April 3, 2022
Love, conflict, deceit, tragedy, forgiveness and redemption. This is opera! Soprano Maria Natale and baritone Joseph Lodato performed opera selections that represent "love, death and redemption," three common themes in opera. We heard the music of Puccini, Verdi, Leoncavallo and Mascagni, and similarly themed selections composed for musical theater.
Praised by The New York Times for her “plummy, penetrating voice,” soprano Maria Natale is the recipient of many awards and grants from some of the most prestigious vocal competitions nationwide. She was awarded 1st prize in the National James Collier Vocal Competition, 2nd Prize and Audience choice in the Elizabeth Connell Prize, second place in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, a grand finalist in the Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition, a grant recipient from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition, and the second prize winner of the Opera at Florham Vocal Competition.
Recently, Ms. Natale made her debuts at Tulsa Opera as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and at Opera San Jose Opera as Nedda in Pagliacci, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. Other engagements include, Opera Maine as Violetta in La Traviata under conductor Stephen Lord where Opera News claimed, “her powerful soprano easily filled the house,” and her Sarasota Opera début portraying the role of Liù in Turandot where she was hailed as having an “unequivocal Italian sound” (New Outpost).
As a concert soloist, Ms. Natale has been featured at Carnegie Hall in Faure’s Requiem and Mozart’s Missa Solemnis with MidAmerica Productions. She has also appeared as the soprano soloist with NYC Master Chorale in Dvorak’s Te Deum and Mozart’s Requiem.
Next season’s engagements include her debut as Emmeline in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline at Tulsa Opera. She will also be reprising the role of Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Ms. Natale will also make her debut as the title role in Puccini’s Tosca.
Italian-American Baritone, Joe Lodato, “an artist the world is excited to see,” is a top contender for the Verdi Baritone repertoire in the international marketplace. Having sung the title role of Rigoletto, Amonasro in Aida, Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera, Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, Peter in Hansel und Gretel to great acclaim, he has diligently prepared many of the core roles in the fach with the world's top maestri. His voice has been described as possessing a “stunningly beautiful timbre, italianate snarl, mixed with a controlled passion and deep understanding of the repertoire," proving further that this is an artist poised to breakthrough in a major way.
Mr. Lodato was educated at Westminster Choir College, the University of Miami, and Salzburg College, and subsequently completed Young Artist training under the auspices of the Metropolitan Opera, Sarasota Opera, and Aspen Music Festival. He has been awarded top prizes by the Metropolitan Opera National Council, Los Angeles Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Aspen Music Festival, and Premiere Opera Foundation.
Equally adept and attuned to the musical theater and jazz idioms, Mr. Lodato has been seen in performance with world renowned artists such as Tony Award winner Betty Buckley, jazz icon Lea DeLaria, and award winning composer and pianist John Musto. An aggressive champion of song and new works, Joe has premiered many works including the cycle Dear Theo based on the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, composed by Ben Moore; he has also appeared in concert performance with composers Jake Heggie and Ricky Ian Gordon, presenting their works to great acclaim.
Artistic Director & Piano Accompanist
Mary Pinto, an acclaimed accompanist and vocal coach, has worked with international opera singers and major American opera companies for the past 25 years.
Ms. Pinto's career began as a rehearsal pianist for noted opera companies: Dallas Opera, Chicago's Lyric Opera, Omaha Opera, and others. In 2012, Ms. Pinto coached and was rehearsal pianist for Metropolitan Opera star and international soprano Deborah Voigt as she prepared for the three Brünhilde roles for the Met's production of Wagner's Ring Cycle which was featured in the documentary Wagner’s Dream: The Making of the Met's Ring Cycle and premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
In 2021, Ms. Pinto coached and directed scenes at the Summer Opera Festival of Morelia and coached at the Queens Summer Vocal Institute. In the fall of 2020, she performed at Black Opera’s tribute to honor the 75th Birthday of Jessye Norman. She has worked with the NJ State Opera and Light Opera of NJ, and internationally with Opera Noire’s Ensemble in Moscow and St. Petersburg. She spent three summers on the coaching staff at Masterclass d' Ischia, Italy.
Since 2007 Ms. Pinto has been on the faculty of Montclair State University as a private coach, accompanist, and to prepare students for opera productions. She serves as Artistic Director and accompanist for Opera at Florham while maintaining coaching studios in New Jersey and New York City.
Mary received her Bachelor’s degree in Music for piano performance from DePauw University and a Master’s in Music degree for piano and voice accompaniment from University of Illinois.
Narrator and Vocal Instructor
Mariana Karpatova, mezzo-soprano, appeared “Live from Lincoln Center” in Maurice Sendak’s Hänsel und Gretel as the Mother and the Witch while studying at Juilliard. At her debut with Sarasota Opera, was praised for “acting and singing with passion and power.” She was an Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Award recipient and cited by the New York Times under the headline, “A Debut with Signs of the Future.”
Opera appearances include Sarasota Opera as Cuniza in Oberto, Michigan Opera as Quickly in Falstaff, Metropolitan Opera as Maid in Elektra and Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, the Bulgarian National Opera as Azucena in Il Trovatore, and many more. Her concerts include Symphony No. 8, Verdi’s Requiem, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, Shoenberg’s Gurrelieder, Ravel’s Scheherazade, Bach’s Magnificat and St. Matthew Passion, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Durufle’s Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and others.
In the summers of 2018 & 2020, Ms. Karpatova helped organize and performed in the “Unbeaten Path” chamber music festival in her native country, Bulgaria. In 2018, she performed songs by Brahms and Bulgarian and American composer. In 2020, during COVID times, she performed virtually Dobrinko Tabakova's Songs for the Seasons: Summer and Autumn.
Ms. Karpatova is a recognized specialist training youth and advanced professional singers for contemporary and classical music. She has a private practice (Mariana Voice Studio) and is on the vocal teaching staff at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison.