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Northwestern to Present Spring Opera/Vocal Master Classes

Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah” to be staged by Bienen School of Music for the first time
  • Mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne and tenor Matthew Polenzani to lead Tichio master classes
  • Tenor Matthew Polenzani to perform in recital at Ryan Center April 30
  • Floyd’s opera to be staged by Bienen School of Music opera director Michael M. Ehrman
  • Grammy and Tony Award winner John DeMain to conduct “Susannah” opera performances

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah” -- one of the few American operas to secure a position in the repertoire of both U.S. and international companies -- will be presented for the first time on the Northwestern University Opera Theater stage by the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music this spring.

The Bienen School’s spring 2016 season also will continue its Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series with classes led by renowned vocalists Marilyn Horne and Matthew Polenzani.

Through the Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series, established in 2014, students have worked directly with master clinicians Renée Fleming, Eric Owens, Frederica von Stade and other great stars. 

Upcoming events will take place on the University’s Evanston campus at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street, and the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts’ Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, as noted.


  • Lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Ryan Center’s Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. During his recital, he will be accompanied by Scottish pianist Alan Darling, a Bienen School faculty member and vocal coach. Polenzani’s prestigious honors include the 2004 Richard Tucker Award and the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award. Polenzani’s 2015-16 season highlights include appearances in “Don Giovanni” at Opéra national de Paris, “Werther” in Munich and Vienna, and “Les pêcheurs de perles” and “Roberto Devereux” at the Met. Tickets for his performance, featuring Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin,” are $25 for the general public and $10 for students with valid IDs.

Michael M. Ehrman 

Bienen School artist-in-residence and director of opera Michael M. Ehrman directed Northwestern’s productions of “Dead Man Walking” in winter 2015 (named one of the top ten performances of that year by Chicago Classical Review); “American Dreams: Three One-Act Operas” in fall 2015 and Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” in winter 2016, among other shows in years past. He also has directed more than 150 operas and musicals for professional companies, including Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Central City Opera and Florida Grand Opera, as well as “The Magic Flute” for the Ravinia Festival. Ehrman has balanced his professional career with teaching and directing at numerous universities, conservatories and young artist programs, including the Israel Vocal Arts Institute and the New National Theatre of Tokyo.

John DeMain

“Susannah” will be conducted by Grammy and Tony Award winner John DeMain. DeMain has served as the music director for the Madison Symphony Orchestra for 22 seasons, where he first introduced the use of blind auditions and expanded the repertoire to include more challenging works. DeMain has travelled around the world to conduct, including stops at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Mexico’s Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. Future engagements in 2016 will take him to the Glimmerglass Festival in New York to conduct “Sweeney Todd,” and to the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in D.C. to conduct Kurt Weill’s “Lost in the Stars.”

Information and tickets

For more information on these and any other events, call the Bienen School of Music Concert Management Office at 847-491-5441 or visit Or visit Northwestern’s new Arts Circle website at To order tickets, call the Bienen School Ticket Office at 847-467-4000 or visit