Juilliard Opera & Juilliard415
About the Artists
One of the most widely-produced English-language operas, Dido and Aeneas is based on the story of Dido, queen of Carthage, and the prince of Troy, Aeneas, with a libretto by Nahum Tate. First performed in 1689, it is perhaps most famous for Dido’s lament, “When I am laid in earth.” In June, Juilliard415 and singers from Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts will tour together for the first time, taking the Juilliard Opera production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to Europe with performances at London’s Holland Park, and the Opéra Royal at Versailles. Conducted by Avi Stein and directed by Mary Birnbaum.
Since its founding in 2009, Juilliard415, the school’s principal period-instrument ensemble, has made significant contributions to musical life in New York and beyond, bringing major figures in the field of early music to lead performances of both rare and canonical works of the 17th and 18th centuries. The many distinguished guests who have led Juilliard415 include Harry Bicket, William Christie, Monica Huggett, Ton Koopman, Nicholas McGegan, Rachel Podger, Jordi Savall, and Masaaki Suzuki.
Juilliard415 tours extensively in the U.S. and abroad, having performed on five continents with notable appearances at the Boston Early Music Festival, Leipzig Bachfest, and Utrecht Early Music Festival (where Juilliard was the first-ever conservatory in residence), and on a 10-concert tour of New Zealand. With its frequent musical collaborator, the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the ensemble has played throughout Italy, Japan, Southeast Asia, the U.K., and India. Juilliard415, which takes its name from the pitch commonly associated with the performance of Baroque music, A=415, has performed major oratorios and fully staged productions: Handel’s Agrippina and Radamisto; Bach’s Matthew and John Passions; Cavalli’s La Calisto; and performances in the U.S. and Holland of Bach’s Mass in B Minor conducted by Ton Koopman.
The ensemble’s most recent international appearances were in Bolivia, in a tour sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that marked the ensemble’s South America debut. The 2017-18 season was notable for the Juilliard debuts of the rising conductor Jonathan Cohen and the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis, a side-by-side collaboration with Philharmonia Baroque in San Francisco, as well as return visits by Rachel Podger, William Christie, an all-Bach concert with Maestro Suzuki, and the rare opportunity to see a fully-staged production of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie. This season’s international schedule includes performances in Canada, London, Athens, Versailles, and throughout Scandinavia. In New York, Juilliard415 welcomes Paul Agnew and Alfredo Bernardini for their Juilliard debuts.
About Juilliard Historical Performance
Juilliard’s full-scholarship Historical Performance program offers comprehensive study and performance of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Established and endowed in 2009 by the generous support of Bruce and Suzie Kovner, the program is open to candidates for the Master of Music, Graduate Diploma, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. A high-profile concert season of opera, orchestral, and chamber music is augmented by a performance-oriented curriculum that fosters an informed understanding of the many issues unique to period-instrument performance at the level of technical excellence and musical integrity for which Juilliard is renowned.
The faculty comprises many of the leading performers and scholars in the field. Frequent collaborations with Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts, the integration of modern-instrument majors outside of the Historical Performance program, and national and international tours have introduced new repertoires and increased awareness of historical performance practice at Juilliard and beyond. Alumni of Juilliard Historical Performance are members of many of the leading period-instrument ensembles, including the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Les Arts Florissants, Mercury, and Tafelmusik, as well as launching such new ensembles as the Sebastians, House of Time, New York Baroque Incorporated, and New Vintage Baroque.
Dido and Aeneas
Music by Henry Purcell
Libretto by Nahum Tate
By Mary Birnbaum
Dido, Queen of Carthage, awaits the arrival of her beloved Aeneas, Trojan hero and the half-mortal son of Venus and Anchises. When Dido expresses her concern that she might love Aeneas too much, Dido’s court, led by ladies-in-waiting Belinda and Anna, insists that Aeneas reciprocates her feelings and that their union will be beneficial to the state. Aeneas arrives and swears his fidelity to Dido. All celebrate with a decision to go hunting. Night falls and the Sorceress appears, announcing her plan to sabotage Dido. Her cronies applaud her creativity. Dido and Aeneas wake up and go on the hunt, which commences with a prayer led by Belinda. Anna pulls Aeneas aside and tells him that the grove they are in was the place of Diana’s revenge upon Acteon, who she turned into a stag after he betrayed her by watching her bathe. Aeneas responds by hunting a ‘beast’ and presents it to his beloved. Just then, a storm breaks out and all haste back to town. However, Aeneas is approached by one of the Sorceress’ lackeys, disguised as Mercury, who tells him that he is meant to found Rome, and should hie back to Italy. Aeneas, struck by heroic destiny, dreads telling Dido. A sailor sings a shanty as he prepares the boats for departure. Dido fears abandonment and her fear is founded by Aeneas’ good-bye. They tussle, and she tells him to leave and embraces death, the only recourse left her. The court commemorates their great queen, summoning cupids to guard her tomb.
Avi Stein (Conductor)
Avi Stein is a faculty member of Juilliard’s Historical Performance and Vocal Arts departments, teaching continuo, Baroque vocal repertoire and chamber music. He is the artistic director of the Helicon Foundation and the associate organist-chorus master at Trinity Church Wall Street. He has directed the young artists’ program at the Carmel Bach Festival and conducted a variety of ensembles including the Opera Français de New York, OperaOmnia, the Amherst Festival opera, and a critically-acclaimed annual series called the 4x4 Festival. This summer he will direct the International Baroque Academy at Musiktheater Bavaria. Mr. Stein studied at Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Southern California, and was a Fulbright scholar in Toulouse, France.
Shakèd Bar (Dido)
Jerusalem-born mezzo-soprano Shakèd Bar is a Master of Music student at The Juilliard School, where she studies with Edith Bers. Among the roles she has performed are Fiordiligi in Festival della Valle d’Itria’s Così fan tutte with Fabio Luisi, Poppea and Nerone in Monteverdi’s L'incoronazione di Poppea, Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and La Grande Prêtresse and Une Chasseresse in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie. This season, Ms. Bar is singing the role of Fillide in Handel’s Aminta e Fillide with William Christie and Juilliard415, the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall with the Cecilia Chorus of New York, and a program of Israeli music at Alice Tully Hall. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
Dominik Belavy (Aeneas)
Baritone Dominik Belavy is a Master of Music student at Juilliard, where he studied with Sanford Sylvan. At Juilliard, he has been in productions of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata and covered roles in Katya Kabanova, Les mamelles de Tirésias, and La finta giardiniera. With Juilliard415, he has sung Bach’s B Minor Mass under the baton of Ton Koopman. He recently made his professional debut as Jim Larkens in Michigan Opera Theatre’s production ofLa fanciulla del West under the baton of Stephen Lord. As a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, he has sung Ravel’s Chansons madécasses, Schoenberg’s arrangement of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and Junior in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, and premiered works by Alan Smith and Nathan Davis.
Olivia Cosio (Second Witch)
Mezzo-soprano Olivia Cosio, originally from San Francisco, is a Master of Music student at Juilliard, where she studied with Sanford Sylvan. She was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she performed Susie in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place and sang in the world premiere of Michael Gandolfi’s In America. The previous season, she performed the American premiere of Michael Gordon’s No Anthem at the Bang on a Can 30th anniversary concert at the Brooklyn Museum. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory, where she portrayed Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina, toured with the Oberlin Sinfonietta, and sang in master classes by artists such as Marilyn Horne.
Kady Evanyshyn (Anna)
This season, Canadian mezzo-soprano Kady Evanyshyn performs as Second Woman (Dido and Aeneas) and Mrs. Grose cover (The Turn of the Screw) with Juilliard Opera, Claire (Cold Mountain) with Music Academy of the West, and premieres Stephano Gervasoni’s Drei Grabschriften with Juilliard’s Focus Festival. Recent engagements include: Frau Reich (Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor) with Juilliard Opera, La Tasse Chinoise (L’enfant et les sortilèges) with Juilliard Orchestra, Annio (La clemenza di Tito) with Aspen Opera Center, and Berio’s Folk Songs with Jeffrey Milarsky and AXIOM in Alice Tully Hall. She is currently in the second year of her master's degree, studying with Edith Wiens. Ms. Evanyshyn earned her bachelor’s degree from Juilliard, where she was granted the John Erskine prize. She is supported by the Manitoba Arts Council.
Britt Hewitt (Spirit)
Britt Hewitt is a soprano and singer/songwriter from Jacksonville, Fla. In 2016, she graduated from Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where she performed works of opera, musical theatre, jazz, and pop. She has interned at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and attended the Recording Academy’s Grammy Camp Nashville. She is in her third year at Juilliard, where she studied with Sanford Sylvan. At Juilliard, Hewitt has portrayed Mistress Quickly in Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor and Miles in The Turn of the Screw, and she is the Student Council vice president. She is also a member of the New York Songwriters Circle and a finalist of the 2018 MyNYCSong Teen Songwriting Contest.
Chance Jonas-O’Toole (First Sailor)
Tenor Chance Jonas-O’Toole is a first-year master’s student at Juilliard, where he studied with Sanford Sylvan. Originally from Dallas, he has lived in New York the past four years while completing his bachelor’s degree at Juilliard. Last season, he performed multiple roles at Juilliard, including Nebuchadnezzar in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace conducted by Mark Shapiro and Mercure in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie conducted by Stephen Stubbs. He has completed two consecutive fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center.
Myka Murphy (Sorceress)
From Roswell, GA, Myka Murphy is a mezzo-soprano and studies with Cynthia Hoffmann, whilst pursuing her Masters of Music degree in voice at The Juilliard School. Most recently, Ms. Murphy performed Zita in Gianni Schicchi and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Red River Lyric Opera. She made her Juilliard School premiere as Maman in L'enfant et les sortilèges; she also performed in the commemorative NYFOS@Juilliard concert honoring John Corigliano and William Bolcom. This season Ms. Murphy will be making her Jackson Symphony debut as the mezzo-soprano soloist for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Shereen Pimentel (First Witch)
Soprano Shereen Pimentel from Teaneck, New Jersey, is a third-year undergraduate at Juilliard, studying with Edith Wiens, where she is a proud recipient of the Kovner Fellowship. She started performing professionally at the age of nine when she debuted on Broadway as Young Nala in The Lion King. This season at Juilliard, she has performed in the undergraduate opera production of Orpheus in the Underworld and the Drama Division’s production of Into the Woods directed by Sarna Lapine. Other school performances include Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor. This past summer she was a Voice Fellow at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where she performed as Barbarina in the production of Le nozze di Figaro conducted by James Conlon. She won first prize in the 2018 New York Lyric Opera Competition.
Mer Wohlgemuth (Belinda)
Mer Wohlgemuth, soprano, is from Winter Haven, FL, and is pursuing her Master of Music in Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School where she studies with Marlena Malas. Most recently, Mrs. Wohlgemuth performed as Tirsi in Handel’s Clori, Tirsi e Fileno in Alice Tully Hall. She has performed as Nerone in The Harrower Summer Workshop Young Artist Program’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and in two different productions of Die Zauberflöte with The Berlin Opera Academy and The Southern Illinois Music Festival as the Zweiter Knaben. She won the Encouragement Award at the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Upper Midwest Region) and earned her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University, NE in 2018.