GUEST ARTISTS

FELIX JARRAR

COMPOSER

Symphony No. 1, "Banishing Grief"

World Premiere

May 2023 Concert

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Photo Credit: Eliana Brea

With music described as “dreamlike”(Boston Globe) and “delightfully cruel” (Operawire), NYC-based Felix Jarrar is a composer and pianist with “(strong) dramatic instincts” (Lewis Spratlan, 2000 Pulitzer Prizewinner in Music) whose “music flows from him in the most natural and lively way” (Tom Cipullo). His works are praised as “experimental and beautifully composed” (Broadway World) with “lush and memorable melodies” (Operawire). His list of accomplishments includes performances at Symphony Space, (le) poisson rouge, Feinstein's/54 below, the BAM! Fisher Hillman Studio, Roulette Intermedium, and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.

His works are performed internationally by artists from the Metropolitan Opera, the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, the duo Unassisted Fold, and Spark Duo. 

At the forefront of Jarrar’s compositional output are his works for voice. Amongst his approximately 220 works, he has written over 194 art songs, 12 operas, 2 string quartets, 2 cantatas, and an oratorio, among other works. He wrote his first opera when he was 15.  When he was 19, he wrote the score and libretto for his second opera The Fall of the House of Usher, based on the eponymous Edgar Allan Poe short story. The opera premiered in 2016 at Vermont's Marlboro College and toured off-Broadway at NYC's The DiMenna Center. Since its premier, Jarrar has adapted other Poe stories into operas (The Oval Portrait, The Cask of Amontillado, and The Tell Tale Heart). Jarrar wrote the score and libretto for Mother Goose, his fifth opera, which won him the Lehman Engel Award from Brooklyn College. Mother Goose premiered at Dixon Place in 2019 and was subsequently produced at the Emerging Artists Theatre festival in 2021. He frequently collaborates with stage director/librettist Bea Goodwin. Their work together won the duo the 2019 award for "Best New Music '' from the 360 of Opera awards and Really Spicy Opera’s 2020 Quarantine (Scenes) Initiative. Goodwin wrote libretti for Jarrar’s Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Tabula Rasa, HindSight, and Patience & Pearl, in addition to many art songs. Jarrar has premiered his work with regional companies such as BARN OPERA, Helios Opera, /kor/ productions, Opera on Tap, and Opera Elect. This past spring, Jarrar was an artist-in-residence with Midori & Friends. His tenth opera, Washington Square, with a libretto by Thomas Barrett Blakeley, premiered in California at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2022 as a Fringe Scholarship awardee. He is the assistant music director for BARN OPERA in Vermont, pianist/coach for their summer program Castellopera al Mare in Italy, and a vocal coach at Mannes School of Music.

Jarrar completed his Bachelor of Arts from Marlboro College with Highest Honors in Music Composition and Piano Performance. He received his Master of Music degree from Brooklyn College with the Graduate Dean’s Award in Music Composition on the Eleanor Kilcoyne, Cerf Music, and Chancey Memorial Scholarships while holding the prestigious graduate fellowship for assisting Ursula Oppens’ contemporary ensemble in the conservatory.

His primary teachers include Jason Eckardt, Stanley Charkey, Tania León, and Robert Merfeld.

He was mentored by piano pedagogue Burton Hatheway.

 

MARIA BREA

SOPRANO

Symphony No. 1, "Banishing Grief"

Felix Jarrar

May 2023 Concert

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Photo from Artist Website

Venezuelan soprano María Brea has been called a “fantastic soprano,” by OperaWire showcasing “virtuosity as a singer” and imbuing “luxurious polish.” Her performance of Cav+Pag with New Camerata Opera in Fall 2021 was celebrated by Opera News, who said, “Maria Brea was an absolute delight as Nedda, …demonstrating a natural theatrical instinct. She also has a lovely voice.” In the 2021-22 season, Brea’s lovely voice was heard in the role of Norina in Don Pasquale with Barn Opera in Vermont, in the recital “Susanna: Evolution of the Ingenue” with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, as the headliner of Venezuelans and Immigrants Aid’s “A Song for Venezuela” concert, and as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana with the Cecilia Chorus of New York at Carnegie Hall.

Brea was as a finalist in the 2022 Paris Competition and the 2021 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

She previously won 6th prize in the Tenor Viñas Contest, where she also received a special award for the best interpreter of Zarzuela and a contract to perform with the orchestra at Teatro Liceu de Barcelona.

 

Brea has been the recipient of awards in the Opera Cultura, Gerda Lissner, Giulio Gari, Mary Truman Art Song, and New York Lyric Opera Competitions, and received an encouragement award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Connecticut District Auditions.

 

GABRIEL ENRIQUE HERNANDEZ

TENOR

Symphony No. 1, "Banishing Grief"

Felix Jarrar

May 2023 Concert

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Photo from Artist Website

Puerto Rican-American tenor Gabriel Hernandez has been performing since childhood and believes in the power of community and collaboration to create meaningful art. They have been in collaboration with queer community members in the NYC area working on projects that speak to towards community experience, both through locational and personal experience. In the fall of 2021, Gabriel premiered their new project Taking Up Space: Queer Identity in Opera, a photo series dedicated to documenting queer experience in opera by juxtaposing the past and present.

Last season, Gabriel joined the Spoleto Festival for the world premiere of Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels’ Omar, and in Spoleto Festival’s collaboration with Nico Muhly and Parker Ramsay entitled Stations of the Cross. After Gabriel’s residency with the Spoleto Festival, they covered Belmonte in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Geneva Light Opera, followed by their second world premiere of the season as Abraham Lincoln in Quarry Theater’s Yours Forever, Lincoln. Gabriel is also in collaboration to premiere the second part of Taking Up Space: Queer Identity in Opera, which will refer to and reimagine the various en travesti tropes in opera. Gabriel closed out their summer season performing Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos with the Lakes Area Music Festival.

Gabriel began their 2021-22 season as a Gate-City Bank resident artist at Fargo-Moorhead Opera where he made a role debut as Joe in Robert Paterson’s Companion, sang the Sergeant in the Barber of Seville, and helped to reimagine FM Opera’s outreach program through digital interactions with local schools. Merola Opera invited Gabriel to participate in their 2021 program led by a new team of artistic directors, where they were featured in the award winning film project Back Home: Through the Stage Door directed by David Paul. He then joined the Lakes Area Music Festival as a Vocal Fellow, and closed out the season by returning to Fargo Moorhead on the main stage as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni.

Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Gabriel made his company debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Bronx Opera, and was a Gate-City Bank Young Artist with Fargo-Moorhead Opera, where he performed Michael Ching’s Speed Dating, Tonight! Gabriel is the recipient of a 2019 Career Bridges Grant and was chosen to participate in OPERA America’s 2019 Career Blueprints for Singers, both providing support for young artists to launch their careers.