Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Love lures

Dynamic couple brings sexy stylings to town

Express Staff Writer

Soprano Michelle Johnson and baritone Brian K. Major bring their amazing chemistry and talent to the valley just in time for Valentine’s Day. Courtesy photo

Now that Christmas is out of the way, romantic adults are counting down the days until their annual holiday favorite, Valentine's Day.

Cupid's bow is no doubt aimed at soprano Michelle Johnson and Brian K. Major most of the time because this talented couple's chemistry enhances their performances, whether singing "Summertime" from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" or "The Impossible Dream" from "Man of La Mancha."

They'll be sharing that with the community Friday, Feb. 10, in a special winter concert at the Sun Valley Opera House, thanks to a collaboration between the Sun Valley Opera and the Sun Valley Resort.

Johnson most recently was named the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner. She received her opera training certificate from Boston University Opera Institute and her bachelor of music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

She is currently a candidate for her artist diploma at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts, where she has sung the title role of "Suor Angelica," Donna Anna in "Don Giovanni," the countess in "Capriccio," and Alice Ford in "Falstaff." She has also sung Monisha in Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha" with Opera Providence, a naked virgin in Schoenberg's "Moses und Aron" in concert with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the countess in "Le Nozze di Figaro" with Boston's L'Orchestra da Camera.

Johnson was awarded first place in the 2011 Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition, a grant award in the 2011 Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition, first place in the Marian Anderson Historical Society Scholars Competition, second place in the 2009 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition and an Encouragement Award in the 2006 Marilyn Horne Foundation.

Next on her agenda is the title role of "Aida" with the 2012 Glimmerglass Music Festival and Leonora in "Il Trovatore" with Opera in the Heights.

Sharing in her success is husband, Major, a baritone from Neptune, N. J. He has performed solo works such as Mendelssohn's "St. Paul," Faure's "Requiem," Haydn's "Paukenmesse," Bach's "Wachet Auf" and Handel's "Messiah" with the Des Moines Symphony. His opera credits include Don Alfonso in Mozart's "Così Fan Tutte," first Nazarene in Strauss' "Salome," Enrico in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," Creon in Merryman's "Antigone," Escamillo in Brook/Bizet's "La Tragédie de Carmen," Sam in Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti" and Bartolo in Rossini's "Il Barbiere di Siviglia."

Last opera season, Major made debuts at the Chesapeake River Concert Series, St. Mary's City, Md., and the Alba Music Festival, Alba, Italy. Major was a Gerdine Young artist at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where he covered Marcello in Puccini's "La Bohème" and performed first Nazarene in Strauss' "Salome."

Major has won numerous awards and has studied abroad at the University of Siena in Italy. He completed his bachelor of arts degree at Morehouse College and master of music degree at Boston University. He was a Phyllis Curtin Scholar at Boston University's Opera Institute where he received a performance certificate.

Sun Valley Opera and Sun Valley Resort present:

What: An evening of classical and pop tunes

Where: Sun Valley Opera House

When: Friday, Feb. 10

Tickets: $40 and $125 at

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