Monday, September 14, 2009

Opera Colorado Announces 2009–10 Young Artists

One of the joys of having an organization like Opera Colorado as part of our community is its dedication to public service. Cherity Koepke is OC's manager of education and community programs, the person responsible for bringing the operatic art form to school children and the general public throughout the year—at ridiculously reasonable fees. Koepke today introduced her company's Young Artists for the upcoming season; these are the singers who provide the entertainment in Opera Colorado's Arias & Ensembles program—highlights from the operatic repertoire—plus semi-staged one-act operas that this year include Richard Wargo's The Music Shop (based on stories by Chekov) and a scaled-down version of Charles Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. They take up the primary roles in the student productions of Opera Colorado's three seasonal offerings, act as backups [known in the profession as "covers," i.e., understudies] to the principal singers in those same productions, and also fulfill supporting ("comprimario") roles such as the prima donna's maid or the guy who comes onstage to announce the arrival of a visiting dignitary.

Pictured above (l
–r) are Donata Cucinotta (soprano), Julia Tobiska (mezzo-soprano), Brendan Daly (tenor), Ted Federle (baritone), Alexander Scopino (bass), and Steven Arguiló-Arbues (coach and accompanist). As would be expected, each of the five singers boasts an impressive resume, having won or placed highly in numerous regional and national vocal competitions as well as appearing on stage with third-tier companies ranging from Shreveport (La.) to Nashville to Greensboro (N.C.). Ms. Cucinotta received her master's degree from Mannes College of Music (N.Y.) and was a Metropolitan Opera National Council regional finalist. Ms. Tobiska is a graduate of CU-Boulder, where she earned a master's in vocal performance. Mr. Daly did his undergraduate work at Harvard and earned a master's degree at Boston's Longy School of Music. Mr. Federle was awarded a master's degree from UNC/Greensboro (N.C.). Mr. Scopino earned his master's degree from Binghamton University (N.Y.).

Arguiló-Arbues is charged with holding the group together and accompanying them on the piano for each of their outreach productions. He did his undergraduate work at CU-Boulder and earned a master's degree in vocal accompanying from the Manhattan School of Music (N.Y.). As a coach, he has helped to prepare such operatic productions as Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni and Don Pasquale, plus Broadway-type productions that have included A Chorus Line and Oklahoma!

Opera Colorado's outreach program has proved so successful that Ms. Koepke has been forced to increase the time in which these artists are under contract for the season. "Our schedule this year is quickly filling up," she cautioned. That's good news for these young performers, and even better news for the people who get to listen to them sing.

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