- Resident Artists
“Music and drama so intensely emotional, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.”
The beautiful courtesan thought she knew what her life was about.
For as long as Violetta can remember, she has lived for fashion, for fame, and yes, for money. Then—for the very first time—she finds someone who loves her. Not for her glamour. Not for her body. For herself.
But when she gives up her former life and follows her heart, the past comes back to haunt her, threatening the man she so desperately loves.
For her, the edge cuts sharply in opera’s most heart-wrenching drama.
Verdi’s intense, emotional music puts La Traviata in the top ten of all-time opera favorites!
Sung in Italian with projected English translations.
Performances held at the Keller Auditorium.
|Original Production||James Robinson|
ACT I — In her Paris salon, the courtesan Violetta Valéry greets party guests, including Flora Bervoix, the Marquis d’Obigny, Baron Douphol, and Gastone, who introduces a new admirer, Alfredo Germont. This young man, having adored Violetta from afar, joins her in a drinking song (Brindisi: “Libiamo”). An orchestra is heard in the next room, but as guests move there to dance, Violetta suffers a fainting spell, sends the guests on ahead, and goes to her parlor to recover. Alfredo comes in, and since they are alone, confesses his love (“Un dì felice”). At first Violetta protests that love means nothing to her. Something about the young man’s sincerity touches her, however, and she promises to meet him the next day. After the guests have gone, Violetta wonders if Alfredo could actually be the man she could love (“Ah, fors’è lui”). But she decides she wants freedom (“Sempre libera”), though Alfredo’s voice, heard outside, argues in favor of romance.
ACT II — Some months later Alfredo and Violetta are living in a country house near Paris, where he praises their contentment (“De’ miei bollenti spiriti”). But when the maid, Annina, reveals that Violetta has pawned her jewels to keep the house, Alfredo leaves for the city to settle matters at his own cost. Violetta comes looking for him and finds an invitation from Flora to a party that night. Violetta has no intention of going back to her old life, but trouble intrudes with the appearance of Alfredo’s father. Though impressed by Violetta’s ladylike manners, he demands she renounce his son: the scandal of Alfredo’s affair with her has threatened his daughter’s engagement (“Pura siccome un angelo”). Violetta says she cannot, but Germont eventually convinces her (“Dite alla giovine”). Alone, the desolate woman sends a message of acceptance to Flora and begins a farewell note to Alfredo. He enters suddenly, surprising her, and she can barely control herself as she reminds him of how deeply she loves him (“Amami, Alfredo”) before rushing out. Now a servant hands Alfredo her farewell note as Germont returns to console his son with reminders of family life in Provence (“Di Provenza”). But Alfredo, seeing Flora’s invitation, suspects Violetta has thrown him over for another lover. Furious, he determines to confront her at the party. At her soirée that evening, Flora learns from the Marquis that Violetta and Alfredo have parted, then clears the floor for hired entertainers—a band of fortune-telling Gypsies and some matadors who sing of Piquillo and his coy sweetheart (“E Piquillo un bel gagliardo”). Soon Alfredo strides in, making bitter comments about love and gambling recklessly at cards. Violetta has arrived with Baron Douphol, who challenges Alfredo to a game and loses a small fortune to him. Everyone goes in to supper, but Violetta has asked Alfredo to see her. Fearful of the Baron’s anger, she wants Alfredo to leave, but he misunderstands her apprehension and demands that she admit she loves Douphol. Crushed, she pretends she does. Now Alfredo calls in the others, denounces his former love and hurls his winnings at her feet (“Questa donna conoscete?”). Germont enters in time to see this and denounces his son’s behavior. The guests rebuke Alfredo and Douphol challenges him to a duel.
ACT III — In Violetta’s bedroom six months later, Dr. Grenvil tells Annina her mistress has not long to live: tuberculosis has claimed her. Alone, Violetta rereads a letter from Germont saying the Baron was only wounded in his duel with Alfredo, who knows all and is on his way to beg her pardon. But Violetta senses it is too late (“Addio del passato”). Paris is celebrating Mardi Gras and, after revelers pass outside, Annina rushes in to announce Alfredo. The lovers ecstatically plan to leave Paris forever (“Parigi, o cara”). Germont enters with the doctor before Violetta is seized with a last resurgence of strength. Feeling life return, she staggers and falls dead at her lover’s feet.
—Courtesy of Opera News
“Then it was a fiasco; now it is creating an uproar!”
—Verdi crowing about La Traviata’s second-run success in 1854 to a friend.
La Traviata premiered in Venice in march of 1853, gelded by Venetian censors. Once again, Verdi had had to submit his work to the rigid morality of the censors and set his contemporary “chamber” opera in the sumptuous Paris of Louis xIV, rather than the glittering night-life of Paris’ contemporary demi-monde, a concession that chafed Verdi’s sense of artistry. His frustration is palpable in his letters at the time—and not just because of the anachronistic costuming.
Based on the play and novel of Alexandre Dumas fils, La dame aux camellias, Verdi’s La Traviata immortalized Dumas’ fils “unhappy prostitute” and raised his semi-autobiographical tear jerker to high art. Dumas fils based his heroine, Marguerite Gautier (later to be Verdi’s Violetta Valéry), on a woman from his own life—the great courtesan and “miraculous” beauty, Marie Duplessis. Marie’s life reads like a gothic romance novel. She was the daughter of an alcoholic peddler, Marin Plessis, himself the bastard son of a priest. Her mother was the impoverished heiress to family of petit nobility who had been forced to marry a servant. To make ends meet, her mother had attached herself as a lady’s companion to an English family, leaving Marie and her sister in the care of their aunt. After her mother’s death, the aunt returned the six-year-old Marie to her father, who by her twelfth birthday began to peddle not only his regular inventory, but Marie. Sold by her drunken father to gypsies, Marie arrived in Paris in 1838 and stayed with family, working in a grocery and flirting on the weekends. But her “remarkably beautiful face” and “matchless figure” soon attracted the attention of a wealthy older man who made her his mistress and “introduced” her to the money and affections of many other lovers. After a very public affair with a very important man, her career as one of the most celebrated courtesans of her day was begun. She was sixteen years old.
Wealthy men pursued her loveliness with panting desperation, and when she tired of them, they were often no longer wealthy. Dumas fils had an 11 month affair, which appears to have been exclusive, however, her liking for
luxury led her back to Paris and her rich lovers. Her last love affair was with Liszt whom she seems to have genuinely loved, despite a brief marriage to an Englishman. By this time her tuberculosis was very advanced and she was a “shadow of a woman” pursued by creditors. She died in 1847, still beautiful and only twenty-three.
At the auction of her fashionable possessions, “respectable” Parisian ladies fought to purchase her jewelry and hair combs.
Alexandre Dumas fils at the time of Marie’s death owed creditors 50,000 francs, which he was determined to pay back. His dissolute Parisian life had begun to tire him—he had never truly approved of the endless parade of mistresses and the life his father had introduced him to. When Marie died 14 months after their affair, he seems to have decided to cope with his grief or cash in, depending on one’s cynicism. He wrote the novel quickly, and the never- ending prurient interests of Parisians in the life and death of the notorious Marie Duplessis made the book a best seller.
In 1852, Dumas’ play by the same name was mounted successfully, and Verdi saw it while in Paris. The story spoke clearly and directly to Verdi, who perhaps saw in it some of his own emotional truth. At the time he saw the
play, his own affair with the married Giuseppina Strepponi was outraging the provincials in his home town of Busetto. Regardless of his personal motivations, La Traviata was an opera very dear to him.
In January of 1853, Verdi expressed his intent to use the play as the basis for his next opera libretto—a dangerous move, considering that to this point none had used a “contemporary” subject for a serious opera, not to mention the scandalous subject matter. Verdi, however, was thrilled at the prospect, as one can see from a letter he wrote to his friend:
“A subject from our own time. Another person would
perhaps not have composed it because of the costumes,
because of the period, because of a thousand other
foolish objections, but I am delighted with the idea.”
Of course, his vision was overwhelmed by the demands of the theater, and he was forced to watch the opera’s first performances performed in 18th century costumes.
Verdi collaborated with the librettist Piave, an old colleague able to withstand Verdi’s consistent meddling. The libretto follows the play closely—but Piave improved the dramatic impact and flow, tightened dialogue, and
intensified the focus on the primary relationship between Alfredo and Violetta, resulting in what many feel to be his most wonderful libretto. La Traviata was finished in a white heat, while he was simultaneously working on Il Trovatore which was set to premiere in Rome during the summer of 1852. Sadly, his librettist for Trovatore,
Cammarano, died, delaying Verdi’s completion of the opera and postponing its opening. Il Trovatore premiered in Rome in January of 1853 to critical acclaim. La Traviata premiered in Venice in March of 1853 and, Verdi’s words, “It was a complete and utter fiasco.” Was it the singers or the subject matter or the music? It was hard to know, there had been much trouble in the casting and rehearsals for the production. The prima donna contracted to play Violetta was Fanny Salvini-Donatelli, thirty-eight years old and in the full flower of her voice, if not her beauty. Varesi, a baritone that had created the role of Macbeth for Verdi, wrote that Violetta was “very unsuited to Salvini-Donatelli’s figure.” Salvini-Donatelli was at this time a stout middle- aged woman, not a fragile flower of consumptive beauty. Varesi himself was upset by his role as Alfredo’s father Germont, which he felt to be beneath him after a bravura turn as Macbeth. At the opening, Salvini-Donatelli sang beautifully, and received good notices from the critics, but was laughed at by the rowdy Venetians whose credulity had been stretched by the diva’s shape. The rest of the singers, however, sang poorly, with little feeling for the material. Verdi was disappointed in the first production (despite the fact that it was a not a failure at the box office), but he was certain La Traviata would stand the test of time. When it opened again a year later, again in Venice, these same laughing audiences greeted La Traviata with “an uproar of indescribable applause.” But even this celebrated opening was not Verdi’s original vision—in fact it was not until 1906 that La Traviata was set in the mid-nineteenth century as Verdi had hoped.
La Traviata is a masterwork, beloved by audiences, not only for its scintillating, sparkling tunes, but also for its remarkable depth of feeling and clarity of characterization. For sopranos, Violetta Valéry is a tour de force of virtuosic singing, starting with the brittle brilliance of the opening aria, “Sempre libera” and warming, darkening, deepening to the dying woman of the third act. In this opera, one can see all of Verdi’s remarkable qualities as a composer on display, the melodies, orchestration and dramatic truth all combining to form an opera as moving as any ever written, immortalizing both Dumas’ fils “good bad book” and the ephemeral beauty Marie Duplessis.
“That’s it! That’s the one! To work at once!”
—Verdi, on the feeling of finding the right libretto.
|In later life, Verdi liked to style himself as a self-taught peasant. This is not strictly true. While not fabulously wealthy, Verdi’s family was solidly middle class and his parents supported his musical passions going so far as to obtain for him an old spinet, which accompanied him all the rest of his life and bore the inscription of the tuner who repaired it for free, “in view of the young Giuseppe Verdi’s eagerness to learn to play this instrument.” |
While not self-taught, Verdi also did not receive the finest musical education available. After residing in Busseto for several years, he went to study in Milan, but the Milan Conservatory rejected his application, citing a lack of piano technique and “contrapuntal discipline.” Still they recognized him as a gifted composer. In 1835, Verdi returned to Busseto to serve as the maestro di musica. This offered Verdi some financial stability and he married in 1836. In 1839, his first opera, Oberto, opened happily and Verdi moved his family to Milan.
La Scala commissioned three more operas and he began work on a comedy, Un giorno di regno. It was a resounding failure. Verdi lost his beloved wife during its composition, having previously lost his toddler daughter before he moved to Milan and his infant son before Oberto opened. The momentous grief he felt led him to vow he would compose no more.
La Scala impresario Mirelli refused to accept Verdi’s decision. He told him, “Listen, Verdi, I cannot force you to compose! [But] my faith in you remains unshaken. Who knows whether you may or may not decide some day to begin to write again. Just let me know two months before a season and I promise you your opera will be given.” Verdi did indeed have another opera in him. It became Nabucco, his first international success.
During the first phase of his career, Verdi created works frequently, often at the rate of two or three per year. His techniques of this period were perfected with Rigoletto (1851), Il Trovatore (1853) and La Traviata (1853), three of his most famous operas.
Verdi took an active interest in Italian politics, and during the war for Italian independence from Austria he served as a senator. A commission for La forza del destino brought him back to the theater after a seven-year hiatus. This opera marks the beginning of what musicologists deem Verdi’s middle period, which includes Simon Boccanegra (1857) and Un ballo in maschera (1859). Verdi’s significant struggles with censors left him disillusioned with Italian opera companies and after Un ballo he never wrote for an Italian company again.
Subsequently, his style began to expand and reflect more elements of French grand opera. Don Carlos and Les Vêspres Siciliennes were composed for the Paris Opera. Verdi’s most famous opera, Aida, is in the French grand opera style. Verdi’s final two works, Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893) defy classification.
They are the fruition of an extensive and brilliant career and are arguably the finest examples of tragedy and comedy in Italian opera.
During the last years of his life, Verdi founded a home for aging musicians, the Casa di Riposo in Milan, for his second wife, singer Giuseppina Strepponi. He regarded this home, which still exists today, as his greatest work, a place for musical greats to spend their twilight years. He said it was for “people who are less fortunate than I.” He died on January 27, 1901 in Milan. His remains and those of his wife, Giuseppina Strepponi were moved shortly after Verdi’s initial burial to the Casa di Riposo, in accordance with his wishes.
Previously at Portland Opera: La Traviata, 2008
Of Maria Kanyova’s summer 2005 performances as Madama Butterfly, the Denver Post raved, “Making her striking Central City debut in the demanding title role, soprano Maria Kanyova hardly could be more convincing with her appropriately youthful appearance and ability to convey the young wife’s innocence, vulnerability and pain...”
Maria Kanyova - Nedda
Previously at Portland Opera: La Traviata, 2008Of Maria Kanyova’s summer 2005 performances as Madama Butterfly, the Denver Post raved, “Making her striking Central City debut in the demanding title role, soprano Maria Kanyova hardly could be more convincing with her appropriately youthful appearance and ability to convey the young wife’s innocence, vulnerability and pain. More important, she possesses a pure, forceful voice with a pleasing, soft edge – and she knows how to use it.” The American soprano has received equal praise for her portrayals of the leading heroines in Italian, French, German, Russian and Czech opera with companies throughout the United States.
During the 2009/10 season, Maria Kanyova makes her European operatic debut at the Wexford Festival, reprising her critically acclaimed Marie Antoinette in James Robinson’s new production of The Ghosts of Versailles, under the baton of Michael Christie. Having previously made her triumphant debut in the role at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Ms. Kanyova is only the third artist to take on the challenges of this seminal role since the opera’s world premiere in 1991. She returns to St. Louis in 2010 as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, and performs scenes from Nixon in China in concert with the Phoenix Symphony. This season also sees the release of a new recording of Nixon in China on the Naxos label, featuring Ms. Kanyova as Pat Nixon.
Last season, in addition to The Ghosts of Versailles in St. Louis, Ms. Kanyova returned to Dallas Opera as Mimì in La Bohème; reprised her signature role of Violetta in James Robinson’s production of La Traviata at Portland Opera, conducted by Stephen Lord; and essayed the title role of Madama Butterfly at Madison Opera.
Ms. Kanyova began the 2007/08 season with a return to New York City Opera, reprising her role as Nedda in the Stephen Lawless production of I Pagliacci, first seen at Dallas Opera in 2005/06. For Los Angeles Opera, she essayed the role of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni under the baton of Hartmut Haenchen. Later in the season, she bowed at Boston Lyric Opera as Adina in James Robinson’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore, conducted by Stephen Lord, and returned to Opera Colorado as Pat Nixon in Nixon in China, conducted by Marin Alsop, which was recorded for release on the Naxos label.
Following critically acclaimed performances of the title role of Jenůfa in a new production by Sir Jonathan Miller at Glimmerglass Opera in the summer of 2006, Maria Kanyova made her debut as Gretel in a new Douglas Fitch production of Hansel and Gretel at Los Angeles Opera, conducted by Alan Gilbert. At Utah Opera she performed what has become one of her signature roles—Violetta in La Traviata—and made her role debut as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore in a new James Robinson production at Opera Colorado.
Maria Kanyova enjoys a special collaboration with New York City Opera. Her debut there as Mimì, opposite Rolando Villazón, was telecast on PBS to great critical acclaim. She opened the company’s 2003/04 Season in the title role of Puccini’s Suor Angelica in a new production by James Robinson, conducted by George Manahan. Other roles at City Opera include Violetta, as well Corinna in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. Maria Kanyova received both the Betty Allen Prize (the company’s largest award) and the Richard F. Gold Career Grant for her achievement with the company.
Highlights of past seasons include her company and role debuts as Nedda at Dallas Opera, conducted by Graeme Jenkins; a return to Opera Colorado for her role debut as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in the celebrated James Robinson production; her Boston Lyric Opera debut as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin conducted by Stephen Lord; her role debut as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro at Opera Colorado (also a Robinson production); and the title role in Madama Butterfly at Central City Opera in a new production by Catherine Malfitano making her directorial debut. A further highlight was Maria Kanyova’s return to Lyric Opera of Chicago as the obsessive-compulsive wedding planner in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s A Wedding, directed by Robert Altman and conducted by Dennis Russell Davies.
The American soprano made her debut at Opera Theater of St. Louis as Pat Nixon, a role she has also sung at the Ravinia Festival under Marin Alsop, as well as at Chicago Opera Theater. She has also made her debuts with the Houston Grand Opera as Mimì, and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as the Dew Fairy and Sandman in concert performances of Hänsel und Gretel led by Marek Janowski. At Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has performed the title role in Madama Butterfly, under Bruno Bartoletti; Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera; and Violetta in La Traviata; as well as the Dew Fairy and Sandman in the Richard Jones production of Hänsel. With Opera Colorado she also has sung Donna Elvira in a new production of Don Giovanni; she has also taken on the piece’s other heroine, Donna Anna, at Glimmerglass directed by Francisco Negrin. Other important heroines include Tatyana at Opera Pacific and at Utah Opera, and Blanche de la Force in a new production of Dialogues of the Carmelites at Glimmerglass. Maria Kanyova is an alumna of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. While there, she created the role of Leya in Shulamit Ran’s Between Two Worlds to unanimous critical acclaim.
Maria Kanyova debuted at Glimmerglass Opera Theater as Annabelle in the first modern performances of Sousa’s The Glass Blowers. At Santa Fe Opera, she created the role of Ella Burling in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline (later televised on PBS) as well as covered the title role in Richard Strauss’s Daphne. With the Kansas Opera Program, she has performed Micaëla in Carmen, the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, the title role in L’Incoronazione di Poppea, and Laetitia in Menotti’s The Old Man and the Thief.
In concert, Maria Kanyova received special critical praise when she substituted for an ailing colleague with Music of the Baroque with only twenty-four hours notice, learning an obscure Scarlatti cantata overnight. She has also sung Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Charlotte Symphony as well as Mozart’s C minor Mass, the Brahms Requiem, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Britten’s War Requiem and Handel’s Messiah. She has appeared in opera arias and scenes with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival and the Ravinia Festival.
Maria Kanyova has received awards from the Liederkranz Foundation, the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Greater Miami Opera Guild. She is also the winner of a 2001 Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant and a 2000 Sullivan Foundation Award. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband, son, and two daughters.
Richard Troxell’s beautiful lyric tenor voice has been heard on operatic and concert stages in the United States and around the world. His powerful stage presence and ability to connect with people have set him apart and made him a favorite with audiences of all ages.
Richard Troxell - Alfredo
TenorRichard Troxell’s beautiful lyric tenor voice has been heard on operatic and concert stages in the United States and around the world. His powerful stage presence and ability to connect with people have set him apart and made him a favorite with audiences of all ages. On film, he can be seen in the role of Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, a film that was widely acclaimed by music and film critics alike. The New York Times calls his portrayal “ the most dramatically satisfying vocal characterization” in the film.
The 2007-2008 season was a busy one for Mr. Troxell. Most recently, he sang his now signature role of Lieutenant Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly in a sold out début with Opéra de Montréal. Just prior to that, he was Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac in a début with Opéra de Monte Carlo. In Paris, he sang the title role in Zampa in another début with the Opéra Comique. Other recent engagements included the title role in Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Opera Narodowa in Warsaw, Poland and Don José in Carmen with the Portland Opera, as well as concert engagements with the Colorado Symphony and tenor soloist in the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of Carmina Burana.
During the 2008-2009 season, he will appear as Alfredo in La Traviata for Portland Opera and return to the Opéra Comique for additional performances in Zampa followed by a début with Opera Lyra in Ottawa as Lensky in Eugene Onegin.
Mr. Troxell has sung leading roles with opera companies in the United States and abroad, including Los Angeles Opera (Pinkerton), Washington Opera (Roméo, Roméo et Juliette, Prunier in La Rondine telecast on PBS) New York City Opera (the Prince, The Love for Three Oranges, Nanki Poo, The Mikado), Houston Grand Opera (title role, The Tales of Hoffmann), Opera Company of Philadelphia (Piquillo, La Périchole. with Denyce Graves), Opera Pacific (title role, Candide), Boston Lyric Opera (title role, Faust,) Spoleto Festival USA (title role, L’île de Merlin). Internationally, he has also appeared with l’Opéra National de Montpellier, Vancouver Opera, New Israeli Opera, New Zealand Opera, Théâtre du Capitôle Toulouse and Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville.
Equally at home on the concert stage, Mr.Troxell has been tenor soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, l’Orchestre de Paris, the Berlin Radio Symphony, and l’Orchestre de Monte Carlo among others as well as in performances at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) with the American Symphony Orchestra (title role, Der Zwerg), and in Bach’s Magnificat at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Mr. Troxell’s recording credits include the role of Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly on the Sony label, Marvin David Levy’s Masada with the Berlin Symphony Radio Orchestra, a solo pops CD What a Wonderful World, and, on DVD, Madame Butterfly and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Richard Troxell hails from Thurmont, Maryland and presently lives in the countryside of Chester County, Pennsylvania with his wife Lisa Lovelace, a dancer/ choreographer and their two sons Wilder and Shane.
One of America's leading baritones, Richard Zeller, is internationally acclaimed for his concert and opera roles. He is known for his beautiful dramatic voice and presence as well as his outstanding musicianship.
Richard Zeller - Germont
One of America's leading baritones, Richard Zeller, is internationally acclaimed for his concert and opera roles. He is known for his beautiful dramatic voice and presence as well as his outstanding musicianship.
During season 2008/09, Mr. Zeller returns to Scottish Opera where he portrays Germont in La Traviata, a role he reprises in the US at Portland Opera. Highlights of the current season are Morales in Carmen at Portland Opera, the title role in Rigoletto with New Jersey Opera, and orchestral engagements with the Virginia Symphony and Evansville Philharmonic. Mr. Zeller’s opera engagements in season 2006/07 included the role of Valentin in Portland Opera’s production of Gounod’s Faust, cover of the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Metropolitan Opera and performing Enrico in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with New Orleans Opera. Concert engagements during that season have Mr. Zeller perform in an opera gala concert with Johnstown Symphony (PA), Handel’s Messiah with Seattle Symphony, the Shostakovitch Symphony #14 with Richmond Symphony, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with Oregon Symphony, a return to the Richmond Symphony for Brahms’ Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Memphis Symphony and Orff’s Carmina Burana with Buffalo Philharmonic.
Engagements in the 2005/06 season included the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Kentucky Opera, the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth with Portland Opera, Sharpless in Puccini’s Butterfly with the New Orleans Opera, as well as Mendelssohn’s Elijah with San Diego Symphony and the Winter Park Bach Festival, Carmina Burana with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Norway) and Messiah with Charlotte Symphony. Season 2004/05 Mr. Zeller performed Brahms Requiem with Oregon Symphony, Schumann’s Manfred with Seattle Symphony, Carmina Burana with the Dallas Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. He also appeared as Marcello in La Boheme with Cincinnati Opera and returned to the Metropolitan Opera for their productions of La Boheme and Tannhauser.
The 2003/04 season included the role of Athanaël in Massenet's Thaïs with the English National Opera and more performances with the Metropolitan Opera as Marcello in Puccini’s La Bohème; Schelkalov in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov; and Barak in R. Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Mr. Zeller's performances in the 2001/02 season included a nationwide TV Broadcast in Live from Lincoln Center singing the Mozart Requiem with the Mostly Mozart Festival, conducted by Gerard Schwarz. He also appeared with Portland Opera as Zurga in Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, sang in Carnegie Hall in Bloch's Sacred Service, and in Orff's Carmina Burana with the Oregon Symphony. He sang the villain Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca with Opera Grand Rapids, as well as the title role in Verdi's Macbeth with Opera de Bordeaux and Opera de Vichy. He also sang the world premiere of Henri Lazarof's Fifth Symphony with the Seattle Symphony.
Mr. Zeller was featured in Scottish Opera's widely heralded, award-winning production of Macbeth directed by Luc Bondy at its Edinburgh Festival premiere in 1999/00 and revival at the Vienna Festival. Other opera highlights of past seasons include Metropolitan Opera performances of Giordano’s Andrea Chénier and Gounod’s Faust, and Chicago Lyric Opera’s Boris Godunov and Andrea Chénier. He has performed Gluck’s Alceste at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride in Madrid. Mr. Zeller has frequently performed the role of Germont in Verdi’s La Traviata in opera and concert venues that include Hamburgische Staatsoper, San Diego Opera, Scottish Opera, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Rotterdam and Dublin Opera. Other Verdi baritone roles include Amonasro in Aida with Portland Opera and Florida Philharmonic; the title role in Rigoletto with New York City Opera; and Count di Luna in Il Trovatore with both San Diego Opera and Scottish Opera.
Richard Zeller's recordings include Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 for Centaur Records, and Virgil Thompson's Lord Byron and Aaron Copland's The Tender Land for Koch International.
Stephen Lord was recently chosen by Opera News as one of the "25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera" (one of four conductors), and is continually praised for conducting both traditional and contemporary operatic works.
Stephen Lord - Conductor
Stephen Lord was recently chosen by Opera News as one of the "25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera" (one of four conductors), and is continually praised for conducting both traditional and contemporary operatic works. For his recent debut with San Francisco Opera, conducting Rigoletto, one critic observed, "He partnered his singers perfectly and gave everything its proper weight - he was master of the score's details and the orchestra played superbly for him." He is currently music director for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and music director of Boston Lyric Opera until the end of the 2007-08 season.
Stephen Lord's 2007-08 season includes three productions for Opera Colorado: La traviata, Don Pasquale and Der fliegende Höllander; The Tales of Hoffmann for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; the Metropolitan Opera National Council concert; and L'elisir d'amore at Boston Lyric Opera. In summer of 2008, Mr. Lord conducts a concert version of Candide for Wolf Trap Opera. Future engagements include conducting Madama Butterfly for Opera Colorado and his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
His 2006-07 season included debuts with San Francisco Opera (Rigoletto) and Dallas Opera (La rondine), Un ballo in maschera and Le nozze di Figaro with Boston Lyric Opera, and I Puritani for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. In summer of 2007 Stephen Lord returned to the San Francisco Opera Orchestra for the final concert of Stern Grove Festival's 70th season and conducted a concert Carmen for Wolf Trap Opera.
At Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Mr. Lord has conducted Roméo et Juliette, a double bill of Cavalleria rusticana and Suor Angelica, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, La traviata, Kát'a Kabanová, Il barbiere di Siviglia, The Rape of Lucretia, Candide, The Beggar's Opera, Curlew River, The Prodigal Son, The Gondoliers, King Arthur, La Fille du régiment, Ariadne auf Naxos and Madama Butterfly. During his tenure with Boston Lyric Opera he has led productions of The Little Prince, Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, La rondine, Don Carlo, Don Pasquale, Madama Butterfly, La Fille du régiment, Salome, Aida, Die Zauberflöte, La traviata, Roméo et Juliette, Lucia di Lammermoor, Werther, Tosca, L'elisir d'amore, Falstaff, Il barbiere di Siviglia, I Puritani and Carmen.
Stephen Lord made his New York City Opera debut in 2004 conducting La rondine. Other career highlights as guest conductor included appearances at Wolf Trap Opera (Roméo et Juliette, La bohème, Le nozze de Figaro and La clemenza di Tito) and with other North American companies such as the Canadian Opera, Opera Colorado, Michigan Opera Theatre, Florentine Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Pacific, Cleveland Opera and Arizona Opera. Mr. Lord has been a guest with the Boston Pops and first appeared in San Francisco leading the Merola Grand Finale Concert for the opera company. He also conducted Opera Omaha in telecast productions of La traviata and Roméo et Juliette, and the world premiere of the completed critical edition of Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Mr. Lord was previously music director of the Banff Festival Opera, where he conducted L'Ormindo, The Rape of Lucretia, Cendrillon, Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte.
In addition to his opera endeavors, Stephen Lord has conducted at Carnegie Hall for PDQ Bach's annual concerts and at the Berkshire Choral Festival Institute. He teaches Master Classes at various institutions including Yale University, The Blossom Festival, the Hartt School of Music and Westminster Choir College, and he serves as an adjudicator in vocal competitions such as the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions, Opera America's George London/Sullivan Grants, and the Richard Tucker Foundation.
As an Associate Director, Jennifer Nicoll has recently staged productions of La Traviata for Opera Colorado and L’Eliser D’Amour for Pittsburgh Opera.
Jennifer Nicoll - Stage Director
As an Associate Director, Jennifer Nicoll has recently staged productions of La Traviata for Opera Colorado and L’Eliser D’Amour for Pittsburgh Opera. She is a regular assistant director on the staffs of Opera Theater of St. Louis (Una Cosa Rara, La Traviata), San Francisco Opera (Flute for Kids), Boston Lyric Opera (L’Eliser D’Amour, La Traviata), Opera Colorado (L’Eliser D’Amour), and Utah Symphony Opera (Der Fliegende Hollander). Prior to her work as a stage director, Jen was a member of the stage management staffs for opera companies across the United States, including San Francisco Opera, Opera Carolina, Dallas Opera, and Opera Colorado. Jen received her BFA from North Carolina School of the Arts.
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Musical excerpts used courtesy of Angel Records/EMI Classics.