Giacomo Puccini, in full Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini, (born December 22, 1858, Lucca, Tuscany [Italy]—died November 29, 1924, Brussels, Belgium), Italian composer, one of the greatest exponents of operatic realism, who virtually brought the history of Italian opera to an end. His mature operas included La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (left incomplete).
Puccini was the last descendant of a family that for two centuries had provided the musical directors of the Cathedral of San Martino in Lucca. Puccini initially dedicated himself to music, therefore, not as a personal vocation but as a family profession. He was orphaned at the age of five by the death of his father, and the municipality of Lucca supported the family with a small pension and kept the position of cathedral organist open for Giacomo until he came of age. He first studied music with two of his father’s former pupils, and he played the organ in small local churches. A performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, which he saw in Pisa in 1876, convinced him that his true vocation was opera. In the autumn of 1880 he went to study at the Milan Conservatory, where his principal teachers were Antonio Bazzini, a famous violinist and composer of chamber music, and Amilcare Ponchielli, the composer of the opera La gioconda. On July 16, 1883, he received his diploma and presented as his graduation composition Capriccio sinfonico, an instrumental work that attracted the attention of influential musical circles in Milan. In the same year, he entered Le villi in a competition for one-act operas. The judges did not think Le villi worthy of consideration, but a group of friends, led by the composer-librettist Arrigo Boito, subsidized its production, and its premiere took place with immense success at Milan’s Verme Theatre on May 31, 1884. Le villi was remarkable for its dramatic power, its operatic melody, and, revealing the influence of Richard Wagner’s works, the important role played by the orchestra. The music publisher Giulio Ricordi immediately acquired the copyright, with the stipulation that the opera be expanded to two acts. He also commissioned Puccini to write a new opera for La Scala and gave him a monthly stipend: thus began Puccini’s lifelong association with Giulio Ricordi, who was to become a staunch friend and counselor.
After the death of his mother, Puccini fled from Lucca with a married woman, Elvira Gemignani. Finding in their passion the courage to defy the truly enormous scandal generated by their illegal union, they lived at first in Monza, near Milan, where a son, Antonio, was born. In 1890 they moved to Milan, and in 1891 to Torre del Lago, a fishing village on Lake Massaciuccoli in Tuscany. This home was to become Puccini’s refuge from life, and he remained there until three years before his death, when he moved to Viareggio. But living with Elvira proved difficult. Tempestuous rather than compliant, she was justifiably jealous and was not an ideal companion. The two were finally able to marry in 1904, after the death of Elvira’s husband. Puccini’s second opera, Edgar, based on a verse drama by the French writer Alfred de Musset, had been performed at La Scala in 1889, and it was a failure. Nevertheless, Ricordi continued to have faith in his protégé and sent him to Bayreuth in Germany to hear Wagner’s Die Meistersinger.
Puccini returned from Bayreuth with the plan for Manon Lescaut, based, like the Manon of the French composer Jules Massenet, on the celebrated 18th-century novel by the Abbé Prévost. Beginning with this opera, Puccini carefully selected the subjects for his operas and spent considerable time on the preparation of the librettos. The psychology of the heroine in Manon Lescaut, as in succeeding works, dominates the dramatic nature of Puccini’s operas. Puccini, in sympathy with his public, was writing to move them so as to assure his success. The score of Manon Lescaut, dramatically alive, prefigures the operatic refinements achieved in his mature operas: La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and La fanciulla del west (1910; The Girl of the Golden West). These four mature works also tell a moving love story, one that centres entirely on the feminine protagonist and ends in a tragic resolution. All four speak the same refined and limpid musical language of the orchestra that creates the subtle play of thematic reminiscences. The music always emerges from the words, indissolubly bound to their meaning and to the images they evoke. In Bohème, Tosca, and Butterfly, he collaborated enthusiastically with the writers Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. The first performance (February 17, 1904) of Madama Butterfly was a fiasco, probably because the audience found the work too much like Puccini’s preceding operas.
In 1908, having spent the summer in Cairo, the Puccinis returned to Torre del Lago, and Giacomo devoted himself to Fanciulla. Elvira unexpectedly became jealous of Doria Manfredi, a young servant from the village who had been employed for several years by the Puccinis. She drove Doria from the house threatening to kill her. Subsequently, the servant girl poisoned herself, and her parents had the body examined by a physician, who declared her a virgin. The Manfredis brought charges against Elvira Puccini for persecution and calumny, creating one of the most famous scandals of the time. Elvira was found guilty, but through the negotiations of the lawyers was not sentenced, and Puccini paid damages to the Manfredis, who withdrew their accusations. Eventually the Puccinis adjusted themselves to a coexistence, but the composer from then on demanded absolute freedom of action.
The premiere of La fanciulla del west took place at the Metropolitan in New York City on December 10, 1910, with Arturo Toscanini conducting. It was a great triumph, and with it Puccini reached the end of his mature period. He admitted “writing an opera is difficult.” For one who had been the typical operatic representative of the turn of the century, he felt the new century advancing ruthlessly with problems no longer his own. He did not understand contemporary events, such as World War I. In 1917 at Monte-Carlo in Monaco, Puccini’s opera La rondine was first performed and then was quickly forgotten.
Always interested in contemporary operatic compositions, Puccini studied the works of Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, and Igor Stravinsky. From this study emerged Il trittico (The Triptych; New York City, 1918), three stylistically individual one-act operas—the melodramatic Il tabarro (The Cloak), the sentimental Suor Angelica, and the comic Gianni Schicchi. His last opera, based on the fable of Turandot as told in the play Turandot by the 18th-century Italian dramatist Carlo Gozzi, is the only Italian opera in the Impressionistic style. Puccini did not complete Turandot, unable to write a final grand duet on the triumphant love between Turandot and Calaf. Suffering from cancer of the throat, he was ordered to Brussels for surgery, and a few days afterward he died with the incomplete score of Turandot in his hands.
Turandot was performed posthumously at La Scala on April 25, 1926, and Arturo Toscanini, who conducted the performance, concluded the opera at the point Puccini had reached before dying. Two final scenes were completed by Franco Alfano from Puccini’s sketches.
Solemn funeral services were held for Puccini at La Scala in Milan, and his body was taken to Torre del Lago, which became the Puccini Pantheon. Shortly afterward, Elvira and Antonio were also buried there. The Puccini house became a museum and an archive.
Luigi Illica (1857 – 1919) was an Italian librettist who wrote for Giacomo Puccini (usually with Giuseppe Giacosa), Pietro Mascagni, Alfredo Catalani, Umberto Giordano, Baron Alberto Franchetti and other important Italian composers. His most famous opera libretti are those for La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Andrea Chénier.
Illica was born at Castell'Arquato. His personal life sometimes imitated his libretti. The reason he is always photographed with his head slightly turned is because he lost his right ear in a duel over a woman. When silent films based on Illica's operas were made, his name appeared in large letters on advertisements because distributors could only guarantee that his stories would be used, and not that they would be accompanied by the music of the appropriate composer.
As a playwright of considerable quality, he is today remembered through one of Italy's oldest awards, the Luigi Illica International Prize founded in 1961, which goes to world famous opera singers, opera conductors, directors and authors. The Award is now awarded every two years and alternates with the Illica Opera Stage International Competition, which offers prizes and debut opportunities to young singers.
Giuseppe Giacosa (1847 – 1906) was an Italian poet, playwright and librettist. He was born in Colleretto Parella, now Colleretto Giacosa, near Turin. His father was a magistrate. Giuseppe went to the University of Turin, studying in the University of Turin, Faculty of Law. Though he gained a degree in law, he did not pursue a legal career.
He gained initial fame for his play Una Partita a Scacchi ("A Game of Chess") in 1871. His main field was playwriting, which he accomplished with both insight and simplicity, using subjects set in Piedmont and themes addressing contemporary bourgeois values. He wrote La signora di Challant (La Dame de Challant, The Lady of Challand), based on a novella by Matteo Bandello, for noted French actress Sarah Bernhardt, produced in New York in 1891.
Giacosa wrote the final polished version of the libretto for Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut, which had been begun by Ruggero Leoncavallo, Marco Praga, Domenico Oliva, and Luigi Illica. He also wrote the librettos used by Puccini for La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly in conjunction with Luigi Illica. Illica supplied the plot and dialogue, and Giacosa polished the libretto into verses.
Stephanie HaveyStage Director
Winner of the Adelaide Bishop award for artistic quality and winner of the Opera America Director-Designer Showcase, Stephanie Havey has staged productions for Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Arizona Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Omaha, New York City Opera, North Carolina Opera, and Hawaii Opera Theatre, as well as new productions of La rondine for The Curtis Institute of Music, Tosca for the Lyrique-en-mer International Festival de Belle-Ile, The Crucible for Opera Santa Barbara, Shining Brow for Tulsa Opera, Il matrimonio segreto for Carnegie Mellon University, Rigoletto for Syracuse Opera, Falstaff for Resonance Works Pittsburgh, and Gluck’s Armide for OperaNeo. She also has been a member of the staging staff at San Francisco Opera and The Santa Fe Opera.
Engagements for the 2019/20 COVID-19 affected season included Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera de Montreal, a new production of Norma for Boston Lyric Opera, La Traviata with Hawaii Opera Theatre, returning to the Pittsburgh Opera for Norma and Florencia en el Amazonas, and La bohème for Charlottesville Opera. This season’s engagements include Il barbiere di Siviglia with Finger Lakes Opera as well as postponed or cancelled productions of Carmen with Arizona Opera, The Pirates of Penzance and Rigoletto with Virginia Opera, and Eugene Onegin with Minnesota Opera.
Havey was selected to participate in San Diego Opera’s theatre innovation project “Opera Hack,” a two-year project funded by an Opera America Innovation Grant to discover new ways for technology to be used in the production and presentation of opera. She also had the honor of hosting the 2019 Opera America Director-Designer Showcase at the National Conference in San Francisco as a returning alumna.
Havey is a frequent collaborator for the development of new opera, staging new works with Opera Philadelphia for their Double Exposure event, Opera America’s New Works Forum, and as the Resident Stage Director for North American New Opera Workshop.
During her two seasons as the first Resident Artist Stage Director for the Pittsburgh Opera, she received rave reviews for her new production of Il matrimonio segreto and directed numerous productions and a staged recital series in the Opera Studio. Other professional engagements include Central City Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Sarasota Opera, Virginia Opera, and Nashville Opera.
Havey has been a guest instructor for Young Artist training programs including Curtis Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, OperaNeo, Opera North, University of Delaware, and the Florida State Opera.
Conductor Daniela Candillari, praised for her “confidence and apparently inexhaustible verve” (The New York Times), continues to be recognized for her dynamic and compelling performances at opera houses and concert stages throughout North America and Europe. Equally at home leading contemporary and long-beloved repertoire, Candillari “finds equal inspiration in tradition and novelty” (Opera News). She is Principal Conductor of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Principal Opera Conductor of Music Academy of the West.
Candillari makes her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2021-2022 season conducting Aucoin’s Eurydice. She also leads a new production of Jeanine Tesori’s Blue with Detroit Opera and workshops the composer’s Grounded with Washington National Opera and The Met Opera, conducts Fire Shut Up in My Bones at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Carmen at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and leads Eugene Onegin with Music Academy of the West. A film of Candillari leading the world premiere of Clint Borzoni’s The Copper Queen with Arizona Opera was released in late 2021 and she led a made-for-TV film of Ana Sokolović’s Svadba with Boston Lyric Opera out in January 2022.
Recent highlights include Candillari’s New York Philharmonic debut conducting Thomson’s The Mother of us All at The Metropolitan Museum of Art co-produced by The Juilliard School in early 2020; her 2021 debuts with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Saint Louis Symphony; acclaimed performances of Acquanetta with the PROTOTYPE Festival; her debuts with Los Angeles Opera for Ellen Reid’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, prism, and with Opera Philadelphia in a new production of Rene Orth’s Empty the House; leading Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain at Music Academy of the West; her mainstage debut at Arizona Opera conducting Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers, which she led in previous seasons with both the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Minnesota Opera; and her Asian debut in Hong Kong conducting Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Angel’s Bone. She appeared in concert with Trinity Wall Street’s NOVUS NY Festival to open their 2018 season in celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s Centennial, and returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 for Jack Perla’s An American Dream.
As a composer, Candillari has been commissioned by artists including instrumentalists from the Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh Symphonies, as well as the three resident orchestras of Lincoln Center: the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. An avid educator, she spent the summer of 2019 conducting the West Coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain at the Music Academy of the West.
Born in Serbia, Candillari grew up in Serbia and Slovenia. She holds a Doctorate in Musicology from the Universität für Musik in Vienna, a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and a Master of Music and Bachelor in Piano Performance from the Universität für Musik in Graz. She was a Fulbright Scholarship recipient and was subsequently awarded a TED Fellowship. Learn more at www.danielacandillari.com.
Gregory Allen HirschLighting Designer
Gregory Allen Hirsch is a Lighting Designer who works extensively in the worlds of Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, and Opera. He's won two Drama-logue Awards, a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, and an Emmy Award for his lighting designs. He has lit such luminaries as Richard Kiley, Robert Goulet, Yul Brynner, Joan Diener, John Cullum, Raul Julia, Tommy Chong, Sammy Davis, Jr., Beverly Sills, The Kids in the Hall, Gilda Cruz-Romo, Julius LaRosa, and Theodore Bikel. For Arizona Opera he has designed Carmen, A Little Night Music, Riders of the Purple Sage, La Bohème, La Traviata, Tosca, Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, and Madame Butterfly.
Alita LopezWig & Makeup Designer
A native of Tucson, Alita Lopez began her career with Arizona Opera in 2001 working as a makeup artist. After just a few seasons, she became assistant to the former Wig Master. In this position she learned the art of wig building and developed her skill as a stylist. In 2010, she took on the title of Wig Master and has been overseeing the hair and makeup department at Arizona Opera ever since. In addition to managing her crew, she utilizes her creativity and talent as an artist and designer to aide each director in the realization of their vision.
Mario PachecoAssistant Stage Director
Mario Pacheco is an emerging Canadian stage director hailing from Hamilton, Ontario. He is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program and is currently pursuing the University of Toronto’s Artist Diploma in Operatic Stage Direction under the mentorship of Michael Albano. Assistant directing credits include This is Prophetic with Against the Grain Theatre/UofT Opera, La bohème with Brott Opera, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Opera NUOVA, and Le nozze di Figaro with Western University Opera. Most recently, Pacheco directed Il segreto di Susanna, The Bear, and Bon Appétit! for the University of Toronto Opera Division. Future engagements include directing the student composer collective, Disobedience, as well as assisting on Il barbiere di Siviglia and Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land, directed by Tim Albery for The University of Toronto Opera Division.
Bradley TaylorAssistant Lighting Designer
Bradley Taylor is currently in his second season as the Production Manager and Lighting Supervisor at Arizona Opera. He began serving as the Assistant Lighting Designer for Arizona Opera during the 2021/22 Season. Taylor has worked in many different roles in the lighting industry and was a member of the 2019 lighting design bench at the Walt Disney World Resort, he has also served as the Programmer for various events and performances. Future engagements include Ariadne auf Naxos, Tosco, The Sound of Music, and The Magic Flute for Arizona Opera.
Laura WildeTosca January 20, 22, & 28
A 2019 Richard Tucker Foundation career grant recipient, American soprano Laura Wilde has been praised by Opera News for having “a ravishingly beautiful sound, [and] a fine sense of style and character.”
In the 2020/21 Season, Wilde makes house debuts at Seattle Opera as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and at Chicago Opera Theatre as Phyllis in the world premiere of Matthew Recio’s The Puppy Episode. She was also scheduled to make house debuts at the Metropolitan Opera as the Guardian of the Threshold in Die Frau ohne Schatten and at Washington National Opera as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and in concert, to sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
In the 2019/20 Season, Wilde returned to Staatstheater Stuttgart as Agathe in Der Freischütz and to Arizona Opera as Mamah Cheney in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s Shining Brow. Previously scheduled engagements included a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Sieglinde in Die Walküre as well as Freia, Ortlinde, and the Third Norn for the full Ring Cycle under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, her role debut as Marguerite in Faust at Staatstheater Stuttgart, and her role debut as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Berkshire Opera Festival. In concert, she made her Australian debut as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with Sir Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony, and gave a solo recital with Craig Terry at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee.
Highlights of recent seasons include the title role in Janáček’s Jenůfa at both Santa Fe Opera and English National Opera; Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Agathe at Staatstheater Stuttgart; the title role of Káťa Kabanová at Scottish Opera; Freia in Das Rheingold as well as Ortlinde and the cover of Sieglinde in Die Walküre, in David Pountney’s new Ring Cycle conducted by Sir Andrew Davis at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Gretel with Sir Andrew Davis at the Edinburgh Festival; Laura in Korngold’s rarely performed one-act opera Der Ring des Polykrates at Dallas Opera; Micaëla in Carmen at Nashville Opera; Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Jane Withersteen in the world premiere of Craig Bohmler’s Riders of the Purple Sage as well as Freia at Arizona Opera; and the Foreign Princess in Rusalka at Des Moines Metro Opera.
In concert, Wilde has shared the stage with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and baritone Quinn Kelsey in the inaugural season of the Beyond the Aria recital series at Chicago’s Harris Theater, accompanied by Craig Terry. She has presented a solo recital and masterclass at South Dakota State University, also with Craig Terry, and sung Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Charlotte Symphony and Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with the Elgin Symphony in Illinois. In the summer of 2015, Wilde sang the role of Lucy in Grant Park Music Festival’s concert performance of Menotti’s The Telephone.
As a member of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Wilde covered Renée Fleming in Capriccio and the role of Marta in Weinberg’s The Passenger, and both performed Marianne Leitmetzerin and covered the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She also covered the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Hanna in The Merry Widow, and sang the role of Anna in Nabucco. Additioanlly, she appeared on the mainstage as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and a Flower Maiden in Parsifal, and covered the roles of Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, the Foreign Princess in Rusalka, and Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito.
Originally from Watertown, South Dakota, Wilde’s love of music began with the trumpet. While attending the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp as a trumpet player, she discovered her classical voice and was encouraged to pursue that musical avenue as well. She attended St. Olaf College for her undergraduate degree, focusing first on trumpet performance. Singing, however, became her true musical passion, and she graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Wilde earned her Master of Music degree from Indiana University, where she studied with Costanza Cuccaro. She is a winner of the 2018 Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation Award from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the 2017 Sullivan Grant award, the 2016 Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation, the 2016 Luminarts Women’s Voice Fellowship, the 2015 Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Award, and the 2015 Musicians Club of Women Eleanor Pearce Sherwin Award from the American Opera Society of Chicago. She currently resides in Chicago.
Caitlin GotimerTosca January 21 & 29
Praised for her "full, focused soprano," Caitlin Gotimer, originally from Malverne, NY, recently completed her second year with the Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio. During the 2021/22 season, Gotimer was seen as Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen, Mrs. Anderssen in Sondheim's A Little Night Music, and Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte.
Gotimer performed a variety of scenes and arias during Arizona Opera's Reimagined 2020/21 Season, including highlights from Madame Butterfly, La rondine, and Pagliacci.
In the summer of 2020, Gotimer participated in The Glimmerglass Festival's virtual Young Artist Program, having been scheduled to sing Armida in Handel's Rinaldo prior to COVID-19.
Gotimer was a part of the Resident Artist program at Pittsburgh Opera from 2018/20. There she appeared as the title role in Handel's Alcina, Tink Enraught in Hilliard and Boresi's The Last American Hammer, Older Alyce in Cipullo's Glory Denied, Elettra in AfterWARds (Mozart's Idomeneo Reimagined,) and Sandman/Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel. Gotimer also covered Mimì in the company's production of Puccini's La bohème.
In the 2017/18 Season, Gotimer was a part of the Artist Diploma in Opera program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she received a Masters of Music in Voice in 2017. During her time at CCM, Gotimer sang Suor Angelica in Suor Angelica, Dalinda in Ariodante, and Anne Sexton in Conrad Sousa's Transformations.
During the summer of 2017, Gotimer returned to the Crested Butte Opera Studio to sing Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. She debuted at the company in the summer of 2016, singing Musetta in another Puccini favorite, La bohème.
Gotimer has been the recipient of several awards and honors. In 2020, Gotimer was a semi-finalist in the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition, and a finalist in Pittsburgh Festival Opera's Mildred Miller Competition. In 2019, Gotimer won third prize in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Great Lakes Regionals, after receiving the Marianne Cornetti Award in the Pittsburgh District. In 2017, Gotimer was the recipient of one the top prizes in CCM's annual Corbett Competition, the Italo Tajo Award. Weeks later, she won the Audience Favorite Award and Second Prize in the Opera Guild of Dayton Competition. She was an Encouragement Award winner of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Opera National Councils in 2016. In 2015, Gotimer won first place in the National Biennial Collegiate Voice Competition run by NFMC. That summer, she was selected to be a Binghamton University Summer Scholar and Artist before attending the first of two summers at the Chautauqua Institute School of Music. At Binghamton University, she was the recipient of the Provost Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, and the Stevenson Barrett Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Vocal Performance.
Having received her Bachelors of Music in Voice from Binghamton University, Gotimer performed roles with both the Binghamton University Opera Studio and the partnered TriCities Opera. During her undergraduate studies, Gotimer developed a passion for opera outreach, performing the role of the Mother in Hansel and Gretel in schools around the area with the Binghamton University Opera Studio. In 2017, she sang Pamina in a special children’s adaptation of Die Zauberflöte with ROKCincy.
On the concert stage, Gotimer has been a soloist in the Mozart Requiem in D minor at the Song d’été in Quebec, and in the Bach Missa Brevis in F with Binghamton University. In 2014, Gotimer was the first undergraduate vocalist to win Binghamton University's Concerto Competition.
SeokJong BaekCavaradossi January 20, 22, & 28
San Francisco Classical Voice hails South Korean tenor SeokJong Baek for his “warm, beautifully modulated voice”, Mr. Baek is the 1st Place winner of the 2021 Loren L. Zachary Society National Vocal Competition, 1st Prize, Audience Award and Enrico Caruso Award winner of the 2021 Vincero World Singing Competition, 3rd Prize, audience prize and Placido Domingo Prize-winner of the 59th Tenor Viñas Competition, and 3rd Price winner of the 2021 Iris Adami Corradetti International Competition. This season, he makes his role and house debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca with Teatro Massimo di Palermo, joins the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden covering the title role in Samson et Dalila, joins Minnesota Opera for their VOICES UNITED concert singing excerpts from Samson et Dalila, Aida, and Lohengrin, and also joins Palm Springs Opera in concert singing arias from Turandot, Tosca, Carmen and La Gioconda. Next season, he will make his Prague State Opera debut singing his first performances of Calaf in Turandot, Canio in Pagliacci and Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, make his Arizona Opera debut as Cavaradossi in Tosca, and join the roster of the Metropolitan Opera.
Mr. Baek recently transitioned from baritone to tenor, where he previously joined San Francisco Opera as an Adler Fellow in 2019, where he sang Morales in Carmen, Gregorio in Romeo et Juliette, and the Innkeeper/Naval Captain in Manon Lescaut, while also being responsible for covering the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, the Hunter in Rusalka, and Lescaut in Manon Lescaut. As a Resident Artist with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, he sang performances of Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, David in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge, and Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief. Last summer as a participant in San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program, he sang selections as Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles and Masetto in Don Giovanni, as well as “Zaza piccolo zingara from Berrettoni’s Zaza in the Merola Grand Finale concert. While a member of the Aspen Opera Center, Mr. Baek sang his first performances of Giorgio Germont in La traviata, as well as Silvio in Pagliacci and Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro in a concert of opera scenes. While studying at Manhattan School of Music, his roles included Gautru in Delibes’ Le roi l’a dit and Colonel Tschang in Das Land des Lächelns, as well as scenes from Don Pasquale in concert. He was also awarded First Prize in the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition.
Mr. Baek is a 3rd Prize winner from the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition 2018, Grant Award winner from the Giulio Gari Foundation Internation Vocal Competition, Extraordinary Prize winner from the Sonora International Opera Competition, 2nd Prize winner of the Alfredo Silipigni Vocal Competition, 2nd Prize winner from the New Jersey Verismo Opera Competition, and has received awards from the Opera Index Vocal Competition and the Peel Music Festival Competition.
Mr. Baek attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto’s Vocal training program, and holds both a Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music from Manhattan School of Music.
John Matthew MyersCavaradossi January 21 & 29
Tenor John Matthew Myers, declared an “artist to watch” by Opera News, has rapidly established himself as one of today's exceptional young voices. He has collaborated with companies such as the New York Philharmonic, Verbier Festival, Santa Fe Opera and LA Opera, and he made his surprise Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in 2017 as Mao in John Adams’s Nixon in China conducted by the composer. Myers’s breakout performance was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “brightly lighted to match his declaiming voice.” He has garnered acclaim for his “lovely, warm tenor of considerable promise” (Opera News), “possesses a voice of vocal grandeur” (The Morning Call) “insightful and beautifully nuanced performances” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
In recent seasons Myers has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera covering roles in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades and Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. Additionally, he has been presented in recital by the Harvard Musical Association and featured in performances of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the Jacksonville Symphony.
In the 2021/22 Season, Myers returns to the Metropolitan Opera, covering productions of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, and will sing Tenor I in the Pit Ensemble for the full run of Brett Dean's Hamlet. Myers also sings the role of Flavio in Bellini’s Norma with Teatro Regio di Parma in Parma, Italy. Additionally, he makes his orchestral debut with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia singing Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings.
Myers made his New York Philharmonic debut in the 2018/19 Season in the world premiere of David Lang’s fully staged opera, prisoner of the state. Directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer, prisoner of the state was released as an album on the Decca Gold label in June 2020. That same season, Myers returned to the LA Phil to participate in a new production of John Cage’s Europeras 1 & 2 in collaboration with The Industry and under the direction of Yuval Sharon. Myers’s additional recent performances include Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at Carnegie Hall with the Canterbury Choral Society, and a recital at the Kennedy Center after winning Vocal Arts DC’s 2017 Art Song Competition.
Highlights of Myers’s extensive opera repertoire include Pollione in Norma (LA Opera), Don Jose in Carmen (Music Academy of the West), Cassio in Otello (Portland Summer Fest), Trin in La Fanciulla del West (Santa Fe Opera), Valerio in Mercadante's Virginia (Wexford Festival Opera), Aufide in Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon (Collegiate Chorale/Carnegie Hall), Steve Wozniak in the workshop of Mason Bates’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Santa Fe Opera), and Junior/Charlie in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain (Santa Fe Opera). As a Resident Artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts, Myers performed the roles of Duca di Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Prince Sinodal in Rubinstein’s The Demon, Bacchus in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, and the Prince in Dvorak’s Rusalka. He has collaborated with Long Beach Opera to perform Michael Gordon’s Van Gogh, Gabriela Ortiz’s Camelia la Tejana: Unicamente La Verdad, Stewart Copeland’s Tell-Tale Heart, and a co-production of Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin with Chicago Opera Theater.
Additional concert appearances have included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Marcelo Lehninger and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with Nir Kabaretti and Southwest Florida Symphony, opera arias and duets with Allentown Symphony Orchestra alongside soprano Angela Meade, Britten’s War Requiem at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York and in The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music with the Wexford Festival Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Fairfield Chorale, and Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes and other quartets with Performance Santa Fe. Myers has had the pleasure of performing in concert with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on three occasions: at the Chautauqua Institute Music Festival, Opera America's Salon Series: Exploring American Voices, and “Cliburn at the Modern,” the Van Cliburn Foundation's contemporary music series in Fort Worth, TX. He was a soloist with the Mark Morris Dance Group in their performances of The Muir, and with the American Musical Theatre Ensemble in September Songs: The Legacy of Kurt Weill.
Originally from southern California, Myers received his graduate and undergraduate degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, was a Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Apprentice Artists with the Santa Fe Opera, an alumnus of the Verbier Festival Academy, and a fellow with the Music Academy of the West.
Aleksey BogdanovScarpia January 20, 22, & 28
Ukrainian-born American baritone Aleksey Bogdanov continues to establish himself as one of the most compelling performers of his generation. Bogdanov’s 2022/23 Season includes returns to Maryland Lyric Opera for Renato in Un ballo in maschera, Odyssey Opera for a trio of one-act Rachmaninoff operas, and a debut with San Diego Symphony in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. Last season, he made his debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Shchelkalov in Boris Godunov. Other engagements last season included a debut with Nashville Opera as Rigoletto and a debut at the Royal Swedish Opera as Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West.
In the 2020/21 Season, Bogdanov appeared as Rigoletto with Central City Opera, Scarpia in Tosca with Austin Opera, and Crespel in Les Contes d'Hoffmann at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.
In the 2019/20 Season, he appeared as Pasha Seid in Il corsaro at the 15th-annual "Chopin and his Europe" Festival, Amonasro in Aida with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Scarpia in Tosca with Hawaii Opera Theatre. Additionally, he returned to Tulsa Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and Chicago Opera Theater as Beck Weathers in Everest and the title role of Aleko. Concert appearances included Schoenberg Gurre-Lieder with KBS Symphony Orchestra, Verdi Requiem with the Colorado Symphony, and Handel's Messiah with the Richmond Symphony.
In the 2018/19 Season, he returned to Washington National Opera as Lt. Horstmayer in Silent Night and covered Scarpia in Tosca and the title role in Eugene Onegin. Additionally, he made his debut with Maryland Lyric Opera as Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West and Chicago Opera Theater as Starbuck in Moby Dick.
In the 2017/18 Season, he made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony as Andrei Shchelkalov in Boris Godunov, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Additionally, he appeared with Arizona Opera as Scarpia in Tosca, Sarasota Opera as Sebastiano in d'Albert's rarely-heard Tiefland, Lionel in Tchaikovsky's Maid of Orléans with Odyssey Opera in Boston, Four Villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Opera North in New Hampshire, and covered the title role in Demon with Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.
In the 2016/17 Season, he made his role debut as Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West with Opera Carolina, Scarpia in Tosca with Opera North, Demon with Commonwealth Lyric Theater, Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen with Colorado Music Festival, Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles with Tulsa Opera, and Vitellius in Hérodiade with Washington Concert Opera.
In the 2015/16 Season, he appeared with Washington National Opera as Escamillo in Carmen, Peter in Hansel and Gretel, created Governor George Wallace in the revised version of Appomattox, and covered Donner and Gunther in Francesca Zambello's Ring Cycle. Praised as "pitch-perfect" by The Washington Post, his many roles in over 100 performances with WNO from 2009 to 2016 include Mozart’s Figaro, Don Giovanni and Guglielmo, Belcore in L'elisir d'amore, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Silvano in Un ballo in maschera, and the Jailer in Dialogues of the Carmelites.
Bogdanov made a last-minute debut at The Glimmerglass Festival as Escamillo in Carmen to great acclaim, and he has appeared in this signature role with The Atlanta Opera, Washington National Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Columbus Symphony Orchestra. He returned to The Glimmerglass Festival as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and Samuel Griffiths in Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. He also appeared in the US premiere of Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness with Opera Parallèle.
Other career highlights include his Canadian debut as Eugene Onegin with Edmonton Opera, and his Carnegie Hall debut as Bass Soloist in Handel's Messiah. He has been featured as a soloist in Mozart's Requiem at Place des Arts in Montréal, Beethoven's Fidelio with National Symphony Orchestra, Barber's A Hand of Bridge with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Romancero Gitano at Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia and Teatro Baretti di Torino, Dvořák's Te Deum and Janáček's Glagolitic Mass at Basilica of the National Shrine, and the Requiems of Mozart, Fauré, and Duruflé at the Washington National Cathedral. He has performed at the United States Supreme Court and CIA Headquarters, and he has sung the national anthem for the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals.
Born in 1983 in Odessa, Ukraine, Bogdanov immigrated to San Francisco in 1992. He made his professional debut in 2008 with OTSL in William Walton's Troilus and Cressida. He is an alumnus of Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Indiana University, and University of California Santa Cruz. He is a grand prize winner of the Florida Grand Opera Competition, a two-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Awards, and a Career Grant recipient from The Sullivan Foundation, The Shoshana Foundation, Pasadena Opera Guild, and San Francisco Opera Merola Program.
Weston HurtScarpia January 21 & 29
Baritone Weston Hurt’s most recent engagements have included a virtual performance of Madison Opera’s annual Opera in the Park concert, a recital with Austin Opera as part of the company’s Live from Indy Terrace series, and Count di Luna in Il trovatore with Portland Opera (cancelled due to COVID-19). Additional scheduled appearances include the role of Germont in La traviata with Lyric Opera of Kansas City (cancelled due to COVID-19) and Count di Luna with Madison Opera (cancelled due to COVID-19). On the concert stage, he was to appear in excerpts from Tosca with the Tallahassee Symphony (cancelled due to COVID-19). In the fall of 2020, he joined the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Conservatory as Assistant Professor of Voice.
Engagements in Hurt’s COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season began with Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Amarillo Opera. He then reprised his signature role of Germont in La traviata with Madison Opera. In the spring of 2020, he was scheduled to join Fort Worth Opera for their production of Die Fledermaus in the role of Falke (cancelled). Hurt’s 2018-2019 season included performances of Germont in La traviata with Opera San Antonio and Portland Opera, which he also covered at Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also returned to New Orleans Opera as the title role in Rigoletto.
The baritone began the 2017-2018 season with a return to Seattle Opera as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, followed by a company debut with Nashville Opera as Scarpia in Tosca. He also added two new roles to his repertoire, singing Creon in Cherubini’s Medea with Opera Omaha and John Peerybingle in I Grillo del Focolare with Teatro Grattacielo, both company debuts as well. When not onstage himself, Hurt mentored students in a masterclass at Seattle Opera’s Summer Academy at Marrowstone.
During the 2016/17 Season, Weston made his role debut as Valentin in Gounod’s Faust in a return to New Orleans Opera, and made his company debut at Tulsa Opera as Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca. He returned to Seattle Opera in his signature role of Germont in Verdi’s La traviata, and inaugurated the Berkshire Opera Festival as Sharpless in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
Recent opera engagements have included his role debut as the title character in Nabucco at Seattle Opera, his debut with New Orleans Opera as Germont in La traviata, his house and role debut with Houston Grand Opera as Scarpia in Tosca, his role debut as Iago in Otello with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, and a return to Seattle Opera in another role debut as Talbot in Maria Stuarda. He has also appeared as Renato in Un ballo in maschera with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, the title role of Rigoletto with PORTopera and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, Germont in La traviata at the Seattle Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Atlanta Opera, Ford in Falstaff at the Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, and Virginia Opera; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids; Schaunard in La bohème at the Dallas Opera, Peter in Hansel and Gretel at the Portland Opera; Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor at Portland Opera, the Arizona Opera and Austin Lyric Opera; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro at Michigan Opera Theater, Frank in Die tote Stadt at the Dallas Opera, the New York City Opera and with Odyssey Opera; Baldassare in L’Arlesiana with the Opera Orchestra of New York, and a performance of Der ferne Klang with the American Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall.
Also a prolific concert singer and recitalist, Hurt has performed in recitals sponsored by the prestigious Marilyn Horne Foundation in the United States, and has also performed in concert internationally, including a South American tour of performances of the Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem. Recent engagements have included appearances with the Nashville Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, and the Oratorio Society of New York in Carnegie Hall. His large repertoire includes such works as the Handel Messiah, the Fauré Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, the Bach Mass in B minor and Magnificat, the Mozart Mass in C minor and Coronation Mass, the Haydn Paukenmesse, and the Britten War Requiem, which he sang at Carnegie Hall.
A graduate of the prestigious Juilliard Opera Center, Hurt has received many notable vocal awards, including 1st place and the People’s Choice Award from the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, the Vienna Prize from the George London Foundation, and 1st Place in the 2003 Oratorio Society of New York Competition, as well as various awards from the Licia Albanese- Puccini Foundation International Competition, Liederkranz Foundation, Metropolitan Opera National Council, Opera Index, and Palm Beach Opera Competition, and two career grants conferred by The Santa Fe Opera.
Jeremy AyeAngelotti and the Jailer
Jeremy Aye, originally from Phoenix, made his professional debut with Arizona Opera over 20 years ago as Silvano in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. During his early years with the company, Aye performed various roles including Masetto (Don Giovanni), Marullo (Rigoletto) and Jake Wallace (La Fanciulla del West).
As an equal lover of operatic and musical theater repertoire, his vocal and dramatic versatility have enabled him to portray well-known baritone and bass-baritone roles such as Emile de Becque (South Pacific), Count (Le Nozze di Figaro), Sky Masterson (Guys and Dolls), Colline (La Bohème), Lancelot (Camelot), Harry Easter (Street Scene), Sprecher (Die Zauberflöte) and El Gallo (The Fantasticks!).
Before making his Carnegie Hall debut as the baritone soloist in Fauré’s Requiem, Aye performed with companies such as Opera Colorado, Los Angeles Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Phoenix Symphony, Opera Omaha, Kansas City Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Fullerton Civic Light Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera (Apprentice Artist).
Over the course of 15 years, Jeremy was an active extra chorister at The Metropolitan Opera, having appeared in over 470 performances in 25 different productions. And beyond his stage experience, Jeremy also served as an adjunct voice professor at New York University for the last 18 years, teaching classical and musical theater vocal performance majors, as well as the repertoire curriculum for the NYU’s Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy.
Propelled by his love of the serene desert lifestyle, Jeremy has returned to Arizona, where he currently maintains an in-person and online private voice studio in Phoenix and New York City.
Brandon Morales, Bass-Baritone and graduate of the Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist Program, has performed with opera companies all over the US - stretching from the Pacific northwest’s Portland Opera to Virginia Opera on the East coast. Morales has recently completed two years with Virginia Opera’s Heardon Foundation Emerging Artist’s Program with highlights including Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jose Castro/Billy Jackrabbit in La Fanciulla del West, and the Mother in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins.
A graduate of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, he has been highly active in the Ohio area performing with Dayton Opera, NANO Works, Cincinnati Chamber Opera, Queen City Chamber Opera, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Cincinnati Opera, participated in Toledo Opera’s Resident Artist program, and performed the roles of Friedrich von Telramund in Lohengrin and the Dutchman in Die Fliegende Holländer in concert with the Wagner Society of Cincinnati, where he is a part of their blooming Wagner studio. A native of San Antonio, TX, Morales currently enjoys the vagabond life of performing, but misses his faithful cat, Elsie.
Praised for his “healthy and soaring tenor voice” (The Herald Times), Korean American Brad Bickhardt is a vibrant and versatile performer in both the operatic and musical theatre canon. Highlight performances have included Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore), Tony (West Side Story), and Alfredo (La Traviata), as well as originating the role of Colin in We Wear the Sea Like a Coat. Additional 2021-22 appearances have included filming Stone Soup for Tri-Cities Opera, appearing in recital with Chelsea Opera and Maryland Opera, and as a guest artist at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory. Bickhardt has previously appeared with Opera Saratoga in their critically acclaimed production of Man of La Mancha under the baton of Broadway conductor, Laura Bergquist, as well as in Opera Naples’ productions of West Side Story and La Traviata. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was on the roster of The Glimmerglass Festival in productions of Wagner’s Die Feen as well as The Sound of Music, and in 2019, was a member of the prestigious Wolf Trap Opera Studio in which he covered and performed principal roles in L’heure espagnole, Lîle de Merlin, Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and Ariadne auf Naxos. On the concert stage, he has appeared as the tenor soloist in Schubert’s Mass in G, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, and Mozart’s Miss Brevis in Bb. Bickhardt received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Vocal Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he appeared in 13 productions with IU Opera Theater as well as serving as an Associate Instructor of Voice. His graduate thesis consisted of compiling an anthology of musical theatre repertoire for undergraduate tenors and their pedagogical applications, and he was named an Encouragement Award from the Central Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Bickhardt is a proud alumnus of the rosters of Tri-Cities Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Naples, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Saratoga, and Charlottesville Opera. His primary vocal instruction has been under renowned baritone Andreas Poulimenos and husband and wife team Kevin and Heidi Grant Murphy.
Michael Tallino earned a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from University of Alaska Anchorage. Tallino was born and raised in Alaska, performing choral music and opera in Kodiak and Anchorage before pursuing further study in a warmer climate. In Arizona, Tallino is one of seven members of Helios, a modern renaissance, has been a member of the Arizona Opera chorus, and performs concert works with local orchestras and churches throughout the Phoenix municipality. In Alaska, Tallino maintains strong ties, regularly performing with Anchorage Opera, and other recitals and performances.
Tiffany ChoeShepherd Boy
Soprano, Tiffany Choe is a Korean American soprano born and raised in Southern California. She has received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in vocal performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She is currently pursuing her Performer’s Diploma at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Kevin and Heidi Grant Murphy. She is the recipient of the Georgina Joshi Fellowship for the 2021-2022 school year. With the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she was an Encouragement Award winner in the Western Region earlier this year, winner of the district region in Indianapolis in 2020, and an Encouragement Award winner in the Southeast Region in 2019. Choe attended the Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute as a fellow this past summer and as an apprentice in the summer of 2019. With IU Opera Theater, she has been in 11 productions. Most recently, Choe was seen as Mimì in the IU Opera Theater production of La Bohème. She was also seen as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Constance in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Rosalia in West Side Story, and Laoula in L’Étoile. In the Spring, she will be performing as Magda in Puccini’s La Rondine.