Verdi Chorus To Receive Honors At Fall Concert In Santa Monica
The Verdi Chorus 35th anniversary season culminates with its Fall 2018 concert Passione! Opera! for two performances only at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on November 10 and 11 led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus, this program, which marks the end of a landmark year for the company, will feature selections from three Verdi operas - Aïda, Don Carlo, and the famed chorus "Va, pensiero," from Nabucco, as well as operatic sequences from Boito's Mefistofele, Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah, Catalani's La Wally and Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann.
The program will feature four guest soloists: soprano Julie Makerov who The Huffington Post declared "triumphant" in her performance of Senta in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer with Los Angeles Opera; critically praised mezzo soprano Janelle DeStefano, who has been featured in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale; tenor Todd Wilander, praised by The New York Times for his "brave, vocally assured portrayals" and who has returned for eight seasons thus far with The Metropolitan Opera; and two-time Grammy Award winning baritone Gabriel Manro, hailed by Opera News as a "casting coup" in the role of Don Carlo for West Bay Opera's recent production of La forza del destino.
In addition, at the November 10 performance, Los Angeles County Field Deputy Zachary Gaidzik will award The Verdi Chorus a document of commendation on the occasion of their 35th Anniversary for outstanding contributions to the Third District of Los Angeles County, represented by Sheila Kuehl. The Verdi Chorus was also recognized this Fall by the City Council of Santa Monica for its achievements over the last 35 years.
Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum says, " When I was faced with challenge of putting together a program for the culmination of the 35th anniversary season of the Verdi Chorus, I found myself turning to the operatic selections that have inspired me over the years on the deepest level. I also wanted to include works that have inspired the community that has grown around the Verdi Chorus itself. I'm happy to say the result of all this has ended up being a wonderful mix of audience favorites, as well as some very interesting and exciting selections that haven't been heard in some time. >From the Grand March in Aïda to the soaring power of good over evil so brilliantly evoked in Mefistofele, I can't think of a better way to musically celebrate this banner year!
I am particularly pleased to have four amazing soloists join us this Fall. I had the pleasure of getting reacquainted with the warm and wonderful Julie Makerov this past summer. Julie loves to sing Verdi and Wagner, and has the big, gorgeous voice to match! I recently heard Janelle DeStefano sing "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix." I was so moved by her performance that I knew I had to have her sing it in this program. Todd Wilander is back with us by popular demand. As one of our favorite tenors, I consider him to be a part of the Verdi Chorus family and I especially wanted him to be with us for this anniversary. Gabriel Manro, a true "Verdi baritone," brings us his full, rich vocal color and strong stage presence."
The Verdi Chorus prepares for concerts with rehearsals every Monday night. There, an amazing thing happens as over 50 singers gather together from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus. This wide swath of people includes singers from 18 to 80 who come from a variety of professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They in turn are joined by opera stars at the beginning of their careers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.
Raising their voices together they become everything from a weary but fiercely impassioned chorus of Hebrew slaves to a chorus of heavenly angels to the drunken crowd found inside Hoffmann's favorite tavern in Nuremberg.
Further demonstrating the organization's mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, fourteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches. Known as the Walter Fox Singers, named in memory of a long-time Chorus and Board member, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances. The Walter Fox Singers also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus, serving as a showcase for the singers and as ambassadors for the Verdi Chorus. Performances of special arias and ensembles have been presented at venues in Southern California including the Annenberg Beach House, The Broad Stage, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.
The Chorus is also proud to continue with the Apprentice Singers program that was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level gain the opportunity to work with the Chorus in rehearsals and sing operatic music in concert. Participants in the program for this session are soprano Emily Peterson, alto Emily Kerrigan, tenor Joseph Buhler and bass Aïdan Moravec. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can broaden their music studies. Apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited back to sing with the Chorus for subsequent sessions.
Performance times are Saturday, November 10 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, November 11 at 2 pm at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, located at 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403.
Tickets are available for purchase at www.verdichorus.org or by calling (800) 838-3006. Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10.
Music Director and Founding Artistic Director ANNE MARIE KETCHUM has been the conductor of the Verdi Chorus since its inception in 1983. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Choral Conducting and a Master's degree in Voice Performance from California State University, Northridge, where she studied choral conducting with John Alexander and served as his assistant conductor. As a singer, she has appeared internationally and is well known for her performances of contemporary art music, vocal chamber music, solo recitals, and opera. She has made several recordings of contemporary music. Among her more recent activities Ms. Ketchum was the Stage Director for the Metropolitan Opera National Council - Western Region Showcase Concerts in Palm Springs for five years. She helped create This and My Heart: A Portrait of Emily Dickinson in Text and Song, a concert/theater piece that she co-wrote and performed with actress Linda Kelsey and pianist Victoria Kirsch. This was presented as part of Grand Performances in Los Angeles and made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cultural Affairs Department of Los Angeles. In February of 2012, she premiered a piece in New York by Aurelio de la Vega entitled Recordatio for soprano and ten instruments, which was written for her.
Accompanist LARAINE ANN MADDEN has garnered acclaim as one of the most sensitive and experienced collaborating artists in the Los Angeles area. Trained in the Bay Area, she made her solo debut with the Oakland Symphony at age 13 performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488. Ms. Madden studied Accompanying at the University of Southern California with its pioneer teacher, Gwendolyn Koldofsky and has accompanied in the master classes of Martin Katz, Geoffrey Parsons, Giorgio Tozzi, Martial Singher, Joan Dornemann and Peter Pears. She has served as "repetiteur" accompanist under conductors Simon Rattle, Christoph Perrick and Richard Buckley, and has appeared in concert with singers associated with New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and Los Angeles Opera including Alan Titus, Rod Gilfry, Erie Mills, Young Mi Kim and Ealynn Voss. Recent engagements include performing on the Jacaranda Concert Series and with the Walter Fox Singers at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica, the Huntington Library in Pasadena, and the Richard Nixon Library for the Marshall B. Ketchum University Shared Visions Gala. This is her twentieth year as collaborator with the Verdi Chorus.
Soprano JULIE MAKEROV was declared by The Toronto Star for her performance as Senta "...every inch the ringing life force Wagner intended." As winner of the 2010 Dora Award, Canada's most prestigious live theater honor, Ms. Makerov was recognized for her compelling portrayal of Senta in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer and continues to captivate audiences internationally. This gifted young dramatic soprano's voice has been described as "Gloriously commanding" (La Scena Musicale), "Sumptuous" (ArtsSF.com), and "soaring" (The Oakland Tribune). The New York Times proclaims "Julie Makerov's plush soprano voice and vulnerability were ideal for the goddess Freia", and of her debut with Los Angeles Opera, The Huffington post wrote "Julie Makerov is triumphant!".
Ms.Makerov's most recent engagements include returning to Houston Grand Opera in their production of Strauss's Elektra. Previous recent engagements include singing Lady Macbeth in Verdi's Macbeth with Opera Theater Saint Louis, and making her debut with Houston Grand Opera singing Gerhilde in Wagner's Die Walku?re under the baton of Patrick Summers. Ms. Makerov's other engagements include singing Sieglinde in Die Walku?re with the American Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leon Botstein, singing the role of Chrysotemis in Elektra with Des Moines Metro Opera and performing the role of the Queen of Hearts in Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland with Opera Theater of Saint Louis.
In previous seasons Ms. Makerov made her debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Los Angeles Opera, singing the role of The Mother in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, and Senta in Der fliegende Holländer. Ms. Makerov also sang the title role of Tosca with the Canadian Opera Company, and performed the role of Senta in Der fliegende Holländer in Salzburg under the baton of Sir Ivor Bolton.
Ms. Makerov's International career also included returning to Oper Frankfurt, where she sang the role of Margherita in Boito's Mefistofele, and to the Canadian Opera Company where she sang Senta in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer. Ms. Makerov garnered outstanding critical acclaim singing the title role in Dvo?ák's Rusalka and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the Canadian Opera Company. She also reprised the role of Rusalka in the Czech Republic with the ?esky? Krumlov International Music Festival.
Ms. Makerov's other notable operatic engagements include the soprano's debuts with Theater Erfurt and Oper Frankfurt singing the title role in Tosca and performing in Matsumoto, Japan with Seji Ozawa's internationally acclaimed Saito Kinnen festival. Ms. Makerov also joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera where she covered the roles of Gerhilde, Lady in waiting, The Shopkeeper, and Mme. Peronskaya in the productions of Die Walku?re, Macbeth and War and Peace, and toured with them to Japan. She has sung Gerhilde in Die Walku?re and Freia in Das Rheingold with Canadian Opera Company, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus with Seattle Opera and Sarasota Opera, the title role in Tosca with Sarasota Opera, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Palm Beach Opera, Sarasota Opera and Opera San Jose.
Mezzo Soprano JANELLE DeSTEFANO enjoys the entire gamut of classical singing, from opera and oratorio to recital and chamber music. Her operatic roles include Romeo in I Capuletti e i Montecchi; Angelina in La Cenerentola; Dido in Dido and Aeneas; Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia and the title role in Bizet's Carmen. As a member of the San Diego Opera Ensemble, she performed throughout Southern California and Mexico, and covered the roles of Erika in Vanessa and Dorabella in Così fan tutte.
A frequent concert artist, Ms. DeStefano has been featured in performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Jacaranda Music at the Edge; El Mundo; Bach Collegium San Diego; the Los Angeles Master Chorale; and the Grammy Award Winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Praised for her "passionate delivery" and "rich seamless voice," she has rendered dramatic performances in such diverse concert works as the Monteverdi Vespers, Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, Handel's Dixit Dominus, Mahler's Fourth Symphony, Respighi's Laud to the Nativity, Zeisl's Hebrew Requiem, Szymanowsky's Stabat Mater and the U.S. premier of Peter Eötvös, Schiller: Energische Schoenheit. Of her performances in the Bach B minor Mass, Stage and Cinema called it "saving the best for last," and raved that "DeStefano soared into the heavens during her performance of the Agnus Dei."
A personal interest in zarzuela and Spanish art song led to Ms. DeStefano's European debut as part of the 2007 International Festival of Interpretation of Spanish Song in Granada, Spain, as well as the Spanish Art Song concert series for the 2008 Mannes Summer Institute. Her appearances with the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, El Mundo received critical acclaim. Ms. DeStefano's portrayal of the gypsy, Maria, in La Alegria de la Huerta at the Jarvis Zarzuela Festival (available on DVD) was hailed as the "pick of the Chueca" by Zarzuela.net. Most recently, she was featured with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and LA Flamenco in performances of Manuel De Falla's Siete Canciones Populares and El amor brujo.
Ms. DeStefano can be heard on the 2018 Delos Label release of Mark Abel's Time and Distance, where she is featured on the Song Cycle The Ocean of Forgiveness. Other recordings include Abel's opera, Home is a Harbor, and The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits also on Delos; as well as recordings with the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Master Chorale, including Festival of Carols, Górecki: Miserere (Decca); and the Los Angeles Philharmonic's 2014 recording of Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary (Deutsche Grammophon).
Ms. DeStefano graduated with honors from the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, earning a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance. A passionate teacher, she has taught voice for more than two decades at collegiate and community music schools including USC Thornton School of Music, UC Santa Cruz, the University of San Diego, and Grossmont College, as well as her own private voice studio. She is currently on the voice faculty at Santa Monica College and Chapman University.
Praised by Opera News for his "clear and sweet lyrical tone" and "brave, vocally assured portrayals" (The New York Times), Tenor Todd Wilander is one of America's most sought-after leading tenors. Since winning The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, he has appeared with the company as Arturo Lucia Di Lammermoor (James Levine), Almaviva Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, Beppe I Pagliacci and Harry La fanciulla del West, plus roles in Wozzeck, Two Boys, The Nose (HD Movie), Hamlet, Gambler, Macbeth and From the House of the Dead. He appeared with New York City Opera as Charles Clayton in Stephen Schwartz's Séance On A Wet Afternoon, Uberto La Donna Del Lago and Harry La fanciulla del West. For New York Opera Society he sang Rodolfo La Bohème and Nemorino L'Eliser D'Amore.
Elsewhere in the U.S.A., he has appeared with Portland Opera as Rodolpho View From The Bridge, Captain Leadbetter Princess Sofia for Orpheus Project Juneau Alaska, the title role in Les Contes D'Hoffmann with Opera North (USA), Brooklyn Academy Of Music as Molqi Death of Klinghoffer, Pollione Norma for Pacific Opera Northwest Washington, Don José Carmen for Central Florida Lyric Opera, Calaf Turandot at Mississippi Opera, with Opera Memphis and Bohème Opera New Jersey as Edgardo Lucia Di Lammermoor, the title-role of Tito for West Bay Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera as Andrew A Death in the Family and as Dimmesdale Hester. Other companies with whom he has appeared include Madison Opera as Rodolfo La Bohème Santa Fe Opera as Young Servant Electra, Tamino Die Zauberflöte for St. Petersburg Opera Florida, Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Lysander A Midsummer Night's Dream, as Nanki-Poo Mikado and as Fairfax Yeoman of The Guard, Opera Saskatchewan (Canada) as Don Ramiro La Cenerentola, Chatauqua Opera as Fenton Falstaff, Grant Park Music Festival Chicago as the title role of Candide, Nevada Opera as Don Ottavio Don Giovanni, Opera Orchestra of New York as Wilhelm Meister Mignon, Opera Delaware as Macduff Macbeth and Rinuccio Gianni Schicchi, Opera in the Ozarks as the title-roles of Hoffmann and Albert Herring, and Glimmerglass Opera as Eurimaco Il Ritorno D'Ulisse. Recent performances include the Coach Bounce with Manhattan's ADA Arts, the title role in Samson et Dalila and Turridu Cavalleria Rusticana with Verdi Opera Chorus of LA, Camille Merry Widow and Tamino Die Zauberflöte for Opera Fairbanks, and Rodolfo La Bohème with Opera Long Island, New York. Upcoming engagements include Rodolfo La Bohème with Opera Tampa, and Radamès Aïda at Bohème Opera New Jersey.
European engagements include Philip Agnes Von Hohenstaufen with Theater Erfurt (Germany), Sam Susannah for Opera Bilbao (Spain), Tonio La fille du régiment for Opera Zuid, (Netherlands), Nadir Les pêcheurs de perles at Dublin Opera Festival (Ireland), Duke Rigoletto in Kazan (Russia), Belmonte Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Italian Singer Der Rosenkavalier for Landestheater Linz (Austria), Nanki-Poo Mikado at Teatro La Fenice di Venezia (Italy), Edmondo Manon Lescaut for Opera Holland Park (London), Leicester Maria Stuarda for Opera North (UK) and Chelsea Opera Group (London), Sam Susannah and Percy Anna Bolena for English Touring Opera (London), Ferrando Così fan tutte for Mid-Wales Opera, Alfredo La Traviata for Longborough Festival (UK), the title-role Roberto Devereux and Renaud in Gluck's Armide for Buxton Opera Festival (UK), and Edoardo in Un giorno di regno for Opera della Luna (UK).
He has appeared as the title-role of Faust and Ernesto Don Pasquale in New Zealand Opera, Italian Singer Der Rosenkavalier for New Israeli Opera, Edgardo Lucia Di Lammermoor and Duke Rigoletto for Musica Viva (Hong Kong), and as Belmonte Die Entführung aus dem Serail for Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires). As a member of the ensemble at Deutsche Oper Berlin, he performed Frère Massée Saint François d'Assise, Arturo Lucia Di Lammermoor Vierte Knappe Parsifal, Junger Mann Moses und Aron and First Armored Man Die Zauberflöte.
At San Francisco Opera, Mr. Wilander has appeared as Belmonte Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Frère Massée Saint François d'Assise, Kudrjasch Ká?a Kabanová, Tamino Die Zauberflöte, and Thaddeus Stevens The Mother of Us All.
Mr. Wilander has appeared with many orchestras, including New York Philharmonic, National Chorale, New York Choral Society, BBC Radio Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Los Angeles Music Center Orchestra, Hamburg NDR Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony and Haifa Symphony Orchestra in solo repertoire that includes Verdi Requiem, Mahler Das Lied von der Erde, Handel Messiah, Haydn Creation, Mozart Requiem and Coronation Mass, Bach Magnificat, Beethoven Missa Solemnis and 9th Symphony, Berlioz Requiem, Puccini Messa di Gloria, Vaughan Williams Hodie and On Wenlock Edge, Rossini Stabat Mater, Britten Serenade and War Requeim and Mendelssohn Elijah. Mr. Wilander has been a winner of many prestigious competitions, including The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Belvedere Competition, Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundation, American Berlin Opera Foundation, Oratorio Society of NY, Enrico Caruso/Altamura Competition and Loren L. Zachary Society Competition. He was a finalist in the Richard Tucker Foundation and the Houston Grand Opera Competition.
Originally from Arcadia, California, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Business at California State University, Los Angeles, received a Masters of Music in opera performance and literature from Northwestern University (title-roles of Serse, title role of Hoffmann Nero Poppea), and an Artist Diploma at the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory of Music (Alfredo La Traviata).
Two-time Grammy Award winning baritone GABRIEL MANRO has been called "a new kind of baritone: not lyric, not helden, not Kavalier, not Bariton-Martin - none of those. Rather, he's a knock-down baritone." --San Francisco Classical Voice. Indeed, Manro regularly sings dramatic baritone roles such as Don Carlo di Vargas (La forza del destino), Andrei Shchelkalov (Boris Godunov), and Tonio (I Pagliacci).
Opera News describes Manro as "Gifted with a striking, sinister baritone that remains strong, even and sonorous throughout the range, he tears into Verdi's music with a vengeance."
Mr. Manro made his professional operatic debut as Third Inmate in Jake Heggie's ground-breaking opera Dead Man Walking for Opera Pacific with Frederica von Stade. He went on to perform the role of Inquisitor in Opera Pacific's Candide. Mr. Manro has appeared in numerous contemporary and world-premiere operas: As Muscovite Trader in John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (Pentatone Music: Grammy--Best Opera Recording & Best Engineered Classical Album), as the Mousling in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin, the Computer in Los Angeles Opera's The Fly by film composer Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings Trilogy); as The Chauffeur in Opera Santa Barbara's Séance on a Wet Afternoon by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell); and as Angry Voter in Los Angeles Opera's Il Postino (Sony Classical DVD).
Manro created the role of President Lincoln in Golden Gate Opera's world-premiere Civil War Epic: Lincoln and Booth. Off-Broadway, Mr. Manro led the original cast of Center for Contemporary Opera's production of Oration by Line Tjørnhøj. On television, Manro appeared as Joel Lynch and Father Jackson in the European premiere live telecast of William Mayer's: A Death in the Family at the Hungarian National Theater and Opéra Grand D'Avignon which was voted "audience favorite" opera by Mezzo and TBS Network viewers.
Mr. Manro made his European operatic debut as Doctor Bartolo (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with Corfu Opera in Greece. His extensive repertoire and engagements have also included the roles of Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Guglielmo, Don Alfonso (Cosí fan tutte), Belcore (L'elisir d'amore), Frédéric (Lakme), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Giorgio Germont (La traviata), Schaunard, Coline, Marcello (La bohème), Dandini, Alidoro (La Cenerentola), Alfio (Cavalleria Rusticana), Escamillo (Carmen), Scarpia (Tosca) and Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring).
Equally at home in Musical Theater, he has performed numerous roles including Curly (Oklahoma!), Tony (The Most Happy Fella), Abner (Li'l Abner), Schroeder (You're a Good Man Charlie Brown), Lank Sanders (Girl Crazy), Mr. Brownlow (Oliver!), Harrison Howell (Kiss Me Kate), James Hayes (South Pacific) and the Governor (Man of La Mancha). Manro has recently returned to the operatic stage after an extended run as Jafar in Walt Disney Company's Aladdin directed by Francesca Zambello. See Manro next as Germont in California Opera Association's production of La Traviata.
About The Verdi Chorus
The Verdi Chorus is a Southern California nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting opera choruses in concert and to providing career development opportunities for young professional singers. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music of the opera chorus, the Verdi Chorus gives talented amateur singers the unique opportunity to sing side-by-side with professional singers in rehearsals leading up to performances held to the highest artistic standards. Under the direction of its remarkable Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.
The Verdi Chorus was founded in 1983 at the Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica. When the restaurant closed in 1991, the Verdi Chorus continued. In 1999, the chorus incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Under the continuous direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, the Chorus presents four concerts each year as well as other collaborative events. Its repertoire includes over 300 choruses from 81 operas in seven languages.
For more information visit: www.verdichorus.org