Randal Turner, Biography
The American baritone Randal Turner has been hailed as a fine singing actor and consummate musician with a voice described as both warm and commanding. This versatile artist's repertoire includes all periods of opera, concert and oratorio. Mr. Turner also performs frequently as a recitalist. He made his North American stage debut in April 2010 as Don Giovanni with the Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit and made his West Coast recital debut with this performance in San Francisco in December 2010.
The Zurich-based singer has sung in opera houses throughout Europe, including Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Piccolo Teatro Milano, Teatro Verdi di Pisa, Teatro Regio di Torino, Teatro Petruzzelli, Stadttheater St. Gallen, Staatstheater Darmstadt, Landestheater Linz, Wiener Kammeroper, Opéra de Monte Carlo and Opernhaus Zurich. His career includes numerous leading roles such as Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Silvio in I Pagliacci, Valentin in Faust, Ford in Falstaff, Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire among others.
Turner has received international praise for his portrayal of Don Giovanni, as well as other Mozart roles and early music portrayals by Handel, Hasse, Haydn and Bach. However, he has received equal acclaim for his work in contemporary opera, including works by Andre Previn, Benjamin Britten, Roberto Hazon and Luigi Dallapiccola. His recital in San Francisco features two world premieres written for the baritone: Julia Schwartz’s “Don Juan at 40” and Clint Borzoni’s “Two Poems by Walt Whitman.” He previously starred in the world premieres of Nadia Boulanger’s “La ville morte” and Marco Tutino’s “Federico II.”
Randal Turner was born and raised on a farm near Crawfordsville, Indiana. He began studying music and ballet at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. He then studied voice at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music under renowned teacher Richard Miller and at Indiana Jacobs University School of Music with Margaret Harshaw. He was a member at the International Opera Studio at the Zurich Opera. He currently studies with Dale Fundling in New York City.
Allen Perriello, Biography
Pianist and coach Allen Perriello is a recent graduate of the Adler fellowship and Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera. He has worked on productions for Seattle Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Cleveland, Rising Star Opera Theater, and Ash Lawn Opera. Active as a collaborative pianist, Perriello was awarded the Best Collaborative Pianist Prize in the 2008 Lotte Lehmann Foundation Competition. He has performed in recital with Joélle Harvey, Daveda Karanas, Daniela Mack, Heidi Melton, and Randal Turner. The Gibsonia, PA native holds a master's degree in collaborative piano from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a bachelor's degree in piano performance and music education from Ithaca College.
Why a program of “Living American Composers”:
When I was originally approached about making my West Coast recital debut, I thought about singing some my favorite pieces that I had performed over the years. I imagined a program of music that I had loved and lived with over the years. There is something wonderful about going back to pieces and rediscovering them and digging deeper into the beauty of the text and music.
But that all changed when my friend and composer Julia Schwartz wrote a piece for me called “Don Juan at 40.” The poem is by her friend and poet Ron Butlin and it plays like a great scene from an opera. From the moment she sent me the music, I knew that I had to perform this piece. That single act got me thinking about other music by our great living American composers and this program began to develop.
Composer Glen Roven had contacted me a few years ago and asked me if I’d be interested in singing his music. I met with Glen a few months later and he graciously spent a great deal of time going through his songs. I knew that I wanted to include his beautiful “Four Melancholy Songs,” Op. 16 No. 1, based on poems by William Butler Yeats. I hope to add Roven’s "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" in a future recital.
We are blessed with so many great American composers and I was excited about the idea of exposing them to a wider audience. The challenge was narrowing it down to a workable list. We contacted many composers and generously received sheet music and suggestions for the recital. Two of the most heralded American composers are Ricky Ian Gordon and Jake Heggie, both of whom have their work performed in the major opera houses of the world. They are also gifted song writers and I had a plethora of riches to choose from.
I am a huge fan of Gordon’s opera "The Grapes of Wrath" and I was introduced to the composer via email. I immediately fell in love with his song "Will there really be a morning?," but I quickly realized that numerous singers were already including it on recital programs. I was also haunted by his setting of Dorothy Parker’s "Lullaby" and its companion piece "Interior." I mentioned to Ricky that I loved the Parker setting and he said that they needed just one more to round out a set. With the print button out came the “The Thin Edge/Coda." Meeting Ricky was like meeting a 21st century Mozart and I’m honored to perform his music.
I didn’t have the chance to meet and work with the great American composer Jake Heggie, as his new opera “Moby Dick” was being premiered to critical acclaim. I couldn’t imagine a concert in San Francisco without the local wunderkind Jake Heggie. I have long dreamt of performing his opera "Dead Man Walking" while I’m still young enough and able to do the pushups required for the role. When the producer of this concert sent me a score of “Moby Dick” I knew that I wanted to sing Starbuck’s last scene. This was the only piece on the program that I was going into blind and without any help from recordings or advice from the composer. I mustered up the courage to call the conductor Patrick Summers, who gave me some very useful insights and ideas.
Looking for songs from Jake was a bit more challenging. When going through his songs you become immediately aware that he likes to compose for women’s voices. Fortunately, I was working with mezzo-soprano Patricia Risley at the time and she suggested that I contact her husband, baritone Keith Phares, who premiered these songs. After a lengthy phone conversation he sent me the two beautiful songs included on this program.
I was hoping to include Stuart Wallace on this program, but unforeseen circumstances dictated otherwise. Luckily, my pianist in New York, Jennifer Peterson, suggested her friend the prodigal composer Clint Borzoni. She had gone through a song he had just written called "I Dream'd in a Dream" that was part of a Walt Whitman cycle. I loved the piece and knew that I wanted to perform another one of his songs. Borzoni wrote a me the song "Long I Thought,” which was so beautiful that it reduced me to tears. However, I felt that it was too complex to master in the short time before the recital. He then sent me a few more Whitman poems and I decided on "That Shadow, My Likeness." Clint then composed a rough draft and we sat down together at the piano and finished it. It was truly a collaboration and I cannot wait to present this concert again with "Long I Thought" included!
I would like to thank the talented conductor and pianist Jennifer Peterson for her time and patience for going through almost every song that all of these composers have written before deciding on the program. For not walking out on me when the stress of going off book became as pleasant as pulling teeth. For presenting this concert with me in New York and being the surrogate before it was handed over to the enormously talented Allen Perriello.
To Amy Gates for also helping me memorize the concerts and her amazing "Gates technique."
To my San Francisco hosts Jeff , Mike and Sarah
and to Michael Colbruno for finding me, believing in me and making this program happen.