Praised for her “keen expression and impressive delivery” in performance with a “sound that is rich, full and luminous throughout its range,” American Soprano Jessica Faselt was a participant of the 2022 Birgit Nilsson Masterclass in Sweden and is the recipient of the 2021 Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award and the 2020 George London Foundation Award.
Ms. Faselt’s season highlights for 2022-2023 have included the role of Freia in Das Rheingold with The Atlanta Opera, First Lady in The Magic Flute at The Metropolitan Opera, and debuts with Detroit Opera and the LA Philharmonic (at the Hollywood Bowl), singing Helmwige in Act III of Die Walküre. Engagements for the 2023-2024 season will include Freia in LA Philharmonic’s upcoming production of Das Rheingold under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, and Helmwige in the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra’s touring performances of Die Walküre in Rotterdam, Baden-Baden, Dortmund, and Paris, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Ms. Faselt was a winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Upon performing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the Grand Finals Concert, Ms. Faselt was presented with the Birgit Nilsson Award of the American-Scandinavian Foundation. She went on to become a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Development Program from 2018-2021, and made her debut with the company in 2018 as a Novice in Puccini’s Suor Angelica.
In 2019, Faselt made her The Met: Live in HD debut in movie theaters around the world as Helmwige in Wagner’s Die Walküre. That season, Ms. Faselt was also engaged to sing Helmwige in the Act III ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ from Wagner’s Die Walküre with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival and also covered the Lady in Waiting in The Metropolitan Opera’s 2019 production of Verdi’s Macbeth. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Ms. Faselt was unable to perform her scheduled roles with The Metropolitan Opera during the 2020-2021 season, which were to have included The High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida, First Young Nun in Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, and Unborn 2 in Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Ms. Faselt has earned many prestigious awards and honors in national and international competitions throughout her training and emerging professional seasons, including a Sarah Tucker Study Grant with the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, a Callas Tribute Prize New York, the Ursula Springer Memorial Fund Award from the Wagner Society of New York, Third Prize in the Giulio Gari International Voice Competition, and the 2019 Tito Capobianco Awardfrom Opera Index Foundation. Ms. Faselt was also the recipient of the 2019 Richard F. Gold Career Grant, a semi-finalist with the Premiere Opera Foundation International Voice Competition, and sang in that organization’s Masterclass with Maestro Richard Bonynge.
Ms. Faselt has also participated in training programs with Florida Grand Opera (covering the title role in Richard Strauss’s Salome and Florencia in Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas), The Institute for Young Dramatic Voices (where she studied under world-renowned mezzo-soprano, Dolora Zajick), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (covering the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos), and Des Moines Metro Opera. She received her Master of Music degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where she was also a recipient of the Corbett Award. A native of Iowa, Ms. Faselt began her training at the University of Iowa School of Music, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree with honors.
Coloratura soprano Sharleen Joynt has been praised for her “silvery, sparkling, substantial and resonant soprano” (Die Deutsche Bühne), her “scintillating high range, reminiscent of the most beautiful moments of Mady Mesplé” (Opernwelt), and “an artistic command that leaves the listener breathless” (Deutschland Radio). Most recently, Sharleen reprised the role of the Controller in Jonathan Dove’s Flight for Seattle Opera, which was filmed and released for streaming in April of 2021, critics exclaiming, “We know we’re in for an acting treat when we see Sharleen Joynt’s overpoweringly supercilious, impeccably turned out Controller, prowling her control tower and pulling the strings; we see her arched eyebrows and penetrating stare in close-up as she delivers stratospheric coloratura.” (Bachtrack).
Sharleen returned to Seattle Opera in 2022 as Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo, and sang Gilda in Rigoletto for Florida Grand Opera. Future engagements include another turn as Gilda in Rigoletto with Colorado Opera and as Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice with Edmonton Opera.
2020 engagements were to include a reprisal of her signature role of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Calgary Opera. In the previous season, she made a role and company début as Gilda in Rigoletto with Edmonton Opera, performed in New Year’s Galas with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and sang the Controller in Jonathan Dove’s Flightwith Pacific Opera Victoria. Prior engagements included performing the role of Winnie in Lembit Beecher’s Sky on Swings, a new opera about Alzheimers starring Frederica von Stade, with Opera Philadelphia, Musetta in La Bohème with Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria, and Cunegonde in Candide with Anchorage Opera, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Ravinia Music Festival, and the Orlando Philharmonic. At home with contemporary music, Sharleen also performed Christine in the North American Premiere of Belgian composer Philippe Boesmans’ Julie, based on the 1888 Strindberg play, “Miss Julie”, in a co-production with Canadian Stage and Soundstreams. In concert, highlights include Glière’s Concerto for Coloratura, Op. 82 (Guelph Symphony), as well as the soprano solos in Handel’s Messiah (Charleston Symphony), Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light requiem (Bach Society of St. Louis), and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (Thunder Bay Symphony).
Sharleen made her European début when she joined the Anhaltisches Theater Dessau ensemble to sing Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte. With the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, she sang Marie in La Fille du Régiment and Adele in Die Fledermaus. She performed her signature role of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Theater St. Gallen, Theater und Orchester Heidelberg, and in the Chinese premiere of the opera, produced by Oper Leipzig. As part of the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg ensemble, Sharleen sang Frasquita in Carmen, Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Fausta in the German premiere of Scarlatti’s Marco Attilio Regolo in the Winter in Schwetzingen Baroque Festival, and Soprano 1/Ariadne in Wolfgang Rihm’s Dionysos.
Honors include nominations for Nachwunschsängerin (Singer of the Year), awarded by Opernwelt magazine, and the prestigious “Der Faust” prize, awarded by the German Stage Association. Her fearless onstage presence in German Regietheater led to a 3-page feature in Deutsche Bühne magazine. Sharleen has been a prizewinner in the Liederkranz Foundation Competition, the George London Foundation Competition, the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, the Licia Albanese Foundation Competition, the Canadian Music Competition’s International Stepping Stone, and the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition.
USA Today has named Cecilia Violetta López one of “Idaho’s Top 10 Most Influential Women of the Century” and has been named one of opera’s “25 Rising Stars” by Opera News. The singing actress is constantly praised for her “alluring voice and incredible range” (Washington Post).
She has received accolades for her signature role of Violetta in La traviata, which she has performed countless times throughout North America. Critic, James Jorden, exclaimed “she is a Violetta fully-formed and, I think, ready for the great stages of the world.” She has now performed the role with, Opera Orlando, Pacific Symphony, Minnesota Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Tampa, Opera Idaho, Ash Lawn Opera, The Northern Lights Music Festival, Madison Opera and Virginia Opera. Ms. López made her European début as Norina in Don Pasquale with Zomeropera in Belgium, for which Klassiek Centraal exclaimed: “She turns out to be the revelation of the show and wins over the audience with her funny rendition, irresistible charm, and [she is] natural in the different vocals.”
From her performance as Adina in The Elixir of Love with Virginia Opera, The Virginian- Pilot hailed, “Cecilia Violetta López is showing local audiences why Opera News named her one of its ’25 Rising Stars.’ In the lead role of Adina, she hit the highest notes with ringing clarity, performed the vocal runs with precision and grace and showed a particular charm and humanity in the softest passages and lowest ranges.” In her recent performance as Marguerite in Faust with Opera Omaha, the Omaha World-Herald claimed “…López sang Marguerite’s seduction, madness and salvation with an other wordly wisdom and artistry.”
Ms. López’ 2021-2022 season includes several engagements ranging from opera performances to keynote speaking. Appearances include: Hanna Glawari in Opera Idaho’s production of The Merry Widow; soprano soloist in Opera Idaho’s “Opera in the Park” concert and Handel’s Messiah with the Boise Philharmonic; Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Utah Symphony, and a return to the Zomeropera in Belgium singing Cio-Cio San in their production of Madama Butterfly. Cecilia also returns to Opera Orlando, where she reprises Violetta in their production of La traviata and Virginia Opera, where she will début the role of Beatrice in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. Additionally, Ms. López will be an Artist in Residence at the University of Central Arkansas and will present recitals for Opera Orlando, Sun Valley Opera, Opera Idaho, New Mexico Performing Arts Society, JUMP Center in Boise, Idaho and Chamber Music Silicon Valley. Cecilia will also be a keynote speaker for the Migrant Student Leadership Institute as well as the 9th Annual Women and Leadership Conference, where previous speakers have included Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor and Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell. Upcoming engagements for the 2022-2023 season include “Celebrando a Mexico” with Opera Idaho, a Violetta cover assignment and concert appearances with Houston Grand Opera, and a role début of the title role in Rusalka with Opera Idaho.
Despite the halting effects of COVID-19 in the opera industry, Ms. López’ 2020-2021 season included both virtual and live recitals with Opera Idaho, Opera Las Vegas, Austin Opera, Opera Southwest, Chatter ABQ, Opera America, Madison Opera and Opera Colorado. Ms. López was also a featured soprano soloist in the world premier of Mi Camino, a virtual project with Opera Cultura, and made her company début with Pacific Symphony singing Violetta in their virtual production of La traviata. Ms. López also presented virtual Masterclasses with UC Boulder and The University of Montana.
In past seasons, Ms. López has made several role débuts including her now critically acclaimed role of Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Opera Idaho, Virginia Opera and Opera Las Vegas, the title role in Massenet’s Manon with Opera Idaho, Nedda in I pagliacci with Opera Colorado, Desdemona in Rossini’s Otello with LoftOpera, Maria in West Side Story with Opera Idaho, Marguerite in Faust with Opera Omaha, Mimì in La bohème with Opera Orlando, Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas with Florida Grand Opera, Beatrice Russo in Il Postino with Opera Southwest and Opera Saratoga, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Tampa, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow with Opera Saratoga, Lucy in Fellow Travelers with Prototype Opera Festival, the title role of Suor Angelica with Opera San Luis Obispo, Magda in La rondine with Skylark Opera Theatre, Gilda in Rigoletto with Opera Idaho, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Opera Tampa and Opera Las Vegas. In addition to these débuts, she reprised the role of Micaëla in Carmen with Madison Opera and joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in their 2015 production of The Merry Widow.
Solo concert performances include Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and selections from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with the Henderson Symphony Orchestra, and Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society. Additionally, Ms. López has performed as a soloist at the reopening of the Idaho Museum of Natural History gala, various Christmas concerts with Madison Symphony, and as a featured soloist in concerts with the Boise Philharmonic, Austin Opera, and the prestigious Bard SummerScape Music Festival.
Ms. López also completed a two-year-tenure as a Soprano Resident Artist at Opera San José where she performed Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Leonora in Il trovatore, the title role in Suor Angelica, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Nannetta in Falstaff, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly.
Additionally, Ms. López is an alum of the Caramoor Music Festival where she covered the role of Hélène in Les vêpres siciliennes. She is also an alum of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival where she sang the title role in their production of L’incoronazione di Poppea. Her début of the role of Violetta in La traviata, was with Martina Arroyo Foundation’s prestigious summer festival, Prelude to Performance.
In January 2021, Opera Idaho appointed Ms. López as the company’s first Artistic Advisor. “Known to Opera Idaho audiences primarily through her appearances in operas over the last six-plus years, Cecilia takes on added responsibilities to advise and advocate for expanded repertoire, provide insights on diversity in artistic practices and community initiatives, and collaborate with senior management in identifying and securing financial support for the company. Cecilia will work closely with General Director Mark Junkert in helping shape the future of Opera Idaho,” the company reported on their website.
‘When I think of someone, active in the field as a performer who both knows what’s happening in the field nationally and internationally and knows our state, Cecilia is the perfect fit for the position. Many opera companies have similar positions, and it is a sign of Opera Idaho’s growth that we’re able at this point in our history to add an Artistic Advisor.’ —Mark Junkert, General Director, Opera Idaho
Recently, Ms. López became the recipient of an Idaho State Concurrent Resolution honoring her life as an Idahoan and her work in the world of opera.
“We should be so very proud of Cecilia Violetta López. She exemplifies all that is what America is about: apply yourself, work hard, dream big, and you can achieve those dreams. She tells every Idaho girl and boy that they, too, can succeed … no matter where they came from, no matter how small they may start out, no matter how long their journey may appear to be. Idaho should be so very proud of this young lady and should hold her up as an example of what all Idaho children might achieve.” —Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb.
Ms. López, “The Daughter of Idaho,” a Mexican-American native of Rupert, Idaho, is featured in two Idaho state museums and got her musical start at a young age singing mariachi music that she learned from her mother.
Soprano Meechot Marrero has been called, “a revelation…a young Puerto Rican star with a great career ahead” (El Nuevo Día). A member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin ensemble, the 2021-2022 season (Ms. Marrero’s sixth with the company) brings three role debuts: Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Woglinde in Götterdämmerung, and Musetta in La Bohème. The season will also include repeat performances of Oscar in Un ballo in maschera and Papagena in Die Zauberflöte. Additional season engagements include Ms. Marrero’s debuts in Spain and Portugal as Gretel in a concert version of Hänsel und Gretel with the Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias in Oviedo, Spain, and Adina in L’elisir d’Amore with Plateia Protagonista in Portugal. She also reprises Carmina Burana in the 2022 Gala Concert at Sun Valley Music Festival and returns to the Grand Teton Music Festival to sing Musetta in La Bohème with Sir Donald Runnicles conducting.
Ms. Marrero’s 2020-2021 season included several role debuts at the Deutsche Oper Berlin: Nannetta in Falstaff, Biancofiore in a new production of Francesca da Rimini by Christof Loy (recorded on DVD for Naxos), and Tebaldo in Don Carlo. Other engagements included a recital with Joel Prieto and the role of Rosaura in the zarzuela Los Gavilanes with CulturArte de Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra.
Roles at the Deutsche Oper Berlin during the 2019-2020 season included Liù in Turandot, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, a role debut of Micäela in Carmen, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Jano in Jenůfa. In the same season, Ms. Marrero reprised Cunegonde in Candide at the Komische Oper Berlin and Carmina Burana under the baton of Sir Donald Runnicles at the Grand Teton Music Festival.
During the 2018-2019 season, Ms. Marrero made her role and house debut as Cunegonde in Candide at the Komische Oper Berlin in a new production by Barrie Kosky, and also performed the role at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. She also appeared as Maria in West Side Story, first with Sir Donald Runnicles and the Grand Teton Music Festival (where the score was performed in its entirety), followed by a performance of Bernstein’s West Side Story Suite No. 1 with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin. At the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Ms. Marrero reprised the roles of Adele in Die Fledermaus and Bianca in La Rondine, and debuted the roles of Liù in Turandot, the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Micäela in Carmen and Xenia in Boris Godunov, among others.
In previous seasons at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Ms. Marrero also performed Adele, Frasquita in Carmen, Woglinde in Das Rheingold, Giannetta in L’Elisir d’Amore, Papagena, Princess Nicoletta in The Love for Three Oranges, the Page in Rigoletto, Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro, Modestina in Il viaggio a Reims, First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Bianca and Gabriela in La Rondine. She is also a frequent guest at the Savannah Voice Festival, where her roles have included Juliette in Roméo et Juliette and Lucy England in Menotti’s The Telephone.
Ms. Marrero has enjoyed many engagements in Puerto Rico, performing with the Festival Casals as Trujamán in de Falla’s El retablo del Maese Pedro, Despina in Così fan tutte with the Teatro de la Opera, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Concepción in Ravel’s L’heure espagnole at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, and Rafaela in Vásquez’ La Mina de Oro with the Teatro Repertorio, UPRRP. Concert engagements have included soprano soloist with the Festival Casals in Menotti’s Muero porque no muero, de Falla’s Siete Canciones Populares Españolas, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the Coro de Niños de San Juan and Haydn’s Creation with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Bayamón.
During her education at Yale School of Music and in the early years of her career, Ms. Marrero performed Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Yale Opera, Despina in Così fan tutte with Teatro de la Opera in Puerto Rico, Rosina in Barbiere si Siviglia and Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the Savannah Voice Festival, and Norina in Don Pasquale at Opera in Williamsburg in Virginia. Concert appearances included Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah with the Hartford Chorale in Connecticut.
A native of Corozal, Puerto Rico, Ms. Marrero is the recipient of the Career Bridges grant from the Schuyler Foundation, and the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize from the Yale School of Music. She began her musical studies with the San Juan Children’s Choir, and, after studying molecular biology at the University of Puerto Rico, completed a Bachelor of Music from the Puerto Rico Music Conservatory (where she graduated as the Valedictorian of her class) and a Master of Music from the Yale School of Music at Yale University. In addition to her vocal training, Ms. Marrero has trained in ballet for 10 years, jazz dance for 13 years and Latin dance since birth.
Praised by The New York Times for her “plummy, penetrating voice,” Italian-American soprano Maria Natale is the recipient of many awards and grants from some of the most prestigious vocal competitions nationwide including the National James Collier Vocal Competition, the Elizabeth Connell Prize in Sydney, Australia, the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition as well as a grand finalist in the Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition.
Recently, Ms. Natale made debuts at Tulsa Opera as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterflyand at Opera San Jose as Nedda in Pagliacci, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. Other engagements have included Violetta in La Traviata with Opera Maine under conductor Stephen Lord (where Opera News reported that, “her powerful soprano easily filled the house,”) and her Sarasota Opera début portraying the role of Liù in Turandot where she was hailed as having an “unequivocal Italian sound” (New Outpost).
As a concert soloist, Ms. Natale has been featured at Carnegie Hall in Faure’s Requiem andMozart’s Missa Solemnis with MidAmerica Productions. She has also appeared as the soprano soloist with the NYC Master Chorale in Dvorak’s Te Deum and Mozart’s Requiem.
Ms. Natale is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where she performed the role of Lady Macbeth in Ernest Bloch’s only opera Macbeth and was praised by Opera News for her “high voltage vocal thrills” and “merciless stage presence.”
This season’s engagements include the Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and her role debut as the title role in Puccini’s masterpiece, Tosca with Opera San Jose.
American soprano Jacqueline Piccolino has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as having “impeccable technique and stage presence” and as “an artist to watch.” Engagements for the 2022-2023 season include performances with the Berkshire Opera Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.
During the 2021-2022 season, Ms. Piccolino made her debut with Hawai’i Opera Theatre in their opening season concert titled Re-Emerging and performed selections from Rusalka and Don Giovanni with the Berkshire Opera Festival. Ms. Piccolino was scheduled to join the prestigious Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for the 2019-2020 season to sing Erste Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and to cover the title role in Dvořák’s Rusalka. Although those plans were ultimately impacted by the pandemic, Ms. Piccolino was able to perform Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts mere days before the COVID shutdown.
As a participant in the Merola Opera Program for 2012 and 2013, Ms. Piccolino appeared as Contessa Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and Arminda in La finta giardiniera. Honored thereafter as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, Ms. Piccolino made her professional debut there in 2013 as Stella in Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Over the following two years, she sang the First Lady in The Magic Flute, Lady Madeline in La chute de la maison Usher, Laura in Luisa Miller, 2nd Maid in the world premiere of Dolores Claiborne, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Clotilde in Norma, Mrs. Hayes in Susannah, and covered Contessa Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with the company.
Other engagements of note for Ms. Piccolino include the Israelitish Woman in Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus with the North Shore Choral Society in Evanston, Illinois and Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte with Seattle Opera, as well as Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra. Other career highlights include appearances as a Studio Artist with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, a soloist in the Napa Festival del Sole’s Bouchaine Young Artist Concert Series, and a participant in the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy.
In 2021, Ms. Piccolino was a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as First Prize Winner of the Partners for the Arts Inc. Competition. In 2020, she received the Eileen Deneen Award from the American Opera Society of Chicago and was also a Bursary Recipient by the Opera Awards Foundation. She also has earned First Prize from The American Prize in Vocal Performance, the Igor Gorin Memorial Award from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, and the prestigious Rose M. Grundman Award from the Musicians Club of Women in Chicago. In addition, Ms. Piccolino has received awards from the Sullivan, Shoshana, and George London Foundations, and was a finalist in the 9th International Stanisław Moniuszko Competition.
Canadian soprano Elizabeth Polese has recently been a young artist at l’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal (2018-20), Tanglewood Music Center, and is currently a Resident Artist at Detroit Opera. She is the winner of the prestigious 2019-20 Sullivan Foundation Gail Robinson Award for Soprano and 2021 Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Award for Classical Voice. Engagements for the 2022-23 season include Boris: Sa vie en musique with l‘Orchestre Classique de Montréal and Nuria in Ainadamar with Opéra de Montréal, as well as cover assignments for Detroit Opera as Marguerite in Faust and Margarita in Ainadamar.
During the 2021-22 season, Elizabeth toured the province of Québec with harpist Antoine Malette-Chenier with their programme La Lettre du Jardinier. She also joined Tapestry Opera as Robot [Helena] in RUR: A Torrent of Light, and as Papagena in Barrie Kosky’s Die Zauberflöte with Opéra de Montréal. Elizabeth made her German concert debut at Gewandhaus during BachFest 2022 in a chamber concert including BWV 204 (Ich bin in mir vergnügt) and Webern’s Vier Lieder. Finally, she made her long-awaited return to Tanglewood Music Center, where she sang the role of Isabel in Lessons in Love and Violence (American premiere, conducted by Sir George Benjamin), to great critical acclaim by the New York Times and Boston Globe. In 2020-21, she was scheduled to sing The Governess in The Turn of the Screw with Opera 5, Mozart’s Mass in C with Choral Connection St. Thomas, and Musetta in La Bohème with LAMP, but sadly these engagements were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, she was still able to perform Messiah with l’Orchestre Classique de Montréal at historical Oratoire St-Joseph, which was broadcast worldwide.
Highlights of Elizabeth’s young artist residency at l’Atelier lyirque de l’Opéra de Montréal include Alice B. Toklas in the Canadian premiere of Twenty-Seven, Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw (l’Orchestre de l’Agora) Contessa di Ceprano in Rigoletto, and covers of Marzelline in Fidelio (Orchestre Métropolitain), and Agnès in Written on Skin. Other engagements of note include Carmina Burana with Kingston Symphony Orchestra, Exsultate, Jubilate with Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte with Brott Opera, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera York, and Time Cycle (Lukas Foss) and Whitman Settings (Oliver Knussen) with Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.
In 2019, Elizabeth was the winner of the Sullivan Foundation Gail Robinson Award for Soprano, the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Classical Voice in 2021, and has won several competitions for her rendition of Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate (University of Toronto Concerto Competition, Toronto Mozart Competition, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra Mozart-Sénécal Prize). A proponent of new music as well, Elizabeth regularly performs works by Golijov, Messiaen, Knussen, Foss, Gordon, Freedman, Cage, Crumb, Benjamin, and Stravinsky, among others.
Ms. Polese is an alumna of many esteemed training institutions internationally, including the Rebanks Family Fellowship of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Highlands Opera Studio, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Universität der Künste Berlin, Domaine Forget, Toronto Summer Music Festival, Brott Opera, Opera NUOVA, Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Victoria Conservatory of Music, and Centre d’Arts Orford. Ms. Polese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Toronto, where she studied under the tutelage of celebrated Canadian soprano, Mary Morrison (OC).
Recently a winner of the 2022 Gerda Lissner Lieder/Song Competition and District/Regional Winner in the Laffont Competition, Korean-American mezzo-soprano Alice Chung is rapidly being recognized for her “operatic tonal glamour” (Parterre) and being “a force of nature with a sound both powerful and appealing” (San Francisco Classical Voice).
In the Spring of 2022, Ms. Chung made her company and role debut at Hawaii Opera Theatre as Suzukiin Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. She also covered the role of Granny Jiain Dream of the Red Chamber in San Francisco Opera’s co-production with the Hong Kong Arts Festival and was invited to return and cover the role of Suzuki with San Francisco Opera in the summer of 2023. She will also enjoy a debut with Arizona Opera as the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte during the 2022-2023 season.
A graduate of The Academy of Vocal Arts, Ms. Chung has performed with Tulsa Opera, Central City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. A few role credits include La zia Principessa (Suor Angelica), Ježibaba (Rusalka), Die Hexe (Hänsel und Gretel), Mrs. Grose (The Turn of the Screw), Larina (Eugene Onegin), Eduige (Rodelinda), Zita (Gianni Schicchi), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte), and Mariana (Luisa Fernanda). On the concert stage, she has sung with the Kansas City Symphony, Bucks County Symphony and, most recently, the Naples Philharmonic at Artis-Naples. Concert credits include Duruflé’s Requiem, Op. 9, Saint-Saëns’s Oratorio de Noël, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky Op. 78, and Beethoven’s Fantasia, Op. 8 and Mass in C Major, Op. 86.
As a 2017 and 2019 alumnus, Ms. Chung has garnered attention from the San Francisco audience through the prestigious Merola Opera Program, during which she was acclaimed for her excerpted portrayals of Santuzza (Cavalleria rusticana), Augusta Tabor (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Azucena (Il trovatore) for her “riveting dramatic intensity” by Parterre, and a “ringing, magisterial” Gertrude (Hamlet) by the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2020, she returned for her Schwabacher Debut Recital, presented by the Merola Opera Program in conjunction with the San Francisco Opera. A lover of collaboration and recital and chamber music, Ms. Chung has worked with several contemporary composers, premiering new works as well as performing well-loved pieces such as Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, Brahms’s Zwei Gesänge, Op.91 and Bridge’s Three Songs with Viola and Piano.
Ms. Chung has been an honored recipient of numerous grants as well as a winner of various competitions. During 2020 and 2021, she was awarded the Richard F. Gold Career Grantby the Shoshana Foundation, won First Place in the Cooper-Bing Competition, placed Third in the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition and was a winner of the 2021 William Matheus Sullivan Foundation Audition Awards. She has also won awards through the Orpheus Vocal Competition (2020), Gerda Lissner Lieder/Song Competition (2018), the Metropolitan National Council Auditions (2018 Second Prize Midwest Regionals), Chautauqua Opera Guild (2015), and Pasadena Opera Guild (2014).
During her time offstage, Ms. Chung works with several nonprofit organizations in the industry. She is a founder of Wear Yellow Proudly, an arts and advocacy initiative devoted to bringing awareness to Asian culture by showcasing and celebrating Asian art and artists worldwide. Ms Chung also collaborates with The OmniARTS Foundation Inc., an organization dedicated to the cultivation of interdisciplinary art through new work commissions, arts education, and performance events.
American mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook has excelled in a wide range of roles with leading companies throughout the United States. Of her performance as the title character in Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne,Opera Today wrote that “to say that Ms. Cook was a revelation is an understatement, since she stamped the part as her own, and experienced a triumph for her sensational performance…. Ms. Cook is possessed of a round mezzo tone of great beauty, admirable control and potent power in all ranges and at any volume.” In the 2022-23 season, Cook returned to Opera Colorado as Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana and debuted the role of Mère Jeanne in Dialogues of the Carmelites for San Francisco Opera’s Centennial Season. During the Carmelites run in November 2022, Cook was awarded the San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Opera Medal, the company’s highest honor, in acknowledgment of her 31 years of performance with the company.
In April 2023, Ms. Cook will sing selections from the Copland’s Old American Songs for the 60th Anniversary Gala of the Golden State Youth Orchestra, appearing with fellow soloist David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Among her engagements in the 2020-21 season included a return to San Francisco Opera as Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Drive-In. 2019-20’s season featured returns to San Francisco Opera as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro and to Opera Parallèle as Julia Child in Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appétit! which she reprised at the Sun Valley Music Festival. In the 2018-19 season, Cook’s engagements included Mother Bailey in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life with San Francisco Opera, Death in the world premiere of Tom Cipullo’s The Parting with Music of Remembrance in Seattle, as well as its recording on Naxos Records, and Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera with West Edge Opera in Berkeley. In the 2017-18 season, Cook returned to The Metropolitan Opera as Camila in Thomas Adès’ critically acclaimed opera The Exterminating Angel, and sang The Innkeeper in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov with the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.
Ms. Cook has been recognized as “San Francisco Opera’s go-to-choice” for a wide range of roles (San Francisco Chronicle), with recent highlights as the title role in Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne; La Frugola in Il tabarro; Mrs. McLean in Floyd’s Susannah; and Marcellina. Past highlights with the company include Arlene Kamen and Wang Tai Tai in the world premiere of Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter; Jade Boucher in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which was recorded and released by ERATO; Annina in Der Rosenkavalier, and Mother Goose in The Rake’s Progress.
Other previous engagements include Countess de Coigny in Andrea Chénier, Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and featured soloist in David Gockley’s Farewell Opera Gala Concert with San Francisco Opera; Marthe in Faust and Glasa in Kát’a Kabanová with The Metropolitan Opera; Ježibaba in Rusalka with Opera Colorado; Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro and Tisbe in La Cenerentola with Houston Grand Opera; The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel and a recital with San Francisco Symphony; Older Woman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight with Opera Parallèle; Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with Mill City Summer Opera; and two world premieres with Music of Remembrance: Zosha in Heggie’s Out of Darkness and Gertrude Stein in Cipullo’s After Life, as well as a reprise of the latter with Urban Arias. Cook can be heard as Gertrude in the world premiere recording of After Life with Music of Remembrance, released by Naxos.
Cook has also appeared with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. She can be heard as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra, released by Centaur Records.
Ms. Cook was a participant of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program. She is a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions as well as the Merola Chicago Regional Auditions Yoder Award. Ms. Cook holds a Master of Music degree from Wichita State University and an Artist Diploma from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, where she won the Norman Treigle Award in their Corbett Competition. She has received Outstanding Alumni awards from both Millikin University and Wichita State University.
Catherine Cook is a Professor of Voice at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she holds the Frederica von Stade Distinguished Chair in Voice.
Tesia Kwarteng is a versatile and multi-faceted Ghanaian-American artist who is equally at home on the operatic stage, on screen and in the studio.
Ms. Kwarteng recently led and sang with the vocal ensemble Vox Noire on the recording of the original film score for The Woman King by Terence Blanchard, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Viola Davis. Tesia’s first libretto commission (titled A Sable Jubilee) also premiered this year at the Aspen Music Festival, with music composed by Jasmine Barnes and sung by Will Liverman. Highlights of the 2022-2023 season include the casting of Ms. Kwarteng as Lady Catherine in Lincoln Center Theater‘s new production of Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot, featuring a book by Academy and Emmy Award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin and directed by Bartlett Sher.
During the 2021-2022 season, Ms. Kwarteng made her principal debut at The Metropolitan Opera as a Pit Singer in Brett Dean’s Hamlet and also made her Off-Broadway debut at Lincoln Center Theater in Ricky Ian Gordon and Lynn Nottage’s new opera Intimate Apparel, where she was seen as Mayme and in the ensemble. Tesia also covered the role of Ruby/Sinner Woman in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones at The Metropolitan Opera and sang the role of Woman 5 in Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from The Great War with American Opera Projects and the role of Maurya in What Lies Beneath with On Site Opera. She also participated in a workshop for Written in Stone at Washington National Opera, where she sang the role of Laurel in Carlos Simon’s It All Falls Down and Victoria Wilson in Kamala Sankaram’s Rise.
In previous seasons, Ms. Kwarteng made her Austin Opera debut featured in recital as a part of the Live from Indy Terrace broadcast series and was also a featured soloist in the ensemble of the GRAMMY Award-winning production of Porgy and Bess at The Metropolitan Opera. As a Resident Artist at Tri-Cities Opera, she was seen as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, Madeline Mitchell in Three Decembers and Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore. She has also participated in training programs at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, The Glimmerglass Festival, Virginia Opera and Chautauqua Opera.
A champion of contemporary compositions, Tesia has performed in several world premieres and workshops of new works, including the role of Bertha in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones with Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Lee in Marie Begins, a soloist in Beyond Liberty with Thomas Hampson at The Glimmerglass Festival, Frances in a workshop performance of the new chamber opera The Flood at Opera Columbus, Melba Patillo in excerpts from Little Rock 9 by Kennedy Center Honoree Tania Leon at the MacDowell Colony National Benefit, the ensemble of Dear Erich at New York City Opera and Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom with American Opera Projects, Abigail in Sleepy Hollow: The Musical at the New York New Works Theater Festival, and the premiere of Jeremy Gill’s art song Rose (based on Ann Patchett’s book The Patron Saint of Liars, which was written for Ms. Kwarteng and performed at Chautauqua Opera).
In concert, Tesia has been seen at 54 Below, as Consuelo in West Side Story at The Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra, as a soloist in Laura Karpman’s GRAMMY Award-winning Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz at the Apollo Theater with Jessye Norman, and as Alto Soloist in Mozart’s Requiem at First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut. Her regional theater credits include Little Shop of Horrors (Ronette) with Barn Arts Center for the Arts, Hairspray (Dynamite) and The Sound of Music (Nun) at Casa Mañana Theater and Ragtime (Sarah’s friend) at Manhattan School of Music. She also toured the Abyssinian Mass with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra as a member of Chorale le Chateau, and also toured with the American Spiritual Ensemble in 2017.
Tesia was a finalist in the 2020 George London Foundation Competition, was selected as a 2019 Top 30 under 30 Pioneer by the Future of Ghana publication, has received a career grant from the Bagby Foundation for Musical Arts, was an Encouragement Award winner at the Houston district Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, was a 2016 recipient of an encouragement grant from the Career Bridges Foundation, was a fellow at the CoOPERAtive Program in 2015, and received the 2013 Legacy Award in the National Opera Association competition.