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Opera Everlasting

September 10, 2023 

Opera Everlasting Review

by Frank Strafaci


Imagine for a minute that you are a descendant of the Duke of Milan or perhaps a descendant of the powerful and wealthy Medici family from Florence. So, what would you and your very upscale family and friends do on a Sunday afternoon? Well, you might command a beautiful mansion which is located on an impressive estate and engage a tenor and soprano of top quality to sing Arias from popular Operas and other classic popular songs, accompanied by a superlative pianist and an impressive string quartet.  And, during the intermission, you might serve cakes and refreshments to compliment the event.  If this fanciful picture appeals to you, then you are in luck because I just described the latest performance of Opera at Florham’s season opener, the Opera Everlasting concert.  

 

This delightful concert took place on September 10, 2023 at The Mansion on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. By the way, you need not be the heir of a wealthy clan to attend such a performance because the tickets this season for each performance are a mere $30 each: a pittance!   This in comparison to the Fiorini one needed to spend during the Medici era for such an event! 


Soprano Julianne Casey mesmerized the audience with her skill, powerful and beautiful voice as well as personal charm. Tenor Matthew Cerillo  enchanted all with his commanding talent and acting flair. His Aria "La Donna È Mobile" was delivered with gusto and a strong melodious voice.  Mary Pinto, the Artistic Director and accompanying pianist, held everything steady with her virtuosity. The Rose Quartet [Gabriel Anker, Liana Branscome, Rachel O'Connor and Alonso Restrepo] added depth and beauty to the entire performance.  

Their combined sound added an extra divine enchantment to the performance. If you should bump into The Duke of Milan in your travels, please tell him that he is invited and he will feel right at home. 

Don't miss the next performance, Mayhem in Opera, on October 22.

Opera Everlasting 2023

Opera Everlasting 2023

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Artist bios
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JULIANNE CASEY

Soprano

Julianne Casey, Soprano, recently appeared in concert with the Bologna International Opera Academy in Puccini’s La Bohème and Suor Angelica, and Rossini’s Zelmira. She won the Special Award in the Bologna International Vocal Competition and appeared as guest soloist in the East Texas Symphony Orchestra’s “Tribute to Boston Pops.” In 2022, Julianne was a featured soloist in the Festival Internazionale di Mezza Estate with the Orchestra Sinfonica Abruzzese in Tagliacozzo, Italy performing Puccini Arias. She performed in Madama Butterfly as Cio-Cio San and in Turandot as Liù with Classic Lyric Arts of NYC. Julianne can be seen in TV and film, including HBO Max's And Just Like That. In early 2024, Julianne will make her international debut as Mimì in La Bohème at the Stara Zagora Opera in Bulgaria.

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MATTHEW CERILLO

Tenor

Matthew Cerillo is an Italian-American Tenor from NJ, described as having “vibrant high notes like blasts of silver in fusion” (Gouzi). Making his Lincoln Center solo debut at age 24, Matthew is one of Opera’s most sought after young Tenors. This May, he made his European debut as Don José in Carmen with the Athens Philharmonia. Next winter, he’ll return to Lincoln Center for the concert Christmas in Italy along with his own cabaret show, “An Evening with Matthew Cerillo.” Next, he will join St. Petersburg Opera as a Studio Artist in the role of Pong in Turandot. In 2022, he was a Resident Artist at Portland Opera in the role of El Remendado in Denyce Graves’ production of Carmen. He received his Master’s in Music (Summa Cum Laude) from The Mannes School of Music in the studio of Arthur Levy.

Pianist Mary Pinto

MARY PINTO

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 2022, Ms. Pinto was invited to be official accompanist for the Giulio Gari Competition and to accompany singers in the Gerda Lissner Song, Zarzuela and Aria Competition. She made her Carnegie Hall debut playing for the winners of the Gerda Lissner Winners Concert. 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 Jessye Norman. She spends her summers on the coaching staff at Masterclass d' Ischia, Italy. 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.

Ms. Pinto is on the faculty of Montclair State University as a private coach, accompanist, and prepares 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.

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THE ROSE QUARTET

Violinist Gabriel Anker

Violinist Liana Branscome

Violist Rachel O’Connor

Cellist Alonso Restrepo

The Rose Quartet, ensemble in residence at John J. Cali School of Music of Montclair State University, made its ensemble debut with Opera at Florham's Opera Everlasting concert. 

Violinist Gabriel Anker plays “with impressive weight and cohesion” (The Strad magazine) in genres from baroque to experimental. He has played across the globe, including with the Philharmonie de Paris, the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam, the Kaufman Center in NYC, and Walt Disney Hall in LA. He has advocated for accessible music education as a teaching artist with the Paterson Music Project, which serves underserved, tri-state area youth. He is currently adjunct faculty at Montclair State University, where he serves as first violinist of the Cali Graduate Quartet Residency.

Violinist Liana Branscome won first prize in the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Competition Scholarship Level (2015), and the Bo