Spring 2015 Concert Soloists

Spring 2015 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 and talented artist.

Carrie's much-awaited debut in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire “gave us a Blanche that let us burrow into her character’s soul, even into the darkest crevices. . . . Hennessey, using a one-two punch of music and drama, made [the role] resonate in a way that equaled the finest stage performances of the part I’ve seen” (Fresnobeehive.com). Her embodiment of the title role in the West Coast premiere of 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 brought “exquisite vocal purity and range to the title role” and was “nothing short of sensational” (Metroactive). With West Bay Opera as Mimì in La bohème, she was “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" (San Francisco Classical Voice). 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.


In addition to A Streetcar Named Desire, the 2014–15 season includes several concert and recital appearances as well as soprano soloist in Verdi's Requiem and Mozart's Requiem. The 2013–14 season included the role of Sarah Miles in the Bay Area premiere of Heggie’s The End of the Affair, a reprise of The Woman in Poulenc's La voix humaine, Mimì in La bohème, Villa-Lobos's Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Lobgesang, Brahms's Requiem, Vaughn Williams’s moving Dona Nobis Pacem, Mahler’s epic symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, and appearances in multiple concert and recital series. 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 a 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 Gilbert and Sullivan's 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 the stunningly dramatic and rarely performed Dvořák's 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 NYC debut in La voix humaine, and performances of Mozart's Mass in C minor; Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, 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.


When not performing on the main stage, Carrie continues important music education work with the Sacramento Philharmonic, the Berkeley Symphony, Symphony Napa Valley, and other organizations in Northern California.   



Lisa van der Ploeg, mezzo-soprano

Lisa van der Ploeg, mezzo soprano
Lisa van der Ploeg

A finalist and prizewinner in the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition, mezzo-soprano Lisa van der Ploeg has been hailed for her rich, lustrous tone and electrifying stage presence. Whether as Juno in Handel's Semele, Amneris in Verdi's Aida, or Maria in Bolcom's McTeague, Lisa captivates audiences.


Past performances include Azucena in Verdi's Il trovatore, with Intermountain Opera; Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, with Livermore Valley Opera; Amneris in Aida, with Utah Festival Opera; Witch and Mother in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, with Intermountain Opera; Mother in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, with Trinity Lyric Opera and Mission City Opera; and Verdi’s Requiem, with Stanford University.


Lisa’s extensive concert activity also includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 3, Handel’s Messiah, Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, and Bach’s Mass in B minor. Her first professional appearances included performances with Maestro Raymond Leppard and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in Rossini's Barber of Seville and de Falla's Three-Cornered Hat. She has since established herself as an artist of great range and depth and as an interpreter of Handel operas, having performed the title roles in Giulio Cesare and Orlando, Amastre in Xerxes, Juno in Semele, and Ottone in Agrippina


Making her West Coast debut with the San Francisco Opera Center/Merola Program in the title role of Carmen, she toured nationally with the Western Opera Theater and also sang Natura in Cavalli's La Calisto. She sang the role of Julia in Jones's contemporary chamber opera Bardos, with the Seoul Korea Contemporary Opera Company. A graduate of the University of the Pacific and Indiana University, she was a prizewinner in the Ellen Faull Gordon Competition and a three-time Met regional finalist.


Alexander Boyer, tenor

Alex Boyer,  tenor
Alex Boyer

A New York native, tenor Alexander Boyer holds degrees from Boston University and the Manhattan School of Music. He has most recently performed the roles of Lensky (in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin), with Opera Idaho; Edgardo (in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor) and Manrico (in Verdi's Il trovatore), with Island City Opera; and Eisenstein (in Strauss's Die Fledermaus), Manrico (in Verdi's Il trovatore), and Rinuccio (in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi), with Opera San José. He has also performed the roles of Idomeneo (in Mozart's Idomeneo), Canio (in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci), Alfredo (in Verdi's La traviata), Faust (in Gounod's Faust), Cavaradossi (in Puccini's Tosca), des Grieux (in Massenet's Manon), Ruggero (in Puccini's La rondine), and Don José (in Bizet's Carmen). He has participated in the Merola and Santa Fe Opera programs, and is a recipient of the Mario Lanza scholarship award.


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 singing the role of Dikoj with Boston Lyric Opera in Janacek's Katya Kabanova, a performance of Barber's Dover Beach with the celebrated Muir String Quartet, 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 Verdi's 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. In May 2015, he will sing the role of Pistol in Ralph Vaughn Williams's Sir John in Love, with Odyssey Opera of Boston.  


Jim first gained international attention at Houston Grand Opera, where he appeared as Guglielmoin Mozart's Così fan tutte and Peterin Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, and as soloist with the Houston Symphony, where he sang the role ofMaestro 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 Puccini's 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 Puccini's La bohème, Valentinin Gounod's 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 Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, with Palm Beach Opera he sang Daniloin Lehár's The Merry Widow, and with Chattanooga Opera he sang Silvioin Leoncavallo's I pagliacci. He also made debuts with Long Beach Opera as Aeneasin Purcell's 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 the 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 Orff's 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.