SOUNDS - The Opera Ebony Newsletter

Stephanie Legare - editor in chief
Bill ALpert - Executive Editor

On Sunday April 21, 2013, Opera Ebony closed its 40th-anniversary season with the staging of The Romantics—itself a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi's birth.

With Leslie B. Dunner conducting the ethnically-diverse Harlem Chamber Players, the program included the Overture from Los Esclavos Felices, by Juan Crisostomi Arriaga [1806-1826], and the Intermezzo from L'Amici Fritz, of Pietro Mascsgni [1863-1945].  Performers included Sheri Jackson, Iris Fairfax, Brooke Larimer, Michael Lockley, James Pierce, Mark Rucker (photo left) and Stefan Szkafarowsky.

Romantic Music is the term denoting an era of the late 18th or early 19th century and was a part of Romanticism, the European movement in literature and the arts.   It is often viewed as a reaction against Neoclassicism.  Composers of this  important era in music include:  Georges Bizet, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Pietro Mascagni, Giacomo Puccini, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Camille Saint-Saëns, Pytor Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner.


On Sunday November 3, 2013, Opera Ebony members Darryl JordanK'idar Miller and Gregory Sheppard—accompanied by our founder and music directorWayne Sanders—performed La mia Dorabella from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte at Le Poisson Rouge, where the New York Opera Alliance brought its members together for an afternoon of opera scenes.


A Team of Young Staff To Keep Things Movin’

By Gregory Sheppard

Where can you find a group of hip, forward-thinking young people who work for the good of art?  Opera Ebony.  The company is now in its 42nd year, but has a staff of twenty-something assistants and volunteers who work in every capacity from ushering to web design.

By reaching out to college students and young professionals, Opera Ebony is developing its new audience and fan base. Our associates learn what opera production is all about. Opera brings every element of artistic expression together, introducing these talented people to a world of design, drama, orchestral music and the glorious human voice.  And the final result, new opera converts.

Stephanie Sencione is a junior studying History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY).  She attended St. Catherine’s Academy for high school and was actively involved in the music and drama programs there.  While at John Jay she has taken a number of music courses.  Stephanie finds that her love of history and music are tightly woven together.  She is a regular attendee of Opera Ebony and a volunteer usher.  Her two younger sisters have signed on as ushers for the 2014 season.

Timothy Bustle is also a junior at John Jay College. He is the great-grandson of the late John Brownlee, a baritone who had a long and illustrious career at the Metropolitan Opera and served as the president of the Manhattan School of Music, where the Opera Theater program has been named for him. Tim is studying forensic psychology and has taken a number of music courses while in college.  He was a member of his high school chorus, is a singer songwriter and is in a band. Tim’s grandmother is a voice teacher in Katonah, NY. His mother was a talent manager and his father an actor.  Bustle is thrilled to work with Opera Ebony on the administrative side of things, where he is gaining a wealth of experience in contracts, writing and finance.

Another member of the Opera Ebony team is Neville Braithwaite.  Neville was a theater major at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and helps to brand the look of our Company with his web design.  An active performer in musical theater,  he has performed with the Merry Go Round Theater, among others, as well as a number of national television commercials.  He has studied classical voice and has a natural love for the art form.  Neville can be found working frequently with our music director Wayne Sanders.

These new Opera Ebony associates have brought their friends to check out what’s going on with the company and many have become regulars in our audience.  The Company wants to reach a young demographic and clearly it’s happening.

When you’ve got an institution that was founded on the principal of great music and equality for all, such things seem to fall easily into place.  Opera Ebony will be on the music scene for years to come, and our young staff are an integral part in making that happen.


People, Places & Dates

Opera Ebony’s assistant music director James Davis heads to the Arena Stage in Washington, DC where he will be associate music director for Smokey Joe's Cafe. The production runs April 25 through June 8.

Tenor, K'idar Miller is next heard in Rossini's La Ragazza with Little Opera Theater of New York, followed by Tamino in Die Zauberflote at Manhattan School of Music in March.  Summer finds the young tenor in Italy performing at The International Lyric Academy, July 1-16, 2014.  Mr. Miller joins fellow Opera Ebony artists in August for concerts at the Cyclorama Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

Anthony Turner, baritone, was recently heard in the New York premiere of Who Am I? at LaMama Theater on February 5th.  The distinguished baritone is next in Miami, Florida, where he will coach high school students as part of the Young Artists Foundation. Turner sings a series of recitals throughout the U.S., before joining Opera Ebony at the Cyclorama Museum in Atlanta on August 10th.

Hope Clarke will direct Porgy and Bess this coming spring in her debut with Syracuse Opera.  The sought-after director was choreographer for A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage this past December.  Ms. Clarke will stage Cosi fan tutte for Opera Ebony later this season.

Soprano, La-Rose Saxon returns to Opera Ebony in August as soprano soloist at the Cyclorama Museum in No Cowards in Our Band.  Miss Saxon was last heard with the company in a gala concert during the spring of 2012.

Willkommen, Bienvenue…

Opera Ebony welcomes Natalie Borneo as our Board President.

Natalie began her tenure with the organization at the Gala Concert on Sunday, April 29, 2012 at The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew.  A graduate of Howard and Fordham Universities, Natalie is the former East Zone Compliance Officer for Marsh & McLennan,the world's leading global advice and solutions provider in risk, strategy and human capital.  Natalie’s responsibilities focused on the implementation and enforcement of the Compliance and Transparency efforts within each trade/practice within the Northeast Zone and Captive Solutions.  She is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Howard University Center for Insurance Education Intern School and also serves as the secretary for the National African-American Insurance Association’s New York Chapter.

Natalie’s awards and recognitions include: the Marsh New York Operations BusinessTrustee (2004); Patricia A. Cody Award for Excellence in Technical Education Instruction (2005); Angela Kyte Award for Professional Excellence (2006); YWCA Award: Academy Of Women Leaders (2010) and; Woodmen’s of America Community Service Award (2011).

Yet her proudest achievement is being the loving wife of Henry and the mother of 17-year-old Ashley and 12-year-old Kyle.


Opera Quiz

1. Which two Verdi operas have a heroine with the same name?

2. How many Elders are in Floyd's opera Susannah and what are their names?

3. Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett and Grace Bumbry all sang many of the great Verdi heroines, but only one of these ladies sang this early Verdi opera. Which of the four artists mentioned was it? What Verdi opera was it and what is the character's name?

4. As what character did mezzo-soprano Hilda Harris appear on the cover of Opera News and in what year was it?

5. Robert McFerrin was the first African American male to appear in a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera. What year did he make his debut and in what role?

6. What American bass-baritone sang the premier of Aaron Copland's 1st Set of Old American Songs and in what year?

7. In what year was the NBC Opera Theatre launched? What opera did this company premier that was written specifically for television?

8. A very famous African American soprano sang with the NBC Opera Theatre. Who was she and name three roles she sang with the company on television?

9. What African American conductor was closely associated with Miami Opera for many years?

10. What opera did baritone Arthur Thompson record along with mezzo-soprano Betty Allen and bass-baritone Benjamin Matthews?


1. Il Trovatore and La Forza del Destino. The character's name: Leonora

2. There are four Elders: Elder McLean, Elder Gleaton, Elder Hayes and Elder Ott

3. Grace Bumbry, Nabucco

4. The Child in L'enfant et Sortileges in 1985

5. January 1955, in the role of Amonasro

6. William Warfield

7. 1949 and the opera was Amahl and the Night Visitor

8. Leontyne Price, performing as Tosca, Pamina, Mme Lidoine and Donna Anna

9. Maestro Willie Anthony Waters

10. Four Saints in Three Acts