LSM Newswire

Monday, July 6, 2009

PORTopera’s 15th Anniversary Gala Concert Features Internationally Acclaimed Singers

PORTopera's 15th Anniversary Gala Concert Features Internationally Acclaimed Singers

PORTLAND, Maine – On July 30th, seven nationally and internationally recognized opera singers will take the stage at Merrill Auditorium in celebration of PORTopera's 15th Anniversary season. The Gala's featured singers will present selections from the company's past productions, as well as pieces from operas under consideration for future years, accompanied by a full orchestra.

Directed by PORTopera's Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn, the concert will be conducted by Robert Moody, celebrated Music Director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Featured singers for the concert include PORTopera past guest artists: Pamela Armstrong (soprano), Jeneice Golbourne (mezzo-soprano), Sandra Lopez (soprano), Michael Mayes (baritone), Lauren McNeese (mezzo-soprano), Jan Opalach (bass-baritone), and Gaston Rivero (tenor).

Pamela Armstrong, a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, has appeared in countless productions across the United States, Europe, and has even appeared as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Vienna State Opera in Beijing, China. Other leading roles include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, the title role in Susannah, and Mimi in La Bohème. Armstrong made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Opera Pacific in the 2001-2002 season, and recently returned to Europe to sing the role of the Countess in Toulouse, France. She appeared in La Bohème for PORTopera in 1999.

Jeniece Golbourne's career highlights include singing the lead role in Carmen and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, both at the Manhattan School of Music, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Westminster Opera Theater. A graduate of Westminster Choir College and the Manhattan School of Music, Golbourne has a master's degree in Voice Performance. She has performed in the U.S. from California to New York and has even crossed the ocean to appear at concerts in Germany with the Deutsche Kammeracademie Neuss am Rhein Orchestra and Würzberg Orchestra. Golbourne sang Lola in PORTopera's Cavalleria Rusticana in 2004.

Sandra Lopez has captivated audiences across the country, appearing as Catherine in the premier run of A View from the Bridge at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, the title role in Tosca, Mimi in La Bohème, and many other performances in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Connecticut and Massachusetts. She has been the recipient of numerous prizes, awards and grants, including winning the Metropolitan Opera Competition, receiving a Grand Prize with the Florida Grand Opera Young Patroness Association, receiving a Career Grant from the George London Foundation, and being honored as a World Finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti Competition. She has appeared in several PORTopera productions: Carmen in 2005, Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana in 2004 and Faust in 2002.

Michael Mayes has been recognized by the opera world internationally for his masculine presence and stage command. In companies like the Madison Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Palm Beach Opera and more, Mayes has recently appeared as the title role in Don Giovanni, Marcello in La Bohème and Morales in Carmen. Here in Portland, he took on the role of Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette for PORTopera. Abroad, he has appeared in conjunction with La Fenice in Castel-Franco Veneto, Italy. Past honors he has received include 3rd place at the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in Chicago, and the Entergy Young Texas Artist Competition Vocalist Award among others.

Lauren McNeese, whose voice has been described as "creamy", has appeared in the Los Angeles-staged, Woody Allen production of Gianni Schicchi as La Ciesca. In addition to her appearance at the PORTopera Gala celebration this summer, she will also travel to Italy to reprise this role in the Festival dei Due Mondi. In a 2007 PORTopera production of The Barber of Seville, Lauren played the role of Rosina, and also performed the following season in Roméo et Juliette. A graduate of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago, McNeese will make her debut at the Arizona Opera this coming season in addition to returning to the Los Angeles Opera to sing in Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung.

Jan Opalach has been hailed as one of the most versatile vocalists in the U.S. Playing in both dramatic and comic roles, he has appeared with the Oratorio Society of Washington and New York, the Handel Festival Orchestra, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Musica Sacra, and the New York City Opera. He has performed in two PORTopera shows: Don Giovanni in 2006 and The Barber of Seville in 2007. Opalach has recorded a number of works, including Igor Stravinsky's Renard/Pulcinella, Wolpe's Quintet with Voice and more. His awards include the 1979 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions, the 1980 Walter M. Naumburg Vocal Competition, and the 1981 International Vocal Competition at s'Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.

Tenor Gaston Rivero made his debut performance in New York City in Baz Luhrmann's La Boheme on Broadway in 2003 and has since performed a number of roles on the operatic stage. The young Uruguayan-American sang Roméo in PORTopera's 2008 production of Roméo et Juliette. Other roles include Don José in Carmen and B.F. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, among others, at Deutsche Oper Berlin, L'Opéra de Lausanne, Opera Carolina and more. Rivero also frequently appears at Carnegie Hall in New York. He has received numerous awards, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin Award in 2009 and the Vidda Award from Opera Orchestra of New York for the 2007-2008 season.

The July 30th PORTopera Anniversary Concert will feature selections from: Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Verdi's La Traviata, Puccini's La Boheme, Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Bizet 's Carmen. Tickets range from $38 to $100 plus PortTix handling fees, and may be purchased at www.porttix.com, by calling (207) 842-0800, or by visiting the PortTix box office Monday through Saturday from noon to 6:00 p.m.

For more information about the concert and other PORTopera 15th anniversary events, visit www.portopera.org.

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