CCM Alumnus in France creates online harpsichord training method for beginners of all ages

As a Professor Emeritus of harpsichord at Paris’ Conservatory of the 18th precinct and Organist Emeritus at Saint-Jean de Montmartre Church, Frank Mento (MM Organ, 1974) has helped numerous students develop their skills and abilities in keyboard music. Now, the CCM alumnus has ventured into helping newcomers to the harpsichord get off to a strong start — regardless of whether they are six or 60 years old.

Frank Mento

Frank Mento

Mento, who studied at CCM under organ professor Wayne Fisher, has created a comprehensive online training method for the instrument that is meant as a surrogate for 10 years of training. The first nine volumes covering nine years are currently available for purchase. The tenth and final volume is expected to become available soon.

“I teach beginners having no previous musical knowledge by a method that [encompasses] education by the eye, ear, muscle, and drawing,” Mento stated of his pedagogical approach. “This is learning based on relative reading, singing, motor skills, and three-dimensional geometry transferred to two dimensions. It is a realistic and living approach. Pupils learn how to read music like a design or drawing.”

Part of his motivation came from observing and experimenting for the better part of 12 years in areas where accessible education on harpsichord is extremely limited due to economic, social and other factors. Students of any age receive training that ranges from learning the most commonly played notes to advanced improvisational techniques involving the variation of melodies, Baroque-style ornamentation and creating musical lines based upon basso continuo. For Mento, this improvisation is key to the success of his approach.

“A long time ago, in order to ornate and vary the music, musicians had a habit of inventing little melodies, which made the piece more joyous, expressive, and prettier,” Mento wrote. “This tradition of ornamentation and improvisation based on a melody died in the early 19th century as far as ‘classical’ music is concerned. Now, only Jazz musicians and musicians of traditional music practice it fluently.”

He also provides free downloadable copies of public domain scores from famed Renaissance and Baroque composers including Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel, William Byrd and others. These scores also feature notes on them that inform the musician to which volume of the method each is applicable. Owing to his stated desire for accessibility regardless of age, he readily encourages redistributing the scores to others to further his pedagogical goals.

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Story by CCM graduate Kevin Norton (DMA Saxophone, 2015)

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Rehearsals for CCM's April 2016 production of SWAN LAKE.

Building a Ballet: E-Media students give inside look at CCM’s ‘Swan Lake’

CCM Electronic Media and UC journalism students take us behind-the-scenes with a look at the rehearsals for next week’s production of Swan Lake. The video series chronicles all of the work and dedication students, faculty and staff put into the lavish new production of Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet.

Students within the News Writing and Reporting class, taught by Assistant Professor of E-Media Hagit Limor and Journalism Professor Bob Jonason, created the videos, which star faculty and students within CCM’s Dance Department.

In the video above, Dance Department chair and Swan Lake co-director Jiang Qi discusses the work that goes into presenting such an iconic ballet. He explains:

Swan Lake is one of the top classical ballets in the repertoire. It’s almost textbook. You learn Swan Lake and then you get much stronger. This is an art form that requires a lot of physical and mental endurance to get through.”

The videos and photos, created by students Brevin Couch, Mark D’Andrea, Tyler Dunn, Daniel Honerkamp, Ailish Masterston and Andrew Wilkins, can be viewed on the Building a Ballet website. Visit the website to view interviews with dance students Madison Holschuh (Odette), Sam Jones (Prince Siegfried), and Kiahna Saneshige (Odile). The package was recently featured in Cincinnati Magazine.

Swan Lake is only the second story ballet ever presented as part of CCM’s Mainstage Series. The production runs April 22 – 24 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium.

Co-directed by Jiang and Professor Deirdre Carberry, the production features students from CCM’s BFA Ballet program, which Dance Magazine has hailed as one of the country’s “top programs to consider.”

The lavishly staged spectacle features accompaniment by CCM’s lauded Concert Orchestra under the direction of Professor Aik Khai Pung.

This production marks the first time in CCM’s nearly 150-year history that a dance production has featured brand new costumes designed and built in-house. You can learn more about the work that went into costuming Swan Lake here.

Performance Times

  • 8 p.m. Friday, April 22
  • 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24

Location
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to Swan Lake are $27-31 for adults, $17-20 for non-UC students and $15-18 for UC students with a valid ID.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/swan-lake.

Parking and Directions

Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s

Production Sponsors: Rosemary & Mark Schlachter, Teri Jory & Seth Geiger and Graeter’s

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Story by Curt Whitacre

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CCM's Steinways. Photography by Jay Yocis.

CCM Welcomes Award-Winning Pianists Dror Biran and Ran Dank to Keyboard Studies Faculty

Dean Peter Landgren has announced two new additions to CCM’s already-illustrious roster of piano faculty members. Acclaimed performers and pedagogues Dror Biran and Ran Dank have both been appointed to full-time faculty positions with CCM’s Division of Keyboard Studies.

“Both men have distinguished themselves internationally through numerous competition wins,” Landgren commented. “Their impressive artistry coupled with their vast teaching experience will make them excellent additions to our already exceptional piano faculty.”

Incoming CCM faculty member Dror Biran.

Incoming CCM faculty member Dror Biran.

Dror Biran’s playing has been described as “powerful, but also beautifully sensitive,” by Die Bleed magazine. He is winner of the top prizes at the M.K. Ciurlionis International Piano Competition and the Cleveland International Piano Competition (where he also received a special prize for best performance of works by Chopin), along with other competitions in Spain, Israel and the US.

Biran joins CCM as Associate Professor of Piano in August 2016 after serving as Visiting Adjunct Professor of Piano during the 2015-16 academic year. A graduate of the Givatayim Conservatory and Tel-Aviv University in Israel, Biran holds a Doctoral degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. A native Israeli, he has been the recipient of multiple scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation for Distinguished Musicians.

Incoming CCM faculty member Ran Dank.

Incoming CCM faculty member Ran Dank.

Described as, “a strong player with technique and imagination,” by the New York Times, Ran Dank has received numerous awards, including a coveted place on the Young Concert Artists roster in 2009. He is a laureate of the Cleveland International Competition, the Naumburg Piano Competition, the Sydney International Piano Competition and was First Prize winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

Dank joins CCM as Assistant Professor of Piano in August of 2016 after serving as the Director of Piano Studies at the College of Charleston. He holds degrees from Tel Aviv University in his native Israel, as well as Master’s and Artist Diploma degrees from the Juilliard School in New York City. Dank joins his wife, Soyeon Kate Lee, who became a member of CCM’s faculty in August of 2014.

“In my opinion,” Landgren added, “the hires of Dror Biran and Ran Dank will continue to strengthen CCM’s status as a preeminent institution for the performing and media arts in the US, while also enhancing our global reputation as a leader in arts education.”

Please join us in welcoming Dror Biran and Ran Dank to the CCM family! You can learn more about both pianists below.

About Dror Biran
Dror Biran has been described by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier as “mesmerizing in the intensity and emotionalism of his playing. His fingering in the fast passages was breathtaking, and the loving care he gave to the sweetly lyrical passages was riveting.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer added, “his fortissimos crashed and roared, but next to them came pianissimos that whispered seductively… he has technique to burn and uses it effectively.” Biran’s superb tonal control combined with interesting phrasing and voicing has won him consistent critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences.

Born in Israel, Biran is a top prizewinner of several national and international piano competitions. He is a graduate of the Givatayim Conservatory where he studied with Mrs. Lily Dorfman, as well as the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel-Aviv University where he studied with Professor Arie Vardi. Biran received his Doctoral degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Mr. Paul Schenly and Dr. Daniel Shapiro.

Biran won top prizes at the M.K Ciurlionis International Piano Competition (1995), and the Cleveland International Piano Competition (1997) where he also received a special prize for the best performance of works by Chopin. His honors include the first prize at the “Pilar Bayona International Piano Competition” in Zaragoza, Spain (1998), first prize at the Israeli Rubin Academy Piano Competition (1998) and the Rafi Goralnik prize for pianists, in the Aviv Competition (2000). Biran has been a recipient of multiple scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation for distinguished musicians.

Biran has performed widely as a soloist with major orchestras including the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra, RTVE Symphony Orchestra of Spain, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He has played under the batons of Etinger, Rodan, Gueller, Gacia Asensio, Mester, Lane and others. His concert tours have taken him to the United States, Israel and South America, along with Eastern and Western Europe.

As a chamber musician Biran has appeared on a regular basis with different music ensembles such as Carmel and Aviv String Quartets. He has also performed with members of the Cleveland Orchestra in different venues. His concerts have been broadcast by WUOL, WCLV, WQXR, The Voice of Music – Israel and Classic FM South Africa, among others. Biran can be heard on the JMC (Jerusalem Music Centre) labels featuring ballades by Brahms and Chopin.

Prior to his CCM appointment, Biran taught at the University of Louisville, Youngstown State University and Case Western Reserve University.

About Ran Dank
Israeli pianist Ran Dank has been hailed as a “superb pianist… absolutely splendid: dashing, impetuous and full of imagination” by the Washington Post.

A favorite of New York audiences, Dank performs in New York City’s most notable venues to frequent critical acclaim by the New York Times. In recent seasons, he has been heard in recitals in Town Hall and Symphony Space. As a soloist, he has performed Prokofiev’s Second Concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Alice Tully Hall and Tobias Picker’s Keys to the City at Columbia University. In September of 2013 he and fellow CCM faculty member Soyeon Kate Lee performed the world premiere of Fredric Rzewski’s Four Hands at (le) Poisson Rouge to a glowing review by the New York Times.

Dank’s other recent performance highlights include recitals at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Washington Performing Arts Society at the Kennedy Center, the Chopin Festival in Warsaw, Finland’s Mantta Festival and performances of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts’ piano concerto with the Mobile Symphony. His recent chamber music performances include appearances at the Santa Fe, Great Lakes, Maverick, Seattle, Montreal, Tokyo Chanel and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festivals.

Last season, Dank returned to his native Israel for a double-bill concert featuring Liszt’s Concerto No.1 and Totentanz with the Jerusalem Symphony.

His upcoming engagements include a performance at the prestigious Ravinia Festival, recitals in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and a return engagement with the Kansas City Symphony.

A recipient of numerous honors, Dank won a coveted place on the Young Concert Artists’ roster in 2009 and subsequently made his New York recital debut. He is a laureate of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, where he also won the Bach Prize, the Naumburg and Sydney International Piano Competitions, and was the First Prize winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

A graduate of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University and the Juilliard School, he has worked extensively with Richard Goode, Emanuel Ax, Joseph Kalichstein, Ursula Oppens and Robert McDonald.

In 2014 Dank joined the faculty of the College of Charleston as the Director of Piano Studies and Assistant Professor. He also serves as Artistic Director of the College of Charleston International Piano Series.

In addition to concertizing and academic posts, Dank established a series of concerts with his wife, pianist Soyeon Kate Lee. Dubbed “Music by the Glass,” this series is held in a New York So-Ho art gallery, where young professionals mix and mingle with performing artists, who play solo pieces and chamber works. The performances are accompanied by sweet and savory treats paired with wines by the glass. Learn more about these popular events by visiting www.musicbytheglass.com.

Learn more about CCM’s preeminent piano faculty by visiting ccm.uc.edu/music/keyboard/faculty.

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CCM Announces 2015 Opera Scholarship Competition Results

Five voice students were named winners of CCM’s 2015 Opera Scholarship Competition, which was held Saturday, March 14, in UC’s Corbett Auditorium.

The annual competition welcomes current and incoming CCM voice students to compete for scholarships and cash prizes, and a panel of judges composed of opera industry professionals selects each year’s class of prizewinners.

The 2015 CCM Opera Scholarship Competition winners are:

Jessica Faselt (Candidate – Master of Music)
From Iowa City, Iowa, studying with Amy Johnson
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Corbett Award ($15,000)
The Corbett Award is supported by the Corbett Foundation in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Jacob Kincaide (Candidate – Artist Diploma)
From Houston, Texas, studying with Thomas Baresel
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Italo Tajo Memorial Award ($15,000)
This award is supported by the Italo Tajo Memorial Scholarship Fund (established by Mr. Tajo’s wife, Mrs. Inelda Tajo) in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Murrella Parton (Incoming – Master of Music)
From Seymour, Tenn.
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Andrew White Memorial Award ($12,500)
This award is supported by the Andrew White Memorial Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Cody Quattlebaum (Incoming – Master of Music)
From Ellicott City, MD, studying with Kenneth Shaw
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the Seybold-Russell Award ($10,000)
The Seybold-Russell Award is supported by the Seybold-Russell Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Benjamin Lee (Candidate – Master of Music)
From La Crescente, Calif., studying with Thomas Baresel
Prize: Full-tuition scholarship and the John Alexander Memorial Award ($10,000)
This award is sponsored by the John Alexander Memorial Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

The following student also received an award as part of the competition:

Christian Pursell (Incoming – Master of Music)
From Aptos, Calif.
Prize: Corbett Incentive Award for new Master of Music students ($2,000)
This award is supported by the Corbett Foundation in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

The judges’ panel for CCM’s 2015 Opera Scholarship Competition included:

  • Sheri Greenawald, Director of the San Francisco Opera Center and Artistic Director for the Merola Opera Program
  • Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera from 1983 to 2014
  • Evans Mirageas, Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera and Vice-President for Artistic Planning for the Atlanta Symphony

About CCM Opera
The Department of Opera at CCM boasts one of the most comprehensive training programs for opera singers, coaches and directors in the United States. Students at CCM work with some of the most renowned teachers and artists active in opera today.

CCM students frequently advance to the final rounds of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Furthermore, CCM’s Mainstage and Studio Series of Opera have received some of the National Opera Association Production Competition’s highest honors throughout the years, taking home six of the 18 non-professional prizes awarded in 2010 and four prizes in 2011.

CCM Opera graduates have performed on the stages of the world’s greatest opera companies, including Cincinnati Opera, Metropolitan Opera (New York), Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera (London), La Scala (Italy) and more.

CCM’s 2014-15 opera season concludes next month with Mozart’s beloved Così fan tutte (April 9 – 12), conducted by Mark Gibson with stage direction by Robin Guarino. Learn more about the production at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/cosi-fan-tutte-mainstage.
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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor and Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

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UC Celebrates the Broadcast Premiere of the Student-Produced ‘Gold Rush Expedition Race’ Film Series with a MainStreet Cinema Viewing Party on Oct. 16

Photography by Kaori Funahashi.

Photography by Kaori Funahashi.

The University of Cincinnati‘s student-produced Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary film series will be coming to television sets nationwide this fall courtesy of a new broadcast agreement with Universal Sports Network. This week, the cable network will air the first of three installments of the action-packed documentary series with the premiere of the 2012 Gold Rush Expedition Race film.

To celebrate the occasion, UC will host a viewing party from 5:30 to 8 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 16, in the MainStreet Cinema of the Tangeman University Center. This screening is free and open to the general public.

The Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary films chronicle one of the foremost expedition races in the world. Each 90-minute documentary features an international field of 50 elite athletes tackling a grueling 275-mile course through the California wilderness as they test their mental and physical limits in the toughest competition in North America. Over the course of four days, teams face merciless heat and sleepless nights while trekking, mountain biking, climbing and kayaking amidst the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The race is part of the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) and the winning team receives an entry into the ARWS World Championship.

Each film has been produced by a team of UC students hailing from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Working under the guidance of professional television director/producer and CCM Electronic Media (E-Media) alumnus Brian J. Leitten (BFA, 2001) and E-Media Professor Kevin Burke, these students shot, edited, scripted and produced the film on location in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Both Leitten and Burke advise the project and provide professional guidance and feedback to the students during all phases of the documentary’s development.

Earlier this month, GearJunkie.com hailed the Gold Rush Expedition Race project as “undoubtedly one of the most amazing educational initiatives we’ve seen.”

Learn more about the Gold Rush Expedition Race project by visiting ccm.uc.edu/about/villagenews/notations-ovations/student-produced-film-series-airs-on-universal-sports-network.

All broadcast times Eastern and subject to change. Learn more about the Universal Sports Network by visiting http://universalsports.com.

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CCM Alumna Audrey Luna Wins Grammy for Best Opera Recording

Audrey Luna (center) as Ariel in the Metropolitan Opera's production of 'The Tempest.'

Audrey Luna (center) as Ariel in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of ‘The Tempest.’

Congratulations to CCM alumna Audrey Luna (MM ’03, AD ’05), soprano, on her Grammy win last night! Luna received a Grammy for Best Opera Recording for singing the role of Ariel on the Metropolitan Opera recording of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest.

Born in Salem, Oregon, the soprano studied with Barbara Honn during her time at CCM. You can read more about her Grammy win courtesy of Janelle Gelfand and the Cincinnati Enquirer here.

You can read Luna’s recent Opera News “Sound Bite” spotlight here.

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CCM’s Preparatory Department Launches ‘New Horizons Orchestra’ Program for Adults

The Preparatory Department of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM Prep) is delighted to announce the launch of the New Horizons Orchestra, an innovative program for beginning musicians over the age of 50 who want to learn to play a musical instrument. No previous musical experience is required, and it truly is “never too late” to learn!

CCM Prep will host a series of informational “play days” in November, giving prospective new students the chance to learn more about the New Horizons Orchestra and to try out various string instruments under the guidance of CCM educators and other local string professionals. Instrument purchase and rental information will also be available at each meeting. Those who would like to know more, but are unable to attend one of the informational meetings, may contact CCM Prep at 513-556-2595.

Information “Play Day” Sessions

  • 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at UC Blue Ash (OLLI Brown Bag Lunch Class)
  • 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Sycamore Senior Center
  • 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Mayerson JCC
  • 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, at St. James Episcopal Church in Westwood

Starting Jan. 15, 2014, CCM Prep will hold its first New Horizons Orchestra lessons and rehearsal. Lessons and rehearsals will be held on Wednesday mornings from 9-11 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Tangeman University Center (TUC), which is located next to CCM with easy access from the CCM garage. The cost of the program will be $125, not including instrument rental. BettyAnne Gottlieb, Assistant Professor of Music Education (Strings) at CCM, will serve as the New Horizons Orchestra’s conductor assisted by area string teachers and CCM music students. Complete information including cost and registration information is available at ccm.uc.edu/prep.

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CCM’s Preparatory Department Announces 2013-14 Programs

CCM Prep's 2013-14 Program Guide.The Preparatory Department of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM Prep) is delighted to announce the details of its 2013-14 programs. CCM Prep provides students of all ages with individual lessons and classes in music, dance and theatre arts, while also providing local communities with performances, workshops and educational opportunities.

Registration is now open for all programs. Classes and lessons begin on Saturday, Sept. 7.

You can view CCM Prep’s 2013-14 Program Guide online here.

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Recently Graduated Voice Student Will Travel to Italy Thanks to Fulbright Award

Recent CCM graduate and Fulbright scholar Derrell Acon. Photography by Dottie Stover.

Recent CCM graduate and Fulbright scholar Derrell Acon. Photography by Dottie Stover.

The University of Cincinnati’s Derrell Acon just graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music with a master’s degree and plans to return in 2014 to pursue his doctorate. But in between, Acon will be leaving for Italy this August to pursue both performance opportunities and research thanks to his Fulbright award.

Acon plans to “explore the relationship between the performer and  audience.”

“I will engage in research at the National Institute of Verdian Studies in Parma,” he said. “As well as present my own lecture-recital composition entitled ‘Whence Comes Black Art?: The Construction and Application of ‘Black Motivation,’ which has been presented throughout the United States.”

Acon’s passion for performing began early on, and continued through high school where he was a participant in both solo and ensemble festivals. He was often required to translate, interpret and memorize non-English pieces. That experience might be tedious to some, but he recalls it providing him with “so much joy.”

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CCM Alumnus David Daniels Profiled in April 2013 issue of ‘Opera News’

Photographed by Michal Daniel as Orfeo in the Minnesota Opera production of Orfeo ed Euridice, 2010  © Michal Daniel 2013

Photographed by Michal Daniel as Orfeo in the Minnesota Opera production of Orfeo ed Euridice, 2010
© Michal Daniel 2013

CCM alumnus David Daniels (BM, 1990) is profiled in the April issue of Opera News, which is on newsstands now. As previously reported, the acclaimed countertenor is a 2012 Opera News Award-winner.

In the lengthy profile, Opera News editor Adam Wasserman writes, “Daniels has the uncanny ability to bridge the gap and make us believe that the composer’s note barely had time to dry on the page before it came forth from his mouth. It seems to me that the highest compliment one can pay Daniels — now in the third decade of an unprecedented career in opera — is that the music he sings sounds both strikingly contemporary and as though it were written precisely for his voice.”

Read the entire profile here.

Daniels will be singing the title role in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Giulio Cesare this month. The production is scheduled to be broadcast as a part of the Met’s “Live in HD” Series on April 27, 2013.

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