by Giuseppe Verdi
May 5, 2023 | 7:30 PM
May 7, 2023 | 2:00 PM
DeVos Performance Hall
Season subscriptions available now.
Individual tickets go on sale July 30.
If you have purchased tickets to a previously scheduled performance of Aida and would like to keep your seats, they will be automatically switched to the new dates. See additional details below.
Maestro James Meena | Conductor
James Meena consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium in concert, opera and ballet. Mo. Meena serves as Artistic Director for Opera Carolina (Charlotte) and Artistic Director for Opera Grand Rapids.
This coming season he will lead Opera Carolina’s productions of I Dream, Don Giovanni, The Falling and Rising, and Aida. He will also return to Opera Grand Rapids for productions of Don Giovanni and Turandot.
Recent engagements include acclaimed performances of Tosca at the Luglio Festivale Trapani in Sicilia, a double-bill of Rachmaninoff’s rarely-performed Aleko paired with Pagliacci as well as La fanciulla del West, both with the restored New York City Opera; Le nozze di Figaro for Teatro Sociale Rovigo Italy, La fanciulla del West for five prestigious Italian theaters: Teatro del Giglio, Lucca Italy, Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Teatro Alighieri di Ravenna, Teatro Pavarotti di Modena and Teatro Goldoni di Livorno, plus Rigoletto, The Magic Flute, Carmen and Yvgeny Onegin with Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids, plus a Gala concert with Renee Fleming and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra; Porgy & Bess with Margaret Island Open-Air Theatre in Budapest for their Summer Festival, and La bohème with the prestigious Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, La bohème with Opéra de Montréal, Masterworks Concerts with Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and Il barbiere di Siviglia, La fanciulla del West, and La traviata with Opera Carolina.
A guest conductor, Maestro Meena has lead performances in opera houses throughout North America, including Madama Butterfly, Pagliacci/Gianni Schicchi, Le nozze di Figaro, and La traviata for L’Opera de Montreal; Michigan Opera Theatre for Die Zauberflöte; Edmonton Opera for Falstaff, Otello, Macbeth and Yvgeny Onegin; and Manitoba Opera, where he conducted the première of Transit of Venus by the Canadian team of composer Victor Davies and librettist Maureen Hunter, recorded for national broadcast on the CBC. His Opera Carolina performances of Faust, Eugene Onegin, and Il trovatore are captured on recording for NPR World of Opera.
With extensive experience in opera, ballet, and symphonic music, Maestro Meena held principal and resident conducting posts with the Cleveland Ballet, Toledo Symphony, and Toledo Opera in addition to guest conducting appearances that include a nationally televised Thanksgiving concert for the Korean Broadcasting System Symphony; performances of Stravinsky’s tour de force La Sacre du printemps with the National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan; concerts with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra in the new Cairo Opera House; and symphony concerts with the orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, the Orchestra della Toscana in Italy.
Mo. Meena was has been engaged as guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies in the United States, Italy, Taipei, Korea, Canada and Mexico including the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Washington Opera, Opera Pacific, Portland Opera and the Utah Opera. On opera stages, he has conducted legendary singers including Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, James McCracken, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horne, Jerome Hines, Diana Soviero, Jerry Hadley, Mark Delavan and Marcello Giordani.
From Voix des Arts of Mo. Meena’s most recent performances of Turandot: “Under the baton of James Meena the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra delivered an awe-inspiring performance of the score. Maestro Meena’s conducting was notable for the manner in which, like the great past interpreters of the operas of Richard Strauss, he coaxed sounds from the orchestra that compellingly fulfilled the lush late-Romantic promise of the melodic lines while also always sounding like an opera composed in 1924. The influence of Debussy has almost never been more discernible than in Maestro Meena’s handling of the score. His work in Charlotte has been consistently perceptive, but he found in Turandot—a score by which many conductors have been defeated—an ideal outlet for the controlled ecstasy of which he is a master.”
Since 2001, Mo. Meena has presented six regional premières in Charlotte, including Cold Sassy Tree and Susannah by Carlisle Floyd, the company’s first productions of Der Rosenkavalier, Nabucco, Macbeth, and Les pêcheurs des perles, and the regional premiere of Richard Danielpour’s new American opera, Margaret Garner, starring Denyce Graves in April 2006. Mo. Meena is the lead producer for Douglas Tappin’s new work I Dream, created for the 50th commemoration of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Meena is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. His principal conducting teachers include Thomas Mihalak (New Jersey Symphony), Robert Page (Cleveland Orchestra), Rudolph Fellner (Pittsburgh Opera), and Boris Halip (Bolshoi Ballet), with whom he also studied violin.
Mr. Meena has served as Assistant Conductor to Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Michael Tilson Thomas, Anton Guadagno, and Anton Coppola. For several seasons, he was Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Opera, where he made his operatic début conducting Die Zauberflöte. He made his professional début with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducting Haydn’s monumental oratorio The Creation. Mo. Meena was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award by his undergraduate alma mater in 1997 for his commitment to visionary excellence and growth of cultural institutions.
Linda Brovsky | Stage Director
Linda Brovsky’s innovative productions are found on operatic stages throughout the United States and internationally including the Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Atlanta Opera, Florentine Opera and Pittsburgh Opera with repertoire ranging from standard classics to world premieres.
Recent credits include her debut with the Canadian Opera Company directing her critically acclaimed Seattle Opera production of Don Quichotte starring Ferruccio Furlanetto, a remount of her Fascist Italy Rigoletto for the Seattle Opera, La Bohème for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The Magic Flute for the Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia for the Pittsburgh Opera, Le Nozze Di Figaro for IVAI in Tel Aviv, Israel, L’elisir D’amore (Teatro Petrarca—Italy), La Cenerentola for Syracuse Opera, The Gypsy Baron for the Manhattan School of Music, Tosca for Intermountain Opera Bozeman, and La Traviata for Cincinnati Opera. Upcoming engagements include Madama Butterfly for Pittsburg Opera, L’elisir D’amore for Indiana University Opera Theater, and Countess Maritza for Pacific Opera Victoria.
Linda’s passion for new works has led her to direct numerous World Premieres including David Carlson’s The Midnight Angel (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Glimmerglass Opera), Scott Eyerly’s The House of the Seven Gables (Manhattan School of Music), Thea Musgrave’s Echoes Through Time (Agnes Scott College) and Claude White’s opera Love, Death and High Notes (Opera Theatre of St. Louis). U.S. Premieres include Lowell Liebermann’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (Florentine Opera), Siegfried Mattus’s The Loves and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke (Manhattan School of Music) and the Revised Edition of Conrad Sousa’s Black River (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis). In addition, Ms. Brovsky wrote the libretto for Love, Death and High Notes and acted as dramaturge for both The Midnight Angel and The House of the Seven Gables. She has also served as jurist for the Douglas Moore Foundation for New Composers.
Brovsky’s talents extend to the world of musical theater as well where she directed the 50th Anniversary National Tour of Oklahoma! Troika Organization, Happy End Chicago’s Court Theater, Carousel Opera Grand Rapids and Songs of a Dream Chicago’s Auditorium Theater as well as the development of a new musical, By Grace. Her production of The Wizard of Oz at Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre recently earned six BroadwayWorld nominations including Best Musical as well as Best Director of a Musical for Ms. Brovsky.
Committed to training young singers, Linda has served as Guest Director for productions at Yale University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Academy of Vocal Arts, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, the Brevard Music Festival, Temple University and the University of Michigan as well as scenes programs for Carnegie Mellon University and the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program. Likewise, her Master Classes have inspired young singers in universities and conservatories throughout the United States. She also coaches privately in New York City.
In demand as an arts writer and guest lecturer, Ms. Brovsky has been a contributor to “Biography Magazine” as well as a guest speaker for the National Arts Club—PEN International, the Guggenheim Museum’s “Works in Progress” series and the American Opera Project’s “New Works” series as well as numerous opera companies and universities.
Austin McWilliams | Assistant Conductor & Chorus Master
Austin McWilliams, conductor and countertenor, strives to present compelling, intriguing music that is directly relevant to the communities in which it is performed.
He is the Associate Conductor and Director of Music Education at Opera Grand Rapids, where he acts as both chorus master and head of the contemporary opera series dedicated to marginalized communities. In 2022 he will conduct the world premiere of Frances Pollock’s Stinney about George Stinney, a 14-year-old black boy who was wrongfully convicted and executed in 1944. Austin is also an Adjunct Professor of Choral Studies at Western Michigan University, where he conducts the university operas and choral ensembles and teaches several courses. He is the choir director at Fountain Street Church, a non-denominational, non-creedal institution that serves as a venue for radical speakers and ideologies, and is Co-Artistic Director of the Ad Astra Music Festival, a classical music festival in Russell, Kansas, known for its innovative and unique programming. In 2021 at Ad Astra he conducted the world premiere of Anna Pidgorna’s new opera Our Trudy about the life of a local art teacher. He is a course developer at Mizzou Academy and a faculty member at Missouri Scholars Academy, an annual, month-long governor’s school for gifted high school juniors in his native state. In 2019, Austin earned a Master of Music degree in choral conducting at WMU under Kimberly Dunn Adams. There he designed a recital on HIV/AIDS awareness in collaboration with several community organizations, and he earned the School of Music Graduate Award for Excellence in Teaching. Austin graduated in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering.
Michelle Johnson | Aida
Soprano Michelle Johnson, a Grand Prize Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions where she was described as “a clear audience favorite” (New York Times), has been lavished with praise for her “extraordinary breath control and flawless articulation… Her voice is velvety and pliant – a dulcet dream.”
During the 2021-2022 season, Ms. Johnson made her Boston Lyric Opera debut singing Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, made a role debut with Opera Columbus as Tosca, sings the title role in Aida with Opera Carolina, sings Mimi in La bohème with both the Columbus Symphony and Florentine Opera and joins Fort Worth Opera for their Evening of Black Excellence. In the summer of 2022, Ms. Johnson will make her debut with Des Moines Metro Opera as Bess in Porgy and Bess and in 2023, she will reprise the title role of Aida with Opera Grand Rapids, makes her Nashville Opera debut TBA, debuts the role of Serena in Porgy and Bess with North Carolina Opera and Opera Carolina, and sings as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Allentown Symphony.
Other recent engagements include Ms. Johnson’s house and role debut with Chicago Opera Theater as Zemfira in Aleko, a featured soloist performance with Madison Symphony Orchestra, a debut with Waterbury Symphony for their Holiday Pops and a return to Chautauqua to perform Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. During the 2020-2021 season, Ms. Johnson was slated to make her Allentown Symphony, Florentine Opera, Opera on the James and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia debuts (COVID19). Instead, she joined Opera Tampa as Leonora in Il trovatore, and Opera Delaware for a concert of Shakespeare selections.
A favorite of many houses, Ms. Johnson made recent returns to Lyric Fest for “I Hear America Singing”, Sarasota Opera as Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, and Boston Landmark Orchestra as a soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Ms. Johnson has also made a name for herself as one of the most in demand Aidas in the opera world today, performing Verdi’s tragic heroine with Glimmerglass Music Festival, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Columbus, Knoxville Opera, Opera Idaho, and Sarasota Opera, among others. Ms. Johnson’s debut with Columbus Symphony as soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem was highly praised, and her collaboration with Madison Opera as Santuzza in their most recent production of Cavalleria Rusticana was given rave reviews.
Past opera credits include Leonora in Il trovatore with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West with Kentucky Opera, Élisabeth de Valois in Don Carlos with Sarasota Opera, the title role in Manon Lescaut and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Philadelphia, and Mimi in La bohème with both Annapolis Opera and PortOpera. Her concert and solo credits include the soprano solo in Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Boston Philharmonic, an all-French Opera concert with Maestro Michel Plasson in Montpellier, France, the soprano soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem with Juneau Symphony, and an all Verdi concert with The Princeton Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Rossen Milanov. Adept in non-standard repertoire as well, Ms. Johnson performed the title role in the rarely performed Sakuntala with Teatro Grattacielo along with numerous other contemporary works.
A graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Boston University Opera Institute, and New England Conservatory, Ms. Johnson was seen as the title role in Suor Angelica, Leonora in Oberto, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, the Countess in Capriccio, and Alice Ford in Falstaff during her educational tenure. In addition to winning a Grand Prize at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Johnson has also graced the winner’s circle of the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation and the Giulio Gari Foundation.
Carl Tanner | Radames
American tenor Carl Tanner has established his international career performing regularly in the world’s most prestigious opera houses such as The Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Washington National Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Real, Madrid, New National Theatre of Tokyo and the Liceu de Barcelona amongst others.
In December 2018 Mr. Tanner performed the title role of Otello on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera to great acclaim. The occasion also marked Gustavo Dudamel’s house debut. Immediately prior to this, Carl performed the role at the Bolshoi Opera and Savonlinna. Upcoming performances include return to Grange Park Festival for Maid of Pskov , the San Diego Opera and Opera Carolina for Aida, a debut with the Gerencia Orquesta Sinfónica y Coro Prado del Rey (RTVE) in Madrid, Canio with Opera North Carolina, Turandot with The Pacific Symphony, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera.
His repertory also includes such roles as Radames (Aida), Chénier (Andrea Chénier), Moby Dick (Moby Dick), Hermann (Pique Dame), Don José (Carmen), Canio (I Pagliacci), Turiddu (Cavalleria Rusticana), Calaf (Turandot), Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut), Dick Johnson (La fanciulla del West), Cavaradossi (Tosca), and Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), just to name a few.
The 2017/18 season saw Carl’s return to the Washington National Opera as Radames in Aida, and the Metropolitan Opera for a new production of Tosca (cover) and Il Trovatore (cover) the role of Samson in Samson et Dalilah with Opera North Carolina and Turandot with San Diego Opera amongst other projects..
The 2016/17 season opened with performances of Otello with Opera Hong Kong, closely followed by Radames with Opera de Massy, a concert of Verdi and Puccini arias with the Dallas Symphony as well as a Christmas Concert with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center. He also made his Korean National Opera debut performing Il Tabbaro and I Pagliacci , in addition to performing in concert in the US.
In 2015/16 he performed Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton, followed by Aida at Colorado Opera, Otello (title role) at Liceu de Barcelona and Il Tabarro conducted by Antonio Pappano at ROH Covent Garden in London.
Other recent engagements include Verdi’s Aida at the Metropolitan Opera Opera, Tosca at Deutsche Oper, La fanciulla del West at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie de Liège, Madama Butterfly at the Opéra National de Paris, Il Trovatore at the Semperoper in Dresden and at the Staatsoper in Hamburg, Aida at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Turandot in Hamburg, Carmen at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino under the baton of Zubin Mehta, at the Teatro alla Scala and at the Teatro San Carlo, La Gioconda in Berlin and the Teatro Real de Madrid and Tosca in his Covent Garden debut.
On the concert stage he has performed diverse repertoire prestigious symphony orchestras including the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto USA Festival and the Kasugai Symphony Orchestra in Japan.
Deborah Nansteel | Amneris
“A formidable display of vocal power and dramatic assurance,” mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel is posed for international stardom having already performed in almost all of the leading opera companies in the US.
She made her début with The Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, her début with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette, her Carnegie Hall début in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and her New York Philharmonic début alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy.
Recently, Ms. Nansteel performed the role of Mother/Ensemble in the world première of Blind Injustice with Cincinnati Opera and the role of Brigitta in Bard Music Festival’s Die tote stadt in concert. In the last season she made a series of returns to the Washington National Opera as Emilia in Otello and Second Lady in The Magic Flute, and to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. Upcoming, she makes her long awaited role début as Amneris in Aida with Toledo Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, and Opera Tampa, returns to The Metropolitan Opera for their production of The Fiery Angel, performs the role of Mother in Blue with Minnesota Opera, performs as a soloist in Mahler’sSymphony No. 2 with Spokane Symphony and Verdi’s Requiem with St. Ignatius Loyola.
Since her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has returned for Nabucco, Il Trovatore, and as Siegrune in Die Walküre. She originated the role of Lucinda in the world première of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s adaptation of Charles Frazier’s thrilling novel Cold Mountain at Santa Fe Opera. Other notable engagements include Granma in The Grapes of Wrath with the Michigan Opera Theatre, a reprisal of the role of Lucinda in Cold Mountain with North Carolina Opera, the role of Grace in The Summer King with Michigan Opera Theatre, Second Lady in The Magic Flute with the Pacific Symphony, The Mother in The Consul with Opera Saratoga, Jake Heggie’s The Work at Hand for the Mainly Mozart Festival, Nettie Fowler in Carousel and Elvira Griffiths in An American Tragedy and Mary in Der fliegende Holländer with Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Berta in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program.
Ms. Nansteel completed the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, where she performed many roles including Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Curra (cover Preziosilla) in La forza del destino, Paula (cover) in Florencia en el Amazonas, as part of a world-première performance of Douglas Pew and Dara Weinberg’s new opera Penny, as well as The Cat in Tony Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me. As a mainstage artist, Nansteel returned there as Flora in La Traviata, Dame Marthe in Faust, which she also performed at Dayton Opera, and as the Marquise of Birkenfield in La fille du regiment with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which is featured in the documentary film RBG.
Sought after for her performances on the concert stage, Ms. Nansteel has performed Händel’s Messiah with the Memphis Symphony and Charleston Symphony; John Harbison’s Mirabai Songs with the Oregon Mozart Players; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Seattle Symphony and Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico in Milan under the baton of Maestro Xian Zhang; gala concerts with Opera America, at the Smithsonian, and additional venues throughout New York; and various additional concerts including Stravinsky’s Les noces, Penderecki’s Credo, and Händel’s Israel and Egypt.
A house favorite of Seattle Opera, Ms. Nansteel made her main stage début as La suora infermiera in Suor Angelica, sang Juno and Ino in Händel’s Semele, Foreign Woman in The Consul and, as a former member of Seattle Opera’s young artist program, Giulietta in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno and Maddalena in a performance of Rigoletto.
Ms. Nansteel is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where she earned an Artist Diploma in Opera and a Master of Music in Voice. At CCM, she performed the roles of Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marguerite in Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Mother Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Bianca in The Rape of Lucretia, and Mother Goose in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. She also received Bachelor of Music degrees in both Vocal Performance and Vocal Jazz Studies from East Carolina University and currently studies with Diana Soviero.
Recent awards include Second Place in the Sun Valley Opera competition in Seattle, the Andrew White Award and Seybold/Russel Award in the Corbett Opera Scholarship Competition, and a Winner in the National Orpheus Vocal Competition. She also recently earned the highly-esteemed Betty Allen Award and a grant from the Sullivan Foundation.
Song Zaikuan | Ramfis
Song Zaikuan, an operatic bass from China, has completed his Doctoral degree in Vocal Performance at Michigan State University College of Music.
Dr. Song made his New York debut as Zuniga in Carmen with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance. His most recent opera performances include Commendatore in Don Giovanni with Opera Grand Rapids, Banco in Macbeth with Toledo Opera and Opera Carolina, Sarastro in The Magic Flute with Opera Grand Rapids and Toledo Opera. He has played roles as Germano in La Scala di Seta, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Frank Maurrant in Street Scene, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Mr. Emerson in A Room with a View, Changwu Ye in the Chinese Opera The Savage Land and Ariodate in Xerxs with MSU Opera Theater. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Vocal Performance from China Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China, and earned Performance Diploma at Michigan State University College of Music. Song won the first place in the National NATS competition in advanced college/Independent Studio men division in Las Vegas, June 2018. He won the Honors Competition at Michigan State University in 2019. He was the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions 2020 Midwest Region Finalist, third prize.
Information regarding tickets purchased for previously scheduled dates
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