Sep 25, 2016

Join Chicago Fringe Opera at PianoForte our 2016-17 Season Opening Gala. An evening of song and celebration as the company kicks off its third season. Following a season featuring productions described as “compelling music drama” with “jarring intensity” (Chicago Classical Review) and “take-no-prisoners bravado” (Chicago Tribune), Chicago Fringe Opera is excited to present local audiences beautiful music and compelling drama with two operas in its 2016-17 season, Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar and Ned Rorem’s Our Town.

Singers from the 2016-17 season will perform contemporary settings of Shakespearean text by Pasatieri, Ades, and Hoiby along with presentations from the creative teams behind our Missy Mazzoli and Ned Rorem opera productions. Along with light refreshments, enjoy an evening of wonderful music and have the opportunity to meet Chicago Fringe Opera artists and staff.

Cast

Ashley Armstrong

Mezzo-Soprano

Ashley Armstrong

Mezzo-Soprano

Praised for her expressiveness and richly colorful tone, mezzo-soprano Ashley Armstrong is known for her musicianship as well as her scholarship. Driven by the desire to inspire in others a curiosity for more knowledge about music, she seizes every opportunity to share her vocal talents. This motivation has afforded her many unique opportunities to sing for esteemed individuals such as his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and at such celebrated locations as St. Paul’s Cathedral at Ground Zero, and Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.

Ms. Armstrong begins the 2016/2017 season as an Artist with Chicago Fringe Opera, performing in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar, an opera inspired by the journals of Isabelle Eberhardt, detailing her fantastic seven-year odyssey through the desserts of North Africa; and Ted Rorem’s Our Town, a tongue in cheek commentary on American life, based on the play by Thornton Wilder about the small fictional town of Grover’s Corners and the daily lives of its citizens. Her other engagements include Beethoven 9 with Chicago combined choirs, and a series of concerts in collaboration with Old Capitol Opera.

Ms. Armstrong made her operatic debut in 2011 as Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Art Center, and this last year, she received her Chicago premiere at CCPA where she was featured as The Wife in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Women, Suzette in Milton Granger’s Bluebeard’s Waiting Room, and Ottavia in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Other opera credits include Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Azucena in a gala presentation of Verdi’s Il trovatore. Additionally, she presented or has been featured in recitals for the Chicago College of Performing Arts, the University of Northern Iowa, and the Chicago Art Institute. In 2012 she won the senior division of the Iowa chapter of NATS student auditions and the next year she took home second place in the graduate division.

Currently a student of Allan Glassman, Ms. Armstrong received her M.M. from the Chicago College of Performing Arts in May of 2016. Before that, she graduated magna cum laude and Pi Kappa Lambda with a B.A. in Music and Theatre from the University of Northern Iowa, where she studied with Jeffrey Brich. During her time as a student she also gave world premieres of many works, including: “Could” by Pete Fernandez, Just Ann by Rebecca Burkhardt and Cynthia Goatley, Joy by John Schwabe, and Festival te Deum by David Childs.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Lucrezia 2017
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016

Michael McElvain

Pianist

Michael McElvain

Pianist

Pianist-conductor Michael McElvain has been heard on WFMT radio broadcasts, including a live cycle of the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven, the WFMT Membership Drive, and contemporary music program Relevant Tones. As a soloist and collaborative artist he has performed in masterclasses led by Leon Fleisher, Emanuel Ax, Martin Katz, and David Daniels. Beyond classical music, he has toured Europe as keyboardist for celebrated progressive rock group Pavlov’s Dog.

Recently, Mr. McElvain led The Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis in a performance of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony. He has served as Chorus Master for The Chicago Bach Ensemble, and provided music direction for several stage productions including CUBE Ensemble’s first-ever opera, as well as musical theatre works by Stephen Sondheim. Presently, Mr. McElvain serves on the faculties of DePaul University School of Music and Italian summer voice institute Musica nelle Marche.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

2016-17 Season Opening Gala Accompanist 2016

Jessie Lyons

Soprano

Jessie Lyons

Soprano

Lyric soprano Jessie Lyons is one of the most promising performers of opera’s new generation. The Iowa native has been enthusiastically received by audiences in numerous productions in Italy and throughout the United States.

Jessie has been described as “an amazingly talented young lyric soprano [with] a unique voice that is strong and warm throughout her range,” and her “poise and natural stage presence put her at the top of the list among her current peers.”
(Matthew Chellis, international performing artist).

Of one performance, Stage West Des Moines director Paul Dieke said, “Jessie has an exciting voice, brilliant and powerful, with secure, well-developed high tones. She was musically accurate and approached her roles with sensitivity and expressiveness. Dramatically, she was superb. Her anger/fight scene was mesmerizing.”

Jessie has performed numerous roles with various opera companies. Among her finest achievements to date are her performances of Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème, La Ciesca in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with La Musica Lirica in Italy. She has also performed as Alice Ford in Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Luther College, and Mimi in American Chamber Opera’s production of La bohème. In addition, she has sung with the Taos Opera Institute in Taos, New Mexico. Following that, Jessie performed with the Des Moines Metropolitan Opera in their 40th anniversary season, singing in Puccini’s La Rondine and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and scenes from Britten’s Turn of the Screw, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, Mozart’s Cosí Fan Tutte, and Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

Jessie holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Luther College and a Master’s Degree from Roosevelt University’s “Chicago College of Performing Arts.” After finishing her Master’s Degree, Jessie spent a summer in New York City participating in the Manhattan School of Music Summer Festival.

Most recently, Jessie took part in Madison Opera’s 2013-14 resident artist program in Madison, Wisconsin, where she covered the title role in Puccini’s Tosca and sang Sister Catherine (and covered Sister Rose) in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Fringe at the Taproom Soloist 2018
The Long Christmas Dinner Lucia/Lucia II 2018
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
The Turn of the Screw Miss Jessel* 2015

Diana Stoic

Soprano

Diana Stoic

Soprano

Soprano Diana Stoic is a Chicago-area native who is garnering acclaim on opera and concert stages in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. For her portrayal of Cunegonde in Candide with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Stoic was described as “utterly luminous.”

Ms. Stoic is a member of the Supplementary Chorus at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She last appeared in their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in 2015. She performs with many local opera companies in the Chicago-area, most recently the First Lady in The Magic Flute with Petite Opera Productions. She is a member of the Lira Ensemble, the nation’s only professional organization specializing in Polish music.

She has sung extensively with Des Moines Metro Opera, performing mainstage roles in their productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Tosca. With DMMO she has covered leading roles including Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Alexandra in Blitzstein’s Regina.

A frequent soloist with the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Stoic has performed a program of Czech songs and arias, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, and the roles of Sandman/Dew Fairy in concert performances of Hansel and Gretel. She has also performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Musica Lumina, and Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Stoic is passionate about introducing young audiences to opera and educating them about classical music. She participated in outreach programs with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, OPERA Iowa, Opera for the Young, Chicago Opera Playhouse, and is currently a teaching artist with Chicago Opera Theatre.

She completed her Masters of Music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and received her Bachelor of Music from Simpson College (Indianola, IA). Ms. Stoic has received numerous awards from the Bel Canto Foundation and was a winner in the 2012 Opera Idol Competition.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Annunciata 2017
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016