Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Our 10th Anniversary Gala: Celebrating Ten Years Together

Each year, the Martina Arroyo Foundation gathers with friends and family to celebrate the accomplishments of our young singers and honor the work of our esteemed colleagues.  This year was no different except, of course, that it was MAF's 10th Anniversary Gala.  So, on Monday, November 17, 2014 we celebrated in style at the JW Marriot Essex House on Central Park South in NYC.

This year's Gala, which featured alums from MAF's inaugural Prelude to Performance season in 2005 as well newer alums from the recent 2014 summer season, honored Opera Index, Nanette Lepore, Mark Rucker, Sadie Rucker, and Maestro Willie Waters.  Mo. Waters received the Michel Maurel award, named for Ms. Arroyo's late husband.  Mark Rucker, Sadie Rucker, Waters, and the Opera Index all received recognition for their work with Prelude since its inception in 2005.  Mark Rucker as the Administrative Director, Sadie Rucker as Publicity Director, Waters as Music Director and the Opera Index as a key supporter. Lepore received recognition for her work as a fashion designer as well for her support of MAF.

Lawrence Brownlee
Photo Credit: Ken Howard
The Gala program began with an exciting performance of "Il Prologo" from Il Pagliacci, sung by Robert Kerr, baritone (2012/14).  And, from there the excitement never stopped.  Michele Angelini, tenor (2005) serenaded the audience with the "Ah, il più lieto" cabaletta from Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Andrew Cummings, baritone (2005/08) stirred with "Se vuol ballare" from Le Nozze di Figaro; Yunnie Park, soprano (2011/13) let her top notes shine with "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta" from La Rondine; and Nicole Haslett, soprano (2012) sang Nanetta's aria from Falstaff exquisitely.  Soprano, Brandie Sutton (2013) wowed with a surprise performance of a new piece written and accompanied by composer, Dr. Stefania de Kenessey.  The aria called, "My First Aida" was a treat for the audience and Ms. Arroyo alike.  All other ensemble and solo performances were securely helmed by Mo. Lloyd Arriola at the piano.  Thank goodness for one-man orchestras.

Internationally renowned tenor and MET Opera star, Lawrence Brownlee also made a special appearance.  At once entertaining the audience with memories of Ms. Arroyo from his early career, and then dazzling us with a glorious performance of "Una furtiva lagrima" from L'Elisir d'Amore

Alums from Prelude's 2014 season sang the Act II finale from La Traviata, "Alfredo! Voi!"  The ensemble included:

Cecilia López, soprano……..….Violetta
Paul Han, tenor…………………Alfredo
Robert Kerr, baritone……………..Germont
Marisan Corsino, mezzo………..Flora
Tyrone Chambers, tenor……….Gastone
Samuel McDonald, baritone…...Barone
John E. Callison, baritone……...Marchese

Additional ensemble members included Alicia Waller, soprano; Marcelis Campo, soprano; Laura Folque, mezzo; Mark Nimar, tenor; and Steven Kirby, bass-baritone.  

A final tribute was offered by the 2014 Prelude to Performance alums mentioned above, as well as a few more:

Benjamin Bloomfield '08/'13
Meredith Mecum '09
Alexandra Smith '09/'10
Megan Picerno '11
Maggie Szcekan '12/'13
Scott Linkdroth '10
Fleur Barron '09/'10
Rachel Sliker '07
Tamara Rusque '13
Nina Riley '07/'08
Alex Pikarsky '10/'11

So many alums and MAF supporters were a part of this celebration.  It was truly a special evening, and we had a blast.  Take a look at some pictures below.  Here's to another great year!

Nanette Lepore and Martina.
Mo. Willie Waters and Martina.
Brian Kellow and Midge Woolsey.
Murray Rosenthal for the Opera Index.
Mark Rucker, Sadie Rucker, and Cecilia Teng (Gala Chair).
Robert Kerr '12/'14
Michele Angelini '05

Brandie Sutton '13
In addition to being a great excuse for celebration, the annual Gala serves as MAF's principal fundraiser for the Foundation and its summer Prelude to Performance program.  Through the generous support of contributing individuals and organizations, we have been able to transition from a fee-based program to a tuition-free program.  This year, we are taking another step forward by offering stipends of $3,000 for principal roles and covers, and $750-1,500 for select secondary roles.  MAF, Prelude, and our talented young artists have all grown tremendously from the support of our sponsors, and we need you, too!  If you are interested in learning more about membership with Martina Arroyo Foundation and how to donate to Prelude to Performance, click here.

Yunnie Park '11/'13
Nicole Haslett '12
Andrew Cummings '05/'08
Marisan Corso, Samuel McDonald, and Cecilia López.
Dr. Stefania di Kenessey at piano.
Alicia Waller, Marcelis Campo, Paul Han, Steven Kirby,
Tyrone Chambers, Marisan Corsino, John Callison, and
Laura Folque.
Prelude alums gather to sing "Libbiamo ne' lieti calici"
 from Verdi's La Traviata for the Gala finale.

All Photo Credits: Sarah Merians
Photos taken at the JW Marriott Essex House, 160 Central Park South, New York, NY