Composer Richard Danielpour wrote the role of Margaret Garner with Denyce Graves' voice in mind. She sang the role in world premier in 2005.
Eric Greene created the role of Robert Garner in the world premier of Margaret Garner in 2005.
Photo: Larry Lapidus
American Baritone Michael Mayes plays the troubled plantation owner, Edward Gaines.
Denyce Graves and Eric Greene star as Margaret and Robert Garner in Opera Carolina's production of Margaret Garner. The opera is based on the real-life story of a fugitive slave in pre-Civil War America who would rather die than return to slavery. The music is by Richard Danielpour with a libretto by Toni Morrison.
American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves created the title role in Margaret Garner at the opera's world premiere in Detroit in 2005. The role was composed especially for her by Richard Danielpour.
Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting opera singers, Graves continues to inspire popular and critical acclaim for her performances in a wide variety of roles.
Graves has become particularly well-known for her portrayals of the title roles in Bizet's Carmen and Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila. Those signature roles have brought Graves to opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and the Arena di Verona.
She has also embraced less traditional roles, singing Judith in Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle, Baba the Turk in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, the High Priestess in Spontini's La Vestale, and Dulcinée in Massenet's Don Quichotte.
Graves gave a series of appearances in response to the tragic events in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. on September 11, 2001. She was invited by President Bush to participate in the National Prayer Service in Washington's National Cathedral in which she sang 'America, the Beautiful' and 'The Lord's Prayer.' This event was televised worldwide and was followed by Ms. Graves' appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the live musical program Healing through Gospel Music. She was also the subject of an award-winning profile on CBS's 60 Minutes.
American Bass-Baritone Eric Greene has been praised for his fine musicianship and smooth, resonant voice.
He created the role of Robert Garner in the world premier of Margaret Garner in Detroit in 2005. Greene's signature roles include Porgy and Jake in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Marcello in Puccini's La Boheme, King Melchoir in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Father in Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel and Count Almaviva in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.
Greene has performed in houses around the U.S. including the Baltimore Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, New York City Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Virginia Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He made his Los Angeles Opera debut this season in Porgy and Bess.
Greene was the winner in the Leonytine Price Vocal Competition in Maryland and the first place winner in Rosa Ponselle's All Marylanders Competition. He also won first place in the NAACP ACT-SO competition, the Maryland State Scholarship in 1992, and was awarded the Gluck Foundation scholarship.
Baritone (Edward Gaines)
American Baritone Michael Mayes is acclaimed for his command of the stage and dramatic singing with opera companies across the United States including Madison Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Skylight Opera, Opera Theatre Highland Park, Central City Opera, Union Avenue Opera Theatre, and Fort Worth Opera.
The Conroe, Texas native also performed the role of Edward Gaines opposite Denyce Graves in the Philadelphia Opera production of Margaret Garner.
His upcoming engagements include the title role in The Barber of Seville with Duluth Festival Opera, Dandini in Rossini's La Cenerentola with Connecticut Opera, and the Father in Opera Company of Philadelphia's production of Hansel and Gretel.
A graduate of the University of North Texas, his operatic roles include Wagner in Gounod's Faust, Sciarrone in Puccini's Tosca, Silvio in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci, Lord Capulet in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet, John Proctor in Robert Ward's The Crucible.
Mr. Mayes honors include 3rd place at the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in Chicago, the Entergy Young Texas Artist Competition Vocalist Award, the John Alexander Award, the John Moriarty Award, and advanced division award at the Anton Guadagno Vocal Competition.