The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This Sunday afternoon, the annual Opera Props Showcase features well-known alumna Ariana Douglas and current UW students singing arias from great operas and musicals

September 19, 2019
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By Jacob Stockinger

The annual University Opera’s Student Showcase will take place this coming Sunday afternoon, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m. at the Madison Christian Community, 7118 Old Sauk Road, on the far west side.

Tickets are $30 if purchased in advance or $35 if purchased at the door; and $10 for students. Additional ticket information is provided at the website UWOperaProps.org

The event is sponsored by UW Opera Props, the friends group that helps support the opera program at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The benefit opera program, the concert will feature guest artist and soprano alumna Ariana Douglas (below). In addition, eight current voice students will join Douglas in a program assembled by David Ronis, the Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera at UW’s Mead Witter School of Music.

UW-Madison piano graduate student Thomas Kasdorf, who coaches the singers, will provide the piano accompaniment.

The concert will include arias and duets by Puccini, Offenbach, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Wagner, Mozart, Gounod, Verdi and others.

Ariana Douglas is well known for her “clarion sound and striking stage presence” in performances at Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera (Zerlina in “Don Giovanni,” Mrs. Vance in Aldridge’s “Sister Carrie,” and, upcoming in October, Susanna in “The Marriage of Figaro”).

Next April, she will sing Diana in Jacques Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” for the Madison Opera.

And after two summers in the Glimmerglass Festival’s Young Artists program, she was invited last year to return to help workshop J. Tesori’s highly anticipated opera “Blue,” which premiered there this July.

In the YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear Ariana Douglas perform while still a UW student. She sings the famous Puccini aria “O mio bambino caro” with the UW Varsity Band under now-retired director Mike Leckrone, who admired Douglas’ big, expressive voice and invited her to perform at the band’s huge annual concerts in 2013.

In short, says one OperaProps organizer, “Douglas seems to getting fine reviews everywhere. And student recruiting seems to be successful, with the students getting more impressive every year lately.” (Below is the group of Showcase students in 2018 with director David Ronis on the far right.)

Here is the program, with performers and pieces, that is subject to change:

Lindsey Meekhof – “C’est l’amour vainqueur” from (Offenbach: Les contes d’Hoffmann)

Benjamin Galvin – “Amorosi miei giorni” (Donaudy)

Ariana Douglas – “Quando m’en vò” (Puccini: La bohème)

Benjamin Hopkins – “A mes amis” (Donizetti: La fille du régiment)

Shelby Zang – “If I Loved You” (Rodgers and Hammerstein: Carousel)

DaSean Stokes – “Winterstürme” (Wagner: Die Walküre)

Julia Urbank – “Parto, parto” (Mozart: La clemenza di Tito)

Ariana Douglas – “Till There Was You” (Meredith Wilson: The Music Man)

Cayla Rosché – “Nun eilt herbei” (Nicolai: Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor)

Benjamin Galvin – “If Ever I Would Leave You” (Lerner and Lowe: Camelot)

Carly Ochoa – “Je veux vivre” (Gounod: Roméo et Juliette)

DaSean Stokes – “Deep River” (Spiritual)

Ariana Douglas and Benjamin Hopkins – “Libiamo” (Verdi: La traviata)


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Classical music: Broadway star and UW-Madison alumnus joins students for the University Opera benefit this Sunday afternoon.

January 14, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Students in the University Opera program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music will perform a concert of songs and arias on this Sunday afternoon, Jan. 17, at 3:30 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society of Madison 900 University Bay Drive.

The concert will feature currently enrolled students as well as a 2008 alumnus, Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek(below), who is at the Overture Center this week through Sunday playing the role of Gaston in a national tour of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek baritone

A reception will follow this Opera Props benefit concert that is intended to help support University Opera.

Admission is $25 per person with a $10 charge for students.

Several of the UW-Madison student singers have already been featured in October’s production of The Marriage of Figaro (below in photo by Michael R. Anderson ) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and some will appear in March’s University Opera production of Transformations, by Conrad Susa and poet Anne Sexton.

Marriage of Figaro dress rehearsal. Tia Cleveland (Marcellina), Joel Rathmann (Figaro), Anna Whiteway (Susanna), Thomas Weis (Bartolo).

Marriage of Figaro dress rehearsal. Tia Cleveland (Marcellina), Joel Rathmann (Figaro), Anna Whiteway (Susanna), Thomas Weis (Bartolo).

The singers will be accompanied by pianist Chan Mi Jean.

Joining the students will be Broadway star and distinguished University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, baritone Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek, who praises his operatic training for enabling him to sing as many as three performances a day on this demanding tour.

Recently appointed to “barihunk” status by one blog (below), he is something of a crossover singer too, singing romantic ballads while playing his guitar. These multiple talents provide the young singer with a busy career.

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek as barihunkHere is the program:

Chacun à son gout (Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr.) – Meghan Hilker; Bella siccome un angelo (Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti) – Gavin Waid; Ici-bas (Gabriel Fauré) and Der Blumenstrauss (Felix Mendelssohn) – Talia Engstrom; Tu che di gel (Turandot by Giacomo Puccini) – Anna Polum; Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saens) – Rebecca Buechel; Largo al factotum (Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini) – Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek; Sous le dôme épais (Lakme by Leo Delibes) – Tyana O’Connor (below) and Meghan Hilker; Emily’s Aria (Our Town – Ned Rorem) – Nicole Heinen; On the Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady – Lerner and Lowe) – William Ottow; Ah, non credea mirarti (La Sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini) – Tyana O’Connor; Love’s Philosophy (Roger Quilter) – Anna Polum; The Lady is a Tramp (Rodgers and Hart) – Rebecca Buechel; Au fond du temple saint (Les Pêcheurs de Perles by Georges Bizet, sung by tenor Roberto Alagna and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel at the bottom in a YouTube video) – William Ottow (below) and Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek.

Tyana O'Connor soprano


Classical music: Madison resident and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss will perform a song journey next Saturday to benefit the piano restoration at Arboretum Cohousing.

January 12, 2014
4 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger 

A while ago, The Ear put out a call for guest bloggers.

Madison resident Janet Murphy has since responded with several blog posts. The latest one is about a concert by mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss (below) that is coming up this coming Saturday night, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m.

kitt reuter foss copy

The concert is last of two concerts — a very successful appearance by Madison keyboard player Trevor Stephenson of the Madison Bach Musicians was the first — this season will benefit the restoration of the historic Mason and Hamlin grand piano at Arboretum Cohousing (below bottom) at 1137 Erin Street. Tickets are $25. Adds Murphy: You’d be wise to reserve ahead at: www.ArboretumCohousing.org or ArbcoPiabo@gmail.com or call 608-204-7131.

Arbco Grand Piano

Here is some information about Janet: “I received my bachelor’s and masters in musicology from the University of Michigan. After toiling in the music industry for 20 years, I got a bachelor’s in nursing from UW, and have worked as an RN (Registered Nurse) ever since.

“Music is now my hobby. I sing in the UW Choral Union, play with an informal recorder group, and I am currently taking banjo lessons. Needless to say I am a big fan of The Well-Tempered Ear.”

Here is the guest post, with many of her own photos, by Janet Murphy (below):

Janet Murphy

By Janet Murphy

Mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison — ostensibly as an early childhood education major — with her real objective being admission to the UW Swing Choir.  Fortunately for all of us, music professor Lois Fisher heard something in Kitt’s voice and told her she could do it. 

The “it” was opera.

The “it” was the Metropolitan Opera.

(For more about her and her history, see the extended and very cordial interview done by John Roach with Kitt for The Big Ten Network, in a YouTube video at the bottom of the page.)

That bit of history helps explain why Kitt — I love that she is affectionately known about town as “Kitt” — has theatrical chops and stage presence as remarkable as her voice, and why she moves between so many musical genres with ease.  She even did back up vocals on Do You for rapper Bow Wow.

So, if Kitt were free to put together a concert … anything she likes … what would it look like?

You have the chance to find out this coming Saturday at Arboretum Cohousing (below) when she’ll perform an up-close-and-personal concert with accompanist Jennifer Hedstrom (a member of the Madison-based group Clocks in Motion).  What a rare treat!

Arboretum Cohousing Arbco

Here’s what Kitt herself has to say about the program:

“I am planning to take a little trip “musically” through my journey from Oconomowoc High School to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera and others throughout the world. I will include some Broadway and jazz selections which have always kept me busy, too.”

Kitt’s journey includes Mozart, Puccini and Saint-Saens, but also Lerner and Lowe, Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Wicked. Carmen. My Fair Lady. Faust. Plus, a bit of art song and jazz for good measure. 

It will be a fascinating musical night to hear this all stitched together. 

As always, creative sweets and savories will be provided by the hosts (below).

Arbco Refreshments

More from Kitt (below): “Hi there: Here is the program — I will say a few words about the pieces and why I chose them.”

Kitt Reuter-Foss BW small photo
He touched me                                                                  Levin/Schafer

Se tu m’ ami, se sospiri      (attributed to Pergolesi)                   Parisotti

Pieta, Signore!                                                                           Stradella

Faites lui, mes aveux (Faust)                                                      Gounod

L’ amour est un oiseau rebelle: Habanera (Carmen)                        Bizet

Voi che sapete (Le Nozze di Figaro)                                            Mozart

Mon coeur s’ ouvre a ta voix (Samson et Dalila)                   Saint-Saens

O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)                                         Puccini

The Letter Scene (Werther)                                                      Massenet

INTERMISSION (a little break of 10 minutes)

Where is love?  As long as he needs me (Oliver)                      L. Bart

I could have danced all night!   Show me! (My Fair Lady)        Lerner/Loewe

Anyone can whistle!  No one is alone (Anyone can Whistle and Into the Woods)                                                                 Stephen Sondheim

I’m not that girl   For good (Wicked)                                 S. Schwartz

Memory (Cats)                                                   Andrew Lloyd Webber


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