Spring 2014 concert soloists

Carrie Hennessey, soprano

Carrie Hennessey, soprano
Carrie Hennessey

Known for her ability to bring great musical and theatrical depth to her performances, soprano Carrie Hennessey is a powerful, talented artist.

 Carrie’s embodiment of the title role in the West Coast premiere of Tobias Picker’s opera Emmeline earned her a nomination in the 2010 Bay Area Broadway World Awards for Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Local). She was said to bring “exquisite vocal purity and range to the title role” and was “nothing short of sensational.” With West Bay Opera as Mimì in La bohème, she was described as “possessed of a full, powerful lyric soprano, which delivers Puccini’s arias and duets richly. Her 'Mi chiamano Mimì' (Yes, they call me Mimì) in Act 1 is gorgeous." On only one day’s notice, Carrie made her debut with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra as soprano soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, to great acclaim.

 The 2013–14 season includes a reprise of Carrie's roles as The Woman in La voix humaine and as Mimì in La bohème, as well as appearances in multiple concert and recital series, Heitor Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Lobgesang, Brahms's Requiem, and Mahler’s epic symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde. In 2012–13, Carrie made several appearances with Sacramento Opera in concert. She also sang the role of Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi as well as Magda and Floria Tosca in Puccini: A Man and His Muses. Other performances included the world premiere of a song cycle by Mark Vance written for Carrie and the Rootstock Percussion Trio; Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate! and Coronation Mass; Fauré's Requiem; Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony; the role of Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore; Duruflé's Requiem; several concert and recital appearances; and a European tour as soprano soloist in Mozart's Mass in C minor and in Dvořák's stunningly dramatic and rarely performed Requiem in Rudolfinum Hall in Prague.

 Engagements in 2011–12 included her European debut at the International Mahler Festival in the Czech Republic singing Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, her New York City debut in Poulenc's French melodrama La voix humaine, as well as performances of Mozart's Mass in C minor; Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, with the Grand Rapids Symphony; Orff's Carmina Burana, with the Oakland East Bay Symphony; Mozart's Requiem, with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra; Dvořák's Requiem; and several recital, concert, and master class appearances. In the 2010–11 season, Carrie debuted as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. She also appeared as soprano soloist with the Grand Rapids Symphony in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and with the renowned Pacific Symphony in Handel’s Messiah. Performing with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Carrie was said to have brought “bright tone and elegant legato” to Brahms's Requiem. She also appeared with the Townsend Opera Players as Hanna in The Merry Widow, and with Sacramento Opera as Giannetta in L’elisir d’amore and Edith in Pirates of Penzance. At the Mendocino Music Festival, she was soprano soloist in Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella, and she performed with members of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra in Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, for voice and eight cellos. Carrie used her theatrical background in working with the Sacramento Children’s Chorus to stage direct the April 2010 run of Brundibar and worked with Sacramento Opera’s education and outreach program to direct and perform in the opera Green Eggs and Hamwith students in Rocklin, California. She continues her work in education with the Napa Valley Youth Symphony and by performing in elementary schools in Berkeley with conductor Ming Luke and members of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony Napa Valley. 

Megan Berti, mezzo-soprano

Megan Berti, Mezzo Soprano
Megan Berti

Megan Berti is a mezzo-soprano in the studio of Melanie Sonnenberg and a recent graduate of the Moores School of Music’s Certificate in Music Performance Program at the University of Houston. She is currently playing the title role in Strega Nona with Houston Grand Opera’s Opera to Go! throughout the Houston area and preparing the roles of Mother and Nightingale in its newly commissioned version of Rapunzel.

Most recently Megan performed Flora in La traviata for her debut with Opera in the Heights and Angelina in La Cenerentola with the Lakes Area Music Festival. Other recent roles at Moores include Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto; Vava in Shostakovich's Moscow, Cheryomushki; and Magali in Catán’s Salsipuedes.

Last season at Moores, Megan performed Annina in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, the title role in Daron Hagen's Amelia, and Mistress Quickly in Verdi's Falstaff. Megan has also sung the mezzo-soprano solos in Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, Dvořák’s Requiem, and Vivaldi's Gloria with the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra, with whom she sang in a European tour last summer.

While at Eastman, Megan played the role of Anne in Jake Heggie's To Hell and Back and the complete role of Dryade in a scene from Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. She also performed the mezzo-soprano solos for Rossini's Petite messe solennelle with Rochester's Gregory Kunde Chorale, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with Oakland’s Cantare con Vivo, and Bach's B Minor Mass with the Eastman Chorale. During her undergraduate studies, Megan performed Sesto in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and La Messaggiera in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, and she was a soloist in Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony; she also sang the latter with the Pasadena Pops Orchestra. Megan has participated in the summer programs Le Chiavi di Bel Canto, SongFest, and the International Lyric Academy in Italy. For three summers she sang with SummerSong and performed the roles of Orpheus in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, Sesto in Handel’s Julius Caesar, and Otto in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea. She was a scholarship recipient for the Fine Arts Affiliates, the Dramatic Allied Arts Guild, and the Presser Foundation, and she has received two CSULB Choral awards. Megan is also a member of the SAI music fraternity and the Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society.

Brian Thorsett, tenor

Brian Thorsett

Hailed as “a strikingly gifted tenor, with a deeply moving, unblemished voice” (sfmusicjournal.com), tenor Brian Thorsett excels in opera, oratorio, and recital internationally. Since taking to the operatic stage in 2001, he has been seen and heard in over 100 diverse operatic roles, in works ranging from Monteverdi to Britten, back to Rameau, and on to pieces composed specifically for his talents. During the 2014–16 seasons, Brian returns as Acis in Handlel’s Acis and Galatea, Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata; adds the roles of Edoardo in Rossini’s Cambiale di matrimonio, Jason in Cherubini’s Médée, Father in Weill’s 7 Deadly Sins, one of the trio in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Peter Quint in Britten’s Turn of the Screw, and the title character in Handel's Judas Maccabaeus; and creates the Narrator and Bull roles in the premiere of Josheff’s Europa and the Bull.

As a concert singer, Brian fosters a stylistically diverse repertoire of over 250 works, which has taken him to concert halls across the United States and Europe. Future engagements include the role of Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, and soloist in Bach’s Mass in B Minor, J. L. Bach's Trauermusik, Orff's Carmina Burana, Handel’s Messiah, Britten's St. Nicolas, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the requiems of Mozart and Dvořák, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, a rare performance of Blitzstein’s Airborne Symphony, and the premiere of Garrop’s Terra Nostra.

Closely associated with expanding the vocal chamber genre, he has been involved in premieres and commissions of works by Ian Venables, Peter Josheff, David Conte, Shinji Eshima, Gordon Getty, Michel Bosc, Noah Luna, Laurence Lowe, Brian Holmes, Eric Davis, Robert Conrad, and Nicholas Carlozzi. His voice has been featured in films and commercials, as the artist for Soundiron studio’s Voice of Rapture: The Tenor. Brian’s first solo album will be released in fall 2014, featuring the works of Frank Tours, Idabelle Firestone, Victor Herbert, and their contemporaries, arranged for salon orchestra. He will also contribute the Rossetti Songs of David Conte to a recording of that performer’s music.

Brian is a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artists Program, American Bach Soloists' Academy, and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh, England, and he spent two summers at the Music Academy of the West. Brian is currently on faculty at Santa Clara University and at the University of California at Berkeley. Follow him on Facebook: Brian Thorsett, tenor.

James R. Demler, baritone

James Demler, Baritone
James Demler

Baritone James Demler is known for his versatile range of repertory spanning the operatic, oratorio, concert, and popular music genres. Recent performances include a debut with Boston Lyric Opera in Verdi’s Macbeth, and reengagements as soloist with the Boston Pops in both spring 2012 and the 2012–13 Christmas Concerts, in which he sang Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols. In summer 2013, Jim was the baritone soloist with the Landmarks Orchestra of Boston, singing excerpts from La traviata and Rigoletto. He made his film debut as Noah in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which opened the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and he was also a guest public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in June 2012.

Jim first gained international attention at Houston Grand Opera, where he appeared as Guglielmoin Così fan tutte and Peterin Hansel and Gretel, and as soloist with the Houston Symphony, where he sang the role of Maestro in a concert version of Salieri’s rarely performed opera Prima la musica, poi le parole. Jim made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Opera Orchestra of New York as Dikson in Boieldieu’s La dame blanche, and he has returned to that venue singing prominent roles in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux and Catalani’s La Wally.

Jim made his Canadian operatic debut as Sharplessin Madama Butterfly with Edmonton Opera, a role he has also sung with Anchorage Opera and P.O.R.T. of Portland, Maine. In Anchorage, he has also appeared as Marcello in La bohème, Valentinin Faust (a role that he debuted with the West Virginia Symphony), and Peterin Hansel and Gretel, which he has also sung with the Pine Mountain Music Festival of Michigan. With Chautauqua Opera he appeared as Pish-Tushin The Mikado, with Palm Beach Opera he sang Daniloin The Merry Widow, and with Chattanooga Opera as Silvioin I pagliacci. He also made debuts with Long Beach Opera as Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, and Bartleyin Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Riders to the Sea.

Concert and oratorio credits include solo appearances with the Hartford Symphony and The National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada in performances of Handel’s Messiah, and a debut with Boston Baroque in Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. Jim was soloist in Brahms’s  Requiem with Madison Symphony and in Fauré’s Requiem with the New Mexico Symphony, and he sang the role of Zebulin Handel’s Jephtha with the Berkshire Choral Festival.

Jim has been soloist on numerous occasions with Boston University’s Symphonic Choir and Orchestra, including performances of Carmina Burana, Ralph Vaughn Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and most recently Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. Jim has been a full-time member of the voice faculty of the Boston University College of Fine Arts since 2005. He has presented master classes at The Mannes School of Music; Pepperdine University; The University of New Mexico; The International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy; and Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. He holds voice degrees from the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona, and a Performers Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. He completed his training as a member of the Houston Opera Studio.