About Samina

SaminaAslamHeadshot2017Select credits: Julie (Courtier #1) and Savitri (Savitri) with New Camerata Opera; Friday after Friday (world premiere, Micheline) with Bank Street Theater Workshop; Armide (Armide) with Opera NEO; Le nozze di Figaro (Countess) with Opera del West; Cendrillon (Cendrillon), La tragédie de Carmen (Micaëla), Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira), and Dark Sisters (Zina) with Boston University Opera Institute; Der Rosenkavalier (Milliner) with Cincinnati Opera; Layover (Caroline) with NANOworks Opera.
Awards: LYRA NY Vocal Competition (2017)—Third Place, Phyllis Curtin Award (boston University Opera Institute, 2015), Artist Series of Sarasota (2013)—Second Place.
Education: Boston University Opera Institute (Performance Certificate, 2015), University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (Master of Music, 2012), Louisiana State University (Bachelor of Music, 2010).

Visit Samina's Website 

 

To Watch

Virtual Sing-In, Part 1

 

Young Artist Interview

SaminaQ: What is your hometown?
A: Anchorage, Alaska

Q: What was the first opera you saw and how old were you?
A: The Tales of Hoffman at Orlando Opera, age 12? 

Q: What was the first opera in which you performed?
A: My first opera performance was in La Bohème at Orlando Opera when I was just 13! I was a little tall for the kids chorus so was able to sing with the ladies!

Q: Opera features some pretty iconic characters. Who is your favorite operatic character and why?
A: I have a lot of favorite characters, most of which are strong women who have overcome something impossible, or who have done courageous acts in the name of love. One that comes to mind is a character I played in 2018, Sāvitri in Holst's Sāvitri. She was a character in the Mahabharata who loved and married despite of wealth and fate. Through her courage and humility, she saved her husband's life by outwitting the God of death, Yama. 

Q: Who are your opera singing idols?
A: I admire so many singers, but some of my opera singing idols would be ( In no particular order) Virginia Zeani, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Maria Callas, Sondra Radvanovsky and Mariella Devia. 

Q: What do you love most about opera?
A: I love that opera has the power to move and inspire it's audiences through great story telling and the experience of sound. 

Q: Chautauquans love their ice-cream! What is your favorite flavor?
A: Anything dairy-free that's got chocolate in it! 

Photo caption: Samina Aslam as the title role in Gluck's Armide with Opera NEO. Photo credit: Gary Payne Photography.

About James

James EderSelect Credits: Gianni Schicchi (Guccio), #UncleJohn/Don Giovanni (Leporello), and La bohème (Colline) with Opera Columbus; Ariadne auf Naxos (Truffaldino), La Traviata (Dottore Grenvil), and Another Brick in the Wall (The Judge, U.S. Premiere) with Cincinnati Opera; Nabucco (High Priest of Baal), Die Zauberflöte (Second Armored Guard, Sarastro cover), and Roméo et Juliette (Frère Laurent cover) with Sarasota Opera; Xerxes (Elviro) with Pittsburgh Festival Opera; La bohème (Alcindoro/Benoit) with Knoxville Opera.
Education: University of Tennessee (Master of Music, 2016), Ohio State University (Bachelor of Music, 2014).

Visit James' Website

 

To Watch

Virtual Sing-In, Part 2

 

Young Artist Interview

James Eder Bonze Madama Butterfly Chattanooga Symphony and Opera 2017Q: What is your hometown?
A: I was born in Cleveland, OH though I currently live in Columbus.

Q: What was the first opera you saw and how old were you?
A: The first opera I saw was Don Giovanni. It was on March 22, 2011, making me 21. I saw it at Severence Hall in Cleveland, with the Cleveland Orchestra in the pit, Franz Welser- Möst conducting, and Simon Keenleyside in the title role.

Q: What was the first opera in which you performed?
A: The first opera I performed was Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten. It was only a few months after having seen my first live opera.

Q: Opera features some pretty iconic characters. Who is your favorite operatic character and why?
A: One of my favorite characters is Figaro from Il barbiere di Siviglia. I have always loved the way he weaves his way through the story with ease and his facility for deception. Though not an educated person, he is clever enough to outwit anyone.

Q: Who are your opera singing idols?
A: Samuel Ramey, Kurt Moll, Cesare Siepi - Some of the most iconic basses of their time.

Q: What do you love most about opera?
A: There is nothing like a live performance and the energy that comes from real people performing right in front of you. The Godfather is a masterpiece but it’s the same Godfather every time you watch it. An opera has the opportunity to be fresh and different with every single performance.

Q: Chautauquans love their ice-cream! What is your favorite flavor?
A: Oooooo tough question… I’m going to have to say cookies n’ cream.

Photo caption: James Eder as The Bonze in Madama Butterfly, with Chattanooga Symphony and Opera.

About Hilary Grace

Hilary Grace TaylorSelect credits: Doctor Miracle (Veronica) and Bastien und Bastienne (Bastienne cover) with The Dallas Opera (Outreach); Carmen (Carmen), Regina (Regina), Rigoletto (Giovanna, Maddalena cover), After Life (Gertrude Stein), Street Scene (Mrs. Jones), Faust (Martha), Dialogues des Carmélites (Madame de Croissy), A Little Night Music (Desirée), and Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) with University of North Texas Opera.
Awards: Lewisville Lake Symphony Vocal Competition (2019)—First Place, University of North Texas Concerto Competition (2019)—Winner.
Education: University of North Texas (Master of Music, 2017), University of Texas at Austin (Bachelor of Music, 2015).

Visit Hilary's Website

 

To Watch

Virtual Sing-In, Part 3

 

Young Artist Interview

Hilary TaylorQ: What is your hometown?
A: Dallas, Texas 

Q: What was the first opera you saw and how old were you?
A: The Magic Flute at Santa Fe Opera when I was ten! 

Q: What was the first opera in which you performed?
A: My first opera performance was chorus in Madame Butterfly with the Butler Opera Center at UT Austin. I think I was a cousin! 

Q: Opera features some pretty iconic characters. Who is your favorite operatic character and why?
A: All strong female characters I gravitate towards and identify with. I'm especially loving the two characters I'm working on right now, Regina and Carmen. They own their space and make their own choices! 

Q: Who are your opera singing idols?
A: Janet Baker, Jamie Barton, and Isabel Leonard.

Q: What do you love most about opera?
A: I love the challenge of it all. I find great purpose and reward in mastering a difficult score, or finding greater depth to a character I couldn't perceive before. 

Q: Chautauquans love their ice-cream! What is your favorite flavor?
A: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! 

Photo caption: Hilary Grace Taylor as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with University of North Texas Opera.

Spotify Playlist

Each week, two of our Young Artists will draw inspiration from Chautauqua Institution’s weekly theme and weekly interfaith theme to curate Spotify playlists for your listening pleasure. We hope these playlists provide inspiration, joy, and a chance to engage with these themes in a different way.

For Week Three, Hilary drew inspiration from the theme Art: A Glimpse into the Divine

She says:

“For the last week I've been trying to understand what it means to Glimpse the Divine. God is made manifest in the relationships and people around us. To be closer to God is to be closer in love: to understand someone else's cry, to hear their authentic voice. This playlist is inspired by authentic voices.  

Some of these voices made me experience authenticity outside myself, to realize the Divine was before me and within me. Other selections are experiences I've had while singing, raising my voice where I felt God before me in the divine relationship between musician, composer, audience, and the glimpse of the universe beyond understanding. Not every piece will give you the glimpse, but let it wash over you or allow the Divine to grow in your imagination. There is nothing quite like expressing yourself authentically, whatever the medium may be. 

The playlist is intended to be heard in order, but can be enjoyed at leisure. May God and the universe rejoice in your authenticity. “

About Zachary

Zachery BarbaSelect credits: Mozart and Salieri (Mozart), La fille du regiment (Peasant), and Rocking Horse Winner (American Premiere; House Tenor, Paul cover) with Opera Saratoga; Amahl and the Night Visitors (Kaspar) at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church; Cinderella in Spain (Stepsister/Herald) with Houston Grand Opera’s Opera to Go!; Oreste (Pilade), A Little Night Music (Henrik), HMS Pinafore (Ralph Rackstraw), and La finta giardiniera (Belfiore) with Baylor University Opera.
Awards: Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Houston District, 2019; Arkansas District, 2020)—Encouragement Award, Houston Saengerbund Competition (2019)—Semi-finalist, Semper Pro Musica Chamber Competition (2017)—Winner, MTNA National Young Artist Voice Competition (2016)—National Winner.
Education: Baylor University (Master of Music, 2018; Bachelor of Music, 2016).

 

To Watch

Virtual Sing-In, Part 3

Young Artist Interview

Zach BarbaQ: What is your hometown?
A: Brownsville, TX

Q: What was the first opera you saw and how old were you?
A: My first operatic experience was in junior high, so around 11 or 12 years old. Our local university in Brownsville performed a children's production of Hansel and Gretel. I remember being blown away by the singing, especially the high notes!

Q: What was the first opera in which you performed?
A: The first opera I performed in was Dido and Aeneas during my freshman year of college.

Q: Opera features some pretty iconic characters. Who is your favorite operatic character and why?
A: Hmm. Great question! I think I'm going to have to go with The Queen of the Night because she is so fierce, and I secretly wish I could sing her arias. Maybe someday... :)

Q: Who are your opera singing idols?
A: Fritz Wunderlich, Pavarotti, Renée Fleming, John Mark Ainsley, Diana Damrau, Sherrill Milnes... Just to name a few.

Q: What do you love most about opera?
A: I love the grandeur of opera and that at times, it transcends anything we can put into words. I believe the human voice is so fascinating and the fact that opera pushes the voice to it's greatest potential is so amazing to me!

Q: Chautauquans love their ice-cream! What is your favorite flavor?
A: So... I may offend people with this answer, but I actually love ALL ice cream except mint chocolate chip. I'm sorry mint chocolate chip lovers!!!!!

Photo caption: Zachary Barba as Margarita (a stepsister) in Cinderella in Spain by Mary Carol Marwick with HGOco.

 

Spotify Playlist

Each week, two of our Young Artists will draw inspiration from Chautauqua Institution’s weekly theme and weekly interfaith theme to curate Spotify playlists for your listening pleasure. We hope these playlists provide inspiration, joy, and a chance to engage with these themes in a different way.

For Week One, Zachary Barba drew inspiration from the theme Faith to Save the Earth.

He says:

“This playlist is a collection of songs that I believe represent having faith to save the world in a variety of different ways. Some of these iconic songs are well-known for inspiring change in the world and finding hope for a better tomorrow. I also included songs that I believe specifically target, challenge, and bring to light contoversial topics we face today and offer uplifting messages of hope and love. In my perspective, many of these songs say that we can begin to make change by being better versions of ourselves and realizing that every unique human experience is valid. We, as human beings, are in-charge of saving our world from darkness, hate, bigotry, and so many negative things by loving ourselves, loving others, and accepting that this journey through life is going to be hard and uncertain at times but worth fighting for. I hope that this music takes you on a journey of how I find faith in humanity during difficult times.“

 

About Kelly

Kelly GuerraSelect credits: Roméo et Juliette (Stéphano), The Crucible (Betty Parris), Il Postino (Donna Rosa cover), and Madama Butterfly (Suzuki cover) with Opera Santa Barbara; A Quiet Place (Mrs. Doc) with The Tanglewood Music Center; Le Nozze di Figaro (Cherubino), The Mock Marriage (Juliane) with UCSB Opera Theatre; Serse (Amastre), Agrippina (Narciso), Little Women (Jo March cover) with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Awards: Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition (2018)—First Place.
Education: Bard College Conservatory of Music (Master of Music, 2016), San Francisco Conservatory of Music (Bachelor of Music, 2014).

Visit Kelly's Website

 

To Watch

Virtual Sing-In, Part 2

 

Young Artist Interview

Kelly Guerra HiggletyQ: What is your hometown?
Simi Valley, CA.

Q: What was the first opera you saw and how old were you?
A: My first opera was the Die Zauberflöte when I was 18 on a choir trip in NYC!

Q: What was the first opera in which you performed?
A: My first opera ever was Don Giovanni and I was in the chorus. My first role was Narciso in Agrippina

Q: Opera features some pretty iconic characters. Who is your favorite operatic character and why?
A: One of my favorite operatic characters is Brünnhilde. She's a warrior that fights for what she believes in, even if she has to sacrifice herself in the process. Also that MUSIC! ICON. LEGEND. STAR. Hearing Christine Goerke sing in Die Walküre was life changing...

Q: Who are your opera singing idols?
A: LISETTE. OROPESA. SHE IS A GODDESS!!! Other goddesses include: Baltsa, Callas, Fleming, Freni, Horne, Sills, Sutherland, Troyanos, Te Kanawa.... This list could be miles long! I wonder which idol will be listed the most? My guess is Callas. 

Q: What do you love most about opera?
A: I think that opera, and specifically the aria, took over Italy and eventually the rest of Europe because opera gives performers and audiences the license to feel and express in a big way. Living in the moment has always been difficult for people, and opera extends what could have been fleeting into something timeless. Opera fulfills my escapist tendencies with raw emotion in the form of glorious music. I like being in the audience almost as much as I love being onstage. 

Q: Chautauquans love their ice-cream! What is your favorite flavor?
A: Anything that has cherries in it. Is there anything more heavenly than a frozen cherry chunk? 

Photo caption: Kelly Guerra as Jennie the Sealyham Terrier in Bard College Conservatory's Higglety Pigglety Pop! by Oliver Knussen. Photo credit: Karl Rabe.

Spotify Playlist

Each week, two of our Young Artists will draw inspiration from Chautauqua Institution’s weekly theme and weekly interfaith theme to curate Spotify playlists for your listening pleasure. We hope these playlists provide inspiration, joy, and a chance to engage with these themes in a different way.

For Week Three, Kelly Guerra drew inspiration from the theme Art and Democracy 

She says:

“I made this playlist on the eve of Independence day, with the topic of democracy front and center in my mind. It feels like a strange time to be celebrating our country's independence while there are protests and deep systemic wrongs still needing to be righted. Along with our social and political climate, we are still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, which has locked us in our homes for the good of our community's health.  

Art is like a mirror that displays the rights and wrongs of society, as well the qualities that reflect our humanity. Many composers risked their lives and careers in order to create music that stood for their ideals, even if it did not fit in with the political status quo. So, in this playlist, I chose not to shy away from difficult subjects, but to actually meditate on these issues. In a democracy we have certain and unalienable rights, which include the right to vote and of free speech. Protesting for change and fighting for those whose voices are silenced is a right. This playlist honors those who had their lives taken away from them too soon, is a plea to end violence with unity and love for humankind.

I have sung many of the vocal pieces in this playlist, except for the pieces that are brand new to me, which are "Seven Last Words of the Unarmed" by Joel Thompson, and “And They Lynched Him on a Tree” by William Grant Still. These masterfully composed pieces are full of sorrow and anger, and are absolutely glorious.  I recommend you look these composers up, and try to get these pieces, as well as more of their music, programmed.

I try to end the playlist on a hopeful note, first with the final movement of the beautiful piano piece “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” by Frederic Rzewski and then with “Va Pensiero” from Nabucco by Verdi, to drive the point that together, we can fight for what is right. Black Lives Matter.  Credit to Molly Phelan of  https://www.classicaladventureleague.com/canon-fodder  for information and inspiration.“