Ms. Givonna Joseph, Founder and Director of OperaCreole, is deeply committed to the culture of New Orleans, city of her birth. This is most evident in her concerts featuring the 19th Century classical music of New Orleans Free People of Color.
An award winning arts educator, and music therapist, Ms. Joseph currently teaches voice privately, is a Master Teaching Artist with Young Audiences of Louisiana, lectures on the science of music, and performs for schools through New Orleans Opera's MetroPelican program.
Ms. Joseph has performed in concert at such venues as The American Church In Paris in Paris, France and La Chiesa di Santa Susanna in Rome, Italy. She has been a soloist with the William Grant Still Orchestra, the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, and served as a cantor for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's New Orleans visit. In the 2006-2007 season, she was a chorister with Houston Grand Opera. The creator of "WomanSong", a one woman show, she was also heard as an opening artist for Ray Charles in concert at Jones Hall in Houston, TX.
Ms. Joseph, a Loyola University alumna, has studied with Charles Paddock, Philip and Ellen Frohnmeyer, George Shirley (Metropolitan Opera, U. of Michigan), Patricia O'Neil (LSU), and Kathleen Kaun (Rice U.)
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Givonna served as Music Director/Cantor at St. Rose of Lima Church, and Director of Education for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.
The arts advocate, researcher, and writer, is also a member of LA Creole (Louisiana Creole Research Association). She has been a Cantor at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church on St. Charles Ave., and many other churches around the city. Ms. Joseph is a member of American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and The Louisiana Touring Directory. Video and audio clips of Ms. Joseph can be found at http://givonnajoseph.com
Distinguished vocal artistry combined with superior musical preparation defines the American mastery of Dr. Valerie Francis. University-educated at New Orleans and Oklahoma universities, namely, Dillard University, the University of New Orleans and the University of Oklahoma where she received her Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees, respectively, Dr. Francis also attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Dr. Francis has been very fortunate to study in the distinguished studios of Mr. S. Carver Davenport (Dillard), Dr. Raquel Cortina (UNO) and the late Dr. Thomas DeVore Carey (OU) University of New Orleans. In 1994, she won the District Auditions and placed first in the regional auditions of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, where she represented the Gulf Coast Region at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center in New York City. Dr. Francis continues to perform locally, nationally and internationally. Leading Roles to her credit include: Aida, Bess, Serena, Magda, Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Musetta, Madame Euterpova, Madama Butterfly, Carmen, Her most recent performances (2006-2007) include: Soprano soloist Verdi Requiem and Carmina Burana with Trinity Artists Series; opera scenes with New York Opera Studio as Marschillin (Der Rosenkavalier) at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York; Benefit Concerts with Dr. Wilfred Delphin for AIDS Relief in Zambia in Carbondale, Illinois and Sundays at Three Afternoon Recitals Series, in Memory of Alpha Brawner Floyd at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library in Memphis, Tennessee. In November 2007, Dr. Francis represented the United States as one of three judges for the International Vocal Competition, namely X Concurso Internacional Canto Lirico in Trujillo, Peru. She also conducted master classes for the contestants and received rave reviews for demonstrating her expertise in vocal technique and pedagogy. Her award-winning, brilliant voice places her among the country’s greatest performers of classical music and Negro spirituals. Dr. Francis made her debut with Dr. Delphin at the 2008 MOJA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. As a result, she and Dr. Delphin were invited and presented a recital at the 2009 Piccolo Spoleto Festival, in Charleston, South Carolina, May 24. Dr. Francis has served on the faculty of Gentilly Terrace UNO Charter School as the Vocal Music Instructor prior to joining the Department of Music at Nicholls.
Tyrone Chambers, II, tenor, has been most recently seen in two New Olreans Opera productions: As Philsitne Messenger in Samson et Dalila, and Second Jew in Salome. He was also Governor/Gambler in Candide in Loyola University production. This native of New Orleans, LA earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a Master of Music degree from the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Chambers is also a former member of both the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus which was founded by the late Robert Shaw and The Atlanta Opera Chorus. He has performed a few small operatic roles in Porgy and Bess (Gershwin) and LaRoche (Sharon Willis). Mr. Chambers has performed opera scenes from Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, Otello, and Werther. He has performed a few roles which include Figaro in The Barber of Seville and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, with OU Opera Theatre and the role of Laërtes in Mignon at the Music Academy of the West, whose voice faculty is lead by American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. Most recently in May of this year he played the part of Padre in Man of La Mancha. His most recent credits include the role of Crab Man in New Orleans Opera Association’s production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Mr. Chambers currently resides in his hometown where he is a soloist at Trinity Episcopal Church. His credits also include performances with Loyola University Opera and a tour of recitals around the metro New Orleans area. Mr. Chambers is currently participating in Opera in The Ozarks' Summer Program in Northwest Arkansas.
Eldric Bashful, tenor
A native of New Orleans, LA, Eldric has traveled the world with his music, enjoying a varied career on the performing stage.
Between Kansas City and New York City, he was a frequent soloist with Unity Temple on the Plaza, Unity Church of New York and Unity Center of Vero Beach, FL. Other concert soloist performances in such venues as the Metropolitan Museum with Opera Ebony, Avery Fisher Hall, former member of Spiritus Ensemble and numerous other stages throughout Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and recently Italy.
Recent roles: Cavalleria Rusticana (Turiddu); Cosi Fan Tutte (Ferrando); La Bohème (Rodolfo); Dialogue des Carmélites (Father Confessor); Amahl and the Night Visitors (King Kaspar); The Rape of Lucretia (Male Chorus). Other roles in preparation: MacBeth (Macduff); Rigoletto (Duke); L'Elisir d'Amore (Nemorino); Porgy & Bess (Sportin Life).
Awards: Arizona NATS-LV 1st Place Winner 2009, NATS 2nd Place Winner 2006; Lexington Opera Society Scholarship 2005; American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) Meistersinger 8th Place Winner 2003; Jerry Herman Foundation Winner 2006.
Currently studying under the guidance of tenor Dr. Alfonse Anderson of University of Nevada Las Vegas, Eldric holds a Master’s of Music Opera Performance from Arizona State University.
Teachers/coaches: Janna Ernst (New Orleans Opera), Louis Salemno (Washington National Opera), Laurie Rogers (Opera Company of Philadelphia ), Carole FitzPatrick (ASU), David Britton (ASU), Gustavo Halley (UMKC), Wayne Sander (Opera Ebony), Everett McCorvey (UK), Dale Dreyfoos (ASU), Beaumont Glass, Bodo Igesz.
Aria M. Mason, mezzo soprano, is a talented vocalist and musician who has performed all over the Greater New Orleans area, and specializes in sacred and classical music.
Ms. Mason has been seen and heard on C-Span, EWTN, WLAE-TV, WWL-TV, and has performed in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Paris, France, and Rome, Italy, in addition to her native city of New Orleans and locales in the Gulf Coast.
The mezzo-soprano is a member of the nationally acclaimed New Orleans Opera Chorus, and was recently featured in the role of Annie in the 2010 production of the Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess". Aria is also a member of the performing ensemble OperaCreole, which makes its debut in the spring of 2011. She previously served as choral director and director of music ministry at Our Lady of the Rosary Church.
Ms. Mason is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she studied voice with Regina McConnell. She received bachelor degrees in History and Music, and was the recipient of the Student Activities Award. At CUA, she was featured in the role of Second Lady in a production of "Die Zauberflote", and was in productions of "La Traviata" and "The Tender Land". She is also an alumna of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. She has been a featured soloist in works by Mozart and Bach at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France in New Orleans, and has been featured in concert and recital around the Gulf South.
Aria has continued to show her commitment to the renaissance of the New Orleans community. Through her work on the inaugural faculty at Morris Jeff Community School (and past service as a founding member of City Year Louisiana and as the New Orleans Outreach Coordinator at S.J. Green and Arthur Ashe Charter Schools), she has demonstrated her commitment to work toward providing greater opportunities for success for the next generation of New Orleanians.
Listen to audio clips of Ms. Mason at http://www.ariamason.com.
Crystal Morris, soprano, is a Senior, Music Vocal Performance Major at Xavier University She hails from Jackson, Mississippi. She was most recently seen as one of the funeral solosists in New Orleans Opera's "Pogy and Bess" Her previous roles include Monica in The Medium, which was her first fully stage operatic role, Mrs. Florentino in Street Scene and Eva from An Embarrassing Position. Crystal has also been the Soprano soloist for numerous oratorios, such as John Rutter's Requiem and Magnificant, and Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and The Creation. Crystal spent the summer in Italy singing with the La Musica Lirica Opera Company singing in the Chorus of La Traviata and sang the role of Adina in L'Elisir D'amore. She also sang on several concerts while in Italy. Crystal is a member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus. Last semester, Crystal sang Sussana in The Marriage of Figaro in Xavier Opera Workshop. Crystal is also a soloist and chorus member at Trinity Episcopal Church. After her completion of her degree at Xavier, Crystal plans on continuing her operatic studies in a graduate school program. Crystal currently studies with operatic soprano Dara Rahming. Crystal is a member the National Opera Association, NAACP and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Ebonee Davis, soprano is a native of New Orleans, LA. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of New Orleans, as well as a Performer Diploma in Classical Voice from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Ebonee appeared as both a soloist and chorister with the New Orleans Opera Association in their 2002 production of Porgy and Bess. She subsequently performed
with the company as a chorister in their productions of Tosca, Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci, and La Traviata. Some of Ebonee’s opera roles have included: Madeline/Isabelle in The Face on the Barroom Floor, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, and both Sis.Gerald and Madame Lidoine in Les Dialogues des Carmélites. She has performed scenes as: the title role in La Traviata, Mimi in La Boheme, Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte. Currently, Ebonee is an Instructor of Voice and Piano in Loyola University’s Music Preparatory Program and maintains a private voice studio.
She is also continuing her own vocal studies with her long-term voice teacher, Dr. Raquel
Cortina, while actively pursuing a full-time performance career in opera and classical
Ivan Griffin, bass-baritone
American bass-baritone Ivan Griffin has delighted audiences in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Holland, and South Africa. His engagements have included Lawyer Frazier in Michigan Opera Theatre’s Porgy and Bess, a role that he was invited to reprise during a European tour of the opera. He has also appeared as Rev. Olin Blitch in Susannah with Buffalo Lyric Opera, Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro and Papageno in The Magic Flute with Fayetteville Summer Opera and Western New York Opera Theater, respectively.
Mr. Griffin has premiered several new works written for his voice. They include Songs of Winter, a song cycle for baritone and piano; and The Little Thieves of Bethlehem (Centaur Records), both by Rochester, New York-based composer Paul Stuart. With the South Bend Symphony, he was the featured soloist for the world premiere of Requiem for the Innocent, an oratorio by Spanish composer Jorge Muñiz. Of his work the South Bend Tribune said, “Griffin was particularly heroic, maintaining his pacing and poise while switching from language to language and culture to culture.” Additional oratorio repertoire includes performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St. John Passion, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and the requiems of Brahms, Duruflé, Fauré and Mozart.
In addition to the South Bend Symphony, Ivan has appeared with the orchestras of New Orleans, Rochester, Toledo, South Carolina, Nashville, Savannah, Bangor, Flint and Southeast Texas.
Recital appearances have taken him to various venues within the United States. They include Morehouse College, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University South Bend, Shippensburg University, Fisk University, Voorhees College, Covenant College and Middle Tennessee State University, to name a few. He has also performed for such audiences as the World’s Fair, the International Thomas Merton Society, and the 1996 Summer Olympic Celebrate Faith and Arts Atlanta Concert Series. A frequent soloist with the internationally renowned American Spiritual Ensemble, he has appeared in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and New York’s Riverside Church.
A versatile artist, Mr. Griffin has been praised for his “excellent diction and superb sense of theater.” He has been featured in such productions as Guys and Dolls at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Sophisticated Ladies at Detroit’s Music Hall, Big River at Croswell Opera House, She Loves Me at Performance Network in Ann Arbor, and The All Night Strut at Boarshead Theatre in Lansing. He has also shared the stage with the late legendary stage and screen personalities Roscoe Lee Brown and Ossie Davis. See video of Ivan on his website at http://www.ivangriffinsings.com/, and find him on Facebook.
Brandon Richardson, baritone
Prior to his tour of service with the U.S. Army in Iraq, the graduate of Northeast Louisiana University was a featured soloist at Cambridge University in England for the "Symposium of African American Composers" at the invitation of Dr. Akin Euba, composer of "Ornumela's Voices-Songs From the Beginning of Time".
Brandon has been heard in several roles for Shreveport Opera, to include the Physician in "Macbeth", Second Philistine in"Samson and Delila", Paris in "Romeo and Juliette", and A Capaddocian in "Salome". He was Ornumela in the 2002 World Premier of "Ornumela's Voices-Songs From the Beginning of Time" with the Jefferson Performing Arts Society.
The baritone has been a professional chorister with The New Orleans Opera Association since 2001, and has also performed as a soloist with the Northlake Performing Arts Society. He has studied voice with Louis Nabor at University of Louisiana at Monroe, and Steve Rushing at Southeast Louisiana University.
Our wonderful pianist!
Wilfred Delphin, DMA, pianist, rehearsal coach, OperaCreole
Dr. Wilfred Delphin, one half of the internationally renowned piano duo Delphin and Romaine, retired from the Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) School of Music in 2004. He volunteered with the United States Peace Corps for several months in the West African country of Senegal after his retirement, leaving that country for New Orleans to help with the recovery effort after Hurricane Katrina.
Delphin debuted in 1977 at Carnegie Hall with Edwin Romaine. The two of them toured the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. After Romain passed in 1995, Delphin continued performing and teaching. His fans include former President Jimmy Carter, for whom he played a solo recital in the East Room of the White House. He is part of Baldwin Piano’s “World’s Best” promotion and is a South Carolina Arts Commission Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award winner. Currently, he is a faculty member and artist-in-residence in the Department of Music at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where he is also an alumnus.
Romel Brumley-Kerr, bass-baritone, is the first Afro-Costa Rican male Opera Singer in Costa Rican history. He began singing as a boy soprano as an early age with the order of the Hermana Oblatas de Siquirres Limon, Costa Rica. The baritone is a successful artist who won the second prize of the vocal competition by the Association of the Negro Business Women’s Club INC of the district of New Jersey. This same association indulged him with the honor to sing at Carnegie Hall and then proclaimed him as an emerging young artist in February 2007.
While in New York, Mr. Brumley-Kerr performed as a soloist in the Messiah by Handel, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Faure’s Requiem, Theodore Du Bois’ The Last Word of Christ, and Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Mr. Brumley-Kerr has participated in several important opera programs in New York City. He was part of the prestigious Martina Arroyo Program in which he learned and performed the role of Figaro from Le Nozze Di Figaro by Mozart under the direction of Legendary Soprano Martina Arroyo in 2007. In the same year, he sang with the prestigious Pacific Opera in New York singing twice at Carnegie Hall and the Golden Hall in NYC. He was member of The Long Island Opera workshop in which he performed the role of Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
After coming to University of New Orleans, studying under Dr. Raquel Cortina, he reprised the role in Gianni Schicchi, sang the role of Tom in Henry Mollicone’s Face on the Barroom Floor, and Hansel and Gretel.
Romel has been a member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus since 2004.