OperaFest Sewanee

OperaFest Sewanee


Very excited to be a Guest Artist at OperaFest Sewanee!
The culmination of last night's "Much Ado About Shakespeare!" scenes program was wonderful and bittersweet! I am so thankful to the 3 ladies standing around me, to Patrick Hansen and Kathleen Kelly for their musical wisdom, to Gina Lapinski for her brillant staging, to Debbie Robertson for her piano collaboration and last but never least, to my teacher Laura Brooks Rice who guided me (despite quarantine and zoom) and who had this wonderful vision to create OperaFest Sewanee that gave me so many opportunities this summer, I say THANK YOU!!
This Summer, our Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Joan Dornemann, will be a Faculty Member at OperaFest Sewanee - Sewanee Summer Music Festival in June and Guest Faculty at Canto Vocal Programs in July!

Visit https://ssmf.sewanee.edu/ & https://www.cantovocalprograms.com/ for details!

Enjoyed The Practicing Mind seminar by Thomas Sterner. “In order to be Free with art, you have to be a slave to the process”
Sewanee Opera Intensive
All set up and Ready to work hard this week with Sewanee Opera Intensive! I can’t wait to coach these arias with the amazing faculty!
Sewanee Opera Intensive
✨This week, both Joan Dornemann and Hemdi Kfir are part of the Sewanee Opera Intensive ✨

Lucky students!!

Today's features our incredible diction coach, Hemdi Kfir! Keep reading to learn more about her work, favorite composers, and her top tips for singers.


Hemdi Kfir has been a member of the music staff at the Metropolitan Opera since 2007. Among her extensive work with young professional singers: The Juilliard School, the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Washington National Opera Cafritz Young Artist Program, the Israeli Opera, and Tokyo's Academy for the Performing Arts, GeiDai. She joined the faculty of Joan Dornemann's International Vocal Arts Institute in 1999, CoOperative at Rider University in 2016, and Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara in 2019. She edited Nico Castel's book of Handel operas, and translated numerous operas for surtitles. Hemdi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and French, and a Master of Arts in Music and Languages.
✨ 𝓒𝓸𝓶𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝓢𝓸𝓸𝓷 ✨

ℹ️ Introducing the Sewanee Opera Intensive! A brand new digital opera training program focused on fostering community and connection among opera artists and providing advanced training during this time of isolation. Created to help artists reboot in 2021, the program offers private coaching focusing on operatic style, diction and language, dramatic presentation, performance technique, and professional skills training. Directed by Laura Brooks Rice, the first one-week digital intensive program is January 3-8, 2021.

👩‍🏫 The Faculty includes Co-Founder & Artistic Director Joan Dornemann, Diction Coach Hemdi Kfir and Voice Teacher Laura Brooks Rice, among other fantastic opera professionals.

👉🏼 Applications open soon and there is no fee to apply. Learn more at http://ssmf.sewanee.edu/winterfest/opera-intensive/

The Sewanee Summer Music Festival is pleased to offer a series of FREE masterclasses with our acclaimed festival artist-faculty. Come prepared to perform, ask questions and develop your skills under the guidance of these expert musicians. Not ready to play or SING in the class, you can select to just observe. However, we strongly encourage everyone to participate, ask questions, and engage with our faculty and fellow students. Learn, grow, and be ready for your future. Now is the time!
Students may register at this link below:
For a complete listing of our FREE masterclass series:
Stay tuned for more masterclasses in the spring of 2021.

A program of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, OperaFest Sewanee is an artist incubator program.

OperaFest Sewanee is a program of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. To learn more about SSMF, please visit our website at https://ssmf.sewanee.edu

Operating as usual


Bravo John Kilkenny!

Guest Percussionist John Kilkenny joins Brightmusic Tuesday, September 19, 7:30p at First Baptist Church OKC for Music for Mallets, Bows, and Reeds. The concert features a wide selection of pieces by both modern and historic eras, including several women composers.

* Libby Larsen, Corker for Clarinet and Percussion
* Joan Tower, Small (for solo percussion)
* Peter Klatzow, Dances of Earth and Fire for Solo Marimba
* Alexina Louie, Cadenzas for Clarinet and Percussion
* Franz Schubert, String Trio in B-flat Major, D. 471
* Jean Sibelius, String Trio in G Minor
* Osvaldo Golijov, Mariel for Cello and Marimba
* Caroline Shaw, Limestone and Felt for Cello and Percussion

Hailed as a “particularly fine timpanist” by the Washington Post, John Kilkenny leads a dynamic, 21st-century musical career that includes regular orchestral, solo, and chamber music performances worldwide. Kilkenny received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Julliard School and Temple University, respectively. He served 16 years as Director of Percussion Studies at George Mason University, where he engaged with almost all Washington DC-area performing arts organizations. Kilkenny is currently Artistic Director at the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in Tennessee and Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera.

Photo courtesy John Kilkenny

Photos from Highlands Opera Studio's post 08/19/2023

Congrats to alumna Alex Wiebe

Photos from Association for Opera in Canada's post 08/15/2023

Brava Jennifer Szeto!

Photos from Jenna Grissom, Soprano's post 07/26/2023

Congratulations Jenna Grissom!

Photos from Utah Festival Opera's post 07/19/2023

Congratulations to alumna Jenna Grissom!


Cheers to a magical evening of music making 🥂 Wishing these beautiful artists an incredible performance tonight! ✨

📸 David Andrews


TOMORROW July 6 at 7:30 PM our talented singers take the Guerry Auditorium stage for an evening of Italian Opera Scenes! 🎭✨ Join us for a special concert filled with timeless stories from the operatic canon. We can't wait to share this incredible music with all of you!

📅 Date: July 6th
⏰ Time: 7:30 PM
📍 Venue: Guerry Auditorium

Can't make it in person? No worries! We've got you covered 🎥🌐 Join us virtually via our live stream. More details here: ssmf.sewanee.edu/tickets/

📸 David Andrews


Congrats Cody!

The Conroe Symphony Orchestra is proud to announce Soloist Cody Ryan Arthur will join them tonight at the Stars & Stripes Salute!

Arthur is establishing a professional career on operatic, concert, and choral stages across the US and abroad. His operatic repertoire ranges from the Baroque to the contemporary including roles in Lully's Armide, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Don Pasquale, Romeo et Juliette, Albert Herring, and Dinner at Eight. In Houston, Cody has performed with HGOco (premiere of Marian's Song), Opera in the Heights (Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor), and with the Houston Grand Opera Chorus (Aida, Turandot).
On the concert stage he has sung as a soloist and chorister with Greenbriar Consortium, Houston Masterworks Chorus, Harmonia Stellarum, Mercury Chamber Orchestra, Ars Lyrica, Bach Society of Houston, and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. This July, he will perform with the Houston Gilbert and Sullivan Society in The Pirates of Penzance. Cody is an alumna of the University of Houston and maintains a thriving private voice studio in the area.

You don't want to miss him sing tonight with the CSO at 8 p.m. at Heritage Park! The free event will feature fireworks, food trucks and tons of fun!


Brava Jen Szeto!

OPERA America is pleased to announce the 19 participants of our 2023 Leadership Intensive!

American Participants:
- Kathleen Dean (Washington, D.C.)
- Daniel Fung (Minneapolis, MN)
- Alyssa Greenberg (Chicago, IL)
- Michael Hoke (Phoenix, AZ)
- Pamela Jones (New York, NY)
- Stefanos Koroneos (New York, NY)
- Justin Lucero (El Paso, TX)
- Alexis Peart (Jamaica Plain, MA)
- Jamelah Rimawi (New York, NY)
- Maria Sensi Sellner (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Jaime Sharp (Chicago, IL)
- Andrea Tichy (Portland, OR)
- Brooke Tolley (Roanoke, VA)

International Participants:
- Ricardo Appezzato (São Paulo, BR)
- Guillaume L’Hôpital (Brussels, BE)
- Julie McIsaac (Victoria, BC)
- Francisca Peró Gubler (Bío Bío, CL)
- Kate Rooney (London, UK)
- Jennifer Szeto (Montreal, QC)

This 2023 class is the largest cohort in the program’s history and includes 13 participants selected by OPERA America and two participants selected by each of our partner organizations: the Association for Opera in Canada, Opera Europa, and Ópera Latinoamérica.

We can't wait to welcome this brilliant crew to NYC for a week-long intensive this fall.

Learn more about the participants: operaamerica.org/leadership2023

Photos from OperaFest Sewanee's post 06/26/2023

OperaFest singers doing what they do


✨N E X T W E E K!!✨

We open ONE WEEK from today! If you're in the NY, you're not going to want to miss this!

"A celebration of Spanish chic-kitsch, set in the ’90s complete with air couches, Chanel clothes and lots of jewels, this production is inspired by Pedro Almodovar’s “Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown." On the stage will be neon bull sculptures, a five-piece couch covered with Pier Mondrian fabric, and lots of gazpacho."

SUCHAN KIM | Don Giovanni
ANDREW DWAN | Leporello
RICK AGSTER | Commendatore
EUN BYOUL SONG | Donna Elvira
MINKI HONG | Masetto
OMAR HOWARD | Miss Shangay Lily
LIZ KLEIN | Actress

JASON TRAMM | Conductor
MATTHEW DEINHART | Lighting designer
TROY OGILVIE | Choreographer

Teatro Grattacielo & Camerata Bardi Vocal Academy present:

🎭 Mozart's Don Giovanni 🎭

📆 June 16th, 2023 @ 7:30PM
The Riverside Theater
91 Claremont Ave
New York, NY 10027

🎫 Tickets: https://grattacielo.org/buy-tickets


Amazing news for faculty member Joshua E. Conyers!

Where to begin! Can I say that you can have it all and be living your dream???!!!! I am finally stepping foot in the Lincoln Center as an artist at The Metropolitan Opera but also making my debut at the NY Philharmonic! I have a traveling recital series that’s near and dear to my heart and I get to teach full time as a professor at Eastman School of Music. I’m doing it all and I’m just so blessed. Thank you to my beautiful wife Laura Conyers for loving me, holding me down and blessing me with a beautiful son. 2023-2024 season is about to be LIT!!! 🔥🔥 Shout out to OperaFest Sewanee for having me as a faculty member for the summer and hopefully for the foreseeable future! UIA Talent Agency

Photos from Sewanee Music Center's post 06/07/2023

Wishing faculty member Patrick PJ Hansen Toi Toi for his directorial opening of Acis and Galatea tonight with Eugene Opera


The countdown is on for OperaFest 2023!! We’re so excited to welcome our OperaFest Artist Fellows and Studio Artists to the mountain in just one month!

Frannie Barrows
Katharine Burns
Ivy Calvert
Savannah Cathey
Callie Cooper
Richard DeLousia
Yingshan (Anna) Gao
Madeleine Gotschlich
Jordan Knapick
Camila Montefusco
Hannah Moreno
Evan Nelson
Julia Scannell
Liam Dooley
Lisa Esposito
Dallas Gray
Annie Kate Lee
Eleen Ooi
Daevyd Pepper

Matthew Polenzani - 25 Years at the Met: "From Four Words to Don Carlos and Tosca" 05/12/2023

Matthew Polenzani was recently interviewed about his 25 years at the Metropolitan Opera, going “From Four Words to Don Carlos and Tosca”. Check out this article to learn more about his incredible journey, and working with his voice teacher and OperaFest Director, Laura Brooks Rice.

Matthew Polenzani - 25 Years at the Met: "From Four Words to Don Carlos and Tosca" Internationally acclaimed American tenor Matthew Polenzani has just completed a run of Tosca performances at the Metropolitan Opera and is soon headed to Fort Worth, Texas to reprise his successful “Three American Tenors” concert on May 13. An intense calendar of performances follows, from Les c...

Schulyer Foundation for Career Bridges to Honor Joan Dornemann & Adam Guettel - OperaWire 05/11/2023

A huge congratulations to our amazing faculty member, Joan Dornemann, who was recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the The Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges!!


Schulyer Foundation for Career Bridges to Honor Joan Dornemann & Adam Guettel - OperaWire The Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges is set to present its 19th Annual Opera Gala and Concert on May 9, 2023.

Photos from Houston Gilbert and Sullivan Society's post 05/04/2023

Congrats Cody Ryan Arthur!


Introducing our 2023 OperaFest faculty and staff!! We can't wait for this incredible team of artists, mentors, and administrators to work with our participants this summer!

Laura Brooks Rice
Karma Camp
Joshua Conyers
Joan Dornemann
Megan Gale
Patrick Hansen
Kathleen Kelly
Elena Kholodova
Dugg McDonough
Jordan Schreiner
Xavier Suárez
Jennifer Szeto
Grace Wipfli


We’re still reeling after Christian Simmons, big win as a The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition National Grand Finals winner! Here’s a video of him singing “Non più andrai” (Le nozze di Figaro) from last summer at OperaFest Sewanee.
Jennifer Szeto


Today we are celebrating all of our incredible OperaFest alumni who performed in the The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition this year. From encouragement awards to semi-finalists to national winners, we are so proud of your beautiful artistry and performances!


Christian Isaiah Simmons NATIONAL Winner! The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition Sewanee is so proud to have been a step in this promisingly career!


Meet the Finalists✨

Rubén Sosa / Met Opera

Photos from OperaFest Sewanee's post 04/17/2023

Congratulations to Christian Isaiah Simmons! The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition Finals bound! Equally proud of Hannah Shea - both represented OperaFest Sewanee beautifully


Congrats Jenna Grissom!

🥁🥁🥁… Finally announcing my plans for this summer! I am so excited to say that I will be spending three months in Utah with !!!


OperaFest Sewanee at the Metropolitan Opera!


We are excited to announced our 2023 WOODWIND FACULTY! Returning for another summer are Donna Shin, Gabriel Beavers and Carl Rath! We also have two wonderful new faculty, Kathleen Mulcahy and Nermis Mieses. We are so excited to get to work together!

Apply to study with our world-class faculty here: https://getacceptd.com/sewanee

Photos from OperaFest Sewanee's post 03/13/2023

Happy, happy birthday to OperaFest Sewanee Program Director, Laura Brooks Rice!!! We're so grateful for you today and everyday! The whole Sewanee Music Center family is wishing you an incredibly day and a wonderful year ahead!!


Congrats to alumna Sara Kennedy!

🔥A N N O U N C E M E N T🔥

Another Anna? Don't mind if I do! Thrilled to be making my debut this July singing one of my favorite Mozart ladies - Donna Anna! Looking forward to spending some serious quality time with her this summer 💗

Tickets and more info: www.paintedskyopera.org/don-giovanni


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Videos (show all)

Sewanee today, August 1 with much needed rain!
We are so proud of our incredible Opera Intensive alumni!
Sewanee Opera Intensive, An Introduction




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