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Curtis Names Eric Owens and Danielle Orlando to Lead the Vocal Studies Department Beginning in 2019–20

New Artistic Team to lead the Curtis Institute of Music Vocal Studies Department beginning in the 2019–20 Season

PHILADELPHIA—May 10, 2018—The Curtis Institute of Music announces a new artistic leadership team to guide the Curtis Vocal Studies Department and Curtis Opera Theatre. Eric Owens and Danielle Orlando will lead the department beginning in the 2019–20 season. They will build upon Mikael Eliasen’s remarkable legacy as head of the Curtis voice and opera program for over 30 years, in that time producing many celebrated performers including Mr. Owens.

“We’re fortunate to have two artists with such deep expertise and tremendous professional experience to continue Mikael’s legacy and guide the Curtis Opera Theatre into the future,” said Curtis President Roberto Díaz. “Eric comes to Curtis at the height of his career, and brings not only vast onstage experience, but also a commitment to community engagement and musical advocacy that perfectly aligns with the school’s mission to engage audiences locally and globally. Danielle has collaborated with some of the most prominent opera singers of this generation, including Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, among others. And as our Principal Opera Coach and Mikael’s colleague since 1986, she has tremendous depth of experience and institutional knowledge.”

Eric Owens and Danielle Orlando
Mikael Eliasen (left), Danielle Orlando (second from left), and Eric Owens (center) with students and alumni of the Curtis Vocal Department.

The 2018–19 season will be a year of transition and celebration, as Mikael Eliasen brings his distinguished tenure as Artistic Director of the Curtis Opera Theatre and the Hirsig Family Chair of Vocal Studies to a close. As planning begins for the following year, Mr. Owens and Ms. Orlando will jointly hear auditions and be responsible for artistic and educational oversight of the 2019–20 season.

A 1995 Curtis graduate, bass-baritone Eric Owens appears frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and Houston Grand Opera, among many opera houses and orchestras. His broad performance experience spans music of all eras, from the Baroque to new works being written today, and he maintains an active concert career alongside his opera performances. He will continue to perform actively after joining the Curtis faculty and hopes to add appearances with Curtis on Tour along with opportunities to involve students in his concert work.

“Working with young people is something that is incredibly close to my heart,” said Mr. Owens, who has also mentored young singers in programs at the Glimmerglass Festival and the Washington National Opera. “I find myself so fulfilled by giving back and being able to share my knowledge and experience as a performer. Coming back to Curtis—with its amazing, nurturing environment and its illustrious and storied history—is just a dream come true.”

Mr. Owens will return to Philadelphia, where he has family roots, joining fellow Curtis faculty members Midori and Jonathan Biss in making the city his home. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the musical life of Philadelphia, and working with the voice and opera students as they share music with the community through outreach activities as well as performances,” Mr. Owens said. “It’s important to train not just great performers but advocates who have the tools to share music with others.”

Danielle Orlando’s career has included close collaborations with musical titans such as Luciano Pavarotti, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Plácido Domingo, as well as work casting and planning seasons for many prestigious organizations around the world. A member of the Curtis faculty since 1986, she was artistic administrator and head of music staff for the Opera Company of Philadelphia for many years and has served on the music staffs of the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Dresden Semperoper, and Savonlinna Opera Festival, among others. Recent collaborations include work with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, coaching singers on a performance of Bach’s Cantata No. 150; and residencies at Curtis Summerfest, University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and University of Peking Academy of Opera in Beijing. She has also been a recital partner to Mr. Owens many times over the years, from performances in Field Concert Hall when he was a Curtis student, to later appearances at the Châtelet in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia.

“My dedication and passion for education and for teaching has always stood alongside my own performance experiences with some of the most important opera luminaries and institutions present during my lifetime,” said Ms. Orlando. “My history at Curtis as principal opera coach is a bonus, in terms of knowing why Curtis Opera Theatre is already so successful and knowing how we can move ahead. Working with Mikael Eliasen as he developed the department has been a wonderful journey, which forged a valued friendship as well. I am excited to work with Eric Owens again, and I know that he will bring his own artistic and human integrity to younger singers while he still maintains one of the most successful opera and concert careers of any Curtis graduate.”

Under the guidance of Mikael Eliasen, the Curtis Opera Theatre program has become known for its highly selective and personalized program of study, which encourages freedom of expression and frequent performance opportunities. As a result, Curtis graduates can be heard with opera companies all over the world, including La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, the San Francisco Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. All voice and opera students are cast repeatedly each season, working alongside established professional directors and designers. Repertoire is carefully selected to provide crucial training at pivotal moments in the singers’ development. Students graduate with confidence stemming from vast practical experience onstage and blossoming professional careers.

“As we transition to a new leadership team, the 2018–19 season continues to reflect Mikael Eliasen’s singular vision,” said Mr. Díaz. “His care in selecting students and repertoire and his passion for artistically adventurous, thought-provoking opera productions will be evident in the season ahead. He has built an amazing department that embodies the Curtis core value of learning by doing. And we believe the department will be in excellent hands with Eric and Danielle, who know Curtis so well and care deeply about continuing its trajectory of success.”


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