Welcome to An Afternoon of American Song.
Back in March, we regrettably cancelled the live performance of this concert, due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19. However, we are delighted to present the solo portions of this program in a new way and to share the talents of our 2019-20 Artists in Residence with you.
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Set VI: Twisted
Set V: Broken Cords
Set IV: Unraveling
Set III: Interwoven
Set II: Bonded
Set I: Family Ties
If you have enjoyed this program, please consider making a donation to support the artists and staff of Opera Colorado: bit.ly/DonateAOAS
About the 2019-20 Artists in Residence, performing in An Afternoon of American Song
Laura Soto-Bayomi soprano
Laura Soto-Bayomi (soprano) is establishing herself as a passionate and versatile performer, equally at home on the concert and operatic stages. A native of Secaucus, NJ, Ms. Soto-Bayomi has performed with Amore Opera in NYC, and was the soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Brearley Singers at Riverside Church. During the summer of 2018, Ms. Soto-Bayomi performed the role of Magda in Kristine McIntyre’s production of La Rondine with Oberlin in Italy’s Arezzo Opera Festival. Ms. Soto-Bayomi has enjoyed summers as a Young Artist with the Chautauqua Opera Company (2015-17), performing the roles of Norina in Don Pasquale, Peep-Bo in The Mikado, Soprano 1 in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar, and also sang in art song recitals and musical theatre cabarets. Other roles include Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus) and Climene (L’Egisto). Ms. Soto-Bayomi was a New England District Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Vocal Competition (’15) and a NJ State Opera Competition Finalist (’14). Ms. Soto-Bayomi holds degrees from New England Conservatory (BM) and Bard College Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program (MM) where she was a student of Patricia Misslin.
Sponsored by Laurence & Cynthia Chan and Agatha Kessler & Curtis Fentress.
Kira Dills-DeSurra mezzo-soprano
Kira Dills-DeSurra (mezzo-soprano) is a vibrant American mezzo-soprano whose magnetic stage presence has an effortless charm and truth. During the 2019-20 Season, she returned to Opera Colorado as an Artist in Residence to cover the role of Rosina (The Barber of Seville). She also performed Hansel (Hansel and Gretel) and Carmen (Carmen) in Opera Colorado’s touring productions. In the 2018-19 Season, she debuted with Opera Colorado as Flora (La Traviata), Gertrude Stein in Tom Cipulo’s After Life, and sang a performance of Cherubino in Mozart’s timeless masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro. She was also featured as Stéphano (Romeo and Juliet) and Hansel (Hansel and Gretel) in Opera Colorado’s touring productions. Kira has been an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera for two summers singing Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte) and Mercédès (Carmen). She hails from Petaluma, California and earned her Artist Diploma and Master of Music from Roosevelt University: Chicago College of Performing Arts and her Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California.
Sponsored by Gayle & Gary Landis.
Thomas Cilluffo tenor
Thomas Cilluffo (tenor) received his MM in Voice Performance in April of 2017 from the University of Michigan where he studied under the legendary tenor, George Shirley. Tom grew up in Traverse City in northern Michigan where he developed his love for music and theater, but he also has many other passions. He is an avid craftsman and enjoys making jewelry, woodworking, and blacksmithing. For the past seven years, Tom has held a “second job” making fine custom conducting batons for orchestral and choral conductors all over the world. He’s even been known to make a magic wand or two! Other than making loud noises while singing opera, he also plays the Highland Bagpipes, making him a favorite of the neighbors… Before coming to Opera Colorado, Tom was the tenor resident artist with Portland Opera in Portland, Oregon where he sang Contino Belfiore in La Finta Giardiniera, Borsa in Rigoletto, and the Sergeant of Police in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Other credits include Spoletta in Portland Summerfest’s Tosca, Adolfo Pirelli in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s Sweeney Todd, Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), and Roméo (Roméo et Juliette).
Sponsored by David & Elizabeth Budd and Martha & Will Tracey
Isaiah Feken baritone
Isaiah Feken (baritone) will return for his second season as an Opera Colorado Artist in Residence in 2020-21. Last season, he performed in the mainstage production (Police Sergeant) and student matinee performance (Figaro) of The Barber of Seville. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Isaiah received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia. Performances with UGA Opera Theatre include Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Guglielmo (Cosí fan tutte), Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), and the title role in Don Giovanni. Other credits include Falstaff (Ford) with the Crested Butte Music Festival, as well as Kiss Me, Kate! (Fred Graham) and the world premiere of A New Kind of Fallout (Harry Stritch) with Pittsburgh Festival Opera. As an Artist in Residence for Opera Colorado’s 2020-21 Season, he will perform in the touring productions of The Barber of Seville (Figaro), in the mainstage production (Remendado) and student matinee performance (Escamillo) of , and in the mainstage production of The Shining (Horace Derwent).
Sponsored by Donald K. Braden and Ken & Barbara Laff
Eric McConnell bass-baritone
Eric McConnell (bass-baritone) has trained as a young artist with Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, Seagle Music Colony, and the Aspen Opera Center. McConnell made his debut with Opera Colorado in 2018 as Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata. With the company’s touring productions, he performed Sandman in Hansel and Gretel and Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet. Other past roles for McConnell include Blitch (Susannah), Bartolo/Basilio (The Barber of Seville), Frank (Die Fledermaus), and Sarastro (The Magic Flute). Additional career highlights include singing Elisha Fitzgibbon in the orchestral premiere of Evan Mack’s Roscoe with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, in a performance featuring renowned soprano Deborah Voigt. McConnell holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Miami.
Sponsored by Joyce de Roos and Marlis Smith.
Tyler Tucker coach accompanist
Tyler Tucker (piano) recently finished a degree in opera coaching at Florida State University, where he was principal pianist for Candide, La Traviata, Prince of Players, and Alcina, for which he also served as continuo harpsichordist. He also conducted Menotti’s The Medium and played the U.S. premiere of Michael Williams’s The Prodigal Child with Florida State Opera. Before returning to FSU, Tucker was a staff pianist and coach at the University of Houston for three years. In 2018, he served as rehearsal pianist for Opéra Louisiane’s production of Hansel and Gretel and also as pianist for Spotlight on Opera’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. Originally from Big Spring, Texas, he holds degrees in voice performance from both the University of Houston and Florida State University.
Sponsored by Dr. Stephen L. Dilts.