Skip to main content

2017-18 opera season and vocal master classes announced

Joachim Schamberger takes the helm as Bienen School of Music’s new director of opera

'Moments of Mortality: Three One-Act Operas' opens the Bienen School's opera season Nov. 10
'Moments of Mortality: Three One-Act Operas' opens the Bienen School's opera season Nov. 10
  • Tichio Master Class series features Matthew Polenzani, Patricia Racette, Dwayne Croft
  • ‘Moments of Mortality,’ a program of three one-act operas, opens season Nov. 10 to 19
  • Mozart’s masterpiece ‘Don Giovanni’ runs March 1 to 4

EVANSTON - Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music announces the inaugural season for its new Artist in Residence and Director of Opera Joachim Schamberger. Under his direction, the 2017-18 opera lineup will include a triple bill of one-act operas entitled “Moments of Mortality” and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” with a third production to be announced for May 17 to 20.

The Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series returns for its third year, and features master classes led by tenor Matthew Polenzani, soprano Patricia Racette and baritone Dwayne Croft.

The Bienen School 2017-18 opera season includes:

“Moments of Mortality: Three One-Act Operas”
“Riders to the Sea” by Ralph Vaughan Williams
“Le pauvre matelot” by Darius Milhaud
“Savitri” by Gustav Holst
Directed by Joachim Schamberger
Nov. 10 to 19
Ryan Opera Theater, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Northwestern University Opera Theater presents “Moments of Mortality: Three One-Act Operas,” directed by Bienen’s artist-in-residence and director of opera Joachim Schamberger.

Schamberger’s first Northwestern University Opera Theater production is a program of one-act operas exploring themes of death and mortality. The triple bill includes “Riders to the Sea” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Le Pauvre Matelot” by Darius Milhaud and “Savitri” by Gustav Holst, operas that premiered in the 1920s and ’30s. Based on the play by John Millington Synge, Vaughan Williams’s “Riders to the Sea” tells the story of the last surviving son of an Irish family cursed with losing its men at sea. In Milhaud’s “Le Pauvre Matelot,” a sailor returns home after 15 years away, posing as a stranger to test his wife’s fidelity. In Holst’s parable “Savitri,” Death arrives to claim the title character’s husband.

Performances of “Moments of Mortality: Three One-Act Operas” are Friday, Nov. 10 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 12 and 19 at 3 p.m.

“Don Giovanni”
By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
directed by Joachim Schamberger
March 1 to 4
Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston

One of the most performed operas worldwide, “Don Giovanni” follows the adventures of the womanizing rogue Giovanni (based on the fictional libertine Don Juan), mixing comedy, tragedy and drama with the supernatural. As the list of Giovanni’s romantic conquests and revenge-seeking enemies continues to grow, he finds he cannot outrun his fate. The opera will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.  

“Don Giovanni” performances are Thursday through Saturday, March 1 to 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 4 at 3 p.m.

Bienen School opera tickets are $18 for the general public and $8 for students with valid ID.

The Northwestern opera season will close with a yet to be announced production May 17 to 20.

Bienen School’s new Director of Opera Joachim Schamberger has staged productions throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and is frequently invited to teach at music festivals and conservatories around the world. A graduate of the Musikhochschule in Würzberg and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, he also studied digital film production and 3-D animation at the New York Film Academy. Schamberger’s expertise includes vocal and dramatic interpretation as well as style and language coaching. Most recently, he served as visiting professor of opera at DePauw University.

Tichio Vocal Master Classes invite audiences to encounter stars of the opera world sharing vocal performance insights with top students from the Bienen School voice and opera program. The coaching sessions are held in the intimate setting of Galvin Recital Hall on the Evanston campus.

Matthew Polenzani Vocal Master Class
Update 10/16 at 1 p.m.: due to illness, Matthew Polenzani's 7 p.m. Tichio Vocal Master Class is being rescheduled

Monday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston 

The Robert M. and Maya L. Tichio Vocal Master Class Series begins with distinguished tenor Matthew Polenzani. Last season he returned to the Bavarian Staatsoper for “La favorite,” “La bohème” and “Die Zauberflöte” in addition to starring in “Idomeneo,” “Der Rosenkavalier” and “Don Giovanni” at the Metropolitan Opera and as Tamino in “Die Zauberflöte” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. This season he returns to Lyric Opera for “Rigoletto” and “Les pêcheurs de perles” as well as “L’elisir d’amore” at the Met. In this master class, he coaches Bienen School voice and opera students in operatic duos, trios and quartets from “Don Giovanni,” “Roméo et Juliette,” “L’italiana in Algeri” and “L’elisir d’amore.”  

Patricia Racette Vocal Master Class
Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Soprano Patricia Racette has performed at opera houses worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Scala, Paris Opera, Theater an der Wien and the Bayerische Staatsoper. This season’s highlights include co-production and role debuts in “The Consul” with Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater, house and role debuts in “Street Scene” with Madrid’s Teatro Real and her directorial debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s production of “La traviata.”

Dwayne Croft Vocal Master Class
Wednesday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

The series concludes with Dwayne Croft, a leading artist with the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera, Finnish National Opera and Glimmerglass Festival, among others. At the Metropolitan Opera, he has appeared in more than 500 performances of 30 roles, including title roles in “Billy Budd,” “Pelléas et Mélisande,” “Don Giovanni” and “Il barbiere di Siviglia.” This season at the Met, he appears as Sharpless in “Madama Butterfly,” Peter in “Hansel and Gretel,” Orest in “Elektra” and Capulet in “Roméo et Juliette.” 

Tichio Vocal Master Class tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with valid ID.

For Bienen School opera and Tichio Vocal Master Class tickets and more information, visit or call the Bienen School of Music Concert Management Office at 847-491-5441.

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.  

Back to top