DAYTON, OH (December 2, 2016) – Dayton Opera is pleased to welcome four young vocalists to the Dayton area for its 2016-2017 Artists-in-Residence Program. The four vocalists were selected from national auditions and will arrive in Dayton this December to perform in Dayton Philharmonic’s annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah. They will begin their official residencies in early February 2017. Dayton Opera is thrilled to introduce its 2016-2017 Artists-in-Residence: soprano Chelsea Friedlander, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Frey, tenor Brian Skoog, and bass-baritone Vincent Grana.
The Dayton Opera Artists-in-Residence (AIR) program was established in 1987 as a professional training program for young singers, providing a bridge for the move from the university/conservatory education experience into the arena of a professional opera company. This season marks the 30th year of this successful opera training program with Dayton Opera.
During March and April, the Artists-in-Residence will be appearing at numerous schools throughout the community to present musical programs in an effort to educate Dayton area students on the art of opera. WYSO Development Director Luke Dennis is writer and director of “Dueling Divas: A Singing Showdown,” the program which the AIRs will be presenting this winter. “It is so much fun to direct the talented Artists-in-Residence,” said Dennis. “Not only are they great singers, they’re also great actors, and I know they will bring a sense of experimentation and playfulness to their performances. They are exactly the type of engaging performers you want to be sending into schools.” “Dueling Divas” is being presented in Dayton area schools in cooperation with Dayton’s nationally recognized arts education organization program, The Muse Machine. In addition, the AIRs will also be presenting a program entitled “Cooking up Opera,” also directed by Dennis, but geared more towards younger school-aged children. The AIRs will be performing over 40 educational programs in total in schools and in the community during their time in Dayton.
Additionally, the four AIRs will be appearing in Dayton Opera productions and Dayton Philharmonic concerts in the 2016-2017 Excite Season. All four will perform in Handel’s Messiah with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra on December 18, 2016 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In addition, they will all perform in the Dayton Philharmonic Chamber Concert Sound and Song on February 26, 2017 at the Dayton Art Institute. Chelsea Friedlander will sing the role of Blonde in Dayton Opera’s production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio on February 17 and 19, 2017, and all four AIRs will culminate their program with main stage roles in Dayton Opera’s final production of the 2016-2017 season with the presentation of Georges Bizet’s beloved masterpiece Carmen on May 19 and 21, 2017 at the Schuster Center.
Soprano Chelsea Friedlander, a New Jersey native, makes her Dayton Opera debut as Blonde in The Abduction from the Seraglio. She will also appear in Carmen as Frasquita and makes her Dayton Philharmonic debut as the soprano soloist in this season’s Messiah. Chelsea received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music. Performance highlights include appearances with The Ohio Light Opera Company, Opera Saratoga, Opera in the Ozarks, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (current company member), Light Opera of New York, Martina Arroyo Prelude to Performance, Light Opera of New Jersey, Women’s Theater Project, and Victor Herbert Renaissance Project Live!
Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Frey completed her graduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she performed many leading roles including Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Dido in Dido and Aeneas, and Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel. Originally from California, she has been active in the opera community of Cleveland, performing with Cleveland Opera Theatre and Opera Circle Cleveland, as well as serving as Assistant Director for the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theatre. Elizabeth makes her Dayton Opera debut this season and will perform the role of Mercedes in Carmen and understudy the title role as well as debut as mezzo-soprano soloist in this season’s Messiah with the Dayton Philharmonic. She has been an Apprentice Artist with Des Moines Metro Opera, Maryland Opera Society, and Opera Western Reserve. Last year, she was awarded the prestigious Boris Goldovsky Prize in Opera.
Tenor Brian Skoog will make his Dayton Opera debut this season as Remendado in Carmen and makes his Dayton Philharmonic debut as the tenor soloist in this season’s Messiah. He was recently acclaimed for his portrayal of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Circle Cleveland, with whom he previously appeared as Jenik in The Bartered Bride, Ruiz in Il trovatore, and Goro in Madama Butterfly. Brian is a previous Bonfils-Stanton Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera and a graduate of the Aspen Opera Theatre Center. He recently sang Tamino with Toledo Opera on Wheels. Originally from Alabama, Skoog completed his graduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he sang many leading roles including Tito in La clemenza di Tito, Paolino in Il matrimonio segreto, and The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel.
Bass-baritone Vincent Grana is a native of New Jersey and received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Rutgers University. In 2013, he was a Philadelphia District winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. His credits include Dulcamara (L’elisir d’amore), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Elder Ott (Susannah), Annibale Pistacchio (Il Campanello di Notte), Nilakantha (Lakme), Mephistopheles (Faust), and Colline (La bohème). Most recently Vincent sang with Sarasota Opera as one of their apprentice artists for the final season of their Verdi Cycle. He will make his Dayton Opera debut in the role of Zuniga in Carmen as well as debuting as the bass soloist in Dayton Philharmonic’s Messiah.
Conductor and Pianist Jeffrey Powell will once again serve as Music Director and Accompanist for the 2016-2017 Dayton Opera Artist-in-Residence program. Jeff most recently conducted Dayton Opera’s 2013-14 production of Hansel and Gretel. He has also conducted for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Des Moines Metro Opera, Ohio Light Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theatre and locally for The Human Race Theatre Company and Wright State University. In addition, Jeff has conducted Dayton Opera productions of The Tragedy of Carmen, The Daughter of the Regiment, Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, The Pirates of Penzance, Paul Lawrence Dunbar: Common Ground, Don Pasquale, The Barber of Seville, H.M.S. Pinafore, Madame Butterfly and Così fan tutte. He holds a Master of Music in instrumental conducting from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Music in piano performance from Western Michigan University. Jeff has also served as chorus master for Dayton Opera since 1991 and is the music director/organist at St. George’s Episcopal Church.
Dayton Opera and the entire Dayton Performing Arts Alliance welcome these four young artists to Dayton and wish them all the best in their residencies.