Inside the Industry: May 2024

Inside the Industry: May 2024


In this column, we discover singers to watch, celebrate new albums, note new resources for singers, and other industry changes. 

 

Three Powerful Women Take on Leading Artistic Roles

Mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen has been named Boston Lyric Opera’s new artistic director. Nelsen, a Boston University graduate and frequent performer with BLO, is a renowned Japanese American artist known for her portrayal of Suzuki (Madama Butterfly) and for cofounding the Asian Opera Alliance. She will balance her new assignment with performances as Melissa in Seattle Opera’s Alcina, the title role in Carmen at Indianapolis Opera, and as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with Utah Opera. Nelson became a part of BLO in 2012 as both a singer (Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana) and as artistic advisor. 

After a season of difficult labor negotiations, Central City Opera seems back on track. In the fall, the company announced Scott Finlay as CEO. And it recently announced the appointment of stage director Alison Moritz as its new artistic director. Moritz will oversee all artistic elements including directing one opera per season. No stranger to Central City Opera, her previous work there includes mentoring the artists of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program. Moritz’s work, praised as “elegantly cheeky” (Washington Post) and “raw, funny, surreal, and disarmingly human” (Opera News), has graced the stages of Cincinnati Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera Company, and Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative.

Stage director, author, and scholar, Sarah Meyers has been named the new artistic director for On Site Opera. Meyers, who has spent a decade as a member of the directing staff at the Metropolitan Opera, is no stranger to site-specific work having staged Gregg Kallor’s The Tell-Tale Heart in the catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery. Sarah’s recent productions include Arizona Opera’s production of Gregg Kallor’s Frankenstein, Glory Denied at the Berkshire Festival, and MassOpera’s Die Fledermaus.

 

What the World Needs Now

For many artists, music is more than simply loving the sound of one’s own voice. We know that music has the power to unite and heal us. Adrienne Danrich’s Music as the Message, an interactive hybrid concert series, was created in 2020 to “dispel the sadness and hopelessness caused both by the raging pandemic and the murder of George Floyd.” Serving as its creator, executive producer, and host, Danrich says Music as the Message aims to “bring love, light, and joy to our world through the power of music and community.” 

These virtual-live concerts are produced in partnership with Opera on Tap (Anne Hiatt, lead producer) in association with Broadway Presbyterian Church. Each uniquely curated concert centers on a theme and presents a variety of disciplines ranging from singing, dancing, spoken word, video, and performance art. Music as the Message will next present a concert entitled “Church after Church” in November 2024 in St. Louis. 

 

The Sun’ll Come Out

Musical theatre fans are rejoicing as a slew of fresh, exciting shows are tapping their way to Broadway. Exciting revivals of The Wiz, Sunset Boulevard, Cabaret, The Who’s Tommy, as well as new works such as The Outsiders (yes, they turned the S.E. Hinton novel into a musical!) sing alongside shows like Lempicka, a musical about a Polish woman who changed art and culture, and Hell’s Kitchen, the autobiographical work based on the life of Alicia Keys. And watch for the Broadway debut of Smash, the musical developed as part of the fictional show of the same name. 

Also of note is the casting of Vanessa Williams as Miranda Priestly in the musical version of The Devil Wears Prada. Finally, Gilbert and Sullivan get a jazzy-bluesy makeover in a new production of The Pirates of Penzance starring Ramin Karimloo as The Pirate King and David Hyde Pierce and Major General Stanley—the Roundabout Theatre production is set to begin previews in December of 2025.


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Five Singers to Watch

This eclectic group of artists range from dynamic newcomers to established singers making bold moves. Keep an eye out for their upcoming performances at opera companies in the U.S. and abroad.

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit’s 2023–2024 season is an exciting mixture of traditional opera, Baroque, and modern music. Coit began last fall with a role debut as Angelina in Toledo Opera’s La Cenerentola, then was the alto soloist in Messiah with the Alabama Symphony and American Bach Soloists. She recently performed the role of Polly Thompson in the world premiere of Carla Lucero and Marianna Mott Newirth’s Touch at Opera Birmingham. She also made her role debut as Hansel in Opera Tampa’s Hansel and Gretel and joined Tri-Cities Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Tri-Cities Opera. This summer Coit joins the roster of San Francisco Opera for their productions of  The Magic Flute and Partenope.

Chauncey Packer continues to showcase his versatility with a variety of performances this season. The tenor was seen last spring as Sportin’ Life Porgy and Bess with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester in an all-star cast, then joined Charlottesville Opera as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. He was the tenor soloist in the South Florida Symphony and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s Messiah and performed as Alfredo in La traviata with Knoxville Opera. He also returns to the roster of The Metropolitan Opera as Howard Boucher in Dead Man Walking and Spinner in Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Baritone Daniel Scofield enjoys a thriving career in the U.S. and abroad. Highlights of his season include Alfio/ Tonio in Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci with Prague State Opera, Scarpia in Tosca with Orlando Opera, a role debut as Onegin in Baltimore Opera’s Eugene Onegin, joining Fort Worth as Marcello in La bohème, the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with the Hudson Valley International Festival of the Voice, and a house debut at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago as Scarpia. Future roles include Tonio in Pagliacci at Pacific Opera Project, his house debut at the Staatsoper Hannover and a debut as the title role in Der fliegende Holländer with the Státní opera Praha.

Currently an Atlanta Opera Glynn Studio Artist, soprano Amanda Sheriff spends most of her season as Countess Ceprano/Gilda cover in Rigoletto and Titania/Helena covers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Atlanta Opera. This summer, she returns to Glimmerglass Opera as a Young Artist singing Satirino/L’Eternità in La Calisto and covers Aveline in Elizabeth Cree. Upcoming are some exciting debuts with Intermountain Opera Bozeman as Musetta in La bohème and with Opera Philadelphia both as Jess/Ashley cover in The Listeners (American premiere) and as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She also returns to Atlanta Opera as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte next season.

Hyung Yun has had a long relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, having appeared there as Valentin in Faust, Lescaut in Manon opposite Renee Fleming, Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, Silvio in Pagliacci, Albert in Werther, and Belcore in L’elisir d’amore. He’s also graced the stages of Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Opera. This season the baritone performs Germont in La traviata with Opera Omaha, is the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and returns to the Met to cover Ping in Turandot.

 


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Two Unique Recordings of Familiar Repertoire

Continuing its exploration of J.S. Bach’s choral works, San Francisco-based Cantata Collective and conductor/harpsichordist Nicholas McGegan recently released a live recording of Bach’s B-Minor Mass on AVIE records. Featuring what the San Francisco Chronicle calls “a group of Bay Area early-music luminaries,” Cantata Collective’s first live recording was Bach’s St. John Passion. Their latest work, led by Bach specialist Nicholas McGegan, was recorded live in 2023 and is an elegant, ensemble-driven performance with expert choral blend and balance as well as a vibrancy of attack and phrasing. Soloists Sherezade Panthaki, (soprano), Rhianna Cockrell (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Cooley (tenor), and Paul Max Tipton (bass-baritone) all contribute radiant work with precise diction, wonderful phrasing, and warm vocal tone. It’s a special organization that makes Bach sound fresh and individualistic, yet with such attention to detail, like it might have been performed in the 1700s. 

Colors of a Lyric is the debut album of tenor Orson Van Gay II. His credits include Los Angeles Opera, Carnegie Hall, LA Philharmonic, and appearances in commercials and television. After being asked multiple times, “Do you have an album?” Van Gay decided to use the pandemic to produce the album. Performing some of the greatest lyric tenor arias in the repertoire, the tenor’s “charming, warm tones” (Cultural Voice of North Carolina) are on full display in works by Puccini, Massenet, Verdi, Gounod, and Mozart. Released in October of 2023, Colors of a Lyric is a wonderful, elegant addition to the tenor album discography. 

Eric McKeever

Eric McKeever is a New York-based opera singer whose 2022–23 season includes performances with Opera Columbus, On Site Opera, Opera Delaware, the Penn Square Music Festival, and the Casals Festival of Puerto Rico. He is also a passionate arts educator having worked as a teaching artist for the Met Opera Guild and served as the manager of education programs for Kentucky Opera. He holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from The Ohio State University and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Capital University.