by Giacomo Puccini
April 22 & 23, 2022 | 7:30 PM
DeVos Performance Hall
View the digital playbill.
Puccini’s final opera takes us to mythical China. The princess Turandot has renounced love. She will only marry a prince who can answer her three riddles. Hundreds have tried – all have failed. Until an unknown Prince solves the mystery of Turandot’s riddles, and the secret to her heart. Featuring opera’s most iconic aria “Nessun dorma,” Turandot is a visual, dramatic and musical feast for the senses not to be missed.
Starting at $27
Students $5 with valid student I.D.
On sale through Ticketmaster or by calling the Opera Grand Rapids Box office at 616.451.2741
If you have purchased tickets to a previously scheduled performance of Turandot and would like to keep your seats, they will be automatically switched to the new dates. See additional details below.
Conductor | Maestro James Meena
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.
Director | Garnett Bruce
Garnett Bruce’s body of work includes directing at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and his European opera debut staging Turandot for the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.
From 2008 to 2011 he was the artistic adviser and principal stage director for Opera Omaha, where he led a cycle of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas. He began directing for the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in 2004, receiving a faculty appointment in 2006. He served on staff at the Aspen Music Festival and School from 1993 to 2019, and on faculty from 1997 to 2019. Born in Washington, D.C., Bruce was a choirboy at Washington National Cathedral and holds degrees in English and drama from Tufts University. After internships with Hal Prince and Leonard Bernstein in the early ’90s, he joined the staffs of The Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Opera Colorado. His award-winning production of La Cenerentola for Kansas City has traveled to Austin, Orlando, and Madison. Known especially for his large-scale work of the standard repertoire, he has created stagings of Turandot, Carmen, Tosca, Aida, Pagliacci, and La bohème that have been seen coast to coast.
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.
Michael Baumgarten | Lighting Designer
Mr. Baumgarten returns to Opera Grand Rapids for a seventh season, having designed lighting and video for more than 350 operas at regional and international companies.
Highlights include Opera Carolina, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Manitoba Opera, Arizona Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera Kansas City, Palm Beach Opera and Opera Columbus during his more than 30-year career. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama and member of United Scenic Artists-Local 829, Mr. Baumgarten has been the director of production and resident lighting/video designer for Opera Carolina in Charlotte since 2005 and for Chautauqua Opera since 1999. Also, he was the lighting designer/production manager at Amherst College for 17 years.
Martha Ruskai | Wig & Makeup Designer
During Ms. Ruskai’s 25 year career she has designed more than 200 productions at over 25 companies encompassing every area of the performing arts.
Martha Ruskai earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and an M.F.A. in Theatre Design from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. Ms. Ruskai conceived and developed the wig and makeup program at UNCSA and served as its director from its inception through 2006. Ms. Ruskai began her career working with such legendary singers as Jerome Hines, John Alexander and Dame Joan Sutherland. Career highlights include building Bryn Terfel’s wig for his U.S. debut and designing Der Rosenkavalier with Helen Donath and Delores Zeigler. Ms. Ruskai’s professional credits as a makeup artist, wig maker, and designer include Piedmont Opera Theater, Opera Carolina, Opera Grand Rapids, Santa Fe, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Nashville, Atlanta, and National Operas; Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, New York Concert Baroque/Concert Royal; Atlanta Ballet; and North Carolina Dance Theatre.
In addition to fashion runway work, Ms. Ruskai has styled print and TV ads for Miller Light Beer, Girbaud Clothing, IBM, and Neese’s Sausage. Film work includes historic re-enactment films for Planter’s Peanuts and the John Dickenson plantation. She has also built and styled properties wigs for the motion picture Sleeping with the Enemy, as well as building and styling wigs for several made-for-TV productions including Tecumseh!. In addition, she maintains an active guest lecturer schedule having given master classes at Duke University, Wake Forest University, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Indiana University, Colorado College, Brenau College, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Georgia State University, and the Cleveland institute of Music.
Erica Monroe | Costume Coordinator
Erica Monroe received her undergraduate degree in Literature from Calvin University and her masters degree in Speech Language Pathology from Grand Valley University.
She attended Kootenay School of the Arts in British Columbia for coursework in pattern drafting, tailoring, and advanced garment detailing. She has worked for The House Theater Company and The Albany Park Theatre Project in Chicago, Illinois. She managed the costume shop at Calvin University here in Grand Rapids, teaching sewing skills and theater production to students. She has assisted as costume coordinator and head of wardrobe at OGR during productions of Cosi fan Tutti and Don Giovanni and designer of their world premiere production of Stinney: An American Execution.
Brendan Vincent | Accompanist
Brendan Vincent completed his studies in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where he was active as concert soloist as well as conductor of opera and musicals.
Since moving to Michigan he has worked with the Grand Rapids Symphony, Opera Grand Rapids, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, in addition to Civic, Circle, and Actor’s theaters.
As conductor and piano soloist he has performed with orchestras in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America in addition to instruction from renowned artists and pedagogues including Charles du Toit, Jorma Panula, Harold Farbermann, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Alexei Lubimov, Alicia de Larrocha, André Watts, and Konstantin Scherbakov. As violinist he has performed under the baton of Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Victor Yampolsky, Wolfram Christ, and Gérhard Korsten.
As arranger and orchestrator he has contributed to cinematic soundtracks, operas, musicals, ballet, cabaret, and is part of the creative team bringing The Walking Dead and Agents of SHIELD to TV.
He is thrilled to be joining Opera Grand Rapids for this production.
Amy Shoremount-Obra | Turandot
Top Prize Winner of the 2018 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition Wagner Division, Soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra has garnered major attention for her work on the operatic and concert stage.
Recently, she’s been hailed by Opera News as having sung a “really outstanding (Donna) Anna, accurate and with exciting thrust, including the best vengeance aria I’ve heard since Carol Vaness’ heyday.” Her voice has been described as one that portrays “sensitivity yet full-throated power” (Huffington Post) and that “allies dramatic weight, particularly in the upper register, with virtuoso flexibility… [and with] superb legato….[and] roulades and scales… [that become] truly expressive gestures” (Opera News) while it “thrills with laser-like top notes” (BostonClassicalReview.com).
Ms. Shoremount-Obra made her much-anticipated Metropolitan Opera Debut in October 2014 as “First Lady” in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, singing all nine performances of the opera, three of which were Sirius XM Satellite Broadcasts. She recently returned to the Met for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons for the revival of the English version of the opera in the same role. In previous seasons at the Met, she has covered the roles of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Anna in Nabucco, Clotilde in Norma, Aksinya in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Queen of the Night (also in Die Zauberflöte). Ms. Shoremount-Obra’s other recent operatic appearances have included Maria in Pacini’s Maria, Regina d’Inghilterra and Marchesa in Verdi’s Un Giorno di Regno with Odyssey Opera of Boston, the title role in Tosca with Maryland Opera in Baltimore, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Las Vegas, The Savannah Voice Festival, and NYC’s new Venture Opera, Musetta in La Bohème with the Savannah Philharmonic, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Annapolis Opera, Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio with Grand Harmonie in Princeton, NJ, Artemis in the world premiere of Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacob’s PermaDeath video game opera in Boston, Freia (cover) in Wagner’s Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic, and First Lady in The Magic Flute with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, California.
Important concert debuts include her Carnegie Hall debut in 2005 as the Soprano Soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with The Juilliard Orchestra under the baton of the late James DePreist, and in 2016, her debut at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center as the Soprano Soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the National Chorale. She has since returned to both halls on numerous occasions performing as a soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (National Chorale), Fauré Requiem and Schubert Mass in G (MidAmerica Productions), and in concerts with the late Glen Roven and the Opera Orchestra of New York. During the summer of 2016, she appeared in Honolulu, on The Big Island of Hawaii and in Maui with Virtuoso Violinist Eric Silberger, Louisiana Philharmonic Cellist Daniel Lelchuk and Canadian Pianist Ian Parker for the first season of the Hawaii International Music Festival, a festival she co-founded. Her performance at the Blaisdell Concert Hall included a collaboration with world renowned Taiko Artist Kenny Endo. In 2018, she made her debut with the Orquesta Filarm nica del Estado de Chihuahua in Mexico in a solo concert of arias from Il Trovatore, Nabucco, Tannhäuser, and Turandot. Ms. Shoremount-Obra made her European Operatic debut in 2004 as Ifigenia in Handel’s Oreste at the Spoleto Festival, Italy.
A champion of new music, Ms. Shoremount-Obra has premiered/collaborated with some of today’s most popular and notable composers including Tarik O’Regan, Dan Visconti, John Zorn, and Paola Prestini. She completed a one-year residency in 2011/12 with American Opera Projects as part of their Composers and the Voice Program, where she premiered music written specifically for her, by a team of six composers/librettist teams. Most recently, Ms. Shoremount-Obra appeared in Boston as Artemis in the world premiere of Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacob’s virtual reality video game opera PermaDeath (2018).
The 2021-2022 season includes two important role debuts: the title role in Turandot with Opera Grand Rapids, and the title role in Salome with Southern Illinois Music Festival. Ms. Shoremount-Obra also joins the LA Philharmonic for a workshop of Fidelio as Leonore, Knoxville Opera for their Puccini Gala and Rossini Festival, Maryland Opera for a Verismo Concert and the Adelphi Orchestra (NY/NJ) as the soprano soloist in their opera gala.
Ms. Shoremount-Obra is a 2004 New York Regional Winner and National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She has also won numerous awards from other organizations, including the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, which she was awarded at her graduation from The Juilliard School and has since been supported with supplemental grants from the same foundation. She is the 2016 winner of the Ursula Springer Award from the Wagner Society of New York and together with pianist Christopher Cooley, the 2019 Second Prize Winner in the Joy In Singing International Art Song Competition. She is a native of New Jersey and holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music (BM, MM) and The Juilliard School (AD). She continues her vocal studies in New York as a student of Diana Soviero.
Peter Scott Drackley | Calàf
American tenor Peter Scott Drackley has been acclaimed as having shown “vocal confidence […] his luminous head voice blooming with expansive and penetrating phrases,” by Opera News.
Opera Today has praised Mr. Drackley as bringing “the performance to an awestruck standstill with his exquisite singing. He cuts a fine figure throughout the performance, with an intense stage presence.” A recent grant awardee of the Olga Forrai Foundation, Mr. Drackley’s 2021-2022 season began as an Ensemble Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, singing Pirelli (Sweeney Todd), and singing Chekalinsky while covering Gherman (Pikova Dama). He makes role debuts as Radamés (Aïda) with Opera Carolina, and Calàf (Turandot) with Opera Grand Rapids, and makes his International Debut with Nevill Holt Opera in London as Rodolfo (La bohème).
Mr. Drackley’s 2019-2020 season included his role debut as Cavaradossi (Tosca) with Opera in the Heights, Rodolfo (La bohème) with Opera Idaho, and Scalia (Scalia/Ginsburg) with Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids. His performances as Cavaradossi (Tosca) with Anchorage Opera and Radamés (Aïda) with Raylynmor Opera were cancelled due to Covid-19, and he joined Opera Omaha for a radio performance of their Opera Outdoors concert, singing excerpts from Turandot, Ernani, and Otello.
Other operatic highlights include Rodolfo (La bohème) with Anchorage Opera and Utah Festival Opera, Pollione (Norma) with Winter Opera St. Louis, Turiddu (Cavalleria Rusticana) with Boheme Opera New Jersey, Il Duca di Mantova (Rigoletto) with Anchorage Opera, Macduff (Macbeth) with LoftOpera, and Riccardo (Un Ballo in Maschera) with Opera in the Heights. Mr. Drackley has also received awards from many operatic competitions, including 3rd Place in the McCammon Voice Competition, 2nd Place in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Competition, 2nd Place in the Nicholas Loren Vocal Competition, and was the winner of the Michael Ballam Concorso Lirico International Competition.
Mr. Drackley is a frequent concert soloist, having sung Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Helena Symphony, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Norwalk Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem with the Lancaster and Richmond Symphonies, and Schubert’s Mass in G at Carnegie Hall. He performed the first excerpts of Antonin Scalia in Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg at the Supreme Court for Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg, a concert that was featured on National Public Radio.
Mr. Drackley received his education at Peabody Conservatory, and trained as a Studio Artist with Sarasota Opera, covering Avito (L’amore dei Tre Re) and singing the Chaplain of the Monastery (Dialogues des Carmélites); as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, covering Der Tambourmajor (Wozzeck) and The Governor (Candide); and as an Apprentice Artist with Santa Fe Opera, covering Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor) and covering Alfred (Die Fledermaus). A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Mr. Drackley currently resides in Chicago, where he joins his mentor, Dramatic Soprano Alexandra LoBianco, in training young professional opera and musical theater singers.
Kristin Sampson | Liù
Mexican-born, American soprano Kristin Sampson has been praised by the New York Times for her “bright, sizable and expressive voice.”
2021-2022 engagements include a guest artist appearance and debut with the Kauno Filharmonijain in Lithuania under the baton of Maestro Constantine Orbelian, a company debut with Opera Grand Rapids as Liù in Turandot, a role debut as Marguerite in Faust with the Washington Opera Society, and summer concert performances with New York City Opera, Festival of Nature at Lake Tizsa in Hungary as well as a return to Lithuania for summer concert performances. 2019-2020 calendar opened with a featured soloist appearance on the 75th Anniversary Concert for New York City Opera followed by additional performances as Mimì in La bohème with MidAtlantic Opera, a guest soloist appearance with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra as well as several additional concert appearances with New York City Opera. 2018-19 performances included Mimì in La bohème with New York City Opera, Guest soloist with City Opera Bryant Park Pride Concert Series, concerts featuring the music of composer Jeremy Gill, as well as being a featured artist at the 2019 Festival of Nature at Lake Tizsa in Hungary. The 2017-18 season included performances as Minnie in La fanciulla del West with New York City Opera, and at Teatro del Giglio in Lucca, Teatro Goldoni in Livorno, and Teatro Verdi in Pisa, Italy. Her engagements in the 2016-17 season included her Carnegie Hall debut as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, Magda in Respighi’s La campana sommersa with New York City Opera, Minnie in La fanciulla del West with Opera Carolina, and her debut at the Festival Puccini in Torre del Lago as Tosca. Her 2015-16 season included debuts at Potenza’s Teatro Francesco Stabile as Mimi in La bohème and at the New York City Opera as Tosca in the celebratory production that re-opened the company. Ms. Sampson is a two-time recipient of a grant from the Olga Forrai Foundation. She has performed in the U.S. with the New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, Opera Carolina, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Augusta Opera, El Paso Opera, Washington Opera Society, and the National Lyric Opera among others, and internationally with the Opera Society of Hong Kong, Armel Opera Festival, National Theater of Szeged, Teatro Municipal de Santiago, and Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.
John Tibbetts | Ping
Baritone John Tibbetts, cited for his “unexpectedly rich voice” and “reverberating tones” by the Palm Beach Post, is accomplished on the recital, concert, and operatic stage.
The artist “worthy of mention” (OPERA Magazine) makes his international operatic and film debut in the 2021-22 season playing the role of Adam in Edwin Huizinga’s Angel with Toronto’s Opera Atelier. His season also includes concert performances throughout Florida with Gulfshore Opera and a recital at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta, where he will sing a world premiere arrangement of “Shenandoah” by Raymond Chenault.
Most recently, Tibbetts has been seen in the roles of Schaunard in La Bohème with Cleveland Opera Theater, Ben in Menotti’s The Telephone with Newport Music Festival, and Le Dancaïre in a staged production of Carmen with the Richmond Symphony alongside Denyce Graves. He returned to his alma mater, Georgia State University to perform the roles of Pangloss and Cacambo in Carroll Freeman’s adaptation of Candide under the baton of Michael Palmer to commemorate the Bernstein centenary.
As a Benenson Young Artist with Palm Beach Opera in the 2019-20 season, Tibbetts was lauded by South Florida Classical Review for his “adept, well-characterized performance” as Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, a role he first sang with Kentucky Opera. That same season, he performed as an Encrantz Fellow with Hawaii Performing Arts Festival the roles of Escamillo in The Tragedy of Carmen and Harry in Stephen Sondheim’s Company; and, as an Apprentice with Sarasota Opera, the roles of Marullo in Rigoletto and the Captain in Eugene Onegin. There he also covered the title role of Eugene Onegin and Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
Other recent roles have included Il Conte Robinson in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto with Queen City Opera, 2nd prisoner in Fidelio with Cincinnati Opera, and Beau in Service Provider by John De Los Santos and Christopher Weiss and Sam in Michael Gilbertson and Trudy Chan’s Breaking with Virginia Opera. There he also covered Belcore in L’elisir d’amore and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. In 2018 he sang the role of Prince Gabriel III in an “immaculately cast” (Wall Street Journal) revival of David T. Little’s Vinkensport/The Finch Opera, while covering Danilo Danilovitch and singing Cascada in Lehar’s The Merry Widow with Opera Saratoga. He also can be heard in the role of Yasha on the first complete recording of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock with Opera Saratoga, released on Bridge Records.
A frequent recitalist and concert performer, Tibbetts has been chosen as a Stern Fellow with Songfest in Los Angeles for two seasons with which he premiered Martin Hennessy’s song cycle Feeling the world as it passes through you. He has performed the songs of Aaron Copland with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, premiered the role of Old Man/Young Man in Andy Tierstein and Julian Crouch’s The Tree of Eternal Youth with American Lyric Theater at Merkin Concert Hall, and sang Libby Larsen’s The Curious Case of H.H. Holmes in Cincinnati. He has been a soloist in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Atlanta Master Chorale, Haydn’s The Creation with The Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the New York Choral Society. He has also sung Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer and Rückert-Lieder, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Duruflé’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Fauré’s Requiem, Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ, Mozart’s Missa brevis in F Major, and Mack Wilberg’s Requiem.
Tibbetts was a finalist in the 2018 Lotte Lenya Competition and in the Carolyn Bailey & Dominick Argento Competition, and was a recipient of an Encouragement Award in the Georgia District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In addition to Palm Beach Opera, he has performed as a young artist with Opera Saratoga, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Central City Opera.
Tibbetts earned his master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he studied with baritone William McGraw and received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University, working with tenor Richard Clement. Tibbetts is co-founder and president of Amelia Island Opera in his hometown of Fernandina Beach, Florida, where he currently lives and studies with renowned bass Kevin Langan.
Johnathan White | Pang
Tenor, Johnathan Stanford White began his Operatic studies at the College of Charleston in 2004 while working on his BA in Vocal Performance.
As a celebrated young artist, Johnathan performed in many leading Operatic roles with the College of Charleston Opera/ Musical Theatre productions and was both a State and Regional Winner in several competitions. In 2011, he was selected to sing at the Jussi Bjorling Centennial Celebration at Gustavus College at the Jussi Bjorling Concert Hall.
Since moving to Charlotte and joining Opera Carolina as a Resident Company Member in 2013, Johnathan has become a staple in the classical music scene. After making his Opera Carolina debut in Turandot as the Emperor in 2015, Johnathan has performed numerous Comprimario roles in productions with Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids: Carmen (2019), I Dream (2018), Le Nozze di Figaro (2018), Rigoletto (2018), Cyrano de Bergerac (2017), Fanciulla del West (2017), Cosi fan Tutte (2016), La Canterina (2016), Fidelio (2015) ,Lucia di Lammermoor (2015), and Turandot (2015). Apart from his Operatic pursuits, Johnathan is also an accomplished Symphonic soloist performing: The Messiah (CSO), Saint Saens Christmas Oratorio (CSO), and The Seven Last Words of Christ (CSO). He was selected as the tenor soloist for the Andrew Lloyd Webber Requiem with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra (2018).
He most recently performed the operatic roles of Remendado (Carmen, Toledo/Opera Carolina), Jerry (Nemorino) in The Magic Potion (adapted from The Elixir of Love, Opera Carolina) Triquet in Eugene Onegin (Opera Carolina) and as Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte. (Opera Grand Rapids)
He is currently slated to perform as the Chief of Police in Opera Carolina’s I Dream, and Pang in Opera Grand Rapid’s Turandot.
Nicholas Nestorak | Pong
Nicholas Nestorak is emerging as a tenor to watch after successful engagements in US regional opera companies.
Recently, Nestorak performed Goro in Madama Butterfly with Knoxville Opera and Florida Grand Opera, the role of Monostatos in The Magic Flute with Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, The Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Brava! Opera, and Grant Wood in Strokes of Genius, a new work about Cedar Rapids native Grant Wood, with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater. He also made his debut as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with Opera Roanoke to critical acclaim.
This season he will join the roster of The Metropolitan Opera to cover Pang in their production of Turandot as well as the Tanzmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos. In addition, he will return to Opera Grand Rapids as Pong in Turandot as well as perform the roles of Anton Scalia in Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg and Monsieur Vogelsang in Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor both for the Princeton Festival.
He has delighted audiences at the Glimmerglass Festival as Tobias in Stephen Sondheim’s gruesome favorite, Sweeney Todd, after he made his début at the festival 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. Additional operatic engagements include the Physician in The Fall of the House of Usher; Borsa in Rigoletto and Spoletta in Tosca with Wolf Trap Opera; Pang in Turandot with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, the role of Gastone in La traviata with Austin Lyric Opera, and a performance in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins.
As a Benson Young Artist at Palm Beach Opera, Mr. Nestorak’s assignments included: Tonio in La 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 Siviglia and Harlequin in Der Kaiser von Atlantis.
Also maintaining an active concert calendar, Nestorak’s concert credits include Händel’s Messiah and Alexander’s Feast, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Beethoven’s Mass in C and 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.
Song Zaikuan | Timur
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.
Conor Brereton | Emperor
Conor Brereton is a tenor currently completing graduate work at The University of Michigan where he studies with Freda Herseth.
This season’s highlights include the role of Sroufe in Adolphus Hailstork’s Rise for Freedom, presented as a part of The University of Michigan’s The Ties that Bind, and as a soloist in Considering Matthew Shepherd, a staged version of the heartbreaking oratorio broadcast nationally on PBS. Previously on the operatic stage, he has been seen as Gabriel von Einsenstein in Die Fledermaus (The University of Michigan), Tamino in Die Zauberflöte (Miami Music Festival), Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi (Festival Napa Valley), The Officer in Ariadne auf Naxos (The Cleveland Orchestra), Prunier in La rondine (Oberlin in Italy), Filandro in Cimarosa’s Le astuzie femminili (Oberlin in Italy), The Chaplain in Dialouges des Carmélites (Oberlin Conservatory), and as The Prologue in The Turn of the Screw (Oberlin Conservatory). Equally at home in concert, Conor has appeared as the tenor soloist in Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore (Oberlin Conservatory), as a tenor soloist in The Messiah, Sing-Along (Credo Music), and as Nanki-Poo in The Mikado in Concert (University of Nevada Las Vegas). Originally hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, he holds a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory where he worked with Salvatore Champagne.
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