Kevin Fitzgerald
Conductor
Kevin Fitzgerald has been recognized as a rising talent in the next generation of conductors. After making his European debut with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, Mr. Fitzgerald also appeared at the Eastern Music Festival as a conducting fellow, and participated in a masterclass at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with Marin Alsop. He holds the post of Music Director of Spectrum Orchestra (Birmingham, MI) and ÆPEX Contemporary Performance (Ann Arbor), as well as Principal Guest Conductor of Chamber Music Michigan. Mr. Fitzgerald has led the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (CT), Royal Oak Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Medical Orchestra, University of Michigan Life-Sciences Orchestra, University Symphony Orchestra, University Campus Symphony, Eastman Brass Ensemble and Eastman Wind Orchestra. He won second prize in the Royal Northern College of Music’s Junior Fellowship in Conducting Competition in 2017. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Eastman School of Music. Mr. Fitzgerald began his musical activism when he conducted and co-organized “Requiem for Orlando,” a performance of Mozart’s Requiem dedicated to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Musicians Take A Stand for Refugees will be his third performance dedicated to social justice.
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Arianne Abela
Chorus Master
Chorus master Arianne Abela serves on the conducting faculty at Wayne State University where she teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting and directs the Women’s Chorale and Choral Union. She is founder and artistic director of the Detroit Women’s Chorus, a new social-justice oriented ensemble based in midtown Detroit, and interim director of Fort Street Chorale. She is also the founder and conductor of 3 Penny Chorus and Orchestra. The ensemble was featured on NBC’s The Today Show, the quarter finals of America’s Got Talent (Season 8) at Radio City Music Hall, and the soundtrack of the Hollywood film Walk of Shame. Ms. Abela is music director of Canadian opera company Re:Naissance Opera, served as assistant conductor for the UMS Choral Union, and has conducted choirs at Yale University, University of Michigan, and Wesleyan University. As a professional singer, she has appeared with Yale Choral Artists, Arkora, sounding light, Yale Schola Cantorum, and Detroit-based Audivi. She holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan and master’s from the Yale School of Music. Originally from San Francisco, she resides in Detroit with her husband, Noah Horn, and daughter, Hazel.
Rebecca Nathanson
Soprano
Soprano Rebecca Nathanson has been lauded for her “layered and decadent” singing, and Opera News has called her performances “nothing short of orgasmic.” Highlights include her international debut at the Royal Opera House Muscat under the baton of Lorin Maazel in La bohème, for which the Times of Oman praised her “delightful, fiery, independent Musetta;” debuts at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Spain as Abra in Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans, Nannetta in Falstaff with Opera Santa Barbara; the title role in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Aspen Music Festival; and Myrtale in Thais with LA Opera, where she trained with world-renowned tenor Plácido Domingo. While there as a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist, she understudied Renée Fleming as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as the roles Violetta Valery in La traviata, Marie Antoinette in the Grammy-winning west coast premiere of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She was an Apprentice with Santa Fe Opera, where she also covered Marguerite in Faust and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Wolf Trap Opera as a Studio Artist, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist. She recently opened her restaurant Filament in NYC.
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Briana Elyse Hunter
Mezzo-Soprano
Mezzo-soprano Briana Elyse Hunter’s previous credits include Carmen (Carmen, Mercédès), Little Women (Jo), Porgy and Bess (Annie), Xerxes (Arsamenes), Die Fledermaus (Ida/Prince Orlofsky), Iolantha (Laura), La fanciulla del West (Wowkle), Silent Night (Madeleine Audebert). She was a 2014 recipient of the Lys Symonette award in the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya Competition. In 2016, she competed in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals of the Met Competition at the Kennedy Center. Ms. Hunter has been on the rosters of Santa Fe Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, Knoxville Opera, American Opera Projects, Opera in the Heights, I SING BEIJING, Sarasota Opera, El Paso Opera, and Music Academy of the West where she sang the title role of Carmen under the tutelage of the great Marilyn Horne. She is currently a studio artist with Michigan Opera Theater where she will perform the role of Giovanna in Rigoletto and the role of Gertrude Stein in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27 this season. Ms. Hunter also serves as Artistic Director of Bare Opera in NYC.
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Jesse Donner
Tenor
Tenor Jesse Donner is rapidly emerging on the operatic and concert stage with a voice that is “vibrant” (Chicago Classical Review), “fresh and juicy” (Chicago Tribune). In the 2016–2017 season, Mr. Donner took part in six productions at Lyric Opera of Chicago, singing the roles of Froh (Das Rheingold), First Armored Man (Die Zauberflӧte), and Flavio (Norma), and coving the roles of Normanno (Lucia), Helenus (Les Troyens), and Lensky (Eugene Onegin). With the Ryan Opera Center, his concert appearances include the Civic Orchestra, performing an excerpt from Troilus and Cressida with Sir Andrew Davis, and the Grant Park Orchestra, singing Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men. The Des Moines native won the 2015 Luminarts Fellowship and the Bel Canto grand prize, received the 2014 George Shirley Award for Opera Performance, a special encouragement award from the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions, and first place in the 2012 Michigan Friends of Opera Competition. Mr. Donner completed graduate and post-graduate studies at the University of Michigan, and received a Bachelor of Music degree from Iowa State University.
Jeff Byrnes
Baritone
Baritone Jeff Byrnes recently completed his second year as a studio artist at Michigan Opera Theatre. This past season he was seen as El Dancairo in Carmen, William Dale in Silent Night, John Brooke in Little Women, and Sonora in La fanciulla del West. Previously at MOT, Jeff performed the role of Old Servant in Elektra, The Bonze in Madama Butterfly, and Schaunard in La bohème. Mr. Byrnes has also performed the role of Owen Hart in Dead Man Walking with Dayton Opera, and covered Germont in La Traviata and Balstrode in Peter Grimes with Des Moines Metro Opera. He was a National Semi-finalist of the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in 2016, a regional finalist in the Rocky Mountain Region in 2014, and was awarded the Encouragement Award in the New Orleans district in 2010. Most recently, Mr. Byrnes was a finalist in the 2017 Shreveport Opera Competition. He has participated in the young artist programs at Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance, Dayton Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, and the Seagle Music Colony. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Louisiana State University.
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