Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA)

First they were students at AVA. During their studies, they were companions. Eventually they performed together on stage.  Then came love, and later, the altar. All because of opera. And we can say, "We knew them when."

The Philadelphia region is rich with music schools training the next generation of artists. South-African bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana, a recent graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts and a 2013 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, stands out and already has a busy international performance schedule in the upcoming season.

WRTI’s Susan Lewis speaks with Musa about his career thus far, and the road ahead.

Jules Massenet's most enduring opera, Manon, will be presented in a not-to-be-missed broadcast on Sunday afternoon on WRTI by the Academy of Vocal Arts. The opera, based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost, tells the story of a young girl with conflicting desires for love and luxury, corrupted by the idea of the glamorous life.

The Academy of Vocal Arts' annual Jubilate! concert is something audiences look forward to each year.

Paul Sirochman

Giuseppe Verdi's three-act masterpiece La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) will be heard in its entirety Sunday afternoon on WRTI, following our Philadelphia Orchestra broadcast. The opera, with libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, is based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas. Originally, the opera was to be titled "Violetta" after the main character of the opera. It's one of Verdi's most beloved and frequently performed works.

Paul Sirochman

Mozart’s comic masterpiece, Così fan tutte, exposes the tension between emotion and reason. Two young men wager that their fiancées will remain faithful, even under extreme circumstances. Director Nic Muni sets the action in Martha’s Vineyard during the late 1960s for this production. Christopher Macatsoris conducts. Don't miss this very special Academy of Vocal Arts broadcast on Saturday, November 9th, 1 to 4 pm.

CAST:

Paul Sirochman

The votes are in! The winners of this year's AVA Giargiari Competition Broadcast on WRTI: First Place: SYDNEY MANCASOLA; Second Place: MARINA COSTA-JACKSON; Third Place: MACKENZIE WHITNEY. Winners from the October 4th event at the Kimmel Center: First Place: Diego Silva; Second Place: Shelley Jackson, Sydney Mancasola (tie); Audience Favorite: Patrick Guetti.

Join us on Sunday at 3 pm as Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) presents Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. Drama takes center stage in this opera of political intrigue, based on a true historical event: the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden. The king falls in love with the wife of his best friend and most trusted advisor. A love triangle turns deadly as jealousy leads to conspiracy, murder, and betrayal at a masked ball. Sunday, May 5, 3 to 6 pm.

Paul Sirochman

Join us on Sunday afternoon for an AVA Opera special broadcast! Jules Massenet's DON QUICHOTTE is a lyrical ode to the chivalrous idealist Don Quixote. Loosely based on the popular Cervantes novel, the opera is immediately inspired by Le chevalier de la Longue Figure, a play by the poet Jacques Le Lorrain. The tale of Don Quixote meets the music of Massenet, complete with Spanish serenades and a profoundly poignant finale.

Last week's guest on Crossover was Turkish Bass Burak Bilgili. Turkish? Not necessarily the first nationality that comes to mind when you think "opera singer." But, wait till you hear that voice!

A 2004 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Bilgili made his international debut in 2002 - while still a student at AVA - as Duke Alfonso in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at La Scala. His Metropolitan Opera debut was May 7, 2004, when he sang Leporello without either a full-stage or orchestra rehearsal in the final performance of Don Giovanni that season. When he took his solo bow at the end of the performance, the audience roared in appreciation. He returned to the company in 2009 as Ferrando in Il trovatore.

Starting Saturday evening, March 2nd, Bilgili will appear in the lead role in the Academy of Vocal Arts' production of Don Quichotte. Performances run through March 9th at AVA, and March 12th and 14th at Haverford's Centennial Hall. The production will also be heard as a Sunday Opera Special on March 10th at 3 pm on WRTI and the all-classical stream at wrti.org.

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