Maria Knapik, soprano & Michel Brousseau, piano

Sunday, November 2, 2014, 3:00pm
Concert is free and open to the public.
Doors open at 2:30pm

Pieśni – Chopin’s Songs for Voice and Piano

Maria Knapik * Michel Brousseau

Polish-born Soprano Maria Knapik and Montreal pianist and conductor Michel Brousseau offer a concert dedicated to Chopin’s most beautiful melodies for voice and piano. Showcasing a profound romantic sensibility, these songs, or Pieśni in Polish, are unique vocal vignettes that vividly express a deeply yet less known intimate side of this famous Polish composer.

Programme

O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)                                        G. Puccini

Songs op. 74 nos 1, 3 & 4                                                                  F. Chopin

-      Zyczenie (A young girl’s wish)

-      Smutna rzeka (The sad river)

-      Hulanka (Revelry)

Lo son l’umile ancella (Adriana Lecouvreur)                                   F. Cilèa

Songs op. 74 nos 5, 7, 8, 9 & 10                                                           F. Chopin

-      Gdzie lubi (Where she likes)

-      Posel (The Messenger)

-      Sliczny chlopiec (The handsome fellow)

-      Melodia (Melody)

-      Wojak (the Warrior)

Intermission

Song to the moon (Rusalka)                                                                A. Dvorak

Songs op. 74 nos 11 & 12                                                                  F. Chopin

-      Dwojaki koniec (A twofold end)

-      Moja pieszczotka (Ma chérie / My darling)

Seguidilla (Carmen)                                                                          G. Bizet

Songs op. 74 nos 14, 15 & 16                                                            F. Chopin

-      Pierscien (The Ring)

-      Narzeczony (The Fiancé)

-      Piosnka litewska (A Lithuanian song)

Il bacio                                                                                                L. Arditi

 

Biographies

Maria Knapik

Maria Knapik was born in Krakow, in Poland. She is a graduate of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music (Katowice, Poland) and of Sir Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada). She also studied at the Britten-Pears School of Advanced Musical Studies in Aldeburgh (England), as well as with many opera celebrities including Shirley Verret, and Licia Albanese, and celebrated coaches such as David Jones, Dixie Neill, and Edith Della Pergola. Ms. Knapik's vocal successes include top prizes at the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition (New York), the International Chigiana Festival (Sienna), and the Greater Buffalo Opera Company's International Vocal Competition. Over the years, Ms. Knapik has performed many operas title roles such as Suor Angelica (Suor Angelica), Nedda(I Pagliacci), Mimi (La Bohème) and Liu (Turandot), all with The New York Grand Opera; Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with Opera Lyra Ottawa; Alice Ford(Falstaff) with the State Opera in Ukraine, and on tour in Germany and Switzerland; and Fiordiligi(Cosi fan Tutte) in Bulgaria. For her highly acclaimed portrayal of the title role in Moniuszko's opera Halka, with Sarasota Opera, Ms. Knapik was praised by Lawrence A. Johnson of The Miami Herald for "singing with pure tone and vital feeling (...) while exuding a charismatic star quality and radiant stage presence”. In 2005, Ms. Knapik received the International Rising Star of Opera Award by the American Institute of Polish Culture, and the Gold Cross of Merit by the Government of Poland for her professional achievements, promotion of Polish culture and Polish-Canadian cultural cooperation and her charitable activities, in 2006, and the silver medal “Gloria Artis” by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2011. That same year Ms. Knapik was granted the title of “Artist in Residence” by Carmella Altamura, Founder/Director of the Altamura Center for Arts and Cultures (which is the Home of the Altamura/Caruso International Voice Competition).

Michel Brousseau

Canadian pianist and conductor Michel Brousseau is an accomplished musician. His talent was noticed when he began piano lessons at the age of nine. He studied at the Montreal Conservatory of Music, where he won, to unanimous acclaim, a First Prize in piano. In addition, he quickly developed an interest in symphonic music, and by the age of 14 he knew he would become a conductor. He studied conducting with Maestro Raffi Armenian in Montreal. He also studied with Otto-Werner Mueller, Milen Nachev and Aldo Faldi. From 1995 to 1999 he was Artistic Coordinator of the Montreal Conservatory of Music, and in 2006, he received the Grand Prize for Artistic Creation in the Laurentians from Québec’s Conseil des arts et des lettres.An inspired, energetic, and sensitive leader, he usually directs from memory, communicating with vigor and intelligence all the emotions of the great works of the classical repertoire. His talent, dynamism and commitment to the operatic repertoire have been recognized. In 2005, he was a finalist in the Luigi Mancinelli Opera Conductors’ International Competition held in Italy. Since then, he has conducted orchestras and operas in Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, the United States and Canada, and was invited to conduct the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra with the assistance of renowned violinist Uto Ughi in an Italian tour that included the towns of Ravello, Modena and Bassano del Grappa.

Michel Brousseau is also the Artistic Director of the New World Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as four choral ensembles in Montréal, Ste-Thérèse, Mont-Tremblant and Ottawa. In recent years, Maestro Brousseau and the choir have toured Sicily; France and Romania for a series of concerts in many prestigious locations, including Notre-Dame Church in Paris and Rheims Cathedral. They also gave the U.S. premiere of the Messe solennelle de saint Remi by French composer Théodore Dubois at Carnegie Hall, in New York City, with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, in 2010. Maestro Brousseau’s real passion, however, is opera. He has directed several operas in North America and Europe, including Madama Butterfly, La Bohème and Suor Angelica (all by Puccini), La Traviata (Verdi), Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni), I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) and Carmen (Bizet), among others. In February 2013, Maestro Brousseau was invited to conduct the Italian première of Gloria Bruni’s opera Pinocchio at the world-famous Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy.

Maria and Michel, a duo...

Maria Knapik and Michel Brousseau have already been sharing the stage for several years- she as a performing soloist and he as a conductor and pianist. Their collaboration led them to interpret many of the greatest works of the classical repertoire, including Mozart's Requiem, Verdi's Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Brahms’ German Requiem. Their collaboration, however, is not only limited to orchestral works. They have performed as a duo, with Michel at the piano, in a series of concerts in London (U.K.), New York City and in many Canadian and U.S. West Coast cities. Critics and the public have unanimously expressed their appreciation for the deep personal connection that shines through in their live performances. This CD dedicated to Chopin’s songs is not their first recording collaboration. In 2010, they recorded a CD dedicated to French composer Théodore Dubois’s Messe solennelle de saint Remi and Messe de la Délivrance. Finally, the two artists participated in the charity concert at the Lincoln Center in New York, in 2010, in support of the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health.