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National Opera Association Holds 2018 Eastern Regional Conference

Renowned singers, teachers, and creators of opera will run sessions, including a master class with Claudia Catania.



NEW YORK, NY-- NOA (National Opera Alliance) held  a conference for students and professionals in the opera world on Saturday, October 6th, 2018. The conference will be held at the National Opera Center’s Domingo Room-- 330 Seventh Avenue, between 28th and 29th Streets. Registration begins at 8:00 am, with the official start time at 9:00 am. Registration is $50 for students and $75 for professionals, with lunch included. The schedule will be as follows:

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The National Opera Association promotes excellence in opera education and pedagogy through its support of a diverse community of opera educators and professionals.

The organization is made up of Opera directors, conductors, librettists, composers, vocal coaches, voice teachers, scholars, administrators, other professionals, and enthusiasts involved in training and mentoring young singers in college, university, and conservatory opera programs as well as community-based and small professional opera companies and young artist programs.

The National Opera Association was founded in 1955, under the auspices of the National Music Council. The National Opera Association seeks to promote a greater appreciation of opera and music theatre, to enhance pedagogy and performing activities, and to increase performance opportunities by supporting projects that improve the scope and quality of opera. Members in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia participate in a wide array of activities in support of this mission.

Through its prosperous history, the NOA has primarily served education and performance activities in academic institutions and small regional opera companies. The organization especially welcomes participation of college and university opera workshop directors, students, composers,

NOA holds an annual conference, along with a growing series of regional events, featuring performances, panels, workshops, and other continuing-education opportunities for opera educators, performers, scholars, composers, students, and everyone interested in our craft. Major activities of NOA include the encouragement of young artists and composers through competitions and performance opportunities, sharing resources for collegiate and regional productions, and publication of scholarly articles. Special projects of NOA include The Legacy ProjectSacred in Opera, the Young People’s Opera Project, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.



Session I
Barbara Fusco: Mezzo-Soprano, Yoga Instructor,  200 hour Yoga Teacher Training from LI Kula Yoga and Rahini Yoga; currently training in Yoga and Pranayama at Always at Aum Yoga Studio of Long Island. Founder of Yoga for the Creative Heart which combines body movement and breath to release the voice. Co-creator of the Vocal Program of Songe D'été en Musique Festival in Quebec where in addition to teaching voice and performing , she also leads classes in yoga for singers. Ms. Fusco has performed extensively has in the tri-state area as well as throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Africa.  She has sung roles with the Center for Contemporary Opera, Opera on the Sound, and the Wagner Training Center in New York. Her orchestral appearances include the Tilles Center on Long Island, Bach and Beyond Concert Series in East Hampton, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Adirondack Festival Orchestra at Saranac Lake, Alice Tully Hall under the direction of Robert Craft, and at the L’Èglise de la Madeleine in France. Since 1994, has been a featured soloist with the acclaimed Musica Viva of New York under the baton of Walter Klauss. Ms. Fusco is Director of Vocal Studies at LIU Post and maintains a thriving vocal studio in Suffolk County, Long Island.

LeAnn Overton: Performer and pedagogue LeAnn Overton currently serves on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Ms. Overton has also taught on the faculties of Long Island University Post Campus, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the New York Actor’s Studio and the Mannes School of Music. As music director/coach Ms. Overton has worked for several summer programs and opera companies including Lingua e Canto, Oberlin in Italy, Songe D’été en Musique outside of Quebeque, Vocal Arts Festival of Colorado Springs, Music Festival of Lucca, Italy, Cincinnati Opera and Tulsa Opera. Ms. Overton has been the stage director for several opera workshops. At Montclair State University she designed a semester course for the voice and music education major which introduced the basic skill set needed for today’s singing actor. In her capacity as “Artistic Director” of Oberlin in Italy’s Concert Group, Ms. Overton coached and staged many recital programs exclusively featuring the bel canto repertoire.

As a strong advocate of educational outreach, Ms. Overton has collaborated for over 18 years with Manhattan School of Music’s former Assistant Dean of Opera Studies, Gordon Ostrowski. Ms. Overton also holds the position of music director with MSM’s Pre College Division.

In 2014, Ms. Overton founded Respiro Opera, an intensive training program focusing on breath/body/text and music.

In addition to performing opera, Ms. Overton has enjoyed listening to the world’s best singers via her position as title caller at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City. Ms. Overton earned her Masters of Music degree in “Vocal Coaching/Accompanying” at the University of Illinois under the tutelage of world renowned accompanist John Wustman.

Dr. Jan Prokop is an Andover Educator® licensed to teach Body Mapping. She presents Body Mapping workshops in NYC as well as master classes, workshops and private coachings throughout the country. Her institutional Body Mapping clientele include Penn State University Music Theatre Program, University of Utah Music Theatre students, Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Opera Workshop, the choirs of CWPost, the University of Missouri and Newark Arts High School.

In addition to her private voice studio in NYC, Jan is currently the Associate Music Theatre Voice Coordinator at Montclair State University where she also teaches private voice.  She has served on the faculty at NYU’s Cap21 Studio/Tisch School of the Arts and was a founding member of The Actors Studio faculty at The New School. In 2018 she was invited to be a Master Teacher for annual the NATS Intern Program. Her students appear on and off-Broadway, regional theatre and national tours in Evita (revival & nat’l tour), Sister Act, Spiderman, Motown, Jersey Boys, Wicked (B’way & nat’l tour), The Visit, Cats, Rocky ; Regional – The Lion King, Les Misérables, Beauty and the Beast, The Buddy Holly Story, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and West Side Story (regional & nat’l tour), Pippin, Chorus Line, 1776, The King & I, Mary Poppins: Off-B’way Avenue Q, The Marvelous Wonderettes.  

Jan has performed throughout the U.S., Brazil, Europe and Israel in opera, music theater, concert and cabaret.  She received her Doctorate of Music from Indiana University.

Eleanor Taylor is an AmSAT-certified Alexander Technique teacher. She is on the Musical Theatre faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and maintains a private teaching studio at Union Square, Manhattan, where she specializes in working with singers and actors to improve performance, prevent injury and reduce anxiety using AT. She currently serves on the faculty of Respiro Opera and the Riverside Initiative for the Alexander Technique, and formerly at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has studied AT for 18 years with instructors including Gwen Ellison, Lori Schiff, John Nicholls and Nanette Walsh, and completed teacher certification at ATNYC. She has also trained in Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing and Betsy Polatin’s The Actor’s Secret methods, and holds B.M. and M.M. degrees in vocal performance from New England Conservatory and the University of Minnesota. Eleanor has led Alexander Technique masterclasses for the University of Michigan Musical Theatre program, University of Illinois-Chicago Theatre program, Music Educators Association of NYC/United Federation of Teachers, the Freedom to Act Conference on Acting and Alexander, and Brooklyn Opera Works’ Summer Vocal Arts Institute.

Session II
Nicholas Pallesen is a transformational coach and mental performance consultant. He has gained respect throughout the performing arts community as the "coach for the soul", helping artists thrive on both the biggest performance stages and in their lives offstage. As a performer himself, Nicholas sang at the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the English National Opera, and Oper Köln, among other companies.

As a coach, Nicholas is honored to work with a large, international spectrum of clients from high school students to Hollywood actors, Broadway performers, and artists at the top classical music institutions in the world. He regularly presents at many of the top conservatories and young artist programs in the US and UK. He recently worked with the Houston Grand Opera Studio Artists and serves as a faculty member for both the New World Symphony and the Wolf Trap Opera Company.

Session III
Claudia Friedlander, DMus, NASM-CPT, CES, PES is a voice teacher and fitness expert based in New York City. Early in her career, frustration with her inability to help her students address physical imbalances effectively motivated her to study kinesiology. She has completed Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Performance Enhancement Specialist certifications through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and applies principles of sport-specific training to classical singing.

Dr. Friedlander has presented workshops on vocal fitness for The Voice Foundation and the Performing Arts Medicine Association, and was an invited panel discussant on health and wellness for OPERA America. Her book, Complete Vocal Fitness: A Singer’s Guide to Physical Training, Anatomy and Biomechanics, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in June 2018. She contributes a monthly column, “Musings on Mechanics,” to Classical Singer Magazine and writes a widely read and cited blog on vocal technique and fitness, The Liberated Voice.

Session IV
Randall Eng’s music lies at the intersection of opera, music-theatre, and jazz. His opera Florida (libretto by Donna Di Novelli) premiered at UrbanArias in Washington D.C. in April 2018, directed by Kevin Newbury. Their opera Before the Night Sky, about the mythological Gemini twins Castor and Pollux and their sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, is in development at American Opera Projects and was presented by Opera America at Town Hall in 2017. Randall’s other operas include Henry’s Wife and The Woman in the Green Coat, and his work has been presented at Lyric Opera Cleveland, New York City Opera’s VOX Festival, Virginia Arts Festival, Center for Contemporary Opera, and Manhattan School of Music. His choral work Remain (a setting of an immigration rights pamphlet) premiered in March 2018 by the MasterVoices Chorus. Other works include The Dangers of Electric Lighting (Luna Stage), Usher, Falling (Opera Vindaloo Festival) and commissions for Albany Symphony Orchestra’s Dogs of Desire, Mirror Visions Ensemble, and Composer’s Voice. He is a graduate of Harvard University, Cambridge University, and NYU/Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, where he is now an Associate Arts Professor and leads the GMTWP Opera Lab.

Susan Gonzalez, soprano, is Director of the Vocal Performance Program and the Hunter Opera Theater, which has been showcasing fully staged productions of new works in the Kaye Playhouse since 2007. Among these include the premieres of Nicholas Flagello’s opera The Sisters, Richard Burke’s Game of Poker, as well as various student compositions featured in our Pocket Opera Project. Most recently HOT has joined forced with American Opera Projects to produce operas commissioned and premiered by that organization in an effort to continue the work of showcasing living composers.

As a singer, Susan has appeared in leading roles with numerous opera companies and symphony orchestras including the Bolshoi Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Lake George Opera, Eugene Opera, Dayton Opera, New Orleans Opera. She has also received an Emmy nomination for the role of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, filmed for television under the direction of Richard Pearlman.

She has appeared as featured soloist at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra. Susan won awards from the Metropolitan Opera, the George London Foundation, Leonard Warren, and Baltimore Opera Competitions.  

Charles Jarden began at AOP in 1988 as a founding board member becoming General Director in 2002. He previously held positions at The Santa Fe Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia and assisted directors with productions at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Hong Kong May Festival and at companies throughout the US and Europe. Charles created collaborations with institutions such as Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and at theaters in Austria, Germany, Poland and the UK. Charles and AOP commissioned AS ONE, which according to OPERA America, is the most performed opera in North America.  AS ONE is the first opera by the creative team Laura Kaminsky, composer, and co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed (also filmmaker) and was developed in AOP workshops.

Charles and AOP received OPERA America’s “dynamic leadership,” citation and The New York City Arts and Business Council’s Encore! Award recognizing innovative ways to bridge for-profit and not-for-profit business models in the performing arts.

Gordon Ostrowski, Assistant Dean/Opera Producer Emeritus, served as administrator, artistic producer, stage director, and teacher at Manhattan School of Music from 1991 until his retirement in 2016.  He produced fifty operas and fifteen opera recordings during his tenure.  At MSM, he remains on faculty and directs the Amato Opera-in-Brief educational outreach productions. He has directed Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro for the New Opera Festival of Rome and Die Zauberflote for the Tuscia Opera Festival in Viterbo, Italy. He made his directing debut with Madama Butterfly for Opera Pacific in 1990.

He is the chairman of the Young People’s Opera committee for the National Opera Association. He is a member of Opera America’s Singer Training Forum. He serves on the board of directors of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera.  He has served on the board of directors of the National Opera Association as Vice President for Conventions, the board of directors of Opera America, and is past president of Opera for Youth, Inc.

He has previously served at the University of Southern California as producer/stage manager; the Santa Fe Opera as production assistant and assistant director; the Cincinnati Opera as assistant director and stage director of ECCO (Ensemble Company of Cincinnati Opera); and Michigan Opera Theatre as assistant to the general director.  He is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Central Michigan University.

Miriam Charney enjoys a varied career as opera coach, music director, recital collaborator and teacher. She has been assistant conductor/pianist at many of the major festivals and regional opera companies in the US, including Glimmerglass, Chautauqua, the Banff Festival (Canada), Opera Philadelphia, Florida Grand, and New Orleans. Other credits include assistant conductor to Gerard Schwarz and Leopold Hager for the Mostly Mozart Festival and recital performances with Lauren Flanigan, Elizabeth Bishop, and Paul Groves, among others. A life-long champion of contemporary opera, she has prepared premieres by such diverse composers as Lee Hoiby, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Tobias Picker, as well as performing many new works for American Opera Projects. She toured India with the Wooster Group, developed music-theater pieces with Elizabeth LeCompte and Spalding Gray, and music-directed for Elizabeth Swados and NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing. Ms. Charney received a National Opera Institute grant and has served on the faculties of Juilliard, the Hartt School, and the University of Connecticut. Since 2005, she has been on the piano faculty at Vassar, where she co-directs the Opera Workshop and recently conducted Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. She has been on the Related Vocal Studies faculty at the Manhattan School of Music since 1996, directing the MSM Contemporary Opera Ensemble, and often serving as Chorus Master for the MSM Opera Theater.

Master Class

Claudia Catania, a proud alumna of Manhattan School of Music, considers herself a true Renaissance woman in the world of vocal music. She has been seen and heard on Broadway as Marie in the Tony-nominated The Most Happy Fella, and regionally as Lady Thiang in The King and I, Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Ida Strauss in Titanic, and with Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof, as well as in over 22 roles at the Metropolitan Opera, including premieres of Francesca da Rimini and Le Rossignol (where she danced as partner to the great Natalia Makarova), under the baton of her mentor James Levine. She is featured on DVD Live from the Met performances of Il Trittico, The Trojans, and Francesca da Rimini. Ms. Catania teaches both classical voice and musical theater at the Westminster College of the Arts, Mannes College of Music, and Hunter College, and in the summers in Italy for Wichita State University, and in the Marlena Malas Vocal Institute in Chautauqua. Ms. Catania holds degrees from Temple University and the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, in addition to Manhattan School of Music, and pursued postgraduate study at the Curtis Institute of Music.




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