Soirée Lyrique to put on Puccini's 'Tosca' April 29
Maestro Philip Morehead, a veteran of more than 30 years as pianist and conductor at Lyric Opera of Chicago, will direct "Tosca" at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at the First Methodist Church, 216 E Highland Ave. in downtown Elgin.
The staged production of Giacomo Puccini's famous opera will be performed with a smaller orchestra provided by Chamber Music on the Fox.
"Tosca," a story of overwhelming passion amid the perils of war, set in Rome at the time of Napoleon's advance on the city, will be performed in Italian with projected English supertitles.
"'Tosca' was the first opera I saw at L'Opéra de Montréal when I was 16 years old studying voice and piano at college," artistic director Solange Sior, who will serve as stage director for the event, said. "I fell in love with this art form and made it my life's work."
Morehead recently retired as head of music staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ryan Opera Center, a position he held since 1991. His previous positions at Lyric have included music administrator, chorus master and assistant conductor.
The cast will feature Ukrainian dramatic soprano Tetyana Torzhevska of Huntley in the leading role of Floria Tosca; tenor Simon Kyung Lee of Chicago as Mario Cavaradossi, the painter; and Metropolitan Opera baritone William Powers of Barrington in the role of Scarpia, the chief of police.
Previously heard in Soirée Lyrique's production of "Die Fledermaus," bass-baritone Eric J. McConnell of Chicago, will be the Sacristan, and baritone Aaron Wardell of Chicago, will perform the double roles of Angelotti and the Jailer. Baritone Maxwell Seifert of Chicago will perform the supporting role of Spoletta, a police agent.
Soirée Lyrique's Young Vocal Artist 2017 Competition winner boy soprano Blake Buczkiewicz will be highlighted as The Shepherd Boy" and Elginite Jim Hinton, bass-baritone winner of Division IV, will perform the supporting role of Sciarrone, Baron Scarpia's orderly.
Soirée Lyrique's Chorus and Children Chorus will complete the cast.
"Soiree Lyrique's mission is to introduce the younger generation to this art form," Sior said. "Like me, many years ago, they are all falling in love with this art form."
Advance tickets are $25 or $30 at the door. Student tickets are available at $15. (No children under 6 years old)
Tickets can be purchased at the box office at (847) 622-9988 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.soireelyrique.org.
The church offers free parking and handicap access.
• Conductor Philip Morehead recently retired as head of music staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ryan Opera Center, a position he had held since 1991. His previous positions at Lyric have included music administrator, chorus master and assistant conductor. In recent years Morehead was cover conductor at Lyric Opera for "Die Meistersinger," "Jenufa," "Der fliegende Holländer," "Sweeney Todd," "Billy Budd" and many others. He conducted regular season performances of "Die Fledermaus," "Un ballo in maschera" and "The Mikado" and the premiere production of Anthony Davis's "Amistad" and student performances of "La Traviata," "The Cunning Little Vixen," "Carmen," "Die Zauberflöte" and "Pagliacci." During the 2010-11 season Morehead conducted performances of "Un ballo in maschera" (with Sondra Radvanovsky, Frank Lopardo, and Mark Delavan), "The Mikado" (with James Morris, Stephanie Blythe, Neal Davies, Andriana Chuchman, and Andrew Shore), and "Carmen" (with Katharine Goeldner and Richard Cox). In January 2015, he conducted the first edition of Lyric Unlimited's "The Magic Victrola," a program introducing young children to opera with excerpts sung by members of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago. In addition to repertoire coaching and work in preparation of Lyric Opera and Ryan Opera Center productions, he conducted performances of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" for the Center.
Morehead is also a freelance conductor, coach, pianist, and harpsichordist. In the summer of 2008 Morehead conducted "Il barbiere di Siviglia" for the Lyrique-en-Mer Festival on Belle-Ile, France, and returned to the festival the summer of 2011 to conduct "L'elisir d'Amore." He conducted Boulez' "Improvisations sur Malarmé" for the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago and Gounod's "Faust" at Illinois State University. Morehead has given vocal master classes in conjunction with Elgin Opera, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Longy School of Bard College, and has been a member of the faculty of the Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy. He is a music consultant with the Highlands Opera Studio in Haliburton, Ontario, Canada, for which he has conducted performances of Gounod's "Faust" and Mozart's "Così fan tutte." He is also a member of the Muskoka Big Band and the Loft Singers. Morehead has been a board member of the Conductors' Guild and the awards panel of the Solti Foundation U.S.
• Soprano Tetyana Torzhevska (Floria Tosca) was born in Ukraine. In 1991 she graduated from Petro Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, where she studied with "National Artist of the USSR" Lilia Lobanova and professor Zoya Lichtmann. She made her opera debut in 1989 at the State Opera Studio in Kiev in the role of Parasya in Mussorgsky's "The Fair at Sorochintsy."
In 1991, Torzhevska was invited to sing as a soloist with the Ukrainian Separate Model Orchestra. She performed with them in France, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and won first prize on International Festival "Golden Lyre" in Poland (1993). In 1993, she was invited to sing title role in Iolanta by Tchaikovsky at the Kiev State Opera. Her powerful and flexible spinto soprano allows her to sing a wide ranging repertoire from lyric coloratura as Violetta from "La Traviata" to such dramatic role as Tosca. Her operatic repertoire also includes the roles of Tatiana ("Eugene Onegin"), Lisa ("Queen of Spades"), Zemfira ("Aleko"), Marguerite ("Faust"), Leonora ("Il Trovatore"), Leonora ("La Forza del Destino").
She has been heard throughout Europe on the concert stages with Johan Willem Friso Kapel orchestra (Netherlands), trio "Bravo" (Germany), folk-orchestra "Sviatovid" (Ukraine), Ukrainian National Army Dance and Song Company, Kiev Symphony and many others. Her concert repertoire includes works from Bach and Mozart to Shostakovich and Stezenko, Ukrainian folk songs, Russian songs and romances. As opera singer she performed with Ukrainian National Opera, Army Opera Center (Kiev), State Operetta Theater (Kiev), Lviv State Opera.
• Tenor Simon Kyung Lee (Mario Cavaradossi) began his career as a child actor who starred in two major motion pictures in his native Korea before reaching the age of 7. Simon migrated to the United States where he continued his education. During this time, Simon joined the chorus of Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he shared the stage with many of opera's leading talents. His solo debut came about during a 1994 production of "La Bohème." Simon has made a tremendous impression in such roles as Radames in "Aïda," Manrico in "Il Trovatore," The Duke in "Rigoletto," Ismaele in "Nabucco," Cavaradossi in "Tosca," Luigi in "Il Tabarro," Rinuccio in "Gianni Schicchi," Don Jose in "Carmen" and, what is fast becoming his signature role, Calaf in "Turandot." Lee has sung with Utah Festival Opera, Chamber Opera of Chicago, Opera Carolina, Kansas City Puccini Festival, Sunstate Opera and others. In April 2007, he made his Carnegie Hall debut as tenor soloist in Haydn's "Mass in Time of War." During the 2009-10 season, he debuted with Singapore Lyric Opera. From 2011-2016, he has performed over 100 performances in eight opera productions with Teatro Lirico D'Europa in the U.S. and Europe.
• Since making his New York City Opera debut in 1972, Chicagoan William Powers (Scarpia) has performed over 100 operatic roles with the major opera companies in the United States, Europe, and South America.
Powers has been the creator of many new roles through world-premiers or important revivals -- most recently singing the villain "Meyer Wolfsheim" for the premier of Harbison's "The Great Gatsby" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York; other new creations have included Penderecki's "Paradise Lost" for Chicago's Lyric Opera; Herrmann's "Wuthering Heights" for Portland; Copeland's "Holy Blood and Crescent Moon" for Cleveland; and Petrassi's "Sestina D'autunno" for Italy's Spoleto Festival. Powers offered the role of "Celio" for the 50th anniversary production of Prokofiev's "The Love of Three Oranges" for Chicago; the rarely heard "Betly" of Donizetti for Strasbourg, and the French version of Donizetti's "La Favorite" for the Theatre des Champs-Élysées and the Opera Comique in Paris; the creation of the Italian version of "The Lady Macbeth of the Mtzensk District" for Spoleto; and the American premier of G.F. Handel's "Poro, re dell'Indie" for Kennedy Center's Handel Festival in Washington D.C.
Recent performances have included the Chicago premier of "Der Kaiser Von Atlantis" and "The Tales of Hoffmann" (in the controversial Ratner version) for the Chicago Opera Theater; Massenet's "Werther" for the Klangbogen Festival of Vienna, as well as the Basque National Opera of Bilbao; "Dead Man Walking" for Cincinnati; "The Damnation of Faust" for Chicago's Grant Park Festival, and the Pablo Casals Festival of San Juan; the Opera Gala for the Festival of the Aegean in Athens and Syros; "Faust" for Trieste; "The Barber of Seville" for Charlotte and Buenos Aires; "The Magic Flute" for Bozman; "Fidelio" for Cedar Rapids; and the national tour of Teatro Lirico d'Europa's production of Puccini's "Tosca," in the role of the corrupt Commissioner of Police, the despicable "Baron Scarpia."
• Baritone Aaron Wardell (Angelotti & the Jailer) is in demand as a performer of opera, oratorio and concert in the Midwest and beyond. He was most recently seen as Dr. Raymond in the world premiere of Ross Crean's "The Great God Pan" with Chicago Fringe Opera. Previously he sang Falke in "Die Fledermaus" with Soirée Lyrique and Le Roy in the modern-day premiere of Marais' "Ariane et Bachus" with Haymarket Opera and as Melchior in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Chamber Opera Chicago. Last season he also sang Angelotti in "Tosca" with the Fort Wayne Symphony and Emile de Becque in "South Pacific" with the La Porte Symphony. He has sung operatic roles with the Castleton Festival, Main Street Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Tampa, Central City Opera and internationally at Teatro National de Sucre in numerous roles including Marcello ("La Bohème"), Junius ("Rape of Lucretia"), Sam ("Trouble in Tahiti"), Don Pizarro ("Fidelio"), John Sorel ("The Consul") and the title role in "Don Giovanni." Equally at home on the concert stage, last season he sang with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra in Brahms' "Ein Deutsches Requiem" and in Mozart's "Requiem" with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra in Columbus. This season he returns to sing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with ProMusica.
Wardell completed his formal musical training at Western Michigan University, then attended the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where he earned a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and an artist diploma certificate in Opera.
• Eric J. McConnell, bass-baritone (Sacristan), has received praise for his "finely pointed vocalism" and "deep and firm" low notes (Miami Herald), as well as for his "sturdy singing" (Chicago Tribune).
McConnell last performed with Soirée Lyrique as Frank in "Die Fledermaus." Other recent roles include Olin Blitch ("Susannah"), Bartolo/Antonio ("Le Nozze di Figaro"), Bartolo/Basilio ("Il Barbiere di Siviglia"), Simone ("Gianni Schicchi"), Sarastro ("Die Zauberflöte"), Angelotti/Jailer ("Tosca"), and William Jennings Bryan ("The Ballad of Baby Doe"). A dedicated performer of new works, McConnell has had the pleasure of creating many new operatic roles, including Elisha Fitzgibbon in Evan Mack's "Roscoe" with the Albany Symphony Orchestra (featuring soprano Deborah Voigt), Retrograde/Asher in Eric Lindsay's "Cosmic Ray and the Amazing Chris" with Thompson Street Opera, and Science Officer Curium Black in Carson Kievman's "Intelligent Systems" with the SoBe Arts Institute.
He has trained as a young artist at Opera Saratoga, Seagle Music Colony, and Central City Opera. He holds a master's degree from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Miami.
After "Tosca," McConnell will return to his home state of Colorado as a Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and School, covering Bartolo in "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" and playing Schlemil in "Les Contes d'Hoffman." From there, he will begin work as a Young Artist with Opera Colorado through May 2019, covering Figaro and playing Antonio in "Le Nozze di Figaro," and playing Dr. Grenvil in "La Traviata."
• Operatic baritone Maxwell Seifert (Spoletta) recently made his professional Chicago debut as Captain Valentine with the Chicago Folks Operetta in Kurt Weill's rarely heard "Johnny Johnson." A Pacific Northwest native, he began his stage career as a boy soprano in the Seattle Opera's 2006 production of "Macbeth." Today, Maxwell maintains a wide variety of repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary opera to golden age musical theater. Maxwell was recently awarded the grand prize at the Bel Canto Competition in Chicago and was a national semifinalist in the Classical Singer Competition. He has performed in numerous master classes, most notably with Jake Heggie and Isabel Leonard. He was a young artist at the Aspen Summer Music Festival performing in scenes from "Ariadne auf Naxos" and "Die Fledermaus." His operatic credits include the baritone in the jazz trio in Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti" and "L'horologe" in "L'Enfant et Les Sortileges" at the Franco American Vocal Academy. In 2015, he graduated with a B.A. in music performance from Pepperdine University where he performed as Danilo in "The Merry Widow," Guglielmo in "Così fan tutte," Belcore in "L'elisir d'amore," and Dr. Falke in "Die Fledermaus" as well as some musical theater roles, such as Enjolras in "Les Misérables." Maxwell is currently based in Chicago, where he earned his master of music degree from Northwestern University studying with W. Stephen Smith.
• Jim Hinton, bass-baritone (Sciarrone). A native of Central Illinois, he has worked as a professional actor and singer since 1970 in Urbana, Chicago, Elgin and the Midwest. His credits include solo work with Elgin Opera, the Elgin Choral Union and the Elgin Symphony. His Chicago area credits include working with Light Opera Works, Whirlwind Performance Company and the Illinois Theatre Centre. He studied acting at the U of I in Urbana and his voice teachers include Roger Cooper (a student of William Warfield), Terri Brancaccio-Hanson, Solange Sior and Tetyana Torzhevska. He won an award in Soiree Lyrique's Young Artist program last summer and in March of this year, he sang in a program of art songs at the First Congregational Church of Elgin.
• Fourteen-year-old boy soprano Blake Buczkiewicz (shepherd boy) began his journey in the arts as a child actor and has completed over 100 on camera projects. Blake started his music training as a toddler and continued his education in the choir at Encore Music Academy. For the last two years, Blake has studied classical voice and opera with Tetyana Torzhevska. His love for live performances came from being in a "Concert of Rodgers and Hammerstein Selections" at Metropolis followed by a performance in "A Christmas Carol." Blake then had the honor to perform at Northwestern in the opera "Dead Man Walking." From 2012-16, Blake has performed in 13 staged performances through his middle school and future high school. His newest adventures have taken him on to the stage at the Woodstock Opera House with TownSquare Players as Michael Banks in "Mary Poppins" and in "A Christmas Story."