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Bass Stefan Szkafarowsky (Aleko) has been praised for the beautiful quality of his voice as well as for his impeccable technique and ability to create outstanding characters. Upcoming performances include a return to the Metropolitan Opera for Nabucco, the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila as well as the Doctor in La Traviata for Dallas Opera, Dikoij in Katia Kabanova for Seattle Opera, and Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in concert on Martha’s Vineyard. Recent engagements have included Monterone in the new production of Rigoletto as well as the Bonze in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, both for the Metropolitan Opera, and the High Priest in Verdi’s Nabucco for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, all during their 2015 – 2016 seasons. Other engagements have included Benoit/Alcindoro in La Boheme for Dallas Opera, Zaccaria in Nabucco for the Lviv Opera House in Ukraine, Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin for Des Moines Metro Opera and Tulsa Opera, Uberto in La Serva Padrona at the Macau International Music Festival in China, the Bonze for Los Angeles Opera, the Sacristan in Tosca for Pensacola Opera, and the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila for the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
This season Inna Dukach (Zemfira) appears with the Lubbock Symphony as Mimi in La bohème, and next year will join the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Madama Butterfly. Last season, she debuted with Florentine Opera as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. Her appearances in previous seasons include performances of Musetta in La bohème with Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Anchorage Opera and Atlanta Opera; Amelia in Simon Boccanegra with Kentucky Opera; Violetta in La traviata with Opera Omaha and the Croatian National Opera; Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas with Opera Colorado; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Toledo Opera; the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with Hawaii Opera Theater; Mimi in La bohème with New York City Opera and Pensacola Opera; Xenia in Boris Godunov with San Diego Opera; Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Opéra Lyra Ottawa; and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Hong Kong.
Aleko: Young Gypsy
For more than 20 years, tenor Jason Karn (Young Gypsy/Beppe) has impressed critics and audiences alike with his vibrant, bright tone and dramatic characterizations. The New York Sun said of his performance as Roméo in Roméo et Juliette, “He has an attractive soft-grained tenor that at its best reminded me a bit of the late Alfredo Kraus. Mr. Karn’s singing was flexible, smoothly phrased, and secure on top.” His most recent engagements include Young Gypsy/Beppe in Aleko/Pagliacci with Opera Carolina, and Don Jose in Carmen on tour with New York City Opera. Other notable engagements include his Avery Fisher Hall debut with the American Symphony Orchestra in the American premiere of Vincent D’Indy’s Fervaal, his Washington National Opera debut as Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos, Cassio in Otello with Opera Carolina, Al Joad in The Grapes of Wrath at Pittsburgh Opera, and Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte with Opera Carolina and Chautauqua Opera.
Aleko: Old Gypsy
American Bass, Kevin Thompson, (Old Gypsy) possesses a voice with extraordinary range, depth and color combined with a commanding stage presence. San Francisco Classical Voice praised him as “A mountain of a voice, with resonance from the Escorial of Philip II, the throne of Boris Godunov, and the majestic court of Sarastro. Thompson delivered all the goods.” Mr. Thompson began the 2014-2015 season singing the role of Ahmed Sumani in the world premiere of Qadar at the Kennedy Center, followed by a return engagement with Opera Santa Barbara as Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnisat the Kennedy Center with the Washington Chorus, and Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Mephistopheles in Faust with West Bay Opera. This season he debuts at Opera Carolina as Zemfira’s father in Aleko, joins Opera Santa Barbara as Commendatore in Don Giovanni, performs Verdi’s Requiem with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall, and joins the National Philharmonic for Handel’s Messiah and Wagner’s Rienzi at the Kennedy Center. This summer he performs Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Walnut Creek Festival.
Italian tenor Francesco Anile (Canio) made an auspicious American debut 2016 when he unexpectedly replaced an ailing colleague at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Verdi’s Otello. Not having enough time to get into costume, he appeared onstage in jeans and a T-shirt, and became an overnight media sensation. He has performed all over Italy including the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, la Fenice in Venice, San Carlo in Naples as well as Torino, Palermo, Bologna, Cagliari, Caracalla in Rome, Verona and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. He has also performed in such varied cities as Tokyo, Seoul, Chemnitz, Stuttgart, Zagreb, Cario and Malta. He has worked with top conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Gianandrea Noseda, Nello Santi and Danielle Callegari and stage directors including Franco Zeffirelli, Graham Vick, and Henning Brockhaus. Some of his main roles include Otello, Canio in I Pagliacci, Radames in Aïda, Cavaradosssi in Tosca, Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Pollione in Norma and Calaf in Turandot.
Jessica Rose Cambio
Notable recent engagements for soprano Jessica Rose Cambio (Nedda) include performances of her signature role of Mimì in La Bohème with the Dresden Semperoper, in the Francesca Zambello production at the Royal Albert Hall, at the Macedonian Festival in Skopje, and with Sarasota Opera. She will reprise the role again at Knoxville Opera in 2017. She recently sang Violetta in La Traviata with Opera På Skäret in Sweden and revisited the role in a new production at West Green House Opera in Hampshire, UK in 2016. Additionally, Ms. Cambio has sung Donna Elvira in a tour of Don Giovanni in Europe and Asia, and Beatriz in Catán's La Hija de Rappaccini with Gotham Chamber Opera. She has performed as featured soloist with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra; the London Concert Orchestra at the Barbican; and in Lincoln Center in Eve Queler and Friends, presented by Opera Orchestra of New York.
After over 200 performances in leading roles, Michael Corvino (Tonio) has established himself as one of America’s leading verismo and Verdi baritones. He joined the roster of New York City Opera in the 2000-01 season, and has returned to the company many times. In the 2010-11 season, he joined the Metropolitan Opera roster as part of the casts of Capriccio, Roméo et Juliette, and Don Carlo. In 2012, he joined the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as part of the cast of Simon Boccanegra. He has sung All-Verdi concerts with Dayton Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Birmingham, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and a gala concert with Opéra de Montréal. Equally adept in musical theater repertoire, he starred as Nick Valenti in the first national tour of Bullets Over Broadway. His performance of Tony Esposito in The Most Happy Fella elicited raves from the press, with The New York Times reporting “The baritone Michael Corvino brings a robust voice and disarming vulnerability to the role. Mr. Corvino brings both a Verdi baritone richness and a crisp articulation to the title song.”
Hailed by the New York Times as “rich voiced” and by Opera News as “impressive” for his 2016 portrayal of Scarpia in Tosca, Argentinean-American baritone, Gustavo Feulien (Silvio) has appeared as the Count in Le nozze di Figaro and Belcore in Elisir d’amore at Theater Bremen; as Silvio in I Pagliacci and Robert in Iolanta at Dicapo Opera Theatre; as Escamillo in Carmen in Virginia, Montreal, and on tour with New York City Opera; as Conte Di Luna in Il Trovatore and the title role in Don Giovanni with Opera de San Juan; in the title role in Eugene Onegin in Tel Aviv, and as Malatesta in Don Pasquale and Conde in the zarzuela La Leyenda del Beso with Opera de Puerto Rico. He made his debut at the Teatro Colon in Carmina Burana and also appeared there in Don Giovanni, Lohengrin, La Forza del Destino, and the world premiere of M. Peruso’s Fedra. He made his US debut in Faure’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall and this season sings his first Marcello in La Bohème with Wichita Grand Opera.
James Meena ( Conductor )
James Meena, Opera Carolina’s General Director and Principal Conductor since 2000, consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium. The breadth of his conducting repertoire spans from the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Puccini, Berlioz, and Verdi to contemporary operas such the 2007 world premiere of Victor Davies’s Transit of Venus. Mo. Meena’s guest conducting engagements have included the Washington Opera, the Pittsburgh Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Michigan Opera Theater, Arizona Opera, the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Seoul, South Korea, the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of China, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Cairo Philharmonic in Egypt, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Toledo Symphony, the Orchestra of the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Sicily and the Orchestra Regionale Toscana in Florence, Italy. This season, he makes his Memphis Symphony Classics debut before returning to L’Opera de Montreal for La bohème. For more than a decade he was Principal Conductor for the Toledo Opera, Resident Conductor of the Toledo Symphony and conductor for the Cleveland/San Jose Ballet. Mo. Meena has conducted legendary singers Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, James McCracken, Diana Soviero, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horne, Sherrill Milnes, Jerome Hines and Marcello Giordani.
Lev Pugliese ( Director )
Born into a family with a long operatic history (his father, Claudio, was the artistic director of many Italian theatres; Franco Pugliese, his grandfather, was a well-known bass) Lev Pugliese’s appreciation for opera developed at a very young age. While pursuing a degree in psychology at the Sapienza University of Rome, he collaborated as assistant director to Maurizio Scaparro in a production of Così fan tutte at the Teatro Politeama Greco. After graduation, he debuted as director of Le nozze di Figaro for the Teatro Ventidio Basso in Ascoli Piceno and on tour in Seoul and Daegu, South Korea. He has recently directed Tosca on the occasion of the revival of New York City Opera and a new production of Il barbiere di Siviglia at the court of Locri’s town hall for the bicentenary of Rossini’s masterpiece. Recently, he also conceived and developed the staging of a new production of La bohème for the historic opera house of Lecce, the Politeama Greco, precisely twenty years after his first operatic debut in that same theater. Over the course of his career he has the pleasure to work with conductors such as Fabrizio M. Carminati, Nicola Luisotti, Paolo Olmi, Donato Renzetti, Giuseppe Sabbatini; set designers Josef Svoboda and Academy Award-winner Gianni Quaranta; and singers Katia Ricciarelli, Paolo Coni, Silvano Carroli, and Nicola Martinucci, in performances throughout Europe, South Korea, and Thailand.