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Bienen School of Music Presents Opera and Vocal Master Classes

Winter and Spring 2016 operatic events to be held on Northwestern’s Evanston campus

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February 22, 2016 | by Judy Moore
Photo by Elliot Mandel.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”) this winter and Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah” this spring -- both Northwestern University Opera Theater productions -- are among the upcoming operatic offerings presented by the University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music.

The Bienen School also will continue its Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series with classes and performances by three of the country’s top artists -- lyric soprano Susanna Phillips, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani.

The events will be held on the University’s Evanston campus at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, and the new Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts’ Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, as noted.

Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium is a 1,000-seat venue with main floor and balcony seating equipped for operas, musical theater productions, concerts and other large-scale events. 

The Ryan Center’s more intimate 400-seat Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall features state-of-the-art acoustics and a soaring glass wall that offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline.

Winter and Spring 2016 Opera Events 

Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Cahn Auditorium. Directed by the Bienen School’s Michael M. Ehrman, artist-in-residence and director of opera, “Figaro” focuses on servants Susanna and Figaro as they attempt to plan their wedding while their master, Count Almaviva, has his eye on the pretty young maid and attempts to delay their marriage. Complicating matters are a jealous countess, an amorous teenager, a scheming older woman and her beleaguered lawyer. “Figaro” will be performed in Italian with English supertitles. Emanuele Andrizzi, director of orchestras at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and assistant/cover conductor for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, will conduct the production. Tickets are $18 for the general public and $8 for students with valid IDs.

A video of rehearsals for “Le nozze di Figaro,” featuring director Michael M. Ehrman and conductor Emanuele Andrizzi and members of the cast discussing the making of this timeless comic opera, is available online

Guest soprano Susanna Phillips will teach a vocal master class at 7 p.m. Monday, March 7, at the Ryan Center’s Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Recipient of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, Phillips has established herself as one of today’s most sought-after vocalists. During the 2015-16 season Phillips returned to the Metropolitan Opera for an eighth consecutive season starring as Rosalinda in the Jeremy Sams production of “Die Fledermaus,” conducted for the first time by music director James Levine, as well as a return of her acclaimed Musetta in Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Phillips also will return to the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago in late February and early March as Juliet in Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet.”  Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs. 

Mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne will lead a vocal master class at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, at the Ryan Center’s Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Horne is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including multiple Grammys, the National Medal of Arts and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Horne is the voice program director at Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West and holds residencies at the University of Oklahoma and Oberlin Conservatory. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs.

Guest tenor Matthew Polenzani will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Ryan Center’s Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Polenzani will be accompanied by Bienen School lecturer and vocal coach Alan Darling, who also is an accomplished pianist. Polenzani’s prestigious honors include the 2004 Richard Tucker Award and the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award. Polenzani’s 2015-16 season highlights include appearances in “Don Giovanni” at Opéra national de Paris, “Werther” in Munich and Vienna, and Les pêcheurs de perles” and “Roberto Devereux” at the Met. Tickets for his recital, featuring Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin,” are $25 for the general public and $10 for students with valid IDs.

Polenzani will return to Galvin Recital Hall the next day to teach a vocal master class at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Tickets for his master class are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with valid IDs.

Performances of Carlisle Floyd's “Susannah” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 20; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21; and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at Cahn Auditorium. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the opera’s premiere and it will be the first time the opera is performed at Northwestern. Written during the McCarthy era, “Susannah” is based loosely on the apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders. Set in Tennessee’s New Hope Valley, Susannah -- a pretty and well-mannered young woman of humble origins -- is faced with hostility from her church community in this story of religious hypocrisy and innocence lost. The opera will be performed in English. The production will be directed by Bienen School faculty member Michael M. Ehrman and guest conducted by John DeMain, longtime music director of Wisconsin’s Madison Symphony Orchestra. Tickets are $18 for the general public and $8 for students with valid IDs.

More information is available online.

Topics: Arts and Events