Friday, May 1, 2020 – 7:30 PM | Saturday, May 2, 2020 – 7:30 PM
De Vos Performance Hall
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.
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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.
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.
Director | Brian Deedrick
Opera Grand Rapids is delighted to welcome international stage director BRIAN DEEDRICK for this production of Turandot. As a freelance opera and theatre director, his work takes him all over Canada and the United States, with occasional forays as far afield as Casalmaggiore, Italy and Tel Aviv. During his years as Artistic Director of Edmonton Opera, some of his favorite productions there include Fidelio, Otello, Julius Caesar, Falstaff, Weill in Weimar, The Emperor of Atlantis, The Abduction from the Seraglio, and South Pacific.
Selected freelance opera credits have included Turandot and Aïda for Fort Worth Opera, Don Giovanni for Austin Lyric Opera, Otello and La Bohème for L’Opéra de Québec, Eugene Onegin and Tosca for Opera Carolina, The Flying Dutchman for Baltimore Opera, L’Elisir d’amore and The Pearl Fishers for Arizona Opera and The Merry Widow and Don Pasquale in Honolulu. Mr. Deedrick’s most recent projects have included La Bohème in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Candide in Edmonton. Upcoming productions include The Threepenny Opera for Studio Theatre, Lucia di Lammermoor for Edmonton Opera, Dead Man Walking for Opera Nuova, and Aïda for Austin Lyric Opera. When not directing, the Canadian native works as a city tour guide in Berlin, Germany.
Amy Shoremount-Obra | Turandot
The Top Prize Winner of the 2018 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition in the Wagnerian Division, Amy Shoremount-Obra was recently hailed as “Incredible! Another vocal highlight of the evening. She performed with a tone steeped in longevity, endurance, and agility… This is a voice of true substance.” (Boston Music Intelligencer)
She made her Metropolitan Opera début as First Lady in Julie Taymor’s acclaimed production of Die Zauberflöte. Since, she returned for productions of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Norma, Nabucco, and Don Giovanni. Recently, she returned to The Metropolitan Opera once again for performances of the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, premiered Permadeath, a new opera by Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacobs, and performs as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the State of Chihuahua. She also performed as a soloist in Kodaly’s Te Deum with Oregon Music Festival and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with New Choral Society. Upcoming performances include her much-anticipated role debut as Turandot in Turandot with Opera Grand Rapids.
In concert, she recently performed the soprano solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Vaugh Williams’s Serenade to Music with National Chorale, and did a concert and recital tour throughout the Hawaiian Islands with violinist Eric Silberger as part of the inaugural season of the Hawaii International Music Festival, which Ms. Shoremount-Obra herself co-founded. She also performed two roles in Opera America’s New Opera Showcase, a solo performance in Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle with the New Choral Society, a performance for the Sherrill Milnes Gala at The Harmonie Club in New York City, a recital for the Wagner Society of New York, and a fundraiser concert for the Hawaii International Music Festival at The Old Church. Ms. Shoremount-Obra also filmed her first major motion picture début as an opera singer in The Upside, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, which is set to be released in 2018.
Following her “electrifying” portrayal of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Venture Opera, she was featured in the Sound Bites article of the May 2016 issue of Opera News, where they hailed: “Shoremount-Obra’s shining, healthy soprano had all the power and glory required for ‘Or sai chi l’onore,’ demonstrating agility, accuracy and beauty as well as gale-force temperament.” Other recent engagements have included Leonore in Fidelio with Grand Harmonie Orchestra; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Las Vegas and the Savannah Voice Festival; Schubert’s Mass in G major at Carnegie Hall; Verdi’s Requiem with National Chorale at Lincoln Center; and a recital with the Savannah Voice Festival. Additional notable roles include Ifigenia in Händel’s Oreste with the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Marchesa in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno with Odyssey Opera of Boston, and a role début as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Annapolis Opera. Ms. Shoremount-Obra collaborated with composer Mikael Karlsson and librettist Elle Kunnos de Voss on the one-woman monodrama The Echo Drift, which was written for her and premièred at the house of Sweden in Washington DC in 2014. As a concert artist, Ms. Shoremount-Obra has appeared in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Scarsdale New Choral Society and as the Soprano Soloist in Fauré’s Requiem and Brahms’ Requiem, both at Carnegie Hall.
She performed in several prominent venues throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, David H. Koch Theater, the Oslo Konserthus and the Oslo National Gallery in Norway, The Tanglewood Institute, and The Sheldon in St. Louis. She has been a featured performer representing The Metropolitan Opera at the Annual Viennese Opera Ball in New York City for seven consecutive years. She made her début with the New York City Ballet in 2009 performing the role of First Fairy in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Ms. Shoremount-Obra also finds success in the realm of contemporary and new music. Starting with her cover of John Zorn’s La machine de l’être, a one-woman monodrama, with New York City Opera, she has gone on to perform two workshop performances and the world première of Grammy Nominated Composer Tarik O’Regan’s monodrama The Wanton Sublime with American Opera Projects. She was also featured in the world première of Paola Prestini’s new opera De Deo in the role of Beattrice with New York City Opera VOX and was a resident artist with American Opera Projects’s “Composer and the Voice” Program, premièring new works all season for a team of up-and-coming composers.
She has been named a National Semi-Finalist and the New York Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a Finalist in the George London Competition, a Finalist in the Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition, and a Semi-Finalist in the Competizione dell’Opera in Dresden. Additionally, she was awarded two consecutive career grants from the Metropolitan Opera National Council’s Education fund.
She is featured on two operatic world-première Recordings on Albany Records: as Jenny on the recording of Robert Ward’s Roman Fever and as Nina in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Seagull. Amy is a native of New Jersey, and currently continues her vocal studies with Diana Soviero. She is a graduate of The Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School.
Kristin Sampson | Liu
Praised by the New York Times for her “bright, sizable and expressive voice” Kristin Sampson’s 2018-19 performances include concerts featuring the music of composer Jeremy Gill, the role debut of Turandot in Italy, as well as being a featured artist at the 2019 Festival of Nature at Lake Tizsa in Hungary. Upcoming seasons include the roles of Liu in Turandot, Turandot in Turandot in Italy, as well as performance with New York City Opera, and concert appearances in Italy and throughout the United States.
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, 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. Recent concert engagements include Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Maestro Paul Phillips and the Pioneer Valley Symphony, and Passione Lirica with the Tuscia Opera Festvial under the direction of Maestro Stefano Vignati.
During the 2014-15 season, Ms. Sampson was a featured artist in American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice program. Additionlly, Ms. Sampson created the role of the Mother in David Zuckerman’s new opera in development, Milarepa; appeared on OPERA America’s Creators in Concert featuring the music of Tobias Picker; Santuzza with Opera at Florham, appeared as a featured soloist on the NYCO Renaissance Gala concert celebrating the life of the late Julius Rudel and performed in concert throughout the East Coast.
During the 2013-14 season, Ms. Sampson appeared in recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall and was featured in the filmed workshop of Syrian composer Zaid Jabri’s new opera Cities of Salt. Additionally, Ms. Sampson’s performance of Cio-Cio San in a touring production of Madama Butterfly was the highlight of her Spring of 2014 season.
Ms. Sampson’s signature roles include: Tosca, Cio-Cio San, Nedda, Emmeline, Mimi and Violetta. She has performed in the U.S. with the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Orchestra of New York, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Augusta Opera, El Paso Opera 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.
2012-13 Ms. Sampson joined the Szeged National Symphony in Budapest where she was a featured soloist under the baton of Maestro Cyril Diederich in the Fifth Anniversary Gala Concert for the Armel Opera Festival. Upon her return to New York, she was seen in performances of Puccini’s Passions and Italian Opera’s Greatest Moments with Dicapo Opera Theatre and National Lyric Opera. To welcome in the new year, Ms. Sampson made her debut with the Opera Society of Hong Kong performing Nedda in I Pagliacci. Finally, in the spring of 2013, she appeared in touring performances of I Pagliacci in venues both in New York and New Jersey.
During the 2011-12 season Kristin Sampson opened Dicapo Opera Theatre’s 30th anniversary season as Tosca, later appearing as Violetta in La traviata to great critical acclaim.
In her 2010-11 season, Ms. Sampson was seen as Annina in Menotti’s The Saint of Bleecker Street, and with the Rome Opera, she covered the role of Beatrice in A View from the Bridge. Her performances as Masha in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Seagull both in New York and in Szeged, Hungary were televised internationally on Mezzo/Duna television. Concert work included performances of the soprano solos in the Mozart Requiem in Avery Fisher Hall, New York.
2009-2010 season she made her debut as Nedda in I Pagliacci in Santiago, Chile and also received the Best Female Performer Award for the Mezzo Television Opera Competition (Armel Opera Competition) in Szeged, Hungary for her performance in the title role of Tobias Picker’s opera Emmeline. Under the direction of Róbert Alföldi, the European premier of Emmeline, was broadcast live on Mezzo television in over 40 countries. For her performance in New York the Wall Street Journal said “With her big, gleaming dramatic soprano, Kristin Sampson brought authority to the tour-de-force role of Emmeline.”
During the 2008-2009 season, Ms. Sampson completed a wildly successful run as Adriana Lecouvreur at the Szeged National Theatre, Hungary, followed by an appearance at Lincoln Center as a featured soloist in its Puccini 150th Birthday Celebration gala concert. During the spring of 2009, she performed the New York premiere as “fiery Šárka,” singing and acting with “resolution and power.” Critics agree, “she is an immense talent.”
Ms. Sampson has performed many roles with Dicapo Opera Theatre including Juliette which the New York Sun described as “a strong, lustily sung Juliette that was at its best in her passionate delivery of the Potion Aria,” while the New York Post described her performance as, “…bright-toned and eloquent.”
To date her long list of heroines includes the title roles of Tosca, Adriana Lecouvreur, Emmeline and Šárka, Violetta (La traviata), Nedda (I Pagliacci), Beatrice (A View from the bridge), Cio-Cio-San (Brescia and Paris versions of Madama Butterfly), Masha (The Seagull), Annina (The Saint of Bleecker Street), Micaela (Carmen), Juliette (Romeo et Juliette), Suzanne (Thérèse Raquin), Hanna Glawari (The Merry Widow), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Mimì & Musetta (La bohème), and Pamina in (Die Zauberflöte).
A versatile performer, Ms. Sampson’s musical theater credits include Luisa in The Fantasticks, Maria in West Side Story, Anne in A Little Night Music, Nellie in South Pacific and Lady Larkin in Once Upon a Mattress. As an active recitalist, Ms. Sampson has appeared throughout the United States and was most recently a featured soloist with Rice University’s Shepherd Singers and Houston Masterwork Chorale. Additionally, Kristin Sampson can be heard on recorded music by composers Ismi Kuremoto and Trent Hanna.
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) and as Triquet in Eugene Onegin (Opera Carolina).
Nicholas Nestorak | Pong
Nicholas Nestorak is emerging as a tenor to watch after successful engagements in US regional opera companies. This season, Nestorak performs the role of Monostatos in The Magic Flute with Toledo Opera and Opera Grand Rapids, The Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Brava! Opera, Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with Opera Roanoke and Grant Wood in Strokes of Genius, a new work about Cedar Rapids native Grant Wood, with Cedar Rapids Opera Theater. Upcoming performances include Goro in Madama Butterfly with Knoxville Opera and Pong in Turandot with Opera Grand Rapids. Last summer he performed the Physician in The Fall of the House of Usher and Spoletta in Tosca with Wolf Trap Opera, the former of which was recorded for release.
Last season, Nestorak performed Pang in Turandot with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, reprised the role of Gastone in La traviata with Austin Lyric Opera, and returned to Wolf Trap Opera as Borsa in Rigoletto and for Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins.
He has 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 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.
Peter Morgan | Timur
Praised for his “Powerful voice” and “Swagger onstage” Bass-Baritone Peter Morgan has quickly developed a reputation as a well-rounded and dynamic performer, amassing a steadily increasing repertoire performing across the nation.
Highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Mr. Morgan has also built up diverse credits in the world of new opera including the midwest premiere of Dark Sisters by Nico Muhly, the American premiere of The Scorpion’s Sting by Dean Burry with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as the world premiere of Jason and the Argonauts by Gregory Spears with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Peter’s recent engagements include Le nozze di Figaro with Charlottesville Opera, Don Giovanni with St. Petersburg Opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe with Toledo Opera, and The Ghosts of Versailles with The Glimmerglass Festival. For more, follow Peter on Instagram – @petermorganbassbaritone