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Mary Testa, Etc. Set for NYFOS' We Open in Paris

At 8 pm on Wednesday, May 9th and Thursday, May 10th, the New York Festival of Song will perform We Open in Paris.  Paris is the backdrop for four musical theatre works in vest-pocket NYFOS productions, including Jacques Offenbach's La Vie Parisienne and Cole Porter's Fifty Million Frenchmen. The singers include Sari Gruber, Marie Lenormand, Mary Testa, Nicholas Phan, and Hugh Russell with Steven Blier at the piano.   

"In 1988, pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier founded New York Festival of Song, a performance group dedicated to creating beautiful, intimate song concerts that entertain, educate and connect extraordinary performers and adventurous audiences in an informal atmosphere of shared discovery.  NYFOS programs combine music, poetry, monologue and story, unified by a common theme, weaving together great songs of diverse genres, exploring the character and language of other regions and cultures, and the personal voices of song composers and lyricists," state press notes.

"Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song, featuring premieres and commissions of new American works, and has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, and the recent Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen on New World Records. NYFOS' concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities have inspired a new interest in the creative possibilities of the song recital, and contributed to the birth of thematic vocal recital series around the world."

Steven Blier

Mr. Blier, co-founder and artistic director of the New York Festival of Song, enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. He recently received the 2006 Classical Singer Magazine Coach of the Year award.  Among the many artists he has partnered with in recital are Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Jessye Norman, Wolfgang Holzmair, Susanne Mentzer, Sylvia McNair and Arlene Augér.  Mr. Blier co-founded the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) in 1988 with Michael Barrett, Caramoor's current Chief Executive and General Director.  Since the Festival's inception he has programmed, performed, translated and annotated over ninety vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney.  NYFOS has also made in-depth explorations of music from Spain, Latin America, Scandinavia and Russia.   

Michael Barrett

Mr. Barrett is co-founder and associate artistic director of the critically acclaimed New York Festival of Song. He is also the Chief Executive and General Director of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, and General Director of the Caramoor International Music Festival. In 1992 Mr. Barrett and his wife Leslie Tomkins founded The Moab Music Festival in Utah, for which he serves as music director. Mr. Barrett has distinguished himself as a conductor with major orchestras here and abroad in the symphonic, operatic, and dance repertoire. From 1994–1997 he was the director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y in New York. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, he began his long association with the renowned conductor and composer as a student in 1982. He served as Maestro Bernstein's assistant conductor from 1985–1990. He currently serves as music advisor to the Leonard Bernstein Estate.  

Sari Gruber 

Hailed as "nothing short of sensational" by Opera magazine and "a real creature of the stage" by Opera News, soprano Sari Gruber's exciting and moving interpretations of a diverse operatic and concert repertoire have rapidly established her as one of today's most sought-after artists on the international stage. For her artistry as a recitalist, she was recently awarded the first prize of the 2005 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation International Vocal Competition.  Ms. Gruber's operatic credits include appearances with Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Netherlands Opera, Maggio Musicale di Firenze, Saito Kinen Festival, Seiji Ozawa's Ongaku-Juku Opera Project, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Pacific, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Portland Opera, Connecticut Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Berkshire Opera, among others. 

Marie Lenormand

Mezzo-soprano Marie Lenormand was a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio from 1999 to 2002.  At Houston Grand Opera, she performed various roles, including Dorabella, the title role in L'incoronazione di Poppea, Mercédès, Tebaldo in Don Carlo, the Page in Rigoletto, the Chambermaid in The Makropulos Case, and Thelma Predmore in the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree.  At Glimmerglass Opera, she sang Melanto in Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria and performed in the world premiere of Central Park, which was later telecast on national television.  She returned to Glimmerglass Opera to perform the role of Aloës in Mark Lamos' new production of Chabrier's L'Etoile.  She has also sung Cherubino at Fort Worth Opera, as well as Stéphano and the title role in Carmen at the Oberlin Opera Theater.  She has appeared numerous times in broadcasts of NPR's World of Opera.

Mary Testa

Mary Testa's recent theatre credits include "42nd Street" (Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical), "Tartuffe" at the Delacorte, directed by Mark Brokaw, "On the Town" (1999 Tony Award nomination), "From Above" (1998 Obie Award), "On the Town," and William Finn's musical "A New Brain" at Lincoln Center.  Other Broadway credits include: Domina in the Broadway revivial of "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum," Angel in "The Rink," and Hedda Hopper in "Marilyn: An American Fable."  Off-Broadway, she was Zerbiniete in the CSC production of "Scapin," Sarah in "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," Sally in "The Knife" at the Public Theatre and Patty Ann in "Daughters" at the Westside Arts Theatre. At Playwrights Horizons, she played Miss Goldberg in "In Trousers." And Rita Laporta in "Lucky Stiff."  Regionally, she has worked at Syracuse Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Yale Rep, The Long Wharf Theatre, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and The Kennedy Center. 

Nicholas Phan

A recent graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Mr. Phan's appeared in many productions there including the world premieres of Daniel Catan's Salsipuedes and Mark Adamo's Lysistrata, and productions of Madama Butterfly, Falstaff, The Little Prince, Turandot, La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor Ariodante, and Die Zauberflöte. He recently made his debuts a the Arizona Opera as Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri, the New York City Opera as Damon in Acis and Galatea , and in Europe as Don Polidoro in a new production of La Finta Semplice directed by Christoph Loyat the Frankfurt Opera. He made his professional operatic debut with Glimmerglass Opera as a member of their Young American Artist Program where his roles included Beppe in I Pagliacci and Licone in James Robinson's production of Orlando Paladino. Mr. Phan was also a member of the Wolf Trap Opera, where his roles included Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore.  
All concerts begin at 8 p.m.  Single ticket prices are $48.  Tickets are available by phone at 212-247-7800 or at the Weill Recital Hall Box Office, Carnegie Hall, 154 West 57th Street at 7th Avenue. Visit the NYFOS website at

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