Livestream Concert – July 21

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Join the Opera Festival of Chicago for it’s next 12:21 live stream event! This live concert broadcast from Northern Illinois University will feature music by Donizetti, Rossini, Tosti, Leoncavallo, Verdi and more! Our special guest vocalists will be Emily Birsan, Kimberly Jones, and Valeria Rodriguez.


Emily Birsan

Beloved by critics and audiences alike, american soprano Emily Birsan has shared her engaging skills with many of the world’s finest opera houses and orchestras, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Edinburgh Festival, Boston Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Rochester Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Hailed for her versatility and “radiant delicacy” of tone, she takes on exceptionally broad repertoire, and has emerged as a specialist in works by Mozart and Italian repertoire.

During the 2019-2020 season, Ms. Birsan will make appearances with the Aspen Ideas Festival, Peninsula Music Festival, Mozart’s Requiem with the Bach Society of St. Louis, Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Phoenix Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, and Handel’s Messiah with the Boise Philharmonic and Tucson Symphony. In the winter of 2020, Ms. Birsan will return as the soprano soloist in Messiah with the Tuscon Symphony.

During the 2018-2019 season, Ms. Birsan went on for an ailing colleague at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Violetta in La Traviata for which acclaimed “This opera is about Violetta, and the Lyric has a superb one here.” Additionally, Ms. Birsan performed Violetta with Nashville Opera, Handel’s Messiah with the Illinois Philharmonic, Jacksonville Symphony, and Louisiana Symphony, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with the Jacksonville Symphony, the title role in Rusalka with Madison Opera, Mahler’s 8th Symphony with Madison Symphony, and Sandman/Dew Fairy in Hänsel und Gretel with the Edinburgh International Festival.

During the 2017-2018 season, Ms. Birsan joined Sir Andrew Davis and the Liverpool Philharmonic, sang Violetta in La Traviata with Indianapolis Opera, Handel’s Messiah with the Jacksonville Symphony, a tour singing the role of Maria Callas with Pop-Up Magazine on the West Coast, Mahler’s 4th Symphony with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and her debut with Welsh National Opera as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. During the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Birsan made role debuts as Juliette in Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette with Madison Opera, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Boston Lyric Opera, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Florentine Opera. On the concert stage, she made her debut with Melbourne Symphony singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, a concert with the Chicago Philharmonic, and was featured with the BBC Symphony in London singing Bliss’ Beatitudes.

In past seasons, Ms. Birsan returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Italian Singer in Capriccio, sang Leila in The Pearl Fishers with Florida Grand Opera, and Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress with the Edinburgh International Festival. Her critically acclaimed performances on the concert stage include Elgar with the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, Verdi and Puccini with the Knoxville Symphony and her Carnegie Hall debut with Mozart Mass in C minor. With the Chandos Record Label, Ms. Birsan has recorded Edward Elgar’s oratorio, The Saga of St. Olaf, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis.

A veteran of vocal competitions, Ms. Birsan was awarded first prize from the Musicians Club of Women Competition and was the 2014 Richard F. Gold Career Grant through the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ms. Birsan earned her BM from Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, WI and her MM degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Music in 2010, A student of Julia Faulkner, Ms. Birsan was also awarded the Paul Collins Fellowship during her residency at the university. Ms. Birsan was Winner of the 2010 Rose M. Grundman Scholarship from the Civic and Arts Union League Competition, First Place in the 2007 Senior Women’s Division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, and multiple award wins from 2008-2011 at the Upper Midwest Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Kimberly Jones

Soprano Kimberly Eileen Jones is an alum of the Ryan Opera Center with the prestigious Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her performances there include the slave girl, Margru, in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ Amistad, which was released nationally on the New World recording label. She also portrayed the feisty Olga in Fedora, Princess Xenia in Boris Godunov, and the spitfire Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte student matinee performances. With the Ryan Opera Center, she portrayed Laetitia in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief. Additionally, she made her Grant Park Festival debut as Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Adele (Die Fledermaus) the following season.

Kimberly performed in Houston Grand Opera’s colorful production of the Magic Flute (Papagena), and reprised her role of Xenia in Boris Godunov. Also with Houston, she participated in their production of Porgy and Bess, as Clara. This tour graced the international stages of La Scala in Milan, the Bastille in Paris, and the Bunkamura in Tokyo, Japan. For her portrayal of Clara, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the NAACP Awards.

She captivated audiences in her Alice Tully Hall debut with the Little Orchestra Society, in an evening of Vivaldi arias. She received rave reviews as the Composer in Mozart’s Jewel Box with the Chicago Opera Theater, as well as Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Madison Symphony. She has also appeared in concert with the Ravinia Festival (Bourgeois Gentilhomme), Richmond Symphony (Knoxville Summer of 1915), and with Madison Symphony (Messiah and Christmas Pops) . Her first Carmina Burana and Haydn Creation were performed with the Rockford Symphony. She was showcased in an afternoon of arias and duets during the opening weekend of Jay Pritzker Pavilion of Millennium Park in Chicago.

She was selected by Maestro Bruno Bartoletti, Lyric Opera’s former Artistic Director, to appear with the Orchestra della Toscana in Florence, La Spezia and Piombino. She was one of four opera center artists showcased in a series of concerts at the Chatelet in Paris, France.

She has received a George London grant, Sullivan grant, and a Licia Albanese Encouragement grant. She has been nominated for the Richard Tucker grant, received three grants from the MacAllister Awards competition, and was awarded the Richard Gold Career Grant from the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is a Union League Civic and Arts Foundation (now Luminarts) prize winner . At the recommendation from Ardis Krainik, she was presented in Opera’s Now magazine’s Who’s Hot in Opera.

She has performed the Philip Glass Symphony #5 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, and with the Stuttgart and Danish Radio Symphonies in Germany and Copenhagen. She has performed four times at the Chicago Cultural Center in Preston Bradley Hall, including a WFMT radio broadcast of the Dame Myra Hess concert, and a Negro Spirituals concert with award winning actress, Irma P. Hall.

She made her Connecticut Opera debut as Fiordigili in Cosi Fan Tutte. With Lyric Opera in the Neighborhoods, she has portrayed the title role of Cenerentola, and twice the role of Rosina (Barber of Seville). She has performed a Christmas Pops concert with DuPage Symphony and Messiahs with New Buffalo and Michigan City Symphonies. With Ryan Center of Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has been featured three times in Meet the Artist, presenting a musical program to Chicago area schools, sharing her life as an operatic artist.

Kimberly returned to Mandel Hall singing Vaughn Williams’ Sea Symphony under the baton of Barbara Schubert, which was followed by her first Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 in Glenview and Haydn Lord Nelson Mass excerpts. She has participated in several Lyric Opera Chapters concerts around the Chicago and suburban areas. She made her Grand Rapids Symphony debut with Maestro David Lockington in Handel’s Messiah, as well as with the North Shore Choral Society. In the Brahms Requiem she was the soprano soloist at Mandel Hall, which was followed by a pops concert in Park Ridge . She repeated her performances of Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, Requiem and Regina Coeli with the Elmhurst Chorale.

She is recurring artist with the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival. She performed with international bass, Andrea Silvestrelli, in Barrington Hills. She returned to Rockefeller Chapel presenting more Bach selections and has been a recurring soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah . She was the soprano soloist in Bruckner’s Mass with Elmhurst Choral Union. She returned to Elmhurst Choral Union, singing arias and duets. With South Bend Symphony, she performed in her first Britten War Requiem. Shortly after she sang the soprano solos in her first Verdi Requiem with Chicago Community Chorus.

She was very excited to debut in Singapore with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra in an evening of Porgy and Bess excerpts and spirituals, and a video. She has recently joined with fellow sopranos Leila Bowie and Marisa Buchheit, forming the soprano trio group, called simply, Tres Belle.

Recent engagements include Carmina Burana with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Beethoven Mass in C with the DePaul Community Chorus. She was showcased in Andrew Previn’s masterpiece Honey and Rue at South Shore Opera. She was in the ensemble of Chicago Opera Theater’s production of Coffin in Egypt, with legendary mezzo Frederique Von Stade.

She has been a returning guest with Yachatz Festival in Yachatz, Oregon. She performed Porgy and Bess excerpts with the Northwest Indiana Symphony and that concert was repeated this fall. Last winter she returned to Elmhust Choral singing the Respighi’s Holy Nativity solos, and was showcased in the Christmas Pops concerts with South Bend Symphony for Maestro Tsung Yeh’s retiring season.

She performed with DePaul again in their spring concert, singing several music theatre and Purcell favorites. One of Kimberly’s favorite past times is periodically singing the National Anthem for the fabulous Chicago Bulls and was chosen to perform the Anthem for the opening night game for the Chicago Sky WNBA team. Other recent engagements include a Porgy and Bess concert with the New Philharmonic and the title role of The Fairy Queen with Chicago Opera Theater, repeated with Long Beach Opera this past January.

Kim has recently completed an engagement in the world premiere of Stewart Copeland’s Invention of Morel as Dora and also The Consul as The Foreign Woman, both with Chicago Opera Theater. In concert appearances, she sang in the Dvorak Symphony with Fox Valley Symphony, Midsummer Nights’ Dream with Fort Wayne Symphony and Messiah with the Waukegan Symphony.

​Most recently, she sang the role of TibrinoAmore in the Haymarket Opera production of L’Orontea, Jori Vinikour conducting.

Miss Jones is on the voice faculty at Columbia College and Merit School of Music.

Valeria Rodriguez

Valeria Rodriguez is a lyric soprano, native of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This past June she has obtained her Master of Music in Vocal Performance with Honors from Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University tutored by Professor W. Stephen Smith and Professor Richard Boldrey.

Ms. Rodriguez’s recent performances include: her participation as Violetta in La Traviata along her husband, tenor Maximiliano Illanes Campetella as Alfredo,directed by Ms. Aprile Millo and Dr. Maria Vetere in their Online edition of Operavision Academy;her participation in the Tichio-Finnie Vocal Master Class Series performing Nedda’s aria from the opera I Pagliacci for soprano Ana María Martínez; Mimì in La Bohèmein a Concert Version in Evanston; and her professional debut in Chicago performing for the Italian Opera Festival of Chicago scenes of I Masnadieri, I Pagliacci and La Traviata along tenor Allan Glassman, baritone Franco Pomponi and musical director Emanuele Andrizzi.

Last Summer, Ms. Rodriguez sang the role of Micaëla in Carmen conducted by Maestro Emanuele Andrizzi and the role ofDonna Elvira in Don Giovanni conducted by Maestro Leonardo Catalanotto in Caltagirone, Sicily for the Mediterranean Opera Studio and Festival. Later that summer she also participated in a Master Class organized by the Renata Tebaldi Fondazione Museo with soprano Aprile Millo in Busseto, Italy.

In Spring 2019, she debuted the title role in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict for Northwestern Opera Theater directed by Joachim Schamberger and conducted by Maestro Patrick Furrer. For Northwestern Opera Theater she also covered the roles of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus (2020)and Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress (2019).

Previous performances in 2018 include the roles of Magda in La Rondine in Bulgariafor Varna International Music Academy conducted by Maestro Gregory Buchalter; the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for the Mediterranean Opera Studio and Festival in Sicily conducted by Maestro Leonardo Catalanotto. Later that year she participated in the Tichio-Finnie Vocal Master Class Series in Evanston with tenor Matthew Polenzani portraying Donna Elvira in a scene from Don Giovanni.

In 2017 she sang for the first time in New York city for Manhattan Opera Studio in the role of Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, the last one in a concert version. Within that festival she sang at a Concert Gala at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York. Ms Rodriguez obtained her Bachelor of Music in Voice and Opera in Buenos Aires at the National University of the Arts, Music School “Carlos López Buchardo” in 2013. She performed a Senior recital dedicated to Spanish repertoire tutored by Professor Eduardo Cogorno.

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