Featured Musicians of the 2014–2015 Season
Praised by The Washington Post for her “consistently beautiful sound,” American mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko is rapidly gaining attention for her “rich mezzo soprano” voice and musicality
In the 2013 – 2014 season, Sarah Mesko will return to Washington National Opera as the Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte and will also make her debut at Houston Grand Opera as Mrs. Segstrom in A Little Night Music. In concert, she appears with the Bach Society of Houston as well as Mercury Orchestra in Houston.
Recently, Ms. Mesko made a striking role debut as Dorabella with Washington National Opera in their 2012 Emerging Artist performances of Così fan tutte and returned to Washington National Opera for another significant role debut as Hansel. Ms. Mesko also made recital appearances with the Dolce Suono Ensemble, performing “La flûte enchantée” from Ravel’s Shéhérazade; with Vocal Arts DC, presenting Janáček’s Diary of One Who Disappeared with tenor Toby Spence; and with San Francisco Opera Center’s Schwabacher Debut Recital Series, presenting a joint recital with tenor Theo Lebow and pianist Robert Mollicone. Ms. Mesko returned to Washington, DC for her company debut with Opera Lafayette as Junon and Hyale in Charpentier’s Actéon, and she concluded the 2012-2013 season with the Santa Fe Opera, making her company debut as Amélie in La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and covering Malcom in La donna del lago.
A native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, Ms. Mesko holds a master of music degree in vocal performance from Rice University and a bachelor of music degree in vocal and flute performance from the University of Arkansas.
A graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, soprano Lauren Snouffer has bowed at the Company as Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri, Ellie in Show Boat in a new production by Francesca Zambello under the baton of Music Director Patrick Summers, Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia conducted by Rory Macdonald and directed by Arin Arbus, Thibault in a new production of Don Carlos directed by John Caird and conducted by Patrick Summers, and as Rosina in student performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Her diverse array of roles spans from Phénice and La Gloire in Lully’s Armide and Clorinda in Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda to Florestine in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, Ruth Baldwin in Musto’s Later the Same Evening, and the Princess in Susa’s Transformations.
Miss Snouffer spent the summer of 2012 covering the role of Agnes for the world premiere of George Benjamin’s Written On Skin at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and made her European operatic debut in the part at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, France. She has performed Written on Skin under the composer’s baton at the Tanglewood Music Festival and has been involved in presentations of the work given by the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Wiener Festwochen.
During the 2013-14 season, the soprano sang Pamina in The Magic Flute for a company debut at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City conducted by Gary Wedow and joined the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in productions of Rusalka and La clemenza di Tito. Miss Snouffer made a New York Philharmonic debut in HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale conducted by Alan Gilbert and directed by Doug Fitch and joined the International Beethoven Project in Chicago for Bach’s Johannes-Passion. She appeared with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble for Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a Viennese program, and a recording of Hasse’s Solimano with conductor Riccardo Minasi and Il Pomo d’Oro for the Decca label.
Baritone Mark Diamond recently finished his second season as a member of the Studio of Houston Grand Opera where notable performances include Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Marcello in La bohème and the Marchese d’Obigny in La traviata, he also covered several roles such as Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni), Taddeo (L’italiana in Algeri), and Gaylord Ravenal (Showboat) Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia) and Rodrigue (Don Carlos). This season he returned as a guest artist to Houston Grand Opera to sing Count Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music, In the future he debuts with the French opera theaters of Limoges, Caen, and Reimsas well as Ars Lyrica of Houston.
Mark Diamond is the recipient of a 2012 Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation and spent the summer of 2011 as a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, where he sang the title role of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He gained particular notice in the summer of 2010, when he sang the role of Top in Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land at the Glimmerglass Festival. As a member of the company’s Young American Artist Program, he also covered Araspe in Handel’s Tolomeo, and was a recipient of a 2010Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.
He is the 1st Prize Winner of the 2010 Eleanor McCollum Competition at Houston Grand Opera, and the 2011 Sun Valley Opera Competition in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Diamond was twice a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was awarded 2nd Prize in the Charles A. Lynam Competition in North Carolina.
A native of Augusta, Georgia, Mark Diamond received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Georgia Southern University, where he studied voice with Dr. Allen Henderson, and pursued studies for a Master’s degree in vocal performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Bill McGraw.
Cecilia Duarte made her main stage debut at Houston Grand Opera with the world premiere of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna in 2010, giving life to Renata, and touring with that production to Paris where she performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet and later on at San Diego Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera. As an HGO artist, she was the MezzoSoprano for Opera to Go! for three seasons, where she created the role of Gracie in Ethan Greene’s A Way Home, HGO's 40th world premiere, performing it again in a full stage production with Opera Southwest in Albuquerque, NM. In the field of contemporary music, she has premiered several art songs and pieces written by Houston composers such as Paul English and Mark Buller. Ms. Duarte has performed recently with Opera in the Heights as Zerlina in Don Giovanni; appeared as Jessie Lydell in A Coffin in Egypt with HGO, and portrayed the role of Loma Williams in Cold Sassy Tree with the University of Houston. An early music enthusiast, she has often performed with the Bach Society of Houston, the Oregon Bach Festival, the Festivalensemble in Stuttgart, Germany, the Festival de Música Barroca de San Miguel de Allende, México and just debuted with Ars Lyrica as Daniel in Handel’s Susana. Upcoming performances include a tour with Cruzar la Cara de la Luna with Arizona Opera and Ars Lyrica’s New Year’s Gala.
Yulia Van Doren
Hailed as “a hugely appealing, obviously important talent” (Philadelphia Inquirer) the young Russian-American soprano Yulia Van Doren is increasingly sought after for her ability to tackle the most demanding and varied repertoire. In recent seasons, she made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in Shostakovich’s Orango; sang St. Theresa in Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts with the Mark Morris Dance Group; performed Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 with the American Symphony Orchestra at the Bard Festival; and sang Handel’s Messiah with the Houston Symphony and Bach’s B Minor Mass with Music of the Baroque. Recent opera performances include Dorinda in Handel’s Orlando at the Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, and Tanglewood Festivals with Philharmonia Baroque; Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea at the Macau International Music Festival; Mereo in Scarlatti’s Tigrane for Opéra de Nice, and Betsy in Monsigny’s Le Roi et le Fermier, with Opera Lafayette, at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Opéra Royal de Versailles (recorded for Naxos).
Ms. Van Doren earned an undergraduate degree at the New England Conservatory, and a master’s degree from Bard College, and is a recipient of numerous scholarships, including the prestigious Soros Fellowship for New Americans and a Frank Huntington Beebe Grant for Advanced European Study. She was a winner of Astral Artists’ 2009 National Auditions.
A native of Rosenberg, Texas, countertenor John Holiday makes his debut this season with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah. He also sang the title role in Radamisto at the Juilliard School, to great acclaim in the New York press. His expressive and richly beautiful voice has made him an increasingly sought after artist, one “threatens to equal the name artists in his range,” according to the Herald Times. Last season, John made his Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He also joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera to cover Nireno in Giulio Cesare and reprised his roles in Philip Glass’s Galileo Galilei at Cincinnati Opera, having first performed the work at Portland Opera. He has also covered the role of Corrado in Vivaldi’s Griselda at the Santa Fe Opera. First Prizewinner of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, John recently received a first prize from the Sullivan Foundation and was also awarded fifth place in the Palm Beach Opera Competition in 2011. In 2007, he was the first place winner in his district of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In addition to the classical repertoire, John Holiday excels in jazz music, having opened for Grammy award winner Jason Mraz in concert. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.
American soprano Melissa Givens moves and excites audiences and critics alike with a rich, powerful tone, crystalline clarity, and intelligent musical interpretations. Especially noted for her expressiveness and elegance on the stage, Givens is also an extremely versatile artist, regularly performing repertoire from the Baroque era through music of the 21st century. Recent appearances include Haydn’s Schöpfungsmesse for the Classical Music Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, and benefit recitals in Comfort and Gatesville, TX. She remains in demand on concert series throughout the United States and abroad and performs with various chamber music groups, including both Grammy© nominated groups Ars Lyrica Houston and Conspirare: Craig Hella Johnson and Company of Voices. Her solo appearances on major label releases from both groups have received enthusiastic reviews and she can also be heard on her solo CD, let the rain kiss you.
Ingrid Matthews served as Music Director of Seattle Baroque Orchestra from its inception in 1994 until 2013, and is well established as one of today’s most respected baroque violinists. Since winning first prize in the prestigious Erwin Bodky International Competition for Early Music in 1989, she has performed extensively around the world, appearing as soloist, guest director or concertmaster with many of today's leading early music ensembles including the New York Collegium, the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Musica Angelica (Los Angeles), Ars Lyrica (Houston), New Trinity Baroque (Atlanta), the Bach Sinfonia (Washington DC), and many others. Among the most-recorded baroque violinists of her generation, Matthews has won international critical acclaim for a discography which ranges from the earliest solo violin repertoire through the great Sonatas and Partitas of J.S. Bach. This recording was described as “the finest complete set of these works I have heard” by the reviewer for Third Ear's Classical Music Listening Companion.
Ingrid Matthews is on the faculty of the Cornish College of the Arts, and in 2011 and 2012 was engaged to lead Oberlin College's new Baroque Orchestra program. She taught baroque violin at UCLA from 1998-2002, and has held teaching residencies at Indiana University, the University of Washington, the University of Toronto, and at many of the leading early music workshops. Matthews is a graduate of Indiana University, where she studied with Josef Gingold and Stanley Ritchie.
Céline Ricci was graduated at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Selected by renowned conductor William Christie for his first elite academy, Le Jardin des Voix, this gifted artist was named one of operas promising new talents in 2005 by Opernwelt. She has made numerous appearances for the prestigious Les Arts Florissants. Céline collaborates with some of the most prestigious conductors in Baroque music including Nicholas McGegan, Martin Hasselbock, Jean Christophe Spinosi, choreographer Sasha Waltz, director Deborah Warner and actor John Malkovich. She has performed over the world from the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, Musikverein in Vienna, to the Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Celine was named one of Opera's new talents in 2005 by OpernWelt. Céline has recorded numerous CDs and DVDs and has recently art- directed 2 CDs of French song for American label Sono Luminus. The originality and the innovation of the programs have been greatly recognized by the press.
Ellie Jarrett Shattles
Ellie Jarrett, mezzo-soprano, is thrilled to be singing again with Ars Lyrica during their 2014-2015 season. She has sung various Händel works with Ars Lyrica, the Houston Symphony, Mercury Baroque and the Richmond Symphony. Ellie has had the opportunity to sing opera roles with many prestigious young artist programs, including Marcellina and Mercédès for Nashville Opera, Rosina for Aspen Opera Theatre, and Dorabella for the Merola Opera Program. In 2011 and 2012, Ellie covered Marthe inFaust and The Fortune Teller in Arabella as an Apprentice Artist for the Santa Fe Opera, and returned in 2013 as part of their Education Development Program to sing Mrs. Noye in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. Currently, Ms. Jarrett is pursuing her Doctorate from the University of Texas where she is performing Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods, and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro.