Night at the Opera

Click on main images in the slideshow above to download hi-res photos.

Garrett Sorenson, tenor

American tenor Garrett Sorenson has been praised as an artist of unique interest, garnering critical acclaim for the beauty and power of his rich lyric voice.

In the 2016-2017 season, Garrett Sorenson returns to the Santa Fe Opera to sing Steve Wozniack in the highly anticipated world premiere of Mason Bates’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. At the Metropolitan Opera, he replaced an ailing colleague as Laca in Janáček’s Jenůfa. Concert appearances include Lensky in a semi-staged performance of Eugene Onegin with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Phoenix Symphony, and the Mozart Requiem at the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

Last season saw Sorenson with the San Diego Opera as Anthony Candolino in the West Coast premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s opera Great Scott directed by Jack O’Brien, opposite Nathan Gunn and Frederica von Stade. He also appeared with the Nashville Symphony in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s The Bells, both conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, and with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in the Verdi Requiem under the baton of Asher Fisch.

Highlights of Sorenson's recent seasons include his return to West Australian Opera as Rodolfo in La Bohème, his role debut as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca at Arizona Opera, and a new production of Bedřich Smetana’s The Kiss with Opera Theatre of St. Louis. He also returned to the Metropolitan Opera to cover the roles of Count Tristan Vaudemont in Iolanta, the Prince in Rusalka, Lensky in Eugene Onegin, and Matteo in Arabella. Recent concert appearances include Dvořák’s Stabat Mater with L’Orchestre Métropolitain conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Mozart's Requiem with the Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of David Robertson, Elgar’s The Kingdom and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass at the Grant Park Music Festival under the baton of Carlos Kalmar, a gala concert opposite Deborah Voigt with the Smetana's Litomyšl International Opera Festival in the Czech Republic, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Giancarlo Guerrero conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in their residency at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. In 2011, Sorenson appeared on Broadway in an extended run of Terrence McNally’s Master Class opposite Tyne Daly. He also took part in the Tony-nominated production’s successful transfer to London’s West End.

A graduate of the Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, Mr. Sorenson made his company debut at the Metropolitan Opera with Bellini’s rarely-performed Il Pirata as Itulbo, opposite Renée Fleming. He later went on to perform Cassio in the opening night gala of Otello conducted by James Levine. Additional roles at the Metropolitan Opera include Da-Ud in a new production of Richard Strauss’s Die Ägyptische Helena starring Deborah Voigt and conducted by Fabio Luisi, the Shepherd in Tristan und Isolde and the Youth in Moses und Aaron under the baton of James Levine, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and the Young Man in Die Frau ohne Schatten.

Mr. Sorenson made his debuts at San Francisco Opera as Narraboth in Salome conducted by Nicola Luisotti, Lyric Opera of Chicago as Kudryas in Katya Kabanova, opposite Karita Mattila, and Canadian Opera Company and West Australian Opera as Don José in Carmen. A member of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, Mr. Sorenson stepped in at the last minute for the title role of Werther in the Apprentice Showcase Scenes. He later returned to Santa Fe Opera to make his debut on the main stage in a new production of Strauss’ Daphne as Leukippos directed by Mark Lamos.

Other operatic highlights of Mr. Sorenson’s recent seasons include the Italian Tenor in Maximilian Schell’s new production of Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Kent Nagano with Los Angeles Opera; Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor at West Australian Opera; Rodolfo in La Bohème and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni under the baton of Patrick Summers at Houston Grand Opera; the title role in Les contes d’Hoffmann conducted by Stephen Lord and Sam Kaplan in Street Scene with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto and Don José in Carmen with Arizona Opera; Alfredo in La Traviata and Lensky in Eugene Onegin with Boston Lyric Opera; his role debut as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Indianapolis Opera; the title role in Werther with Kentucky Opera opposite his wife Elizabeth Batton as Charlotte; Alfredo in La Traviata at Opera Colorado; and the title role in Faust with New Orleans Opera.

A consummate concert performer and recitalist, Mr. Sorenson participated in “The Song Continues” under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, a weeklong series of performances and master classes at Carnegie Hall, as well as concert appearances in St. Petersburg, FL. The George London Foundation was proud to host Mr. Sorenson in recital in New York City. Symphonic appearances include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tanglewood Festival under the baton of Kurt Masur, at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland under the baton of James Levine, and with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. In addition to Salome, Mr. Sorenson has also performed in Elektra with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst and with the New York Philharmonic in a program of Viennese music. He also sang a concert version of Simon Boccanegra with James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Other notable symphonic appearances include Das Lied von der Erde with the South Dakota Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem with the Houston Symphony, and a concert of arias and duets with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Among his honors and awards, Mr. Sorenson was the winner of the Opera Birmingham Young Singer Contest and the Sorantin Young Artist Award. A finalist in the Loren L. Zachary Society Contest for Young Opera Singers, Mr. Sorenson was also named a winner at the 2003 George London Foundation Competition and a Sara Tucker Study Grant Winner.  In 2004, he was awarded the Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant. Mr. Sorenson is a graduate of Texas Tech University, and currently resides in Kentucky with his wife Elizabeth Batton, his daughter, and two sons.

Click on main images in the slideshow above to download photos.

Cybele Gouverneur, mezzo-soprano

Venezuelan-American mezzo-soprano Cybele Gouverneur returns to Modesto Symphony Orchestra after last season's Mahler No. 2. Frequently on the orchestral and operatic stages alike, Ms. Gouverneur "whose chocolate-rich voice has been impressing audiences..." has sung nearly two dozen roles regionally favoring the repertoire of Verdi, Wagner, Strauss and the French mezzos; returning often to the title role of Carmen.

Ms. Gouverneur has sung Schwertleite (Die Walküre) and Mercedes in Carmen with the San Francisco Opera and the major role debuts of Dalila in Samson et Dalila and Amneris in Aida with West Bay Opera.

She made her San Francisco Opera debut alongside Natalie Dessay in Graham Vick's production of Lucia di Lammermoor. As Principal Artist in Residence with Opera San José from 2007-2009 Ms. Gouverneur sang the roles of Carmen (Carmen), Charlotte (Werther), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Olga (Eugene Onegin), and Dorabella (Cosí fan tutte).

In the concert hall Ms. Gouverneur, has performed with a number of orchestras, including La Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar de la Juventud in Caracas, Venezuela; the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. She has performed such works as Verdi'sRequiem, Mozart's Requiem, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and Dvorak's Mass in D Minor. Her commanding stage presence and consummate artistry have been evident in such roles as Cherubino (Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro); Giasone (Cavalli’s Il Giasone); Filippyevna (Tchaikovsky’sEugene Onegin), Proserpine (Marc-Antoine Charpentier's La Descente D'Orphée aux Enfers) with Collegium Musicum and Ars Lyrica of Houston; and other roles such as the title role in Massenet's Chérubin; Minsk Woman in Jonathan Dove's Flight; and Cherubino in John Corgliano's The Ghosts of Versaille.  Other engagements include performances with Orchestra X of Houston featuring Prof. Peter Schickele and as well as covering Orfeo (Orfeo ed Euridice) with Caramoor Music Festival.

Ms. Gouverneur is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music and the University of Houston - Moores School of Music.

Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

Summer Hassan, soprano

Soprano Summer Hassan is a member of LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. She made her company debut in 2014 as the Second Lady in Barry Kosky's Dido and Aeneas. Her LA Opera appearances have also included Ghost Quartet Soprano in The Ghosts of Versailles, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Dama in Macbeth, Daughter in Akhnaten as well as several roles in Hercules vs. Vampires

Recent performances include being a semi-finalist at the Metropolitain Opera National Council Auditions, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle under the baton of Placido Domingo, as well as Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the Colburn Orchestra. She made her role debut as Musetta in Wolf Trap Opera’s 2016 production of La Bohème and in recital with Steven Blier at The Barns.

Ms. Hassan made her Carnegie Hall debut as Second Niece in Britten’s Peter Grimes with the St. Louis Symphony, and in 2014 she made her debut as the Second Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where she was a Gerdine Young Artist. Other roles have included Mimì in La Bohème, Betty in The Threepenny Opera, and Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito. She received her master of music from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and her bachelor of music from the Oberlin Conservatory. 

Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

David Lockingtonconductor

Over the past thirty years, David Lockington has developed an impressive conducting career in the United States. A native of Great Britain, he served as the Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony from January 1999 to May 2015, and is currently the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate. He has held the position of Music Director with the Modesto Symphony since May 2007 and in March 2013, Mr. Lockington was appointed Music Director of the Pasadena Symphony. He has a close relationship with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain, where he was the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor from 2012 through 2016, and in the 15/16 season was named one of three Artistic Partners with the Northwest Sinfonietta in Tacoma, Washington.

In addition to his current posts, since his arrival to the United States in 1978 Mr. Lockington has held positions with several other American orchestras, including serving as Assistant Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and Opera Colorado, and Assistant and Associate Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In May 1993 he accepted the position of Music Director of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, assumed the title of Music Director of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in September 1995 and was Music Director of the Long Island Philharmonic for the 96/97 through 99/2000 seasons.

Mr. Lockington's guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Saint Louis, Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Oregon and Phoenix symphonies; the Rochester and Louisiana Philharmonics; and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall. Internationally, he has conducted the Northern Sinfonia in Great Britain, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra in Beijing and Taiwan,and led the English Chamber Orchestra on a tour in Asia.

Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the New Jersey, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Utah, Pacific, Colorado, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Edmonton, Alabama, Tucson and Kansas City symphonies, the Florida and Louisville Orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and the Buffalo, Calgary and Oklahoma Philharmonics. Mr. Lockington's summer festival activities include appearances at the Grand Teton, Colorado Music, Interlochen, Chautauqua and Eastern Music festivals.

David Lockington began his career as a cellist and was the Principal with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years. After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar, Mr. Lockington came to the United States on a scholarship to Yale University where he received his Master's degree in cello performance and studied conducting with Otto Werner Mueller. He was a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and served as assistant principal cellist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra for three years before turning to conducting.

Dr. Daniel R Afonso Jr., Chorus Director.jpeg

Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

Dr. Daniel R. Afonso, Jr., chorus director

Daniel R. Afonso, Jr. has served as conductor of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus since its foundation in 2001 and has prepared several choral works with the ensemble. He is also Coordinator of Vocal and Choral Studies at California State University, Stanislaus. Afonso received a B.M.E. degree from the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI -Rio), a M.M. degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a D.M.A. degree in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. Dr. Afonso is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has studied conducting with Carlos Alberto Figueiredo, Cees Rotteveel, Eph Ehly, and William Hatcher.

Dr. Afonso has performed with choral groups in Brazil, U.S., and Europe, and has previously taught music at the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música, Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI-Rio), and Doane College, Nebraska. In 1988, he won the first prize and the best performance of Villa-Lobos work award at the Concurso Villa-Lobos de Canto Coral, a national choral competition sponsored by the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Afonso is strongly committed to the performance of new music and has commissioned and premiered many new choral works in the last few years, including several of his own works as well as works by young composition students.  He had his New York debut in 2012, conducting Mozart’s Requiem with members of the MSO Chorus and students from CSU Stanislaus at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

He is also a composer, arranger, and editor of choral music and has choral works published by earthsongs, Colla Voce, and Alliance Music Publications. He served as composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Choral Artists during their 2014-2015 season and has also written works for the Los Angeles Children’s Choir, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and other ensembles in the US and abroad. He has written innumerous arrangements for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, including a new version of The Star-Spangled Banner for chorus and orchestra, recently premiered at the opening concert for the 2015-16 concert season. Dr. Afonso is widely recognized for his research and performance of Brazilian choral music and continues to frequently present workshops and lectures about the Latin American choral repertoire.