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Beethoven’s Ninth

  • First Baptist Church, Baton Rouge 529 Convention Street Baton Rouge, LA, 70802 United States (map)
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Baton Rouge Symphony
Timothy Muffitt, conductor
Emily Pulley, soprano
Betsy Bishop, mezzo-soprano
Paul Groves, tenor
Raymond Aceto, bass
BRSO Chorus - David Shaler, chorus master

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, “Choral”

+ Emily Pulley, soprano - bio

Acclaimed soprano Emily Pulley’s radiant voice and electrifying acting have won her both national and international acclaim on the operatic stages. Not settling for complacency in her already established career, Pulley continues to add some of opera’s greatest roles to her repertoire, including the title role in Bizet’s Carmen with Central City Opera last summer. One reviewer noted, “She also has that other thing every Carmen needs to succeed: a killer voice. Pulley’s is rich and earthy, full of charisma. It yanks a listener in; turns an unlikable dragon deadly enchanting.” Last season, she performed Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd with Mill City Summer Opera, Mrs. P in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat with UrbanArias, and Amneris in Aïda and Mere Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites as a part of Eugene Opera’s Opera Trio.

In her thirteen seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, Ms. Pulley’s roles have included Marguerite in Faust, Nedda in Pagliacci, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Musetta in La bohème, Valencienne in The Merry Widow, and Thérèse in Les mamelles de Tirésias, and Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte.

She created the title role in Adamo’s Lysistrata with Houston Grand Opera, which she then reprised for New York City Opera, earning her the coveted Christopher Keene Award. She made her NYCO début two seasons before as Lavinia Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra and was chosen to receive the Richard F. Gold Début Artist Award.

+ Betsy Bishop, mezzo-soprano - bio

American mezzo Elizabeth Bishop begins the 2018/19 season as a soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She travels to Lyric Opera Chicago for the role of Madame de la Haltière Cendrillon before returning to The Metropolitan Opera for performances as Second Norn in Der Ring des Nibelungen where she also covers the roles of Fricka and Waltraute.

Last season’s highlights include her debut at Florida Grand Opera where she sang the role of Herodias Salome before joining Palm Beach Opera to sing Marcellina Le Nozze di Figaro. Performances of Mahler’s Second Symphony took the artist to Portland Symphony Orchestra and Winston-Salem Symphony. She ended the season in the role of Mary Der fliegende Holländer at Cincinnati Opera.

Recent highlights include appearances with her home company, Washington National Opera, in a role of Marcellina; at the Metropolitan Opera she sang the role of Mayor’s Wife/ Kostelnicka (c) Jenufa and at Portland Symphony she sang the role of Judith Bluebeard’s Castle. Other appearances included Cantaloube’s Songs of the Auvergne with Memphis Symphony, and Berlioz’s Te Deum with Winston Salem Symphony.

+ Paul Groves, tenor - bio

One of the great American tenors of his generation, Paul Groves continues to enjoy an impressive international career performing on the stages of the world’s leading opera houses and most prestigious concert halls.

Last season marked Groves’ 25th season at the Metropolitan Opera since his debut as Steuermann in Der fliegende Holländer. Additional operatic performances for the season included as Wilhelm Arndt in The Ring of Polykrates with the Dallas Opera under Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, as well as Faust in a concert production of La Damnation de Faust with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Additional concert performances throughout the season include Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with Opera de Lyon, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with the Rochester Philharmonic, Haydn’s Creation with the Prague Philharmonia, and Das Lied von der Erde alongside Sasha Cooke at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Highlights of recent seasons for the American tenor include a rare role debut singing Alessandro Cesare in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo with the Opéra national de Paris, his first performances in the title role of Wagner’s Parsifal with the Lyric Opera of Chicago led by Sir Andrew Davis, appearances as Admète in Gluck’s Alceste with Madrid’s Teatro Real, Nicias in Massenet’s Thais with the Los Angeles Opera, and Pylade in Iphigénie en Aulide with Theater an der Wien. An avid concert performer, Groves’ previous season was filled with debuts and return engagements with symphonies across the United States. Throughout the 2016/2017 season, he was seen performing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Cleveland Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphony, Berlioz’ Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony under Charles Dutoit, as well as Stravinsky’s Perséphone with the Oregon Symphony.

+ Raymond Aceto, bass - bio

American bass Raymond Aceto has established an important presence among the world’s leading opera companies and symphony orchestras. His performances continue to gather both popular and critical acclaim. Of his performance as Baron Scarpia, The Houston Chronicle hailed, “Raymond Aceto oozes suave villainy as the evil Baron Scarpia, his voice a dark rumble of menace and lust as he plots to destroy Cavaradossi and conquer Tosca…intelligent characterization distinguishes Aceto’s Scarpia as more than a cartoon villain. Commanding in voice and presence, implacable in his lust for Tosca, he is nonetheless subtle in his calculations. It’s his smiling ease that confirms how dangerous he is.”

Aceto began the 2015-2016 season with The Royal Opera Covent Garden Japan Tour as Banquo in Macbeth and the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Sir Antonio Pappano conducting. In November, Mr. Aceto returned to Dallas Opera as Scarpia in Tosca. In February of 2016, Mr. Aceto made his Opera Australia debut, followed by his debut with Washington National Opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle, directed by Francesca Zambello. In May, Mr. Aceto appears in performances of Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied with Jaap Van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony. Summer of 2016 will see Mr. Aceto’s return to Santa Fe Opera for the 60th Anniversary season with performances of Frere Laurent in Romeo et Juliette of Gounod, and Ashby in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

Aceto is well-known at leading opera houses around the world. He has appeared frequently with the Metropolitan Opera, most recently as Zaccaria in Nabucco, the King in Aida, and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and Sparafucile in Rigoletto. His debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago was as the High Priest in Nabucco, and he has since appeared with that company as Banquo in Macbeth, Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Fafner in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila, Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles, Alaska Wolf Joe in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Ramfis in Aida, Comte des Grieux in Massenet’s Manon, and Varlam in Boris Godunov. Mr. Aceto made his debut with San Francisco Opera as Monterone in Rigoletto and later returned as Banquo in Macbeth, the King in Aida, and Timur in Turandot. He regularly appears with Houston Grand Opera, including performances as Scarpia in Tosca, Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra, Pimen in Boris Godunov, Escamillo in Carmen, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, as well as Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni. Mr. Aceto has appeared frequently with The Dallas Opera in roles including Leporello in Don Giovanni, Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Monterone in Rigoletto, Colline in La bohème, Fafner and Fasolt in Das Rheingold, Walter in Luisa Miller, and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. His first performances of Rocco in Fidelio were with the Canadian Opera Company, and he returned there for the world premiere of Randolph Peter’s The Golden Ass and as Daland in Der fliegende Holländer. He reprised the role of Sparafucile for his debuts with L’Opéra de Montréal and the Santa Fe Opera. Mr. Aceto returned to Santa Fe Opera as Scarpia in Tosca and the Archbishop in King Roger. He has also appeared in leading roles with the opera companies of Seattle, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Boston, Colorado, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and Cleveland, as well as the opera festivals in St. Louis and Spoleto (USA).

Aceto made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Don Basilio in a new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia conducted by Mark Elder, and he was quickly re-engaged for performances as Sparafucile and as Ferrando in Elijah Moshinsky’s production of Il Trovatore. He made his debut with Madrid’s Teatro Real in the role of Ferrando, and the role of Ramfis in Aida was the vehicle for his debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Arena di Verona, and the Vienna Staatsoper. He returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin for performances as Fiesco and to Verona for performances as Escamillo, which were recorded and released on DVD by TDK. He also performed the role of Escamillo with Palermo’s Teatro Massimo. Mr. Aceto made his European debut as Monterone with the Netherlands Opera, followed by performances of Loredano in I due Foscari at Brussels’ Théâtre de la Monnaie. Recent European engagements include a return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Escamillo in a new production of Carmen and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Jean Procida in Le Vêspres Sicilienne with Oper Frankfurt.

Aceto is also in demand as a concert artist, and highlights of his recent engagements include appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Méphistophélès in Faust, Beethoven’s Mass in C Major led by Leonard Slatkin, performances of Verdi’s Requiem, and Zuniga in a concert presentation of Carmen; the San Francisco Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as performances by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges; the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and in Salome at Tanglewood under Seiji Ozawa; the Minnesota Orchestra as Rocco in Fidelio and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; the Colorado Symphony in Verdi’s Requiem; the Nashville Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8; the Tucson Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis; the St. Louis Symphony in a concert presentation of Carmen; the Dallas Symphony as Méphistophélès in La Damnation de Faust and Verdi’s Requiem; and he has also performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Toronto and at the Hollywood Bowl. Mr. Aceto first performed the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele with Boston’s Chorus Pro Musica, and in 1996 he was the featured bass soloist with the Festival International de Lanaudière for a televised performance of scenes from Faust, Mefistofele, and La damnation de Faust. He made his Alice Tully Hall debut as Balthazar in a concert performance of Donizetti’s La Favorite with L’Opéra Français de New York, and his Carnegie Hall debut as Andrea Cornaro in Caterina Cornaro with the Opera Orchestra of New York.

A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist’s Development Program, the Ohio-born bass has appeared frequently with the company since his debut as the Jailer in Tosca during the 1992-1993 season. In 1995 and 1996, Mr. Aceto was awarded Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grants, and in 1994 he was a recipient of a Sullivan Foundation Award. In 1996, he traveled to Japan for performances and a recording of The Rake’s Progress with Seiji Ozawa conducting. Mr. Aceto can also be heard in the role of Capellio in Teldec’s recording of I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Earlier Event: March 19
Brahms Fourth Symphony
Later Event: April 24
Gala Celebrating Timothy Muffitt