Ariana Strahl, soprano
Irish-American soprano Ariana Strahl has been called "the discovery of the night" (Vorarlberger Nachrichten) and has been celebrated as a singer with "fearless, accurate vocalism" (Opera Now), who sings with "devastating brilliance and incredible ease" (Opera Tattler).
Ariana has most recently made her American debut as Blanche Dubois in Previn’s Streetcar Named Desire with Opera San Jose, working with world-renowned director and Streetcar specialist Brad Dalton. This show-stealing success brought critics to declare Ariana "a real star presence . . . , a ringing soprano possessed of considerable beauty, assured technique, and consummate musicianship" (Opera Today).
Before singing her first Blanche Dubois, Ariana was seen as a young artist at the Komische Oper Berlin. During her two seasons there, she debuted such roles as Ännchen in Calixto Bieito’s production of Weber's Der Freischütz, Sandman and Dew Fairy in Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel, Micaela and Frasquita in Bizet's Carmen, the First Wood Sprite in Dvořák's Rusalka, Papagena in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Mrs. Pasek in Janáček's Cunning Little Vixen, and the roles of Fortuna and Damigella, in Monteverdi’s Poppea (adapted by Elena Kats-Chernin for Barrie Kosky’s Monteverdi Trilogy). Additionally, she worked in the Children’s Opera of the Komische Oper, premiering the role of Sirin in the Turkish-German adaptation of Taner Akyol’s Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. She also debuted as the First Cercatrice in Puccini's Suor Angelica with the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester, under the direction of Hans Graf.
During her studies, Ariana debuted such roles as First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, La Ciesca in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Peep-Bo in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Monica in Menotti's The Medium, Mrs. McLean in Floyd's Susannah, and the title role in Handel’s Semele. Her broad abilities also brought her to the concert stage in the role of the Mother in Paulus’s The Three Hermits and as the soprano soloist for Rutter’s Mass of the Children. Following her studies, Ariana moved to Vienna, where she debuted as the Kurfürstin in Zeller's Der Vogelhändler and Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan Tutte, with Musik Theater Schönbrunn. Beyond the opera stage, Ariana is also an active singer of art songs. She developed a lieder series with pianist Miles Graber, and together they have performed Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben, Barber’s Hermit Songs, Manuel de Falla’s Siete canciones populares Españolas, and Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne. In 2016 she also explored the works of Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann with pianist and musicologist Nicholas Mathew, in conjunction with The Mendelssohn Project at the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, in Berkeley.
Ariana is equally active on the competition stage. She is winner of the East Bay Opera League competition, winner of the ZAV Young Talent Auditions in Germany, semi-finalist at Neue Stimmen Gesangswettbewerb, and third-prize winner at the James Collier awards. Additionally, she is a three-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions (and one of the youngest winners, at age 20). She has participated in master classes with soprano Dawn Upshaw, mezzo-soprano Joan Wall, Dr. Karen Peeler, and Dr. Laurel Miller, as well as with artistic coaches Russell Ryan, John Norris, Claus Unzen, and Anette Berg.
Ariana was born in Munich, Germany, and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. She studied privately with Darlene Marks while in Fort Worth, before earning her bachelor of music degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2007. After completing her degree, she moved to Vienna to study with Paulette Vineyard-Herbich. During her time at the Komische Oper, she continued her private studies with Gregory Lamar. Ariana is based in the Bay Area and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and studies with soprano Ruth Ann Swenson.
Silvie Jensen, mezzo-soprano
“Marvelous,” “elegant,” “beautiful”—so has the New York Times described mezzo-soprano Silvie Jensen. Critics have also called her voice “exquisite, floating and expressive, a joy to hear.” A vocalist of great versatility, Silvie enjoys a wide-ranging career that includes early and contemporary music, opera and musical theater, and improvised and experimental music.
In recent seasons, Silvie has appeared with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, with the San Francisco Symphony; with American Chamber Opera in Chicago as Carmen; with Island City Opera as Maddalena in Verdi's Rigoletto; with One World Symphony as Olga in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, and she has premiered new operas with Riverside Opera and the Stonington Opera House, and at the Ostrava Days Festival in the Czech Republic and the Carolina Chamber Music Festival. She has created and performed new works at London’s Barbican Centre with Ornette Coleman, Teatro Comunale di Ferrara with Meredith Monk, and Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass.
Silvie is a highly-sought-after oratorio soloist; she won second place in the 2014 Oratorio Society of New York's Solo Competition and made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall in 2014, singing Handel's Messiah with Kent Tritle and Musica Sacra. She will appear in 2016 with Symphony Parnassus at Herbst Theater, singing Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen and Symphony No. 4. She has sung Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Ivan Fischer conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall and with Sir Jonathan Miller’s production at BAM. She has also sung the Israelitish Man in Handel's Judas Maccabeus with Clarion Music Society; Handel's Messiah with Trinity Wall Street and Monmouth Orchestra; Bach's Mass in B minor with the Springfield Symphony and with Voices of Ascension, with Musica Sacra at Alice Tully Hall, with Sacred Music in a Sacred Space; and with Broadway Bach Ensemble singing Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 and Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne.
She has commissioned and premiered works composed for her, and has appeared in recital in New York at Weill Recital Hall, Steinway Hall, Symphony Space, Americas Society, Liederkranz Club, The Stone, Bonhams, Nicholas Roerich Museum, The Cell Theatre, and at the Ethical Humanist Society in Philadelphia. She has made recordings for ECM, London, Koch, Helicon, MSR Classics, Sono Luminus and Soundbrush Records. Visit www.silviejensen.com for more information.
With a sound combining clarity, strength, and integrity, Kirk Dougherty is one of the most exciting voices entering the opera circuit today. His expressivity and commitment to both musical and dramatic interpretation have earned him continuous appearances as a leading tenor since he began a serious foray into the repertoire just six years ago. Of his recent performance in Verdi's Tosca, the San Jose Mercury News exclaimed, “Kirk Dougherty shined. . . . The unique timbre and expression of his handsome voice, coupled with refined, satisfying phrasing, provided noteworthy, heartfelt performances of ‘Recondita armonia’ and ‘E lucevan le stelle,’ two of the treasured arias of the repertoire.”
This performance as Cavaradossi marked his debut in the role, as part of his 2015–16 season at Opera San Jose, where he also performed the roles of Don José in Bizet's Carmen and Mitch in Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire. Other appearances this season included a return to Anchorage Opera as Don José (Carmen) and the Verdi Requiem with the New Jersey Choral Society.
Dougherty’s first performance at Opera San Jose was part of its 2014–15 season, where he was seen as the Duke in Verdi's Rigoletto, Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, and Philip in the world premiere of Mark Weiser's Where Angels Fear to Tread. Mid-season, he performed the role of Pinkerton in Puccini's Madama Butterfly for Anchorage Opera, where he previously sang the roles of Arturo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Joseph Treate in the world premiere of Victoria Bond’s Mrs. President.
Previous seasons include his company debuts with Sarasota Opera as Manrico, in Verdi's Il trovatore; with the American Symphony Orchestra as Aaron in Bruch's oratorio Moses at Carnegie Hall; with the Glacier Symphony performing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde; with Salt Marsh Opera as Ernesto in Donizetti's Don Pasquale; and with Opera Louisiane as the title role in Gounod's Faust. Additional roles performed include Hoffman in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffman, Alfredo in Verdi's La traviata, Ferrando in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Nemorino in Donizetti's L’elisir d’amore, and Rinuccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, among others.
For the 2016–17 season, Kirk returns to Opera San Jose for his final season as a resident artist, where he will perform the roles of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème, and Sprink in Silent Night, the Pulitzer Prize–winning opera by Kevin Puts.
Matt Hanscom, baritone
Praised for his “rich baritone” and for singing with “power, insight, and flawless delivery,” baritone Matt Hanscom is enjoying success across the continent. He will be heard during the 2016–17 season as Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, as Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, and as Marcello in Puccini's La bohème, all with Opera San Jose. He joins the Berkeley Symphony for Mozart’s Requiem and performs in the West Coast premiere of Kevin Puts’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Silent Night. During the previous season, he joined Opera San Jose as Escamillo in Bizet's Carmen and as Stanley Kowalski in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, where his “rich baritone is a powerful weapon, providing Stanley with a fearsome authority and a powerful sexuality” (Operaville).
In recent seasons, this exciting young baritone has performed with Opera San Jose as the title role in Verdi's Rigoletto; Scarpia in Verdi's Tosca; Taddeo in Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri; Gino Carella in the world premiere of Mark Lanz Weiser’s Where Angels Fear to Tread, based on the novel by E. M. Forster; Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte; and Conte Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Additional highlights include Matt's “vocally and dramatically compelling” Comte de Toulouse in Verdi’s Jérusalem; a “fully realized portrait” of Slim in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men; and a “most expressive, technically secure, and vocally commanding” Ping in Puccini's Turandot, all with Sarasota Opera.
Matt was an international finalist in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition in Gütersloh, Germany. He is a former national semifinalist in the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition as well as in Houston Grand Opera’s Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers. In consecutive years he was a district winner, then a national semifinalist, in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and he can be seen in the documentary film The Audition.
Possessing both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Northwestern University, he is an alumnus of many of the nation's premier training programs, including Wolf Trap Opera’s Filene Young Artist Program, the Santa Fe Opera, the Merola Opera Program, Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s Gerdine Young Artist Program, Chicago Opera Theater, Sarasota Opera Studio, and Central City Opera.