- Resident Artists
“The triumph of fidelity, freedom, and the human spirit.”
Beethoven’s only opera is a towering tour de force.
When her husband is thrown into prison for his passionate stand against tyranny, Leonore faces her life’s pivotal moment. Does she wait and risk his death or do whatever it takes to save his life? For her, the edge is a place to jump heroically into action.
Her courage and fidelity drive a harrowing rescue that will have you cheering in one of opera’s most uplifting endings.
Beethoven’s triumphant score—as symphonic as it is vocal—is a magnificent tribute to fidelity, freedom, and the indomitable human spirit.
Sung in German with projected English translations.
Performances held at the Keller Auditorium.
Performance time is approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes, with one intermission.
|Florestan||Jay Hunter Morris|
|Don Pizarro||Greer Grimsley|
|Don Ferrando||Clayton Brainerd|
|Original Production||Christopher Alexander|
ACT I — Spain, eighteenth century. In a prison, Marzelline, daughter of the jailer, Rocco, rejects the attentions of her father’s assistant, Jacquino, who hopes to marry her. Her heart is set instead on the new errand boy, Fidelio. The latter, a hardworking lad, arrives with provisions and dispatches and is distressed by Marzelline’s interest in him, especially since it has the blessing of Rocco. Fidelio is in fact Leonore, a noblewoman of Seville who has come to the jail disguised as a boy to find her husband, Florestan, a political prisoner languishing somewhere in chains. When Rocco mentions a man lying near death in the vaults below, Leonore, suspecting it might be Florestan, begs Rocco to take her on his rounds. He agrees, though the governor of the prison, Don Pizarro, allows only Rocco in the lower levels of the dungeon.
As soldiers assemble in the courtyard, Pizarro learns from the dispatches brought to him that Don Fernando, minister of state, is on his way to inspect the fortress. At this news the governor resolves to kill Florestan, his enemy, without delay and orders Rocco to dig a grave for the victim in the dungeon. Leonore, overhearing his plan, realizes Pizarro’s evil nature and the plight of his victim. After praying for strength to save her husband and keep up hope, she again begs Rocco to let her accompany him to the condemned man’s cell—and also to allow the other prisoners a few moments of air in the courtyard. The gasping men relish their glimpse of freedom but are ordered back by Pizarro, who hurries Rocco off to dig Florestan’s grave. With apprehension, Leonore follows him into the dungeon.
Act II — In one of the lowest cells of the prison, Florestan dreams he sees Leonore arrive to free him. But his vision turns to despair, and he sinks down exhausted. Rocco and Leonore arrive and begin digging the grave. Florestan awakens, not recognizing his wife, and Leonore almost loses her composure at the familiar sound of his voice. Florestan moves the jailer to offer him a drink, and Leonore gives him a bit of bread, urging him not to lose faith. Rocco then blows on his whistle to signal Pizarro that all is ready. The governor advances with dagger drawn to strike, but Leonore stops him with a pistol. At this moment a trumpet sounds from the battlements: Don Fernando has arrived. Rocco leads Pizarro out to meet him as Leonore and Florestan rejoice in each other’s arms.
In the prison courtyard, Don Fernando proclaims justice for all. He is amazed when Rocco brings his friend Florestan before him and relates the details of Leonore’s heroism. Pizarro is arrested, and Leonore herself removes Florestan’s chains. The other prisoners too are freed, and the crowd hails Leonore.
—Courtesy of Opera News
“I assure you, dear Treitschke, that this opera will win me a martyr’s crown…”
Beethoven to the librettist, Treitschke, who revised Fidelio for the third and final time.
Beethoven’s temperament was not ideally suited for the opera house. He bemoaned Mozart “frittering” away his talent on plots like Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and had no time for Rossini, whom he advised to “stick to opera buffa”. His intensity about his music, and his ferocious defense of every note on the page, regardless of its storytelling necessity give insight into the reasons that Fidelio, his first opera, was his last.
During the early 19th century, most countries were seeking a sense of cultural identity. The Germans were
particularly concerned about the state of their native opera. It was almost nonexistent. While the Singspiel Theatre in Vienna had opened in 1778, little of enduring value emerged in the way of a German national voice. Most opera in Vienna was imported from Italy and France. In response to this growing discontent, perhaps, Schikaneder, erstwhile friend and librettist of Mozart and current impresario of the Theater an der Wien, approached Beethoven and contracted him for an opera. The composer moved into a Theater apartment in 1803.
The libretto was to be by Schikaneder himself—an odd pairing. Schikaneder was a master showman, whose joie de vivre looked suspiciously like immorality to the rather severe Beethoven. While Schikaneder prized audience entertainment and had a firm accounting of box office receipts, Beethoven was possessed by the
nobility of the human soul, and believed that opera—indeed, art—should reflect only that.
Thus it was that the proposed project with the lively librettist was summarily jettisoned after two weeks.
Fortunately the composer was not. Schikaneder continued his contract while Beethoven cast about for a suitably elevated subject.
Beethoven was a child of the Enlightenment, whose ideals of Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité had inspired the French Revolution. The glory of that venture had been obscured by the blood of the Reign of Terror and the subsequent tyranny of Napoleon. The burgeoning Romanticism of the early 19th century reconciled the hope and the horror of the French Revolution, with the idea that humanity is possessed of “two souls in one breast” (Goethe), one willing to conceive and carry out every atrocity for the love of justice and virtue, while the other weeps. As warwracked Europe continued to cope with the Napoleonic Wars and the aftermath of the French Revolution much literature was devoted to exploring these issues. A most popular form was the “rescue” play or opera. These dealt with an unjustly imprisoned protagonist whose loyal love frees them totalitarian bonds and then sings a paean of joy in the invariably happy ending.
One such was written by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly in an autobiography. Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal proved very popular and was subsequently adapted for the operatic stage by both Paër and Mayr. Here was a story Beethoven could sink his teeth into. Here was summarized all of the faith, love and heroism of the human spirit. In 1804, Schikaneder sold the Theater an der Wien to Baron Peter von Braun, who selected joseph von Sonnleithner to write the libretto of what became Fidelio. The composer threw his considerable heart and soul into the opera and in 1805 rehearsals began.
The timing of the opening could not have been worse. Vienna was occupied by the French army, and opening night filled with French officers. This opera with its lofty ideals of the triumph of love and fidelity in the face of oppression and Injustice went over like a lead balloon for the officers of the occupying forces. It was withdrawn after three performances.
It was not entirely the timing that doomed this first attempt. Beethoven didn’t really write his music for human voices, but for the music which he heard as he composed. His singers dismissed the work as “unsingable” and demanded rewrites. When demands wouldn’t work, they begged. Beethoven remained resolute. The orchestra too was not up to his vision. Beethoven raged, “I really do believe it is done on purpose… all the pianissimos, crescendos, decrescendos, fortissimos… may as well be struck out of my
music, since not one of them is attended to.”
Close friends of the composers, distressed at the reception of Fidelio, met together at a mutual friends home to parse the failure and repair the damage. After much painful wrangling, Beethoven agreed to the alterations and reworked the opera. A year later, revised and better rehearsed, the opera opened again to
a better reception. Unfortunately, Beethoven’s inability to negotiate the intricacies of the opera house led to a quarrel with the impresario over the receipts, and Beethoven withdrew his score. For the next eight years it languished, unperformed.
In 1814, the Court Theater Company was seeking an opera for a benefit performance and settled on Fidelio. Once again, Beethoven agreed to allow his text and music to be edited, but this time he chose his editor. Georg Friedrich Treitschke undertook the work, and in his capable hands molded it into a workable, dramatically credible piece. Finally on May 23, 1814, the opera reopened with Beethoven himself on the podium, to remarkable success.
Despite writing only one opera, Beethoven was to have great influence on 19th century German Romantic opera, particularly with regard to orchestration and the use of the voice in a symphonic context. Wagner operas are descendants of Fidelio, but Beethoven’s voice is unique. Anton Rubenstein says it best:
“The orchestra in Wagner’s works is extraordinarily interesting, but it diminishes the role of the vocal parts… you feel like telling them to keep silent in order to also hear the singers on the stage. It’s hard to find a more interesting orchestra than that of Beethoven’s Fidelio. For me, Fidelio is a genuine musical drama from all points of view; … it has the most beautiful melodic sound, and, regardless of the interest the orchestra shows, it is not the one expressing something on behalf of the characters, but it is the one giving them the
opportunity to express themselves. In this opera, every sound emerges from the depth of soul and in depth of soul it must find its echo with the hearer.”
What you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am by myself. There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven.
—Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven’s shadow is long. His music influenced every composer who succeeded him, and he fed the Romantic era’s ideal of a Titan of Art, whose nobility was in his head and his heart and whose temperament was as volatile as hisexplosive music.
Beethoven’s life reflects the Sturm und
Beethoven’s early education was primarily music. He started piano very young. It is said that the boy was made to stand at the keyboard, even sobbing in frustration. Beethoven’s father was a cruel task master, anxious to pass his son off as another Mozart-like boy wonder, even lying about the child’s age in early public
Beethoven’s first music teacher of note was Christian Gottlob Neefe, the court organist. At eleven, Beethoven was his assitant. By twelve, Beethoven was in charge when Neefe was traveling.
At this time, Beethoven began to compose as well. By 1785, he was taking violin lessons from Franz Ries and was so proficient a pianist that he had a student roster of his own. In 1787, he spent two weeks in Vienna,
In 1792, Beethoven began to study with Haydn. It was hoped that he would “with the help of assiduous labor …receive Mozart’s spirit from Haydn’s hands.” Unfortunately, the two did not get along. Although Haydn remained a strong advocate for Beethoven, he did not always appreciate Beethoven’s modern musical ideas. Vienna, however, liked Beethoven very well, and he became very much in demand as a virtuoso pianist whose ability astounded audiences.
Musicologists like to divide Beethoven’s musical journey into three periods, Early, Middle and Late. The Early period reflects his debt to Haydn and Mozart, both with his remarkable piano playing and his compositions. This period is aptly represented by the Moonlight Sonata and the Sonata Pathetique.
At the dawn of the new century, Beethoven’s private world began collapsing, precipitated by the gradual
Despite his hearing loss, or perhaps because of it, this period marks his Middle period, and a time of dramatic
Beethoven bridges the classical period and the Romantic. The music whose boundaries he had pushed and whose full expression he had explored was being supplanted, and Beethoven found himself deeply challenged. These Late compositions reflect this search for a new language. His melodies during this time become more direct; his variations are more adventurous and travel farther a-field. He seems to become a Romantic. From this time comes the sublime humanity of the Ninth Symphony.
Beethoven died on March 26, 1827. He left everything to his nephew, who was unable to be at his bedside because of his military service. His funeral was attended by 10,000. The legacy of his music, at once passionate, tumultuous, divine, and transfiguring, continues to
Previously at Portland Opera: Fidelio, 2008
Renowned American soprano Lori Phillips remains one of the most innovative and expressive voices in the opera industry. In April 2008, she made her Washington National Opera debut as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer.
Lori Phillips - Turandot
Previously at Portland Opera: Fidelio, 2008Renowned American soprano Lori Phillips remains one of the most innovative and expressive voices in the opera industry. In April 2008, she made her Washington National Opera debut as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer. The Washington Post said, “...at the Kennedy Center, American soprano Lori Phillips took the part of Senta...and sang the aria superbly...Phillips made “Johohoe! Traft ihr das Schiff” (“Have You Seen the Ship”) a heartfelt display. The vocal line leapt and contracted, now immersed in broad orchestral washes, now hushed and forlorn. Phillips -- recently earning more parts on elite stages -- skillfully applied color and detail; through a purposeful fragility, she unmasks Senta's devotion that eventually culminates in a mandatory Wagnerian love-death.”
In the 2008-2009 Season, she performs Leonora in Fidelio with Portland Opera; the title role in Turandot with Opera Birmingham, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, and Opera Carolina; Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Opéra de Québec; and The Mother in Il Prigionero and Signora Fabien in Volo di Notte with the American Symphony Orchestra.
In the 2009-2010 Season and beyond, she makes her debut as Brunnhilde in Die Walküre with Hawaii Opera Theater; performs Turandot with Opera Lyra Ottawa; and returns to the MET covering Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Gertrude in Hansel und Gretel and Senta in Der fliegende Holländer.
In the recent 2007-2008 Season, Ms. Phillips performed Ariane in Ariane et Barbe-bleue with Opéra National de Paris (Bastille) on tour in Japan; the title role in Turandot with Atlanta Opera; Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Vancouver Opera; Senta in Der fliegende Holländer with the Washington National Opera; and covered Gertrude in Hänsel und Gretel with the Metropolitan Opera.
In the 2006-2007 season, she performed Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Arizona Opera; Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos with Vancouver Opera; the title role in the world premiere of Jun Kaneko’s production of Madama Butterfly for Opera Omaha; covered Senta in Der fliegende Holländer with the Seattle Opera; as well as covering Georgetta in Il Tabarro and the title role in Turandot with the Metropolitan Opera. Additional noted engagements from recent seasons include a return to New York City Opera in the title roles of Turandot and Madama Butterfly; the title role in Ariane et Barbe-bleue with L’Opera de Nice; Minnie in La Fanciulla del West with Utah Opera; Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera for Opera Memphis, Seattle Opera and Vancouver Opera, Gertrude in Hänsel und Gretel for Dallas Opera; Gerhilde in Seattle Opera's Der Ring des Nibelungen; Leonore in Fidelio and the title role in Tosca (covers) with the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Senta in Der fliegende Holländer with the Hawaii Opera Theatre; and Leonora in Il Trovatore in her debut with Florentine Opera.
The award-winning soprano’s concert and recording career has expanded in 2007 with the release of Ariane et Barbe-bleue on Telarc with Mo. Leon Botstein and the BBC Symphony, for which she has received critical acclaim worldwide. Opera News said, “Aside from the brilliant orchestra, the other pillar here is the long, demanding part of Ariane, who must be both flexible and forceful. Soprano Lori Phillips masters the contradictory traits of this verbose heroine and shapes the irregular lines with idiomatic expressiveness.” She has also recorded Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis for Naxos under the musical direction of Mo. Kenneth Schermerhorn.
Ms. Phillips has been heard in concert as the Foreign Princess in Rusalka with the Fort Worth Symphony and sings a vast array of symphonic repertoire, from Mahler's Symphony No. 4 and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, to Brahms' Requiem, Mozart’s Mass in c minor, and Poulenc's Gloria, among others. An advocate of new music, Ms. Phillips has frequently collaborated with New York City's American Opera Projects, and create the role of Patience in the world premiere of Kimper/Persons’ opera Patience and Sarah, which won a GLAMA Award.
Hailed for his rich tone and dramatic charisma across an extraordinary breadth of repertoire, Jay Hunter Morris has established himself as one of today’s most exceptional tenors.
Jay Hunter Morris -Florestan
Hailed for his rich tone and dramatic charisma across an extraordinary breadth of repertoire, Jay Hunter Morris has established himself as one of today’s most exceptional tenors. He has been a principal artist with companies including the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and Seattle Opera, and maintains an international career throughout Europe as well as Asia and Australia.
Mr. Morris was first drawn into the spotlight in 1995, when he created the role of Tony in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. He continued in the role at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, and finally on Broadway, where he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Debut of an Actor.
Jay Hunter Morris begins the 2008-2009 season at Los Angeles Opera, under the baton of Placido Domingo, with a revival of the role of Marky, the role he created last season in the world premiere of The Fly (Howard Shore) at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. He then goes to Portland Opera where he appears as Florestan in Fidelio, followed by performances at Atlanta Opera as Erik in Der Fliegende Hollander. He appears with Alabama Symphony to sing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony before he continues to Seattle Opera to work on the role of Siegfried in both Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.
Performances last season include the title role in Samson and Delilah at Nashville Opera, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Cavaradossi in Tosca in Birmingham, Alabama, and Steva in Jenufa for Opera Monte Carlo, finishing the season on a high note with The Fly in Paris.
Mr. Morris made his debut at The Metropolitan Opera during the 2006-07 season as Steva, which he also sang at Dallas Opera. He was heard as Canio in Pagliacci with Atlanta Opera, a role he also performed with Houston Grand Opera. He has sung the role of Walther in Tannhäuser with Tokyo Opera Nomori, as Dimitri in Boris Godunov and as the Drum Major in Wozzeck with San Diego Opera. Mr. Morris appeared with Seattle Opera as Erik in Der Fliegende Hollander, which he performed with Arizona Opera and Opera Australia. Mr. Morris drew great praise for his performance of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Opera Australia, and won equal acclaim for performances of Manon Lescaut with Seattle Opera in 2005.
Other engagements that have garnered recognition for Mr. Morris include his Don José in Carmen at Minnesota Opera, Walther in Die Meistersinge von Nürnberg with San Francisco Opera and Frankfurt Opera. He has been seen at L’Operá de Nice as the Drum Major and as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos, which he has also sung for Dallas Opera.
One of the hallmarks of Mr. Morris’ career is his participation in some of the most noted new work in contemporary opera. He began the 2005-2006 season as Captain James Nolan in the world premiere of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic at San Francisco Opera, a role he reprised with the Netherlands Opera the following season. Mr. Morris also created the role of Unferth in the world premiere of Elliott Goldenthal and Julie Taymor’s Grendel, a performance he repeated in the 2006 Lincoln Center Festival. With San Francisco Opera, he sang Father Grenville in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and Mitch in André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire. He was also heard in the American premiere of Messiaen’s St. François d’Assise at San Francisco Opera.
Mr. Morris’s repertoire also extends to roles such as Britten’s Peter Grimes, Tichon in Kat’a Kabanova, which he sang with San Diego Opera, Sam Polk in Susannah by Carlisle Floyd and Narraboth in Salome, both with Philadephia Opera. With Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg, he sang the role of Jenik in The Bartered Bride. He has distinguished himself as an interpreter of rarely performed repertoire, singing Lykov in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, the Duke of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust at San Francisco Opera, and Anatol in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa at Seattle Opera.
Jay Hunter Morris is also active on the concert stage, where his accomplishments include Verdi’s Requiem with the Cathedral Choral Society in Washington, D.C., Britten’s War Requiem under the baton of the late Richard Bradshaw, excerpts from Lohengrin and Die Walküre in a gala concert for L’Opéra de Nice, and Janácek’s The Diary of One Who Vanished in San Francisco.
American Bass-Baritone Greer Grimsley has gained international recognition as an outstanding singing actor and is one of leading interpreters of the Wagnerian repertoire.
Greer Grimsley - Don Pizarro
American Bass-Baritone Greer Grimsley has gained international recognition as an outstanding singing actor and is one of leading interpreters of the Wagnerian repertoire. In Seattle Opera’s recent Der Ring des Nibelungen, the Seattle Times says “Grimsley’s big, resplendent voice is the right size and color for this vital role; as Wotan, he sounds like a singer who has found his true home. He’s an adept actor, too, never overplaying his hand and relating to the rest of the cast with unflagging intensity.” Additionally, Mr. Grimsley made his Metropolitan debut as Captain Balstrode in Peter Grimes and has subsequently performed there as Escamillo in Carmen, Jokanaan in Salome, Scarpia in Tosca, Telramund in Lohengrin and Amfortas in Parsifal. Mr. Grimsley first came to international attention as Escamillo in the Peter Brook production of La tragédie de Carmen, which he has sung in venues around the world, including his Italian debuts at the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
Engagements during the 2006-2007 Season included the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer with the Seattle Opera, the title role in Macbeth with Vancouver Opera, the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer in Lithuania, High Priest in Samson et Dalila with San Diego Opera, Claggart in Billy Budd with Pittsburgh Opera, Rigoletto with San Francisco Opera, and Wotan in Siegfried in Venice. Additional recent engagements include Jokanaan in Salome with Michigan Opera Theater and Santa Fe Opera, Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West and Telramund in Lohengrin with Seattle Opera, as well as Scarpia in Tosca and the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer with Pittsburgh Opera, the title role in Bluebeard’s Castle with Montreal Opera, his debut as Wotan in Stephen Wadsworth’s Der Ring des Nibelungen with Seattle Opera Summer 2005, Scarpia in Tosca with Portland Opera, and Wotan in Die Walküre in Venice. In concert, he recently performed Verdi’s Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony at Carnegie Hall and Scarpia in Tosca with Deborah Voight and the Minnesota Orchestra.
During the 2007-2008 Season, Mr. Grimsley performed Scarpia in Tosca with the Seattle Opera, Mephistopheles in Faust with New Orleans Opera, Verdi Requiem with the Teatro Colon, Schnittke’s Faust Cantata with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Rolf Beck, Don Pizzarro in Fidelio with the Saint Louis Symphony, and Amonasro in Aida with Portland Opera.
Engagements for the 2008-2009 Season include Don Pizzarro in Fidelio with Opera Company of Philadelphia and Portland Opera, Scarpia in Tosca with San Diego Opera, and Jokanaan in Salome with the Vancouver Opera and Opera Pacific, the Der Ring des Nibelungen with the Seattle Opera.
Previous European engagements have included the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna under Maestro Gatti’s baton, Telramund in Lohengrin, and Mandryka in Arabella with the Royal Danish Opera, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde with the Prague National Theatre, the Royal Danish Opera, and the Opera de Bellas Artes in Mexico, the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer in Nancy, France, Mephistopheles in Faust in Oviedo, Spain, Jochanaan in Salome with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Aarhus-Den Jyske Opera in Denmark, the Scottish Opera, and the Opera de Bellas Artes in Mexico, Don Pizarro in Fidelio with the Scottish Opera, the title role in Don Giovanni and Scarpia in Tosca with the Stadttheater Basel in Switzerland, the Villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann with New Israeli Opera, and Amonasro in Aïda with Opera de Caracas in Venezuela.
Mr. Grimsley has performed Escamillo in Carmen with the Seattle Opera, Baltimore Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, the St. Louis Symphony, the Teatro Real, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Scottish Opera, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and at the Bergenz Festival in Austria. He created the role of Canyka in the world premiere of Ashoka’s Dream with Santa Fe Opera and performed the Count de Luna in the American premiere of Verdi’s French-language version of Il trovatore, Le Trouvère. He has also performed at the Wexford Festival in Ireland as Richard Lionheart in Marschner’s Der Templer und Die Juden. Mr. Grimsley made his New York Philharmonic debut as Don Pizzaro in Fidelio with conductor Kurt Masur at the inaugural season of the Lincoln Center Festival.
The American bass Arthur Woodley has been acclaimed for his performances in both opera and concert.
Mr. Woodley regularly appears at the Seattle Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Dallas Opera, and the Cincinnati Opera.
Arthur Woodley - Rocco
The American bass Arthur Woodley has been acclaimed for his performances in both opera and concert.
Mr. Woodley regularly appears at the Seattle Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Dallas Opera, and the Cincinnati Opera. He also recently made his debuts at the San Francisco Opera, the Pittsburgh Opera, and the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. His many roles have included Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, the Four Villains in Les Contes d'Hoffman, Kuno in Die Freischütz, Banquo in Macbeth, Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress, Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment, Colline in La Bohéme, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rocco in Fidelio, Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelotti in Tosca, Achillas in Guilio Cesare, and Dansker in Billy Budd.
Arthur Woodley has a distinguished history with the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess. He recently sang the role in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, and on tour in Italy, including Santa Cecilia in Rome, with Yuri Temirkanov. In staged performances, he has appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Indianapolis Opera, Opera Colorado, the Bregenz Festival, the Savolinna International Festival in Finland and the Catfish Row Opera Company of Charleston, South Carolina, in a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opera's debut.
In concert, Mr. Woodley most recently appeared with the Collegiate Chorale at Lincoln Center. His other recent concert engagements have included appearances with the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; works by Szymanowski and Janácek at the Bard Music Festival; the world premiere of God, Mississippi, and Medgar Evers with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; and appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the Modesto Symphony. He also appeared as the bass soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in Mexico City with Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
This season, Mr. Woodley returns to the Indianapolis Opera as The Four Villains, and sings the Handel Messiah in Chicago, and the Rossini Stabat Mater with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Hailed by critics worldwide for her complete performances as both singer and actor, American soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge is in constant demand for her sparkling vocal technique, natural stage presence, and both her dramatic and comic acting ability.
Jennifer Welch-Babidge — Marzelline
Hailed by critics worldwide for her complete performances as both singer and actor, American soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge is in constant demand for her sparkling vocal technique, natural stage presence, and both her dramatic and comic acting ability. Opera News lauds recent performances, “Jennifer Welch-Babidge served up some ravishing soubrette-singing. Her voice is agile and beautifully projected, with a lavish bloom and a silvery edge; she clearly loves the stage.”
Ms. Welch-Babidge’s 2005-06 season included a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Marzelline in Fidelio and appearances with Houston Grand Opera as Norina in Don Pasquale and Opera Carolina as Leila in Pearl Fishers. She also appears again with the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Ensemble at Carnegie Hall, with James Levine conducting. She then sings Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in Nashville and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the San Francisco Symphony, and finishes the season with Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Utah Festival Opera (where she has previously been seen as Gilda in Rigoletto and Liu in Turandot. Her future engagements include a return to the San Francisco Opera in the fall of 2006 as Adele in Die Fledermaus as well as both Moses und Aron and Fidelio with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and James Levine.
Frequently appearing on the Metropolitan Opera stage, her roles with the company include Marzelline in Fidelio, Chloe in Queen of Spades, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Freia in Das Rheingold. She has also appeared at Carnegie Hall with the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Ensemble and James Levine. In recent seasons, her acclaimed performances encompass the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at New York City Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Greensboro Opera Company. She made her San Francisco Opera debut as Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and has sung Konstanze in the same opera with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Also at Opera Colorado she appeared as Gilda in Rigoletto and with Opera Pacific, sang her first performances of Violetta in La Traviata. Ms. Welch-Babidge made her debut in Japan as Adele in Die Fledermaus with Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival.
Ms. Welch-Babidge is a recipient of many awards, including the prestigious ARIA Award and Richard Tucker Career Grant, both in 2001. She was also a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the spring of 1997 subsequently joined the company’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. The soprano’s other honors include a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and an award from the William Mattheus Sullivan Foundation.
Ms. Welch-Babidge, a native of Aulander, North Carolina, is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts with a Master's degree in vocal performance. She lives in Utah with her husband, Darrell, and their two sons, John Chandler and Joseph.
Tenor Jonathan Boyd has performed in opera and oratorio throughout Europe, North America and South America.
Jonathan Boyd - Jacquino
Tenor Jonathan Boyd has performed in opera and oratorio throughout Europe, North America and South America where his recent international debuts have included Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Teatro Colon, Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Le Grand Théâtre de Limoges, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Opera Royal de Wallonie, Eliezer in Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon at the Palais des Beaux Arts Bruxelles, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Festival Lyrique-en-mer de Belle Île, Alfredo in La traviata with Akouna, Opéra en plein air, and Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress with Ponte de Lima (Portugal).
In the 2007-2008 season and beyond, Mr. Boyd performs Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Seattle Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the title role in Werther with Teatro Colon (Argentina), Camille in The Merry Widow with Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Narraboth in Salome with the Dallas Opera, Alfredo in La traviata with the Chautauqua Opera, Jaquino in Fidelio with Portland Opera, and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with L’Opera de Nice. Previously in the 2006-2007 Season, he performed Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Portland Opera, Roméo in Roméo et Juliette with Michigan Opera Theatre, Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress with Ponte de Lima (Portugal), Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, and Fenton in Falstaff at Le Grand Théâtre de Limoges.
Mr. Boyd has an extensive repertoire in the operas of the 20th Century, including Michigan Opera Theater’s World Premiere of Margaret Garner in the role of George Hancock and New York City Opera’s productions of Mother of Us All and Central Park. Composer Lee Hoiby personally chose Mr. Boyd for the role of Romeo in his opera Roméo et Juliette, which he subsequently sang in the semi-staged performances at the Opera America convention in Vancouver, as well as with New York City Opera, Stamford Symphony in Connecticut, and the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center.
Additional previous engagements have included those with San Francisco Opera’s productions of Falstaff, Turandot, The Merry Widow (released on DVD), Mother of Us All, Alcina as cover of Oronte and Die Zauberflöte as cover of Tamino. He made his debut with the Virginia Opera in the role of Rodolfo in La bohème, his Michigan Opera Theatre as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, his Portland Opera debut as Sam in Street Scene, as well as Roméo with Utah and Nashville Opera in Roméo et Juliette. For his portrayal of Ferrando in Così fan tutte with Sarasota Opera, Mr. Boyd was hailed in Opera News as “a standout and having a ravishing mezza voce.” In additional seasons with Sarasota Opera his roles included Nadir in Les pêcheurs des perles and Fenton in Falstaff.
While with Santa Fe Opera’s production of A Dream Play, Mr. Boyd received an award from The National Federation of Music Clubs for his accomplishments. Mr. Boyd has performed the role of Sam in Susannah in two separate productions with Opera Columbus and L’Opéra de Montréal. He also appeared in the role of Tom in The Rake’s Progress and as Lyric Tenor in Postcard from Morocco. He made his debut with Lake George Opera in the title role of Candide.
Mr. Boyd’s Concert appearances have included those with the New York Philharmonic in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Maestro Kurt Masur, the Philadelphia Orchestra in a recording of I Pagliacci with Maestro Riccardo Muti, with the Choral Arts Society as Tenor Soloist in Haydn’s Creation at the Kennedy Center, Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, in Handel’s Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony, as well as with Maestro Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque. Subsequently, Mr. Boyd returned for a Christmas Gala Concert with Philharmonia Baroque in Bach’s E flat Magnificat and Cantata 110. With Orchestre Métropolitain du grand Montréal Mr. Boyd was the tenor soloist for Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, with I Musici de Montréal he appeared as tenor soloist in Finzi’s Dies Natalis and in Britten’s Les Illuminations and Mozart in Virginia Symphony’s presentation of Mozart and Salieri by Rimsky Korsakov.
Clayton Brainerd has amassed an impressive list of accolades and successes in performances with major orchestras and opera companies under the batons of such conductors as Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Zdenek Macal, Seiji Ozawa, Micheal Tilson Thomas, and Jeffery Tate, among many others.
Clayton Brainerd - Don Fernando
Bass-BaritoneClayton Brainerd has amassed an impressive list of accolades and successes in performances with major orchestras and opera companies under the batons of such conductors as Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Zdenek Macal, Seiji Ozawa, Micheal Tilson Thomas, and Jeffery Tate, among many others.
In the 2007-2008 season, he will perform the Mozart Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Seattle Symphony as well as the St. Matthew Passion at the University of Nebraska. In the spring, he returns to the Boston Symphony Orchestra for several concert performances of the role of Pantheus in Berlioz’ Les Troyens under the baton of James Levine. In the 2006-2007 season, Mr. Brainerd made his debut at the Washington Opera in the US premiere of Nicholas Maw’s Sophie’s Choice. Additionally he performed Brotan’s Stabat Mater with the Portland Symphonic Choir, as well as the Missa Solemnis with Seattle Symphony. He also sang the Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Grand Rapids Opera.
Other notable recent engagements include performances with Seattle Symphony and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has sung Elijah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the War Requiem in Anchorage, Alaska, and Messiah with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. Additionally, Mr. Brainerd sang Wotan in Siegfried with New Orleans Opera, and covered Wotan in five complete Ring Cycles with Scottish Opera. In the spring and summer of 2005, he performed the role of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Berkeley Opera. Of these performances, San Francisco Classical Voice wrote, “His baritone is beautiful, firm, resonant, well-controlled at all dynamic levels, smoothly-produced and expressive, as is his stage manner. He brought out all of Sachs’s nobility, wisdom and experience in his scenes with the guild and Walther. He was touching and vulnerable with Eva and sly as he trapped Beckmesser.”
In the 2003-2004 season, Mr. Brainerd sang the role of Amonasro with the Scottish Opera, and covered all performances of Gunther in Götterdämmerung at the MET. The 2001/2002-season Mr. Brainerd sang Wotan in Die Walküre at the Scottish Opera’s second installment of their internationally acclaimed Ring Cycle. In fact, he was awarded the coveted “Herald Angel Award” from the Edinburgh Festival, naming him as one of the most outstanding performers at the festival. “Clayton Brainerd joined the cast during the run to take over as Wotan. He was magnificent. Mr. Brainerd, with his soft vocal textures, strong but gentle demeanor and expressive intelligence, sang of wisdom being gained through uncertainty and defeat.” (The New York Times September 4, 2001.)
In the fall of 2002, he resumed work on the Ring in Scotland with Siegfried, which culminated in a complete Ring Cycle in the summer of 2003. In June 2001, Mr. Brainerd made his debut at the Paris Opera (Bastille) singing performances of La Damnation de Faust with Seiji Ozawa on the podium. In October 2001 in Madrid, Mr. Brainerd sang the title role in performances of a newly discovered opera Merlin by Isaac Albéniz. The season ended with another production of Die Walküre with the New Orleans Opera and performances of Messiah at Carnegie Hall.
Highlights from the last few seasons for Clayton Brainerd included replacing James Morris as Wotan in Die Walküre performances at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, performances and the recording of excerpts from Mussorgsky's The Dream of the Peasant Grishko with the New Jersey Symphony under the baton of Zdenek Macal. Mr. Brainerd also sang Kurvenal in a performance and recording of Tristan und Isolde at Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York and Scarpia in Tosca with Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao, Spain. He also made his debut with the New Zealand Symphony as Wotan in five concert performances of Wagner's Das Rheingold -- a role in which he won critical acclaim in June 97 with the Arizona Opera Ring Cycle. Mr. Brainerd sang Walküre excerpts with the Cincinnati Symphony, Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande in Japan with the New Japan Philharmonic under the auspices of Seiji Ozawa. Also with Ozawa, were performances of Madama Butterfly and the Boston Symphony and Damnation of Faust with Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan.
Mr. Brainerd's versatility encompasses not only the Wagnerian repertoire of Wotan, The Wanderer, and Gunther in The Ring and the title role of Flying Dutchman, but also many roles in the Italian and French operatic repertoire, including Scarpia in Tosca, Villains in Hoffman, Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande and Mephistopheles in The Damnation of Faust. Mr. Brainerd is also in great demand as a concert artist throughout the world singing a vast repertoire from the Baroque to Modern.
Arthur Fagen is in great demand as a conductor of symphony and opera in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States.
Arthur Fagen - Conductor
Arthur Fagen is in great demand as a conductor of symphony and opera in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States. A former assistant of both Christoph von Dohnanyi (Frankfurt Opera) and James Levine (Metropolitan Opera), he is a regular guest at the most prestigious opera houses, concert halls, and music festivals at home and abroad.
Mr. Fagen was born in New York where he began his conducting studies with Laszlo Halasz. Further studies continued at the Curtis Institute under the guidance of Max Rudolf, and both at the Salzburg Mozarteum and with Hans Swarowsky. Mr. Fagen's career has been marked by a string of notable appearances, he has conducted the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin, New York City Opera, and orchestras like the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Munich Radio Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Orchestra della RAI (Torino, Naples, Milano, Roma), the Bergen Philharmonic, to name but a few.
Recent opera productions conducted by Mr. Fagen include Siegfried, Götterdämmerung in Dortmund, Ariadne auf Naxos in Bolzano, Ballo in Maschera at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, as well as two Ring Cycles. Additionally in 2006, Mr. Fagen conducted the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Nuernberg Philharmonic and Orchestra del Teatro Massimo in Palermo.
In 2002/2007 Mr. Fagen was the Music Director of the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dortmund Opera. Following his successful concerts with the Dortmund Philharmonic at the Grosse Festspielhaus in Salzburg, Arthur Fagen and the Dortmund Philharmonic were invited to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Palais de Beaux Arts in Brussels, as well as tours in Salzburg, Beijing and Shanghai.
In October 2007 Mr. Fagen conducted a new production of Turandot at the Atlanta Opera, where he opened the season with enormous success and inaugurated the new Opera House, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. Soon after, in February 2008, he conducted in Atlanta the contemporary opera Cold Sassy Tree by Carlisle Floyd. In the same month he was appointed Professor of Music in instrumental conducting at Indiana University in Bloomington.
The 2007/2008 season included engagements with the Israel Symphony Orchestra, Holland Sinfonia, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Dortmunder Philharmoniker, Sicily and Rome's Symphony Orchestras, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Opera de Nice, concerts in Spain (Las Palmas, Navarra) and in Taiwan, among others. A CD for Naxos was released in October 2007, Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies with the Staatskapelle Weimar.
Mr. Fagen has an opera repertory of more than 70 works. He has served as Principal Conductor in Kassel and Brunswick, as Chief Conductor of the Flanders Opera of Antwerp and Ghent, as Music Director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and a member of the conducting staff of the Chicago Lyric Opera. He has conducted the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, New York City Opera, Opera Capitole de Toulouse, Bordeaux Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Staatstheater Stuttgart, New Israeli Opera, Baltimore Opera, Edmonton Opera, Spoleto Festival, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, and many others.
On the concert podium, Mr. Fagen has appeared with internationally known orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic, Prague Spring Festival, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Munich Radio Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Slovak Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra della RAI (Torino, Naples, Milano, Roma), Orchestra San Carlo, Orchestras of Naples, Genoa and Sanremo, the Bergen Philharmonic, the Dutch Radio Orchestra, among many others.
Arthur Fagen was first prizewinner of the "Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conductors Competition" as well as prizewinner of the "Gino Marinuzzi International Conductors' Competition" in Italy.
Mr. Fagen has recorded for BMG, Bayerischer Rundfunk, SFB and WDR Cologne. He records regularly for Naxos, for whom he has completed the 6 symphonies of Bohuslav Martinu.
An actor and director of plays and musicals for over 20 years before focusing her career on opera, Helena Binder has earned praise for her direction of Minnesota Opera’s recent production of L’italiana in Algeri, and for her productions of Ermione, Il ritorno d’Ulisse, and Madame Butterfly for New York City Opera, where she was also Associate Director and Choreographer of last season’s Die tote Stadt.
Helena Binder - Stage Director
An actor and director of plays and musicals for over 20 years before focusing her career on opera, Helena Binder has earned praise for her direction of Minnesota Opera’s recent production of L’italiana in Algeri, and for her productions of Ermione, Il ritorno d’Ulisse,and Madame Butterfly for New York City Opera, where she was also Associate Director and Choreographer of last season’s Die tote Stadt. Her production of The Barber of Seville for The Dallas Opera was named one of the Top Ten Classical Performances of 2006 by the Dallas Morning News. She has directed Tales of Hoffmann for Minnesota Opera, Fidelio for Pittsburgh Opera, Madame Butterfly for Opera Toledo, L’italiana in Algeri and La Boheme for Lake George Opera, Madame Butterfly and The Magic Flute for Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, La traviata and Hansel and Gretel for Opera Roanoke, and has staged productions for The New York State Theatre Institute, Leatherstocking Theatre, Union College and Home Made Theater, including Noises Off, Foxfire, Wait Until Dark, A Life in the Theatre, Equus, Ten Little Indians and Charlotte’s Web. She has been director of the Legislative Correspondents Association Show, the oldest political satire revue in the country, for the past 24 years.
A choreographer as well, Ms. Binder choreographed Queen of Spades, Luisa Miller and Le nozze di Figaro for The Dallas Opera, and Bluebeard and La Calisto for Glimmerglass Opera where she also went on for an ailing countertenor.
As an actor, she has performed in regional theatre in the United States and abroad in roles ranging from Peter Pan to Shakespeare’s Juliet, and was singer in the rock n’ roll group,Blotto, that recorded the hit I Wanna Be A Lifeguard.
A committed arts educator, Ms. Binder taught acting at Union College and founded The Acting School, a studio for children and adults, in Schenectady, New York where she was the Performing Arts Specialist for the city’s first Magnet School Program. Along with coaching singers and actors she has worked with the University of Maryland Opera Theatre Program, the young artist programs of Minnesota Opera and Glimmerglass Opera and has taught classes and workshops all over New York State.
Sorry, flash is not available.
Sorry, flash is not available.
Sorry, flash is not available.
Sorry, flash is not available.
Sorry, flash is not available.
Sorry, flash is not available.
Sorry, flash is not available.