AVA returns in-person with New Artists Recital

by Michael Caruso
Posted 9/17/21

Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts returns to “live in-person” performances with its annual “New Artists Recital.”

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AVA returns in-person with New Artists Recital


Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, America’s only full-scholarship post-graduate school devoted solely to the instruction of professional singers, returns to “live in-person” performances Tuesday & Thursday, Sept. 21 & 23, at 7:30 p.m., with its annual “New Artists Recital.” The concert will be directed and accompanied at the Steinway by senior vocal coach Jose Melendez. It will take place in the Helen Corning Warden Theater at AVA’s center city campus, 1920 Spruce St.

The season continues with the annual “Giargiari Bel Canto Competition” Friday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. The concert will be directed and accompanied at the Steinway by Danielle Orlando.

“A Celebration of Opera,” features the third act of Verdi’s Rigoletto, the second act of Puccini’s La boheme, and ensembles from Lehar’s The Merry Widow, Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman, Beethoven’s Fidelio and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Performances are scheduled for Nov. 12 & 13 at the Perelman Theater, Nov. 14 at Lehigh University; Nov. 20 in Bucks County; and Nov. 30 at the Haverford School’s Centennial Hall on the Main Line. Christofer Macatsoris will conduct.

Pyotry Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, Eugene Onegin, will be presented in a semi-staged piano production Jan. 22, 25, 27 & 29, 2022, at AVA, sung in Russian with English supertitles. Ambroise Thomas’s Mignon will receive a full-staged piano production Feb. 19, 22, 24 & 26 at AVA, sung in French with English supertitles.

“Jubilate!”, a concert of sacred music, is scheduled for March 19 at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr, and March 20 at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. David Lofton will conduct.    

Giacomo Puccini’s beloved La boheme will be performed fully staged with orchestra April 30 and May 3, 5 & 7 at AVA; May 10 in the Haverford School’s Centennial Hall; and May 14 in Bucks County. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, Christofer Macatsoris will conduct the AVA Opera Orchestra.

The season will come to its conclusion with the annual “Farewell Recital” for graduating students May 13 at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square. Jose Melendez will direct and accompany at the Steinway.

Commenting on the size of the student body for the 2021-2022 academic year, President & Artistic Director (and longtime East Falls resident) K. James McDowell said, “We’re starting the year with 24 singers. That’s on the lower-than-usual side for us, but it’s possible that we’ll be adding on a few extra singers as the year progresses. The pandemic lockdown has understandably lowered the number of young singers auditioning.”

AVA continued to offer smaller-scale “virtual” performances during the 2020-21 season. COVID-19 restrictions will be in place for all “in-person” performances this season.

“We were extremely careful during the lockdown,” McDowell pointed out. “As a result, no one on staff and none of the students were infected at AVA.”

Vice President & General Manager Scott Guzielek added, “We had a very strict COVID safety plan in place before we allowed any students or faculty or staff into the building. Of course – we wanted to have lessons and coaching in-person, but we had to make certain that we were carefully limiting the number of people allowed in the buildings at any one time. I would say that less than 50% of our instruction was in-person.

Referring to AVA’s weathering the financial implications of the lockdown, Guzielek pointed out, “We have extremely devoted and loyal patrons and donors. They stepped to the forefront and continued their support of AVA. In fact, many increased it. And foundations also remained onboard. And, fortunately, our investments also came through.”

The season is sure to be enthralling – all the more so since it will be possible to enjoy it “live” and “in-person.” Now here’s a bit of a wish or two for the 2022-2023 season: Why not a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta – I’ve always loved The Pirates of Penzance – or a classic Broadway musical – just think of those young voices singing Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot. And just imagine the audiences that could be introduced to AVA, particularly during the summer tourist season in Philadelphia.

For more ticket information visit www.avaopera.org; for more information regarding safety procedures and requirements contact info@avaopera.org.

You can contact NOTEWORTHY at Michael-caruso@comcast.net.