Messiah Festival Featured Soloists Announced

Opera theater


LINDSBORG — The star soloists for this year’s Messiah Festival of Arts have been announced.

The Bethany Oratorio Society performed Handel Messiah since 1882, and Bach The Passion according to Saint Matthew since 1929, according to information from the Messiah Festival website.

Festival guest soloists include Anna Christofaro, soprano; Mary Beth Nelson, mezzo-soprano; Matthew Hill, tenor; and Leslie Flanagan, bass. Additionally, Matthew Reynolds, baritone, is scheduled to perform in Bach’s The Passion according to Saint Matthew on Good Friday.

by Bach The Passion according to Saint Matthew is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on April 15 at the Presser Hall Auditorium. Handel Messiah is scheduled for April 17 at 3 p.m. at the Presser Hall Auditorium. Tickets for each concert are on sale now at or by calling the festival office at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8235 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Cristofaro, Nelson and Flanagan are also scheduled to give a free recital at 7:30 p.m. on April 12 at Messiah Lutheran Church on the Bethany College campus.

Here is the biographical information of the soloist provided by Bethany College

Anna Christofaro. Photos courtesy of Bethany College”/>
Anna Christofaro. Photos courtesy of Bethany College

Anna Christofaro – Soprano

Praised for her vocal agility and clear tone, Minneapolis-based soprano Christofaro is increasingly recognized as a performer of a wide range of repertoire from early to contemporary music. She performed on the 2018 Grammy nominated album, Masses of Tyberg, with the South Dakota Choir. Other highlights include performing at the Olavsfestagene festival in Trondheim, Norway, with Grammy-winning ensemble Conspirare, and the nationwide tour of Considering Matthew Shepard by Craig Hella Johnson. She has also performed under the baton of fellows Helmuth Rilling and Hans-Christoph Rademann at the Bach Academy in Weimar and at the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart in Germany.

Christofaro made his Bach soloist debut St. John Passion with the Bach Society of Minnesota, Fauré’s Requiem and Handel Messiah with the Minnesota Chorale, Mozart High Mass in C minor with the Grinnell Oratorio Society and Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Consortium Carissimi to name but a few. She has also performed in numerous Music Artist Series recitals by Minnesota composers Steve Heitzeg, Libby Larsen, Abbie Betinis and Jocelyn Hagen. Other solo appearances include Handel Te Deum of Utrechtand Mozart Regina Coelias well as Bach Mass in B minor and numerous Bach cantatas with the Bach Roots Festival.

A versatile performer, Christofaro interpreted the role of the First Lady in Mozart Die Zauberflote at the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival in Italy. Other opera credits include the role of Maguelone in Viardot CinderellaSerpina in Pergolesi Serva PerdoneZerlina in Don Giovanni and Gianetta in The Gondoliers.

Christofaro holds a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

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Mary Beth Nelson – Mezzo-soprano

Nelson is praised for singing with “virtuosic abandon … cheerful flair and assured beauty of tone” (opera today) at the Glimmerglass Festival, where she sang the role of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Scalia/Ginsburg. Following her success as an operatic Supreme Court Justice, she was invited to Washington D.C. to perform in the Congressional Winter Judicial Dialogue, as well as the Heads of State Initiative Bipartisan Major, where she sang for members of the Senate, House Legislation and their staffs. and the judiciary of the Supreme Court and the Federal Court. As a young artist with the Cooperstown, NY festival during 2016-2017, she appeared in roles in Oklahoma (Virginia), Francesca Zambello’s production of the crucible (Betty Parris), and Lost baggage (Ernestine). Nelson was artist-in-residence with Tri-Cities Opera for two seasons, 2015-2017, where she made her guest artist debut as Isabella in Italian in Algeriafollowed by Rosina in Rossini The Barber of SevilleDinah in Leonard Bernstein Problem in TahitiFlora in La TraviataHansel in Humperdinck Hansel and Greteland Concepción in Maurice Ravel’s one-act opera spanish time. During the 2017-18 season she was a member of the Florida Grand Opera studio, where in November 2017 she made her home debut as Alisa in Donizetti. Lucia of Lammermoor and was praised for her “ample voice and dark foreboding” by the South Florida Classical Review.

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Matt Hill – Tenor

Reaping many accolades for his operatic, art song and oratorio performances, Matthew Hill has become one of the Washington DC metro area’s most sought after tenors. Highly acclaimed for his interpretations of Bach, his evangelist has been hailed by the Washington Classical Review for his “clarion trebles placed with flawless precision.” Season 21-22 includes his solo debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Handel’s Messiahjack in In the woods with Annapolis Opera and tenor soloist of Bethany College’s Messiah Festival of Arts.

Solo concert work includes Handel Messiah and Israel in Egypt, by Mozart Requiemby Britton Serenade for tenor, horn and stringsby Stravinsky The weddingby Bach Mass in B minorevangelist in Bach Saint Matthew and Passions according to Saint John, and numerous Bach cantatas, with ensembles such as the American Bach Soloists, the Washington Bach Consort and the Washington National Cathedral Choirs. His recent operatic credits include his debut with the Washington National Opera as an older brother in walking dead manincluding the title role in Candid with the Washington National Opera, Marcellus in Ambroise Thomas Hamlet with Washington Concert Opera, Parpignol in Bohemian with Wolf Trap Opera, Tamino in Die Zauberflote with the Maryland Opera Studio and Music Academy International, Don Ottavio at Don Giovanni with the Maryland Opera Studio, and Damon in Acis and Galatea with the New Dominion Choir. With the rank of technical sergeant, Hill is also a member of the singing sergeants of the United States Air Force Band. Hill recently won first place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards Competition and has been a winner of the following competitions: Metropolitan Opera National Council Middle Atlantic Regional Competition, Oratorio Society of New York Competition, National Society of Arts and Letters Dorothy Lincoln-Smith Voice Competition, Choralis Young Artist Competition and Vocal Arts DC Art Song Competition. Hill earned both a Master of Music in Opera Performance and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Maryland College Park.

<b>Leslie Flanagan</b>“/><figcaption class=Leslie Flanagan

Leslie Flanagan – Bass

Australian baritone Flanagan has performed across Australia, Europe and the United States, including at the Sydney Opera House, London at ENO’s Coliseum, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the Royal Albert Hall and at the Wigmore Hall, and at the Janacek Theater in Brno. and at the Edinburgh Festival. Recent opera performances include Mitrovsky in the premiere of Twice on a birthday for The Metropolitan Opera Guild and Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte) with the Southern Plains Opera.

Flanagan received a Bachelor of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia, and a Masters in Opera Performance from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Glasgow, Scotland. Upon completion of his MA studies, he became an inaugural member of the prestigious Jerwood Young Singer’s Program at English National Opera in London. He earned a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Oklahoma and accepted the position of vocal arts coordinator and director of opera and musical theater at Mid-America Christian University.

Roles with English National Opera included that of Rossini FigaroGuglielmo in Cosi fan tutteSchaunard in BohemianMorales in CarmenBarney at the world premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage The Silver Tassie alongside Gerald Finley, Donner Das Rheingold and Ned Keene Peter Grimes. Other credits included Guglielmo in ParisEscamillo in Carmen for the Longborough Festival Opera, Silvio in Pagliacci for Haddo House Opera, the title role in Don Giovanni (Edinburgh Festival), Smirnov at the bearDemetrius in Dream of a summer nightPapageno in The magic flute in Australia, and Le Dancaïre in Carmen with the Fort Worth Opera. Flanagan has received numerous awards, including the RSAMD Award from the Australian Singing Competition, the Sir Alexander Gibson Memorial Fellowship, the Texaco Opera Prize, the Shreveport Singer of the Year Competition Delbert Chumley Award and the Benton-Schmidt Competition; he was a semi-finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, a quarter-finalist in the Montreal International Singing Competition, and winner of the audience award and first runner-up in the Birmingham Opera Competition.

Flanagan’s concert commitments include Mendelssohn Elijah with the Canterbury Choral Society and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Carmina Burana with Sir David Willcocks at the Royal Albert Hall, London, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten’s requiem of war at the international music festivals in Bratislava and Brno, a concert by Prokofiev War and peace at the BBC Proms, and a recital of German lieder with pianist Wolfram Rieger at Wigmore Hall in London. He has worked with many conductors, accompanists and directors of opera and classical music, including Sir Charles Mackerras, Edward Gardner, Paul Daniel OBE, David Parry OBE, Graham Johnson, Sir Jonathan Miller, Keith Warner, Deborah Warner , David Freeman and Spanish director Calixto Bieito.

Flanagan’s professional recording credits include First Apprentice on Chandos’ recording of WozzeckBarney in ENO’s live recording of The Silver Tassiealso available on DVD from the BBC, Bach’s Passion according to Saint John with the BBC, and on Roger Webster’s Travel with my trumpet with English soprano Janis Kelly.