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Taylor Stayton and Hal France: At Home In Nebraska

August 25, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

Taylor Stayton & Hal France

Concert Repertoire:

About Taylor Stayton

Taylor Stayton’s “laser-bright timbre” and “exceptional fluidity above the staff” (Opera News) continue to distinguish him as one of the most sought-after tenors in his repertoire. Stayton made his debut at the Edinburgh Festival in August 2018 as Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, a role he reprised later in the season for his return to the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo. He recently made two other role debuts: first as the title role in Bernstein’s Candide at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Taiwan, followed by his debut as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore with Opera Omaha. On the concert stage Stayton makes his debut with the Memphis Symphony in December 2019 for performances of Messiah. Stayton recently returned to the Metropolitan Opera debuting the role of Camille de Rosillon in The Merry Widow, followed by his debut at both Semperoper Dresden and Washington National Opera reprising his acclaimed interpretation of Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. Additional recent debuts include his house debuts with the Liceu Opera Barcelona in the role of Belfiore in Rossini’s Viaggio a Reims and Opera Omaha as Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff, as well as his role debut as Alfred in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

Described as “deserving to be numbered on the short list of Rossini all-stars” by Opera Today, Stayton premiered the role of Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opéra de Lille in 2012 and has reprised the role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nashville Opera, and Opera Philadelphia, as well as on a tour throughout France with theaters including Opéra de Limoges, Théâtre de Caen, and Opéra de Dijon. Additional roles in the bel canto repertoire include his debut as the title character in Le comte Ory with Des Moines Metro Opera, Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola at the Glyndebourne Festival, Tonio in La fille du regiment in his debut with Palm Beach Opera, and his house and role debuts singing Lindoro in L’Italiana in Algeri with Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Stayton made his critically acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut in a last-minute performance as Percy in Anna Bolena, and returned as Elvino in La Sonnambula opposite Diana Damrau.

Recent debuts include with the Bayerische Staatsoper as Marzio in Mitridate, re di Ponto; Kentucky Opera as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni; Ernesto in Don Pasquale with Des Moines Metro Opera; Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette with Opera Philadelphia; Don Alvar in L’Africaine with Opera Orchestra of New York; and Teatro dell-Opera di Roma as Fenton in the new Franco Zeffirelli production of Falstaff with Renato Bruson and Carlos Alvarez.

A native of Sidney, Ohio, Stayton is a 2011 graduate of The Academy of Vocal Arts as a student of the renowned voice teacher Bill Schuman. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at Ohio State University, and is an alumnus of the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s “Prelude to Performance” program. He has won several prestigious vocal competitions, including First Prize in the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Voice Competition, First prize in the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Voice Competition, and third place in the Loren B. Zachary Voice Competition.

Taylor Staton in the press

“Deserving to be numbered on the short list of Rossini all-stars” –Opera News

“Stayton’s coloratura is effortlessly beguiling.” –The Guardian

“Stayton rose to the heroic demands of hits taxing tenor role, his phrasing expressive and nimble, his sound bright and open, with a nice ping on top. He is a talent to keep track of.” –Chicago Tribune

Taylor Stayton online

Follow Taylor on Facebook and  Twitter!

Watch this feature and interview with Taylor on YouTube

Hear Taylor’s thoughts on his time as Count Ory with Des Moines Metro Opera on YouTube

Watch Taylor perform ‘Oh sorte! giá veggo’ from Il barbiere di Siviglia on YouTube

About Hal France

Hal France is a sought-after guest conductor of opera throughout the United States. He has conducted nine productions for the Houston Grand Opera, eight productions for Central City Opera (Show Boat, La Fanciulla del West, L’Italiana in Algeri, Gloriana, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Saint of Bleecker Street, Candide, and Susannah), four productions for Opera Theater of St. Louis (including the world premiere of Beauty and the Beast), five productions for Kentucky Opera, three productions each for the New York City Opera (Oliver Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are, The Ballad of Baby Doe, and the world premiere of Ezra Laderman’s Marilyn) and Orlando Opera (Macbeth, The Merry Widow and Il Barbiere di Siviglia), and two productions each for Cleveland Opera (Tosca and Rigoletto), Madison Opera (La Boheme and The Magic Flute), Calgary Opera (Tosca and The Ballad of Baby Doe), and Utah Opera (Lucia di Lammermoor and Romeo et Juliette).

Mr. France has served as Artistic Director of Opera Omaha, as Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic, as Resident and Associate Conductor for the Houston Grand Opera, Music Director of the Mobile Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, and as Music Director of Opera Omaha before assuming the position of Artistic Director. He was also Music Director of the Orlando Philharmonic. Early in his career, he served on the music staffs of the Glyndebourne Festival, Aspen Festival, and the Netherlands Opera. He began his professional career as assistant to John DeMain at the Houston Grand Opera.

Elsewhere, he has conducted productions for Seattle Opera and Florida Grand Opera (The Passion of Jonathan Wade), Minnesota Opera (Madama Butterfly), Opera Company of Philadelphia (The Rake’s Progress), Santa Fe Opera (A Dream Play – world premiere), Portland Opera (Tosca), Chautauqua Opera, Glimmerglass Opera (Iolanthe), Tulsa Opera (Don Pasquale), Opera Carolina, Chicago Opera Theater, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Hawaii Opera Theater,, Arkansas Opera Theater, Mobile Opera, the Manhattan School of Music (Street Scene), and The Grapes of Wrath and Little Women at Northwestern University. In Europe, he has conducted Maria Stuarda with the Royal Opera in Stockholm.

Recent engagements include productions of Bluebeard’s Castle and Falstaff for Opera Omaha, Macbeth for Chautauqua Opera, Rigoletto, Carmina Burana and I Pagliacci and The Magic Flute for Hawaii Opera, Man of La Mancha for Utah Opera, Little Women for Northwestern University, Show Boat plus a double-bill of works by David Lang for Portland Opera, and The Pirates of Penzance for Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

On the concert stage, he has conducted the Richmond Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Nebraska Festival Orchestra and Jacksonville Symphony in subscription concerts, and the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra, Juilliard Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony in special galas.

About Olga Smola

Olga Smola
Olga Smola was born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. She began studying the violin at the age of six,

graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory in 2004, and finished her Ph.D. program there in 2012. Music has taken Smola around the world. Her solo touring credits include performances in Monaco, Spain, Belgium, Croatia, France, England, Azerbaijan, the United States, and throughout the Russian Federation. She has performed a number of times as a guest of the Russian Embassy in Washington, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

A versatile violinist, Smola has played solo and ensemble concerts in many different styles of music, including classical, jazz, rock, and even electronic music as a ‘violin DJ.’

Smola is a winner of the 2nd Taneev’s International Chamber music competition as a member of “Alliance Trio,” and the 5th International Muse World Competition. During her career, she has earned grant funding from the Irina Arkhipova Foundation, the Fund for Russian Art in Music Performance, the Bistrizkaya Fund, and the Russian Federation’s Culture Fund.

Smola has served as a professor of music at the School of Music at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) since August 2016. In 2017 she performed as a soloist with the Omaha Symphony for the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Finals. In 2018 she was a guest violinist for Billy McGuigan’s «Rock Twist» show and performed solo for the Aksarben Ball 2018 in CHI Center.

About Brian Sherwood

Brian Sherwood

Brian Sherwood, Viola, received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Missouri. He completed a Master of Music and a Graduate Performance Diploma at The Boston Conservatory under the instruction of Roger Tapping. Mr. Sherwood joined the Omaha Symphony Orchestra in 2012 as Associate Principal Viola.

Since joining the musical community in Omaha, Brian has enjoyed numerous chamber music collaborations and looks forward to many more. In 2011, Brian performed the choreographed premiere of the Viola Concerto of Jakov Jakoulov and as the winner of The Boston Conservatory Concerto Competition, he performed Hindemith’s “Der Schwanendreher” with the Boston Conservatory Orchestra. He has attended the Bowdoin, Banff, and Tanglewood Music Festivals and his master-class performances include those with Cathy Basrak, Roberto Diaz, Jorja Fleezanis, Joseph Silverstein, and the late Raphael Hillyer. He enjoys cooking, gardening, science, history, and his two cats.


August 25, 2019
3:00 pm


Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1517 S. 114th St.
Omaha, NE 68144 United States
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