Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series

See stars of the opera world in an intimate setting and discover vocal performance insights as masters of the craft coach top students from the Bienen School of Music voice and opera program. All events take place in  Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, Ryan Center for the Musical Arts.

The Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series, established in 2014, is made possible by a generous anonymous donation from a Bienen School Music Advisory Board member and named in honor of two fellow board members.

2017-2018 Master Classes

Matthew Polenzani

October 16, 2017: Matthew Polenzani

Matthew Polenzani has distinguished himself as one of the finest lyric tenors of his generation. Opera News declares, “His work onstage is the perfect marriage of splendid voice and unfaltering genuineness.” Last season he returned to the Bavarian Staatsoper for La favoriteLa bohème, and Die Zauberflöte, in addition to starring in IdomeneoDer Rosenkavalier, and Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera and as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Highlights this season include a return to Lyric Opera for Rigoletto and Les pêcheurs de perles as well as L’elisir d’amore at the Met and Luisa Miller at Opernhaus Zürich. In this master class, Polenzani coaches Bienen School voice and opera program students in the performance of duos and trios from a variety of operas.

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Patricia Racette

March 6, 2018: Patricia Racette

Soprano Patricia Racette has appeared in many of the world’s acclaimed opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Scala, Paris Opera, Theater an der Wien, and the Bayerische Staatsoper. The Santa Fe Reporter raves, “…her top notes soar with warmth and luminosity, and as a consummate actress, she’ll have you forgetting you’re in an opera house.” Known as a great interpreter of Janácek and Puccini, she has garnered acclaim for her portrayals of the title roles of Madama ButterflyToscaJenufaKátya Kabanová, and all three lead soprano roles in Il Trittico. 2017-18 season highlights include co-production and role debuts in The Consul with Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater, house and role debuts in Street Scene with Madrid’s Teatro Real, and her directorial debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s production of La traviata.

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Dwayne Croft

May 2, 2018: Dwayne Croft

The Classical Review praises baritone Dwayne Croft’s “booming, lustrous voice” and “exemplary clarity.” The 1996 winner of the Richard Tucker Foundation Award, Croft has established himself as a leading artist with the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera, Finnish National Opera, and Glimmerglass Festival, among others. At the Metropolitan Opera, he has appeared in more than 500 performances of 30 roles, including title roles in Billy BuddPelléas et MélisandeDon Giovanni, and Il barbiere di Siviglia. This season at the Met, he appears as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Peter in Hansel and Gretel, Orest in Elektra, and Capulet in Roméo et Juliette

2016-2017 Master Classes

November 8, 2016: Isabel Leonard

Isabel Leonard“She’s the real deal and it shows,” says Philadelphia magazine of mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. In repertoire ranging from Vivaldi to Mozart to Thomas Adès, she has graced the stages of such celebrated venues as the Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and San Francisco Opera. A recipient of the Richard Tucker Award, she is featured on the Grammy-winning recording of Adès’s The Tempest. This season she appears as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Vienna State Opera and as Charlotte in Werther at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and the Metropolitan Opera, where she will also be seen as Zerlina in Don Giovanni.

January 18, 2017: Matthew Polenzani

Matthew Polenzani

The Boston Phoenix declares, “Matthew Polenzani has perhaps the finest tenor voice of his generation.” Winner of a 2004 Richard Tucker Award and the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award, Polenzani appeared in 2015–16 at the Paris Opera in Don Giovanni, at the Bavarian and Vienna State Operas in Werther, and at the Metropolitan Opera in Les pêcheurs de perles and Roberto Devereux. Season highlights for 2016–17 include a return to the Bavarian State Opera for Die Zauberflöte, La Favorita, and La Bohème and to the Metropolitan Opera for Don Giovanni, Idomeneo,and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

April 20, 2017: Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie

This special Tichio Vocal Master Class features celebrated composer Jake Heggie at the piano, accompanying Bienen School students in performances of his songs. The Wall Street Journal calls Heggie “arguably the world’s most popular 21st-century opera and art song composer.” His operas Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, Great Scott, Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, Out of Darkness, At the Statue of Venus, and The Radio Hour: A Choral Opera have been produced on five continents. A Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Eddie Medora King Prize from the University of Texas-Austin’s Butler School of Music, he is a frequent guest artist and master teacher at universities, conservatories, and festivals throughout North America. He has collaborated as composer and pianist with such opera-world luminaries as Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Bryn Terfel, Nathan Gunn, and Robert Orth. His opera It’s A Wonderful Life, based on the classic Frank Capra movie and written with librettist Gene Scheer, is slated for a December 2016 premiere at Houston Grand Opera.

2015-2016 Master Classes

October 29, 2015: Lawrence Brownlee

Lawrence Brownlee leads a master class at Northwestern UniversityThe New Yorker’s Alex Ross raves, “With his sweet tone, fastidious pitch, and poetic phrasing, Brownlee made familiar fare sound intriguingly fresh, banishing, for a moment, the ghosts of Caruso and Pavarotti.” Brownlee has appeared on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, and Opéra national de Paris, among others. During the 2014–15 season he made his role debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Seattle Opera, appeared at the Met as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and played Don Ramiro opposite Cecilia Bartoli at Opernhaus Zürich in La Cenerentola. This summer he premiered the role of Charlie Parker in Yardbird at Opera Philadelphia.

Bienen students who participated in this master class were Chelsea Betz (mezzo-soprano), Nathan Ward (tenor), Regina Ceragioli (soprano), and Dimitri German (baritone). 

March 7, 2016: Susanna Phillips

Suanna Phillips leads a master class at Northwestern UniversityRecipient of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, soprano Susanna Phillips has established herself as one of today’s most sought-after vocalists. Anthony Tommassini of the New York Times observes, “She has the purity and bloom of a Mozart lyric soprano. Yet her voice can lift phrases with penetrating sound and deep richness.” During the 2014-15 season she returned to the Metropolitan Opera to star as Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, in addition to appearances as the Countess in a Lisbon production of Le nozze di Figaro and the title role in Handel’s Agrippina with Boston Baroque. Her orchestral engagements included a performance of Fauré’s Requiem with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and a return to the San Francisco Symphony for Mahler’s Fourth Symphony.

Bienen sopranos who participated in this master class were Amanda Menzie, Jennie Moser, Kaileigh Riess, and Bahareh Poureslami. 

April 5, 2016: Marilyn Horne

Marilyn Horne leads a master class at Northwestern UniversityOpera News declares, "Marilyn Horne--whose face and song have been the light--in so many places, in so many styles, through so many media, for so many years--may be the most influential singer in American history." The mezzo-soprano's numerous honors and awards include multiple Grammys, a National Medal of the Arts, and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and as a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by France's Ministry of Culture. From regular engagements with the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera to recordings and recitals highlighting folk and popular music, her career has spanned an impressive variety of genres. Committed to excellence in vocal art, she is the voice program director at Santa Barbara's Music Academy of the West and holds residencies at the University of Oklahoma and Oberlin Conservatory.

Bienen students who participated in the master class were Rachel Girty (mezzo-soprano), Kevin Krasinski (baritone), Kaitlin Zardetto-Smith (mezzo-soprano), Alexander York (baritone), and Chelsea Lyons (mezzo-soprano). See photos from this event.

April 30, 2016: Matthew Polenzani

Matthew Polenzani leads a master class at Northwestern UniversitySteve Winn of the San Francisco Classical Voice praises tenor Matthew Polenzani’s “torrent of magnificent sound…from the sonorous, deep pedal points of his low notes to the glittering, high shine at the upper reaches.” He is the recipient of the 2004 Richard Tucker Award and the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Award. His 2014-15 season included his return to London’s Royal Opera House for Idomeneo, productions of Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera, L’elisir d’amore and Die Zauberflöte at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper, and his Opernhaus Zurich debut in La traviata. 2015-16 season highlights include appearances in Don Giovanni at Opéra national de Paris, productions of Werther in Munich and Vienna, and Les pêcheurs de perles and Roberto Devereux at the Metropolitan Opera.

Bienen students who participated in the master class were Michael Powell (tenor), Alexandra Urquiola (mezzo-soprano), Eric McConnell (bass), and Sam Grosby (tenor). See photos from this event.

2014-2015 Master Classes

May 2, 2015: Frederica von Stade

Frederica von Stade leads a master class at Northwestern UniversityDescribed by the New York Times as “one of America’s finest artists and singers,” mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade is one of the music world’s most beloved figures. Her more than 60 recordings for every major label—including complete operas, aria albums, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums—have garnered six Grammy nominations, two Grand Prix du Disque awards, the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis, and “Best of the Year” citations by Stereo Review and Opera News.

Bienen students who participated in this master class were Jeanne Ireland (mezzo-soprano), Madison Leonard (soprano), Harrah Friedlander (soprano), and Kelsey Park (mezzo-soprano).

February 2, 2015: Eric Owens

Eric Owens leads a master class at Northwestern UniversityBass-baritone Eric Owens has earned international acclaim as both an esteemed interpreter of the classics and a champion of new music. His career highlights include Aida at Houston Grand Opera, his San Francisco Opera debut in Otello, and his Covent Garden debut in Norma. Owens’s 2014–15 season engagements include Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Lucerne Festival, Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he is currently serving as community ambassador, and his debut in the title role of Der fliegende Holländer with the Washington National Opera.

Bienen students who participated in this master class were Kyle Sackett (baritone), Sanghun Han (baritone), Emily Barnash (soprano), Donovan Ott-Bales (tenor), and Cody Montá (baritone).

October 27, 2014: Renée Fleming

Renee Fleming leads a master class at Northwestern UniversityRenowned soprano Renée Fleming led the first Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class, working with four students in the Bienen School of Music. Fleming was awarded the National Medal of Arts and a Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo in 2013. In February 2014 she became the first classical singer ever to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Her 2014–15 season engagements include performances at Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and Semperoper Dresden.

Bienen students who participated in this master class were Ashley Ellen Mann (soprano), Nathaniel Hill (baritone), Quinn Middleman (mezzo-soprano), and Ted Allen Pickell (baritone).