The Magic Flute

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Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Friday, October 26 – 7:30 PM | Saturday, October 27 – 7:30 PM
DeVos Performance Hall

Opera Grand Rapids’ love affair with the prodigy from Salzburg continues with his final beloved masterpiece, The Magic Flute. Performed in English, this magical allegorical tale of equality between all men and women has enchanted audiences since its premiere more than two hundred years ago. OGR’s production stars acclaimed artists John Viscardi as the comic Papageno and Jana McIntyre as the star-blazing Queen of the Night, with the Opera Grand Rapids Chorus and the Grand Rapids Symphony under the baton of Artistic Director, Maestro James Meena.

Tickets

Single tickets are available online through Ticketmaster, or by calling the Opera Grand Rapids Box Office at 616.451.2741 ext. 3. Student tickets just $5 for any performance. Student tickets can be purchased prior to the performance day or at the door. Student ID required at the door. Group discounts available for groups of 6 or more. Contact the box office for details.

Casting, repertoire and event details are subject to change without notice or refunds, but are specified in good faith as accurate and updated accordingly. Refunds not accepted.

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Meet the Production and Cast

Conductor | Maestro James Meena

James Meena consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium. The breadth of his repertoire is represented by the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini, Berlioz and Verdi, the world première of Victor Davies’ Transit of Venus, to full ballet productions and symphony concerts. Mo. Meena serves as Principal Conductor of Opera Carolina (Charlotte) Artistic Director for Opera Grand Rapids, as well as Toledo Opera’s Principal Artistic Advisor.

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This season, Mo. Meena conducts a double-bill of Rachmaninoff’s Aleko paired with Pagliacci, and La fanciulla del West with the restored New York City Opera; La Fanciulla del West for five prestigious Italian theaters: Teatro delGiglio, Lucca Italy, Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Teatro Alighieri di Ravenna, Teatro Pavarotti di Modenaand Teatro Goldoni di Livorno, plus Rigoletto with Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, and OperaGrand Rapids, where he also conducts Le nozze di Figaro; 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; Turandot with Tulsa Opera; and La bohème with the prestigious Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago. Last season, he conducted La bohème with Opéra de Montréal, Le nozze di Figaro with Toledo Opera, 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 Opéra de Montréal for Madama Butterfly, Pagliacci/Gianni Schicchi, Le  nozze di Figaro, and La traviata; Michigan Opera Theatre for Die Zauberflöte; EdmontonOpera for Falstaff, Otello, Macbeth and Eugene Onegin; an exciting new co-production of Roméo et Juliette with Virginia Opera and Toledo Opera; and Manitoba Opera, where he conducted thepremière of Transit of Venus by the Canadian team of composer Victor Davies and librettistMaureen 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 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. He is also featured on Opera Carolina’s webseries A Look Behind the Curtain, which can be seen here.Mo. Meena is the lead producer for Douglas Tappin’s new Rhythm & Blues opera I Dream, a new work 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 Guad agno, 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.

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Director | James Marvel

Internationally acclaimed stage director James Marvel has been praised for his “brilliant stage direction” and his “unforgettable and visually stunning new productions.” James made his Lincoln Center debut in 2008 for the Juilliard Opera Center, directing a highly acclaimed new production. James made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2011 and directed the U.S. premier of Cavalli’s Eliogabalo for the Gotham Chamber Opera in NYC. 

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Since his professional directing debut in 1996, James has directed over 100 productions and was named Classical Singer Magazine’s “2008 – Stage Director of the Year.” Recent engagements include La Traviata for New Orleans Opera, Rigoletto for Opera Tampa, and Tosca for Opera Grand Rapids. In 2014, James directed the world premiere of Larry Delinger’s new opera Amelia Lost, which was created for Marble City Opera and performed at The National Opera Center in New York. The production was named “Most Memorable Operatic Performance of 2014,” by Arts Knoxville. 

Career highlights include groundbreaking new productions for the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Opera Boston, Opera Santa Barbara, Syracuse Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, San Antonio Opera, Kentucky Opera, Virginia Opera, North Carolina Opera, Toledo Opera, Sacramento Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Indiana University, and the University of Southern California.

International credits include a new production of Carmen for Opera Africa in Johannesburg, which was hailed as “stupendous” by the local press and a new production of Die Zauberflote for the Seoul International Opera in South Korea. European credits include productions of La Boheme, Suor Angelica, L’elisir d’amore, and Cosi fan tutte in Sulmona, Italy. James made his Paris debut with the The Man of La Mancha at the Theatre des Varietes and returned to Paris a year later to direct The Beggar’s Holiday at Espace Pierre Cardin. His new production of La Voix Humaine and The Telephone premiered at the Alliance Francaise in New York City before traveling to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium. Other international credits include work in Canada, Scotland, England, Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. 

James received his MFA in Acting from the University of Tennessee and his BA in World Literature from Sarah Lawrence College and Oxford University, England. He conducted additional studies at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. James studied violin from the age of seven and played violin for the Wadham Chamber Orchestra in Oxford, England. He has composed original music for several professional theatrical productions and has had his poetry, fiction, and critical writing published in a variety of national, international, and online journals. As an arts advocate, James has appeared numerous times on NPR and other radio and television outlets to discuss the art form and its relevance in modern society.

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Dennis Shuman | Tamino

Dennis Shuman, tenor, grew up in a small town in northwest Georgia before attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Loyola University New Orleans (Master of Music). He is a recent graduate of the Opera Institute at Boston University, where he sang the roles of Albert Herring, the Tenor in Hydrogen Jukebox (Glass), Matthew Gurney in Emmeline (Picker), Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, and the Tenor in The War Reporter (Berger).

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Equally at home in concert repertoire, Mr. Shuman has performed the role of the Celebrant in Bernstein’s MASS with Brandeis University, Wellesley College, and the Salisbury Singers of Worcester, MA. Dennis completed two seasons as an Apprentice Artist with Chautauqua Opera where he was heard as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Gastone in La traviata, and the roles of Governor, Ragtoksi, and Vanderdendur in Candide. Upcoming performances include the role of the Evangelist in St. John Passion (Columbus, OH). Mr. Shuman is currently based in Boston.

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Cheyanne Coss | Pamina

Cheyanne Coss is a recent graduate of the opera program at the New England Conservatory, and she has performed such roles as Iphigénie in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and Aminta in Mozart’s Il Re Pastore, with which she made her Merola Opera debut in San Francisco in 2018.

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Miss Coss is the resident soprano with the Michigan Opera Theatre for their 2018-2019 season, performing roles on the mainstage such as Berta in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Paquette in Bernstein’s Candide; she has also in past years been a young artist with Chautauqua Opera and a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Miss Coss recently made her concert debut with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra singing the soprano solo in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. She has been the winner of several competitions, including the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition and the David Daniels Young Artist Competition.

Miss Coss hails from Eaton Rapids, Michigan, and is a proud alumna of Oakland University.

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Jana McIntryre | Queen of the Night

Praised by Opera News for her “dancer’s grace, mercurial wit, and vibrant soprano tone,” Jana McIntyre recently joined the San Francisco Opera in concert for Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch and Strauss’ Brentano Lieder, and joins Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Artist in 2017-18 season. Upcoming engagements include debuts with both Opera Grand Rapids and Toledo Opera as Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte. She recently made her San Francisco Symphony debut as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, and joined San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Opera Program as Serpina, in La serva padrona, as well as for their productions of Così fan tutte and La Cenerentola, and later joined the company singing excerpts of Zerbinetta from Ariadne auf Naxos and Philine from Mignon in the Merola Opera Grand Finale concert.

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Ms. McIntyre made her New York debut as Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice alongside Anthony Roth Costanzo and Kiera Duffy in an installment of “Orphic Moments” with Brooklyn’s National Sawdust Theater, and later Andromède in the American Premiere of Ibert’s Persée et Andromède, which was listed as a New York Times “Best Classical Music of 2016.” Other recent performances include: Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring), Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte), La Fée (Cendrillon), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Drusilla (L’incoronazione di Poppea), and Señora Grazia in the world premiere workshop of Roger Bourland’s The Dove and the Nightingale. She also sang Rose 1 in the west coast premiere of Jonathan Sheffer’s Blood on the Dining Room Floor based on stories from the lives of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas directed by Peter Kazaras, and was a soprano soloist in James Darrah’s staging of Handel’s L’Allegro, il penseroso, ed il moderato under the musical preparation and direction of Maestro Stephen Stubbs.

Equally at home in concert and recital repertoire as she is on the opera stage, she recently joined the Signature Symphony in Mozart’s Requiem, the Manhattan Chamber Sinfonia and Maestro George Manahan for Joaquin Rodrigo’s Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios, as well as Mater Gloriosa in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Manhattan Oratorio Society at St. John the Divine Cathedral. She also performed and recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 as a part of David Briggs’ organ transcription which was released by Albany Records in 2016.

Ms. McIntyre won first prize in the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Competition, which gave her the opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires to sing a series of concerts at various venues including El Salon Dorado at the Teatro Colón. She has received awards from the Giulio Gari Foundation, George London Foundation, Art Song Preservation Society, Metropolitan National Council, among others. She is a Richard F. Gold grant recipient from the Shoshana Foundation (Merola), and the winner of the Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition at Manhattan School of Music.

She did her academic work at the University of California, Los Angeles in Psychology (B.A.) and Music (B.A.). She received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

Equally at home in concert and recital repertoire as she is on the opera stage, she recently joined the Signature Symphony in Mozart’s Requiem, the Manhattan Chamber Sinfonia and Maestro George Manahan for Joaquin Rodrigo’s Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios, as well as Mater Gloriosa in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Manhattan Oratorio Society at St. John the Divine Cathedral. She also performed and recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 as a part of David Briggs’ organ transcription which was released by Albany Records in 2016.

Ms. McIntyre won first prize in the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Competition, which gave her the opportunity to travel to Buenos Aires to sing a series of concerts at various venues including El Salon Dorado at the Teatro Colón. She has received awards from the Giulio Gari Foundation, George London Foundation, Art Song Preservation Society, Metropolitan National Council, among others. She is a Richard F. Gold grant recipient from the Shoshana Foundation (Merola), and the winner of the Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition at Manhattan School of Music.

She did her academic work at the University of California, Los Angeles in Psychology (B.A.) and Music (B.A.). She received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

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John Viscardi | Papageno

Hailed by critics for his “powerful, nuanced, and absolutely riveting” singing, New York native John Viscardi is a rising baritone notably acknowledged for his diversity of vocal repertoire. Last season, Mr. Viscardi performed the title role in Cyranowith Opera Carolina, sang the baritone solo in the Duruflé Requiem and the Faure Requiemat Carnegie Hall, sangs Carmina Burana at Verizon Hall with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, performed Athos in Les Trois Mousquetaireswith the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, performed the role of Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Bar Harbor Music Festival, toured his recital series in Trevi and Ortona, Itlay and released an album of Love Songs by Francesco Paolo Tosti with pianist Glenn Morton, produced by Brilliant Classics. This season, Mr. Viscardi sings Papageno in The Magic Flute with Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, and sings Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte with Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

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In past seasons, Mr. Viscardi performed the title role in Cyrano with Michigan Opera Theatre, Marcello in La Bohéme at Opera San Louis Obispo, starred in the Juliet Letters and was featured as the Motorcycle Cop in Dead Man Walking both with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, performed in concert in Tokyo, Japan and won first place in the Concorso Internazionale F.P. Tosti. Previous engagements have also included Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs at Carnegie Hall, Carmina Burana with Opera Philadelphia, Silvio in il Pagliacci with Opera San louis Obispo, performed Bill Calhoun in Kiss Me Kate with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Morales in Carmen with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Other past engagements include a series of role débuts beginning with Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with NYOE, his Michigan Opera Theatre début as Valentin in Faust, Bulmerli in The Chocolate Soldier with Concert Operetta Theatre and Robert in Iolanta with Tri-Cities Opera.

Mr. Viscardi has also had experience in the American Competition Circuit. Awards including first place in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, Santa Fe Opera’s Anna Case MacKay memorial Award, The Lys Symonette Award Form from the Kurt Weill Foundation-Lotte Lenya Competition, George London Foundation Encouragement Award, 1st place in the Mario Lanza Scholarship Competition, 2nd place prize in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition, the Bertha Koempel Award from the Liederkranz Foundation, 4th place in the Giulio Gari Foundation Vocal Competition, and Audience Favorite in the Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition. John Viscardi is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA).

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Zaikuan Song | Sarastro

Zaikuan Song, an operatic bass from China, received his Bachelor and Master’s degree in vocal performance from China Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China, and Performance Diploma at Michigan State University College of Music in 2016. He is completing D.M.A in vocal performance at Michigan State University College of Music.

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Song made his first New York debut as Zuniga in Carmenwith Martina Arroyo´s Prelude to Performance. He successfully performed the roles of 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 Xerxse with MSU Opera Theater. He won the first place of the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition, in advanced college category of Michigan Chapter Auditions, in March 2018.

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Nicholas Nestorak | Monostatos

Nicholas Nestorak is emerging as a tenor to watch after successful engagements in US regional opera companies. This season, Nestorak returns to Wolf Trap Opera to perform Borsa in Rigoletto, sings Monostatos in The Magic Flute with Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, and The Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Brava! Opera.

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Last season, Nestorak performed the Physician in The Fall of the House of Usherand Spoletta in Tosca with Wolf Trap Opera, Pang in Turandot with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and reprised Gastone in La traviata with Austin Lyric Opera.

In recent seasons, Nestorak débuted at Opera Carolina as Gastone inLa traviata, and later returned as Trin in La fanciulla del West. He also performed as Basilio in Le nozze di Figarofor Toledo Opera, Ali in Zemire et Azor for Skylight Music Theatre, and sang a solo recital in Hillsdale, Michigan. Additionally, he delighted audiences as Tobias in Stephen Sondheim’s gruesome favorite, Sweeney Todd, at the Glimmerglass Festival after débuting there as Monastatos in Die Zauberflöte the season before; appeared in the title role of Albert Herring and Jupiter in Semele at Opera MODO; and as Lord Geoffrey in The Picture of Dorian Gray at Opera Fayetteville.

As a Benson Young Artist at Palm Beach Opera, Mr. Nestorak’s assignments included: Tonio inLa fille du régiment, Spalanzani and Nathanaël in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Oronte in Alcina, George Gibbs in Our Town, and Malcom in Macbeth. He is also an alumnus of the Young Artist Program at the Crested Butte Music Festival where his assignments included Almaviva in Il barbiere di Sivigliaand Harlequin in Der Kaiser von Atlantis.

Also maintaining an active concert calendar, Nestorak’s concert credits include Händel’s Messiahand Alexander’s Feast, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Beethoven’s Mass in Cand Choral Fantasy; and Mozart’s Mass in C-Major. Nestorak regularly earns accolades in the competition circuit including recognition by Classical Singer Magazine, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Crested Butte Music Festival, and the Marcello Giordani International Voice Competition.

Mr. Nestorak holds a Master of Music degree in Voice from University of Michigan, where he appeared as Der Tanzmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. He also earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Hillsdale College, where his credits include Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors and The Beast in Beauty and the Beast. Nestorak’s training also includes time at the Lyric Opera Studio of Weimar where he performed Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.

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