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Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Brockton, MA, USA, Nov 4, 1925). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Born in the large Albanian immigrant colony in New England (USA), Athanasi returned as a child to his parents’ hometown of Korça, where he participated in its vibrant prewar choral, theatre, and sports scenes. During World War II, he performed with resistance groups singing patriotic and partisan songs and, in 1948, he was selected as a soloist in the newly formed National Army Ensemble by director Gaqo Avrazi. Athanasi was among a handful of young men in this ensemble to receive a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union, and following the completion of his degree in vocal performance at the Moscow State Conservatory in 1958, he was appointed soloist at Tirana’s Theatre of Opera and Ballet. He performed leading roles in premières of Albanian operas, and was active as a recitalist, performing a broad range of art music works from the Western European and Albanian repertories as well as arranged folk songs into the 1980s. In ...

Article

Lana Paćuka

(b Herceg Novi, Montenegro, Dec 5, 1921; d Sarajevo, Bosnia, April 17, 2012) Bosnian baritone and opera soloist of Montenegrin origin. He made his début at the National Theatre in Sarajevo (1946), and after that, except for short engagements at the Zagreb Opera (1955–7), his artistic work was tied to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before beginning his musical education he attended the Maritime Trade Academy, after which he enrolled in solo singing at the Rossini Conservatory in Pesaro. He also worked as a member of the Ivo Lola Ribar ensemble in Belgrade.

His début in the role of Rigoletto (Rigoletto, G. Verdi) enabled him to gain the status of first soloist at the Sarajevo Opera, which was the decisive moment in his career. During his artistic career he interpreted the roles of Papageno (The Magic Flute, W.A. Mozart), Sima (Ero s onog svijeta...

Article

Ivan Čavlović

(b Mostar, 1953). Bosnian-Herzegovinian soprano. Bakšić graduated from the Secondary Music School in Mostar. In 1976 she graduated from the Department for Music Theory and in 1979 from the Department for Solo-Singing at the Academy of Music in Sarajevo. She studied solo-singing in the class of the famous opera singer and professor Milica Buljubašić-Zečević. As a student she began to sing at the Music Scene of Sarajevo, first at the student concerts and then on the opera stage. In 1979 she made her début as Rosette in Manon. In 1981, at the very beginning of her career, she performed her first leading role as Floramye in the operette Little Floramye by Ivo Tijardović.

After graduating from the Department for Solo-Singing Bakšić passed the audition at the National Theatre Opera in Sarajevo and has since become a permanent soloist in the opera and operetta repertoire. Some of her leading roles include Rosette in ...

Article

Trudi Ann Wright

(b Baltimore, MD, Aug 9, 1912; d Oslo, Norway, March 13, 2009). American soprano. Born to a music-loving mother and prominent physician father whose grandparents were slaves, Brown premiered the role of Bess in the original production of Porgy and Bess (1935). She studied music, first at Morgan State College and then the Juilliard School, where she was the first African American to win the Margaret McGill scholarship. Brown learned of Gershwin’s new opera, then titled Porgy, while at Juilliard, and immediately requested an audition. She sang for Gershwin a few days later and left their meeting as Bess. Gershwin frequently invited Brown to his apartment to sing parts of the opera as he composed. As a result, Bess grew from a secondary character into one of the opera’s leading roles.

After the original Broadway run and tour of Porgy and Bess ended in 1936, Brown continued with her career in the DuBose Heyward musicals ...

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Korça, Albania, Jan 24, 1935). Albanian tenor and pedagogue. Identified early as a talented singer in his hometown of Korça, he attended the Arts Lyceum ‘Jordan Misja’ in Tirana where he received his first formal training, with the pedagogue Mihal Ciko. In 1957 he received a scholarship to study at the Moscow State Conservatory, where he remained until 1961. On his return to Tirana, Çako was named soloist to the Theater of Opera and Ballet, where he performed a number of leading roles in foreign and Albanian operas during the 1960s and 1970s. Chief among his roles in Albanian operatic works were Dhimitër in Lulja e Kujtimit (by P. Jakova, 1961), Doda in Mrika (by P. Jakova, 1966), and Muji in Vjosa (by T. Daija, 1980). In addition to art music, he interpreted light popular songs and arrangements of folk songs throughout his career. Named as a pedagogue to Tirana’s State Conservatory in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Columbus, OH, June 23, 1943; d Königstein im Taunus, Jan 16, 2022). American tenor. Educated at Wesleyan University, he studied singing at the Curtis Institute with Martial Singher. In 1969 he sang Froh with the San Francisco Opera in Los Angeles. After winning the Lauritz Melchior Heldentenor Foundation Award in 1969, he became a member of the Frankfurt Opera (1970) and the Vienna Opera. He sang in many other European houses as well as in concert with the New York PO (1971), the Boston SO, and a number of other American orchestras. He made his Covent Garden début in 1974 as Laca (Jenůfa) and returned to San Francisco in 1977 (having sung Froh in Das Rheingold there in 1968) to sing Tichon (Kát′a Kabanová). In addition to all the Wagnerian heroic tenor roles, his repertory included Idomeneus, Jason (Cherubini’s ...

Article

Amra Bosnić

(b Kuršumlija, Serbia, 1966). Bosnian and Herzegovinian composer. She graduated with a degree in composition from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo (1991), in the class of josip magdić, after which she gained the Master of Composition (2004) under the mentorship of composer dejan despić. Her first position was at the Srednja muzička škola (‘music high school’) in Valjevo, Serbia (1992–2000). She returned to Eastern Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work as an Associate Professor of Harmony and Harmonic Analysis.

Dutina’s compositions reflect her interest in Balkan folklore, mostly of a rural-vocal type, and in the formal and harmonic devices associated with neoclassicism. She has composed solo songs, chamber music, symphonic works, vocal-instrumental music, choral music, music for children, and film music.

Dutina also cherishes folkloric vocal traditions through her engagement as founder and artistic director of the female vocal ensembles Rusalke (...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Sydney, Feb 8, 1943; d Oct 10, 2021). Australian baritone. He studied in Sydney, where he made his début in 1966, and then in London before joining Scottish Opera (1972), with which he sang Count Almaviva, Malatesta, the Music-Master (Ariadne auf Naxos), James Stewart (Musgrave’s ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Fort de France, Martinique, March 24, 1932; d New York, Sept 16, 2020). Martinique soprano. She studied in Paris, making her début in 1958 at Nice as Leïla (Les pêcheurs de perles). She sang Pamina at Aix-en-Provence (1959), Lakmé at the Opéra-Comique (1961), and made her début at the Paris Opéra (1962) as Fatima (Rameau’s Les Indes galantes). In 1964 she took part in the first public performance of Rameau’s Les boréades at La Maison de la Radio, Paris. In Chicago (1966–76) she sang Leïla, Stravinsky’s Nightingale, and Antonia (Les contes d’Hoffmann), and at Wexford Lakmé (1970) and Imogene in Il pirata (1976). Having sung Countess Almaviva with the Paris Opéra at the Metropolitan (1976), she made her début with the Metropolitan company as Konstanze (1980), and in Brussels (...

Image

The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993 directed by HENRY SELICK and On the set, Tim Burton with Danny Elfman, composer (photo)

Photo © DILTZ/Bridgeman Images

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

revised by Alan Blyth and Meredith Eliassen

(Louise)

(b Detroit, MI, March 27, 1950; d Detroit, Jan 9, 2022). American mezzo-soprano and later soprano. Of Dutch, Sioux, Scottish, and African American ancestry, she studied at the Cleveland Institute (1968–70) with Eleanor Steber, and later with Jennie Tourel and O.G. Marzolla. While still a student, Ewing came to the attention of James Levine, which led to a dramatic debut under his direction at the Ravinia Festival in 1973. After appearances at Miami, Boston, Cologne, Chicago, and Santa Fe, Ewing performed Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at Salzburg in 1976, followed by her Metropolitan debut in the same role. Ewing developed strong determined characters in her repertoire, including Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Mélisande in Debussy’s Pellias et Milisande, Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and, perhaps most famously, the title role in Bizet’s Carmen. She also interpreted several complex 20th-century operatic roles, including Marie in Berg’s ...

Article

Lana Paćuka

(b Sarajevo, Bosnia, June 30, 1947). Bosnian soprano, opera soloist, and music pedagogue. She graduated in 1973 from the Music Academy Sarajevo (class of Bruna Špiler), where she also took the master’s degree in the field of solo singing in 1977. During her artistic career she achieved notable success singing the main soprano roles in the operas Il trovatore (G. Verdi), Ero s onog svijeta (J. Gotovac), The Bartered Bride (B. Smetana), The Marriage of Figaro (W.A. Mozart), and Madam Butterfly and La Boheme (G. Puccini). Her artistic activity was interrupted due to the wartime events in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. Her actions were diverted to performances within small artistic ensembles, which corresponded to the conditions of the social and cultural life of that time. She distinguished herself in appearances at the concerts of the Sarajevo Winter Festival, Summer Chamber Music (1993), and Days of Culture of the Czech Republic in Bosnia and Herzegovina (...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Sigourney, IA). American mezzo-soprano. She took voice lessons from Jocelyn Reiter at the University of Iowa, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She continued her studies with Paul von Schilhawsky at the Salzburg Mozarteum, focusing on German lieder. She has appeared widely on the concert stage and with the world’s premiere opera troupes, including the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera. Her Metropolitan debut was in 2002 as the wardrobe mistress/schoolboy in Berg’s Lulu. She has also appeared there as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini, Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette, and the Page of Herodias in Salome. Her many appearances at the New York City Opera have garnered her both the Betty Allen and Diva awards; with the company, she has performed the roles of Erika in Vanessa, Suzuki in ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz and Geoffrey Chew

(b Plzeň [Pilsen], July 14, 1939; d Prague, Oct 1, 2019). Czech pop singer, actor, and painter. The best-known and most successful Czech pop singer of the 20th and 21st centuries. In his youth Gott aspired to become a painter, and after completing his schooling in Plzeň, he applied to study art in Prague. After failing to be admitted, he trained as an electrician, and during his training devoted himself also to singing. He began by studying as an opera singer (lyric tenor) with Konstantin Karenin, a pupil of Chaliapin, at first at the Prague Conservatoire and later privately. In 1962 he was engaged at the Semafor Theatre in Prague of Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, where he achieved great success singing the songs of Suchý and Šlitr; in 1963 he won the Zlatý slavík (‘Golden Nightingale’) poll for the first time, with the hit Oči má sněhem zaváté...

Article

Noël Goodwin

(b Bratislava, Dec 23, 1946; d Zürich, Oct 18, 2021). Slovak soprano. She studied at the Bratislava Conservatory, as well as in Prague and Vienna. Her début was in 1968 in Bratislava as Rosina (Il barbiere), and two years later she was engaged for the Queen of Night at the Vienna Staatsoper. There she became a regular member of the company in 1972 and within a few years had established herself as one of the world’s leading coloratura sopranos. As the Queen of Night she made débuts at Glyndebourne in 1974 and at the Metropolitan in 1977, the year in which she first appeared at the Salzburg Festival, as Thibault (Don Carlos) under Karajan. Her other major successes included appearances as Zerbinetta, Gilda, Violetta, Lucia, Konstanze, Manon, Oscar, and Donna Anna (at La Scala in 1987). Gruberová featured prominently in the revival of Rossini and other bel canto operas, and made her Covent Garden début as Giulietta in Bellini’s ...

Article

James Wierzbicki

revised by Jonas Westover

(Ann )

(b Canby, MN, Jan 4, 1947). American soprano. After studying at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota (BM 1969), and with marion Freschel at the Juilliard School, she won first prizes in the Concert Artists Guild competition in 1970 and the Rockefeller and Minna Kaufmann Ruud competitions in 1972. She has appeared as a soloist with most of the major American orchestras, including the Baltimore SO, with which she toured East Germany, and the New York PO, with which she gave the premiere (under Pierre Boulez) of George Crumb’s Star-child (1977), a work commissioned for her by the Ford Foundation as a result of her winning its performance competition in 1971. She has also sung in Europe, with such orchestras as the Stuttgart RO and the Bavarian RO. In 1980 she won the Naumburg International Voice Competition, and the following year she made her opera debut as Mimì with Opera St. Paul (Minnesota), in addition to giving her first recitals at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center; since then she has been increasingly active as a recitalist. Gubrud’s wide expressive range and sure technique allow her to meet the demands of music from all periods. She has recorded widely on a variety of labels and has been a regular participant in the Aspen, Blossom, and Meadowbrook festivals. Gubrud’s role as a teacher has been a key facet of her career. She taught at Washington University, St. Louis (...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

[Carmen Mária Štefánia (Beatrix) Farkašová-Čelková]

(b Bratislava, 20 Oct 1931). Czech singer of Slovak origin. After completing her studies at the Gymnasium in Komárno (1950), she was unable to proceed to higher education owing to her political unreliability, but she completed a theatre course at the State Conservatory in Bratislava, and worked as an actress in the 1950s in theatres in Žilina and Bratislava. In 1958 she moved to Prague, where she acted and sang in the Alhambra and in the Rokoko and Semafor theatres. However, she established her career primarily as a singer of chansons, building her repertoire from songs by Petr Hapka and Jiří Šlitr, with texts by Petr Rada and Pavel Kopta, who also provided Czech texts for her to numerous French chansons. In the early 1960s she appeared at the Olympia in Paris, and in Switzerland and the German Federal Republic, where she also made recordings for the radio and appeared on television. She sang more frequently at significant foreign festivals such as Ostend, Wiesbaden, Cannes, and Sopoty, and in countries outside Czechoslovakia (Argentina, Cuba, Canada, and others), than at concerts in Czechoslovakia, though she played minor roles in many Czechoslovak films. Up to her retirement, on health grounds, in her 80s, she gave full-evening recitals in the Kalich and Ungelt theatres in Prague, and in other venues, accompanied on the piano by Petr Malásek. Outside the Czech sphere she has sung chansons in the original languages and has been nicknamed ‘the Prague Edith Piaf’ or ‘the Czech Juliette Gréco’, though as a singer she has retained a very distinctive Slavic style....

Article

Peter Mondelli

(b Washburn, IL, Nov 20, 1959). American bass-baritone. He studied at Millikin University and Wichita State University under Richard Cross and George Gibson. In 1986, he made his debut with Central City Opera in Denver as Colline in La Bohème. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1989 as Mr. Redburn in Billy Budd. He has since been heard with many major companies, including those in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna, Salzburg, London, Paris, and Milan. He is a winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize. His rich-hued, powerful voice is especially well suited to the operas of Wagner and Strauss, including such roles as Wotan, Kurwenal, the Dutchman, Jochanaan, and Orestes. He has also been successful in such dramatically demanding roles as Wozzeck in in comic roles such as Leporello and the Four Villains in Les contes d’Hoffmann. As a concert soloist, he has performed with the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Paris Orchestra, and the Kirov Opera Orchestra. His recordings include Donner in Wagner’s ...

Article

Thor Eckert Jr.

revised by Beth McGinnis

(b Ojai, CA, Dec 27, 1939). American tenor. He studied at the Music Academy of the West, UCLA with martial Singher and from 1963 to 1972 at the Juilliard School with Jennie Tourel. He began his professional career as Francesco Cavalli’s Ormindo with the Opera Society of Washington (1969) and as Tonio in a concert performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Beverly Sills at Carnegie Hall (1970, recorded on the Adagio Classics label). Shortly thereafter he made his New York City Opera debut in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and went on to sing with opera companies in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, France, Switzerland, and England. His repertoire of more than seventy roles includes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Ferrando, Belmonte, and Tamino, Charles Gounod’s Faust and Roméo, Georges Bizet’s Don José, and Claude Debussy’s Pelléas. He has appeared regularly with major American orchestras, choral societies, and music festivals and has performed Franz Schubert’s song cycles with fortepiano. Known for his versatility and acute attention to style, he has sung in the premieres of works by Leonard Bernstein, Jack Beeson, Thomas Pasatieri, Alberto Ginastera (...

Article

Byron Adams

(Marc)

(b Cleveland, Aug 28, 1959). American composer, conductor, baritone, and editor. The child of Holocaust survivors, Hoffman studied at the Boston Conservatory, where he received the BM, magna cum laude, in 1981. He earned the MM from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1984, and he received the PhD from Brandeis University in 1993. His teachers included Arthur Berger, Martin Boykan, Hugo Norden, Chris Roze, Harold Shapero, Larry Alan Smith, and Yehudi Wyner. From 1990 to 1998, Hoffman worked as an editor at the music engraving company Scores International in Boston, and he was hired as an editor at ECS Publishing immediately thereafter.

Since the mid-1980s, Hoffman has composed a substantial body of choral music. Many of these pieces reflect his Jewish heritage, and his sacred works can be used in temple services. This music is also sung widely in churches, high schools, universities, and by professional choral ensembles. In addition, he has composed choral works using secular texts along with pieces for keyboard solo, solo voice, chamber ensembles, and full orchestra. Hoffman’s work has been commissioned by ensembles such as the Carolina Brass and ALEA III (a contemporary music ensemble). His piece ...