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Symphony Series: A Night at the Opera

  • Cordiner Hall 46 South Park Street Walla Walla, WA, 99362 United States (map)

Symphony Series: A Night at the Opera

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | 7pm
Cordiner Hall

Free "Inside the Music" Pre-Concert Talk, 6pm, Cordiner Lobby

An evening of opera favorites including selections by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and more!

Jennifer Welch-Babidge, soprano
Sarah Mattox, mezzo-soprano
Marcus Shelton, tenor
Jeremy Irland, baritone 


Did you know?

  • During the seventeenth century, women were not allowed to sing onstage, not even in a chorus. As a result, castrated males, or castrati, would sing the soprano/mezzo/alto parts. 

  • After an opera, it is appropriate to yell bravo for a man, brava for a woman, bravi for two or more singers, and brave (BRAH-vay) for a group of only women.

  • Opera history is often divided into pre-Mozart and post-Mozart because of the way he transformed the art form.


About the Guest Artists

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Hailed by critics worldwide for her complete performances as both singer and actor, soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge is known for her sparkling vocal technique, her natural stage presence, and both her dramatic and comic acting ability. Lauded by Opera News for a voice that is “agile and beautifully projected, with a lavish bloom and a silvery edge,” Ms. Welch-Babidge has performed often under the baton of James Levine both in concert and on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. These roles include Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Marzelline in Fidelio, Valencienne in Merry Widow, and Freia in Das Rheingold. Additional Metropolitan Opera performances include Gilda in Rigoletto, The Doll in Les Contes D’Hoffman and Chloe in Queen of Spades. She has also performed with New York City Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, San Francisco Opera, Opera Pacific and Utah Opera. Ms. Welch-Babidge has also performed lead roles at Houston Grand Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Utah Opera, Opera Carolina and Washington Concert Opera, and Intermountain Opera. These roles include Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Liu in Turandot, Leila in Pearl Fishers, Micaela in Carmen, and Suor Angelica in Suor Angelica. She recently returned to the Intermountain Opera Company where she made her debut in the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni.

Ms. Welch-Babidge began her career in musical theatre and studied Drama and Vocal Performance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and HB Studios in NYC. In addition to performing the role of Cunegonde alongside Rita Moreno in Bernstein’s Candide, Ms. Welch-Babidge’s musical theatre roles include Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at UNCSA and Fiona in Brigadoon. She also worked at the Monomoy Theatre in Cape Cod Massachussets performing the role of Tuptim in The King I and at the Buck’s County Playhouse in Pennsylvania where she performed the roles of Laurie in Oklahoma and Carlotta in Yeston Coppit’s Phantom. Ms. Welch-Babidge performed Off-Off-Broadway in a musical revue of the music of Ivor Novello and was represented briefly by Brett Adams LTD agency before winning the Metropolitan Opera auditions and attending the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindeman Young Artist program.

Ms. Welch-Babidge has appeared in concert with San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Boston Baroque and many others singing popular works such as Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 4 and Symphony No. 8, and Poulenc’s Gloria. She has appeared at Carnegie Hall with the Metropolitan Opera Chamber Ensemble and James Levine singing song cycles of Anton Webern and Elliot Carter. Mrs. Welch-Babidge has collaborated with world renowned conductors including James Conlon, Valery Gergiev, Sir Charles Mackerras, and David Zinman, and has several recordings with the Naxos recording label.

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Sarah Mattox (mezzo-soprano) has appeared in principal roles with many companies nationally, including Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Amarillo Opera, Eugene Opera, Tacoma Opera and many others. Favorite roles include the title character in Carmen, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, Dorabella in Cosi fan Tutte and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. Also at home on the concert stage, Ms. Mattox has made several appearances at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony. She has also been a soloist with the Northwest Sinfonietta, Cascade Festival of Music, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Helena Symphony, Bainbridge Symphony, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Walla Walla Symphony, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Eugene Concert Choir and many others. Her chamber music group, TangleTown Trio, has been selected to perform multiple times in the Oyster Bay Distinguished Artists Concert Series in New York. April 2010 marked her fourth appearance as a concert soloist at Carnegie Hall.

Also a composer, Mattox’s chamber opera, HEART MOUNTAIN, was workshopped by Vespertine Opera Theater in July of 2015 under the baton of GRAMMY Award winning conductor Stephen Stubbs. Mattox is a 2014 John Duffy Composers Institute Fellow, and won the 2013 Boston Metro Opera International Composers' Competition OPERA PUPPETS Mainstage Award for her song cycle, "Rumpelstiltskin and the Falcon King." For more information and a complete schedule, please visit www.sarahmattox.com.

American tenor Marcus Shelton has received praise from around the world for the varied and numerous talents that he brings to the opera and concert stage. His career has included a variety of lead and supporting work with Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Greek National Opera, Opera Oviedo, Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, New Orleans Opera, Opera Theatre de Rimouski, Opera Idaho, Pacific Norwest Opera, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, among others. Over the past several years, Marcus has demonstrated a unique combination of vocal, physical, and dramatic virtuosity while debuting multiple new roles; including his professional, non-singing, acting debut.

Additionally, Marcus has had a number of successful cross-over opportunities. He was recently accompanied onstage by multiple Grammy award-winner David Foster, while performing at the Seattle Museum of Flight’s 50th Anniversary Gala; receiving standing ovations for both of his selections.

Originally from the greater Seattle area, Marcus has performed in various venues all over the Pacific Northwest. He has left his mark on the Seattle sports scene, as a regular national anthem performer with the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Seahawks, having performed on opening day for the Mariners in 2008. Over the past 25 years, there is no singer or artist that has performed more national anthems for the Seattle Seahawks than Mr. Shelton.

Jeremy Irland, whose voice has been praised as having “a beautifully rich consistency and clarity,” is an avid performer and recitalist. Mr. Irland has appeared with the Seattle Symphony as Bobby in Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel, Wotan in ViVace’s production of Das Rheingold,  Leporello in Washington Idaho Symphony’s production of Don Giovanni, the Dutchman with the Cleveland Wagner Institute’s Der Fliegende Holländer, Assan in Menotti’s The Consul at New England Conservatory, Morales and Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen, Presto in Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias with Vespertine Opera, Nardo in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, the Mother in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, Doctor Bartolo in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with UW Opera, and duel world premières of Michael Valenti’s one-act operas Beau Nash and Story of an Hour with both the Portland Chamber Symphony and the Walla Walla Symphony.  

Mr. Irland has studied with Jane Eaglen, Carol Vaness, and Dr. Matthew James. Mr. Irland also holds degrees from Walla Walla University (B.M. in Music Education) and the University of Washington (M.M in vocal performance). He is currently on the voice faculty at Walla Walla University, and is also the director of music for Prescott schools.