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A Little Night Music
Posted on May 3rd, 2017
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Melissa Jean Chávez has been acclaimed by the Washington Post for her “voluptuous voice” and “cooly exemplary production”. Recent highlights from the 2015 - 2016 season include acclaim for her portrayal of Fiordiligi in Nick Olcott's adaptation of Cosi fan tutte, and as Laurie in the In Series's production of The Tender Land.
"Soprano Melissa Chavez was a winning and sympathetic Florrie [Fiordiligi]. Teetering on the edge of sophistication, her Ohio-ness wins out when it matters and her struggles with her virtue come across as quite real." - Washington Post (2016)
"Soprano Melissa Chávez captured [Laurie's] emotional volubility, her transparent tone and bell-like high notes powering the character’s hopeful first aria and the transports of her love." - Washington Post (2015)
Other recent performances include Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus) at the Trentino Music Festival with Music Academy International, the title role of Adriana Lecouvreur described as "an absolutely dazzling performance” DC Metro Arts (2015), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Carmela (La Vida Breve), Maddalena (Andrea Chenier), Libby Norton (Norton: A Civil War Opera) in the world premiere of the role: "Soprano Melissa Jean Chávez sparkles...as an actress, Chávez commands the stage, and she uses the tremendous range of her gorgeous soprano to full advantage" DC Metro Arts (2014), Beatrix (Les Bavards), Desdemona (Otello), Giorgetta (Il Tabarro) and the title roles in both Suor Angelica and Princess Ida.
In addition to performing over thirty operatic roles, Ms. Chávez has sung for Supreme Court justices, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and performed as a soloist with the United State Army Chorus. She also appears regularly as a recitalist and soloist. Recent orchestral and recital engagements include Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Mozart's Vorrei spiegarvi, O Dio, Faure's Requiem, and Vivaldi's Gloria. She also performs regularly with DC Opera on Tap, a performing group who entertains and educates through outreach in DC area bars and wineries. Ms. Chávez is a semi-finalist for the American Prize for opera, a regional finalist for the NATS Artist Awards, a two-time winner of the Bach-Handel Competition, has placed in numerous NATS competitions, and received multiple grants for performance and study including the Marion Park Lewis Foundation grant.
Ms. Chávez completed her operatic training as a young artist at the Castleton Festival, under the direction of the late Maestro Lorin Maazel. Performances at the Castleton Festival include roles and covers in Romeo et Juliette, Our Town, A Little Night Music, Otello, and Britten's Les Illuminations.
Jan Wagner, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, launched his professional conducting career after winning First Prize at the 1995 Nicolai Malko International Conductors’ Competition in Denmark. In 2002 he completed a five-year tenure as Principal Conductor of the Odense Symphony Orchestra in Denmark which he led in more than 200 performances conducting more than 200 different works both on subscription concerts and on two separate tours to the U.S.A. and Spain.
Simultaneous with his appointment in Denmark, Jan Wagner regularly conducted the Danish National Radio Symphony, the Danish Radio Sinfonietta (including two tours to Paris and Sweden), the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Danish Royal Theater as well as most of the principal Danish and Scandinavian orchestras. Other notable orchestras he has worked with include the Royal Philharmonic, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony, the Halle Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Symphony, the Melbourne Symphony and West Australian Symphony.
In North and South America, Wagner has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, a U.S.A. tour of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Minnesota Opera, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the U.N.A.M in Mexico City, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
Throughout his career Jan Wagner has collaborated with many distinguished artists such as clarinetists Richard Stolzman and Sabine Meyer, singers Anna Larsson, Bo Skovhus and Yvonne Kenny, cellists Ralph Kirshbaum, David Geringas and Andres Díaz, violists Nobuko Imai, pianists John Browning, Ivan Moravec, Grigory Sokolov, Andrei Gavrilov, Nikolai Demidenko and John O’Conor, violinists Mark Kaplan, Arve Tellefsen and Anne Akiko Meyers, and trumpeters Håkan Hardenberger and Jens Lindemann.
Contemporary composers with whom Jan Wagner has collaborated include Danish composers Poul Ruders (world premiere performance and recording of his Guitar Concerto), Per Nørgård, Anders Nordentoft, American composers William Bolcom, Kevin Puts and Richard Wilson. The 2014/2015 season will bring collaborations with Jennifer Higdon and the premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ complete Blues Symphony in a performance at the Strathmore Music Center with the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra.
Jan Wagner has also been very active recording for labels such as Denon (Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Debussy's L'apres-midi d'un faune-DVD audio), DaCapo (works by Paul von Klenau which received a Danish Grammy nomination), Classico (world premiere of Poulenc’s Les animaux modele), Bridge Records (world premiere of Poul Ruders’ Guitar Concerto, works by Ginastera, Villa-Lobos, including the world premiere of Villa-Lobos’ ballet Emperor Jones, and Carl Nielsen’s Violin Concerto), Silverline (Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Vier letzte Lieder-DVD audio) and Danacord (Mussorgsky-Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition). In 2012, Mr. Wagner launched a CD recording for the Naxos label with works by Venezuelan composer Evencio Castellanos performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela for their “Latin-American Classics” series.
Jan Wagner currently holds the position of Professor of Music at Shenandoah University where he serves as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and Kammermusik Players. He also serves as the music director of the school's fully-staged opera productions. He has also served as the artistic director and conductor of the Shenandoah Conservatory Performing Arts Festival, Shenandoah Performs, between 2004 and 2008. In March of 2014, the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra undertook its first successful international tour to Spain with performances in major performing venues in Zaragoza, Castellon, Murcia and Granada.
He is a graduate of the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria, where he completed his studies with Karl Österreicher and Günther Theuring. He has furthered his studies with Murry Sidlin and Lawrence Foster as a Fellow Conductor at the Aspen Music Festival, and has participated in master classes with John Nelson, Leonard Slatkin and James Conlon.
Following his studies, he was the Top-Prize Winner at the 1994 Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York and was the recipient of the 1994 Conducting Prize at the Aspen Music Festival. He has also served as assistant conductor to Lawrence Foster at the Aspen Music Festival, assistant/apprentice conductor under Edo de Waart and the Minnesota Orchestra and as assistant/cover conductor to Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic.