The Harvard College Opera Society, formerly the Dunster House Opera Society, began 25 years as the University’s premier undergraduate company. HCO now presents one full-length opera each February with an entirely-undergraduate cast and production team. This year’s Le Nozze di Figaro features over 50 students from Harvard College, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
According to stage director Joule Voelz, “Our 25th-Anniversary production attempts to capture the timeless quality of Mozart’s musical exploration of love and human weakness. In the vaguely 18th-century Rene Magritte-inspired palace of Count Almaviva, our familiar cast of characters meet to play out a day of folly. Members of our eclectic ensemble all sport distinctive quirks: Marcellina an aging flapper, Basilio a carnival barker, and more. It’s not a period piece, but rather an anti-period piece that aims to suspend disbelief for the sake of comedy that cuts across all limits of time and space.”
HOC’s Marriage of Figaro runs on February 1st, 3rd and 4th at 7:00 PM, with an additional matinee on February 5th at 2:00 PM at Agassiz Theater on the Harvard University campus (10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA). Tickets ($10-$20) may be purchased through the Harvard Box Office (1350 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA – 617.496.2222) or at the door pending availability. Tickets to the opening night performance on February 1st will be free.
Conductor Sasha Scolnik-Brower ’17 has led multiple orchestras during his time at Harvard including the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, Mozart Society Orchestra, and the Bach Society Orchestra. As a cellist, he is currently enrolled in the dual degree program of Harvard University and the New England Conservatory in the studio of Paul Katz.
Stage Director Joule Voelz returns with her second production with the company. Most recently, she staged HCO’s spring 2016 production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and assistant directed the New York dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s summer production of Massenet’s Manon. The Harvard College Opera Society, formerly the Dunster House Opera Society, was founded in 1992 by Dunster House students as the premier undergraduate opera company dedicated to making opera more accessible to the greater Harvard community. Harvard College Opera presents one full-length opera each February with an entirely undergraduate cast and production team. Throughout the academic year, HCO hosts a variety of smaller-scale events, from opera screenings to free recitals of songs, arias, and opera scenes. 2017 marks Harvard College Opera’s fourth year performing in the historic Agassiz Theater after leaving its residency in Dunster House in 2013.
About the performers:
At Harvard University Hunter York (Figaro) has previously performed in shows with Lowell House Opera, Harvard College Opera (HCO), and the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players. His most recent role was in HCO’s 2016 production as Sellem in The Rake’s Progress, and his most recent performance was a masterclass in November with Sherezade Panthaki. He is currently studying voice under Thomas Jones.
A proud member of the Board of Harvard College Opera, Arianna Paz (Susanna) is thrilled to be singing Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. During her time at Harvard, Arianna has performed in Ruddigore; or, the Witch’s Curse (Rose Maybud), The Rake’s Progress (Anne Trulove Cover/Chorus), H.M.S. Pinnafore; or, the Lass That Loved a Sailor (Cousin Hebe), and Into the Woods (Cinderella). She is on the board of the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert and Sullivan Players and recently joined Harvard’s oldest all-female a cappella group, The Radcliffe Pitches. Arianna was also a participant in master classes with Anna Gasteyer and Laura Osnes. Prior to Harvard, Arianna studied at the CAP21 Musical Theater Conservatory in New York City, worked as a classical voice intern at the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, and performed in numerous cabaret shows at the Metropolitan Room in New York City.
Christina Bianco (Countess Almaviva), the current president of Harvard College Opera, has also been involved in productions with the Harvard Early Music Society, the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club. This summer she interned with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Documentary Group, and the Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble.
Christina is a lyric soprano and has been singing ever since she was 12 years old. She was the winner of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition (2012) and the Bel Canto Foundation Competition (2012). She performed as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and sang the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game. She has additionally performed in concerts in Italy and Russia. Christina has performed in masterclasses with Renee Fleming, Edwin Outwater, Duain Wolfe, Martin Katz, among others. .
A recent graduate of Harvard College, Maddie Studt (Cherubino) has been an active performer on campus for the last four years. As a soloist, she appeared with the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum and the Harvard Glee Club, singing major works such as Copland’s “In the Beginning” and Brahms’ “Alto Rhapsody.” Her previous opera credits include Baba (cover) in HCO’s 2016 production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and Orfeo in an independent production of Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice. This spring, she will appear in the role of Utusan in Opera Brittenica’s production of Noli Mi Tangere. Praised by The Boston Musical Intelligencer for her “surpassingly lovely, remarkably mature alto,” and her “burnished gold sound,” Maddie has been hailed as “an exceptionally promising young voice.” She studies voice privately with Carol Mastrodomenico and plans to pursue voice professionally.