Contrabass Conversations guest and bass blog contributor John Grillo is playing principal bass for The Princeton Festival, a summer music festival that opens this Saturday(6/23/07) with a performance of Bizet’s Carmen. John has mentioned that the singers and staging are superb, so this is definitely a performance to check out if you happen to be in the Princeton area this weekend. You can click here for a calendar of events for this music festival.
John has co-hosted two Contrabass Conversations episodes (interview with Lawrence Hurst part 1 and part 2), and he has appeared on three episodes (episodes 6, 9, and 14), as well as having his playing featured on a recital showcase episode.
Here’s some information about mezzo-soprano Jesse Raven, who will be singing the role of Carmen for this festival:
Dramatic mezzo-soprano Jessie Raven is gaining vast attention for her striking vocal and physical presence. In her recent New York City Opera debut as Carmen, Opera News says she ‘…brought a powerful, technically secure mezzo to the proceedings. Physically perfect for Carmen, Raven may prove one of the role’s premiere interpreters in the near future.” Likewise Opera News hailed last season’s NYCO performance as Rosalind in the Mines of Sulphur saying her ‘…voluptuous stage presence and lush mezzo show her to be a star in the making. Her infectious mezzo-soprano was wondrously compelling and her acting ability was equally complementary. Raven’s voice was a triumph of sensuousness and sound.’ Opera houses worldwide such as Dallas Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Carolina, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Opera, L’Opera de Montréal, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Opera New Zealand, Opera Ontario, Lyric Opera of Chicago, among others are engaging Ms. Raven for a variety of mezzo roles including Amneris in Aida, Fricka in Der Ring des Nibelungen, Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Dalila in Samson & Dalila, and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.
In addition to her numerous portrayals of Carmen, Ms. Raven has most recently been seen in her debut as Amneris in Aidawith the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, which received tremendous praise from audiences and journalists. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said, ‘Mezzo Jessie Raven’s enormous vocal power and weight, enhanced by a wide, slow, pendulous and wholly pleasing vibrato, gave that spoiled brat Amneris dignity she doesn’t really deserve. ” Other recent portrayals include Rosalinde in Mines of Sulphur at New York City Opera, Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus with Augusta Opera, and Maddalena in Rigoletto with Connecticut Opera and Augusta Opera, and Dalila in Samson & Dalila with Opera Carolina. Engagements for 2006 and beyond include Fricka in Jonathan Dove’s Ring Saga with the Pittsburgh Opera Theater, Maddalena in Rigoletto with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Azucena in Il Trovatore with Opera North, and a return to New York City Opera as The Witch in Hansel and Gretel.