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University of North Texas Students, Faculty to Perform at New York Opera Gala

Students and faculty members from the University of North Texas College of Music’s award-winning opera program will be featured performers at the annual gala concert for the Center for Contemporary Operain New York City – the leading proponent of new opera in the U.S.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity not only to showcase our outstanding students and stellar faculty members in such an important New York setting, but also to publicly celebrate our work with America’s leading opera composer, Jake Heggie, made possible through his UNT residency funded by our Institute for the Advancement of the Arts,” said James C. Scott, dean of the UNT College of Music. “Much of the music our people will be performing was done in concert in Denton under his direction during the residency.”

The performance at 8 p.m. March 15 (Thursday) at New York’s National Arts Club will include selections from operas Again, Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick and Three Decembers by Heggie, who served as the artist-in-residence at the UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts for the 2010-11 academic year. Students and faculty members also will perform scenes from William Mayer’s opera A Death in the Family and an aria from Anthony Davis’ Amistad. The event will be hosted by Elliott Forrest of WQXR. Tickets are $50 for the gala and reception and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

Opera students who will perform at the gala are: Maria Bellanca of Olean, N.Y.; Christian Bester of Pretoria, South Africa; Shaun Brown of Brisbane, Australia; Sergio Cepeda of Fort Worth; Emily Hueske of Tolland, Conn.; Lara Wasserman of Iowa City, Iowa; and Jennifer Youngs of Overland Park, Kan.

The students will be joined by UNT faculty members and renowned performers Richard Croft, who will sing the role of Ahab in “The Symphony” from Heggie’s Moby-Dick, and Stephen Morscheck, who will sing the role of John Quincy Adams in an aria from Amistad. Stephen Dubberly serves as music director and conductor of UNT Opera, and Paula Homer as stage director and producer.

The UNT Opera program was recently lauded with a first-place win in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition in Division V – the highest division among conservatory and university programs – for its 2011 production of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina.

About Richard Croft

Tenor Richard Croft is internationally renowned for his performances with leading opera companies and orchestras around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, The Salzburg Festival, Opéra National de Paris, the Berlin Staatsoper, Opera Zurich, Glyndebourne Festival, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and The New York Philharmonic.

During the 2011 – 2012 season Croft reprises his critically acclaimed performance as M. K. Gandhi in the Metropolitan Opera’s visually extravagant production of Philip Glass’s Satygraha, which will also be broadcast live in high definition to movie theatres around the world. He also appears at the Bayerische Staatsoper in the title role of Mozart’s Mitridate under the baton of Ivor Bolton, and in performances of Handel’s Theodora at UNT, where he has been a professor of voice since 2004. His concert calendar includes performances of Messiah with the Minnesota Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony, Berlioz’s Te Deum with the Dallas Symphony, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Berliner Philharmoniker — both conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.   http://imgartists.com/artist/richard_croft/

About Stephen Morscheck

Bass-baritone Stephen Morscheck is widely respected for the dignity he brings in concert and opera performances. “Stephen Morscheck’s Leporello was genuinely funny, as well as solidly sung. His catalogue aria was almost too effective, drawing applause before its conclusion,” says Opera News of a recent Don Giovanni performance. Of Verdi’s Requiem, The Boston Globe said he is “solid, and reliable, estimable qualities not to be taken for granted.”

In the 2011-2012 season and beyond, he performs Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro at the newly formed Lyric Opera Baltimore, Capulet in Roméo et Juliette with the Florida Grand Opera, and continuing as a leading concert artist, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra, Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestra Kentucky, and Jesus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with John Nelson and the Netherlands Radio Kammerphilharmonie, St. John’s Passion at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Chicago. http://www.uzanartists.com/?post_type=portfolio&p=1151

About UNT Opera

UNT Opera offers intensive training and performance opportunities to talented undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Music. The opera program offers two full productions each year in the intimate Lyric Theater of the Murchison Performing Arts Center, as well as a biennial gala concert of operatic excerpts and opportunities to perform across the country.

Also, in partnership with the Dallas Opera, four UNT students recently performed Doctor Miracle to critical acclaim as part of a double cast performing at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas and in 32 schools reaching about 5,000 students in the North Texas area.

About the UNT College of Music

The UNT College of Music is one of the largest and most respected comprehensive music schools in the country. About 1,600 music students attend UNT each year, participating in more than 40 widely varied ensembles and pursuing specialized studies in performance, composition, music education or music scholarship. UNT faculty members and students have made appearances on the world’s finest stages and have produced numerous recordings, many receiving Grammy awards and nominations. Distinguished UNT alumni can be found around the globe, in top music ensembles, opera companies, universities and schools.

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