For the third time since 2004 a Purchase Opera production has been named Best Opera of the Year by the National Opera Association (NOA). The 2007 winning production was Monteverdi’s 17th century masterpiece The Coronation of Poppea. This production brought together students and faculty from two areas within the Purchase College School of the Arts—the department of Opera Performance/Vocal Studies and the Purchase Symphony Orchestra from the Conservatory of Music, and the Design/Technology program from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film.
Jacque Trussel, Chair of the department of Opera Performance/Vocal Studies, directed the production. Hugh Murphy, Head of the Musical Staff for the department, was the music director and conductor for this production.
Purchase Opera, placed in the highly competitive Division III category of the NOA’s Opera Production Competition, submitted an unedited videotape of the production that was reviewed by adjudicators and judged against scores of videos submitted by professional opera companies and other opera training programs.
This award is one of several the Purchase department of Opera Performance/Vocal Studies has received in recent years. Jacque Trussel received the 2005 Stage Director of the Year Award from the nationally acclaimed Classical Singer, the professional magazine for opera singers. It was the first year the award had been given. In 2003, Joan Krueger, a Vocal Coach in the Conservatory of Music, was named Coach of the Year by Classical Singer. The 2004 and 2005 NOA award-winning productions were Hansel and Gretel and Dialogues of the Carmelites. The award for the 2007 production of The Coronation of Poppea will be presented at NOA’s 53rd Annual Convention January 4-7 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Trussel is an internationally renowned tenor who has performed leading roles with more than 50 opera companies throughout the world including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and l’Opéra de la Bastille in Paris. His solo recording of scenes and arias entitled Sounds and Sweet Airs was nominated for a Grammy Award. As a director he has staged more than a dozen new productions in the U.S., and made his directorial debut in Europe with a much-heralded new production of Strauss’ Salome. At Purchase College, he has directed nine productions including The Marriage of Figaro, The Merry Widow and Don Giovanni, as well as the three award-winning productions.
Hugh Murphy has been coaching professional singers for over 20 years, preparing them to record and perform with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. He made his New York City conducting debut in 1995, and has conducted numerous regional opera companies. He currently holds the position of music director and conductor with two New York City ensembles, Opera Semplice, which presents young professional singers in performances of standard operatic repertoire, and Apollo's Banquet, an ensemble presenting concerts of notated 18th-century court and theater dances to consistently high critical acclaim. He was the conductor of all three Purchase Opera award-winning productions.
In April, Purchase Opera presents the New York area premiere of The Tempest by eminent American composer Lee Hoiby. The opera will be presented April 17, 18, 25 and 26 in the Purchase College Performing Arts Center. Hoiby will be actively involved in this production, based on Shakespeare’s last major play. Lee Hoiby chose Jacque Trussel to create the role of Caliban in the 1986 world premiere production. He chose Trussel again in 1996 to perform the same role in the Dallas production, which was nationally televised. Hoiby has been lured by Shakespeare’s stunningly rich fantasy world, and its compelling metaphorical comments about mankind, love and art. The result is an opera that lures the audience to this magical island “full of sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”
The National Opera Association was founded in 1955, under the auspices of the National Music Council. The National Opera Association seeks to promote a greater appreciation of opera and music theatre, to enhance pedagogy and performing activities, and to increase performance opportunities by supporting projects that improve the scope and quality of opera. Its membership extends to the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia.