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2015: Libiamo!

Opera at Santa Clara University

On Friday, May 15, the College of Arts and Sciences hosted Libiamo! A Celebration of Opera Arias and Songs in the Italian Style. The well-attended gala, this year's Vari Symposium, treated the audience to songs, arias, and duets from La Traviata, La Bohème and Nabucco, among others. Thanks to soprano Crystal Kim, tenor Woojeong Lee, and pianist Leroy Kromm, the event also highlighted the influence of Italian music and culture in art songs from Korea. Special guest Henry Mollicone, composer, conductor, and former Santa Clara music professor, presented excerpts of his own composition, The Face on the Barroom Floor.  In his introduction, W. Atom Yee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, lauded the event as a way "to ensure that the vision of Dr. and Mrs. Vari continues to bring all things Italian to Santa Clara University."  

The performance opened enthusiastically when Ms. Kim and Mr. Lee invited members of the audience to join them on stage for La Traviata's "Libiamo ne'lieti calici" ("Let's drink from the joyful goblets"). Hosted by SCU Associate Professor of Music Nancy Wait-Kromm, the event sustained its celebratory mood as Vari Distinguished Visiting Scholar Valerio Ferme provided contextual commentary before each piece. "Bringing these Italian operas to SCU is important because they provide musical storytelling at its most powerful - the universal subjects of love, distrust, joy, despair, morals, patriotism, hope...all our human dramas shared with haunting melodies and full-bodied sound that soars above us all. The program infused me with a glow that continues to shine! I am grateful to the Varis for their generosity in making such an evening possible, and I was honored to be part of it!" said Wait-Kromm.

Geraldine Williams Mercante '76, an Italian major, was among the evening's guests. "I had a very strong connection to Dr. Vari and still have strong connections to the University and to anything Italian. I am very happy about coming. I hope there are more events like this," she added.


A Celebration of Opera Arias and Songs in the Italian Style

Friday, May 15, 2015 ~ 7:30 p.m. ~ Music Recital Hall

Italian songs, arias, and duets from La Traviata, La Boheme, Nabucco, Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto; excerpts from Mollicone's Face on the Barroom Floor; and the influence of Italian music and culture in art songs from Korea.

About the performers

Crystal Kim, Soprano

Soprano Crystal Kim performed the roles of Poppea in Monteverdi's L'incoronatione di Poppea, Sister Catherine in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, Mother in Pasatieri's The Woman, A Lady with a Cake Box in Argento's Postcard from Morocco, Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème and Pamina in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Ms. Kim has been a Young Artist at OperaWorks and is thrilled to be performing the role of Almirena in Handel's Rinaldo at Opera NEO this summer. A frequent concert soloist, Ms. Kim's recent performances have included Handel's Messiah, Stravinsky's Mass, Mozart's Coronation: Mass and Gounod's St. Cecilia Mass. She completed an M.M. and is completing her Post-Graduate Diploma at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Crystal holds a B.M. from Han Yang University in Korea.

Woojeong Lee, Tenor

Woojeong Lee is an outstanding singer, performer, and director who has acquired many vocal and performing skills during his two-year tenure at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His voice has developed a mature, resonant and full-bodied timbre, capable of many styles and periods of music, that has resulted in outstanding and beautiful accomplishments in opera and oratorio. He has performed such roles as Don Ottavio inDon Giovanni, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Nemorino in L’elisir D’amore, Ruel in Scarf, and Alfred in Die Fledermaus. Able to  navigate musical and technical difficulties with ease and skill, Mr. Lee performed the “Ode to Joy" Cantata by Tchaikovsky (in Russian) in 2013 to a standing room only audience  with the Saratoga Symphony.

Leroy Kromm, Piano

Leroy Kromm specializes in oratorios of all eras, having performed most bass and baritone oratorio roles in concert throughout the United States and Europe. A strong advocate for new music, he has worked closely with many prominent composers of our day including, George Crumb, Lou Harrison, Jake Heggie, Kirke Mechem, Henry Mollicone, and Ned Rorem.  Mr. Kromm has been an advocate of singing “Nature’s Way” as it has been taught by his teacher and mentor of 30 years, William H. Miller (University of Illinois). He has performed with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Aspen Music Festival, Anchorage Festival of Music, Carmel Bach Festival and Midsummer Mozart under Maestro George Cleve. Among his numerous opera roles are the title roles in Mechem’s Tartuffe and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, as well as musical theatre and one-act contemporary operas produced for PBS television. Mr. Kromm has recorded on various labels including harmonia mundi and Musical Heritage Society, and he continues to serve nationally as a clinician and consultant in academia, as well as for the film industry in Hollywood.

Henry Mollicone, Piano

Henry Mollicone has worked actively as a free-lance conductor of opera, symphonic, and new music, while holding various university teaching posts. He is known especially for his work on The Face on the Barroom Floor: The Poem, the Place, the Opera (2013) and The Premonition (1976). A graduate of the New England Conservatory, Mollicone has studied composition with Donald Martino, Ron Nelson, Daniel Pinkham, Gunther Schuller, and Seymour Schifrin. He has been a professor at Santa Clara University (1985-1999) and is currently teaching at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont. In addition to opera, Mr. Mollicone has written for orchestra, voice, chorus, ballet, and various chamber combinations, as well as music for film, television, and theater. Mr. Mollicone continues to conduct regular concerts as Music Director of both The Winchester Orchestra of San Jose and The South Valley Symphony.

With special support by the Italian Cultural Institute in San Francisco

A special guest appearance by members of the San Jose Symphonic Choir, with commentary by Vari Distinguished Scholar Valerio Ferme, Composer Henry Mollicone, and our host, Santa Clara University Associate Professor of Music, Nancy Wait-Kromm.