Launching on Wednesday, January 27th, Virginia Opera presents an eight-week Masterclass Series featuring opera legend Denyce Graves. Graves, a highly accomplished mezzo-soprano and Washington, D.C. native, has performed around the world, from television to the revered stages of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera.
Filmed during Virginia Opera’s Stayin’ Alive residency this past fall, Emerging Artists Symone Harcum, Nicholas Martorano, Eric McConnell, and Whitney Robinson workshop an aria of their choosing with Denyce Graves in each Masterclass episode.
The series is an exclusive benefit to Virginia Opera subscribers and donors. To make a donation and receive access, please click the button below.
Episode 1 – Nicholas Martorano – Wednesday, January 27, 2021
In episode one of VO’s eight-episode Masterclass Series, acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves workshops “O vin, dissipe la tristesse” – Hamlet’s aria from Thomas’ Hamlet with baritone Nicholas Martorano. In this aria from Act II, Scene 1, Hamlet meets with a company of traveling comedians that will perform in front of the court. With them, he sings a drinking song in which he calls for wine and laughter to dispel his sadness after the death of his father. (Language: French)
Episode 2 – Whitney Robinson – Wednesday, February 3, 2021
In the second episode of Virginia Opera’s eight-episode Masterclass Series with Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano Whitney Robinson sings “Acerba voluttà” – the Princess’s aria from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur. Set in eighteenth-century Paris, this aria features the Princesse de Bouillon – rival of Adriana Lecouvreur – in a fever of jealousy, nervously awaiting the arrival of Maurizio, whose love and affection she desperately desires.
Episode 3 – Eric McConnell – Wednesday, February 10, 2021
In the third episode of Virginia Opera’s eight-episode Masterclass Series with Denyce Graves, bass-baritone Eric McConnell sings “Vecchia zimarra” – Colline’s aria from Puccini’s “La Bohème”. Spoiler alert! In the final scenes of the opera, Mimì has collapsed on the staircase of the “bohemian” artists Rodolfo’s and Marcello’s unheated apartment. Seeking to make Mimì more comfortable in her final hours, the friends rally to provide medicine and warmth. Musetta sells her jewelry to pay for a doctor and some drugs, while Colline decides to pawn his well-worn overcoat, to which he bids a fond farewell.
Episode 4 – Symone Harcum – Wednesday, February 17, 2021
In the fourth episode of Virginia Opera’s eight-episode Masterclass Series with Denyce Graves, soprano Symone Harcum sings “Tacea la notte placida” – Leonora’s aria from Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”. In the middle of a dark night, Leonora, a noble lady of the court, and her confidante Ines are lingering in the gardens outside the palace. Leonora is waiting to catch sight of a mysterious serenader, who she believes is also a knight she herself once crowned in a tournament, but whose name and whereabouts remain unknown. In this aria, she recalls first hearing that mysterious troubadour and anxiously awaits his return.
Episode 5 – Whitney Robinson – Wednesday, February 24, 2021
In the fifth episode of Virginia Opera’s eight-episode Masterclass Series with Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano Whitney Robinson sings “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” – Dalila’s aria from Saint-Saëns’ “Samson et Dalila”. In this scene, Dalila, a young Philistine, has set a romantic trap for Samson, chieftain of the Hebrews – one final chance to discover the secret of Samson’s feared superhuman strength. Making use of all her seductive powers, Dalila pours out a song of love in an attempt to overcome Samson’s resolve.
Episode 6 – Nicholas Martorano – Wednesday, March 3, 2021
In the sixth episode of Virginia Opera’s eight-episode Masterclass Series with Denyce Graves, baritone Nicholas Martorano sings “Hai già vinta la causa…Vedrò mentr’io sospiro” – the Count’s aria from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”. In Act III, Count Almaviva believes Susanna (chambermaid of the countess and fiancée of Figaro, the Count’s manservant) will be meeting him in his gardens on the night of her marriage to Figaro, which he may be able to prevent through legal means. After overhearing the two lovers talking confidently about conspiring against the Count’s plans, he feels humiliated and becomes incensed.
Episode 7 – Eric McConnell – Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Episode 8 – Symone Harcum – Wednesday, March 17, 2021