REGION — Live opera will fill the air from 3:30 to 5:00p on August 25th on the lawn of Ann Street Park as a part of a free, family-friendly Opera! Pike! Park! Concert. . Classic arias, duets, and songs will be performed by singers from Philadelphia’s prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA).
The program will include arias and duets by opera composers like Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Donizetti and Offenbach, as well as famous musical theater and Neapolitan songs. Opera! Pike! Park! is part of the Music in the Park series presented by Milford Borough’s Parks and Recreation Committee.
“Beautiful music and beautiful voices bring people together,” said Xavier Morales, event producer. “In a divisive time in our culture, that becomes more important than ever. That is why I thought an opera festival in Milford would be a good thing, using music to create unity in a shared and beautiful experience.”
Opera! Pike! Park! is a family-friendly event, and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, snacks and beverages. While the event is free, reservations via Eventbrite or on pikeopera.com are requested so organizers can plan appropriately. A limited number of reserved seats for Seniors and those with mobility issues are also available at the Eventbrite link.
About the Performers
Meryl Dominguez (soprano, AVA alumni ‘19) is from Brooklyn, New York. She earned a B.A. in Dance and a B.M. in Voice Performance at Oberlin College and Conservatory. Meryl is the 2016 Third Prize winner of the Deborah Voigt International Vocal Competition, the 2015 Shirley and Seymour Lehrer Scholarship Award winner and Academy Fellowship Award winner of the Music Academy of the West. She is also the winner of the Giargiari Bel Competition Audience Favorite Prize (2017 and 2018). At AVA, Meryl sang the role of Juliette in Roméo et Juliette, Suor Zelatrice in Suor Angelica, Zerbinetta and Naiad in Ariadne auf Naxos, Woglinde inDas Rheingold, the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, title role in Lucia di Lammermoor, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Sophie inWerther and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. While with Music Academy of the West, Meryl performed Clorinda (cover) in La Cenerentola and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Oberlin Opera Theatre.
Mackenzie Gotcher (tenor, fourth-year AVA Resident Artist) is from Detroit, Michigan. Mackenzie won the Top Prize in the Young Patronesses of the Opera and Florida Grand Opera Vocal Competition in 2017. In the summer of 2018, he debuted at the Santa Fe Opera as Captain Nolan in Doctor Atomic under the baton of Matthew Aucoin, with whom he will collaborate in future seasons. At AVA, Mackenzie has performed Roberto in Le Villi, the title role in Il trovatore and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor. He has performed the role of Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca with Wolf Trap Opera and Permian Basin Opera. Additional roles include Agustín Magaldi in Evita with Opera North, Macduff in Macbeth with Opera Company of Middlebury, Diego Delarosa in the premiere of Rose in Flames with Utah Festival Opera, and Paul Bäumer in All Quiet on the Western Front with the Künstler Orchester Wien. He spent his summer in the south of France at Festival d'Aix-en-Provence covering Mario Cavaradossi in a new production of Tosca. He also sang Rodolfo in excerpts from La bohème in an all Puccini gala for the festival with Angel Blue, Joseph Calleja, Siobhan Stagg, and Alexey Markov.
Pianist José Meléndez is in demand as a vocal coach, conductor, and collaborative artist. His professional engagements have taken him to Europe, South and Central America, Asia, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and throughout the mainland United States. He is committed to the artistic development of young and emerging singers, and has been associated with numerous young artist programs, competitions, and training centers. He holds a full-time position at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he is Assistant to the Music Director, Orchestra Librarian, and part of the music staff. He serves as Assistant Conductor, Collaborative Pianist, and Vocal Coach for various AVA productions and events, and he is also the Music Director of Concert Operetta Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to the performance of operetta in concert.
Mr. Meléndez has held professional positions with Glimmerglass Opera (Principal Coach), Opera Company of Philadelphia, Hawaii Opera Theatre (Chorus Master, Repetiteur, Studio Artist Coach), Ocean City (NJ) Pops Orchestra (Conductor), Connecticut Grand Opera, Bay Area Summer Opera Theater (Conductor), Westminster Opera Theater (Music Director), Indianapolis Opera, and Opera de Puerto Rico. He worked with Opera New Jersey for over a decade as Assistant Conductor and Principal Coach, and as Music Director of the Young Artist Program. He made his Carnegie Hall debut as a solo pianist in a recital with pianist José Ramos Santana in May of 2011.
He continues his role as Principal Coach and Pianist for the Puerto Rico Metropolitan Council District and Regional Auditions, a position he has held for over 20 years. He has worked with the Castleton Music Festival (C.A.T.S. Principal Coach), Curtis Institute of Music (Music staff), L’Académie Internationale d’Été de Nice (France), Casals Festival (Puerto Rico), Culturarte (Puerto Rico), Francisco Viñas International Voice Competition (Barcelona), and Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s World Opera Competition.
As a collaborative pianist, Mr. Meléndez is known for his colorful and sensitive playing, as well as his innovative programming. He has enjoyed a partnership with mezzo-soprano Maya Hoover for 19 years. They are known for their programs of all Latin American art song, and for their carefully crafted recitals featuring lesser-known repertoire, which often include new arrangements written by Mr. Meléndez. Mr. Meléndez is a frequent guest artist at the University of Hawaii, where he has presented master classes on the art of collaboration and has played for several seasons on the Music at Mãnoa concert series. He has served on the faculty of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and in summer 2014, he joined the Music Staff of Seagle Music Colony as Coach for their Young Artist Studio. This summer 2016, Mr. Meléndez joined: Opera Company of Middlebury as Principal Coach/Assistant Conductor, and as music staff at Opera Saratoga for their production of Daniel Catan’s Il Postino.
José Meléndez holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico and a Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying and Coaching from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he studied with Dalton Baldwin, José Ramos Santana, and J.J. Penna.
Cody Müller (first-year AVA Resident Artist) is described as having a voice that "...resonates authority," Cody Müller, Bass, continues to thrill audiences with his rich vocal timbre and compelling stage presence. His budding career has spanned the American states and two Canadian cities performing for over 28,000 people in the spring of 2018 alone. Müller holds degrees from Belmont University and The Eastman School of Music where he studied with acclaimed Bass-Baritone Jan Opalach.
Comfortable both in Opera and Concert repertoire, some of Müller's most notable solo performances include Jesus in Bach's "Matthäus Passion," Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem," Mendelssohn's "Magnificat," Beethoven's "Mass in C," Handel's "Messiah," and several Bach Cantatas: BWV 75, 80, 140, 179, & 214. Operatic credits include Henezo in L'amico Fritz with Baltimore Concert Opera, Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, the Four Villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann with Bel Cantanti Opera, Gus O'Neill in John Musto's Later the Same Evening with Central City Opera, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, Marchese in La traviata with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Gibbs in Ned Rorem's Our Town, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola and The Four Villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann both with Opera in the Ozarks, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Dr. Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro with Eastman Opera Theatre.
An avid choral musician, Müller has performed with various professional ensembles including William Weinert's VOICES in Rochester, NY, David Schelat's Master Singers of Wilmington, Delaware, and is currently employed by the Taylor Festival Choir in Charleston, South Carolina. Müller is highly sought after both for solo and ensemble appointments.
Alice Chung (mezzo-soprano, second-year AVA Resident Artist) is from Loma Linda, California. She earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Performer’s Certificate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ms. Chung was awarded Second Prize at the 2018 Metropolitan National Council Auditions Midwest Regionals. Previous roles include the witch in Hänsel und Gretel, Eduige in Rodelinda, La Zia Principessa and Zita in Suor Angelica/ Gianni Schicchi, and Mrs. Grose in The Turn of the Screw all with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Mama McCourt in The Ballad of Baby Doe and Azucena (cover) with Central City Opera, Popova (cover) in The Bear at the Merola Opera Program, and Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin and Giovanna in Rigoletto with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. At AVA, Alice sang Jezibaba in Rusalka and La Zia Principessa and La Badessa inSuor Angelica. Ms. Chung is currently an artist with the prestigious Merola Opera Program in San Francisco, California. She recently performed in the Schwabacher Summer Concert, and will be seen next on the San Francisco Opera stage for the Merola Grand Finale, featuring scenes from Hamlet (La Reine), Dialogues des Carmélites (Mère Marie), and Falstaff (Mrs. Quickly).
About Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA)
Founded in 1934 by Helen Corning Warden and headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) is dedicated to giving voice to opera’s future. Regarded by many as the premier post-graduate opera training school in the world, AVA provides four years of tuition-free training. It is dedicated exclusively to the study of voice. The student body is intentionally small and admission is highly competitive. More than 200 singers from across the globe audition each year for the fewer than eight spots available in each class. The program is limited to fewer than 30 total Resident Artists, who are immersed in a uniquely intensive and highly personalized program where they learn from world-renowned faculty. They receive training in voice, vocal repertoire, acting, stage combat, opera history, several languages, and each year are presented in fully-staged opera productions accompanied by the professional AVA Opera Orchestra. They are cast in leading roles that they will in all likelihood continue to perform for the rest of their careers.
No other opera training program in the world rivals AVA’s success in developing individual artists whose extraordinary voices inspire millions on international stages. AVA alumni have received five of the past eight Richard Tucker Awards and five of the eleven Beverly Sills Artist Awards presented by The Metropolitan Opera. Over 90% of AVA alumni since 2000 continue active singing careers.
AVA proudly counts among its alumni such distinguished international stars as Stephen Costello, Ellie Dehn, Joyce DiDonato, Joyce El-Khoury, Michael Fabiano, Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Bryan Hymel, Luis Ledesma, Angela Meade, Latonia Moore, James Morris, Corinne Winters, Stuart Neill, Ailyn Pérez, Ruth Ann Swenson, Taylor Stayton and Richard Troxell, and currently making their mark in the opera world, recent graduates Dominick Chenes, Scott Conner, Marina Costa-Jackson, André Courville, William Davenport, Othalie Graham, Alasdair Kent, Zachary Nelson, Musa Ngqungwana, and Nicole Piccolomini.
Last season, AVA Resident Artists took Top or First prizes from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Giulio Gari Foundation International Vocal Competition, the Loren L. Zachary Society, Southwest Vocal Competition, Violetta DuPont Vocal Competition, and the National Foundation for Voice. Since 2000, 12 AVA Resident Artists have been named National Winners in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Special Thanks to The Academy of Vocal Arts, Milford Borough, Milford Borough Councilmember Annette Haar, Music in the Park coordinator Michael Zimmerman, Sylvia Weir/Weir Design, Katrina Foster of KKPR Marketing & Public Relations, JEM Screen Printing and Embroidery, Don Holocher, Dingman Township Volunteer Fire Department and the scores of volunteers who contributed their ideas, time and labor.
For tickets or more information, visit PikeOpera.com or follow PikeOpera on Facebook and Instagram.