OPERA America: Making Connections 2009-2010 Begins September 30

OPERA America: Making Connections 2009-2010 Begins September 30

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, will present the first Making Connections session of the 2009-2010 season on Wednesday, September 30 at 6:30 p.m. Making Connections is OPERA America's professional development program for early-career opera artists, including singers, composers, librettists, designers and directors.

From September 2009 through May 2010 OPERA America will present a total of 12 Making Connections events. The panel discussions, artist spotlights and master classes are followed by informal receptions where attendees have an exceptional opportunity to network with their colleagues and the presenters.

The first installment of the 2009/2010 Making Connections season, Audition Advice for Singers, takes place on Wednesday, September 30. Preparing for and performing auditions are major hurdles for opera singers. Industry experts at this session discuss the elements involved in ensuring an effective audition season. Panelists for the evening are Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano; Gayletha Nichols, director of the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions and Bill Palant, vice president, artist manager at IMG Artists. Jonah Nigh of OPERA America will moderate.

World-renowned soprano Dawn Upshaw conducts a master class on Wednesday, October 14 featuring music by contemporary composers. Upshaw is well-known for her support of new music, and this workshop presents a rare opportunity to experience the knowledge and talent of one of the industry's finest musicians.

On Wednesday, October 28 scenic and costume designer John Conklin will join OPERA America's president & CEO Marc A. Scorca for a stimulating discussion on issues of design. Selected images and samples of Conklin's work will be on display during the evening. ??"We are delighted to provide developing opera artists with the opportunity to learn from this stellar array of industry professionals," stated Marc A. Scorca. "What makes these evenings so rewarding is the interactive aspect. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions during the discussions and network with colleagues and presenters at the reception. Several attendees have embarked upon collaborative projects after having met at our Making Connections sessions."

Making Connections is held in the OPERA America offices on the 16th floor of 330 Seventh Avenue (29th Street). A reception follows each panel discussion.

Admission for OPERA America members is $5 in advance or $10 at the door. Admission for non-members is $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Podcasts of Making Connections sessions are available free to OPERA America members at www.operaamerica.org/makingconnections.

Visit www.operaamerica.org/makingconnections for more information and to register.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

John Conklin's set and costume designs are seen in opera houses, theaters and ballet companies across the world. He has designed for Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera and Bastille Opera. At Seattle Opera, he has designed sets for Prokofiev's War and Peace and Puccini's La Bohème and both sets and costumes for Verdi's Il Trovatore, Bellini's Norma, and Britten's Turn of the Screw. He returns to the company in 2009 to design sets for La Traviata and costumes for Il Trovatore. Conklin's credits at the Metropolitan Opera include costumes for Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina, sets and costumes for John Corigliano's Ghosts of Versailles and sets for Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. For Glimmerglass Opera, where he served as associate artistic director for 18 years, he designed sets for Puccini's Fanciulla del West and Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio, and costumes for Richard Rodney Bennett's Mines of Sulfur, among others. Conklin has designed extensively on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his set design for The Au Pair Man. He recently received the Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatrical Design.

Joyce DiDonato, called "the flame-toned American mezzo" by Britain's Telegraph, is among the most captivating performers of her generation and enjoys an enthusiastic international following. Notable performances with the Metropolitan Opera; Opéra National de Paris; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; La Scala Milan and other companies have earned critical acclamation, as has her growing discography. Born in Kansas and a graduate of Wichita State University, the singer trained with the young artist programs of San Francisco, Houston, and Santa Fe Opera companies. After Salzburg and Edinburgh Festival debuts this summer, DiDonato opens the new season as Marguérite in Berlioz's Damnation de Faust with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, her eighth role debut in four years. She returns to the Metropolitan Opera in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and debuts with the Los Angeles Opera in the same work. DiDonato begins the new year in Spain with a recital tour of Italian love songs and returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Cherubino, followed by another role debut as Rossini's Elena in La Donna del Lago in Geneva, to be repeated in Paris and Milan. Her Carnegie Hall main stage debut with the Met Orchestra and James Levine was followed by a return to Covent Garden to close the season in Barbiere di Siviglia. At the Metropolitan Opera, DiDonato's rumbunctious Rosina in a new production of Barber delighted international movie audiences in a much-admired transmission by The Met: Live in HD. Among her important earlier roles were Queen Elizabeth in Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte; Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare, and Fox in Janácek's Cunning Little Vixen. A dedicated interpreter of modern opera, DiDonato made her New York City Opera debut as Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, and with Houston Grand Opera she premiered and recorded the roles of Meg in Mark Adamo's Little Women and Katerina Maslova in Tod Machover's Resurrection. DiDonato's honors include the Met's Beverly Sills Award, the Royal Philharmonic Society's Singer of the Year, citations from Operalia and the Richard Tucker, George London, Sullivan and ARIA Awards Foundations.