Opera Central

How does opera fit into contemporary issues and our world at large? The conversation is open and ongoing with Central City Opera’s new Zoom chat series, Opera Central, “where artists and administrators come together to talk about the world of the arts.”

Episode 3:

John Baril, Brian Cook, Megan Marino and Michael Mayes

Recorded August 1, 2020

This extra-special, bonus episode of Opera Central is a real, uncut conversation between Central City Opera Music Director John Baril, Orchestra Personnel Manager and Violist Brian Cook, Mezzo-Soprano Megan Marino and Baritone Michael Mayes over a couple of beers. The two couples chatted about life and art during the time of COVID outside of the historic Penrose House Complex in Central City after Meg and Mike performed in the Garden for the CCO Al Fresco series. Covering topics like how their lives have changed since the pandemic, how watering flowers and maintaining historic properties has inspired John and Brian to live in the moment, and the ways Meg and Mike envision American opera changing for the better, you’ll feel like you’re right there among the elements with these four friends.

John Baril

A most versatile conductor, John Baril has led critically acclaimed performances of symphonic and choral music, ballet, opera, operetta and musical theater. He has collaborated with such artists as conductor Stephen Lord, soprano/director Catherine Malfitano, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, director Paul Curran, the late director Colin Graham, conductor Marin Alsop, dramatic mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick and pop chanteuse Toni Tennille. For the past 20-plus seasons, he has worked closely with the apprentice and studio artists in the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Artists Training Program at the Central City Opera Festival, leading them in mainstage performances of Manon, Pique Dame, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, La fanciulla del West, CandideLa traviataLittle Women and Carmen. In 1996, he was Chorus Master for the Newport Classics recording of The Ballad of Baby Doe, an opera he has conducted with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. During his tenure at Yale University, where he was the Managing Coordinator and assistant to the Artistic Director, he again worked closely with developing artists in repertoire, language, style, performance traditions, and led them in performances of La cenerentola and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta as well as numerous scenes programs.

At Central City Opera, he began as production coordinator and assistant conductor in 1992, progressing to associate conductor and music administrator in 1996, and, in 2000, became resident conductor, a post created for him.

Brian Cook

Brian Cook is CCO’s Orchestra Personnel Manager and has been playing viola in the Central City Opera Orchestra for over 20 seasons. His undergraduate degree is in Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Upon graduation he moved to the east coast, where his studies continued first with Jesse Levine at Yale University, then with Burton Kaplan from the Manhattan School of Music in N.Y.C. Brian currently teaches private lessons at home and as an instrumental music coach at Arvada West High School. He also owns a business called COOK with COOK, teaching home classes. 

Megan Marino

American-Italian mezzo-soprano, Megan Marino is a genre-adventurous, “gifted actress with a strong, appealing voice graced by a rich lower register” [Opera News]. Be it on or off stage, standard fare, forgotten gem, or a work in progress, she’s driven by the glory of the art form, a deep yearning to tell meaningful stories and pure undiluted moxie.

Her recent appearances include the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival USA and Caramoor Music Festival. She has garnered awards from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, George London Foundation, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Marcello Giordani Foundation, Kurt Weill Foundation and the Oratorio Society of New York.

Michael Mayes

 American Baritone Michael Mayes stunned London audiences as Joseph de Rocher in the UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking alongside Joyce DiDonato at London’s Barbican Hall. His “searing performance” was hailed by critics as “sensational”, “a revelation”, and “of such stunning strength and complete identification”. Mayes made his European debut at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in staged performances of Dead Man Walking and has performed the role with multiple opera houses, including Washington National Opera. This season, he reprised de Rocher with The Atlanta Opera, in a critically acclaimed production costarring Jamie Barton.

Episode 2:

Emily Pulley, Jonathan Hays and Karen T. Federing

Recorded July 15, 2020

Guest host and Central City Opera Director of Production Karen T. Federing interviews Soprano Emily Pulley and Baritone Jonathan Hays on the porch of the historic Pink House in Central City. Emily and Jonathan talk about their history with Central City as young artists and principal singers, how the pandemic has affected their lives, and about volunteering to spend the lockdown helping us maintain historic properties in Central City. This interview is recorded outdoors, and you’ll hear all the ambient sounds of beautiful Central City: wind, a dog barking, bird calls, even the occasional car motor. 

Emily Pulley

Acclaimed soprano Emily Pulley’s radiant voice and electrifying acting have won her both national and international acclaim on the operatic stages. A native of Texas, Ms. Pulley received the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from Central City Opera and the Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. She is the 2006 recipient of New York City Opera’s Christopher Keene Award, recognizing an artist’s performance in new or unusual repertoire. Not settling complacency in her already established career, Pulley continues to add some of opera’s greatest roles to her repertoire, making a role début as the title role of Bizet’s Carmen and as Julie in Showboat with Central City Opera.

Jonathan Hays

American baritone Jonathan Hays performs modern and standard operatic and concert repertoire both in the US and internationally. His singing has been called “strong, lucid, direct and bang on the note” (The New York Times). Recently, Mr. Hays has been heard as Donald in Billy Budd with Central City Opera, Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore and Maximilian in Candide with Anchorage Opera, Denis Krude in Crude Capital with Beth Morrison Projects, Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in Threepenny Opera at Syracuse Opera, the Narrator in the world premiere of My Friend’s Story at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and as the protagonist in the monodrama An die fernen Geliebten at National Sawdust.

Karen T. Federing

A native New Yorker, Karen T. Federing just completed her 18th season as Director of Production with Central City Opera. She recently returned from being an Adjunct Instructor at Carnegie Mellon University, where she was teaching advanced stage management courses and advising students on productions. Karen has been stage-managing and production-managing professionally for 32 years and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and AGMA.

In New York City, Karen served as a production manager for Gotham Chamber Opera’s 2013-2014 season and in 2009. She stage-managed the Park Avenue Armory’s Tune-In Festivals in 2011 and 2012, which was the Philip Glass 75th birthday celebration and stage-managed the 2001 Robert Wilson/Philip Glass American premiere of White Raven for the Lincoln Center Festival. From 1992 to 2004 Karen was a Stage Manager with New York City Opera and stage-managed over 45 productions, from remounts to new productions to world premieres, including seven Live From Lincoln Center PBS telecasts.

Karen’s other work in Colorado includes being part of the stage management team for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and for the 2014 and 2015 Clinton Global Initiative conferences in Denver. In 2016-2017 Karen debuted as a stage manager with the Denver Center Theatre Company.

Karen has stage-managed for many regional opera companies, including Chautauqua Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Omaha and Virginia Opera. For Virginia Opera Karen stage-managed the 2018 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the 2011 world premiere song cycle Rappahannock County by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Mark Campbell. In 1993 she accompanied VOA on its 6-week South American tour of Porgy and Bess.

In addition to her production career, from 2004 to 2007 Karen worked at Opera Omaha as their Director of Institutional Giving, handling federal, state and local grants as well as acting as their de facto governmental affairs advocate and later during that period served as their Director of Artistic Administration.

Episode 1:

Will Liverman and Margaret Ozaki Graves

Recorded June 22, 2020

American Baritone Will Liverman talks with Central City Opera Education Coordinator Meg Ozaki Graves about his experiences as a Black opera singer, how he’s staying inspired during the pandemic and his thoughts on how arts organizations can move forward. Will was last seen at Central City Opera as Papageno in The Magic Flute, 2018.

Will Liverman

Called “one of the most versatile singing artists performing today” (Bachtrack), baritone Will Liverman is quickly gaining a reputation for his compelling performances, while making significant debuts at opera houses across the world. Liverman is a recipient of a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant and Sphinx Medal of Excellence.

In the 2019-20 season, Liverman returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Papageno in its holiday production of The Magic Flute, in addition to singing the role of Horemhab in the Met’s premiere of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten. He also appears as Pantalone in The Love of Three Oranges at Opera Philadelphia, as Marcello in La bohème at Seattle Opera, and as Silvio in Pagliacci at Opera Colorado and Portland Opera, in addition to performing Schubert’s Die Winterreise at The Barns at Wolf Trap Opera.

Recent engagements include Liverman’s Metropolitan Opera debut as Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly’s Marnie and appearances with Tulsa Opera as The Pilot in The Little Prince; with Opera Philadelphia, Santa Fe Opera, and Dallas Opera as Schaunard in La bohème; and with Santa Fe Opera as the Foreman at the Mill in Jenůfa.

Liverman has performed the leading role of Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Seattle Opera, Virginia Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera and Utah Opera. He originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, in addition to performing the role with English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, and at the Apollo Theater. Other recent highlights include the role of Tommy McIntyre in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Fellow Travelers for its Lyric Unlimited initiative; Papageno in The Magic Flute with Florentine Opera and Central City Opera; his role debut as Marcello in La bohème with Portland Opera; his debut with Seattle Opera as Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory; Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia and Beaumarchais in The Ghosts of Versailles with Wolf Trap Opera; Andrew Hanley in the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera; Sam in The Pirates of Penzance with Atlanta Opera; the Husband in Les mamelles de Tirésias with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago; the Protestant Minister in Menotti’s The Last Savage with Santa Fe Opera; and Mr. Noye in Noye’s Fludde as a guest artist at Wheaton College.

Expanding into the concert repertoire, Liverman performed the title role in a concert version of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and was a featured soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, in Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, in Carmina Burana with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, in Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with the South Dakota Symphony, and at the New York Festival of Song, in addition to returning to his alma mater Wheaton College as part of the Artist Concert Series together with tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Liverman previously received a 2017 3Arts Award, a George London Award, and was recognized as a classical division Luminarts Fellow by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. In 2015, he won the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, received the Gerda Lissner Charitable Fund Award, and received a top prize from Opera Index. He was a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, and additionally was a three-time first prize winner of the Chicago National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, first prize winner in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, a grand prize winner of the Bel Canto Foundation Competition, a recipient of a Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and a top award winner from the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation.

Liverman concluded his tenure at the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015. He previously was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Margaret Ozaki Graves
Margaret Ozaki Graves is an active soprano, artistic collaborator and educator in the Colorado arts community and beyond. With Central City Opera, Margaret has a long history performing as a Touring Artist, and she acted as Cultural Consultant on the 2019 production of Madama Butterfly directed by Alison Moritz. She joined the staff as Education Coordinator fall of 2019.
Her cultural consulting and education engagements have included work with Japanese Arts Network (JA-NE), Denver Immersive Opera, AGMA/AGMAzine, NATS, SNATS and NOA. Recently, she advocates for inclusion, diversity, equity and access on Denver stages as a member of IDEA Stages Coalition. Margaret continues to perform regularly as an Art Song Colorado Resident Artist, Inside the Orchestra Guest Soloist, Central City Opera Touring Artist and is also a former LA Opera EduCom Teaching Artist.
As an educator, she taught at Ithaca College, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Denver School of the Arts and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she earned her DMA. Raised in Golden, Margaret was a taiko drummer and Japanese chamber musician prior to her professional vocal endeavors.

Enjoyed Opera Central? Please consider making a donation to Central City Opera so that we can continue to bring you great content.