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February 25, 2008

ULM Opera concert Feb. 29 features visiting artists in all-American music program

Music lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy visiting artists (and newlyweds) Betsy Uschkrat, a former Miss Indiana, and Tyler Smith in an opera concert Friday, Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Recital Hall.

The program, a fundraiser for the opera department, will focus on an all-American music program. The opening concert will include features from Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs,” Robert Ward’s “The Crucible,” and excerpts from Act I scenes II and V of “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd.

After intermission, audience members will enjoy features from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” Lee Hoiby’s “The Tempest,” Ned Rorem’s “Our Town,” Samuel Barber’s “The Crucifixion,” and Carlisle Floyd’s “Of Mice and Men.”

ULM students, faculty and staff may attend free of charge with I.D. Admission is $7 for the general public. Call (318) 342-1414 for tickets.

More about Uschkrat and Smith:

Uschkrat, soprano, is completing a master’s degree at the Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Costanza Cuccaro. While pursuing her master’s, she has performed the title role in Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah” and the roles of Juliette in “Roméo et Juliette,” “Manon,” the title character of Massenet’s opera; and Adina in “L’elisir d’amore.” In May 2007, Uschkrat represented the Jacobs School of Music in recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

In January 2008, Uschkrat was awarded top honors at the district Metropolitan National Council Auditions. She received a bachelor’s degree of music with membership in the Honors College from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music in 2005.

Recently, she represented her state as Miss Indiana 2006 in the Miss America Pageant. She is also a former Miss Houston. She was a finalist for the “Quality of Life Community Service Award” commendation for her work in creating and hosting over 17 “Heart and Soul Benefit Concerts,” which have raised over $100,000 for local food banks in America.

American tenor Smith has appeared in numerous operatic and concert performances throughout the United States, Europe, and South America.

Most recently, Smith performed the role of Don Jose in “Carmen” for the Idaho Falls Opera Company and Rodrigo for Des Moines Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Otello” while covering the title role.

Other operatic roles have included Rodolfo in “La Bohème,” Boris in “Katya Kabanova,” Anatol in “Vanessa,” Pinkerton in “Madame Butterfly,” title roles in Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann” and “Christopher Columbus,” Max in “Der Freischütz,” Giles Corey for Mobile Opera’s production of “The Crucible,” Florestan in “Fidelio,” and Belfiore in Argento’s “Casanovas Homecoming,” which was recently released on the Newport Classics label.

In 2001, he made his Houston Grand Opera Debut as Carlson in Carlisle Floyd’s “Of Mice and Men,” which has been released on the Albany label. As a soloist, his concert work includes Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9,” Verdi’s “Requiem,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” Saint-Saëns’ “Christmas Oratorio,” Haydn’s “Creation,” and Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater.”

Upcoming appearances include Gustav III in “Un Ballo In Maschera” for Des Moines Metropolitan Opera and recitals throughout Louisiana. He also teaches at Loyola University in New Orleans.

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