A TRIBUTE TO OPERA LEGEND LICIA ALBANESE
April 14, 2019
Sopranos Mia Pafumi and Amber Daniel performed a repertoire of famous and favorite roles of Licia Albanese, an international star who performed at the Met for 26 seasons, the San Francisco Opera for 20 seasons and appeared widely on recordings and radio. The ladies were joined by baritone Matthew Ciufitelli and tenor Frederick Schlick, and accompanied on piano by Mary Pinto.
Licia Albanese was an influential opera patron and avid supporter of aspiring opera singers. Opera at Florham was honored to have Ms. Albanese serve as a jurist for several of our International Vocal Competitions.
The concert included audio-visual highlights of Ms. Albanese's life by Lou Barrella. Aldo Mancuso, friend of Ms. Albanese and founder of the Enrico Caruso Museum, told personal stories and displayed memorabilia.
Opera at Florham’s spring 2019 musicale celebrates “one of the most admired operatic sopranos of the mid-20th century. [Licia Albanese] was revered for a soaring top range and a passionate intensity on the stage.” (New York Times 08/17/2014)
Albanese enjoyed a successful Met debut in her 20’s with the title role in Madame Butterfly which led to her singing 17 different roles in 26 seasons at the Met. Butterfly came to be the role with which she was most often identified. Other notable roles include Violetta (La Traviata), Tosca (Tosca), Mimi (La Boehme) and Marguerite (Faust). She was also a frequent performer at the San Francisco Opera (20 seasons) and appeared widely on recordings (twice with Toscanini) and radio. Schuyler Chapin, Met General Manager, described her as “the frailest Mimì, the tenderest Butterfly, and perhaps the most haunting of modern Violettas.”
In addition to being an vocal shining star, Ms. Albanese was an avid patron of the art of opera. She founded the Puccini Foundation which held competitions and prizes for young aspiring opera singers, naming the foundation after the composer of her favorite role in Madame Butterfly. OaF board members Stephen DeMaio and Barbara Testa served with Albanese on the Puccini Foundation. Albanese conducted Master Classes throughout the world and was a recipient of the US National Medal of Honor for the Arts.
FRIEND OF OPERA AT FLORHAM
Licia Albanese served as a vocal competition jurist with Opera at Florham on a number of occasions (shown here with Opera at Florham co-founder Violetta DuPont, left, and President Joan Del Giudice, middle). She was a special friend of Violetta DuPont and OaF board member, Stephen DeMaio.
I have fond memories of Licia Albanese when she came annually to the OAF DuPont Vocal Competition as a jurist and allowed me to photographed her. She came accompanied by Steve DeMaio, until the mid-1990’s. Licia was a special friend of OaF’s co-founder and benefactor, Violetta DuPont, since they shared the same philosophy / vision to encourage young opera artists as they pursued their careers. Licia had her own foundation in NYC, the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, named after her favorite opera composer. Steve DeMaio served as its board president until the Foundation dissolved in 2017.
There was a special NYC Concert in 2000 dedicated to the 100th birthday of Licia. She came onto the stage arm in arm with Steve DeMaio still elegantly dressed, wearing heels (although a bit lower than before) and hair well- coiffed.
I also remember Licia’s association with NJ State Opera. She had great respect for its music director and conductor, the late Alfredo Silipigni. She supported him by appearing at fund-raising events complete with a Japanese costume kimono on display as reminder of her favorite opera, Madame Butterfly. Joan Del Giudice
A native of Montclair, New Jersey, and a graduate of Montclair State University’s John J. Cali School of Music, soprano Mia Pafumi made her professional opera debut in both the chorus of the Sarasota Opera, and as a principal artist at the Knoxville Opera. She studied overseas at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi di Musica in Milan, Italy. Recent performance venues include the Cali School’s 10th anniversary Carmina Burana at the Alexander Kasser Theater in Montclair conducted by Dr Heather J. Buchanan, the Opera Orchestra of New York’s production of Parisina d’Este as Imelda under the baton of Maestra Eve Queler at Jazz at Lincoln Center. She is the 3rd place winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation’s 2015 International Vocal Competition, three-time grant winner of the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation’s International Vocal Competition (performing in the Winner’s Concert at Carnegie Hall) and 2nd place in the 2014 Opera at Florham Vocal Competition. Upcoming performances include Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Montclair State University Chorale where she will be featured as the soprano soloist. The New York Times describes Pafumi as a “pert and vibrant soprano.”
Tenor Frederick Schlick is a Reading, PA native with a Master’s in Opera Performance from The Boston Conservatory. At the Conservatory, he had a role in every production during the 2014-2016 seasons including Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Bill in Johnathan Dove’s Flight, Gastone / Alfredo cover in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata and Don Basilio in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.
Frederick is frequently seen in Berks Opera Company’s productions. In 2014 he covered Goro in Madame Butterfly and was a chorister in Faust the following year. His most recent BOC performance was Cassio in Verdi’s Otello.
After The Boston Conservatory, Frederick joined the Brevard Music Center’s Janiec Opera company for the summer of 2016. There he sang the roles of Lysander in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with the world-renowned countertenor, and BMC alumnus David Daniels. He performed the role of Ethan Krusemark in the world premiere of Falling Angel and the tenor soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. In 2016, Frederick made his professional debut as Young Jim Thompson in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied with Pensacola Opera, and reprised the role with Tri-Cities Opera in 2017.
Currently, Frederick is under the tutelage of Bonnie Hamilton and just completed his NYC debut with City Lyric Opera as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. More
By invitation of Maestro Lorin Maazel, award-winning American soprano Amber Daniel made her role debut as Cio-Cio San in Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly at his Castleton Festival in Virginia. A voice that has been described as a “true spinto,” Ms. Daniel is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including 2nd place in the 2016 Wagner division of the Gerda Lissner International Singing Competition. She has appeared as soloist at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center Rose Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, and Baruch Performing Arts Center, and in concert with and for the New York Choral Society, The Memling Ensemble, Opera at Florham Park, The Enrico Caruso Foundation, The Gerda Lissner Foundation, and The Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation. The young soprano was credited by Operawire for giving a “phenomenal performance” as soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the New York Choral Society. ConcertoNet.com reviewed Ms. Daniel at her debut performance of the title role of Iolanta with Opera Slavica as possessing “stunning emotional vocalism.”
Amber has performed and prepared in recital the works of Barber, Arnold Bax, Berg, Duparc, Fauré, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Janácek, Handel, Liszt, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Rossini, Poulenc, Tchaikovksy, Verdi and Frangiz Ali-Zade. In 2016, she premiered live the song cycle Gravitations by James G. Lindsay with the Memling Ensemble and pianist William Hobbs at Baruch Performing Arts Center, which was recorded by Gurari Studios.
As a young artist, Ms. Daniel trained with Tri-Cities Opera, The Martina Arroyo Foundation, Opera Slavica, Masterclass Ischia, and L’Accademia Chigiana in Italy. She has received scholarships for continued vocal training through The Gerda Lissner Foundation under the private tutelage of soprano Diana Soviero. She is currently in vocal performance studies at Montclair State University in the studio of Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet. http://www.amberdaniel.com/
Of his performance at a Columbus Citizen’s Foundation Event: Opera Night Live! Brooklyn Discovery raved that baritone “Matthew Ciuffitelli has resonance and power.” These qualities were equally in evidence when he appeared as Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Bob and Ben in The Old Maid and The Thief, Sergeant Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore, the Sacristan in Tosca with Eastern Opera, Papageno in Nyack, Eisenstein in Amore Opera’s Die Fledermaus, and Prince Yamadori in New Jersey Festival Orchetra’s Madama Butterfly. Ciuffitelli has performed in The Telephone at Light Opera of New Jersey, Die Zauberflöte in New York’s Pardington Hall, and at Sarasota Opera as a featured resident artist singing the Official Registrar in the company’s production of Madama Butterfly. Last fall, he covered Valentin in the St. Petersburgh Opera’s production of Faust.
While in Chicago, Ciuffitelli had the unique opportunity to perform with the Rolling Stones at Chicago’s United Center and to appear in the U.S. premiere of the mixed-media work, Mountain Top, by Dutch avant-pop composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis. Ciuffitelli has also just appeared in the A Tale of Two Cities 10th Anniversary Concert alongside the Original Broadway and London cast this past October.
Last December Matthew performed with the international concert group Married to Broadway at Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
Mary Pinto, an acclaimed accompanist and vocal coach, has worked with international opera singers and major American opera companies for the past 25 years. She serves as Vice President and Co-artistic director at Opera at Florham.
In 2012, Ms. Pinto coached and served as 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. In 2014, she performed with Opera Noire's Ensemble in the American Embassy in Moscow and St. Petersburg and spent the past 3 summers coaching at Masterclass d'Ischia in Italy. In March 2018 she was the official accompanist for the Deborah Voigt International Competition in Vero Beach.
Ms. Pinto has been a private coach and accompanist on the faculty of Montclair State University since 2007. In Fall 2018, she joined the adjunct faculty at SUNY Purchase College teaching Italian and French lyric diction, operatic styles, and coaching.