THE Savannah Voice Festival announced its 2015 season on May 3 during a Prelude to the Festival Brunch and Concert. The third annual festival is slated for August 2-16, with opera, musical theatre, and popular song performances throughout Savannah.
Once again, the festival has teamed up with Westin Savannah Harbor; the hotel turns into a vocal conservatory for the festival and will host showcase and master class “Death, by Aria I & II.”
“Death, by Aria Part I” is the first performance of the festival, scheduled for Sunday, August 2 at 4 p.m. The kickoff event includes opera arias, musical theatre and song, and offers attendees the chance to get an up close and personal introduction to festival stars. “Death, by Aria Part II” follows on the next day.
Sherrill Milnes, co-founder of Savannah VOICE Festival and legendary baritone, conducts the first of three free master classes on Monday. He’ll use the time to share the process of exceptional singing with audiences while working with the 2015 artists. The other master classes, open to the public, are Mon., Aug. 8 and Sat., August 10.
Recent Metropolitan Opera performer Amy Shoremount Obra performs at St. John’s Episcopal Church Tuesday, August 4, at 6:30 p.m.
At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6, Savannah’s Timothy Hall and this season’s artists present VOICES in Sacred Song, an evening of oratorio, liturgical music and inspirational song at First Presbyterian Church.
Composer and inspirational motivator David Friedman will direct his own master class, “Thought Exchange,” at 4 p.m. Friday, August 7 at the Westin. During the session, Friedman will work with artists as they explore the art of song.
On Friday, August 7, the Salon Series: VOICES Around the World will include a concert and an opportunity for attendees to meet the artists during an elegant wine reception. The event runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Green Meldrim House and is designed as a musical tour of international song in a boutique setting. This event is open to VOICE Society members only.
On Saturday, August 8 at 4 p.m., The American Music Concert offers artists a platform for presenting a musical review of American musical traditions, from Broadway to opera to popular song, through beloved songs and popular tunes.
This year’s opera, a highlight of the festival, is Bizet’s “Carmen.” Presented at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, August 9 at 4 p.m. and Tuesday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m. The tale of a soldier seduced by a gorgeous gypsy, the VOICE Festival’s take will be a slightly abridged two-hour version with a small musical ensemble.
The cast includes Metropolitan opera artists in the leading roles, including Jennifer Johnson Cano as Carmen, Marco Nistico as Escamillio, Sam Levine as Don Jose and Matthew Anchel as Zuniga. Festival favorite artists who enchanted audiences in 2013 and 2014 return to star in Carmen with Meechot Marrero as Frasquita and Phoenix Gayles as Micaela.
Voice Society members get a sneak peek at a new operatic work, a uniquely Savannah piece written by Michael Ching. The Salon Series: New Ghost Opera, “Alice Ryley” Preview also will feature a meet-the-artists wine reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, August 14 at the Green Meldrim House.
During Saturday’s Studio Showcase I: “Concerta Lirica” from 1-2:30 p.m. on August 15, the Milnes VOICE Studio artists will present a flavor of the Mediterranean in the Westin’s ballroom. It will be followed by Studio Showcase II: “Scenes & Songs” at 4 p.m., also in the ballroom.
The festival closes its public performances with, “Festival Finale: Divas & Divos” at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 16 at Christ Church.
Some events will be free with other events offering tickets from $25-$145. Tickets go on sale to the public May 3. Special packages begin at $175 for the “Festival Five Package” to the “Friends of the Festival Package” for $1,000.
It is free and open to the public.
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Photo credits: Terri Morgan Hsu