by Giacomo Puccini
April 22 & 23, 2022 | 7:30 PM
DeVos Performance Hall
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.
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
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.
Upcoming engagements include her debut in the title role of Turandot with Opera Grand Rapids. Last season, she performs as a soloist in Camerata New York’s Divine Opera Gala performing selections of works by Puccini, Bellini and Wagner, performed the role of Maria in Regina d’Inghilterra with Odyssey Opera, and in Viva Verismo! with Maryland Lyric Opera. 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 performed as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the State of Chihuahua. Additionally, she performed as a soloist in Kodaly’s Te Deum with Oregon Music Festival and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with New Choral Society.
Following her “electrifying” portrayal of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Venture Opera, she was featured in the Sound Bites article 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 notable operatic engagements include Leonore in Fidelio with Grand Harmonie Orchestra; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Las Vegas and the Savannah Voice Festival; 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.
In concert, Ms. Shoremount-Obra 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 was co-founded by Ms. Shoremount-Obra herself. 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. Additionally, Ms. Shoremount-Obra has appeared in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Scarsdale New Choral Society, Schubert’s Mass in G major at Carnegie Hall; Verdi’s Requiem with National Chorale at Lincoln Center; a recital with the Savannah Voice Festival; Ifigenia in Händel’s Oreste with the Spoleto Festival in Italy; and as the Soprano Soloist in Fauré’s Requiem and Brahms’ Requiem, both at Carnegie Hall.
She has performed in numerous prominent venues throughout the world including Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, David H. Koch Theater, the Oslo Konserthus and the Oslo National Gallery in Norway, The Tanglewood Institute, and The Sheldon in St. Louis. Additionally, Ms. Shoremount-Obra 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 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. She also filmed her first major motion picture début as an opera singer in The Upside, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.
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.
Ms. Shoremount-Obra 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.
Peter Scott Drackley | Calaf
Peter Scott Drackley has been lauded by Opera News as having “showed vocal confidence […] his luminous head voice blooming with expansive and penetrating phrases.”
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.” He has performed such operatic roles as Rodolfo (La bohème), Macduff (Macbeth), Pollione (Norma), Riccardo (Un Ballo in Maschera), and (Cavalleria Rusticana).
Mr. Drackley is a frequent concert soloist, having sung Verdi’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and 9th Symphony. He also debuted the role of Antonin Scalia in Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg at the Supreme Court, a concert that was featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
A student of Alexandra LoBianco, Mr. Drackley has performed with the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Baltimore Concert Opera, Penn Square Music Festival, Winter Opera St. Louis, Londontowne Symphony, LoftOpera, the Strathmore Mansion, the National Cathedral, Opera in the Heights, and as a soloist at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Drackley trained at Peabody Conservatory, as a Studio Artist with Sarasota Opera, and as an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera and Santa Fe Opera.
Recently, Mr. Drackley joined Opera Omaha for Opera Outdoors, where he sang arias and ensembles from Un Ballo in Maschera, Attila, and Turandot. He joined Baltimore Concert Opera for their Thirsty Thursdays at the Opera, and Maryland Opera for Viva Verismo, where he sang as Turiddu (Cavalleria Rusticana) and Canio (i Pagliacci). Mr. Drackley made his role debut as Cavaradossi (Tosca) with Opera in the Heights and reprises the role in the spring with Anchorage Opera. Mr. Drackley returns to Opera Idaho as Rodolfo (La bohème) and will join Opera Carolina and Opera Grand Rapids to sing Antonin Scalia (Scalia/Ginsburg). He also will join Raylynmor Opera to debut Radamés (Aïda). Mr. Drackley is thrilled to return to Des Moines Metro Opera to sing Pirelli (Sweeney Todd) and sing Chekalinsky and cover Gherman (Pique Dame).
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.
Jadrian Tarver | Ping
Jadrian Tarver, a native of Haines City, Florida, has maintained an active roster as a conductor, clinician, composer, and recitalist and has soloed and conducted in many performances.
He has performed with Atlanta Opera, Peach State Opera, Capitol City Opera Company, Michigan State University Opera and Opera Grand Rapids. Operatic roles include Germont in La Traviata, the title role of Gianni Schicchi, Dr. Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, King Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Bonze in Madama Butterfly, and Marcello in La Boheme. Musical Theater roles include Mr. Lindquist in Little Night Music and the Duke/Dr. Carrasco/Night of Mirrors in Man of La Mancha.
In addition to performing, he is an advocate for musicians of color. He established an independent publishing company, Indigo Press LLP, which focuses on publishing the works of underrepresented composers of color. In a similar vein, he curated the Sankofa Recital Series, a vocal artist collaborative that brings awareness to the music of African diasporic composers. While as a doctoral candidate a Michigan State University, he was appointed project manager of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) for the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts and the College of Music. In this joint position as a student leader and project manager, he developed relationships across campus, cultivated programming, and activities important to Michigan State University’s community while advancing progress in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Mr. Tarver holds the Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Bethune-Cookman University, the Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Georgia State University, and a Doctoral Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance from Michigan State University.
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. Next, he will perform Pong in Turandot with Opera Grand Rapids.
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.
Zaikuan Song | Timur
Zaikuan Song, an operatic bass from China, has completed his Doctoral degree in vocal performance at Michigan State University College of Music.
He received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in vocal performance from China Conservatory of Music, Beijing, China, and Performance Diploma at Michigan State University College of Music.
Dr. Song made his first New York debut as Zuniga (Carmen) with Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance. His most recent opera performances include Banco (Macbeth) 2019 with Toledo Opera and Opera Carolina, Sarastro (The Magic Flute) 2018 with Opera Grand Rapid and Toledo Opera. He has sung the roles as Germano (La Scala di Seta), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), Frank Maurrant (Street Scene), Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore), Mr. Emerson( A Room with a View), Changwu Ye in the Chinese Opera(The Savage Land) and Ariodate (Xerxs)with MSU Opera Theater.
Dr. Song won the first place of the National NATS competition in advanced college /Independent Studio men division in Las Vegas, NV, 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.
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