Georges Bizet's Carmen

Italian mezzo-soprano ALESSANDRA VOLPE (Carmen) has already made a strong impact on the opera world, having made her Teatro alla Scala debut to rave reviews in Die Lustige Witwe conducted by Maestro Asher Fisch. Her United States debut soon followed, performing the role of Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri for the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, in which she was said to have “a bell-like voice that makes the evening delightful.” Upcoming engagements include the title role in Carmen with Opera Lyra Ottawa; Nabucco in Tenefiere, Italy; and she joins the Metropolitan Opera roster for their productions of I Puritani and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Worldwide engagements have included performances of Emilia in Otello in her Bayerische Staatsoper of München debut; her Glyndebourne Festival debut in Rusalka; Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia in Santiago de Compostela; La Cenerentola at Reggio Emilia’s Theater; and Clotilde in Norma at the Parco della Musica in Rome under Maestro Kent Nagano. Volpe has performed frequently with the Foundazione Lirico Sinfonica Petruzzelli di Bari as Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Jenny in Britten’s A Beggar’s Opera, in Suor Angelica, Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny, and in Debussy’s Damoiselle Elue. Volpe graduated summa cum laude from the Conservatoirio Niccolò Piccinni in Bari in piano and vocal studies. In October 2010, she won the 11th International Competition of Maria Kraja in Tirana.

FRANK MCCLAIN (Co-director) is the managing director for Opera Tampa and was formally the artistic director of Florida Opera Theatre, the opera/musical theatre production manager for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. For Opera Tampa, McClain has directed The Merry Widow, Anton Coppola’s Fond Farewells Concert and Bon Appétit. Recent directing projects include Rigoletto and La Bohéme for the Orlando Philharmonic, I Pagliacci and Don Pasquale for Vero Beach Opera, The Barber of Seville and Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium for Florida Opera Theatre, Porgy and Bess for the Akron Symphony Orchestra, Carousel and How to Succeed... for The Orlando Philharmonic, Company for Mad Cow Theatre in Orlando, Guy and Dolls and Porgy and Bess both co-productions between the Orlando Philharmonic and Mad Cow Theatre. He was the resident stage director and co-director of the Studio Artist Program for Orlando Opera where he directed Il Trovatore, L’elisir d’amore, Candide, Le nozze di Figaro and numerous out reach productions. Addition non opera directorial credits include the Beaumarchais play The Marriage of Figaro at the University of Central Florida, Bouncers, Mass Appeal, Why We Have A Body and Joan Crawford’s House Party which received a Patron’s Pick Award at the Orlando International Fringe Festival. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in vocal performance from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, and has performed as a singer and actor all across the country, including  at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida.

JOHN PICKLE (Don José) is quickly making a name for himself.  Last season, Pickle enjoyed performances as Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera with Opera Tampa, Erik with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Utah Festival and Opera, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer, a role in which he just debuted with Los Angeles Opera. Additional appearances included Calaf in Turandot with Mobile Opera; Canio in I Pagliacci with Michigan Opera Theatre; Turiddu and Canio in Opera Delaware’s double-bill production of Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci; the title role of Candide with Fresno Grand Opera; Cavaradossi in Tosca, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer; Rodolfo in La bohème for Baltimore Concert Opera; the Duke in Rigoletto with Center City Opera Theater; and Judge Danforth in The Crucible with Utah Festival Opera. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2008 performing the Mozart Requiem conducted by John Rutter and Schubert’s Mass in G, and performed the Mozart Requiem in the famed hall again last spring. Additional work has included Florentine Opera’s Gala Concert, an opera highlights concert with the Jefferson City Symphony; Victor Herbert’s 150th Birthday Celebration with Little Orchestra Society; and a concert of opera’s greatest hits with Opera Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic.

JASON HOWARD (baritone) Raised in the rich singing tradition of South Wales, Howard is recognized as one of the United Kingdom’s leading performers on the international operatic stage. Long known as an outstanding performer in the French and Italian repertoire, his most recent success as Wotan in David McVicars’s wonderful production of Wagner’s Ring Der Nibelungen at the Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg, one review described his recent debut in Die Walkure, as ‘the Wotan of his generation.’ Upon leaving his first career as a fireman he took up studies in London at Trinity and the Royal Colleges of music with John Wakefield and Norman Bailey respectively. He commenced his career at Scottish Opera, subsequently singing with all the major UK opera companies and orchestras. Highlights included his debut at the Royal Opera House and Paris Opera as Marcello in Puccini’s La Boheme and his debut at Chicago Lyric Opera as Adam Brant in Mourning Becomes Electra (also performed in Seattle and New York) and Alfio in Cav/Pag for Washington National Opera. In the winter of 2009, 19 years after his performances of Ravenal in the RSC/Opera North production of Showboat he returned to the stage musical with performances of Emile de Beque in the Lincoln Center Theater production of South Pacific.

NATHALIE PAULIN (Micaëla) Soprano Nathalie Paulin has established herself in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East as an interpretive artist of the very first rank. Winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera Performance, reviewing from Chicago, John van Rhein noted that “Paulin in particular is a real find; her rich, agile voice possesses great depth and allure, her manner radiates sensuous charm.” She debuted for L’Opéra de Montréal as Mélisande in Pélléas et Mélisande and for Chicago Opera Theater as Galatea in Acis and Galatea and as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro for Cincinnati Opera. Other roles include Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte and Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera. Frequently heard on both the French and English CBC networks, she is a past winner of the Montréal Symphony Competition and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Montréal. She won the Dvorak prize and has also received awards and prizes from the George London Foundation in New York, the Young Mozart Singers’ Competition in Toronto and the Canadian Music Competition.

DANIEL LIPTON is widely regarded as one of today’s most exciting and creative conductors, whose superb performances of opera and the concert repertoire have gained him international acclaim. He was appointed music director and chief conductor of the Anhaltische Philharmonie and general music director of the opera company in Dessau, Germany. He became artistic director of Opera Ontario, Canada, and presented the Canadian premieres of Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, Verdi’s I Due Foscari and Massenet’s Portrait de Manon, along with other major operas. Under Lipton’s direction, Opera Ontario has enjoyed not only the highest artistic accolades, but also notable financial success, while greatly expanding the audiences in the process. He has been primarily responsible for the growth of Opera Ontario, making it one of Canada’s most important and artistically innovative companies. His annual POPERA™ galas have met with widespread popularity and acclaim. Before his time in Ontario, Lipton was appointed music director and principal conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Colombia in Bogotà and conducted 33 programs a year with them. In Colombia he rebuilt the symphony orchestra and created a national opera company. He was appointed artistic director of the Opera de Colombia and produced 30 operas. Both organizations were raised to the highest international standard of performance because of his unwavering commitment to excellence. Previous posts include music director with Houston Grand Opera and artistic director of the San Antonio Festival. He has also held positions with the Zürich Opera, the Teatro Comunale in Bologna and Florence, American Ballet Theatre and the Denver Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, he was appointed artistic director of the EurOrchester for the European Classic Festival, (Triennale) for which he has conducted during the past 11 years.