The Hugh Hodgson School of Music will present the premier concert of the UGA Opera Ensemble under its new director, Frederick Burchinal, above, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.
While the UGA Opera Ensemble is not new to the music school, the group has been taken to a new level of professionalism with the hiring of two professors from the Metropolitan Opera this year. Renowned baritone Burchinal and vocal coach-accompanist George Darden joined the music school faculty with the charge of building a first-rate opera program.
A continuous presence at the Metropolitan Opera since his debut as Macbeth in 1988, Burchinal’s performances at the Metropolitan Opera include the title roles in Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra, Nabucco and Rigoletto.
The first recipient of the Wyatt and Margaret Anderson Professorship for the Arts at UGA, Burchinal is professor of voice and director of opera. He will continue his operatic engagements with the Metropolitan Opera and with theaters and orchestras.
Darden’s role at the Met included final preparation for every singer before he or she took the stage, including polishing phrasing, fine-tuning language pronunciation and solidifying interpretation. For 20 years he worked with almost every singer in the business, including Rene Fleming, Placido Domingo and Kathleen Battle, among others.
“George brings many, many aspects of professional life that only he can offer,” said Burchinal. “As a superb pianist and musician, he brings a dedication to musical excellence that is greatly needed at the student level. Plus, he has an accumulated knowledge of a lifetime of playing for and coaching the very best singers in the world and working with them worldwide.”
The first half of the Nov. 20 program will feature staged scenes from several operas, including La Traviata, Cosi Fan Tutte, Romeo et Juliette and Rigoletto (with Burchinal as Rigoletto). The second half of the program will be a tribute to Broadway featuring selections from Stephen Sondheim, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.