OI: What does it mean to be a District Winner?  

BM: I am greatly honored and it certainly means a lot to be a district winner, especially at such a young age! I guess it just puts a perspective on things in a way that other competitions or auditions really can't - it's the Metropolitan Opera, the end-all be-all for the success of a singer.  It really is a great confidence boost to be selected to move on. However, having already sung in this space and for Ms. Nichols, I do feel a lot less nervous than I would otherwise be, and less nervous than I was in the first round.

OI: What performances do you have coming up?

BM: I will be performing Tebaldo in Bellini's I Capuletti e i Montecchi with the Manhattan School of Music's Opera Repertory Ensemble, conducted by Tom Muraco.  The performances will be on Sunday, May 4th at 5:30 and Monday, May 5th at 7:30 with open dress rehearsals on May 1st and 2nd, both at 7:00. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Meet the District Winners 2014: Brian Vu

Brian Vu
Age 24

Aria choices for Region Finals (subject to change)

1. Largo al factotum - Il barbiere di Siviglia - Rossini
2. Mab, la reine des mensonges - Roméo et Juliette - Gounod
3. Robert's Aria - Iolanta - Tchaikovsky
4. Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen - Die Tote Stadt - Korngold
5. Look! Through the port...And farewell to ye - Billy Budd - Britten

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Brian Vu: My hometown is Orange, CA (The OC, Arrested Development).  I studied at Yale University and some of the roles I have performed are Duke Robert (Iolanta), Ottone (L'incoronazione di Poppea), Mercury (Orpheus in the Underworld) and Minskman (Flight).

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?

Ottone in "L'incoronazione di Poppea"
Picture courtesy of David Schneiderman
BV: I was always in the high school choir, band and drama club; to spend all my after school hours with friends and make new ones. Singing was so much more fun than studying for that Chemistry final or paper writing the night before the deadline. I entered college with the intention of studying International Development Studies and rushing a fraternity. Somehow, music came back into my life, this time in opera form. The rest is history!

OI: How will you be preparing for the Regionals in the next few weeks?  On the day of the auditions, do you have any rituals you follow?

BV: Rest, gym time and listening to my DJ playlist for inspiration and adrenaline.

OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria or composer?  Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?

BV: It's a national anthem, but Juliette's Waltz is such an exciting piece!
Simon Keenlyside would definitely be the opera 'role model.'

OI: What would your dream role be?

 Ottone in "L'incoronazione di Poppea"
Picture courtesy of David Schneiderman
BV: Jack Kelly in Newsies.

OI: Do you have any performances coming up?

I will be singing Marcello in Yale Opera's production of "La Bohème!" Performances are February 14-16th, 2014 at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT.  Tickets can be bought online or at the box office.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meet the District Winners 2014: Robert Balonek

Robert Balonek
Age 29

Aria choices for Region Finals (subject to change):

1. Rivolgete - Così fan tutte - Mozart
2. Within this frail crucible of light - Rape of Lucretia - Britten
3. Votre Toast - Carmen - Bizet
4. Mein Sehnen - Die Tote Stadt - Korngold
5. Papagena! - Die Zauberflöte - Mozart

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Robert Balonek: I'm originally from Rochester NY. I went to Purchase College where I received my bachelors and masters degrees and then attended Mannes School of Music for my professional studies.

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?

RB: I always knew I wanted to perform. My mother is a DJ and was in bands all my life, so being on stage was something I always felt comfortable with. I started off listening to and singing lounge music (Sinatra, Jimmy Roselli, Chet Baker…). My mother took me to a Pavarotti concert when he was in Rochester and from that moment on I was hooked.

OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria or composer?  Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?

RB: I LOVE Bohème and I can listen to anything Puccini any day of the week. Same thing with just about anything Rachmaninov and Verdi composed.

Singers I like to listen to are Robert Merrill and Leonard Warren. I think I have just about every recording and bootleg they have out.

For a role model, Louis Otey; an amazing baritone and a great guy. He and his wife, Maria, run this great festival in Phoenicia and I really love what they’re doing there.

OI: What would your dream role be?

RB: Silvio, Onegin, Marcello, and someday, Rigoletto.

OI: What does it mean to you to be a District Winner? Did you learn anything from the experience which you will be applying at the Regionals?

RB: I learn something about myself every time I sing. About a year ago, I was hit by a car and broke my shoulder, broke 10 ribs and popped a lung. It took a while to heal and there is definitely a difference in the way I sing. The good part about the accident is now, I’m very aware of air, breathing and the importance of stretching before I sing.

I’m THRILLED to be a district winner and I’m taking as much time as work will allow to get my voice into the best shape I can. I’m also excited to sing in such beautiful halls. Merkin is a lot of fun to sing in and I’ve always dreamt of singing on the MET stage.

OI: How will you be preparing for the Regionals in the next few weeks?  On the day of the auditions, do you have any rituals you follow?

RB: Preparing for the regionals, I’ll be singing as much as possible. I also have a concert at Opera America that night so I'll have all that music in my head too.

The morning of, I’ll stretch and do some yoga to get my heart going and try to stretch out my lungs as much as possible.

OI: Do you have any performances coming up?

RB: I’ll be doing two new works this winter:

Bonfire of the Vanities - Stefania De Kenessey Feb 10th
Steal a Pencil for me - Gerald Cohen at Opera America Jan 16th

Also, my Alice Tulley Hall debut on March 19th singing the bass solo in Händel’s Alceste with the American Classical Orchestra. 

And I’ll be singing Escamillo in Carmen with Opera Hamilton in Ontario, CA.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Party 2013: Bios

Nathan Gunn

Nathan Gunn has made a reputation as one of the most exciting and in-demand baritones of the day. He has appeared in internationally renowned opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Theater an der Wien, Teatro Real in Madrid, and the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. His many roles include the title roles in Billy Budd, Eugene Onegin, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Hamlet; Guglielmo in Così­ fan tutte, the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucetia, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore, and Ottone in L'incoronazione di Poppea.

A noted supporter of new works, Mr. Gunn most recently created the role of Paul in the world premiere of Daron Hagen's Amelia at the Seattle Opera. He also created the roles of Alec Harvey in André Previn's Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera, Father Delura in Peter Eötvös' Love and Other Demons at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and Clyde Griffiths in Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera. In the summer of 2013 he returns to the San Francisco Opera for the premiere of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and in the summer of 2015 he will return to the Santa Fe Opera for the premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain.

Also a distinguished concert performer, Mr. Gunn has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The many conductors with whom he has worked with include, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph Eschenbach, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Harding, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Kent Nagano, Antonio Pappano, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Mark Wigglesworth.

A frequent recitalist, Mr. Gunn has been presented in recital at Alice Tully Hall and by Carnegie Hall in Zankel Hall. He has also been presented by Roy Thomson Hall, Cal Performances, the Schubert Club, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Vocal Arts Society in Washington, DC, the University of Chicago, the Krannert Center, the Wigmore Hall, and the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie. As a student, he performed in series of recitals with his teacher and mentor John Wustman that celebrated the 200th anniversary of Franz Schubert's birth.

Mr. Gunn has recently ventured outside the standard opera repertoire with appearances in performances of Camelot with the New York Philharmonic (broadcast live on PBS's Great Performances) and Showboat at Carnegie Hall. He also appeared in the New York Philharmonic's 80th birthday gala celebration for Stephen Sondheim and appeared with the orchestra in an evening of Broadway classics with Kelli O'Hara. Other engagements have included appearances with Mandy Patinkin in Rochester and at the Ravina Festival, a series of cabaret shows at the famed Café Carlyle in New York City and at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, and a performance of Sting and Trudie Styler's work, Twin Spirits in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Mr. Gunn's solo album, Just Before Sunrise, was released on Sony/BMG Masterworks. Other recordings include the title role in Billy Budd with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra (Virgin Classics), which won the 2010 Grammy Award; the first complete recording of Rogers & Hammerstein's Allegro (Sony's Masterworks Broadway), Peter Grimes with Sir Colin Davis and London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live!) which was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (SONY Classics), Kullervo with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Telarc), and American Anthem (EMI). He also starred as Buzz Aldrin in Man on the Moon, an opera written specifically for television and broadcast on the BBC in the UK. The program was awarded the Golden Rose Award for Opera at the Montreux Festival in Lucerne.

Mr. Gunn was the recipient of the first annual Beverly Sills Artist Award, and was awarded the Pittsburgh Opera Renaissance Award. He is an alumnus of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Program and was the winner of the 1994 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. Mr. Gunn is also an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana where he is currently a professor of voice.

Mr. Gunn can be seen this month at the Metropolitan Opera as Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Ricardo Rivera

Baritone, Ricardo Rivera will return to Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Artist in 2014 where he will sing Moralès and cover Escamillo in CARMEN.  He will also make his role debut as Marcello in LA BOHÈME with the El Paso Opera in April of 2014 and will sing a role that was written for him in the world premiere of THE FEAST OF THE GOAT by Andrew McManus with Contempo: Contemporary Chamber Players in Chicago.

In the 2012-2013 season, operatic engagements included performances of Thomas Martin and the Hotel Managers in the world premiere of OSCAR at the Santa Fe Opera and the cover of Germont in LA TRAVIATA, also with the Santa Fe Opera.   Other performances included Mathieu in a return to the Opera Orchestra of NY in ANDREA CHENIER and debuts as Sharpless in MADAMA BUTTERFLY with the Opera Company of Middlebury, Ashby in LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST with Knoxville Opera, and Corifeo in Jorge Lidermann's ANTIGONA FURIOSA with the Contempo: Contemporary Chamber Players.

In the 2011-2012 season, Ricardo made his Opera Orchestra of NY debut in the role of Orsini in Wagner's RIENZI under Maestro Eve Queler in Avery Fisher Hall.  In March, he performed in the Semi-Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, held on the Metropolitan Opera Stage.  He also performed the title role in DON GIOVANNI under Maestro Joseph Colaneri at his alma mater, Mannes College the New School for Music.

Ricardo earned his BM, MM, and PdPL from Mannes College the New School for Music.  In addition to being a National Semi-Finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (MONC), he won 3rd Prize in the Gerda Lissner Competition and  is a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant.

Isabel Leonard

Highly acclaimed for her “passionate intensity and remarkable vocal beauty,” Isabel Leonard continues to thrill audiences both at home in the United States and internationally. She is the recipient of the prestigious 2013 Richard Tucker Award from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation.
In the 2013-2014 season, Isabel Leonard returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Doraballa in Così fan tutte under James Levine, which will also be an HD broadcast in the spring of 2014. Ms. Leonard makes her highly-awaited debuts at the San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, both as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. She also debuts at the Dallas Opera as Rosina. In concert, she will appear alongside other opera luminaries at Carnegie Hall’s Marilyn Horne Song Celebration and with Nathan and Julie Gunn at the Krannert Center at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

Metropolitan Opera audiences recently heard Ms. Leonard in two important role debuts during the 2012-2013 season: Miranda in Ades’s The Tempest and as Blanche in John Dexter’s ground-breaking production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites. She also appeared in the English-version of The Barber of Seville which was broadcast internationally in HD. Last season also brought another important role and company debut as Sesto in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito at the Canadian Opera Company. In recital, Ms. Leonard was featured in her Zankel Hall recital debut at Carnegie Hall. She also appeared at the University of Notre Dame, Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, San Francisco Performances, and at Atlanta’s Spivey Hall to rave reviews. She debuted Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under Edo de Waart and closed the season in Japan at the Saito Kinen Festival, where she performed the title role in L’enfant et les sortilèges and Concepcion in Ravel’s L’heure espagnole with Seiji Ozawa conducting.

In recent seasons, Ms. Leonard has appeared as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, all at the Metropolitan Opera; as Sesto in Laurent Pelly’s production of Giulio Cesare at Opéra National de Paris with Emmanuel Haim conducting and as Cherubino; the Glyndebourne Festival as Cherubino in the new Michael Grandage production of Le Nozze di Figaro; and the Vienna State Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. She made a sensational role debut as Ruggiero in the new David Alden production of Handel’s Alcina at Opera National de Bordeaux and her interpretation of Costanza in the Peter Sellars production of Vivaldi’s Griselda at the Santa Fe Opera was met with the highest critical and audience acclaim.

Other notable engagements have included the title role in Offenbach’s La Périchole at Opéra National de Bordeaux, where she also made her European and professional stage debut as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Cherubino at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and Dorabella in a new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the Salzburg Festival directed by Claus Guth, which was telecast live internationally. Ms. Leonard made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette conducted by Plácido Domingo. This production was recorded for DVD release and broadcast live in HD. She has appeared as Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Colorado; in the title role of Rossini’s La Cenerentola at the Fort Worth Opera; as Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Chicago Opera Theater; as Cherubino in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro at the Santa Fe Opera; and made her professional US opera debut as Stéphano in Atlanta Opera’s production of Roméo et Juliette.

Ms. Leonard made her New York Philharmonic debut in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges conducted by Lorin Maazel, and her American orchestral debut in The Three-Cornered Hat with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Festival under Gustavo Dudamel. Other concert engagements include Mozart’s “Ch’io mi scordi di te?” with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, de Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, Mozart’s Exultate, jubilate and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. with the St. Louis Symphony, Mozart’s Mass in C minor with Esa-Pekka Salonen and Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette under Valery Gergiev, both with the Chicago Symphony, Cherubino in a concert version of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, and Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with James Conlon in her debut at the Cincinnati May Festival.
Ms. Leonard is in constant demand as a recitalist having made her first coast-to-coast recital tour in the 2007-08 season in Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Fort Worth and ending with her Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall. She has appeared as a guest soloist in the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s 75th Birthday Gala in Carnegie Hall and was featured in a solo recital as part of the Foundation’s On Wings of Song series in New York City. Ms. Leonard has also performed with soprano Barbara Bonney in recital at Alice Tully Hall presented by the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society.

Ms. Leonard is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards which include the Beverly Sills Award (2011), the Richard Gold Award of the Shoshana Foundation (2007), a Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Award (2006), the William Schuman Graduation Prize of the Juilliard School (2006), the Makiko Narumi Prize of the Juilliard School (2005), the Marilyn Horne Foundation Award of the Music Academy of the West (2005) and was a winner of the Giulio Gari Competition (2005).
Isabel Leonard is a native New Yorker and received both her Bachelor and Masters of Music at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Edith Bers. She has also studied with Marilyn Horne, Brian Zeger, Warren Jones, Margo Garrett, Denise Massé and Janine Reiss.

Eric Owens

Paul Sirochman Photography
Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a unique reputation as an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in orchestral, recital and opera performances, Owens brings his powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world.

Owens begins his 2013-2014 season in Berlin, performing Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. After mentoring the next generation of opera stars at the American Singers' Opera Project at the Kennedy Center with friend and collaborator Renée Fleming, Owens will appear as Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera. He makes another role debut as Vodnik in Rusalka at Lyric Opera Chicago at the start of 2014. In the spring, Owens joins what director Peter Sellars calls his "dream cast" in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Handel’s Hercules as the title role alongside Alice Coote, David Daniels, and Richard Croft.  2013-14 also sees a duo recital with soprano Susanna Phillips presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Throughout the season, Owens will bow as Alberich in the Deutsche Opera Berlin Ring Cycle. The summer, Owens performs in the Wiener Staatsoper Ring Cycle.

Owens has created an uncommon niche for himself in the ever-growing body of contemporary opera works through his determined tackling of new and challenging roles. He received great critical acclaim for portraying the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with the Los Angeles Opera, and again at the Lincoln Center Festival, in a production directed and designed by Julie Taymor. Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he performed the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree at Peter Sellars’s New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna and later with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Doctor Atomic was later recorded and received the 2012 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño.

Owens’s career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut in Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden, debut in  Norma; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Bohème at Los Angeles Opera; Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; and Ariodante and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera. He sang Collatinus in a highly acclaimed Christopher Alden production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glimmerglass Opera. A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Owens has sung Sarastro, Mephistopheles in Faust, Frère Laurent, Angelotti in Tosca, and Aristotle Onassis in the world premiere of Jackie O (available on the Argo label) with that company. Owens is featured on two Telarc recordings with the Atlanta Symphony: Mozart’s Requiem and scenes from Strauss’ Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten, both conducted by Donald Runnicles. He is featured on the Nonesuch Records release of A Flowering Tree. Owens has been recognized with multiple honors, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, and second prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.

A native of Philadelphia, Owens began his musical training as a pianist at the age of six, followed by formal oboe study at age eleven under Lloyd Shorter of the Delaware Symphony and Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He studied voice while an undergraduate at Temple University, and then as a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music. He currently studies with Armen Boyajian. He serves on the Board of Trustees of both the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Astral Artistic Services.

Gaston Rivero

Hailed as a “remarkable Spinto tenor” Gaston Rivero is worldwide recognized for his dynamic stage presence, dark timbre and wide range of flexibility

His career began in earnest when his early mentor the renowned conductor Eugene Kohn recognized his talent and helped launch his career.

During 2003 he joined the ensemble of the Baz Luhrman’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme on Broadway in New York City.

Company credits include Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Staatsoper Berlin; Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Ismaele in Nabucco, Alfredo in La Traviata and the Singer in Der Rosenkavalier at Oper Leipzig, Don Jose in Carmen, Rodolfo in La Boheme, Agamenonne in Cassandra and Cloriviere in Maria Victoire at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Grand Theatre Opera National de Bordeaux; the Singer in Der Rosenkavalier at Grand Théâtre de Genève; Don Jose in Carmen at the Staatsoper Hannover; Faust in Mefistofeles, B.F. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, and the title role in Don Carlo at the Hungarian State Opera Budapest; Ismaele in Nabucco at Teatro Massimo di Palermo;the title role in Don Carlo at the Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa; Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut at Oper Graz; Radames in Aida, Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca and Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt; Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut at Theater Freiburg; Rodolfo in La Boheme at the Staatstheater Darmstadt; Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca at the Staatstheater Kassel; Faust in Mefistofele at Staatstheater Mainz; Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly and Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Staatstheather Nürnberg; Alfredo in La Traviata with Palm Beach Opera; Manrico in Il Trovatore with the Croatian National Theater Zagreb; Macduff in Macbeth and Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana at the Teatro Solis de Montevideo; Romeo in Romeo et Juliette with Opera Carolina and PORTOpera; Don Jose in Carmen with l’Opera de Lausanne (Japan tour); Rodolfo in La Boheme with Arizona Opera and Flaminio in L’amore dei Tre Re with Opera Orchestra of New York.

Gaston Rivero worked with Regie and film directors Baz Luhrmann, Philipp Stölzl, Johannes Schaaf, Dietrich W. Hilsdorf and Kirsten Harms.

Upcoming engagements include, Rodolfo in Luisa Miller at the Staatstheater Stuttgart; Don Jose in Carmen at the Deutsche Oper Berlin; Manrico in Il Trovatore at the Opéra-Théâtre de Limoge; Alfredo in La Traviata and Rodolfo in La Boheme at Oper Leipzig; Don Jose in Carmen at the Yehidi Menuhin Festival Gstaad; Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut and Rodolfo in Luisa Miller at Aalto Musiktheater Essen and Don Jose in Carmen at the New National Theater Tokyo.

Gaston Rivero has received a number of awards including the 28th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition, First place winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Audition Eastern Region 2006 and 2007, First place of the Fritz and Lavinia Jensen Foundation 2006, The Concurso Internacional de Canto Montserrat Caballe, The Dixy Drechsler Scholarship from The Opera Foundation and The Vidda Award from Opera Orchestra of New York 2007-2008. Finalist in Placido Domingo’s Operalia, Concurso Internacional de Canto Francisco Viñas and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2005.