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Sounds of Handel's Glorious Messiah to Fill Eastman Theatre

November 16, 2007

Four Renowned Soloists Join Forces with RPO and Rochester Oratorio Society

Rochester, NY – After last season’s successful Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra revival of Handel’s Messiah for the first time in more than a decade, the RPO will thrill audiences again in two special performances of that piece on Friday, December 14 and Saturday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre.  Music Director Christopher Seaman will conduct from the harpsichord with soprano Danielle de Niese, mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby, tenor Michael Colvin and baritone Stephen Powell as soloists, in addition to the Rochester Oratorio Society (ROS) under its director, Eric Townell.  These special concerts are sponsored by Nixon Peabody LLP.

“We are very happy to be collaborating again on this production of Messiah with the Rochester Oratorio Society and its Music Director, Eric Townell,” says Seaman. “The work remains an absolute ‘evergreen’ for music-lovers, and Handel’s skill and keen sense of drama come into full play.” The RPO will perform the early part of Messiah associated with Christmas plus the most significant and popular sections from the latter part of the work.  

The RPO is proud to continue its long history with the Rochester Oratorio Society, which this year marks Music Director Eric Townell’s second season with the organization.  The ROS has grown to become Rochester’s premier large concert chorus.  In July 2008, the ROS will perform in Beijing, China, as the keynote ensemble of the pre-Olympic Cultural Festival.  In addition, it has toured six European capitals and given numerous Rochester premieres of major works.  As only its third director, Mr. Townell is widely recognized as a versatile and dynamic conductor of choral, operatic and symphonic repertoire.  A two-time prize winner of the International Opera Conducting Course/Competition, he also leads the Master Singers of Milwaukee.

The Australian-born American soprano Danielle de Niese has been captivating audiences since childhood, when she was a fixture of Los Angeles local television hosting a weekly arts showcase for teenagers, for which she won an Emmy award.  At age 19, she made her house debut as Barbarina in Marriage of Figaro under James Levine while training in the Lindemann Young Artist Development program of the Metropolitan Opera, with Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli as castmates.  Her international acclaim came with her portrayal of Cleopatra in Handel’s Julius Caesar during her 2005 Glyndebourne Festival debut.  Her European debuts included Cleopatra for both the Netherlands and Paris Opera, Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes and Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. This season, she makes debuts in the same role at both the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels.

Mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby’s unique vocal timbre and insightful musicianship are evident in a diverse repertoire extending from the operas of Monteverdi to recent works by John Adams.  This season, she joins Kurt Masur and the San Francisco Symphony in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, as well as David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony in Rossini’s Stabat Mater.  She also makes her role debut as Mistress Quickly in a new production of Falstaff at Santa Fe Opera.  On the concert stage, she has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, and the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco symphonies, among many others.  Her operatic appearances include prestigious houses such as the Stuttgart Opera, Netherlands Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden and more.

Hailed as a perfect model of the bel canto style of singing, Irish-Canadian tenor Michael Colvin quickly has made a name for himself since graduating from the Opera Division of the University of Toronto.  This season, he sings the role of Ramiro in La Cenerentola for Portland Opera and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni for Chicago Opera Theatre.  In concert, he sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony, Messiah with Symphony Nova Scotia and the Kingston Symphony in addition to the RPO, and Verdi’s Requiem with the Winnipeg Symphony.  He also will be making his English National Opera debut in Lucia di Lammermoor.

Baritone Stephen Powell brings his handsome voice, elegant musicianship, and robust stage presence to a wide range of music. This season, he makes his San Francisco Opera debut singing Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, appears with Washington Concert Opera as Riccardo in The Puritans and with the North Carolina Symphony as count in The Marriage of Figaro.  He also performs Carmina Burana with the Oregon Symphony, Brahms’ German Requiem with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall.  Recent performances include Donizetti’s Dom Sebastien with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall, Carmina Burana with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem at Carnegie Hall, Messiah with l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the St. Matthew Passion with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society. 

Tickets for these performances are $22-$57 and are available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at Wegmans.  RPO Box Office Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Wegmans is open seven days a week. A convenience fee may apply.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

Note: Photos and interviews with soloists are available upon request.

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