The Staff

Stephanie Blythe, Artistic Director

Mezzo-soprano Stephanie BlytheArtistic Director, is considered to be one of the most highly respected artists of her generation. Ms. Blythe has sung in many of the renowned opera houses in the US and Europe including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Opera National de Paris. Her many roles include the title roles in CarmenSamson et Dalila , Orfeo ed EuridiceLa Grande DuchesseTancrediMignon, and Guilio Cesare; Frugola, Principessa, and Zita in the Il Trittico, Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, Azucena in Il Trovatore, Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Jezibaba in Rusalka, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Amneris in Aida; Isabella in L’Italiana in Algeri, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, Ino/Juno in Semele, and Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus.

Ms. Blythe has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Minnesota Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Ensemble Orchestre de Paris. She has also appeared at the Tangelwood and Ravinia Festival, and at the BBC Proms. The many conductors with whom she has worked include Harry Bicket, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Nicola Luisotti, Sir Charles Mackerras, John Nelson, Antonio Pappano, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Robert Spano, Patrick Summers, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

A frequent recitalist, Ms. Blythe has been presented in recital in New York by Zankel Hall, Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series at Alice Tully Hall and its American Songbook Series at the Allen Room, the 92nd Street Y, Town Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also been presenter by the Vocal Arts Society and at the Supreme Court at the invitation of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in Washington, DC; the Cleveland Art Song Festival, the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and Shriver Hall in Baltimore.

A champion of American song, she sang the premiere of Vignettes: Ellis Island, a song cycle written especially for her by Alan Smith which was featured in a special television program entitled Vignettes: An Evening with Stephanie Blythe and Warren Jones. Her next collaboration with Mr. Smith was Covered Wagon Woman, a piece commissioned for Ms. Blythe’s residency with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and recorded with the ensemble on its own label, CMS Studio Recordings. She also premiered Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, by the late James Legg in Town Hall in 2010. In 2011, Ms. Blythe and the Tanglewood Chorus premiered Alan Smith’s An Unknown Sphere, his work for mezzo-soprano and unaccompanied chorus, based on the poetry of Walt Whitman, and commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During the 2011-12 Season, she premiered John Coriglano’s masterwork of four orchestrated songs, One Sweet Morning, which was commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic.

Ms. Blythe starred in the Metropolitan Opera’s live HD broadcasts of Orfeo ed EuridiceIl TritticoRodelindaDas Rheingold and Die Walkure. Her recordings of works by Mahler, Brahms, and Wagner and of arias by Handel and Bach are available on the Virgin Classics label. Ms. Blythe was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year for 2009. Her other awards include the 2007 Opera News Award and the 1999 Richard Tucker Award.

Alan Smith, Music Director

 Pianist Alan Smith enjoys a reputation as one of the United States’ most highly regarded figures in the field of collaborative artistry. His performing experiences have included associations in major musical venues with such musical personalities as bass-baritone, Thomas Stewart; soprano, Barbara Bonney; mezzo-soprano, Stephanie Blythe; violist, Donald McInnes; violinist, Eudice Shapiro; as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Virtuosi. Broadcasts of his performances, compositions, and interviews have been aired internationally. His expertise and experience in song literature, chamber music, and opera make him much sought after as an accompanist, coach, faculty colleague, teacher of master classes, and adjudicator of area and international competitions, including regular engagements as a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

At the USC Thornton School of Music, Professor Smith served as the chair of Keyboard Studies and still serves as the director of the Keyboard Collaborative Arts Program, one of the oldest and largest programs of its kind the country. Having studied with the legendary Martin Katz, Alan Smith has become a teacher of renown himself; among his awards are the Virginia Ramo Award for excellence in teaching and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Thornton School and the Inaugural Mellon Award Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Mentoring. His current and former students maintain important positions internationally in the field of collaborative piano and coaching. He has served for 23 years as a member of the vocal coaching faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center in western Massachusetts, was formerly that program’s vocal program coordinator, and most recently served as the coordinator of the piano program, for which he held a named chair as the Marian Douglas Martin Master Teacher.

His own compositions for voice and piano have received performances in many parts of the world by some of the world’s most acclaimed artists, in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Tanglewood Music Center, Music Academy of the West, and the Ravinia Festival. He was commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center for a set of songs for a world premiere gala concert in 2002, celebrating the 80th birthday of American soprano, Phyllis Curtin. Alfred Publishing released his Four Folksongs for Soprano, Viola, and Piano in September of 2003 and his song cycle, Vignettes: Ellis Island, was recorded for public television in New York by mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Warren Jones, and was aired in January of 2004. The performance has been added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Television and Radio in New York.

He was commissioned to compose a new vocal chamber work, which was premiered by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in February of 2008. The composition, on texts taken from the diary of an American pioneer woman who crossed the continent in a covered wagon, Covered Wagon Woman was commissioned to be performed by Stephanie Blythe, and pianist, Warren Jones. The most recent performance was at the Tanglewood Music Center with Ms. Blythe and with the composer at the piano. The program also included the world premiere of An Unknown Sphere, a piece for mezzo-soprano soloist and unaccompanied chorus that was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Ms. Blythe. Dr. Smith has had articles published in Piano and Keyboard magazine and his articles and reviews on various aspects of collaborative artistry have appeared in the magazine, The American Music Teacher. He is president of the Eta chapter of the Pi Kappa Lambda national music honor society.

Carleen Graham, Executive Director

Carleen Graham is Professor of Opera & Music Theatre at The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam where she directs The Crane Opera Ensemble and teaches related courses. She has stage directed for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Curso Internaçional de Música Vocal, Aveiro, Portugal. Recent productions include On The Town (American College Theatre Festival Reg 1 award for outstanding musical ensemble), L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (winner of The 2011 American Prize for Operatic Performance), Albert HerringL’Egisto (winner of NOA div 2 collegiate opera production competition), Gianni SchicchiSuor Angelica, and Don Giovanni. Last summer she enjoyed directing Little Red Riding Hood (Barab) and Beauty & the Beast (Giannini) for the 2011 Baltimore Summer Opera Workshop at Morgan State University. Dr. Graham is winner of the 2009 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the SUNY-Potsdam’s 2006 Excellence in Teaching Award and the recipient of the 2007 SUNY Potsdam Fundraising Volunteer Award. She has also been the Director of The Center for Undergraduate Research at SUNY Potsdam since 2010. Carleen earned a Doctorate of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a Master of Music and Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory; and a Bachelor of Music Education from Ohio University-Athens. Dr. Graham is an active member of the National Opera Association, OPERA America Singer Training Forum and is currently pursuing research about opera education outreach and performance pedagogy methods and assessment.

Audrey Saccone, Associate Director

Audrey Saccone is a recent graduate of the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. She has spent three summers working with the College Light Opera Company on Cape Cod and worked with both Crane Opera Ensemble and Community Performance Series while she was at Potsdam. Audrey is the digital media manager at OPERA America.