Tickets are on sale for Handel’s Rinaldo at Merkin Concert Hall for June 14 and June 16, both at 7:00 PM.
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Please meet our cast:
as RINALDO, a Christian hero
Randall Scotting’s vocal agility, warm tone, and masculine stage presence define him as an acclaimed interpreter of baroque opera’s heroes. He is recognized for his innovative recital and concert programs and performances of avant-garde contemporary works.
Upcoming and recent engagements for Randall include the role of Capucin in Cyrano with Michigan Opera Theater, his début with Seattle Opera in Handel’s Semele, the role of Valentiniano in Gluck’s Ezio with Odyssey Opera in Boston, a recital tour of Hungary and the Czech Republic, a program of selections from Saul and Xerxes exploring the year 1738 in Handel’s life for the Handel House Museum in London, a concert entitled ‘The Thief, the Priest, and the Lover’ with Ballo Baroque Ensemble in London, and the role of Marc Antonio in the modern day premiere of Daniele de Castrovillari’s 1662 opera La Cleopatra in San Francisco, and Chichester Psalms and Carmina Burana with the Santa Barbara Symphony.
Recent operatic roles include Giuliano in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo for New York City’s Gotham Chamber Opera where Randall was lauded by the New York Times as “excellent” and possessing a “clarion countertenor” voice. In the title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare at Fort Worth Opera, he was praised for his “technical brilliance with his delivery of spot on lines of coloratura within his many arias.” And he performed the title role in Handel’s Orlando for Brisbane Baroque in Australia, a role he has previously sung with Sacramento Opera and the Liszt Orchestra in Budapest.
In concert, Randall has recently sung at St. Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh, performed a solo recital for the Göttingen Händel Festspiele Historical Music Series, presented ‘Handel’s Rivals’ at the Handel House Museum in London, and presented Antonio Caldara’s newly rediscovered oratorio Le gelosie d’un Amore in London. He was also featured vocalist with the Baroque Orchestra of Colorado, singing the music of Handel, and performed concerts in several well-known London venues including St Martin-in-the-Fields, the National Gallery, and the V&A Museum.
Randall has worked with companies and festivals including Santa Fe Opera (Oscar excerpts presented in New York), Fort Worth Opera (title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare), New York City Opera (Handel’s Flavio and Agrippina), Spoleto Festival Italy (Vivaldi’s Ercole sul Termodonte), Bath International Music Festival (Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas), the New York Philharmonic (Ligeti’s opera Le Grand Macabre), Budapest Kamaraoper (title role in Vivaldi’s il Tigrane), Minnesota Opera (Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio), Des Moines Metro Opera (Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Landestheater Neustrelitz (Ottone in Handel’s Agrippina). He has also been seen twice at Carnegie Hall, first under the baton of Ton Koopman in works of Handel, and later in a performance piece with Bobby McFerrin. Additional roles performed include Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, the title roles in Philip Glass’ Akhnaten and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and many others.
Recordings on which Randall can be heard include the title role in Antonio Caldara’s oratorio Santo Stefano; a modern cantata for chorus and soloist entitled Dive: A Water Music; and on the DVD of Vivaldi’s opera Ercole sul Termodonte from the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, with ensemble il Complesso Barocco conducted by Alan Curtis.
Randall is also an award winner and finalist of many competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (First Place District winner), the Marcello Giordani Competition, Connecticut Opera Competition, McCammon Competition, Licia Albanese Puccini Competition, and the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition. Randall has trained at the Royal College of Music in London, the Juilliard Opera Center, Butler University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and as a Fulbright Scholar at the Liszt Academy in Budapest.
as ARGANTE, Saracen King of Jerusalem, lover of Armida
Baritone Franco Pomponi is critically acclaimed for the rich, expressive beauty and powerful virility of his voice, with a cultivated musical style and unmatched dramatic intensity that has brought him to many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and concert halls.
In the 2015/2016 season, Pomponi sang Gessler in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Grand-Théâtre de Genève and Le Prince Metternich in L’Aiglon at Opéra Municipal de Marseille. He has most recently been heard as Prospero in The Tempest at the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest.
Pomponi’s engagements from the 2014/2015 season included Nixon in Nixon in China at the San Diego Opera, Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West at the Kentucky Opera, and Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress at the Metropolitan Opera. Other recent engagements have included the title role in Sweeney Todd at Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris, Arcalüs in Amadis des Gaules by C.P.E. Bach for The Opéra Comique and La Fenice, the title roles in Don Giovanni and Il Conte Almaviva in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Valentin in Faust in Toulon, France.
Pomponi’s European debut was in the title role of Hamlet at the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona. He has continued to win critical praise for his portrayal of The Prince Hamlet, most recently in 2010 in a new production for Opéra de Marseille. In 2010, Franco made other impressive debuts in the title role of Don Giovanni for The Bolshoi Opera in Moscow and Zurga in a new production of Les Pêcheurs de Perles at Opernhaus Zürich, Switzerland.
Franco made his Carnegie Hall debut as the baritone soloist in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing the same role in Paris with the Orchestre de Paris. He sang the role of Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress for his Italian debut at Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, Ford in Falstaff for his debuts with the Santa Fe Opera and The Canadian Opera Company, and Hérode in Massenet’s Hérodiade for his U.K. debut with Dorset Opera.
Other new productions include the title role in Don Giovanni for Opéra Nationale, Montpellier (broadcast on Radio France), Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande for the Nationale Reisopera, Count Di Luna in Il Trovatore for Austin Lyric Opera, the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac with Placido Domingo at Théâtre du Châtelet and Guglielmo in David McVicar’s celebrated production of Così fan tutte for L’Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg.
Franco has performed as Fritz the Pierrot in Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt at Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Paolo Albiani in Simon Boccanegra for Grand Théâtre de Genève, Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, Frederic in Lakmé at Spoleto USA, Valentin in Faust at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Ernesto in Il Pirata with Washington Concert Opera, Milord Runebif in La Vedova Scaltra for Opéra de Nice and Opéra Montpellier, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro at Eugene Opera, Lindorf-Miracle-Coppélius-Dapertutto in Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Nationale Reisopera, Netherlands, Portland Opera, Utah Festival and The Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera Omaha and Opera Roanoke. The Metropolitan Opera heard him as Schaunard in La Bohème, Count Dominik in Arabella with Renée Fleming and Presto in Les Mamelles de Tirésias conducted by James Levine. At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he was heard as Malatesta in Don Pasquale, as well as Germont in La Traviata for the Grant Park Music Festival. He has also sung Escamillo in Carmen for the New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Dorset Opera, Toulon Opera, PORTopera Theatre, Florida Grand Opera, Qatar Philharmonic, and United Arab Emerites.
This charismatic singer is also a champion of rare and modern works, having received high praise for his portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire for The New Orleans Opera and the Tennessee Williams Festival, and Frank Chambers in Stephen Paulus’ The Postman Always Rings Twice for Boston Lyric Opera, both directed by Colin Graham. At Opera National Sophia, Bulgaria he sang Don Gil in Gomes’ Maria Tudor, which was broadcast and released on video and compact disc.
as ARMIDA, a sorceress, Queen of Damascus
Soprano Christine Arand, a graduate from Northwestern University and The Juilliard School, began her professional career in Europe creating the leading role of Lise in Les Enfants Terribles by Philip Glass with Susan Marshall, and toured throughout Europe and the United States. She recorded the original cast recording with Orange Mountain Records.
Christine was in the original Broadway cast of ‘La Bohème on Broadway,’ Maria in the Tony Award Winning Best Musical Nine at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, Yvette in Belle Epoque at Lincoln Center Theater and featured in Kismet and Face the Music with New York City’s widely acclaimed City Center Encores!
In Paris, at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Christine was Eliza Doolittle in Robert Carsen’s new production of My Fair Lady and performed both Maria and the Baroness in The Sound of Music in back to back performances.
Christine’s widely varied roles include Cecilio in Mozart’s Lucio Silla (Chicago Opera Theater) Salomé in Massenet’s Hérodiade, Liù in Puccini’s Turandot and Micaëla in Carmen (Dorset Opera, UK), Gilda in Rigoletto and Violetta in La Traviata (Kimmel Center, Philadelphia), the title role of Agrippina (Teatro Massimo, Palermo), Nanetta in Falstaff (Pine Mountain Music Festival), Zdenka in Arabella (San Francisco Opera), Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Arizona Opera and Fort Worth Opera), Poppea in L’incoronazione di Poppea (Juilliard Opera Center), Laurie in Copland’s The Tender Land, Baby Doe in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Konstanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio (Connecticut), Tiny in Britten’s Paul Bunyan (Glimmerglass Opera and New York City Opera) and Marguerite in Faust, and Mimi and Musetta in La Bohème in the Glimmerglass Young Artist Program.
At Lincoln Center in Avery Fisher Hall, Christine sang the Soprano soloist in Carmina Burana and Mozart’s Requiem. She has performed several world premieres at Alice Tully Hall including Tan Dun’s Lament: Autumn Wind. In her Carnegie Hall debut, she premiered Requiem by David Childs.
as GOFFREDO, Captain General of the Christian army
Nicholas Tamagna is a countertenor specializing in Handelian repertoire, he has conquered such challenging roles as Giulio Cesare, Ruggiero, Orlando, and Polinesso. His exquisite technique, seamlessly calibrated registration, clarity of diction, and dramatic versatility have won him critical acclaim and afforded him opportunities to sing a wide range of repertoire on many of the world’s stages.
Early in 2016, he began his season making his Australian debut as Akhnaten in Philip Glass’ Akhanten in a special performance on the March equinox in Mica Grange near Castlemaine, an 1850s Gold Rush town in Victoria, Australia. Also in 2016 he performed North American premieres of works by baroque female composers de Raschenau and de Rossi in Boston with La Donna Musicale, with planned recording dates. In 2016 he will be touring extensively with Le Poème Harmonique in revival presentations of Dido and Aeneas, as well as other concerts, including a pastiche honoring the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, entitled ‘To be or not to be,’ featuring the music of Henry Purcell and the texts of Shakespeare woven together into a dramatic presentation. This performance was presented as part of the season at the Théâtre de Rouen Haute-Normandie in the Spring of 2016. He will make his Carnegie Hall debut in Bach’s Magnificat with St. Cecilia Choir in December 2016, then return to the Théâtre de Rouen Haute-Normandie in January 2017 for a special collaboration with Malandain Ballet Biarritz, featuring Tamagna in selections from Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater. He joins Theater Ulm for a new production of Handel’s Riccardo Primo in Spring 2017.
Early in 2015, Mr. Tamagna returned to the Händel-Festspiele at the Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe, Germany as Oronte in the critically-acclaimed production of Händel’s Riccardo Primo from director Benjamin Lazare, where he made his European debut in 2014. From March till June 2015 he performed the role of Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante, delighting audiences in a celebrated production from Kobie van Rensburg for Theater Münster. With French early music ensemble Le Poème Harmonique, he returned as the Spirit in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas for a concert presentation at the Bozar in Bruxelles. He debuted with the ensemble in this role in 2014 at Opéra de Haute-Normandie Rouen and Opéra Royal de Versailles in a production from Julien Lubeck and Cécile Roussat. Tamagna is featured in the filmed version of this production, which was released on DVD by Outhère Music in early 2015.
At the end of the 2015 season, Tamagna gave his debut performance in London for the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, where he sang the role of Hassan, created for him by Syrian composer Zaid Jabri in a newly composed opera Cities of Salt. The production was presented in partnership with Shubbak – A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture and the Brunel Institute for Contemporary Middle-Eastern Music, celebrating Middle Eastern classical composers.
Highlighting his comedic skills, he performed the Duchess in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers with Utopia Unlimited Opera and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with various New York-based opera companies.
Mr. Tamagna’s active performance schedule has included performances of Endimione/Pane in Cavalli’s La Calisto, the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, Farnace in Mozart’s Mitridate, Re di Ponto (Little Opera Theatre of New York), Rodrigo in Handel’s Rodrigo (operamission), Ruggiero in Alcina, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, and Orpheus in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice presented in English (Opera Memphis). With Opera London (Ontario, Canada), Bel Cantanti Opera (Washington DC) and in a concert reading sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild (New York), he has performed the roles of Cesare and Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto.
In 2015, he presented concerts in several European and North American cities, including his critically acclaimed program ‘Schurken und Narren: Arien des 18. Jahrhunderts’ in Münster: an exploration of evil and insane characters in baroque opera for male alto. In addition he gave his first concert with Philippe Maillard Productions in a successful program of English song for lute and countertenor entitled, ‘Ayres and Prayers’ in Paris. He is also a frequently featured guest soloist on concerts with Christine Gevert’s prize-winning choir and ensemble Crescendo in the Berkshires, in programs exploring rarely performed gems of the baroque repertoire. Continuing in this vein of projects exploring the lesser known regions of the baroque world, he was also invited to perform concerts and record in North-Eastern Canada as part of a project to present previously unpublished sacred works of obscure Italian composers of the 17th century, spearheaded by Canadian ensemble !Sacabuche¡, led by Linda Pearse and produced by Christa Patton. The album features award-winning vocalists and a rarely heard consort of sackbuts with cornetto, violin, and continuo, and is scheduled for release in 2015 by ATMA Classique.
Nicholas Tamagna is also co-founder of Concordian Dawn, a vocal trio specializing in medieval and early-renaissance music for alto, tenor, bass and harp with medieval specialist and harpist Christopher Preston Thompson.
An active concert soloist, Mr. Tamagna has sung in renowned venues including Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, and David Geffen Hall, formerly known as Avery Fischer Hall. At Lincoln Center he performed his house debut as a soloist in Goossens’ Edition of Handel’s Messiah under the auspices of Distinguished Concerts International New York and an acclaimed production of Babes in Toyland with Little Orchestra Society of New York. He has been a frequent guest artist with Amor Artis Chamber Orchestra and Choir, Princeton Pro Musica, C4 Ensemble, One World Symphony, La Fiocco Ensemble, Great Music at St. Bart’s Music Series, Gotham Early Music Series, Crescendo Choir and Chamber Ensemble, and St. Boniface Choir in Brooklyn.
In 2011 Nicholas Tamagna placed in three notable competitions: as the inaugural year’s First place winner in the Nico Castel International Mastersinger Competition, as a winning recipient of support from the Arkadi Foundation, and as a semi-finalist in the first ever countertenor competition – the Gianni Bergamo Award for Countertenors in Lugano, Switzerland.
as ALMIRENA, his daughter, betrothed to Rinaldo
After pursuing scientific studies in Paris, coloratura soprano Malia Bendi Merad made a career switch when she moved to the United States to study voice at Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio.
In 2003, she made her debut with the Cleveland Orchestra. She was still a student when Maestro Franz Welser-Möst invited her to sing the ‘Voce di cielo’ in Don Carlo in a cast including Samuel Ramey and Simon Keenlyside. She was re-engaged by the prestigious orchestra the following year to sing the First Flower Maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal conducted by Pierre Boulez.
In 2007, she took part in the ‘Wall to Wall’ Festival at Symphony Space in New York City, and was featured in the New York City Opera’s VOX Showcase, presenting excerpts from new operas by living composers.
In 2009 Ms. Bendi Merad sang the role of the Waldvogel in Siegfried, directed by David McVicar at the Opera du Rhin. In 2010, she appeared as Philine in Mignon by Ambroise Thomas under the baton of François Xavier Roth at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Additionally she made appearances at the opera companies of Montpellier, Marseille, Nice, Lyon, as well as further engagements at the Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg, France.
In 2011 she sang the role of the Queen of the Night in Peter Brook’s production of A Magic Flute, which premiered in the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, and continued on a 3-year world tour throughout Europe, South America, United States, Asia, and Russia. In recent years Malia has been performing chamber music with various festivals and ensembles.
as EUSTAZIO, Goffredo’s brother
Countertenor Andrew Rader has performed as a soloist and with Magnificat Baroque, LIBER: Ensemble for Early Music, and ¡Sacabuche! Ensemble throughout the United States, South America, and Europe. In addition to these chamber music activites, he has been involved in numerous solo and choral performances with Music City (formerly Belle Meade) Baroque of Nashville, Tennessee, Bourbon Baroque of Lexington, Kentucky, and Indianapolis Baroque. Sharing the stage with ARTEK, Marion Verbruggen Trio, AVE, Music’s Re-creation and Archetti, he has performed at the Boston, Chicago, Madison, Bloomington and Berkeley Early Music Festivals during recent seasons.
Mr. Rader is a founding member and Co-Director of Vox Reflexa, a chamber vocal ensemble formed in 2009 which is geared toward bridging the gap between antiquity and present day through chant melodies and texts. Within this ensemble, Rader is also the Director of the Vox Reflexa Consort, the portion of the ensemble crafted specifically for the performance of early works.
His stage experience includes Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (as Oberon) and Indiana University Opera Theater’s production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto, for which he sang the title role under the baton of Gary Thor Wedow and the stage direction of Tom Diamond. Recently, he was the countertenor cover for all countertenor roles in John Adams’ new Passion-Oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary, which premiered in March 2013 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and directed by Peter Sellars.
Other solo engagements have included performances of Bach’s St. John Passion and Magnificat, along with numerous of his cantatas, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Purcell’s Come, Ye Sons of Art, Carl Smith’s Fire and Ice: Michelangelo the Writer, Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Schütz’ Weihnachshistorie, Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso, and recently, Dominick DiOrio’s Stabat mater dolorosa.
In 2009, Mr. Rader was the first place winner of the Grace Moore Memorial Scholarship Competition, Young Artist Division, and in 2011, he was the Third Place winner in the Gianni Bergamo Classic Music Award Countertenor Competition, held in Lugano, Switzerland. In 2014, he was the Third Place winner in the Orpheus National Vocal Competition, Young Artist Division. Mr. Rader performed in Carnegie Hall as a finalist in the Oratoro Society of New York solo competition in 2015.
A HERALD (Araldo)
Tenor Iván Rivera de Beltran was last seen with the Opera Company of Brooklyn as Kasper in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Nemorino in L’Elisir D’Amore, the Third Jew in Salome, Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Oronte in Handel’s Alcina, and Monostatos in The Magic Flute. He was recently seen in Capitol Heights Lyric Opera’s Amahl and The Night Visitors as Kasper, as Don Ramiro in Cenerentola and Count Almaviva in the Barber of Seville. He has also appeared as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with OperaOggiNY, Ferrando in Opera Manhattan’s Così fan tutte, and Ferrando in the Underworld Productions’ mounting of Così fan tutte at Symphony Space.
A SIREN (La Sirena)
Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Lieve Buzard is an avid soprano soloist whose recent operatic roles include Echo in Ariadne of Naxos, Dalinda in Ariodante, Arthur/Honour in King Arthur, Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Emmie in Albert Herring. With a special interest in early music, she has also performed selections from Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo, Cavalli’s Il Giasone, and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Earlier this year, she sang Francesco Durante’s Stabat Mater with Amherst Early Music.
Based in Manhattan, Lieve enjoys presenting art song in recital and singing in the St. Bartholomew’s Choir. She has an A.B. in German Literature from Princeton University, where where she sang a staged performance of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Lieve currently studies with tenor David Kellett and will begin graduate study in vocal performance at Westminster Choir College this Fall.
A CHRISTIAN MAGICIAN (Mago)
A native of London, England, Biraj Barkakaty‘s recent engagements include being the inaugural countertenor to perform at the renowned Mallery Recital Series at Rutgers University in February, the role debut of The Eunuch in Dina Pruzhansky’s Shulamit at the JCC Manhattan in March, and the role of Pino in the world premiere workshop of Larry Lipkis’ Simonetta.
Opera credits include the Chasseur in Charpentier’s Actéon with Haymarket Opera, the Alto Soloist in the World Premiere of Veal by Harrison Atelier, Pangar in the concert premiere of Three Weeks by Yoav Gal at LABA, and the world premiere of Empire Opera’s Sweet Dreams, where Biraj created the role of the Child.
Other roles include Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Aspen Music Festival in 2011 conducted by Jane Glover and at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv in 2009, Polinesso in Handel’s Ariodante for the Hub Opera Ensemble in 2010, Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Bel Cantanti Opera (2009), and the title in role in the U.S. premiere of Handel’s Silla at the Bay Area Summer Opera Institute under the musical direction of Jennifer Peterson (2007).
This summer he will attend the Verbier Festival with Mastervoices, and he will also be a featured singer in the upcoming web TV series ‘The Opera Den,’ produced by Classical Voice Television.