May 21, 2006

Graduation of the Stars

On a personal note, I am so very proud of my students. This year the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia graduated 8 singers. This is a huge class relative to an annual student enrollment ranging 22 to 25.

It is an established pattern at AVA that 3rd and 4th year students proactively take professional engagements and get signed by agents. Five graduates were available for the graduation recital a week ago while three others were committed to professional operatic engagements.

I feel like a proud papa to have worked with all of the 2006 graduates in Russian Romances programs and the production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. I wish them continued success.

During her four years at AVA, Ellie Dehn managed to appear on all my programs even though in the last two years it seemed I hardly saw her. Here is why, read on

James Valenti is a jet setting tenor. This season he came back to AVA to sing the Duke in Rigoletto. In 2003, James sang a couple of Tchaikovsky songs on my program at the Kimmel Center, his first Russian rep effort -- remarkable artistry. This summer, if he manages to carve out a few days off, James intends to hang with us at the roof top pool, have some pizza and relax.

Nicole Piccolomini simply wouldn’t miss participating in Russian programs. She claims that her Khovanschina audition aria has secured a number of professional engagements. In the upcoming season, Nicole is moving up to Deutsche Oper Berlin.

In the last two years, it seems I have hardly seen Jeffrey Halili since he became so busy with professional engagements. Yet, he was there and ready, emerging as a dashing Vaudemont in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.

Many will agree that Aylin Perez is one of the more remarkable actresses working on the operatic stage today. Aylin appeared in a number of Russian recitals adding to her repertoire arias and duets from Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and The Queen of Spades.

Stephen Costello will be graduating in 2007, but since we will hardly see him, he wanted to get into this photo now. This past season, Aylin and Stephen sang a breathtaking duet from Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, Stephen's first Russian effort.

AVA alumna, Latonia Moore came to the graduating recital to support her friends. Based in Philly, she’s hardly ever home. Read on, this explains why.

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