Saturday, December 14, 2013

A little update


For my last engagement in Athens of the year I will be playing bass with the Athens Symphony.

Today was  the last OLLI Opera meeting of 2013, I presented on Verdi's Falstaff.

Addio 2013... what a roller-coaster of a year!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Investiture Ceremony


It's good to be busy.

I have to head out the door, but I wanted to give you a quick update about things as they are moving fast.

Last Friday I was invited by Greg Hankins to perform at a tribute concert to celebrate Rachel Towns. It was a touching and warm event. I am so glad that Greg suggested and I am proud to have contributed to a beautiful night.

This morning I will be singing at the UGA President Investiture Ceremony inaugurating President Jerry Morehead. I'll be singing your favorite and mine UGA's Alma Mater.

Of course I am still riding a high from Carnegie and Jose... life happens so quickly.

Have some more auditions approaching, keep your fingers crossed :-)!!!

Thank you for reading,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Carmen Photos

Dear Readers,

Below are some pictures of UGA Opera Theater's production of Carmen:

Hopefully there are more to come, in the meantime here is a taste of the french tragedy [Photos Courtesy of William (Bill) Brent]

Carmen Act I - Joseph Brent, Elisabeth Slaten
Act IV - Joseph Brent, Marisan Corsino
Carmen Act II - Evelyn Shreves, Marisan Corsino, Avery Draut

Act III - Evan Tyor, Joseph Brent, Ben Boskoff

Act IV - Joseph Brent, Marisan Corsino

Curtain Call - Entire Carmen Cast

Curtain Call 2 - Entire Cast

Friday, November 15, 2013

Post Jose


I have to make a public "thank you" and "congratulations" to some of the hardest working artists I know:

To the cast of UGA Opera Theater's Carmen, thank you and congratulations!
The show was a success and well worth the weeks of rehearsals and coachings.

Marisan Corsino was a stunning and ideal Carmen. She was a pleasure to work with and a gem of a colleague. I am excited to see where her career and the DMA program she has just started turns out.

Elisabeth Slaten was a strong and emotive Micaela. This is was my third show with Elisabeth and she is  proving herself to be a fine singer and supportive colleague. To her as well: I look forward to what this DMA program and career brings her.

Christopher Voss sang a masculine and sympathetic Escamillo. This is my third show with Chris and at the end of this year we're both headed out to the real world. Chris is growing in to a fine singer - the Escamillo encouraged a lot of growth and I am proud to share the stage with him.

Evelyn Shreves sang a gorgeous and flexible Frasquita. She is developing into quite a talent! Look out for her on the opera stage.

Avery Draut's rich and dynamic Mercedes provided a soothing color to the other gypsies. She is a tenacious young singer who teems with great potential!

Evan Tyor's Don Cairo was fabulous. Evan is making some extremely gorgeous sounds these days. He is a true asset to the UGA opera theater.

Ben Boskoff was a great foil to the gypsies. Ben's clear and bright tenor added a youthful shimmer to the violent bandits.

Richard Block was a domineering and corrupt Zuniga. He bass voice is reliable. I wish him and his wife Zanda the best. I am sure great things will happen for this musical couple.

David Conley hit a home run with his Morales. The role suited him well and he is always a great energy on and off the stage!

A huge congrats to the UGA Symphony Orchestra, the University Chorus, the Athens Children's Choir  and the remaining members of the opera ensemble.

A congratulatory shout out to Prof. Frederick Burchinal, Ms. Kathy Wright, Mr. Mark Cedel, Dr. Dan Bara, Mr. Carroll Freeman, Ms. Jill Biskin!!! great show everyone!

Don Jose in the repertory.

Now to finish this semester and get to work on my dissertation.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A link to the program


My father was kind enough to scan in the program.

You can check it out at my website or follow the link below:


Mefistofele and Don Jose

Dear Readers,

What an absolutely incredible week I've had.

I apologize for the delay in updating you all about Wednesday night's Mefistofele.

A success!!

Wednesday night, November 6th, I made my debut as a soloist at Carnegie Hall. Wednesday night was not only first time in several years that Boito's Mefistofele was presented in New York, but also the 10th year anniversary of The Collegiate Chorale's Side-by-Side program.

I, along with a handful of my high-school friends, was a member of the side-by-side program that takes high-school students and offers them a chance to sing in the Chorale mentored by one of the members.
I was honored to be selected as a representative of the success of the side-by-side program. It was pleasure to take the idea and bring it from the choir to the front of the stage.

Mr. Eric Owens, Mr. Arturo Chacon-Cruz, Ms. Juliana di Giacomo and Ms. Teresa Bucholtz were outstanding singers. I really felt like a young boy in Disney with such great singers and a great orchestra under the direction of James Bagwell.

I really feel impotent in my ability to express how positive and rewarding this experience was.
I can't thank Maestro Bagwell, Julie Morgan and the entire Chorale enough for making this dream possible.

Some details:
I was given my own dressing room (pictured below!). The dressing rooms at Carnegie are fantastic. They are acoustically well balanced, long, and have two enormous windows which over look 56th street (sadly at the building where Patleson's music store used to be). I had piano, a bathroom with a shower, two full length mirrors, a safe and closet space. It was clean and very modern looking.

All of the back stage crew were friendly and supportive.

The hall is a dream to sing in, it deserves its reputation.

Some photos to whet your appetite:
Outside of my dressing room after the show
Joe Brent as Wagner; Arturo Chacon-Cruz as Faust (Act I)

Eric Owens; Me; Teresa Bucholtz

Isaac Stern Auditorium / Ronald O. Perelman Stage

Thursday morning I boarded my 8:00 am flight to Atlanta with a lay-over in Charlotte.
My best friend and colleague Richard Block collected me from the airport and we drove strait to Carmen rehearsal.

"No rest for the wicked"... no rest for the weary??? I think you know what I am trying to say...

We had our sitzprobe that Thursday, Friday was a final staging rehearsal and tonight, Sunday our wandelprobe.

Carmen opens this Thursday, Nov. 14th.
It's going to be a great show: Marisan Corsino is Carmen, I'll be singing Don Jose, Elizabeth Slaten as Micaela, Christopher Voss as Escamillo, Richard Block as Zuniga, Avery Draut as Frasquita/Mercedes, Everlyn Shreves as Mercedes/Frasquita, Evan Tyor as Don Cairo and Ben Boskoff as Remandado.

I'll have a small, private concert tomorrow and rehearsal for the UGA President investiture ceremony.

Busy busy!!!!

Follow the links below for reviews of the show:

Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day Two of Mefistofele


It has been a very busy few weeks.
While preparing my role debut as Don Jose in Carmen with the UGA Opera Theatre (Nov. 14th) I have been auditioning, flying from city to city - in and out of New York. I have been working on my dissertation and preparing for my Carnegie Hall debut.

Since Saturday evening I have been in New York.

Yesterday felt like a child's first day in Disney: I had my first rehearsal with Maestro James Bagwell for Wednesday's performance of Mefistofele at Carnegie Hall. We worked through the Wagner and Faust scene in Act one with  Arturo Chacón-Cruz. It is such a pleasure to sing with Arturo!

We ended a bit early and waited for the rest of the cast to arrive. In walked  Eric Owens, Julianna Di Giacomo, and Teresa Buchholz.

What a cast!

It really is like Disney for me!

The four soloists sounds great! The audience is in for a real treat with the sinister Mefistofele!
It is a honor to be a part of this stupendous cast.

We went on to the Act four quintet... my singing was done, but I couldn't resist staying.

Today is the first day with orchestra and later with the choir.

If you can make it to Wednesday's performance please do!!! It's going to be a great show!

Thanks for reading

(I can't believe I left my camera at home!)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Letting the Cat out of the box


It has been confirmed:

I will be singing the role of Wagner and Nereo in Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele with the Collegiate Chorale and the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

I will be joining an outstanding cast of singers including: Eric Owens as Mefistofele, Julianna Di Giacomo as Margherita/Elena, Arturo Chacón-Cruz as Faust and Teresa Buchholz as Marta/Pantalis. 

The concert will be on November the 6th 2013!!

I cannot thank Julie Morgan, James Bagwell and the entire Collegiate Chorale for making this amazing opportunity possible.

Wish me luck - it will be my debut as a soloist at Carnegie Hall!!!

Some one pinch me!


A little Secret

Dear Readers,

I have a little secret that I wanted to share with you.

Nothing is confirmed yet, but there is a good chance that I will be in New York City the first week of November to sing.

I hesitate to give you much more information than that, just incase something falls through.

I have been offered an opportunity and I have accepted the opportunity, I am just waiting for confirmation.

Please keep your fingers crossed for a big surprise!

In other news: It's audition season for singers! I will be singing some auditions next week and several in the up coming weeks - please keep your fingers crossed for that as well!

My next concert is on the 21st at the Reynold's Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia. Then Carmen on the 13th and 14th of November and The UGA Investiture Ceremony on the 19th.

We'll see what pops up between then - things are always brewing in a musicians life!

With love and gratitude,
Thank you for reading


Thursday, September 26, 2013



My friend Blaise Pascal passed way this week after a 3 month battle in the hospital. 
Will everyone please take a minute and send all of their energy and prayers to Blaise's family.

I met Blaise this past summer at The Martina Arroyo Prelude to performance program. Blaise was there from day one, at my side. He became my friend and a mentor. He shared so much with me and I felt so comfortable with him. I loved his opinions about music and how he experienced music. I've never seen someone love this art as much as Blaise. For Blaise singing was art. He gave me great criticism when I needed it and told me how much he loved my singing. He told me "joe when you're singing you reminded me: yes! that's how it's done. I have to remember that." Blaise had so much passion and so much knowledge. He sat in on my coachings and laughed with me. He was there with me when I had no money and only had my 4 bananas to eat. He was there giving me half a sandwich even though I was too proud to take it.

My time with him was too short. Our time with him was too short. He became such a great friend is such a short time and I never was able to tell him. I am going to miss him more than I can express. He taught me so much...

I can't say enough and yet I feel so lost... I do not know what is beyond this life but Blaise deserves the best from every religion and every belief. He deserves an eternity of happiness greater than exists on this earth if such a thing is possible.

Please everyone, take a minute to think about him - even if you didn't know him.
Then take another minute to think about everyone you love in this world and let them know - make a sacrifice for someone who needs your love. I meant to visit him in the hospital, but business took me to switzerland. When I got back he was unconscious and I chose not to go see him. Do not make the same mistake I made - I don't know how or if at all it would have made a difference. I just can't believe he's gone.


Thank you,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mid Week Update Sept. 25th

Dear Readers,

As the semester continues we are getting closer and closer Carmen!
If you can make it out to Athens on the 13th or 14th of November, please do - you're in for a treat.

I will be singing Don Jose with a fantastic cast of emerging young artists: Marisan Corsino as the seductive and strong willed title character Carmen; Chris Voss as the gallant torero Escamillo; Elisabeth Slaten as the demure Micaela. There are so many other great artists in this cast: Richard Block, Ben Baskoff, Avery Draut, Evelyn Shreves and many more!

Cheers to all of the cast members and the hard work they are putting in to make this show great!

In the meantime, I still have some other duties to check off the proverbial to-do list:

This Thursday is a double duty day.
I will be singing Jose's Flower Song [La fleur que tu m'avais jeter] for UGA's Choral Day and then a short concert with Evelyn Shreves down town Athens. We will be performing the first act duet from Rigoletto followed by some solos including Brahms' Der Tod das ist die kuele Nacht and the neapolitan classic Core 'ngrato.

Lastly, I am preparing a recital for the spring.
I've chosen the first half, which will be Michaelangelo in song, but the second half is still undecided.
I am thinking a mix of Latin American, North American and French.
Any thoughts?

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And the semester continues

Dear Readers,

I apologize for my reticence, life here at the University of Georgia has been busy.

I don't know where to begin.

My first engagement this semester was to celebrate the life of Adora W. Mills.
Adora pasted away last month and I feel at a loss to adequately describe Adora's impact in my life. I am at a loss to describe her immense impact on this community.

Adora's reputation and alacrity preceded her. I first heard of Adora when I began singing tenor. From my very first public performance as a tenor, Adora was there cheering me on. After my tenorial debut as Camille de Rosillion in Lehar's The Merry Widow at UGA, Frederick Burchinal approached me and made Adora's interest clear: she found Burchinal after the show and said "I think we've found out tenor!"

Adora's husband was a tenor and she, as a tribute to his memory, created a vocal scholarship at UGA for tenors.

It was Adora's scholarship and her encouragement that helped me get through tough times here at UGA and discover my love for singing.

In May of this year, several singers - including myself - piled into Burchinal's car and headed to the Reynold's Plantation where Adora was living. We sang a private concert for her. It was that very concert that we performed 3 weeks ago at the celebration of her life in Greenboro GA.

I sang the first act duet from Rigoletto with the brilliant and emerging Evelyn Shreves, One Alone from the Desert Song and a Gounod hymn "What Grief Can Try Me? Oh, Lord" at Adora's request.

It is was sadness that I morn the passing of such a influential and wonderful person - who touched more lives in more way than anyone will ever know.

There was another passing in the UGA community. Dr. Robert Brown passed this week.
Dr. Brown was a retired professor who loved classical music. Dr. Brown used to sit in our UGASO rehearsals (this is before and during my tenure as a Double Bass student at UGA). He donated, raised funds and supported the music that we made at UGA.

In April of 2012 Dr. Brown contacted me and offered me several Jussi Boerling CDs as well as some Beethoven and Schumann. It was an extremely kind gesture and I have since kept those CD is permanent rotation in my car. I listen to them at least once a week and several times through during long car rides.

Please send your thoughts an prayers to the families of these two wonderful patrons. What I do - what musicians and artist do - is impossible without the support from people like Adora and Bob.

Though I reluctantly continue, below are some more happenings from these last few months since Hoffmann and since Verbier:

Last week Metropolitan Opera tenor Allan Glassman visited UGA and gave a great master class, in which I was privileged to sing. I sang the flower song from Carmen - my first public go at it.
He had some very constructive and complimentary things to say.

On Saturday I sang for an even with the OLLI [The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute] Opera Group and then took a lesson with Allan - which was a lot of fun.

On Friday the 20th I will be singing Tony in a concert medley of West Side Story with the UGA Wind Ensemble - I have played several concerts with Dr. Lynch's UGA Wind Ensemble as a double bassist. This will be my premier as a singer.

On the 22nd I will be singing several gallant/classical era pieces with Anatoly Sheludyakov in a tribute to Catherine the Great in a collaboration with the Georgia Museum of Art.

Lastly, I passed my doctoral preliminary exams and have only one final exam - my comprehensive exams to complete and I will be admitted to candidacy!!! The end of my time at UGA is coming to a close.

Cheers to great music and future success!
Thanks for reading -

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Getting Ready to hit the Road


I am extremely excited and honored for my lesson today with revered American tenor Richard Leech

I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Leech this pas summer at the Martina Arroyo Prelude to Performance Master Class series. We spent some time working on the Giuletta/Hoffmann duet C'est une chanson d'amour. Mr. Leech also greeted our audiences as a sort of Master of Ceremonies before each show. His energy, honest and confidence were infectious.

This will be my first official lesson with a tenor and I am eager to hear what Mr. Leech has to offer as a teacher, I of course adore his singing.

With this lesson I say goodbye to my friends, my Latte, my family and a great summer as Hoffmann and as guest of the Collegiate Chorale at the Verbier Festival. I will start the long drive back to Athens, Georgia: to approach the ravenous and bellicose Don Jose in the UGA Opera Theater production of Carmen and complete my DMA.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

It's not all Classical Music and Opera


This post is just a small shout-out to Erene and a reminder that we should always have great music, classical or otherwise, in our lives.

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing ERENE (Irene Mastrangeli) perform at The Living Room on Ludlow street, lower Manhattan.
The Living Room us a cute bar with a great performance venue, there is a lot of great music happening there. 

Was there with Salina Sanchez and former Justina Soto an the Salvation Arm Band guitarist Danny Snedecor. 
I met ERENE in the fall of 2005 when I decided to take Italian lessons to get closer to my heritage. At the time I was a senior in High School, playing electric bass and singing in the choir. After nearly 10 years I have moved on from the electric bass in to the double bass and then realized myself as a tenor - with the guidance of Frederick Burchinal. Now, after a summer as Hoffmann and a week at the Verbier festival I find myself in the perfect spot: home, listening to the music that helped me throughout my collegiate life.

I still use the book from which ERENE taught, to brush up my Italian when I am not obsessing over French or German.

Keep your friends and loved ones close, and look for inspiration in all things.

Cheers to ERENE and all the great artists who are not on the opera stage.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Follow Up


I've received great feedback from those who were able to listen to the WUGA broadcast of the radio interview with Allen Crowell last Wednesday.

For those of you who were interested but unable I have made the 27 min interview available at my website or you can access the and stream the sound clip through the following link Hodgson Center Stage Episode 1 (Pilot Episode)

The show will be presented again next Wednesday, August 7th at WUGA Radio Online

In the meantime, I am preparing for the UGA Opera Theater production of Bizet's opera Carmen, in which I will be singing the role of the pugnacious and unrestrained Don Jose. I will also be preparing to take the Doctoral Preliminary exams, the first stages in completing my degree.

Finally, could everyone send their best energy - be it prayers or wishes - to my friend Blaise Pascal. He is a fine tenor, a good friend and in need of what ever support one can offer. Blaise is in the ICU of St. Luke's Hospital fighting a severe battle with Pneumonia and has been for weeks.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WUGA - Hodgson Center Stage


I just received great news!

Tomorrow, Wednesday July 31st 2013 at 3:30 - the pilot episode of Hodgson Center Stage with Allen Crowell will air.

I am the first featured Hugh Hodgson School of Music student to be interviewed on the show.

Tune in to WUGA Listen Online.

In the fall of 2012 Professor Emeritus Allen Crowell spent an afternoon with me at the WUGA radio station in Athens, Georgia chatting about music, Athens, UGA and my life.

You'll hear two recordings of me on this episode, my first Che Gelida and an aria from the Pirates of Penzance both from UGA Opera Theatre production at UGA.

It is a true honor to be selected and I am grateful to all of the people responsible.

If you have the time please check it out!


Saturday, July 27, 2013


Dear Readers,

Welcome to my new blog.

I decided that after the success of the blog that I kept while I was singing Rodolfo in Italy last year, it would be nice to have a more permanent blog in which I can update regularly about my career and experiences unrelated to Italy.

I have also decided to keep the blog about Italy with the hope that in the near future I will be back in the country that I love so deeply.

To fill you in: I just returned home from singing with the Collegiate Chorale at the 20th annual Verbier Festival in Verbier, Switzerland. You can see the videos at You'll need to create a username and password to gain access but it is free.

A little back story explaining how this came about: I was invited by the Chorale after my performance of Hoffmann in Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) with the Martina Arroyo Foundation's Prelude to Performance program. Back stage after the performance I was greeted by Constantinos Tsourakis, a member of the Chorale and long time friend, who congratulated me on my performance and asked if I had any plans for the next two weeks. He explained that the Chorale was leaving in 3 days for the Verbier Festival and they needed a tenor. An offer that I couldn't refuse. 3 days later I was on a plane headed to Switzerland with a binder filled with Verdi, Beethoven, Schubert and the premier of Lera Auerbach's new composition.

We performed four incredible concerts.
The first was the festival opener conducted by Charles Dutoit and performed by the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Collegiate Chorale. The soloist included Lisa Milne, Lilli Paasikivi, Matthew Rose and one of the Chorale's singers Joe Demarest. We premiered Lera Auerbach;s In Praise of Peace and sang Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

A shout-out to Ivy Wong who is a section player with the Verbier Festival Orchestra and a fellow graduate of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, SUNY She and I both studied with Timothy Cobb. Ivy is still a student of Tim's and is a graduate student at Juilliard.

The other performances included Beethoven's Chorale Fantasy, again with Maestro Dutoit and the VFO; Schubert's Mass in Eb conducted by Christian Zacharias with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra; finally Otello Act I conducted by Maestro Valery Gergiev with the full capacity of the VFO and the soloist: Aleksandrs Antonenko (Otello) - Anna Netrebko (Desdemona) - Alexey Markov (Iago) and Francesco Demuro (Cassio).

I am looking forward to the next two weeks before I head back down to south the Athens, in order to complete my final year as a Doctor of Music student at the University of Georgia. I've got Don Jose in my immediate future and looking forward to singing for Mr. Richard Leech before I leave.

Thank you for reading,
Keep the cards and letters coming