Resident Ensemble of Professional Opera Singers Selected for AOP Training Program
AOP (American Opera Projects) announces the six singers who will become its Resident Ensemble for the upcoming ninth season of its Composers & the Voice training program. Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the 2017-18 season will be Coloratura Soprano Tookah Sapper, Lyric Soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, Mezzo-Soprano Blythe Gaissert, Tenor Blake Friedman, Baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and Bass Adrian Rosas.
The singers will spend a year working collaboratively with composers and librettists who have received fellowships to develop skills for writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage. The Resident Ensemble was selected by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood based on their superior technical and musical skills, as well as their commitment to developing and performing new works.
The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, also serving as C&V's new Head of Music, and Kelly Horsted to collaborate on creating new material by the composer and librettist fellows. Singers will each explain how their particular voice works throughout its range, addressing issues of tessitura, negotiating the passagio, demands for vowel modification, and how these affect their performance of text.
"The philosophy of Composers & the Voice since its beginning has been that by immersing composers and librettists in hands-on work with skilled singers and music directors, we empower them to create groundbreaking works that are true to each of their artistic languages," says Osgood. "Composers rarely have the opportunity to work with opera singers during their training, and C&V was designed to address this void."
In closed workshops from October 2017-April 2018, the singers will rotate among each composer, giving demonstrations of proper vocal technique and writing, as well as performing short works. This will culminate with First Glimpse, a public concert of songs on May 19 & 20, 2018, in which the singers will perform the composer's revised and final versions. Finally, on September 28 & 29, 2018, the AOP Resident Ensemble will perform Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes created by the composer-librettist fellows.
Composer Gregory Spears, a fellow in the C&V program from 2007-08 before he created the operas Paul's Case (2013, UrbanArias world premiere) and Fellow Travelers (2016, Cincinnati Opera world premiere), says that "hearing singers discuss in detail their experience learning and performing a new piece revolutionized the way I write for the voice." More information about the 2017-19 Composers & the Voice Series can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.
JENNIFER GOODE COOPER is a "lustrous soprano" (Wall Street Journal) with "steely eyed ferocity" (NY Times) who "fills the theater with her soaring soprano voice" (Variety). She specializes in crossing genres, as shown in a career fusing opera, Broadway, song, radio, and new works. She can be heard in recording on Albany Records, MSR Classics, and SKG Music. Career highlights: Title role in Floyd's Susannah (Toledo Opera), Nathaniel Stookey's Ivonne (Opera Memphis), Miss Jessel in Britten's The Turn of the Screw (New York City Opera), Titania/Hippolyta in the first known a cappella opera, Michael Ching's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Opera Memphis), Musetta in Baz Luhrmann's acclaimed Broadway and LA productions of La Bohème, Backup singer for Patti Lupone, Weekly Hip-Hopera singer with celebrity DJ's Ed lover and Dr. Dre (NY's Power 105.1). Jennifer was a 2013 Arts Envoy of the US Embassy (to Mozambique), and a 2014 recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Weill Foundation. www.jennifergoodecooper.com
An active interpreter of art song, opera and new music, baritone MARIO DIAZ-MORESCO is garnering attention for his versatility and strong stage presence. Mr. Diaz-Moresco studied at the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, and is currently a member of the Professional Studies Diploma program at the Mannes School, where he is a student of Diana Soviero. He has been a young artist with Central City Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera and a Stern Fellow at Songfest. Highlights from recent seasons include recitals with pianist Spencer Myer on California's "ln Concert Sierra" series, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago and the Rocky River Chamber Music Society of Ohio, in addition to Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, The Old Doctor in Vanessa, playing the lead role in Robert Ashley's Oust, and premiering the song cycle The Wanderlusting of Joseph C. by Joan La Barbara.
Tenor BLAKE FRIEDMAN has been seen on operatic, concert, and theatrical stages across the country. His recent appearance as Iago in Rossini's Otello with Loft Opera earned him praise for "his vast range and clear diction" (NY Observer) and "pliant tenor" (Parterre). The New York Times said, "The most convincing tenor was that of Blake Friedman as Iago whose voice has a plummy fullness and dusky hue. His duet with Otello was taut and exciting...". Other notable New York City performances include: Tenor Soloist in the Liebeslieder Walzer with New York City Ballet, Tenor Soloist at Geffen Hall in Mozart's Vespri Sollemnes de Confessore and Singer in Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart (BAM Fisher). He has also garnered praise for his "silken and strong" (Tampa Bay Times), "fresh lyric tenor" (Opera News) singing roles such as Jimmy O'Keefe in Later the Same Evening, Conte Almaviva in Barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L'Elisir D'Amore and Alfredo in La Traviata. He is delighted to rejoin American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice as resident tenor for a second season.
Mezzo Soprano BLYTHE GAISSERT mezzo-soprano has established herself as a fresh and exciting artist in great demand in the United States and abroad for opera, concert and recital engagements. In the coming 2017-18 season, Ms. Gaissert will be creating the role of Walker Loats in Mikael Karlsson's cutting edge one woman opera The Echo Drift at the Prototype Festival in NYC in a co-production with AOP, reprising the role of Hannah After in As One with San Diego Opera, and singing Hester Prynne in the professional premiere of The Scarlett Professor at Amherst College, Sadie in Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star at On Site Opera. She is also a member of the alt/classical/rock group The Knells, who will be releasing their second album in Fall of 2017. A champion of new music, Ms. Gaissert has worked with numerous composers and librettists on dozens of new works, and has been a part of American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice series since 2014. Ms. Gaissert has worked with companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Opera Colorado, Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Aldeburgh Festival in England, Lyrique en Mer in France, Opera Southwest, Opera Saratoga, and more.