An Evening of Opera Highlights

Samantha Hankey, mezzo soprano; Weston Hurt, baritone; Amy Owens, soprano; Angel Romero, tenor; Richard Fu, pianist

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January 17 and 18, 2022

A cast of great singers will delight your ears and heart with wonderful arias and duets from your favorite operas.  FLKCA’s opera highlights evenings are among the most highly anticipated events of the season.

Samantha Hankey, mezzo soprano  has been praised as “luscious,” “amber-toned,” and “dazzling” by Opera News, American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey is quickly establishing a name for herself across the United States and abroad. This past season, Samantha joined the roster of the Bayerische Staatsoper, where she made her role and house debut as Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel. She continues her residency in Munich for the 2020-2021 season, where she reprises the roles of Wellgunde and Zweite Dame and makes her role debut as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. Other highlights of her upcoming season include an exciting return to the Metropolitan Opera in 2021, where she will debut the role of Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.

In the 2018/19 season, Samantha made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Pantalis in Mefistofele, and returned to the Met throughout the year in Adriana Lecouvreur, Carmen, Das Rheingold, Götterdämmerung, and Rigoletto, debuting a myriad of named roles in her first season at the Met.

Weston Hurt, Baritone is an affecting performer best known for Verdi’s iconic baritone roles, Weston Hurt is recognized for his emotionally honest portrayals of characters both sympathetic and monstrous. His ability to balance machismo and vulnerability with equal expressive intensity captivates audiences, and his focus on authentic communication informs his mentorship of the next generation of vocal artists. Weston’s approach – fueled by his experiences as a singer born without a right hand – centers on the embrace of one’s unique traits.

Weston’s operatic career balances some of the repertoire’s most formidable villains with its most compelling father figures. At Houston Grand Opera, Nashville Opera and Tulsa Opera, his portrayals of Scarpia in Tosca have been remarked upon for their humanity, with Tulsa World noting Weston’s ability to turn a cartoonish scoundrel into “a Hitchcockian villain whose evil impulses are well-hidden behind a veneer of respectability…resonating with menace.” His malignant Iago was a highlight of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Otello, and he brought what Queen Anne & Magnolia News deemed “just the right touch of fury” to his Ford in Falstaff at Virginia Opera and Seattle Opera. Opera News praised his “gorgeous baritone, which is golden, weighty, and clear” and a performance that was “faultless – stylistically on the money, dramatically committed, and displaying a vocalism that was perfectly even from the top to the bottom of his range.”

Amy Owens, soprano is known for her “high-flying vocals” and “scene-stealing” charisma on operatic and symphonic stages, as well as her innovative, multi-disciplinary pursuits in music and entrepreneurship (Opera News). Her performing career has taken her to some of America’s most beloved venues, including the Kennedy Center, where her Fall 2019 debut as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda earned praise for “a perfect combination of purring, sensuous phrasing and pure-toned innocence” (Washington Classical Review). A well-known favorite for Carmina Burana, she has soloed twice with National Symphony, as well as with Omaha Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Mobile Symphony, and MidAmerica Productions for her Carnegie Hall debut in 2017. She recently created the title role in Augusta Read Thomas’ Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun with Santa Fe Opera, sharing the stage with legendary beatboxer Nicole Paris in the first commission for the groundbreaking initiative “Opera for all Voices.”                      (Continued on reverse side)

In the 2021-2022 season, Amy makes her debut with Chicago Opera Theater in Becoming Santa Claus under Lydia Yankovskaya, and covers the roles of Controller and Tina in Dallas Opera’s production of Flight. She also appears with Dayton Philharmonic and Lubbock Symphony for performances of Messiah, Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Brooklyn Art Song Society. She is thrilled to be singing with the Florida Keys Concert Association.

Angel Romero, tenor  is a native of Houston, Texas. He recently finished his residency with The Pittsburgh Opera. While in Pittsburgh, Angel performed Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, and Oronte in Alcina. Angel also covered the roles of Arcadio in Florencia en el Amazonas as well as Jupiter in Semele. Prior to joining the Pittsburgh Opera, he was seen as a young artist in the prestigious Central City Opera and The Santa Fe Opera. While a young artist in Central City, Angel performed Ruiz in il Trovatore and Monostatos in The Magic Flute. Angel is a 2021 Semifinalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Opera Competition and the 2020 Eleanor McCollum Houston Grand Opera 3rd place and Audience Choice Award recipient. He received his undergraduate degree from Houston Baptist University and his masters in music from the prestigious Yale University School of Music. Future engagements include making his international debut in Vienna at the Vienna Staatsoper. He is scheduled to perform Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, Gastone in La Traviata, Malcolm in Macbeth, and covering Nemorino in Elixir of Love.

Richard Fu, pianist is a Shanghai-born American pianist.  Richard is an aspiring recitalist with an affinity for vocal and string repertoire and a growing interest in opera and new music. Though he had wanted to become a lawyer growing up and began as a political science major at Dartmouth, Richard fell in love with classical music while studying abroad in Vienna and changed focus to music midway. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, University of Oxford, the Juilliard School, and Kunstuniversität Graz where he currently studies with Julius Drake.

After graduating from Juilliard, Richard performed 30 concerts on tour across America with violinist Timothy Chooi. In the 2021-22 season, Richard joins the Wiener Staatsoper Opernstudio as a pianist in the young artist program. He will also perform a recital tour in Italy with cellist Zlatomir Fung.

At Dartmouth, Richard received the Mark L. Lebowitz 1977 Memorial Prize for outstanding undergraduate music student, Macdonald-Smith Prize for high achievement in musical performances, and first prize in the Gerald A. Tracy Memorial Scholarship Piano Competition. Other solo distinctions include second prizes at Los Angeles International Liszt Competition and RCM’s Kendall Taylor Beethoven Competition, as well as concerto performances with the Oxford University Philharmonia, Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra, and Dartmouth Chamber Orchestra.

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