Opera Saratoga Announces Additional Casting And Concert Series For 62nd Annual Summer Festival

Additional Casting and Concert Series Announced for Opera Saratoga's 62nd Annual Summer Festival

By: Jan. 11, 2024
Opera Saratoga Announces Additional Casting And Concert Series For 62nd Annual Summer Festival

Opera Saratoga Announces Additional Casting And Concert Series For 62nd Annual Summer Festival

In addition to Mikaela Bennett as Sarah Brown, the cast of GUYS AND DOLLS will feature William Socolof as Nathan Detroit, Ariadne Greif as Miss Adelaide, Shavon Lloyd as Sky Masterson, Maximillian Jansen as Nicely Nicely Johnson, and Aubrey Allicock as Arvide Abernathy. COSÌ FAN TUTTE will feature Nicoletta Berry as Despina, Julia Stuart as Fiordiligi, Anna Kelley as Dorabella, Maximillian Jansen as Ferrando, Michael Hawk as Guglielmo, and Aubrey Allicock as Don Alfonso.

In addition to GUYS AND DOLLS, COSÌ, and a devised world premiere by Composer-in-Residence inti figgis-vizueta, the festival will feature a Tuesday night concert series at Universal Preservation Hall called LISTEN TO THIS, a series which hands the mic to cutting-edge creators who break through boundaries of what opera can be through the lens of access and healing (June 4, 11 & 18.)

Tuesday, June 4th will feature work by RPI Director of Institute Ensembles Robert Whalen who is collaborating with librettists Mark Steidl, Katherine Skovira and Sara Pyszka on a new opera for synthetic and acoustic voice THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE written by and for people who use Alternative Assistive Communication.

Inspired by Pyszka's "Inside My Outside: An Independent Mind in a Dependent Body" and unfolding in a series of interwoven storylines, THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE explores what it means to be our true self, and which of our voices-our inner or outer voice-most directly represents our identity. The Other Side of Silence examines technology's role in the fabric of human society, and what role it plays in promoting and diminishing our autonomy, as seen through the lens of an AAC user - someone who uses a synthetic voice to communicate the world. When none of the six preloaded voices aligns with their identity, we embark on a fantastical, revelatory, and cathartic journey of discovery and acceptance.

On June 11th, Director George Miller, Bass-Baritone William Socolof and Pianist Chris Reynolds collaborate on the workshop of a contemporary staging of Schubert's seminal song cycle WINTERREISE. Originally from Albany and Saratoga Springs, respectively, Miller and Reynolds bring their many accolades back to the Capital Region.

Staged for singer, pianist, an identical dancer, and boy soprano, this gender-expansive, intergenerational take on this powerful piece earnestly interrogates structures of masculinity, emotional masking, male vulnerability, sensitivity, intimacy, caring, mental health, and healing in an era where statistics of male loneliness in America reach their highest in a century.

And on June 18th, composer-performer Catherine Brookman shares her album I WOKE UP IN THE SKY with Opera Saratoga's audiences. Her music deals with the experience of time passing, collapsing, unfinished business, heartbreak, loneliness, depression.

Originally from Baltimore, the classically-trained Brookman weaves a majestic tapestry of folk sounds with ambient landscapes. Her tender lyrics are supported by a warm and delicate string section creating a sonic cocoon, a soft landing place for healing heartbreak that is both soulful and captivating. In her live performances, Brookman loops her own vocals and synthesizer to self-harmonize and form an atmosphere that builds an experimental yet dreamlike texture that transports the audience to another world. Brookman says: "I used to go to shows and whisper in my friends' ears when a song faded out, that the implication was it would somewhere, somehow be playing forever. I have always had trouble with endings. On March 12, 2020 I took a train to Montreal with a bag packed for 3 days and didn't return home for a year and half. I flew to LA, drove to Kanarraville, Utah and stayed in an airstream on a friend's family's farm, then to Colorado where it was snowing in June. I hiked solo for miles around Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California. I saw 6 bears in 3 days while running. I went skydiving and passed out in the sky. Then I woke up in the sky. The music deals with the experience of time passing, collapsing, unfinished business, heartbreak, loneliness, depression. When I walked alone around mountains, canyons, woods, painful things would transmute into beauty unexpectedly. The river became a mirror. I'm making a case for admitting how much we need each other, for unapologetic vulnerability. The music was made to make us feel less alone."

Catherine Brookman is a Brooklyn & LA-based performer and composer. She will release her debut album "If A Song Fades Out, It's Playing Forever Somewhere" next year. Originally from Baltimore, the classically-trained Brookman weaves a majestic tapestry of folk sounds with ambient landscapes. Her tender lyrics are supported by a warm and delicate string section creating a sonic cocoon, a soft landing place for healing heartbreak that is both soulful and captivating. In her live performances, Brookman loops her own vocals and synthesizer to self-harmonize and form an atmosphere that builds an experimental yet dreamlike texture that transports the audience to another world. It's a deep listening experience that is both intellectual and profound while maintaining its light and ethereal essence.

Alongside her solo career, Brookman is an active performer in experimental music and theater at some of the top venues worldwide. She is a regular guest vocalist at the LA Philharmonic, performing works by Meredith Monk, Julius Eastman, and the 6-hour opera "Stranger Love" to name a few. She has sung alongside famed pop and jazz singers such as Lorde and Esperanza Spalding, and in the 2020 Vanguard Gala honoring Laurie Anderson. Brookman has also performed on Broadway in "Hair", and off Broadway in "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812". She created the original music for the upcoming podcast "Very Unbecoming" featuring Amy Sedaris on Audible. Brookman will present her new album live with a chamber ensemble at the Carnegie Hill Concert Series in NY in 2024 and will be touring with Grammy-nominated ensemble Wild Up on the west coast this February. She has been featured at Lincoln Center, The Public, Ars Nova, Nitehawk Cinema, HERE Arts and floating. Her work has been supported by the esteemed MacDowell Fellowship and NYFA Women's Fund.

"Vocally complex, rich and consistently surprising...sonic glow as entrancing as a phosphorescent sea." - The New York Times

"Vocal dynamo Catherine Brookman (with) mighty lung power translated via loop machine...with lyrics that linger" - NYMag

"Brookman's tidal compositions carry us away." - Timeout

Robert Whalen (he/him/his) serves as Lecturer of Music and Conducting at Rensselaer, where he directs the Rensselaer Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Chamber Music Activities. Whalen has also led orchestras on the faculties of the University of Chicago as Director of the Chamber Orchestra and Lewis and Clark College as Interim Director of Orchestral Activities. At the University of Chicago, Whalen launched numerous innovative programs and projects, including an "Explore Classical Music!" alliance with the Berlin Philharmonic, a Graduate Student Composer Fellowship, and the Chamber Orchestra's first-ever participation the University of Chicago's Humanities Day Festival.

A passionate advocate for contemporary music, Whalen is Co-Founder and Music Director of the Philadelphia-based ensemble SoundLAB. Of his work with SoundLAB, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, "The diabolical enthusiasm of...Robert Whalen left me nearly begging for mercy...the artistic equivalent of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft."

Whalen founded SoundLAB as the Barnes Ensemble in 2016 at the Barnes Foundation, where Whalen also served as Associate Curator for Music, the first curator of music in the 100-year history of the institution. The Barnes Ensemble has performed a diverse array of music by living composers and projects at the intersection of the arts, social justice, and technology. Whalen has collaborated with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the JACK Quartet, the Argus Quartet, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Barnes Foundation, Temple University's Institute on Disabilities, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society, and with composers Chaya Czernowin, Zosha Di Castri, Clara Iannotta, Eric Wubbels, and Augusta Read Thomas. Under Whalen's direction, SoundLAB was included at the International Contemporary Ensemble's 2021 Ensemble Evolution Symposium, where industry thought leaders met to discuss and define trends in contemporary performance.

Access to music education and supporting young composers is core to Whalen's work as a conductor and ensemble director. With SoundLAB, engaged over 1,000 students from the City of Philadelphia School District around Ligeti's Ramifications in the inaugural Barnes Ensemble Festival in 2017. In the same year, Whalen began partnership with the Temple University Institute on Disabilities and the Curtis Institute of Music's Social Entrepreneurship program that cultivated a musical partnership between artists who use Alternative Assistive Communication and students at the Curtis Institute. This ongoing project has led so far to the premiere of two co-developed song cycles, lost time (2020) and __[no words]__ (2021).

Whalen's conducting has been recognized in the US and internationally. He was personally selected by Lorin Maazel to serve as his Conducting Fellow at the Castleton Festival and has worked as Assistant Conductor at the WDR in Cologne, Germany. In addition to his instrumental work, Whalen also has significant experience working with the choirs. Whalen served as Assistant Chorus Master at Opera Philadelphia beginning in 2019 and has conducted the 64-voice professional chorus in preparations for productions of Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, Handel's Semele, and Verdi's Requiem. During his tenure at the Barnes Foundation, Whalen also served as Director of the Choral Series and Guest Conductor of the Philadelphia Voices in a performance of Einojuhani Rautavaara's Vigilia, which was praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer: "...programs this thoughtfully conceived and confidently executed are always needed in even the richest of musical communities." Whalen has also held the Choral Conducting Fellowship at Yale University's Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

Whalen earned a BA cum laude from Cornell University, where he studied composition with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky. Whalen was awarded an MFA in Orchestral Conducting from the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and a DMA from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with Craig Kirchhoff.

William Socolof is an award-winning operatic bass-baritone and recitalist. He has appeared as a soloist with many premier North American orchestras including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra amongst others. He was a winner of the 2020 YCA Susan Wadsworth International Auditions.

The New York native was graduated from The Juilliard School in spring 2022 with an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies and was awarded The Stephen Novick Grant for Career Advancement. Thereafter, he attended the prestigious Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, singing Riolobo in selections from Daniel Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas, as well as operatic scenes of Mozart and Berlioz with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

William Socolof joins Oper Köln's Opernstudio from autumn 2023 and his diverse range of performances of the season include Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten by Attila Kadri Şendil, Romeo und Julia by Boris Blacher, Tosca, Pünktchen und Aton by Iván Eröd, Un Ballo in Maschera, and L'incoronazione di Poppea.

William Socolof debuted with the National Symphony Orchestra in Bernstein's Mass led by James Gaffigan and recent performance highlights also include Vaughan Williams' Sir John in Love with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra at the Bard Music Festival, Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, Op. 80 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Andris Nelsons, Barber's Dover Beach, Op. 3 with the Borromeo String Quartet at Carnegie Hall, and performances with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under the auspices of The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in collaboration with Barbara Hannigan and Richard Egarr.

Operatic appearances have included Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte at Juilliard in a production conducted by alumnus Nimrod David Pfeffer and directed by David Paul, Satiro and Plutone in Mary Birnbaum's production of the rarely performed L'Orfeo by Salamone Rossi, as well as the role of Daniel Webster in Virgil Thomson's The Mother of Us All at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a part of Project 19, the New York Philharmonic's multi-season initiative marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote in the United States.

During the summers of 2019, 2020, and 2021, he was a resident artist at the storied Marlboro Music Festival and performed extensively works of Bach, Brahms, Mahler, and Schubert with pianists Jonathan Biss, Malcolm Martineau, and Mitsuko Uchida. A fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the summer of 2018, and under the tutelage of Sanford Sylvan, Dawn Upshaw, and Stephanie Blythe, William Socolof appeared with the Boston Pops, performed Bach Cantatas conducted by John Harbison, and premiered works by Michael Gandolfi and Nico Muhly in partnership with pianist Emmanuel Ax.

William Socolof has received prizes from The Naumburg Foundation, Young Concert Artists, International Auditions, Oratorio Society of New York Lynn Woodside Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Laffont Competition. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School (B.M.'18, M.M.'20, ADOS '22) studying with Sanford Sylvan and William Burden.

Ariadne Greif, praised for her "luminous, expressive voice" (NYTimes), her "elastic and round high notes" (classiqueinfo), and her "mesmerizing stage presence" (East Anglian Daily Times), began her opera career as a 'boy' soprano in the Los Angeles area and at the LA Opera, eventually making an adult debut singing Lutoslawski's Chantefleurs et Chantefables with the American Symphony Orchestra. She starred in roles ranging from Therese/Tirésias in Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias, singing a "thoroughly commanding and effortless" run at the Aldeburgh Festival, a "sassy" Adina in The Elixir of Love with the Orlando Philharmonic, to Sappho in Atthis by Georg Friedrich Haas, for which the New York Times noted her "searing top notes," and "dusky depths," calling it "a solo high-wire act for Ms. Greif," "a vehicle for Ms. Greif's raw, no-holds-barred performance," "one of the most searingly painful and revealing operatic performances in recent times."

Table Manners (2021) by Sheree Clement, featuring Ariadne as both characters. Cinematography by Caroline Mariko Stucky and couture by Johnny Vendiola for St. Barite.

In the 2023/2024 season, Ariadne stars in Long Beach Opera's production of Alyssa Weinberg's Isola. She performs opera scenes with So & So Orchestra, conductor Daniel Zinn, and tenor Pavel Suliandziga, a concert of new and old Music at Symphony Space with David Bloom and the Queer Urban Orchestra of NY, shares a bill with brilliant composer Raven Chacon in a concert with David Bloom and Present Music Milwaukee, performs Aucoin and Respighi with conductorless string orchestra at Caroga Lake Music Festival, and selections from a new opera by Joe Phillips with his ensemble Numinous. She returns for a second residency with Ensemble Mélange at Strings in Steamboat Springs, CO. She continues her complete survey of Alma Mahler songs at Fort Greene Chamber Music Society, and performs concerts with Ensemble Echappé, Catherine Gregory and Ian David Rosenbaum, Bridget Kibbey at her series MOSA, a video with Pauchi Sasaki, Nava Dunkelman, and choreographer Zoï Tatopoulos, and a concert with harpsichordist Ben Katz on the Columbia Sacred Music series.

The 2022/2023 began with a concert of opera arias and scenes with Pavel Suliandziga and the So & So Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Zinn, including music from La Traviata, Faust, Iolanta, Die Lustige Witwe, L'elisir d'amore. Ariadne's project, Eleven Wild Geese, was presented as part of the Ultima Festival in Oslo, at the Oslo Opera House. Ariadne sang Clara Schumann and Gustav Mahler at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles with Robert Fleitz, presented by Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, performed a concert version of Alyssa Weinberg's Isola for [Working Titles], a new opera series by Amanda + James, and sang songs of Alma Mahler on the Fort Greene Chamber Music Society series. Her opera film Table Manners, by Sheree Clement, won awards at festivals including AltFF Alternative Film Festival, Munich Short Film Awards, Queens World Film Festival, Philadelphia Cinema Awards, and others. Caroline Shaw's opera film "We Need To Talk" was screened as part of Opera Philadelphia's film festival O22. After a residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute, and previous years of preparation, in 2023 Alex Fortes and Ariadne Greif present a personally long-awaited full performance of Kurtag's Kafka Fragments for the first time at Gather NYC. She sings Harbison's Mirabai Songs and selections of Kliphuis' Secret Diary of Nora Plain with David Bloom and Present Music in Milwaukee, Shostakovich Blok Songs with PhiloSonia in Brooklyn, and music of Paul Brantley with Steve Beck at the 92nd St. Y in New York. She sings a set at the MATA Benefit concert, concerts with Williamsburg CMS and Fort Greene Chamber Music Society, a show with Ensemble Melange, and appeared in Ursonate with William Kentridge again at CalPerformances in Berkeley.

A music video of Table Manners, written for Ariadne by Sheree Clement, directed by Mary Birnbaum, featuring couture by St. Barite and cinematography by Caroline Mariko Stucky, premiered in June 2021, with Ariadne playing both roles. She made a cameo appearance backing up Jodie Landau at The Little Island in NYC, at Tina Landau and Friends: BYOB, and appeared in various pop up performances around New York with Amanda + James as part of their Summer Happenings Festival, singing Kaija Saariaho's stunning Lonh. She was featured in the 2021 summer season of PS21 in Chatham, NY. In fall 2021, she performed two large pieces for Contemporaneous Day of Imagination, with Mary Prescott for Metropolis Ensemble's Biophony, a concert with Present Music Milwaukee with Music for People Who Like Art by Andrew Hamilton, and some Wagner with Momenta Quartet and Carl Bettendorf. She performed in Isola, new staged monodrama by Alyssa Weinberg at Princeton, with Andrew Yee, Katie Hyun, Miho Saegusa, conductor Gabriel Crouch and director Ashley Tata, and gave a gothic Halloween concert with Lacy Rose, Ben Katz, and the Starling Quartet at the Triad Theater in NY. She sang a concert honoring Marilyn Schrude with Lost Dog New Music Ensemble and Momenta Quartet, a recital of Crumb, Shaw, Weinberg, and Rachmaninoff with Jason Wirth and Amanda + James, and a performance of William Kentridge's production of Ursonate at the Philarmonie Luxembourg. In 2022 she sang concerts with Argento New Music Project, Ensemble Échappé, and Da Capo Chamber Players, St. John's Passion with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, an event at Cielos, CA, with Art Haus Playa, four short operas with the NYU Composers Lab, and two short operas with Cutting Edge Concerts, American Modern Ensemble, and Mostly Modern Projects. She stepped in at the last minute for a concert with the Knights and Aaron Diehl at the 92nd St. Y of the Zodiac Suite by Mary Lou Williams. In June she stepped in for soprano Julia Bullock at the Ojai Festival with AMOC, in pieces by Matt Aucoin, a premiere of a new and funky opera called The Fall of Rome, by Doug Balliett, and the festival closing concert.

Ariadne spent the summer of 2020 creating a new piece, called Bird Party, for the 2020 Ultima Festival in Oslo, Norway, where it was premiered in September, alongside Dreams of Our Future, a piece by Sofia Jernberg, directed by Louise Beck, in which Ariadne appeared by video. Bird Party exists as a stand-alone film, by cinematographer Caroline Mariko Stucky, featuring a collection by designer St. Barite. Ariadne appeared in October on the Six Feet Apart series of The Sofia Home of B Street in a filmed concert of contemporary music for voice and electronics. She appeared again in Malena Dayen's opera Exercises on the Presence of Odradek as part of the 2020 Vrystaat Festival, and created a character in a creative interactive live virtual adventure for the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. In 2021 she participated in initial workshops with Joseph C. Phillips Jr. on a new opera cycle called 1619, inspired by the 2019 New York Times series The 1619 Project and the 2014 Ta-Nehisi Coates The Atlantic article "The Case for Reparations". In spring she starred in We Need To Talk by Caroline Shaw, a collaboration with the poet Anne Carson, director Maureen Towey, videographers Four/Ten Media, still available from Opera Philadelphia.

Shavon Lloyd (b. 1997) is an award-winning composer, baritone, conductor, and music educator. As a young musician, Shavon has already had the opportunity to perform for a wide variety of audiences and compose for numerous ensembles from K-12 to professional groups.

From Middletown, NY, Lloyd began his journey as a dedicated musician in 2014 when he won his first composition contest at the age of 17. His piece, "Untitled", was selected as the grand prize winner of the Manhattan Choral Ensemble's "New Music for New York" composition contest. After that moment, Lloyd solidified his decision in studying music at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Here he continued his compositional journey under the tutelage of Dr. David Heuser, winning a second contest in Washington, D.C. for his choral piece, "So Breaks the Sun", which was premiered by the 18th Street Singers in July of 2018. Since then, Lloyd has been commissioned for works at the K-12 levels, collegiate choral programs, and established professional concert choirs. Recently, Shavon won a third composition contest in July 2019, sponsored by the Orpheus Chamber Singers in Dallas, Texas. In March 2020, the group premiered his work for double choir, "Alleluia". Since then, Lloyd has been commissioned by such groups as Cappella Festiva and The ABC Bel Canto Choir.

Shavon is an active participant in the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), contributing to both the Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Representation (BEDR) Committee, and the Composition Committee. Regarding music education, his interests include student-centered learning through democracy and creativity in the music classroom. For the past three years, he has put this mindset into practice as the Vocal/General Music Teacher at Indian River High School in Philadelphia, NY.

As a baritone, Shavon has had the opportunity to perform alongside Patti LuPone, Lisa Vroman, Canadian Brass, and other professional soloists and ensembles. While studying with Dr. Lonel Woods, he became a 2-time winner of the CFLNY-NATS Singing Competition, and featured soloist throughout New York. At Crane, he had the pleasure of soloing in Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music and Mozart's Mass in C minor under the baton of Maestros Duain Wolfe and Kent Tritle, respectively. In May 2020, Shavon won the Classical Singer Musical Theatre Competition for Pre-Professionals with his performance of "Soliloquy" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. Lloyd is currently pursuing his Master of Music in Vocal Performance degree at The Juilliard School in New York City. Here, he has performed in multiple productions, including Händel's "Atalanta" (Nicandro - cover), Purcell's "King Arthur" (Grimbald/Cold Genius), and Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" (Betto). Lloyd was recently selected to be a Gerdine Young Artist for The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2023. He will be performing in Puccini's "Tosca" (Sacristan cover). He will also make his professional debut as Simon in an all-black production of Joplin's "Treemonisha", including a world premiere of Damien Sneed and Karen Chilton's prologue and epilogue detailing moments Joplin's life.



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