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In anticipation of our groundbreaking 2020-2021 season we are excited to bring to you OSJ at Home. In the coming months, we will be creating and showcasing in-depth content for our upcoming productions of The Marriage of Figaro, Carmen, Salome and West Side Story. Stay tuned for virtual concerts, artist spotlights, and behind-the-scenes previews as we work on bringing these exciting works to life.

Our featured opera in May is Bizet’s Carmen

Opera San José will pull out all the stops in creating the most memorable production of Bizet’s Carmen in the company’s history. Reimagined by Lillian Groag in a new collaboration with the acclaimed Flamenco Society of San José, and conducted by Music Director Joseph Marcheso, this vibrant production will fuse dance, singing, and drama, bringing to vivid life the story of the headstrong, intoxicating seductress and the man who’s fallen under her spell. Widely accepted as “the perfect opera”, this passionate tale explores and examines the choices of its defiant heroine, whose insatiable quest for freedom and rebellion seals her tragic fate. Announced casting includes Eugene Brancoveanu as Escamillo and Adrian Kramer as Don José.


“Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen, featuring Taylor Raven & Veronika Agranov-Dafoe

Wrapping up our series of virtual concerts this month is mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven’s interpretation Carmen’s famous aria “Habanera”, a song about love and its unpredictable actions.

A Four-Handed Rendition of the Prelude in Bizet’s Carmen

Festive and exciting, the introduction to Bizet’s famous opera sets the scene for the action-packed tale about to unfold in Carmen. For this week’s virtual concert, enjoy Resident Conductor Christopher James Ray and Head of Music Staff Veronika Agranov-Dafoe perform a four-handed rendition of Carmen’s vibrant prelude.


Artist Spotlight: Eugene Brancoveanu


OSJ Resident Artist Eugene Brancoveanu returns to Opera San José next season for roles including Escamillo in Carmen. Growing up in Romania and Germany, Eugene quickly took to the stage. He started performing in 7th grade with his high-school drama department where he auditioned for the role of Hercules and “performed it about 100 times”. Around the same time he joined a professional musical theatre company, first as a chorus member and was then promoted to soloist at age 15. Eugene studied at the Academy of Music in Transylvania, Romania and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and took to the international scene with performance engagements in Germany, Romania, Poland, Italy, Japan and Israel. One of his career highlights was receiving the Tony Award for the role of Marcello in Puccini’s La bohème. Through his career, his family has fully supported his ambitions, including his mother who Eugene says is “my harshest critic and staunchest supporter.”

To keep his voice in shape, Eugene goes back to basics. “I still do a daily routine of breathing and vocal exercises that I’ve done ever since I started singing with my teacher Neil Semer”, and  whenever he feels a slight tickle in his throat, he turns to “multivitamin powder with a powerful blend of added Zinc.” When he is not singing, Eugene races his bicycle in the state wide criterium bicycle race series, and enjoys sunsets, stormy seas, long hikes through snowy mountains, and bonfires. He’s also an impressive linguist, speaking Romanian, German, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Korean. Eugene lives with his wife and two children in San Francisco.


 

Artist Spotlight: Lillian Groag

Director Lillian Groag returns to Opera San José next season to direct our production of Carmen. Lillian has previously directed Pagliacci, Of Mice and Men and The Marriage of Figaro, among others, at OSJ and we are thrilled to welcome her back to the company. In addition to her work in the opera field, Lillian leads a busy working life in the theatre industry as an actress, playwright, director and Associate Artist of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, CA. Lillian gained a Master’s and PhD from Northwestern University in Romance Languages and Literature, has written a Theatre Thesis, and holds an Honorary PhD from Lake Forest College.

Her remarkable playwriting has rewarded her with the AT&T award for New American Plays (The White Rose) and the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays (The Magic Fire). Lillian’s dedication to her profession is recognized at an international level as well as extensively in the United States. Her plays The Ladies of the Camellias, The White Rose, The Magic Fire, Menocchio and Midons have been produced variously around the US and abroad in Mexico City, Italy, Japan and Germany.

Opera San José is excited to be collaborating with director Lillian Groag to produce Bizet’s acclaimed opera. We cannot wait to see Lillian’s vision of this vibrant production come to life on stage.


Artist Spotlight: Tara Branham

Tara Branham returns to Opera San José as Resident Director next season for shows including Carmen. Tara has worked on Madama Butterfly, Die Fledermaus and Hansel and Gretel with OSJ and we are thrilled to have her back.

Growing up in Floyds Knobs, IN, Tara discovered the arts as a young child, taking great pleasure playing the violin and singing and aged 13 only, Tara decided she wanted a career in the arts. “I started directing in high school and at the time was also a performer in musical theatre, orchestra (violin), and a Capella choir. I was 13 when I saw Pippin at the local high school (that I would later attend) and that was it for me. I love the way that a live performance’s “liveness” is practically impossible to replicate. I love being in rooms with all those feelings – on the stage and in the audience.” More…


Artist Spotlight: Adrian Kramer

We are thrilled to be welcoming tenor Adrian Kramer to Opera San José as he makes his company debut with us next season. Adrian will be taking on roles including Don José in Carmen.

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Adrian grew up in a musical family. “My parents met through singing and my sister is also a professional opera singer, while my brother plays several instruments. I have many cousins, aunts and uncles who are musically inclined.  My family is very supportive of my career and got me started playing violin, piano and singing in choirs from a very young age.” Adrian pursued vocal studies at The Julliard School followed by The Curtis Institute of Music and now splits his time between New York City and Toronto. More…


“Toreador song” from Bizet’s Carmen

For this month’s first virtual concert, Eugene Brancoveanu, and Christopher Ray perform the dynamic “Toreador song” from Bizet’s Carmen. Watch as Escamillo, bullfighter, vigorously describes his adventures in the bullring, boasts about his profession and flirts with Carmen. We are eagerly anticipating to hear Eugene interpret Bizet’s bold character in our upcoming production of Carmen.