MP3 Alma Jean Smith - Beautiful Dreamer
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14 MP3 Songs in this album (46:59) !
Related styles: CLASSICAL: Art songs, CLASSICAL: Vocal Music
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Soprano Alma Jean Smith has had a long love affair with performing. Her professional opera debut at 16 as "Cis" in Albert Herring with the Lake Erie Opera Theater in Cleveland opened her eyes to her future. (After getting her first real laugh from an audience Smith said "Mom! This is what I want to do!")
At the Oberlin Conservatory Smith met Roy Lazarus, opera director, mentor, inspirational artist, and life-long friend. He cast her as "Norina"and the audience had to shush itself to hear over the laughter. The extraordinary training experienced thru 13 major roles in 5 years and 4 summers ( Oberlin Music Theater, 1969 - 1972), roles including "Musetta", Blanche", Amelia", "The Stepdaughter", and "Concepcion",and "Amelia" took Smith to Indiana University's Doctoral program. Roles there were "The Countess", "Antonia", and "Giorgetta", as well as "Tosca" at Kansas City Lyric Theater and "Constanze" at Kentucky Opera Theater , both in 1973. Alma Jean Smith won the Met contest in 1974. She moved to NY and performed at the Met for 7 years.
Smith's assignments at the Met were the good supporting roles," Papagena", "Barbarina", "Niade", "The Sandman", "The First Neice", "Erste Dame", "Flowermaiden", and her debut role of "Kate Pinkerton".(During a performance of "Niade" in Ariadne auf Naxos Danny Kaye ran backstage. Smith rounded the dressing room corner, saw him and said "Danny!", "Alma!",said he. Both stepped forward, "Danny, I have always loved you!", and he replied "Well, let's make a baby." Smith's big mistake was in not saying o.k.) As "Fiordiligi" the soprano made her European debut with the Festival dei due Mondi and then with the Staatstheater am Gartnerplatz. Her fest contract in Munich was for "Fiordiligi", "Donna Elvira", "Mimi", "Erste Dame", "Agathe", "Gilda" and "Violetta". The arrival of her dear son in 1984 turned her thoughts toward home.
Home heralded Smith's entree into teaching voice and directing opera. She worked for Roy Lazarus at BGSU, where her directing opera began, and then took a position at Miami U. of Ohio. Directing opera after the training Smith had received from Roy was very enjoyable. At Miami she directed and produced The Marriage of Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, Die Fledermaus, Three-Penny Opera, Dido and Aeneas, and The Magic Flute on a shoe-string budget. She left Miami in 1997.
In recitals Alma Jean Smith has found a "niche". Since 1987 she has been singing recitals on a regular basis. In most recent years she has been heard at the Midday Music in Oxford series, in recital at Trinity Church in Hamilton, in a benefit concert for the Oxford Community Arts Center, and in recital in Carthage, Missouri. A new recital is planned for January, 2009. Her collaboration with pianist Jerome Stanley seems to have crystalized Smith's passionate love for her art. Some have said this is her best work. (A well-known conductor knelt at her feet at BGSU after a recital, "Alma, you are a goddess".)
Alma Jean Smith performed the Verdi "Requiem" in 1979 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. (Ormandy's opening words to her, during her audition were "Pardon me. You should never have to audition for anything.") (The concertmaster of the orchestra called Smith aside and said "We do this piece alot. You are the best I have ever heard".) Comments like this have helped Smith keep the artistic drive going.
Smith collaborated with Robert Spano on two recitals, "Pierrot Lunaire" at Oberlin Conservatory, and with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in a Bach solo cantata. The nickname "Almavivadiva" was coined by friends during the Oberlin days. Roy Lazarus said so many amazing things, such as "Alma, we cry, you sing", it would take a book to report them all. Luckily Smith has them in her heart and soul.
Jerome Stanley studied piano with several concert artists, including William Schatzkamer, Robert Wallenborn, Stefan Bardas and David Bean. He was a winner of the St. Louis Symphony Young Artist Award in the 1960s. This was followed by a debut solo recital and an appearance as concerto soloist with orchestra. In the 1970s, he was pianist with the New Music Ensemble of Miami University. In 1977, he studied and performed in Lieder recitals at the American Institute for Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. He has performed often as a chamber musician in the United States and Europe. As a teacher, his career spanned forty years as a university professor and private studio instructor. He is author of a book on the 17th-century British musician, William Holder. He also authored a book entitled PARALLELS IN THE ARTS.
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