OPERA SARATOGA LAUNCHES NEW DIGITAL CONCERT SERIES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CAFFÈ LENA, AMERICA SINGS NEW SERIES HIGHLIGHTS BIPOC ARTISTS ON THE CONCERT STAGE, FIRST THREE CONCERTS ANNOUNCED DEBORAH NANSTEEL - THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19th, 2020, BRANDIE SUTTON - WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30th, 2020, JUSTIN AUSTIN - SUNDAY, JANUARY 24th, 2021
(Saratoga Springs, New York): Opera Saratoga announced today the first performance events as part of the company's 60th Anniversary Season. On Thursday, November 19th, in partnership with Caffè Lena, Opera Saratoga will launch AMERICA SINGS, a monthly concert series featuring an array of diverse, internationally acclaimed artists. The series amplifies the voices of artists from racial groups historically underrepresented on the concert stage and features a wide array of classical, jazz, and popular music. All concerts in this new series will be live streamed to the public for free, but viewers are encouraged to contribute through a virtual tip jar during each event to support both Opera Saratoga and the featured artists. All "tips" made during each concert will be split equally between Opera Saratoga and the featured artists, providing vital support to artists who have been financially impacted by the shutdown of live opera performances across the country. Each event will be live streamed on Caffè Lena's YouTube Channel, and the Facebook pages of both Opera Saratoga and Caffè Lena. AMERICA SINGS is presented with generous leadership support from Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and hospitality sponsorship from The Hampton Inn & Suites, Saratoga Springs.
Mezzo soprano Deborah Nansteel, who was featured in Opera Saratoga's 2018 production of The Consul, will open the series on Thursday, November 19th at 7pm with pianist Giovanni Reggioli. This first concert will feature music by George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn, Richard Rogers, Erroll Garner, Richard Wagner, and William Bolcom, along with a selection of traditional spirituals.
The December concert will take place on Wednesday, December 30th at 7pm, and will feature soprano Brandie Sutton with pianist and composer Damien Sneed, both debuting with the company at the turn of the new year. Damien returns to Opera Saratoga in January with baritone Justin Austin - an alumnus of Opera Saratoga's nationally acclaimed Young Artist Program - on Sunday, January 24th at 7pm. The series will continue through the spring of 2021, with additional concerts to be announced early next year.
Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson created the new series as part of the company's efforts to address racial equity, and to provide artists with a platform to perform and to express how they are feeling in light of current events. "Our focus on BIPOC artists in this series is one of our first steps in a multi-pronged plan to address diversity and equity not only in our programming at Opera Saratoga, but in the organization as a whole," explained Edelson. "The onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the racial awakening that has been taking place across the country, and the polarizing political climate leading up to the election has energized artists. While many singers have not been able to perform for live audiences due to the pandemic, they are engaged and craving the opportunity to share the transformative power of song and the intersection between music and what is happening in our country with audiences. I have not programmed this series, other than to invite an incredible group of artists to join us in Saratoga Springs. Rather, I have asked each artist to curate their own concert - to share music with us that speaks to how they are feeling about America today. I cannot wait to hear what each artist brings to us as they share their personal experience and perspective through the power of their incredible voices."
To access each concert, and for additional information please visit:
ABOUT THE FEATURED SINGERS
Born in Okinawa, Japan, and raised in Havelock, North Carolina, mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel is poised for international stardom, having performed in almost all of the leading opera houses in the United States. Deborah made her debut with The Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, her début with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette, her Carnegie Hall début in Mozart's Coronation Mass, and her New York Philharmonic début alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy. Since her début with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has returned for Nabucco, Il trovatore, and as Siegrune in Die Walküre. She originated the role of Lucinda in the world première of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon's adaptation of Charles Frazier's thrilling novel Cold Mountain at Santa Fe Opera. Other notable engagements include Granma in The Grapes of Wrath with the Michigan Opera Theatre, a reprisal of the role of Lucinda in Cold Mountain with North Carolina Opera, the role of Grace in The Summer King with Michigan Opera Theatre, Second Lady in The Magic Flute with the Pacific Symphony, The Mother in The Consul in her debut with Opera Saratoga, Jake Heggie's The Work at Hand for the Mainly Mozart Festival, Nettie Fowler in Carousel, Elvira Griffiths in An American Tragedy, and Mary in Der fliegende Holländer with Glimmerglass Opera Festival. Deborah is an alumna of San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, and the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. In Washington, her memorable appearance as the Marquise of Birkenfeld in La fille du régiment alongside Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a treasured memory, which is featured in the documentary film RBG.
Hailed by The New York Times for her "warm, ample voice" and "distinctive, earthy coloring," soprano Brandie Sutton recently had a great personal success in the leading role of Rautendelein in New York City Opera's acclaimed production of Respighi's rarely-performed La Campana Sommersa. Brandie made her Lincoln Center debut in the opening concerts of the Mostly Mozart Festival, and has sung leading roles at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Hamburgische Staatsoper, Semperoper Dresden, AlterOper Frankfurt, Teatro Petruzzelli (Bari), and has been a featured artist at Carnegie Hall. She has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC; the Radio Orpheus Symphony Orchestra in Moscow; the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra; and The Royal Danish Orchestra. Brandie has also toured and soloed with the internationally acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Everett McCorvey and with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra under the baton of Damien Sneed. She has also won several awards and competitions including, most recently, the Harlem Opera Theater Vocal Competition. This season, Brandie enjoyed a remarkable debut as Clara in Porgy and Bess at Theater an der Wien and will return to the Metropolitan Opera next season as The Fairy Godmother in Cendrillon.
Justin Austin has been performing professionally since age 4. Born in Stuttgart, Germany to professional opera singer parents, Justin began his singing career as a boy soprano performing at venues such as Teatro Real, Bregenzer Festspiele, Lincoln Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While working with directors such as Götz Friedrich and Tazewell Thompson, Justin was able to realize his love for music and performance early on. As a baritone, he received his Master's Degree from Manhattan School of Music, and has since developed an impressive career in opera, concert and song repertoire. An alumnus of Opera Saratoga's Young Artist Program, Justin made his debut with the company as the Father in Hansel and Gretel in 2019. For the 2020/21 season, he was scheduled to create the leading role of George in the world premiere of the Lincoln Center Theater and The Metropolitan Opera co-commissioned opera Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage and Ricky Ian Gordon, directed by Bartlett Sher. Rescheduled performances are to be announced next year. Justin debuted with the Moab Music Festival as a resident artist and made his return to the New York Festival of Song for a virtual concert series. Austin also recently starred in a film adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht produced by City Lyric Opera. As a multifaceted musician, Mr. Austin performs a wide range of repertoire from Jazz, R&B, and Musical Theatre, to Opera and Oratorio. Justin has collaborated with multiple groups and artists such as Aretha Franklin, The Boys Choir of Harlem, Mary J. Blige, Elton John, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, 30 Seconds to Mars, John Cale, Ricky Ian Gordon, Damien Sneed, Kanye West, and jazz legends Reggie Workman, Hugh Masekela, and Wynton Marsalis.
ABOUT OPERA SARATOGA
Opera Saratoga, formerly known as Lake George Opera, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230. The Company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually. Opera Saratoga celebrates its 60th Anniversary this season. The company serves the communities of Saratoga Springs, the Lower Adirondack and New York State Capital areas by providing access to world-class opera through the production of an annual Summer Festival, as well as year-round activities including extensive educational programs, mentorship of emerging operatic artists, and unique opportunities for the public to experience opera in both our home theater and non-traditional venues that leverage and embrace the unique cultural, historic, and natural resources of the area. To date, the company has performed 104 different fully staged works by 65 different composers, including 42 works by American composers and 14 premiere productions. In 2014, the Board of Directors appointed Lawrence Edelson Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director. Edelson's leadership has marked a new chapter in the company's history, with increased emphasis on community partnerships throughout the year, diversification of the company's repertoire, and a reaffirmed commitment to both the presentation of American opera and the mentorship of emerging artists as core activities in the company's programs each season. For more information, visit www.operasaratoga.org
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