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Educational nonprofit, The Opera Buffs, will present Rossini's comic Cinderella masterpiece, La Cenerentola. The two-act opera will be performed in concert style with orchestra and chorus. Featured performers include Katherine Beck (Cinderella), Randall Bills (Prince Ramiro), Efraín Solís (Dandini), José Luis Maldonado (Don Magnifico), and Joel Balzun (Alidoro).
The Opera Buffs will present Rossini’s comic Cinderella opera, La Cenerentola on Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m. at the Colburn School’s Zipper Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
“La Cenerentola is Rossini's other great comic masterpiece, along with Barber of Seville,” explains David Gibb, President of the Board of Directors. “Everyone knows the story, but Rossini invests it with comic turns, mistaken identities, and patter songs then ends it with a tour de force aria for the Cinderella.
“We also selected the opera because it provides ample opportunity for each of the five talented young singers to show their polished Rossini style,” Gibb continues. “Everyone has a moment to shine, and the audience is the beneficiary.”
Featured performers include Katherine Beck (Cinderella), Randall Bills (Prince Ramiro), Efraín Solís (Dandini), José Luis Maldonado (Don Magnifico), and Joel Balzun (Alidoro).
Music director Brent McMunn will conduct the two-act opera, which will be performed in concert style with orchestra and chorus.
Founded in 1983, the Buffs is an all-volunteer educational nonprofit focused on supporting emerging singers at a very crucial juncture – the years of transition from student to professional performer. Those singers selected through an auditions process can apply for grants to help defray career-related expenses such as lessons, coaching, concert ware, and travel and application fees for auditions. Additionally, they are offered an array of paid performance opportunities.
“Our Performers Showcases feature staged excerpts from a host of operas,” Gibb says. “But our singers increasingly requested the opportunity to take part in a full opera. How could we not say yes? Consequently, we have produced concert performances of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, Bizet’s Carmen, and, last year, Puccini’s La Boh?me, which filled the hall. The public is advised to purchase tickets soon!”
Tickets for La Cenerentola are available for $50 (members), $65 (non-members) and $15 for students on the day of the performance. Tickets may be ordered online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4426419 or by calling 323-356-0047. For more information about the Opera Buffs, visit www.operabuffs.org
OUR DISTINGUISHED ARTISTS AND TEAM
We believe that of all musical instruments the human voice is the most sublime, that helping the exceptionally talented artist reach the operatic stage is a mission worthy of our utmost effort and full dedication. Past Buffs’ protegees include Brian Asawa, Richard Bernstein, Charles Castronovo, Michelle DeYoung, Julianna Di Giacomo, Greg Fedderly, Jesús León, Danielle De Niese, Sondra Radvanovsky, and Deborah Voigt.
Katherine Beck, mezzo soprano, is establishing herself as a force in the opera, concert and chamber music realms across the United States. She made her debut at the Santa Fe Opera this summer as Karolka in David Alden's award-winning staging of Jenufa alongside Patricia Racette and Laura Wilde.
She was also recently accepted to the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago beginning the spring of 2020. Currently she is a second-year member of the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio at Arizona Opera. She recently performed Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro in Arizona in April, and Mary Johnson in Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers this past November.
Equally comfortable in new music, Katie created the role of Lisette in the premiere of Gerald Cohen’s Steal a pencil for me in January 2018 at Opera Colorado. While in Colorado, she sang more than thirty performances of the title role of La Cenerentola in English across all regions (and altitudes) of the state.
In 2018, Beck was the First Prize Winner of the Mildred Miller International Vocal Competition and also Third Prize Winner of the Western Regionals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council competition in Los Angeles. She is a two-time alumna of the Tanglewood Music Center and makes a second home on the recital and concert stage.
She premiered several large-scale works at Tanglewood, including Michael Gandolfi’s In America with the Tanglewood Music Center orchestra and the orchestrated premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim with Boston Pops at Symphony Hall in Boston. She also sang recitals led by Dawn Upshaw and Roger Vignoles, as well as with long-time mentors and teachers Stephanie Blythe and Alan Smith.
Beck is thrilled to return for a performance with The Opera Buffs, Inc. after years of support and many other performances with the organization. Most recently, she sang Mercedes in Carmen in Concert with Opera Buffs in 2017.
Beck is a graduate of the USC Thornton Vocal Arts Program, having studied with Ms. Elizabeth Hynes.
Randall Bills, tenor, recently made his house and role debut at the International Händel-Festspiele Karlsruhe as Jupiter in Semele and at the Gothenburg Opera as Il Conte d’Almaviva in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviligia. He returned to the Rossini in Wildbad Festival as Aménophis in a new production of Moïse et Pharaon returned to Teatr Wielki Poznan where he made his role debut as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore and soloed with the KlassikPhilharmonie Hamburg for a “Night at the Proms,” and at the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal in Mendelssohn's Lobegesang.
Other concert work included Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Philharmonic Boca del Río Mozart's Davide penitente with the Mainly Mozart Festival and "From La Scala to Broadway" with the Thüringen Philharmonie. Upcoming engagements include Almaviva in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia with Lyric Opera Ireland.
Career highlights include Die Zauberflöte at Seattle Opera, the Nationaltheater Mannheim and New Zeland Opera Geoffredo/Ubaldo in Armida at the Rossini Opera Festival Così fan tutte with English National Opera and Teatro Lirico di Cagliari Don Giovanni with Seattle Opera and Theater Osnabrück The Turn of the Screw at Teatro Comunale di Bologna Fernand in Donizetti's La favorite with Washington Concert Opera Léopold in Halévy’s La Juive at Vlaamse Oper La Cenerentola with El Paso Opera, Theater Chemnitz, and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra Il barbiere di Siviglia at Oper Leipzig and Teatr Wielki Poznan La traviata at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar Der Rosenkavalier at Theater Bremen Mazeppa at the Komische Oper Berlin La Sonnambula at Staatstheater Darmstadt The Rake’s Progress at Staatstheater Braunschweig and the Oldenburgisches Staatstheater and Rossini's Mosè in Egitto with New York City Opera.
Bills can also be heard on "Chamber Music Vol. 4" in two song cycles by composer Gerard Schurmann, with pianist Mark Robson on Toccata Classics, and Rossini’s Riccairdo e Zoraide recorded at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival released by Naxos. More information at randallbills.com or @randallbills on Twitter and Instagram.
Efraín Solís, baritone, is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship. While with the company, sang his first performances of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dandini in La cenerentola, Schaunard in La bohème, Silvano in Un ballo in maschera, Sciarrone in Tosca, and Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly.
In the 2019-20 season, he returns to Utah Opera as Lieutenant Audebert in Puts’ Silent Night and Virginia Opera as Di Cosimo in Catán’s Il postino and makes his debut with Fort Worth Opera as Schaunard in La bohème. He joins the Cincinnati Song Initiative for a program of song by Granados and Turina.
Last season, he reprised Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette (Utah Opera), sang his first performances of El Payador in Maria de Buenos Aires (Opera Southwest), returned to Mark in Martinez’s Cruzar la cara de la Luna (El Paso Opera), and joined the New York Festival of Song again for a program of Lorca songs. He joined both Houston Grand Opera’s HGOCo and New York City Opera in Cruzar la cara de la luna.
Other recent performances include Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette (Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera) Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Memphis) Slook in La cambiale di matrimonio (Philharmonia Baroque) Golaud in Pelléas et Mélisande and Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox (West Edge Opera) Fiesque in Maria di Rohan (Washington Concert Opera) Gaspar in Rita (New Century Chamber Orchestra) and Dick in The Cradle Will Rock (Opera Saratoga).
Solís has sung Mahler’s Lieder, “eines fahrenden Gesellen” (Palo Alto Philharmonic) and Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem (Concordia College). He joined the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra for Britten’s War Requiem and both Las Vegas Philharmonic and New Choral Society for Handel’s Messiah.
He is an alumnus of the prestigious Merola Opera Program and a former member of Opera Santa Barbara’s Studio Artist Program. He holds a MM from San Francisco Conservatory of Music and BM from Chapman University.
José Luis Maldonado, baritone, is from Los Angeles. He has performed as Dr. Falke in Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, Baron Mirko Zeta in Lehar’s The Merry Widow, il Marito in Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball, and JJ Peachum in Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera at the Cal State Fullerton School of Music.
Maldonado completed his graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music in 2018 where he performed the roles of Haraschta in Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen and the role of Kalmán Zsupán in the main stage production of Der Zigeunerbaron by Johann Strauss II in 2017. He then performed the roles of Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerentola in 2018. That same year, Maldonado performed the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff for the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance in New York City.
He was awarded a Holland Community Opera Fellowship with Opera Omaha in 2018 and made his debut as Poncio Pilato in Rafael Grullón’s opera, El Caminante de Nazaret in April 2019. In June 2019 he performed with OperaMaya in Cancun, Mexico and made his Missouri Symphony debut as Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen. In August he was a young artist in the ¡Sing! International Music Festival in Suzhou, China. He performed the role of Ricardo Martín in the Zarzuela, El Barbero de Sevilla in New York this October with New Camerata Opera.
Maldonado is a recipient of The Opera Buffs Inc. career grant and the Richard F. Gold career grant from the Shoshana Foundation. He was a district winner (Nebraska) in the Metropolitan Opera National Competition. For more information, visit www.baritonejoe.com.
Joel Balzun, baritone and composer, started the 2019-2020 performance season with a return appearance to Carnegie Hall following his debut as a prize-winner in the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition. Other season highlights include Pictordu (Cendrillon, Viardot) with Lyric Opera of Orange County, Messiah with Claremont Symphony Orchestra, his upcoming role debut as Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), and Elder #4/Administrator in the New York premiere of Lembit Beecher’s Sky On Swings alongside Susanne Mentzer.
Recent appearances include the title role in Gianni Schicchi and Schaunard (La bohème) with Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Other roles include the title role in Don Giovanni, the Four Villains (Les contes d'Hoffmann), Prince Yeletskiy and Count Tomskiy (Pikovaya Dama), Albert (Werther), Belcore (L'elisir d'amore), Dr. Malatesta (Don Pasquale) and Valentin (Faust).
Balzun also enjoys a close relationship with Pacific Opera Project, where he has appeared as Marcello (La bohème), El Dancaïro (Carmen), Marchese d’Obigny (La traviata) and Cascada (The Merry Widow).
An avid proponent of the music of living and contemporary composers, Balzun won critical acclaim for his portrayal of the titular Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Miami Music Festival. He worked with the composer on this work and on the role of Charlie in excerpts from Three Decembers.
On the concert stage, he has championed works such as George Rochberg's String Quartet No. 7, Peter Maxwell Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King and Robert Denham's Sutter Creek. Balzun holds a master’s degree in vocal performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Jan Opalach and Benton Hess.
He was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and Pittsburgh Festival Opera where he was in Jane Eaglen's inaugural class of the Mastersingers Project for Young Dramatic Voices. Balzun has been a prize-winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Gwendolyn Roberts Young Artist Auditions, Orpheus National Vocal Competition and the Rio Hondo Symphony Young Artist Competition. An enthusiastic teacher, he currently serves on the music faculty of Biola University. www.joelbalzun.com.
Graycen Gardner, soprano, is currently based in LA, where she performs with a variety of musical organizations. She received a BM in Vocal Performance from Lawrence University in 2015 and she graduated from the University of Southern California with an MM in Vocal Arts in 2017, where she earned the 2017 Outstanding Graduate Award and the Vocal Arts Department Award.
In 2017, she was selected to perform in the Boston Court Performing Arts Center’s Emerging Artists Series, and, in 2018, she performed the role of Galatea in Acis and Galatea as a Studio Artist at Central City Opera, where she received the Young Artist Award for Excellence. In 2018, she was selected to perform in the Playing Dualities concert at Boston Court, and she covered the role of Musetta in The Opera Buffs’ performance of La bohème last year.
This past spring, she performed as The Voice of the Dead in the premiere tour of The Séance with New Opera Works. Other former operatic roles include Laurie Moss in The Tender Land, Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito, Margarita Xirgù in Ainadamar, and Alcina in Alcina. She also currently performs as an auxiliary artist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Sarah Z Wang, soprano, trained in classical dance and piano before her passion for classical singing led her to a BM at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Wang has performed in master classes with Barbara Frittoli, Angela Blasi, Wolfgang Holzmair, Claudia Visca, Stephen Delaney, Louise Callinan and Chuck Hudson.
She began her stage experience with Opera Lunacy (2009), followed by Pacific Opera Project (2010), and sang her first opera role, Barbarina, in The Marriage of Figaro with Opera New England. In 2014, she covered the role of Alma March in Adamo’s Little Women for the Sydney Conservatorium Opera School. I
n 2015, she performed her first lead, as the Fox, in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen with Pacific Opera Project. She was a finalist in the Sydney Eisteddfod’s Joan Sutherland Memorial Vocal Scholarship in 2013 and 2014, winning first place in 2014. In 2016, she was a finalist in the Australian Singing Competition and won eight prizes.
She has participated in charity concerts including the CanRevive, Sydney Cancer Council and Children with Disabilities Association. She covered Violetta in La Traviata in Aspen 2017.
Wang is currently pursuing her MM at USC with a scholarship under the guidance of Elizabeth Hynes. At USC she has performed in L’enfant et les Sortilege and Le Nozze di Figaro, playing respectively L’Enfant and Cherubino. In 2019, she covered Tisbe in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with OperaNeo and performed La Natura in Cavalli’s La Calisto.
Brent McMunn, Opera Buff’s Music Director, is the Conductor of Opera at USC’s Flora L. Thornton School of Music. His conducting credits include New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Calgary Opera, Lake George Opera, Kentucky Opera, Opera New Jersey, and most recently a highly successful series of Strauss operas at Pittsburgh Festival Opera. He served as assistant conductor at LA Opera, New York City Opera, and Santa Fe Opera for a combined total of 20 seasons. As a pianist, McMunn has appeared in recital in Carnegie Hall, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the major venues in Southern California. He has frequently served as the official pianist for the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Los Angeles.
Michael Van Duzer, Stage Director, has staged Opera Buffs Showcases since 1991, including Amahl and Night Visitors and his own adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers. He has numerous Los Angeles theater directing credits, including the local premieres of his own works, Hopeful Romantic, Recalled to Life and Tawdry Tales. He is also author of the plays Incitation to the Dance, Trattoria of Terror and Totally Gay! An Utterly Subjective History of Theatre. Van Duzer’s reviews and articles appear in Everything Sondheim, showmag.com and @This Stage (www.thisstage.la).
Mona Lands, Artistic Coordinator, is a graduate of Mills College and received her MA in accompanying at USC. She served as pianist for the Opera Buffs beginning in 1991 and was Music Director for 23 years, before retiring in 2014. She has been an accompanist and coach at California State University Northridge, California State L.A., the Aspen Opera Theater Center, Opera Pacific’s Overture Company, the Ezio Pinza Council summer program, Guild Opera, the Metropolitan Opera Palm Springs Showcase Concerts, and the Loren L. Zachary Competition. Recently she retired from the UCLA Music Department, where she worked as the staff accompanist and coach for 25 years, and also retired, after 30 years, from her role as Music Director for the Palm Springs Opera Guild and its annual Opera in the Park.
Presenter / Producer: Opera Buffs
Music > Opera
Event Phone: 323-356-0047
The Colburn School
200 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles CA 90012
LA - Central / Downtown
Performance Dates: 12/8/2019
$50 (members), $65 (non-members) and $15 for students on the day of the performance.
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