Spring 2017 Concert Soloists

Ariana Strahl, SopranoAriana 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.

Kara Cornell, mezzo soprano

Kara Conrell mezzo sopranoKara Cornell is a versatile performer who is known as "a singer who can balance impeccable production and phrasing with enthusiastic and colorful dramatics." (Berkshire Review for the Arts) Her intuitive acting skills and expressive portrayal of roles has hailed her "accomplished and electrifying" (Opera Insider) with roles ranging from a "totally endearing" Cinderella (St. Petersburg Times) to a "seductive, wounded, damaged and dangerous" Carmen (The Troy Record).
Classic operatic roles that Kara has recently performed include CARMEN (Hubbard Hall Opera Theater NY, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Long Island Opera, St. Petersburg Opera FL and Opera at The Madison Theatre, NY), "Orfeo" in ORFEO ED EURIDICE (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Mosaic-Arts NY), “Sesto” in GIULIO CESARE (Upstate Chamber Opera NY) and "3rd Lady" in THE MAGIC FLUTE (Opera Saratoga). 
Kara's clear English diction, soulful interpretations, and intuitive rhythmic skills are making her known as a singer who excels in the Contemporary and American music genre. Kara enjoys collaborating with composers and is premiering pieces in American Art Song themed recitals nationally in a tour called "Creative Collaborations". Similarly, she is a frequent artist with The Center for Contemporary Opera in NYC, a professional company with a similar mission. Contemporary roles performed include "Dinah" in TROUBLE IN TAHITI (Union Avenue Opera MO, Resonance Works | Pittsburgh), "Minskwoman" in John Dove's FLIGHT (Opera Fayetteville), "Eliza Doolittle" in MY FAIR LADY (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts NY), "Cinderella" in INTO THE WOODS (St. Petersburg Opera), "Beth" in MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (Theater Co. at Hubbard Hall) and "Jo"/"Alma" in LITTLE WOMEN (Center City Opera/Pittsburgh Opera). 
One of the reasons Kara considers herself a crossover artist is because she not only performs in musicals, but also in the genre of jazz and pop. Kara’s Grandfather was a jazz pianist, and his love of all things jazz has led her to often perform works by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and Leonard Bernstein with experts in the field, including pianist Lincoln Mayorga. 
In addition to Kara’s staeh and recital experience, Kara has performed the alto solos in many fully-orchestrated oratorios, including Handel’s MESSIAH, JUDAS MACCABAEUS, SAMSON and UTRECHT TE DEUM, Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH, Honegger’s KING DAVID and Bach’s CHRISTMAS ORATORIO, ST JOHN PASSION, Corigliano's FERN HILL and Karl Jenkin's STABAT MATER. Kara has had the privilege to work most notably with The United States Naval Academy, The Pittsburgh Camerata, Aoede Music Consort, Williamstown Early Music, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, Albany Pro Musica and The Falmouth Chorale. Kara can be heard on the recording of Nancy Galbraith’s oratorio SACRED SONGS AND INTERLUDES and recently had the hilarious pleasure of performing with PDQ Bach with the Cape Cod Symphony’s New Years Pops concert. 
Kara is a New York native who currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA. You can learn more about her on her website: www.karacornell.com


Brian Thorsett, tenor

BrianThorsett, tenor

Hailed as “a strikingly gifted tenor, with a deeply moving, unblemished voice” (sfmusicjournal.com), Brian Thorsett is excelling in opera, oratorio and recital across the world. Since taking to the operatic stage, he has been seen and heard in over 100 diverse operatic roles, ranging from Monteverdi to Britten, back to Rameau and ahead again to works composed specifically for his talents. As a concert singer Brian fosters a stylistically diversified repertoire of over 250 works, which has taken him to concert halls across the US and Europe. Future engagements include Evangelist and soloist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion and Magnificat, Orff's Carmina Burana, Part’s Passio, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, Britten's War Requiem, the Requiems of Mozart and Verdi, the premieres of Josheff’s The Dream Mechanic and Gendel’s Barabra Allen, as well as a rare performance of Blitzstein's Airborne Symphony.

Closely associated with expanding the vocal-chamber genre, he has been involved in premieres and commissions of Ian Venables, Peter Josheff, David Conte, Shinji Eshima, Scott Gendel, Gordon Getty, Michel Bosc, Noah Luna, Laurence Lowe, Brian Holmes, Eric Choate, Eric Davis, Michael Scherperel, Robert Conrad and Nicholas Carlozzi. His voice has been featured in film and commericals, being the artist for Soundiron studio's Voice of Rapture: The Tenor.  Brian's first solo album will be released in 2017, featuring works of Frank Tours, Idabelle Firestone, Guy d'Hardelot and their contemporaries arranged for salon orchestra. He will also contribute the American Death Ballads and Three Love Songs of David Conte to a recording of that composer's music. A second solo album recording the vocal works of Frank Tours will be recorded in 2017.
He is a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artist program, American Bach Soloists' Academy, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh, England and spent two summers at the Music Academy of the West. Brian is an Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech and previously served on faculty at Santa Clara University and University of California at Berkeley.
Follow him at www.brianthorsett.com

Colin Ramsey, bass

Colin Ramsey, BassSince making his operatic debut as Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Colin’s “majestic, orotund, ravishing bass” (Opera Today) has been heard in repertoire spanning continents and centuries. The 2016-17 season finds him making his company debut at Opera San Jose as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. He continues his residence in San Jose reprising Colline in La Bohème and Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He will also make his role debut as Father Palmer in the West Coast Premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prizewinning Silent Night.

16-17 will also feature several concert debuts including Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Pacific Symphony, the Verdi Requiem with the La Jolla Symphony, and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the Berkeley Community Chorus and Symphony.

Colin’s past performances have brought him to the stages of Seattle Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Wolf Trap Opera, Austin Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been featured as Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Mr. Kofner in Menotti’s The Consul, Il Fratein Verdi’s Don Carlo, Angelotti in Tosca, the Sprecher in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Giorgio in the US Premiere of Paisiello’s rarely performed Nina, and as a “sonorous” (Classical King Seattle) Cadmus and Somnus in Handel’s Semele.

Colin also continues to make strides in the Symphonic world. The St. Paul Pioneer Press said of  of Colin’s Messiah performance: “At the other end of the sonic spectrum was bass Colin Ramsey, who had tremendous power and clarity in his lowest notes, making “Why do the nations so furiously rage” into the kind of attention-grabbing interlude that Handel likely intended”. His concert repertoire also includes Jesus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, and the Bass solos in Handel’s Messiah, the Faurè Requiem, Beethoven Choral Fantasy and the Brahms Requiem.

He is a winner of the Pasadena Opera Guild Competition, 3rd Prize winner in the Rocky Mountain Region of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and an Encouragement Award winner in the George London Foundation Competition.

Colin has been trained at numerous young artist programs including those of Des Moines Metro Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Santa Barbara and the Crested Butte Music Festival performing and understudying a number of roles and working with leading professionals in the classical field.