announces 2012–2013




Music by Jules Massenet; Libretto by Louis Gallet

GEORGE MANAHAN, conductor; RENAUD DOUCET, director and choreographer

December 5, 7 and 9




Music by Kurt Weill; Libretto by Bertolt Brecht

KYNAN JOHNS, conductor; DONA D. VAUGHN, director

April 24, 26 and 28




Music by Jacques Offenbach

French text by Ludovic Halévy, later revised by Hector-Jonathan Cremieux

JORGE PARODI, conductor; DONA D. VAUGHN, director

March 27, 28, 29 and 30

August 23, 2012 – The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater, Dona D. Vaughn, Artistic Director, announces the productions that will be taking place for the 2012–2013 season. Recognized as one of the foremost opera training programs in the world, Manhattan School of Music’s Opera Program attracts some of the most talented young singers from the United States and more than forty countries. Students in the program refine their technique and develop artistry under the guidance of a faculty of eminent artist-teachers while gaining exposure before New York City audiences through performances in opera scenes, community outreach programs, and two fully staged productions each year.

The Manhattan School of Music Opera Program has a long and proud tradition of producing some of the finest operatic artists in America and abroad. The School’s opera pro­ductions have been praised as a significant contribution to operatic life in New York City, and many students have gone on to major careers. Among notable alumnae are sopranos Pamela Armstrong, Elaine Alvarez, Alexandra Deshorties, Lauren Flanigan, Olivia Gorra, Kathleen Kim, Catherine Malfitano, Tonna Miller, Laquita Mitchell and Dawn Upshaw; mezzo-sopranos Kate Aldrich, Beth Clayton, Jennifer Dudley, Susan Graham, and Dolora Zajick; countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo; tenors Matthew Chellis and Brandon Jovanovich; and baritone Scott Altman.  Margaret Juntwait, the first woman announcer who is the voice of the Metropolitan Opera broadcast, is also a graduate.

The Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater has issued a vast discography including Lee Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke (recorded at MSM in December 2010) as well as Ned Rorem’s Miss Julie, Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, Gaetano Donizetti’s Il campanello di notte, Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Gustav Holst’s Savitri, Nicolas Flagello’s The Piper, Ludwig Spohr’s Beauty and the Beast, the world premiere recordings of Daniel Catan’s Rappaccini’s Daughter, William Mayer’s A Death in the Family, Scott Eyerly’s The House of Seven Gables, Robert Ward’s Roman Fever, Thomas Pasatieri’s The Seagull, Lee Hoiby’s A Month in the Country, and John Musto’s Later the Same Evening.


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Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater

Wednesday, December 5 and Friday, December 7 at 7:30 PM

Sunday, December 9 at 2:30 PM


Music by Jules Massenet; Libretto by Louis Gallet

GEORGE MANAHAN, conductor; RENAUD DOUCET, director and choreographer

André Barbe, set and costume designer


Thaïs, a 3-act opera by Jules Massenet, is set to a French libretto by Louis Gallet based on the novel Thaïs by Anatole France.  The opera received its premiere on March 16,1894 at the Opéra Garnier in Paris showcasing the American soprano Sybil Sanderson, for whom Massenet wrote the title role.  Thaïs received its Italian premiere on October 17, 1903 in Milan at the Teatro Lirico Internazionale with Lina Cavalieri as Thaïs and Francesco Maria Bonini as Athanaël. In 1907, Mary Garden made her American debut singing the role in the U.S. premiere of Thaïs, performed in New York. Among other sopranos identified with the role are Géori Boué, Carol Neblett, Anna Moffo, Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price, and Renée Fleming. The entr’acte that appears between the scenes of Act II, the famous Meditation scored for violin and orchestra, is often performed as a concert piece. 

Thaïs is set in Egypt during the time of the Byzantines, where Athanaël, a Cenobite monk, attempts to convert Thaïs, an Alexandrian courtesan and devotee of Venus, to Christianity and to persuade her to enter a convent.  He discovers too late that he is obsessed with her and tells her that he loves her according to the spirit rather than the flesh. Thaïs is intrigued and asks him to teach her the ways of this love. Athanaël tells her that if she converts to Christianity and enters the convent she will be given eternal life.  She is resolved to follow him and agrees to free herself from her wicked past.  Thaïs enters the convent and Anthanaël realizes that he has accomplished his mission, but also realizes that he will never see Thaïs again.  He becomes depressed and during his sleep has an erotic vision of Thaïs, followed by a second vision in which she tells him that she is dying.  Anthanaël goes to the convent and finds Thaïs on her deathbed.  He collapses in despair.

Renaud Doucet, director/choreographer, and André Barbe, set and costume designer, for the MSM Opera Theater production of Thaïs, first joined forces in 2000 and have since created more than 20 new opera productions together. In 2003, they created a co-production of Thaïs for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and l’Opéra de Montréal.  Their production of Thaïs has been staged at other companies including Pacific Opera Victoria, the Palm Beach Opera, and the Boston Lyric Opera.


Wednesday, April 24 and Friday, April 26 at 7:30 PM

Sunday, April 28 at 2:30 PM



Music by Kurt Weill; Libretto by Bertolt Brecht

KYNAN JOHNS, conductor; DONA D. VAUGHN, director


Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) is set to a German libretto by Bertolt Brecht.  Weill’s score, composed when he was in his twenties, is a cornucopia of different musical styles – from jazz and ragtime to formal counterpoint.  Kurt Weill (1900–1950) and Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956) are better known for their Threepenny Opera, which received its premiere in 1928 and was a huge success. Mahagonny, written as a political satire on American consumerism, is set in the fictional city Mahagonny, where pleasure and profit are the ultimate pursuits, and anyone can do whatever they desire.  Brecht’s libretto explores the “Do your own thing, with no limits to the extreme.”

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny received its premiere on March 9, 1930 in Leipzig, Germany.  It received its first Berlin performance in December 1931 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm conducted by Alexander von Zemlinsky.  Lotte Lenya performed the role of Jenny, Trude Hesterberg was Begbick, and Harald Paulsensang the role of Jimmy.  In 1933, the opera was banned by the Nazis and was not heard in a significant production in Europe until the 1960s. In 1963, it was mounted in London at Sadler’s Wells Opera conducted by Sir Colin Davis, and in 1977 it was produced in Berlin by the Komische Oper. 

Mahagonny’s first U.S. performance took place in 1970 with an off-Broadway staging starring Barbara Harris as Jenny and Estelle Parsons as Begbick. In 1974, a fully staged version was performed by the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, and in November 1979, the Metropolitan Opera staged a production by John Dexter conducted by James Levine. The cast included Teresa Stratas as Jenny, Astrid Varnay as Begbick, Richard Cassilly as Jimmy, Cornell MacNeil as Moses, Ragnar Ulfung as Fatty, and Paul Plishka as Joe. Other notable productions included the Los Angeles Opera's 1989 Jonathan Miller production; a June 1990 production in Florence by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentiono;  a 1998 production at the Salzburg Festival that featured Catherine Malfitano as Jenny, Gwyneth Jones as Begbick, and Jerry Hadley as Jimmy, followed in November 1998 by the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The DVD for the Los Angeles Opera’s 2007 production directed by John Doyle and conducted by James Conlon with Audra McDonald, Patti LuPone, and Anthony Dean Griffey was the winner of the 2009 Grammy Award for “Best Classical Album” and “Best Opera Recording.”

 Mahagonny first appeared in the late 1920s as Mahagonny-Songspiel, a concert work composed for voices and small orchestra, commissioned by the Deutsche Kammermusik Festival in Baden-Baden. It was considered both a success and a scandal at its premiere on July 18, 1927. The ten numbers from this work (by Weill and Brecht), including “Alabama Song” and “Benares Song,” were all incorporated into the opera.


MSM Senior Opera Theater

Thursday, March 27 – Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 PM

Sunday, March 30 at 2:30 PM


Music by Jacques Offenbach

French text by Ludovic Halévy, later revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux

JORGE PARODI, conductor; DONA D. VAUGHN, director


The Manhattan School of Music Senior Opera Theater will be performing Offenbach’s two-act Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld) as their 2013 production.  This opera was composed as an opéra bouffon (a form of operetta) or opéra féerie.  It is set to a French text by Ludovic Halévy that was later revised by Hector-Jonathan Crémieux.  Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed in 1858 and was the first of Offenbach’s full-length operettas.  Greek mythology is central to the story, which is a satire on Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.  The work includes the Galop (Act II, Scene 2), known as the famous “Can-can.”


The Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition

Thursday, April 18


Manhattan School of Music will be holding the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition for a fourth year.  This competition has been made possible by Mr. and Mrs. Ades to encourage and foster the most promising and deserving young singers at MSM.  The $20,000 first place cash award, $10,000 second place cash award, and $5,000 third place cash award are given to provide career-entry funding for graduating singers of outstanding professional potential in opera who do not plan to pursue additional degree or diploma programs for the next two years.  In addition, they must be ready to launch a professional career.  The funding may be used to support career advancement in any area including private instruction (vocal technique, coaching, diction, movement, acting, audition prep); physical conditioning; creation of a recording demo or debut CD; accompanist’s fees; agent’s fees; professional travel; living expenses during professional internship; and wardrobe.


Past recipients of the first place award have included soprano Lori Guilbeau (2010), baritone Joo Won Kang, mezzo-soprano Samantha Korbey and baritone Robert Mellon in a three-way tie (2011), and soprano Andrea Carroll (2012).


The judges for the 2012 Ades Vocal Competition included F. Paul Driscoll, editor-in-chief of Opera News, conductor Steven Osgood, and soprano Lauren Flanigan.

Ades Performance Space, 4:00 PM



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Master Classes

October 3, Wednesday

Diana Soviero

Greenfield Recital Hall, 4:00 PM

November 7, Wednesday

Pablo Basualdo

Miller Recital Hall, 4:00 PM


January 30, Wednesday

Deborah Polaski

Greenfield Recital Hall, 4:00 PM


February 20, Wednesday

Marilyn Horne

Borden Auditorium, 7:30 PM


March 19, Tuesday

Thomas Hampson

Streamed live at

Greenfield Recital Hall, 4:00 PM


April 10, Wednesday

Ron Raines

Greenfield Recital Hall, 4:00 PM

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Tickets for the main stage productions Thaïs and Rise and Fall of Mahagonny are $30; $15 for students/seniors.
Tickets for the Senior Opera production Orpheus in the Underworld are $12; $7 for students/seniors.

Opera Studies

Dona D.Vaughn, Artistic Director

Gordon Ostrowski, Assistant Dean/Opera Producer

Daniel Benavent, Opera Studio Manager/Associate Producer

Anne Shikany, Assistant to the Director

William Tracy, Head Coach

Mark Janas, June Murano-Murray, LeAnn Overton, Scott Rednour, and Elizabeth Rodgers, Vocal Coaches

Jorge Parodi, Vocal Coach and Music Director of Senior Opera Theater

Voice Faculty

Maitland Peters, Chair; Edith Bers, JoanCaplan, Mignon Dunn, Hilda Harris, Cynthia Hoffmann, Marlena Kleinman Malas, Spiro Malas, Catherine Malfitano, Patricia Misslin, Mark Oswald, Joan Patenaude-Yarnell, Ashley Putnam, Neil Rosenshein and Lynn Owen (voice faculty emeritus)


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Contact Public Relations

Debra Kinzler
Director of Public Relations,
Marketing and Publications
917 493 4469 (office) > 

Full press release .pdf >

MSM Opera Theater


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Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

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MSM Senior Opera Theater

Orphée aux enfers
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