Asheville Lyric Opera presents West Side Story, April 24, 25, 26 2015! Asheville Lyric Opera is thrilled to take on this production and perform it as the original show was intended. We will be using esteemed, classically trained talent and a full classical orchestra. The singers will not be using mics throughout any rehearsals or productions. It was vitally important to both Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein that this piece of lyric theatre stood apart from other shows, which is why they created a piece full of well-trained singers, dancers, and actors. The cast will be comprised of approximately 30-40 members making this a large production. Come join Maria, Tony, and the rest of the gang for popular numbers such as “Tonight”, “I Feel Pretty” and “I Want to Be in America”.
MEET WEST SIDE STORY
JJ Hudson (DIRECTOR) is particularly noted for his sensitive and dynamic work with young and emerging artists. As such, he has been in demand as a guest director in many university opera programs. In November 2011, he assisted Jamie Bernstein in her directorial debut – a production of her father’s (Leonard Bernstein) opera, Trouble in Tahiti. In addition to his directing, Hudson is also an active bass-baritone performer in both theatrical and concert settings. He has performed more than twenty roles, ranging from Leporello (Don Giovanni), Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte), and Selim (Il Turco in Italia) to Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd), Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Lancelot (Camelot). Hudson holds a Master’s degree in Stage-Direction from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with director Steven Daigle. Complementing and highly informing his directing, Hudson has training in voice/opera performance (DMA – Eastman School of Music; MA – University of Iowa). In addition, Hudson holds a BM in Music Composition from Stetson University, and began PhD coursework in Musicology at Stony Brook University.
Scott Schoonover (CONDUCTOR), is Founder and Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis, Missouri. At Union Avenue Opera he has served as conductor of more than 50 productions over the past 20 years including La Traviata and Siegfried this past season. Schoonover has also conducted for several other regional companies including: Asheville Lyric Opera (Don Giovanni, La traviata), Winter Opera St. Louis (Le nozze di Figaro, Rigoletto, I Pagliacci, Samson et Dalila, Werther, Don Pasquale and Wise Women), and Muddy River Opera in Quincy, Illinois (Le nozze di Figaro, L’elisir d’amore, The Merry Widow, world premiere of Abe!, Pirates of Penzance, Mikado). He conducted the world premiere of Barbara Harbach’s opera, O Pioneers at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Upcoming performances include: Don Giovanni, Rigoletto and Götterdämmerung at Union Avenue Opera, and La Bohème at Muddy River Opera. Also active as a choral conductor Schoonover is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Missouri Women’s Chorus. He serves as Director of Music at the Union Avenue Christian Church in St. Louis where he has led the Chancel Choir on two European concert tours, and will lead a choral concert tour of England and Ireland in June, 2015.
Katherine Sandoval Taylor (MARIA), described by the Boston Globe as “stunning,” is a native of Asheville, NC, and has appeared in oratorio, concert, musical theater, and opera performances throughout the country. Studying voice and pedagogy, she earned a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory and holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Furman University. In addition to her operatic repertoire, Ms. Taylor has performed a variety of musical theater roles such as Eliza, in My Fair Lady, of which the Boston Globe hailed her as “a beautiful soprano.” Of her performance as Guenevere in Camelot, Broadway World raved of her, “pitch-perfect portrayal of Guenevere.” Praising her “incredibly nuanced voice” as well as her exceptional acting abilities, stating “Taylor gives her character a believability and heart that is necessary to make her appealing. In the hands of a lesser actress, it could prove worrisome, but Taylor excels on that level.” Ms. Taylor has also garnered acclaim performing the roles of Tuptim in The King and I, Maria in The Sound of Music, Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, Katherina Cavaliere in Amadeus, Cosette in Les Misérables, Observer in Pacific Overtures, and Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anne in A Little Night Music, and Clara in A Light in the Piazza.
Joshua Collier (TONY), hailed by the Classical Voice of North Carolina for his “Pleasing tone, and excellent command of his high range” is a tenor equally comfortable with opera, musical theatre, art song, and oratorio. He completed undergraduate studies at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and received his Masters degree in vocal performance at the New England Conservatory in 2013, under the instruction of Tenor, Bradley Williams. At NEC, he had the privilege to work with Maestros Stephen Lord (Britten’s Paul Bunyan-Directed by James Robinson) Joel Revzen, and Joseph Flummerfeldt, as well as continuous coaching and a solo recital performance with John Moriarty. In Boston at large, Mr. Collier has performed as the tenor soloist under the baton of Maestro Donald Teeters with the Boston Cecilia, and is currently the cantor and tenor section leader at All Saints Parish Ashmont’s Men and Boys choir. Standard repertoire he has performed includes much of the Gilbert and Sullivan’ oeuvre, as well as Lysander in Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and Gerald in Lakmé with Lowell House Opera. He also sang the role of Camille in Opera Wilmington’s inaugural production of Lehar’s “The Merry Widow,” and Alfredo in FOPAC’s 2014 production of “La Traviata.”
With “rich baritone” Benjamin Curtis (BERNARDO) exudes a thoroughly connected expression and brings a personal quality to performance. With literature ranging from Bach to Britten, Mr. Curtis is an authentic recitalist and committed singer/actor. Recent Roles include a “spirited” Billy Bigelow in Carousel with Opera Breve, the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, and Peter in Hansel and Gretel with Loudoun Lyric Opera. With Center City Opera Theater Mr. Curtis participated as Marullo in Rigoletto and Papageno in The Magic Flute. At the Eastman School of Music Benjamin performed in The Rape of Lucretia as Tarquinius, Street Scene as Henry Davis, and The Bartered Bride as Krušina. Concert performances include soloist in Cantata! A Bach Cantata Series at the Eastman School of Music, performances as a festival artist in the 2013 Lotte Lehmann Masterclasses at the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, and a soloist in Handel’s Messiah. Mr. Curtis participated with the Eastman Rochester Chorus as the baritone soloist in Britten’s War Requiem and has given numerous recitals in the Mid-Atlantic region. Mr. Curtis received a master of music from the Eastman School of Music.
Alexandra Dietrich, (ANITA) originally from Freeport, Maine, is a mezzo-soprano who has been praised for singing with “passion and understanding”. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor’s in Music Performance in Musical Theatre, and attended the Longy School of Music for her Graduate Performance degree in Opera. Recent performances have included Jade Boucher in the New England premiere of Jake Heggie’s “Dead Man Walking” with Boston Opera Collaborative, the title role in “Carmen” with the North End Music and Performing Arts Center Opera, and Xander in OperaHub’s critically acclaimed production of “Der Vampyr“. No stranger to musical theatre, Ms. Dietrich has performed such roles as Mrs. Johnstone in “Blood Brothers”, Eve in “Children of Eden”, and Lucy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. As a soloist, she has sung with many orchestras, including the Brown University Orchestra, Portland Symphony Pops, North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra, Charlemagne Orchestra of Belgium, Midcoast Symphony Orchestra, and the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming performances will include the role of La Suora Zelatrice in back-to-back productions of “Suor Angelica” with MetroWest Opera, followed by her debut in Opera Providence in the same role. Ms. Dietrich is also a teaching artist with the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Urban Voices program.
David Fields(RIFF) is pleased to join the Asheville Lyric Opera again! He is a graduate of Mars Hill College with a Bachelor of Music degree in voice. Mr. Fields was the conductor of the Chapel Choir at Mars Hill College for two years while simultaneously serving as associate music minister at Biltmore United Methodist Church. During his undergraduate years Mr. Fields also completed an internship with the Asheville Lyric Opera and was a member of the opera chorus for five years. Touring productions with the ALO include The Magic Flute, Carmen, and Barber of Seville. He has enjoyed singing with local and regional companies most notably with Virginia Opera’s production of Daughter of the Regiment covering the role of the Corporal. He has toured the nation with Theatre IV based out of Richmond, VA. Locally Mr. Fields has performed with numerous churches and other groups and regularly sings with Opera Creations most recently as Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore. He is a soloist and member of the Southern Appalachian Chamber Singers. He would like to thank his fiance Ashley and his entire family for their continued support! Here come the Jets!