Constance Fee, Director of Vocal Studies/Associate Professor of Voice, Roberts Wesleyan College
Erie Mills, Board of Directors, Opera America; former Professor of Music, San José State University
Jonathan Beyer, baritone
Douglas Kinney Frost, conductor
Eric Townell, Artistic Director, Rochester Oratorio Society
Director of Vocal Studies
Associate Professor of Voice
Roberts Wesleyan College
Constance Fee has performed leading roles with the Opéra National de Paris la Bastille, the Opéra Comique, and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris; the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam; the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv; the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff; l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Ghent, Antwerp and Liège, Belgium; the Vienna Volksoper; the opera houses of Stuttgart, Cologne, Kassel, and Bremen, Germany; Lucerne, Switzerland; Lyon, Toulouse and Angers, France; and in the US with the Houston Grand Opera, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Long Beach Opera and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. She has collaborated with conductors Sir Charles Mackerras, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Lorin Maazel, David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, Maurizio Benini, Patrick Summers, John Nelson, Sir Alexander Gibson, and Nicholas McGegan; and with stage directors Colin Graham, John Cox, David Alden, GianCarlo del Monaco, Robert Wilson, François Rochaix, Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser. Described in OPERNWELT Berlin as “vocally brilliant, dramatically spontaneous and thoroughly alive,” her repertoire of over fifty soprano and mezzo-soprano roles includes the title roles in Puccini’s Tosca, Bizet’s Carmen, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Donizetti’s La Favorite, and Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, as well as Brangäne in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Der Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss, Ascanio in Benvenuto Cellini by Berlioz, Giulietta and Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, Marina in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, Augusta in The Ballad of Baby Doe, Dorabella in Cosí fan tutte and Idamante in Idomeneo by Mozart, and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Isolier in Le comte Ory by Rossini. On the concert stage she was the soloist with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum in Prague, in televised concerts celebrating the orchestra’s 100th anniversary; she has also performed as soloist at the Internationale Musikfestwochen in Lucerne, Switzerland; with the Orchestre Symphonique Français at Salle Pleyel in Paris; the Orchestre Symphonique de la Radio Télévision Moscou at the International Festival of Besançon, France; the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center; the Saint Louis Symphony; the Milwaukee Symphony; the Indianapolis Symphony; and the San Diego Symphony in works including the Verdi Requiem, Mozart Requiem, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer, Rossini Stabat Mater, Poulenc Stabat Mater, La damnation de Faust by Berlioz, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Symphony No. 9, and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder; and with pianist Rudolf Serkin at the Marlboro Music Festival. In past seasons, she has performed often on the Live from Hochstein recital series on Rochester’s WXXI Public Broadcasting; with the Rochester Chamber Music Society; the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 at Eastman’s Kodak Theater; and she was recently the guest soloist for the Opera Guild of Rochester’s annual donor’s recital. A frequent competition adjudicator, Ms. Fee taught voice and French diction on the faculty of the Franco-American Vocal Academy in Périgueux, France, in the summer of 2013. In May of 2014, she began her term as president of the Westminster Choir College Alumni Council. She joined the voice faculty of the Crescendo Summer Music Institute in Tokaj, Hungary, in 2014, where she returned for the 2015 season, performing works by Bartόk and Gounod. Constance Fee is Director of Vocal Studies and Associate Professor of Vocal Performance on the music faculty of Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY. She received the Performer’s Certificate in Opera Performance from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington; and Bachelor of Vocal Music Education from Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ, from which she also received the Alumni Merit Award for Distinguished Achievement in Vocal Performance.
Board of Directors
Devoted to training young classical singers and emerging artists, Erie Mills teaches privately in the East Bay area of San Francisco. She also gives Master
Classes throughout the country and works with major opera companies (at Opera Theatre of St. Louis since 2004, at the Metropolitan Opera from 2008 to the present and at Santa Fe Opera in 2009, 2010 and 2011) as an English diction coach/specialist. A past Professor of Music at San José State University where she taught for ten years, she serves on the boards of various music organizations, including the Board of Directors of Opera America. For over twenty-five years, Erie Mills performed to critical and popular acclaim throughout the world, dazzling audiences with her sparkling coloratura voice, captivating personality and vivid portrayal of roles.
Jonathan Beyer has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Munich Philharmonic, Dallas Opera, Netherlands Radio Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Teatro Petruzelli, Chicago Symphony, Oper Frankfurt, Opera Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony, Austin Lyric Opera, Opera de Montreal, Chicago Opera Theater, Fort Worth Opera, and others. He performs a wide variety of roles including Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Malatesta in Don Pasaquale, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Escamillo in Carmen, Marcello in La Boheme, and Richard Nixon in Nixon In China.
In the 2015-2016 season, engagements included Rossini’s Figaro in a return to the Pittsburgh Opera, Marcello in La Boheme with Boston Lyric Opera, covering the role of Danilo in the Merry Widow with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus with Florentine Opera. In the 2014-2015 season he returned to Opera Philadelphia for the role of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and reprised the role with Opera Theater of Saint Louis. He also returned to Dallas for Marcello in La Boheme and to Anchorage for Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. Jonathan made his Florida Grand Opera Debut as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and sang concerts with the Baton Rouge, Southwest Michigan and Lansing Symphonies. He also made his debut at Cincinnati Opera as Ping in Turandot and as the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana with the New Jersey Symphony. In the 2013-2014 season he made his debut with Hawaii Opera Theater as Ping in Turandot and with Anchorage Opera as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor. He returned to the Fort Worth Symphony as the title role in Elijah. He also sang the title role with the Harrisburg Symphony. He made his debut with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago in Handel’s Messiah and with the Delaware Symphony for Carmina Burana. Additional debut’s included Opera de Montreal as Ping in their production of Turandot. He gave recitals through the Logan Chamber Music Series at the Chautauqua Institution and performed on Opera Galas with Lorin Maazel as well as with the Esterhazy Orchestra. Mr. Beyer has performed in recital with Craig Rutenberg, Mikael Eliasen, Kristin Okerlund, Martin Katz and Brian Zeger. He has given recitals through the Vocal Arts Society, Marilyn Horne Foundation, Chicago Cultural Center, Judith Raskin Foundation, Bertlesmann Foundation, Huntsville Chamber Music Guild, Pittsburgh Concert Society, Over the Rainbow Foundation, Astral Artists, the Marian Anderson Foundation, Lyrique-en-mer, and The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. He has degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He was a National Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. He was the Grand Prize winner at the 2011 George London Foundation and was the 1st Place Winner at the Marian Anderson Prize for Emerging Classical Artists. He has also won the McCammon Competition, Irma M. Cooper Competition, Violetta DuPont Competition, Rochester’s Classical Idol, New Jersey Verismo Competition, Philadelphia Orchestra’s Greenfield Competition, Astral Artist Auditions, Pittsburgh Concert Society Auditions, SAI Competition, American Opera Society Competition, the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Competition, and the Bel Canto Foundation. He has also received awards from the Sullivan Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Jensen Foundation, Solti Foundation, Loren L. Zachary, Irene Dalis, Liederkranz, Charles Lynam Competitions, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, Orpheus Competition, National Opera Association, Anna Sosenko Foundation, Shreveport Singer of the Year, Mario Lanza Foundation, Dresden Opera Competition, NATS, Giulio Gari Foundation, Palm Beach Opera, Jose Iturbi Foundation, Liederkranz, Neue Stimmen and Annapolis Opera Competitions.
Douglas Kinney Frost
Douglas Kinney Frost has led orchestras and opera companies on four continents, consistently thrilling audiences and inspiring the musicians with whom he works. “Under the baton of music director Douglas Kinney Frost the orchestra consistently presents concerts that are interesting, stimulating and thought-provoking,” says the Deseret News. In concert, the breadth of his repertoire has been highlighted in performances with the National Symphony of Mexico, the Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and orchestras in Brazil and Uruguay, Russian Federal Orchestra in Moscow, St. Petersburg Festival Orchestra, Kharkov Philharmonia in Ukraine, and the National Orchestra of Korea in Seoul, and in the U.S. with the Baltimore, Utah, Virginia, Syracuse, Santa Barbara, Mississippi and Richmond Symphonies, Grand Teton Music and Colorado Bach Festivals, Rochester Philharmonic, and Westminster College, among others. Labelled a Britten specialist by Maestro James Conlon, Frost was invited to serve as associate conductor for his work on Benjamin Britten operas numerous times including: The Turn of the Screw, Albert Herring, and Billy Budd with Los Angeles Opera and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Curlew River and The Prodigal Son with the Fondazione Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, and The Burning Fiery Furnace with the Ravinia Festival. Last season, he returned to Los Angeles Opera for John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. In 2015 he led important projects in Los Angeles and New York City. The LA Times commented, “…orchestra and chorus conducted by Douglas Kinney Frost were excellent, and at times it was fun watching Frost with his colorful style of conducting,” about his performances of Figaro 90210. This 21st century update of Mozart’s classic played to sold-out houses and added performances at LA Opera. He also served as Music Director and conductor for a co-production of David Lang’s Difficulty of Crossing a Field for Beth Morrison Projects which received a concert performance in New York and was recorded and released in June 2015 on Cantaloupe Records. The recording is receiving rave mentions including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Philadelphia Examiner. Other recent highlights include performances of Porgy and Bess at the prestigious Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, La bohème at Florida Grand Opera, Madama Butterfly for Utah Opera, L’elisir d’amore for Opera Saratoga, the Boston première of Little Women and The Turn of the Screw at The New England Conservatory, The Prodigal Son with University of Southern California, Gluck’s Armide and Argento’s Postcard from Morocco at the University of Michigan, a double-bill of Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi at the Mississippi Opera, a new production of Madama Butterfly and La traviata with Anchorage Opera, and the associate conductor and chorus master for Opera Colorado’s production of Nixon in China, which was recently released on the Naxos record label. With Opera on the James, where he served as Music Director, he conducted the company’s productions of Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus, Die Zauberflöte, and Gianni Schicchi/Suor Angelica. This season he returns for a new production of Don Pasquale. As Music Director, and later Artistic Director of Syracuse Opera for eight years, Douglas Kinney Frost refocused the company’s artistic vision and redefined its commitment to the community. He broadened main-stage programming by conducting the company’s first new production of an American work, Mark Adamo’s Little Women, while maintaining a commitment to producing the standard repertoire with distinction. He inaugurated a Resident Artist Program whose members appear throughout upstate New York in Kinney Frost’s many creative audience development initiatives. He also created the country’s first professional opera conducting training program with Ithaca College. He led their productions of Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, Roméo et Juliette, La bohème, Susannah, Die Zauberflöte, Hänsel und Gretel, La traviata, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Le nozze di Figaro, La tragedie de Carmen, Porgy and Bess, Die Fledermaus, and Il barbiere di Siviglia, concert performances of Into the Woods, Guys and Dolls, Man of La Mancha and Der fliegende Holländer featuring international opera artists Greer Grimsley and Lori Phillips. Mr. Kinney Frost was previously the Head of Music Staff and Chorus Master at Florida Grand Opera in Miami. Opera Now magazine credits him with “transforming the FGO Chorus into a superb, well-blended group.” The Miami Herald “would venture that FGO’s chorus can match even the best the world’s opera houses have to offer.” He has prepared choruses for over 20 FGO productions, in addition to being a house conductor and managing the company’s musical resources. He also served as a faculty member of the FGO’s acclaimed young artist program as Conductor. Before coming to Miami, Mr. Kinney Frost spent six seasons as Associate Conductor and Chorus Master for Utah Opera, providing musical leadership over 25 productions, and conducting main-stage productions. He also led several cutting edge productions with the company’s young artist program, and created the Company’s nationally recognized educational programming.
Pianist Kevin Nitsch, performer, collaborator, teacher, and composer in the Rochester area, is a member of the piano and music theory faculty at Nazareth College of Rochester and Music Director at the Baptist Temple in Brighton. In collaboration with Rochester artist, Kathleen Nicastro, Kevin is the pianist for Labyrinth of Sound and Light, a series of concerts that offers the audience a creative way to interact with art and music. Kevin has been composer-in-residence at Webster Thomas High School, sponsored by The Commission Project to compose music for the performing ensembles and to afford the students the opportunity to observe and participate in the composing process. Now in his fifth year as pianist for the Rochester Oratorio Society, he has served as Music Director for several Rochester Lyric Opera productions and as Accompanist for the Oratorio Society’s 2014 and 2015 Classical Idol vocal competitions. Kevin holds a BM in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and a MM and a DMA in Performance and Literature in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music. Kevin recently completed Yoga Teacher Training at Open Sky Yoga in Rochester and teaches yoga at Nazareth College and the Baptist Temple. Pianobenchasana is his favorite pose.